How to not let fear get the best of you

We have all had those moments of fear. We are considering making a large life change, and then immediately start thinking of the negative outcomes and ramifications to our actions. The voice in our heads tells us all the reasons why it would turn out terribly. We start getting so afraid and anxious that we eventually think “Nah, screw it. It isn’t worth it.”

Fear is actually a naturally protective instinct. Back in the caveman days it could protect us from getting hurt when we were going to do something stupid or were in a dangerous situation. However in today’s modern day world, fear can often only serve to hinder our ambitions and living the life we want.

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I will give you a few good examples, and maybe you can relate them to something going on in your life right now. The first is one that I have discussed in previous posts: my desire for a completely new life direction, and the fear that stalled it for years. It all started when I graduated college, and had a big idea to start a kitchen to home cupcake delivery service. This was back when cupcakes were getting to be trendy. I even bought business books on how to start a small business. Instead of pursuing it, though, my rational brain kicked in and my fear of failure and not making any money took over. I dropped my dreams faster than a hot cupcake tin and started applying to local businesses just so I could start working and bringing in some income.

Cut to me a few years later—which happened about a year ago—and I was still equally unhappy and unsatisfied. I never took any steps to pursue anything I truly desired in life, and my creative soul was being crushed behind a desk. Then I had an awakening. Or maybe an epiphany. Divine intervention, perhaps. Whatever you call it, my soul woke up. One day, while sitting in a meeting, my inner self voice literally said, “What am I doing?” I was so shaken that I knew I needed to make a change. I decided I was going to start a blog. I had started (and failed) with a blog before, but I knew in my heart this was the first step in making a change in my life. I was terrified that no one would read it, that it would be a failure and a waste of my time. The fear was real, and the more steps I took to starting a blog, the more real the fear became.

Even after this epiphany and working hard on my blog for over a year, I still couldn’t let go. I applied (and got) a job in public health to suit my degree, because that damn rational voice kept screaming about me about what a waste it was to not use my degree, and that I couldn’t just up and quit without a financial safety net.

For me, it took having a baby to ultimately reassess my priorities. It forced to me to look at my life and decide what was important. I still face my rational voice and my fears, although not daily, and they are nowhere near as loud anymore. You don’t have to have a baby to move forward with your life. There are several ways that I would cope with my fears and allow me to make progress—even if progress looks like baby steps!

1. Develop the outcome

Once of the scariest things about the unknown is, well, the unknown. When our ideas are developing in our heads, it is easy for fear to push its way in like an angry elephant and stir up so much anxiety that we stop developing our ideas and simply turn the other way. When I was planning my cupcake business, I should have developed the business plan and read my books. Instead, I let fear run rampant and abandoned the whole thing before it even started. Work on your ideas and plan until it becomes a tangible road map that you can follow with realistic steps so you can start walking your journey. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: write it down. Ideas become a lot more focused on paper, and we can start actually working through them instead of letting them swirl around in our brains. Fair warning though, sometimes when we develop our plan all the way through we find out some or all of it is unreasonable. That’s okay, use the tools you learned and keep going. No one ever gained anything from being perfect, they gained it from failed experiences.

2. Research, research, research.

To make an informed decision and to create a solid pathway, we need to be educated. Instead of blindly researching (which can be good), make sure to include some real life in there, too. Consult someone who has had the experience you are looking for. When we learn from people who have “been there, done that,” we can glean practical experiences and techniques that we may never have even thought of. Just be aware that you will never know it all, and you will always not know what you don’t know until it springs up in your face. So…

3. Don’t panic, roll with the punches.

We like to think we are totally in control of our lives. The reality is that God and the universe have a pathway created for us, and it is up to us to work hard and follow it the best we can. Ever hear that phrase “It will be what it will be”? “Que sera, sera”? It’s pretty true. My experience blogging has been very up and down and not at all what I expected it to be. In the last several months I have learned that things have a way of working out, and I need to trust in the process more (more about this concept to come, but a post for another day…). I have panicked and even had serious bouts of anxiety that were so extreme that my body started reacting to it. I knew that could not continue, so I found ways to deal instead. I am a work in progress, but am a lot better at rolling along with the waves and zen-ing out when these bumps in the road do happen.

