Category Archives: Mama

Babies + Sleep

April 27, 2017

Every single week someone emails me about getting their kid to sleep. Not because I am some sort of baby sleep wizard, but because for some reason my posts on sleep training pop up when you make frantic google searches at 2am while your baby is still trying to burn the house down. The emails all sound pretty much the same. It is either a sad, desperate mom who is ready to sleep train their baby or a sad, desperate mom who is not ready but just wants to say I’m not sleeping and this is the worst.

I have been both of these moms and I get it. The whole thing is hard and confusing and everyone just wants to do the right thing. My only real advice is this: give yourself grace along with an occasional babysitter so you can drive to the Panera parking lot and nap.

A few weeks ago I came up on the sixth anniversary of my blog launch, a fancy way of saying that six years ago I started sharing my very boring stories on pregnancy with my grandma and seven other readers while I waited for my first baby to be born. As the years have passed, much has changed. The Internet has gotten louder about parenting (blogs, Pinterest, Instagram). As for me, I have had two more kids and as a result, have become a lot quieter.

That said, I would love to have something to send to these dear, tired parents before my time as a mother to babies fades into nostalgia. As of today, in the year of our Lord 2017, I have gotten three very different babies to sleep and lived to tell the tale. For you moms who are doing that 2am Google, the rest of this post is for you.

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I am going to keep this simple because I am a simple person with a simple brain who does not like instructions with more than five bullet points. Once I tried to assemble a crib by myself and after 45 minutes of profanity, threw all the tools into a pile and told Austin if he didn’t do it, the baby could sleep in the laundry basket for all I cared.

So, you want your baby to sleep.

I am not going to tell you how to make that happen because you already know how. I know this because if you are desperate enough to read a blog post by a random mom about her kids sleeping, you’ve already read all the books and articles and forums on the correlations between college test scores and sleep trained babies. I am going to tell you what this ultimately comes down to which is: is it okay to let my baby cry? 

The short answer is yes.

The longer answer is yes, but isn’t it so terrible? No one tells you that someday you will have to let your precious, darling baby cry on purpose like an abandoned puppy left at the pound. But I guess that’s because if someone told you all the worst parts of parenting, you might need a Xanax-and-tonic to digest. The first time I did it, I waited until my son was 14 months old. The next time I waited six months because I knew waiting longer would make things much worse.

I have deleted most of my blog posts on parenting, but the sleep ones remain because I am still close enough to sleep training babies to remember how much it helped when another mom told me it’s okay to let them cry. So let me say it again: It’s okay when you’re ready and they’re ready and everyone is ready to have a Beyonce grade night of sleep. Just remember the old latin proverb that says if you sleep train a 5-month-old and potty train a 2-year-old in the same week you will die.

Lastly, I want to say that there is a difference between newborn sleeplessness and a six month old who wants to throw a 2am rager at the milk bar. If you are stuck in the former, may god bless you with coffee and an 1800s style night nurse who brings you a hot towel and then tucks you into bed for 12 hours (but probably just the first thing).    +

Happy sleeping, friend. Someday it will all be a memory.

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PS: Parenting manuals are the worst, but if you really do need a suggestion on methods, etc–this is my sleeping Bible. May the force be with you.

Sitting With Her

February 16, 2017

A few months ago I gave birth to my last baby. In predictable fashion, the time has gone remarkably fast. One minute he was emerging through a ring of fire, and now he’s growing out of small white onesies and requesting beer with dinner instead of breastmilk (just kidding, he prefers wine).

It is easy to panic about this passing of time, especially when everyone tells you to soak in every minute before it’s gone. It’s like if someone told you to really enjoy your ice cream cone now so that next week when you’re craving one, all you’ll have to do is remember today and you’ll be satisfied.

I wish that’s how it worked. I wish that three or five or seventeen years from now when I’m craving that newborn smell and the weight of a baby on my chest, all I’ll have to do is close my eyes to experience it again.

Instead I’ll only feel the familiar ache.

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A few months ago a friend was crying over her daughter’s loose tooth. “Something is wrong with me,” she said. “There is nothing sad about a loose tooth.”

No, we said shaking our heads. Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

This past fall, I took my first baby to Kindergarten. He was ready, I was ready, but when the time came to leave him at the door–he clung to my arm and asked me not to go.

“Stay with me,” he said, tears in his eyes. “I don’t want you to leave.”

“You’re going to be so brave,” I said to both of us.

Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

Yesterday a friend wrote to me and said she was failing as a mother. It’s so overwhelming. I can’t be everything to everyone. I’m doing something wrong.

