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Through a Mother’s Eyes

Last week Garren and I watched The Fault in Our Stars. I had read the book so I thought I was prepared for the emotional plot of the movie. What I didn’t expect was to see it from a whole different perspective. While reading the book, I was Hazel. I felt the things she felt and I connected with how she processed everything that was happening to her and around her. The movie brought on a completely different experience. Instead of connecting with Hazel, I felt myself connect with her mother, watching as my child suffered from cancer, illness and heartbreak. I felt like my heart was being ripped out when Hazel’s mother told her it was ok to let go. I can only imagine the anguish parents must go through while caring for a sick child. I know without a doubt we would do anything to trade places with them. I found myself silently thanking the Lord for my healthy daughter.

I later realized this is not the only way my vision has evolved. I can now walk into a room and spot the tiniest items that may find their way into my daughters hands and later mouth. I will see a baby drooling and instead of wondering why his parents haven’t wiped him off (for probably the 100th time) I wonder if he is teething. I see the woman in the grocery store seemingly oblivious to her toddler’s tantrums and wonder when the last time was, she had a decent night’s sleep. I will watch a child hold the door open for me and wonder how I can teach my daughter to be polite. The world has also become a little more dizzy as I find myself swaying whether or not I am holding Blair. Mostly I look at her in complete awe that I get to be her mother.

When they tell you life will never be the same once you have a child they aren’t lying. The world get’s a whole lot bigger and a whole lot smaller all at once. Suddenly there is danger at every corner. (Who knew sunscreen is dangerous before six months and a teddy bear in the crib is sure to be fatal?) Suddenly I am the world’s greatest comedian and I can do the same stand up routine a hundred times in a row, and my audience will laugh just as hard the last time as she did the first.

I am grateful for the opportunity to understand and empathize on this new level. Being a mother has most certainly turned me into a crazy person, but the payoff is worth it.

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Why I Decided Against CIO (Cry it Out)

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Cry it Out is one of those topics you will come across, and will end up making a decision on, when you become a parent. When I was pregnant I was the kind of mom-to-be that researched everything. Twice. I quickly realized that you can find anything to support the decisions you make as a mother. If you are pro scheduling there will be tons of articles. If you are against CIO, again plenty of articles to support that frame of mind. I learned I had to make the decisions I felt comfortable with and not base them on what others were doing. What works for me, may not work for others, and vice versa. As I read these articles I could feel myself being pulled towards not allowing my daughter to cry herself to sleep. I have always been a sensitive and “feeling” based person. The second anyone starts to cry (in real life or on the television) I tear up right alongside them. I will over think things but always end up going with my heart. So when it came down to it, I knew a schedule, and in particular Cry it Out (CIO), wouldn’t work for me. The stress of hearing my baby crying herself to sleep would be a much worse fate than losing some sleep myself.

I truly believe my miscarriage started my journey as a mother. It was from then on I vowed to cherish every moment of my sweet children’s lives. I truly believe most, if not all mothers have this goal, and for me it just meant letting my baby lead our schedule. As a stay at home mom, I have the opportunity of doing this and as someone who has dealt with insomnia since the age of 13 I had a lot of practice with sleepless nights!

Early on I read an article on Nursable called, “The WIO (Wait it out) Method”. It had my name written all over it. I knew it was exactly how I would handle the sleep situation with our daughter. Basically I would wait out her rough sleeping times and go to her however many times she cried throughout the night. I have both nursed and rocked her to sleep.  It’s definitely not for everyone. It can be exhausting, and draining, but it has also been very rewarding for me. I am sure CIO moms would say the exact same thing about their technique! Blair was an amazing newborn and at just 6 weeks old started sleeping 7-8 hour stretches at night followed by a shorter 2-3 hour stretch. I thought we had it made at night! During the day she was the queen of power naps. She never napped for longer than 30 minutes but it was something I could deal with. Then when she turned 12 weeks old chaos ensued. She started waking up every one and a half to two hours throughout the night.  I honestly thought I was going to lose my mind. My confidence in myself as a mother and the decisions I had made wavered. I re-read the WIO article and decided then and there to expect my daughter to wake up and to attempt to cherish those moments. A few nights later I was rocking Blair back to sleep around four am and I started to sing one of my favorite hymns. She instantly looked up at me and gave me the sweetest smile. She then snuggled into me and fell asleep. This is such a small moment, but for a baby who normally has no time for cuddling, I drank it all in. Babies will not wake up all night forever and I knew one day I would miss our late night cuddle sessions.

So far this method has paid off in the nap department. My little power napper has now consistently taken all of her short naps and put them into three 1-2 hour naps. She has, in a sense, put herself on a schedule. Even better is the fact that I never had to wean her from the pre nap rocking. She did it on her own. One day I was rocking her and she was getting very fussy so I set her down in her crib. She flipped over on her stomach, talked to herself for a little bit and went to sleep! I was amazed. The time I have on my hands now is incredible! I can put makeup on, clean our house, and cook dinner all while she is napping! There are plenty of times I choose to nap instead, because let’s face it motherhood is exhausting, but I theoretically could do all of those things!