4. Work through the fear.

You may be that kind of individual who is gripped by the fear of the fear and get paralyzed by it. Instead of trying to cut the head off of the fear-hydra (because we all know what happens to a hydra when that happens), try working through the fear. If I start a blog and want it to eventually be part of a business that becomes a career, my fear grip would be “I will never succeed and make no money and then I can’t pay bills and support my family.” That is quite a leap, wouldn’t you say? Work through the fear by breaking it down. If I start a blog and it fails, then what? No love lost. That’s it. At the current moment my blog isn’t my livelihood is it? No, I am doing it for funsies. So there is really no need to get so amped up. As it develops, and if I am fortunate that eventually I can build a brand around what I’ve created, I will overcome those fear grips at the time they arise. But right at this moment, the only thing that fear is doing is stopping me from even starting. It might not be great. But what if it is?

5. Tell yourself to stop it.

Seriously, I am not kidding. This tactic doesn’t work for all fears and for all people, but sometimes I really benefit from stopping my thought mid-sentence and just saying “Stop it.” By acknowledging an irrational fear and stopping it from spiraling out of control, I regain a grip on what I was thinking of in the first place and can pick up where I left off. “Oh noooooo, but what if –“ NOPE. STOP IT. Work through your idea/dream/calling/whatever it is, and develop the plan (see step 1). I can tell you first hand you really will not get anywhere with all of the “what ifs,” what you will get is a whole bunch of wasted dreams and years lost. Start on it now, so that in a few years you have either made progress, or have joyfully failed and picked yourself back up again and set off on a new path.

But who knows? Maybe I’m the crazy one–

STOP IT.

7 Things I wish I had known about giving birth

Giving birth seemed like the scariest thing on the planet to me. I was worried about it for years, well before I became pregnant. It used to disturb me so much it made me feel ill just thinking about it. I tend to blame the graphic birthing video that was forced upon us in 6th grade. I just haven’t been the same since. Even still, I knew that I needed to be educated about the process before I went into the hospital. I took the classes, read the books, and heard the horror stories. I hate to tell you, but nothing can really prepare you for delivery day. It’s the eventuality that all moms-to-be face, and it brings a lot of experiences that are impossible to understand otherwise. Even still, there were a few things that I wish someone had told me. Here are some tidbits I wish I had known going into labor and delivery…

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1.  Your birth plan goes out the window.

No matter how prepared you think you are, I can almost guarantee you the birth of your baby won’t go according to plan. It’s nothing that you can truly prepare for. I didn’t have a stringent birth plan, mine was basically “Give me the drugs and get it out of me.” Regardless, after taking the birth class through my hospital, I had ideas of how I would handle pain while in labor and things that I might want to happen while pushing. My sweet angel decided to arrive four weeks early. What is it that they say about the best laid plans? Right. Every mom I have talked to so far has said the same thing. My advice is to be flexible and go with the flow, it makes it a lot easier on everyone, especially you, mama.

It is important to have written requests, though, if there are certain things you do not want to compromise on. Allergies, particular pain management procedures, who you want in the room, and post-delivery wishes (such as immediate skin to skin contact or trying to breastfeed immediately) should be written in advance and discussed with your doctor before you get to the hospital. It helps for all parties to be on the same page, and you will be able to find out whether your doctor can accommodate certain requests, such as skin to skin contact after a c-section or allowing your partner to help during birthing.

2.  You won’t give a damn who sees what part of you.

When you go into labor, you are chalk full of emotions– anxiety, excitement, fear, happiness—and a healthy dose of adrenaline. I was so amped up during labor that I had no embarrassment about anything that day. I didn’t care what nurse came in to check my cervical dilation, who helped me to the bathroom, or who saw my boobs or butt as my hospital gown flapped in the breeze. I just wanted the process to be done, and I was willing to let anyone who was there to help do their job. In fact, any sense of bodily embarrassment or discreetness I used to have disappeared after having gone through birth. I’m not quite sure why, but even now I don’t care who sees me whip out a boob for breastfeeding or if someone sees my stomach rolls as I hunch over to play with my baby. It’s actually quite freeing!