No, no, not at all. Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

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For a long time I looked for some sort of cure for saying goodbye to this phase of life, hoping that when the time came, I’d be ready. Equipped with all the tools to manage and cope and not drive everyone crazy with my inability to let go. Mostly I hoped to simply feel ready to move on; happy to say goodbye to the stained highchair, tall stack of diapers, and bulky pack-and-play that never folds down quite right. Instead I am so relieved to learn the truth. That just because it is hard to say goodbye to these baby stages doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

I am and will be so many different kinds of mother in this life. A mother of babies, a mother of toddlers, a mother of pre-teens and teenagers and 30-year-old men. And when I look back at the mother I was to these small children and feel that familiar ache, I hope I sit with her. Let myself grieve what she lost in late night feedings and celebrate what she has become. Just as there is room for joy and gratitude and exhaustion in parenthood, there is also room for what comes with saying goodbye. And for me, that is a lot of sadness and emotions.

Please keep Austin in your thoughts.

The door is not closed, but it will close someday one way or another. And when I find my heart heavy, I know what to do. I will look to that mother, rocking her baby in that well worn chair, and I will sit with her.

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Birth Was Great But Now I Can’t Sit Down : Five Essentials For Postpartum Care

July 7, 2016

Hello from the other side, friends. A few weeks ago I had my third baby, officially graduating me to the postpartum phase. Since I’ve done this before, I knew to have low expectations and plenty of Senna Lax. It’s been okay. Basically I have three speeds postpartum: totally fine, totally overwhelmed, and totally dead inside. As long as I can keep the last one at bay for the majority of the time, we’ll be okay.

Physical recovery has been fine, too. Nothing can compare to the horror of the first baby, and I know better than to think my body will return to a teenager in five minutes (or ever). We’re taking our time. My advice to anyone about to go through this for the first time is this: Give yourself grace and ask for what you need. If you need someone to come hold the baby, ask for help. If you need your partner to stop watching Game Of Thrones on his iPhone because it’s making you nauseous, ask for help. If you need more of those ice pack pads from the hospital to take home so your vagina doesn’t fall out, buzz your nurse and ASK FOR HELP. You just had a baby, it’s okay to have needs.

It’s also a good idea to take time for self-care, especially if they help make your body (and your brain) feel a little more normal.

Today, five things I’ve found that help make this part a bit easier.

You got this.

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1. Thinx underwear.

thinx

Is it just me or does the bleeding after baby seem to last forever? I’m on week three and still not able to walk around footloose and pad free. Even though I’ve long moved on from the diaper phase of postpartum recovery (praise Jesus), that light bleeding off and on all day and night just keeps on going.

Fortunately for women who hate wearing pads (all women), there is a new way to walk around with your flow. Thinx period panties replaces pantyliners with its built in miracle system and allows you to feel more like a normal human being postpartum. I don’t really understand how it works, but I do know that wearing these special underwears is 100x better than wearing a pad.

Official review: Comfy, convenient, not gross, NOT A PAD. 5/5 stars.

Q&A –> Yes, I’ve heard of the diva cup. No, I don’t want to try it (you can’t use it postpartum anyways). Yes, I’m going to use Thinx for my period. No, I won’t be able to just use them the whole cycle (my flow is too heavy). Yes, they are comfortable. No, it doesn’t feel wet. No, it doesn’t smell bad. No, it doesn’t feel like sitting in your own blood. Yes, you have to rinse them before you wash them. No, you don’t have to change them during the day. Yes, I actually really do love them.

10 bucks off your first pair.

Cheers.

PS: 100 million girls in the developing world fall behind in school just because of their periods, forcing many of them to drop off. See how every purchase of Thinx underwear helps here.

PPS: Their sister company makes pee panties and they were a lifesaver during pregnancy. You can find that review here.

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2. Miralax.

miralax

Well hello old friend.

We’ve talked about that first postpartum poo before.

Look, I don’t need to ruin your day with my sad tales of anal fissures and crippling constipation–but I will say that for my friends out there who also have this problem after birth: solidarity, sister. The pain is so real and devastating.

This time, the troubles didn’t hit me until 3.5 weeks postpartum. I thought I had avoided it this time, but my body was just waiting to surprise me! All of a sudden the ass glass is back, and now every trip to the bathroom is like a second birth. Please excuse my screams.

Even if you don’t have fissures or hemorrhoids, most women experience some minor poo problems post delivery. Two things I’ve found that help soften things up: Miralax + Senna tablets. Both things help keep things moving without being too hard on your body.

Godspeed.

