When it’s not the Greatest Day of Your Life

 

I had the opportunity to write a guest post for Hot Minute Mom! Check it out here! Or read below! (And credit for the above photo goes to one of our favorite photographers, Davina!)

I experienced one of the most beautiful moments in my life this weekend. What was unusual about this is that it wasn’t a romantic date, it wasn’t a holiday. I was sitting in church with my husband and baby, and the baby fell asleep laying across both of our laps. Really, it was just a Sunday. Nothing special, but it was one of the most beautiful moments I’ve experienced in my life. I was so content, and so at peace, sitting there with my little family. It is one of the few times I have been able to enjoy a moment and not worry about other things. This moment made me think about what really matters in life.

Because the truth is, while we can’t deny the significant role big days such as weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays play in our lives, we spend way more of our time doing unexciting tasks. More often than not, our time is spent completing mundane activities. We might be at work, we might be cleaning the house (AGAIN? I mean really, with all the technology out there shouldn’t I have a self-cleaning house??) It can be easy to wish away the day, to wish for more excitement, but why? We need to learn to be content with quiet happiness.

One of my favorite quotes that describes this is from Jenkin Lloyd Jones:

“Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he has been robbed. Life is like an old-time rail journey—delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.”

Am I saying that you should learn to be happy in a miserable situation? No way! Take charge of your situation and make changes if you need to. But quiet contentment is BEAUTIFUL. Some of my favorites in my life currently are going to the grocery store as a family, or all of us cramming into the comfy chair together in the evening, or going for a drive in the country. And when I think back on my happy times in my childhood, the things that come to mind are family nights at home when we couldn’t contain our giggles, not vacations and or a trip to Disneyland. And while I have enjoyed our days that would be considered monumental, I am learning the importance of being happy in my daily life as well.

In motherhood, sometimes it is easy to think that I want certain things to pass by, like an illness, or teething, or certain phases. But really, each phase is wonderful in its own way, and I am doing my best to soak up every moment. Plus, I get more cuddles when my little man is feeling icky, and who can complain about sweet baby cuddles??

When I think back on my life, I want to be able to say that I lived in the moment, and appreciated what I had. I’ve been working hard to slow down, be ok with accomplishing less, and finding happiness in small things. This doesn’t magically turn our lives into sunshine, rainbows and unicorns, but it can help us see the small rays of light in our daily lives.

So hold that baby for a few more minutes. The dishes can wait. Don’t only take pictures and write in your journal about exciting events. Take a picture of your family having a movie night, or making a blanket fort. Don’t forget to enjoy today.

When Breastfeeding Isn’t Beautiful

 

My Story

Breastfeeding is a beautiful thing. So natural, so easy, so wonderful…except when it’s not.

We had a rough start with our breastfeeding journey. My little man was in the NICU for his first 5 days of life due to low oxygen levels. He was so lethargic that we struggled to keep him awake during feedings. If any of you have been unlucky enough to belong to the NICU parents club, you know that they monitor many things, one of which is they weigh diapers to make sure those littles are getting enough to eat.

A few days in and my milk hadn’t come in yet. The diapers weren’t weighing enough, and we were instructed to begin supplementing. For about the 80th time since he had been born, I cried and cried. I felt like my body had failed me and my baby. I pumped constantly in my hospital room, and tried to breast feed him at every scheduled feeding. It was so hard, he was so sleepy and unwilling to feed, and covered in wires and tubes. I was trying to recover from childbirth, it hurt to sit in the uncomfortable chair in the baby’s room, deal with raging hormones, sore nipples, my new responsibility as a parent, my strange post pardum body, and overwhelming fatigue. One day, I fell asleep in the chair with the baby and was berated by one of the nurses. I just wanted to take my baby home. If I asked for help with breast feeding, the nurses and lactation consultants helped us but it was very uncomfortable to have them in my personal space giving me instructions.

We got to go home!

We were finally able to go home, and our little guy was discharged from the hospital. Things improved, I’m sure partially due to reduced stress and also the improved health of our baby. We still weren’t reaching our exclusive breast feeding goals, and every time I pumped any extra milk he would end up needing it just a few hours later. As the weeks went by, and I got closer to returning to work, I still didn’t have even a drop of milk set aside in the freezer.

I KNEW that he wasn’t getting enough milk from me. If I didn’t give him a bottle in addition to breast feeding he would not sleep at all, and was not content. I wanted so badly to exclusively breast feed, but I knew I couldn’t starve my baby by refusing to give him bottles.