3.  You will feel like a science experiment.

I never realized how much monitoring would happen while I was going through labor. As soon as I arrived at the hospital, I was hooked up with two belly monitors—one for me and one for baby. These monitors were strapped around my pregnant belly and the cords were connected to a machine so I could watch two screens: one that showed my contractions, and one that showed the baby’s heartbeat. I also received an IV that the nurses administered fluids, anti-biotics, and pain management medication. I then had my epidural, which meant more needles and cords around me. This was all particularly fun when I had to go to the bathroom. Everything had to be unplugged and I waddled to the bathroom, cords draped around my shoulder, toting my IV pole beside me.

4.  Getting an epidural doesn’t hurt as much as you think (and makes the birthing process a hell of a lot more pleasant, if that is even possible).

I’m terrible with needles. I have to lay down to get my blood drawn just in case I faint and drop to the floor. The idea of getting a big needle shoved into my spinal canal made me want to throw up. So much so in fact that the nurse gave me a fun little expandable plastic bag that looked like a windsock; instead of catching wind, it would catch my barf. I was already a bundle of nerves that day, so it took everything I had not to shake with anxiety while getting prepped for my epidural. The anesthesiologist first injected a numbing agent, which was none too pleasant itself, but it wasn’t that bad. The actual placement of the epidural catheter felt more like an intense pressure rather than pain. The anticipation hurt worse than the procedure. The doctor was so good at his job, it was over before I knew it.

The actual numbing felt like when your leg falls asleep and is numb. I could still move my legs; they just felt heavy and dull. The nurse and I looked at the belly monitor, seeing wave after wave of contraction. “Do you feel that?” she asked. “Nope,” I said, “not a damn thing.” “Huh,” she replied, “great!” Miraculously, as soon as the medicine kicked in I could no longer feel my contractions. Not one. For the whole birth. HIGH FIVE.

Added bonus: I didn’t feel the urethral catheter insertion or removal (necessary with having an epidural), which I hear hurts like a b. At least you don’t have to worry about peeing during labor.

Pushing still hurt, but it was a new kind of hurt I’d never experienced before. It felt more like an intense pressure, so much so that it registered as pain. Still, I cannot even fathom how women undergo a natural birth with no pain management. The added pain and stress of going natural was not worth it to me, and I am so glad I chose the epidural. It wore off without an issue, and I had no follow-up problems in recovery related to having had an epidural.

Fun fact: Epidurals can actually help your delivery go faster. When you are in that much pain, it can be harder to dilate and be relaxed enough to push your baby out. I can’t recommend the procedure enough.

5.  You might poop while pushing.

When it came time to push (Dear God.) the nurse said “Okay, PUSH.” I sucked. I couldn’t really understand how you are supposed to push from your vagina. It’s not really something I had practiced before. Needless to say, nothing much happened. It all clicked when the nurse told me to “Push like you’re pooping.” OH. Got it. The next round went a lot better, and each time we made progress until Baby T emerged wailing.

I wasn’t lucky enough to poop on the table while pushing, but many women do. And the nurses and doctors don’t care. You probably won’t even know if you poop. The experts get you cleaned up quickly and keep moving on. It’s all part of the process. Don’t be embarrassed, not that you will care by that point anyway (refer to #2. HA. Number 2.)

6.  The day is over in a flash.

Many women, including myself, dread D-Day. It is probably the most terrifying part of pregnancy. But the baby’s gotta come out somehow. One mom said that labor and delivery is just a miniscule part of the whole process, it’s over before you know it. She was so right. I went in to the hospital early that morning, and before I knew it, it was evening and time to push. I felt like I had just been admitted! Even though it is a long day, the anticipation and adrenaline make the time fly. You’ll be glad it does.