One thing I think is genuinely important is having a supportive husband whether you decide against CIO or you decide you are all for it! There are many nights when I cannot go rock her because if I do she automatically thinks she needs to eat. Regardless of when I last fed her. This has lead to some unfortunate overeating and throwing up episodes. So my husband will go in and put her back to sleep. Luckily for him this only happens in the early part of the evening. She generally only wakes twice to eat now. The fact that he is not only on-board with this decision but also agrees with me makes it so much easier in my times of weakness. He is there to support me when I am tired and remind me of why I have chosen this parenting route. IMG_20140804_163209 I will suggest embracing the beauty in reevaluation. Blair is only six months old. Right now this works for me. At 12 months old if she still isn’t sleeping through the night I may reevaluate my non scheduled lifestyle. (I personally can’t see me deciding to CIO but you never know!) Parenthood is about being flexible and being willing to change when something isn’t working for you and your family!

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Mothers: A Plead for Empathy

I have been writing this post in my head long before Blair was born. It usually turns into a major rant inside my head (or out loud when I am discussing this topic with the husband) but I am going to rein myself in and remain calm.

Becoming a mother is the most beautiful, terrifying, exhausting and humbling experience I have ever gone through. While a lot of moms out there did have encouraging things to say to me, a very large amount also harped on the negative, dismissed concerns and overall made parenthood sound like the worst thing that could possibly happen to you. The thing is most of the time I am sure this is not how they were trying to come off. Unfortunately many people feel the need to “pop the bubble” you’re living in.

My pregnancy was not easy. The last ten weeks the right side of my body had completely given up. I had to use the walls in our apartment (Thank goodness we live in such a small place!) just to get to the bathroom or the couch. I once got stuck on the ground for over two hours waiting for Garren to get home because I could not put ANY weight on my leg. I couldn’t crawl, or stand up. It was actually pretty scary. Trying to sleep was a disaster because just turning over in bed would send searing pain down my leg and through my pelvic region. Plus my restless leg syndrome was at an all time high. I would spend 3-5 hours at night sitting on my yoga ball crying and trying to relieve the pain. I will admit I complained a little bit (ok a lot) about the lack of sleep I was getting and instantly got laughed at with such comments like, “You think you can’t sleep now, just wait until the baby comes! Then you will really never sleep again”, or “Enjoy the sleep you are getting now, there will be even less when baby comes”.

Here’s the thing, most women are well aware of the fact that babies are a 24/7 job. We don’t necessarily need you to tell us that. Also it confuses me how all women suddenly forget the pain and general uncomfortable state of pregnancy once they had their baby. I am six months (tomorrow!) postpartum and still have nightmares of those sleepless and painful nights. In fact I slept about 100 times better when my daughter was a newborn than I did pregnant. Cuddling a sweet baby whom you love more than life is always preferred over searing pain.

So next time one of you friends or relatives complains of sleepless pregnant nights tell them how sorry you are or better yet, tell them it will be worth it! Tell them all the pain will be worth that precious baby, instead of diminishing their pain and telling them they know nothing of sleepless nights.

(Ok maybe this is already turning into a rant. Oops)

The other thing that tended to bug the husband and I was whenever we would tell people what we had done the weekend before they would automatically respond with “Go out now while you can! No more date nights when baby comes”. I personally just don’t understand why we constantly tell people all of the things you wont be able to do once you become a parent. What about all the things you can do? Having a child brings such simple joy to your life. Garren and I can sit and watch Blair take in the world around her for hours at a time and never get bored of it. We have not let having a baby keep us from doing fun things. In fact we  love bringing her with us! It just adds more love to our memories. Tell mommies to be the things you love about being a parent! Yes all moms will have worries so answer their questions honestly, but don’t forget to tell them for every sleepless night comes countless smiles, for every dirty diaper comes the wonder of seeing your child sit up by him/herself for the first time!

Finally with parenting comes a lot of decisions to be made. Where will baby sleep, bottle or breast, cry it out or tear free ect. What works for you may not work for other families and that’s ok! Share your advice when asked, and rejoice with moms when they find something that works for them! A mom choosing to breastfeed is not in any way threatening your decision to bottle feed and just because a mom did the cry it out method of sleep training does not mean you are less of a mom because you didn’t.

I plead with all moms to support and love each other. Bring back love and optimism to motherhood and embrace diversity!

Out to lunch with family and my girl :)

Out to lunch with family and my girl :)

 

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Baby’s First Email

When I was pregnant I was constantly on pinterest looking at the cute little crafts, reading ways to promote natural labor and decrease pain, and of course, reading as many parenting articles as I could get my hands on. I came across an idea to set up an email address for your baby when they are born. Throughout their life, on special occasions or memorable moments you write them a little email, attach a few pictures, and then at the age of 18 (or whatever age you see fit) you give them the email address and password.