The  Meanie

I called the lactation consultant, and she was very unkind. She told me to quit supplementing, because every time I gave him a bottle I was damaging my supply. Absolutely good advice for people who have normal production levels, but TERRIBLE AWFUL advice for someone who is part of this unfortunate minority. She told me I could come in for an observed feed if I wanted, but heavily insinuated that it was unnecessary, and I was mismanaging breastfeeding.

I hung up the phone and cried. I took the baby to his hearing screening, and I called my husband to tell him how it went, and also talked to him about my conversation with lactation consultant. He was livid about the way she treated me, and reminded me that our baby was doing fine.

Pump, feed, pump, and repeat

I kept thinking that we just needed to push a little harder, just pump a little more, just take one more supplement, just try a different tea, just drink a little more water, just eat a little better, and everything would work. But it didn’t. This obsession with my milk production exacerbated the postpartum depression I experienced.

Everyone said that it’s ok, that lots of babies grow up using formula, and I wasn’t a bad mom. And I wanted to believe that, I really did. And truly, no one can understand the pain of this unless they have experienced it. I do realize that I was blessed to be able to partially breast feed my child, but it was still an incredibly difficult and painful experience for me. This isn’t something I am very comfortable sharing with the world, but I feel inspired to write about these experiences.

There is an idiotic stigma attached to the inability to breastfeed, or the inability to breastfeed exclusively. There is no other physical inability that is met with so much judgment in our society. I was lucky to be met with an outpouring of support, but I know other moms who have not been so lucky.

The end of our breastfeeding journey

Our breast feeding journey came to an end just before my little one turned 6 months. I found a wonderful group of ladies with the same difficulty, and they have been an AMAZING support. They reminded me that my baby needed me more than my milk. It was the best choice for us for many reasons. I have no regrets about weaning, and I’m proud of what we accomplished together.

So please, stop attaching a stigma to bottle feeding. Stop the hurtful rumor that everyone can exclusively breast feed, and mothers who don’t are lazy. We all know that “breast is best” but when it’s not an option, FED IS BEST.

 

30 Things to do When You Are About to Lose it

Self-care is always essential, but as a new mom I am realizing even more how important it is. While taking care of my family is my number one priority, I’ve come to realize that I can’t take care of them if I don’t take care of myself. Here is a list of things to do when you are at your wits end. We all find ourselves about to lose it, especially those of us with small children! So if you find your sanity escaping, take a deep breath, and choose one of the below activities!

1. Go for a drive
2. Paint your nails
3. Do 10 jumping jacks
4. Write in your journal
5. Take a bubble bath
6. Step outside
7. Color a picture
8. Call a friend
9. Go for a run (or walk)
10. Play a game on your phone
11. Read a blog post 😉
12. Rearrange the furniture
13. Start a new book (or begin to re-read an old favorite)
14. Curl your hair
15. Write a letter to an out of state friend
16. Look at pictures of puppies
17. Watch a funny video
18. Eat some chocolate
19. Buy a cute outfit
20. Match your pile of socks
21. Write a note to your husband
22. Give your pet 15 minutes of undivided affection
23. Use google street view in a different country
24. Bake some cookies (No guilt in eating some of the dough!)
25. Briefly research a type of technology you are curious about
26. Read about a significant historical event
27. Knit/crochet a scarf
28. Adopt a new catch phrase
29. Read scripture
30. Pray

Remember, there is nothing wrong with taking a break from the activity that is causing you stress, or simply setting the crying baby down and taking a few minutes to collect yourself. What did I miss? What activities do you do when you are at your wits end? I’d love to hear from you!

The Daily Habit That is Destroying Your Self-Worth

Sometimes we have days where we get to take care of everyone else. But somedays we have days where we are the ones who everyone else has to take care of. I had one of those days this weekend. This called my attention to something I do regularly that is harming my self-worth.

 

 

It’s been a crazy snowy winter this year here in Idaho. I ran a few errands by myself, because my hubby was at work. I don’t know about you, but I’m proud when I leave the house by myself with the baby. (It’s a lot of work!) Then I realized that I wasn’t ready to go home yet, so I thought a nice drive in the country would relax me, right?

 

I drove around for a while, looking at the beautiful scenery, the gorgeous farm houses, and then I decided I should turn around. I drove into a dead end street, and turned around…and found myself stuck. I rocked it forward and back in reverse and drive, and nothing helped. A very nice lady was shoveling her walk nearby, and came over and attempted to dig me out, but nothing helped. I called my fantastic in-laws, and they came right over and pulled me out.

 


I was mortified. I didn’t feel deserving of help. I should have been more observant, and noticed how deep the snow was in the street, and what was I even doing driving around in the winter in the first place with my infant? How irresponsible was that? What kind of parent am I?