7.  It is so incredibly worth it.

It’s an odd relief when you feel your baby slide out of you. Even though he or she will be coated in blood and vernix and you are beyond exhausted, you will want to have that baby in your hot little hands immediately. I almost pulled T out of the nurses hands I was so desperate to hold him. I think it is mama instinct; I was clamoring and anxious to hold my baby straightaway. I didn’t care what he was covered in, he was mine and I was elated.

In the end, all that hard work brings forth a sweet little miracle. Ten perfect fingers and ten perfect toes. I haven’t wanted to put my baby down since the moment he took his first breath. You won’t want to either.

How I overcame my fear of breastfeeding in public

Breastfeeding has always really freaked me out. Like I think I truly had an irrational fear of it. I hated seeing breastfeeding women in public, their babies attached to their boobs like an oddly adorable parasite clinging to a mammal. Something that is a little repugnant but you decide to adopt it and keep it anyway. I was definitely pro-covering; I didn’t think anyone should be displaying this kind of behavior publicly. “I don’t want to see that shit when I’m eating in a restaurant,” I would think, shuffling by a mother with what I am sure was a disgusted look on my face.

Cut to me 12 weeks postpartum. Now I am rocketing towards the opposite end of the spectrum—by not giving a damn about who sees me breastfeeding in public. My husband is a lot more squeamish than I am about me whipping out my boobs when called upon by my darling baby boy. In anticipation of dining out he once asked me, “Well won’t you just go feed him in the bathroom?” “HELL NO,” I replied vehemently, “The restaurant doesn’t serve people dinner in the bathroom and I will not feed my son in there either. If they don’t like it they can look somewhere else.” The mix of sheepish and shock on his face was one not to be missed.

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My first experience breastfeeding in a public place was when I went to my first new mom’s event. I had found the group on Facebook and finally worked up the courage to go and meet these other moms that I had only interacted with virtually thus far. The event happened to be at a winery, and the moms, strollers, and blankets were sprawled across the vineyard’s main covered patio. There weren’t that many other guests there at 11 am. “Mom life,” I giggled to myself as I ordered a glass of wine.

By noon there were many more patrons. Some were seated near us along the covered walkway, others were at the picnic tables in the sun. There was a family party being held on the grassy lot adjacent to us. The longer we stayed, the hungrier the babies got. I got to truly see all manner of feeding in public. Some moms went with the less offensive bottle, whether because the babies were formula fed or they had pumped and prepared a bottle in order to avoid public nudity. Other moms had clearly had practice, wearing a nursing dress or shirt and discretely making direct contact of nipple to hungry mouth. Yet I was most intrigued by a tattooed mom about my age, who was wearing a loose tank top but had dropped the strap off her shoulder, the wind pushing it about as her baby latched on, his head the only thing covering her breast from prying eyes. I was probably staring, inappropriately so, but I was fascinated. I was intrigued. I was inspired. She is only doing what comes naturally, and I thought it was so bad-ass. She clearly didn’t give a second thought to who was watching.

Then it was my turn. Baby T was very hungry, so I took out my infinity scarf I thought could double as a nursing cover from my bag, and then proceeded to struggle to balance T on my lap, support his head, lift my t-shirt, undo my nursing top, and simultaneously cover both of us with the scarf. On a hot August day suffice it to say I was profusely sweating, most likely due more to anxiety than the heat. We struggled to unite, my scarf slipping from my shoulder. When T finally found his rhythm and ate happily, I did the best I could to support him while making sure my t-shirt covered what his head didn’t. When he was done, he promptly pooped and was changed. He almost as promptly spit up all over my t-shirt. Down a layer, I felt cooler but without a layer of privacy, should he want to eat again.

He did. I again struggled with the stiff and unforgiving fabric of the scarf, sweating all the while, until I thought TO HELL WITH IT. I whipped the scarf off of me. I felt as free as my bare breast did in the open air, and I felt relief. I didn’t care who might look over from their patio table and wine bottle and see me. I didn’t care what family member might pass by on the way to the main house. We were finally free to eat and bond in peace, and we couldn’t have been happier.