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3. Non-maternity clothes.

kimono

My postpartum wardrobe the first two times consisted of ratty maternity clothes, unflattering XL t-shirts, and sweatpants. Not great for morale.

Postpartum wardrobe this time: kimonos, flowy tops, compression leggings (bless), and a few new nursing tanks from Target. Candis from The Jones Market also sent me this shirt, which feels like butter and is so roomy and forgiving.

Look, we all know that after you have a baby, your body feels like a bloated jellyfish. What I’ve learned this time around is that anything that helps you feel like a normal, healthy human being is worth the price. Don’t settle for your stretched out maternity tops that hug in all the wrong places. The morale boost is worth it.

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4. Peapod grocery delivery.

peapod

A few years ago if you were getting your groceries delivered, you were either a wealthy hermit or Beyoncé. Now you can get them delivered fairly cheaply from your local grocery store. The grocery store that you were going to take two young kids and newborn to while you tried to shove bananas in the cart next to the car-seat (because that’s about all you’re going to fit in with that seat taking up most of the room).

This week I placed my first Peapod order and a day later, all my groceries were delivered to my door without me having to get three kids and myself out the door. Groceries that I took two days to slowly pick out and add to my cart while I looked up recipes and figured out what I want for breakfast. It’s magic, and I definitely ended up saving money because of all the stuff I didn’t get roaming the aisles. I also saved my sanity, which is worth its weight in gold. For new Peapod users, click here to get $20 dollars off your first order (what!) and free delivery for a month (there is literally no reason not to do this).

This is my life now.

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5. Dry shampoo.

Dry Shampoo

Self-care with kids means doing the most you can with the time you have. And what you don’t have a lot of during the postpartum phase is time. Dry shampoo cuts hair care in half by eliminating washes, dries, and styling (three things I’m hardly doing anyways). It’s especially great for those of us with long hair who only shampoo a few times a week.

A tip from my friend Heather: Apply dry shampoo the night before and wake up with volume and a more even cover.

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The Third Trimester: Goodbye Valentine

May 19, 2016

Third baby, third trimester, third time I’m googling “really thirsty + early sign of labor?”

We made it.

It’s strange, really. Wasn’t it just last week that I was telling Austin I was pregnant and then throwing up into the trashcan? Time flies when you’re having fun.

This has been the physically hardest but the best pregnancy out of the three. The only way I can explain it is this: Everything is easier when you’re saying goodbye. These months mark the end of a chapter in my life I have really enjoyed–and I’ve been aware each day how lucky I am to do it one more time. If I had to compare it with my other pregnancies, it is most similar to Waylon’s, but there have been differences too. For example, out of all the babies I have carried, this one has moved the most and slept the least in utero. Let’s pretend it means nothing.

The third trimester has been fine. The sickness came back, but I’ve been able to sleep at night. And if there’s anything I need in pregnancy, it’s a full night of rest. Other symptoms include round ligament pain, emotional outbursts over kindergarten registration, and the incessant need to organize the kitchen drawers.

Of course there’s the third trimester and then there’s the third trimester. Two very different things. So far this week I’ve made Paula Deen’s potato salad twice and eaten it all by myself like a sea monster. I’ve also asked Austin to do about 52 things I can no longer physically do, like carry boxes up and down three flights of stairs and vacuum behind the desks and dressers. Pray for him.

A few months ago an older and wiser mother of three said this to me about that last baby: “Oh, that one goes so fast. They are born and then they’re running across the graduation stage. Hold tight.” Got me good.

37 weeks and counting. Let’s do this.

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Happy Mother’s Day

May 6, 2016

People often say that motherhood is harder now than it ever has been before, but I don’t think that’s true. Instead it’s just different. Some things are better, some things are worse. A lot will always stay the same.

I feel lucky to be a mom in 2016. Screen time and cyberbullying are tough terrain, but along with the bad has come a lot of good. For example, Daniel Tiger! The shift away from fear-based parenting. Breastfeeding pillows! We are also no longer expected to stay home and make lasagnas if we don’t want to. Despite the daily op-ed pieces on “Mommy Wars,” it is possible to create a fulfilling life without worrying what everyone else thinks.

I’m not saying it comes without serious challenge. But now more than ever, our sons and daughters are seeing their mamas pursue a life of meaning with equal co-parents, supportive friends, and without fear of retribution. That’s some good stuff right there.

Motherhood will always be hard, but the upside is that there is always space for change. We are only as “good” or “bad” as we decide to be. Happy Mother’s Day to the strong women who decide day after day to show up and do their best.

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