I was thinking about this afterwards, and when we go to help someone, do we think about how deserving they are? Do we think about the better choices they should have made, and then decide to not help them if they could have chosen better?

My husband is a nurse, and a large percentage of people come in the hospital as a result of poor choices, whether it be over a lifetime that results in bad health, or poor choices that result in injury. Does he evaluate if they could have chosen better, and then decide not to help them? Of course not, that would be ridiculous. As a counselor, when I work with people, do I decide whether they are deserving of help and proceed accordingly? No way! The fact is, most of us don’t deserve help, but people give it to us anyway.


We all make mistakes. I found myself stuck in the snow with my baby because I was a stir crazy mom who just wanted to be out of the house for a few extra minutes. Not because I was endangering my child, that was not my goal. So why was I treating myself so unkindly? The fact is, most of us engage in this self-destroying practice multiple times a day.

One of my favorite pieces of advice is that when you find yourself engaging in negative self talk, to think about whether it is something you would say to your loved one. There is no way that I would talk to my husband, son, or any of my other loved ones in the way that I talk to myself. So why do I treat myself so poorly? It’s something that can eat away at your self-worth, and it is something I am working on. I am working on replacing each negative thought with something positive. I encourage you to do the same. This is one step towards improving your self-worth.

I’m grateful for the kindness of friends, the kindness of family, and also the unexpected kindness of strangers. Please remember, you are deserving of help. You are deserving of love. You are worth so much more than you know. It is OK to need help. Remember that.

The Moment That Changed My Life Forever

 

There are a handful of experiences that shape our lives in a significant way. They are different for every individual, of course. One of the most significant is having a child. Being a parent is amazing. It’s hard. It feels impossible at times. And of course, you will find that EVERYTHING has changed.

There is a human being that I grew within my body for 9 months (Let’s be real, it’s longer than 9 months, but I won’t get into that now), gave birth to, and now needs everything done for it. Literally everything. Everyone tells you that being a parent is so incredibly difficult, it’s exhausting, the hardest thing you will ever do, but nothing can prepare you for it.  No amount of reading, research, or anything can prepare you for the emotional and physical exhaustion, the inner turmoil, and all the indescribable feelings that you feel as a new parent. I’ve joked that if people knew exactly what they were getting into with having a baby, would anyone do it?  Even knowing what I know now, I would do it all over again.

I was so terrified. I know my husband was terrified. And as two people with professions that required training that taught us a great amount about children  (a social worker and a nurse, if you aren’t familiar with us), I thought that we would be totally prepared. Not even close.

But when I looked into his eyes for the first time, and held that little being (He was not so little, being 9 pounds and 21.5 inches long) that I had been feeling move inside me for so long, it was absolutely indescribable. This isn’t a picture I have shared with very many people, and it is a very emotional picture to me, but it only captures maybe 1/1000th of the emotions I was feeling that day.

I’ve found strength I never knew I had. I’ve become more exhausted than I thought possible, and I have pushed past that to a state of fatigue that my pre-baby self could have never imagined. My marriage changed drastically, but in an incredibly positive way. Not only are we eternal companions, but we are the mother and father of an amazing child of God.

It is all worth it.

I also have a sacred role in raising an amazing spirit. Getting to know his beautiful personality, hearing those sweet giggles and coos, and watching him experience the world for the first time is absolutely incredible.

Parenthood is more than late night diaper changes and feedings, it is more than bathing, it more than rocking a fussy baby. It’s an unbelievably daunting responsibility, as well one of the most rewarding experiences this life has to offer. My life has changed forever, but I wouldn’t go back for anything.

 

10 Things to Consider When Choosing Childcare

 

So you have children and you are going to work. Maybe by choice, maybe out of necessity? You have a kiddo (or kiddos?) so what do you do with them while you are at work? What on earth do you look for in a quality child care? When my hubby and I were trying to choose a daycare for our little man, we had no clue where to start. We didn’t know which questions to ask, or what to watch out for. We were flying blind. Here’s a list of our experiences with finding childcare, to hopefully make this less stressful for you.

A good portion of choosing childcare is personal preference, so I have included some questions for you to consider. (Note: You may be wondering who the heck I am to tell you how to choose quality care. I’m a Licensed Master Social Worker, and part of my training included surveying environments. )

1. Location

Are you comfortable with the neighborhood? Is it important to you that the daycare be near your place of work? Would you rather the daycare were on a main road, or a side street? Our little man goes to a daycare that is relatively close to where I work, because I felt better about him not being too far away. It’s not incredibly close, even though there are many good daycare centers that are closer I chose the one that I was most comfortable with.