That day was a breakthrough for me. I saw breastfeeding much more differently than ever before, due in part to the tattooed mom at the next table. Not only do I feel free to cover—or not cover—as I feel appropriate in public, but I support any amount of coverage any mom chooses to have. There are few things more awesome than a mama caring for her baby in the most ancient and emotionally tied act, and it should never be shamed. So go ahead mama, free yourself and your lady bit and let your mama flag fly proudly.

Getting through the first three months of breastfeeding: A labor of love

My sweet, little [most of the time] angel is almost three months old, and I don’t know where the time has gone. I had shared my reality of the breastfeeding experience with you before, and am back to share an update with our progress.

At around 6 weeks, it all seemed to come together. The breastfeeding part, anyway. It was like the clouds finally cleared and the sun came out. More like the thunderstorm of the f-king century blew over and the glorious sun shined down upon my boobs. That metaphor is a lot more accurate. The latch, milk let down, nursing—pretty much every part of breastfeeding—no longer hurt. I was nursing a baby, not a viper, which was a delightful change. I was in a breastfeeding honeymoon phase. I still wasn’t wild about the physical feedings, but I loved the bonding it brought for us and the exclusivity of just me and baby time. He needed me, and I needed him. The cutest yin and yang ever.

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Now that we are turning the corner of three months, the non-stop feedings and the protein intolerance diet elimination trials—a whole other mess for a whole other post—leaves me with the resentful feeling that I am kind of over breastfeeding. Maybe it was just because this past weekend Baby T didn’t sleep well, so neither did anyone else, or maybe it is because I feel chained to feeding or pumping. My whole schedule rotates around when T last ate or if my husband has enough pumped milk so that I can see a movie and get lunch with a friend. I’m in a wedding soon, and trying to figure out the ratio of pumped milk needed for hours gone and the logistics of finding a private space so that I can hike up my bridesmaid dress to my chest to feed is a little stressful, to say the least.

We don’t live in our happy bubble at home anymore, where I can whip out a boob at my little guy’s demand and not worry about onlookers. Venturing into the world with a new baby feels scary, and breastfeeding only complicates it further. I’m practicing outings to get used to being a mama on the go, and it is getting a little easier. I’ve come to realize how unfriendly the US is to breastfeeding moms; it’s hard to find a place to get myself set up and feed my baby without feeling extremely exposed! That and the fear that some stranger will reprimand my natural nudity. Even Carter’s, the baby and child store, doesn’t have a dressing room or mother’s room. Seriously? Of all the places you’d think would have one…

I didn’t give up on breastfeeding at the beginning and I was damn sure I’m not going to give up on it now. I’m aiming for 6 months, and I’m halfway there! Just in time to drink for the holidays. Just when you think you have your shit together, motherhood throws you another curve ball. This past Sunday T figured out that the can chomp down while breastfeeding. Who knew that tiny little gums could be so cruel. Since then he has performed his new trick at almost every session. I’m so exasperated I don’t even know what to do. This might be the final straw to weaning him to bottles. It’s a very difficult decision since I have worked so hard for three months to make breastfeeding work. How do you get a baby to stop a behavior? Yell “No” and de-latch? The honeymoon is definitely over. I will have a major decision to make this week. Until next time, mama.

5 Ways that motherhood has changed me for the better

“What’s on the agenda for today?” I asked him, not really expecting a response. I finished fastening his diaper and offered a suggestion, “Boobs and poop?” Baby T burst into a wide grin, his toothless gums accenting his perfect smile. My heart beat sped up and that same feeling of incredible joy filled me; it happens every time I get that delightful response from my baby.

I never was really sure that I wanted children. The whole process seemed overwhelming, and going through labor and birth scared me more than I think it scared most normal people. Why the hell would I want to go through all of that pain? The horror stories made this anxiety worse. Yet almost a year ago my husband and I decided it was finally time for us to try to have a baby. For some reason the commercials with babies were a lot more enticing, the babies in the strollers at the mall a lot cuter. “Tick tock tick tock, do you hear me, bitch? Your clock is ticking.” “Yeah all right, simmer down, ovaries, I got it.” It’s funny how fast things change. It’s even funnier how fast I became pregnant. I barely sneezed and there it was, two pink lines on the pregnancy test. Oh shit, I had thought.