The moment I read this I knew I would be doing it for each of my children. What a special (and relatively easy!) gift to give your child! I started out with telling Blair how excited we were when we found out we were pregnant. I have sent subsequent emails about her birth, her first holiday, her blessing and so forth. I imagine as the years go on there will be less emails sent each year, but I love how quick and easy it is. I imagine her saying something super funny or cute in the future and just  sending a little email off to her about the experience. I would have loved reading such things about myself! I also think I am going to have family write her an email on her first birthday, her eighth birthday (when she is baptized) her 12th, and then her 18th before I give her the password.

I am careful to limit myself because I want it to be special. Not something she opens up and is overwhelmed to find 150 lengthy emails. They are usually short, sweet and to the point. I always attach pictures as well because I am sure one day she will want copies of some of them.

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I love finding ways to connect with my daughter. What are your favorite traditions you have started since becoming a parent?

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Flying Tips: When Your Baby Doesn’t Take a Pacifier or Bottle

 

Garren and I knew basically since Blair was born that we would be flying to Utah the end of June to have her blessed and spend some much needed time with family. I am not a fan of flying. Many friends, family members, and a certain spouse of mine can probably show you the scars on their hands from my fingernails digging into them during takeoffs, landings, and bouts of turbulence. Adding a baby had my fears sky high. So I did what I do best. I read every website, blog post and article I could find on the subject. I also asked countless of my mommy friends for advice. No joke every single thing I read or heard focused on one thing: binkies (and/or extra bottles). The pressure from takeoff and landing could really bother a baby’s ears so it’s important to keep a baby sucking on something. This had me in an absolute panic. Not only does Blair not take a bottle or pacifier, she wont even entertain the idea of one for a few minutes. So if your baby is like mine here are some things that helped me! (Also general things that helped)

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  1. Starve your Baby. Sounds cruel I know but I NEEDED Blair to eat during takeoff, as this is when the greatest pressure change occurs. She usually goes about 2.5-3 hours between feeds so for our 12:00 pm flight I fed her last at 8:45 am and then not again til takeoff. On the way there this was actually really easy. I just had Garren hold her and distract her until it was time to takeoff. It could not have gone better. She is usually done eating after about 5-8 minutes but she was so hungry she ate for nearly 20! So we had passed the “safe” zone well before she was done eating. The way back I was alone and proved to be much more difficult. She spent about half an hour crying in my arms before we started take off and ended up only eating her normal 7 minutes BUT it seemed to have done the trick because her ears never bothered her.
  2. Get an aisle seat. We flew southwest so it’s just open seating. Most people told us to ask, when we check in, if the flight was full. If not, to have Garren sit in the window and me in the aisle with baby, because who in their right mind is going to sit in between that? Unfortunately both flights were at full capacity. Probably because we had a direct flight to and from Manchester. Regardless. The aisle is where you need to be. If you can pick your seat when buying the ticket, checking in, or boarding be sure to do this. You will most likely be getting up to change the baby, rock/jostle the baby, or a thousand other reasons for needing to get up.
  3. Air Vent. Ok this one may be a complete hoax but I am now convinced. On an airplane the air is re-circulated. That means any sickness or germs are also being recirculated. I had read some where on the internet to make sure you have your little air bulb blasting air on you at all times. I did this on the way there and everything went smoothly. On the way back I sat by strangers and since the air things were above them I sort of spaced it. 24 hours later Blair had her first cold. YES IT MIGHT BE A COINCIDENCE. But it’s such a small, insignificant thing to try what can it hurt?
  4. New Toy. This is aimed for babies probably a little older than Blair but it worked out well for us any way. Buying them a new toy gives them something to play with that they have never seen (ummm duh?) so it should captivate their attention for a longer amount of time. I also brought her current favorite toy (Sophie the Giraffe) so that she would have something familiar through out the trip. This actually turned out to be a huge help when she constantly had to be in her car seat. I will definitely be doing this one for future flights since she will be older and have a greater desire to “play”. We also brought a tablet that had a preschool app that Blair finds entertaining on it. That helped for maybe ten minutes, but your kid may be more receptive.
  5. Ask for Help I am a pretty independent person and asking for help is not something I think of first, but being alone with a baby on a five hour flight I quickly learned how too. Listen. I had a baby 5 months ago. Things are still a little messed up. I can’t hold my bladder for 5 hours. Have you been to an airplane bathroom? I had no idea how I was supposed to go to the bathroom and hold my baby. Luckily the couple next to me were super nice, and thought Blair was the cutest thing in the whole world! They offered to hold her any time I needed to go to the bathroom and/or just wanted a break! I could tell they personally didn’t have kids though because he second she whined they were handing her back to me with a semi panicked look on their faces. It was actually pretty cute. I am so grateful!
  6. Let it Go. In the now famous words from Frozen. Let it go. Your baby will most likely cry, get upset or even have a complete meltdown. Yes other people on the plane may give you dirty looks. Guess what? You will never see them again. All you can do is your best, the flight will not last forever. Take a deep breath and just push through it. Stressing about what other people think gets you absolutely nowhere! I promise it will be ok!

Honorable mentions.  Blair is not quite old enough for snacks but I bet having plenty of those would help so much with older babies! I will definitely be utilizing that in the future!

Finally my cute husband met me at baggage claim with a coke in hand. WINNER.

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