2. Cleanliness

How clean does it need to be? When my husband and I were searching for a daycare, we visited one that was well known in the community. We walked in and it was FILTHY. I am not a cleanliness snob by any means, but it was much too dirty for me to consider sending my baby there. The one we ultimately chose was beautifully clean. Cleaner than my house will ever be, for sure. (Not that my house is super dirty, the daycare is just SUPER CLEAN). We visited on my lunch break, and even though the kids had just finished eating that place was spotless.

3. Policies

It important to know the daycare’s policies in order to know if you agree. What kind of discipline do they use? Do they require the children to be immunized? Do they allow kids to come while they are sick? Do they have a room where you can breastfeed your baby on your lunch break? Most daycare’s have manuals available that you can peruse to gather this information.

4. Recommendations

Our two favorite daycare’s during our decision process both came heavily recommended from friends. Talk to people you know (Friends, co-workers, neighbors, members of your church congregation) and see where they take their kids.

5. Staff

How do the staff look? Do they look clean and kind? How are the staff treating the children when you look around? I had someone tell me once that when they were searching for a daycare for their baby, they saw a staff member cramming a baby into a chair. She said the baby was screaming, and the staff just kept attempting to shove them in the chair. I shudder when I think about this, because if this is happening when people are touring, imagine what is happening when no one is watching? Staff ratios are important to ask about as well. Each state has their own laws on ratios, but they are generally very minimal so it is important to know the daycare’s ratios.

6. Cost

There are always exceptions to this, but be careful with going with the best bargain. Quality care is expensive. Again there are exceptions, but in the world of child care, you generally get what you pay for. A lot of parents (who are the second income of their household) have to consider what amount of their paycheck is going to childcare, and if it is worth it to them to continue to work. Most states have programs that help low income parents pay for childcare, so that is worth looking into if you are in that situation. (Note: If you live in Idaho, here is the link for information on ICCP)

7. Layout

Many daycare’s are broken up into rooms by age. Some are more open. Would you prefer an open layout, or separate rooms for age groups? If you have more than one child attending, you may prefer it to be more open so they can spend time together and are not isolated from one another. It is also important to consider the future, and if you are planning on having more kids it could be good to consider this as well.

8. Size of the childcare facility 

What size of center are you looking for? Do you want your child to be at a more personal daycare, maybe an in home or small center? Or would you prefer the streamlined processes of a larger center?

9. Organization

Are kids items separated? How do they remind you of payment due, or if you need to bring more diapers, formula/pumped breast milk, extra outfits? You definitely only want to be bringing supplies for your child, not the entire daycare so organization is very important.

10. How do you feel when you walk in the door?

If everything else on the list is perfect on paper but there is something about the place that you just don’t like, get out of there and keep looking! Whether you call that nagging feeling in your stomach the holy ghost, your gut, your conscience (Jiminy Cricket!) or whatever, LISTEN TO IT!

Did I miss anything? I would love to hear your experiences with choosing a daycare for your kiddos. Let me know! 🙂

*photo credit Katy Cooper Photography*

The Scariest Gross Story (poop!)

The beginning

It was just a regular morning, just like any other. Or so I thought. Oh, if I could only go back to the peacefulness of that morning, and if I could unsee the trauma of poop that I saw that morning. I heard the sounds of the baby cooing in his room, so I shuffled down the hall and picked out an outfit to change him into, and draped it over the side of the crib. I undressed the baby, and placed the old diaper in the diaper genie, noticing with my tired eyes that there was a tiny smear of baby surprise in the diaper. I walked back over, and he had rolled onto his side, and a cute dimpled baby butt was visible. Before I knew it, I found myself lost in thought about my day, blissfully unaware of what was about to happen.

The trauma (of poop!)

Suddenly, out of that cute tush shot something so incredibly terrifying that I cannot adequately describe it with words. It shot out five feet, with the pressure of a fire hydrant,  and narrowly missing my leg. Landing on the side of the crib, on the rug, on the hardwood, with a large portion landing in his baby tub that was sitting on the floor of the nursery. I couldn’t scream, I couldn’t speak. I was in shock. All I could do is roll the baby onto his back to try to stop it from flying through the air, but it was too late. It was everywhere. Poop! I stood there in shocked silence at the disaster around me. I then continued to stand in stunned silence.

The Warzone

My husband woke up, and walked in to the nursery. He took a moment to survey the damage AND HE LAUGHED. He laughed at my pain, and at the warzone that surrounded me and our infant. Before I knew it I was laughing too, and began to clean up the disaster around me. The moral of the story is: always keep your wits about you, infants know when you are lost in thought and they will seize that moment and change your life forever.