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A scant 8 months later and my baby boy was here. Once the tidal wave of emotions quelled, I was able to take some time for introspection. Mostly during breastfeeding sessions at 3 a.m.– it’s when I do my best thinking. I’ve recognized a lot of changes in myself, but none more so than these…

1. I’m not ruled by worry anymore.

I wrote before on how pregnancy has made me a better person, and now motherhood has had an even greater impact. My favorite hobby pre-baby was worrying. If it wasn’t one thing it was another; I was constantly finding things to worry about. I worried a lot about the future. I worried a lot about not having the right career. I worried a lot about having a career and but needing to make more money. Worry, worry, WORRY. It always felt like the other shoe was about to drop. It was a horrible feeling, and I suffered from a lot of anxiety. These days I don’t worry so much. Of course I have the normal parent anxieties about what kind of person my baby will be or if he has stopped breathing in his sleep—I better go check for the 10th time today—he’s fine. Now I don’t worry about things so much. It’s not that I don’t care, it all just pales in comparison to taking care of my little human. He’s my number one, and as for the rest of it,

2. I’ve realigned my priorities.

I used to obsess about the development of my career, even though the field of public health was one I wasn’t passionate about– I had picked it because I had the most credits towards it in college and needed to select a major as a sophomore. I even got my Master of Public Health degree in an attempt to make a lot more money. I would obsess about what people thought of me: my appearance, my work ethic, my participation as a family member and friend. I even cared what strangers on the street thought of me. Now I couldn’t really give a shit. Again, it definitely isn’t because I don’t care about who I am as a person or take secret pride in the upgrade effect that make-up has on my face, but I don’t feel that it is appropriate to be that stressed about the problems that probably weren’t even problems to begin with. You might think I’m being a bad friend because I can’t text you a lot or have the same social life. I know you’ll understand one day when you have kids. I still care so much about you, but my priority right now is being a mom, first and foremost. Please be patient. I have to do it the way that I feel is best for us. I just hope you’ll understand. I’ll be back one day, just not in the next foreseeable season. Or first year post-birth. I’ve definitely learned that

3. I’m a lot more patient and much slower to anger.

Looking back, I think I was too fiery of a person, and not in a good way. There’s a difference between passionate and caring and then just getting crazy. I never used to blow up (I don’t think) but I was definitely impatient with others and, more importantly, myself. I used to get frustrated and angry really quickly. Definitely attributes that aren’t cute on anyone. Having a baby forces you to be patient and calm. Getting frustrated or angry or worked up doesn’t help anyone, and often your baby will sense it and make him get worked up in turn. I’m patient with T, but also much more patient and more kind to myself. It is easy to be hard on yourself and get mad about your new mom body or your new life, but taking a step back and realizing that you created a human being from the most basic cellular level really changes your perspective on your jiggly thighs and soft gut. Writing about it makes me realize that most of it was probably a reaction of insecurity. I didn’t love myself the way that I should, and wasn’t proud of what I had accomplished thus far in my life. Now

4. I feel at peace in my heart and soul.

And for the first time I’m completely happy with myself and my life. It feels amazing. I can make decisive decisions. Well, I can most of the time. No one is perfect. But not expecting perfection of myself in every aspect of my life has been very freeing. I am okay with doing the best that I can, because it is working out just peachy. I enjoy each day as it comes and look forward to tomorrow, and toward my future. Up until this point, I had been living in the past. I would look back on my college days with an overly fond nostalgia that wasn’t healthy. I wanted to go back, and this prevented me from moving forward. For the first time in my life, I am able to live in the present. I am able to live with peace of mind. However,

5. I won’t take any shit.

Part of having this newfound security is realizing how much I used to let others dump on me. Nuh uh, not any more, sister. Not only do I have to care for myself, I have a little one to protect now. There is no messing with this mama bear. I’m not going to take any criticism about my weight anymore. I’m not even going to field questions about it. It’s not really anyone’s business how much weight I gained during pregnancy, or how fast I’m losing it. It’s not anyone’s business about how we will make it with a single income and me staying at home. It’s not anyone’s business about how I handle T’s sleep training—or lack thereof. If you haven’t discovered it yet, people loooooove to give you opinions on how to be pregnant, how to give birth, how to breastfeed, and how to raise your baby. Some of it is genuine compassion and good will. But the rest of it is just nosiness. I don’t have to take it, and neither do you! It is as simple as politely saying “Thank you for sharing your opinion” and leave it at that.

Motherhood is awesome. In fact, I am a little obsessed with it. I never thought I would be, but I am so glad that my life has led me here. I am fortunate and blessed, and am grateful every day for it. Namaste.

Top 5 Breastfeeding Essentials

The best products I have found that I think every mama should have on hand

*May contain affiliate links

Hey mamas! I wrote before about how tough breastfeeding can be to get started, but there were a few items that I couldn’t live without when I was getting the hang of it and still love them today. I legitimately use these products daily and wouldn’t recommend them to you otherwise– I can’t be bought, bitch. Click the link below the image to shop my recommendations.

1. Brest Friend Pillow

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My Brest Friend Original Nursing Pillow with Extra Slipcover, Blue Bells

I use my Brest Friend Pillow every day, I couldn’t live without it. The reason I love this brand in particular is because it clips around your waist, which allows for greater support of your baby and he won’t slip between you and the pillow. You will be surprised how quickly a tiny baby gets heavy, not to mention the stress it puts on your wrist, arm, and nerves when holding him up. The foam pillow also features head supports built in to keep the baby’s head elevated above his stomach, helpful in reducing spit up. I would definitely get an extra slip cover, because… you know… milk. There is even a handy pocket off the front to keep water or your phone, but I mostly just stick my breast pad in it! Speaking of…

2. Lansinoh Absorbent Breast Pads

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Since you are breastfeeding, you will be leaking. And it can be a lot, to the point where your bra and shirt are wet and you’re thinking WTF HAPPENED in the middle of the night. Sorry sister, it’s the price of feeding another human. I can’t go without wearing breast pads. I originally went for the earth friendly wash and reuse pads, but they didn’t provide enough protection. If you leak a little bit they might be okay, but the Lansinoh pads hold an ungodly amount of milk. Like your mind will be blown. I’ve never leaked through. And I suggest a two-pack, you’ll go through them almost as fast as diapers.

If you want to try the washable pads, I had ordered the organic kind below. They wash well and get softer as you wash them. Just make sure your nipples are dry before putting them back on or else your skin will stick, and peeling them off hurts like a bitch. I would also buy two sets of these, you can go through them quickly in a day and then have to wash and dry them. At least the wash bag is included!

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Organic Bamboo Nursing Pads (10 Pack) With Laundry Bag by Baby Zeli – Ultra Soft, Reusable, Hypoallergenic, Washable Breastfeeding Pads

Since nipples were brought up…

3. Lansinoh Nipple Cream

nipple-cream

Lansinoh HPA Lanolin 1.41 Oz (2 Pack)

A lifesaver to prevent dry and cracked nipples, this cream is seriously worth investing in. I usually apply it once a day after feeding or pumping. It’s all natural, hypoallergenic, and you don’t have to wash it off before feeding baby again. Again I’m showing you a two-pack to save you some cash. I keep one by my pump and one in the bathroom for after showers. Or keep one in your diaper bag and one in the nursery. Trust me, the time to think about getting cream isn’t after your nips are sore AF from breastfeeding. Just trust me ok?

4. Philips Avent Thermal Gel Pads

cool-pads

Philips AVENT Thermal Gel Pads, 2-Pack

For some reason– and I hope its not just me–boobs can get really hot after breastfeeding, especially if your baby is into cluster feedings. Like literally hot to the touch. Cool those bad girls down with these gel pads. I love them because they can be heated or frozen. Heat to help stimulate milk production and let down, freeze to stop it. If you read my breastfeeding post linked above, then you know I only use them to freeze the f out of my boobs so I can get a break and sleep milk-free while my husband bottle feeds Baby T once a night. The downside of these is that if you have really big boobs they don’t cover the entire thing. I usually use both on one side at a time, unfortunately. But, I still can’t live without them.

5. Breastmilk storage

storage

Medela Breastmilk Storage Solution

I’m very blessed to be an over supplier of breast milk– although sometimes when my boobs are hard as Pam’s bad implants from milk backup it doesn’t feel like a blessing. Anyway, sometimes a girl’s just gotta pump. And trust me, that pumped milk is like liquid gold–you won’t want to just dump it! I like this storage kit because it has a variety of options for storage, as well as a handy fridge caddy. Use the bags or small tubes to freeze or refrigerate milk, and use the big bottles to refrigerate for daily use. The cool thing about the big bottles is that the lid has a built in day tracker so you know when you pumped. Just pop it up and spin to the right day, then push down to lock in place. The bags allow you to write the date, time, and amount of milk stored. You can always order more bags, but this is a great starter kit.

Until next time!

Finding our rhythm post-baby: The importance of dating your partner again postpartum

“I f-ing hate my mom body,” I thought as I tossed aside the third dress in a row. Finally selecting a black skirt and loose fitting black shirt I could hide a little bit in, I was some semblance of date night acceptable. Sweating, I put on wedges—the first time I’d worn anything over half an inch since the first trimester. I put my ID in my purse, just in case I could relax enough to have a drink with dinner, also the first time since the start of the first trimester. I looked in the mirror. Good enough. You look beautiful, my wonderful husband told me. I kissed Baby T goodbye; he was already quite comfortable in his grandma’s arms.

“Okay. Let’s go.”

9-6-16 Dating Postpartum

Going on our first date postpartum had been more anxiety inducing that I had imagined. Not only could I not find something to wear since my body had changed so much with pregnancy, I felt kind of nervous. I also felt silly for feeling nervous, but there I was, anxious to go on a date with my husband of five years. Our lives had shifted so dramatically since having a baby a few months prior, that it almost felt awkward to just be alone with ourselves again. I had even debated cancelling our date, saying I was too tired to even go. My husband held firm, though, and we walked hand in hand into the restaurant. We started talking, and found our rhythm easily. I felt myself relaxing into the booth and my nerves disappearing as fast as the appetizer. I don’t know why I had been so nervous. Maybe because I was secretly afraid having a baby would change our marriage for the worse.

Quite the contrary, it turns out. J was feeling the same things I was. Not only did we feel a deep-rooted, primal love for our child, but we also felt closer and more bonded than ever to each other. Blessing after blessing. These days I feel awash in love and obsession for our family of three.  Turns out he does, too.

Going on a date was the best thing we could have done. Once you become a mom, it is so easy to slip into baby blinders and start to neglect your relationship. This is definitely the worst thing that you can let happen. Between the diaper changes and late night feedings, there is often little time for anything else, though. Going on a date and talking about other things non-baby allowed my husband and I to reconnect and fan our flame. The importance of maintaining the bond with your partner goes beyond keeping your relationship healthy. It models appropriate and loving relationships for your children. It helps them to see you as one unit—which goes a long way for being a united front when it comes to discipline. None of this bad mom vs. fun dad shit.

Find the time daily to reconnect in some small way with your partner. It can be as simple as asking how his/her day was, and then really listening for the answer. Instead of falling asleep right away, take some time for some hanky panky. Offer to cook dinner, or better yet, bring in a cocktail. Few things feel as good as being appreciated, and showing your partner that you care helps keep your bond strong.

And yes, by the way, I did have that cocktail. Three actually. I had to pump and dump which always breaks mama’s heart, but as my mom friends keep reminding me, it’s okay to do you. So go ahead mama, you do you, too.