Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Breastfeeding might not work for you

This one is going to take a lot of thought.  All of my issues with breastfeeding were what made me want to start a blog in the first place.  Trying to breastfeed my daughter was one of the most difficult times of my life and I desperately wanted to read something that told me that I was not alone.  I spent hours upon hours searching for the one blog, the one editorial, the one article that would tell me that what I was going through was normal, that I was not the only woman who was having trouble breastfeeding.

Before I start, I want to make it clear that I am not knocking breastfeeding.  I have many good friends who breastfed their children for an entire year and I think that is great.  If you have the desire and ability to breastfeed, more power to you.  If you don't though, that is okay too.

Although the thought of breastfeeding was never really appealing to me, I had always intended to do it for 6 months and continue longer if it was going well.  During my pregnancy, I had no doubt that breastfeeding would be easy for me.  My boobs were huge, like throw them over your shoulders huge, so I figured breastfeeding would be a piece of cake.

My first inkling that something was wrong was in the hospital when I was "nursing" her and nothing was coming out.  The nipple nazis lactation specialists assured me that it was normal and that milk could take 3 to 5 days to come in.  In my post-pregnancy haze, never once did I stop to question how my baby would survive without nourishment for 3 to 5 days.  I just took their word that I would make exactly enough milk for my baby.  During those first two nights in the hospital, I pretty much nursed her constantly, but she was still upset.  I guess I would be too if I was starving.

Night #3: my mom and I were sleeping downstairs at my house with my sweet little Moose (my husband was upstairs because he had to work the next day) and she wouldn't stop screaming.  I called the hospital and was lucky enough to get a nurse who told me to just give her formula, which I happened to have in the house thanks to a good friend who had given me some of her hospital samples.

That night started 6 weeks of pure hell, which I will detail in future posts, but the end result was that I put myself through hell, both physically and mentally, and still was unable to breastfeed.

During that time, I desperately needed support.  I needed to know that I was not the only one struggling with breastfeeding issues, yet every single medical professional just kept telling me, "keep pumping and nursing and you will eventually make enough milk."  Or, my personal favorite, "your body is making enough milk for her even though if seems like it isn't."  Really?  Did they teach you that in medical school because it is week #2 and my baby is still losing weight.

Every single thing that you look up online about breastfeeding says that it is a fact that only a very small percentage of women actually have trouble with milk supply.  They claim that most women just aren't trying hard enough.  Bulls*&%.  I tried harder to breastfeed than I have tried to do anything else in my life.  It just didn't work.

It didn't work and, you know what, that's okay.  It is okay to not breastfeed your baby.  Whether you try as hard as you can and it just doesn't work or whether you just don't want to...it is okay.  Because guess what?  It is not the end of the world.  Your baby will be okay.  Trust me.

When I was struggling (read: on the verge on a mental breakdown) with the decision formula feed my Sweet Moose, my husband asked me something that still sticks in my mind.  He said, "Becky, you run a daycare.  If you were to walk into every room, would you be able to tell who was breastfed and who was formula fed?"  Obviously the answer to that is no.  Apply that to your own life.  The answer is still no.

Again, that is not to say that breastfeeding is not a wonderful thing if it works.  IF IT WORKS.  We all know the benefits of breastfeeding, but it doesn't work for all of us.  And that is okay.  What is not okay is that society makes you feel like a bad mother if you can't, or God Forbid, don't want to breastfeed.  I didn't breastfeed and I am a great mother.  My daughter eats an all organic diet, but more importantly, she is unconditionally loved and cared for, which, let's face it, is the most important thing we can do for our children.

As I started to recover from the experience, I began to share my story with people and was shocked to learn how many women struggle with breastfeeding.  I was both blown away at how many people were in my situation and saddened that I didn't know that when I was going through it.

I will go into more details about my breastfeeding issues in the near future, but in the meantime, if you are struggling with breastfeeding, please know that you are not the only one.  It is normal.  You are a good mom and your baby will be okay.

Nursing my sweet girl (who is getting some extra love
 from Scooter) when we got home from the hospital.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Best Online Shopping Sites

My name is Becky and I am an online shopping addict.  I am admitting this not because I want to get help for my problem, but because I want to help you develop the same addiction.  If you are a husband/father and you are reading this, I want to apologize, but I can't.  Your wife is going to buy things anyway, so you may as well save money!

I first became an online shopping addict when I moved to Blacksburg, Virginia which is the "lack of shopping capital of the Southeast."  Literally, I went into shopping withdrawal for the first 6 months or so that I lived here.  I credit amazon.com with saving my life.  Within a few weeks of discovering Amazon, I got an amazon.com credit card (amazing point value for airline tickets), joined Amazon Prime, and was back on track with my life.

Once I became a mom, online shopping proved to not only be enjoyable, but also necessary.  First of all, the convenience of it is unbelievable.  As much as it is nice to get out of the house when you have a baby, it is not always possible.  Secondly, babies are really, really expensive and you can save a ton of money by shopping the sales online.

So, here it is folks.  My top three baby/child related website recommendations for you.  Sign up now.  Trust me, you will be doing yourself a favor.

Moose's wardrobe has greatly benefitted 
from my online shopping addiction.

1. ebates.  I have to give credit for this one to my good friend Nicole.  I had heard of this site before, but it sounded too good to be true.  When Nicole told me it was legit, I signed up and it was pretty much love at first site.  Thank you, Nicole.

Pretty much how it works is that ebates pays you to shop.  Yes, really.  I swear up and down this is legit.  If you search for something on Google, say Macy's, and then you buy something, Google gets a kickback from Macy's.  Ebates is a search engine that pays part of that kickback to you every time that you buy something.  No freakin' joke.  It actually pays you to shop.

I obviously know most of the website where I shop (how hard is it to remember kohls.com or snapfish.com - which pays 10% back!), but I still plug them into ebates because I get money back.

As another bonus, when you sign up and make your first purchase, they will send you a $10 gift card to Target.  Again, dead serious.

Try it.  It will change your life.  If it doesn't, you have full permission to come to my house and pull my hair (having a child makes you remember how much that hurts).  I am that confident that you will love it.  Who doesn't love to get paid for things you have to (and want to) buy anyway?!


2. Diapers.com, which is actually a link to a family of 10 different websites.  Each one focuses on something different, like books, home stuff, healthy food, etc.  The secret to this website is their sales.  Their regular prices are sometimes a bit high, but their sales are pretty much unbeatable.

They run big discounts like 20% off of anything.  That doesn't sound like much, but I got a Cozy Coupe car, which is currently selling for $49.87 on Amazon for $34.00 using discounts.  I don't know about you, but I think that saving almost $15.00 on one item is pretty exciting.

Their book site (www.bookworm.com) routinely runs buy 3 books, get 1 free.  Again, an amazing deal, as their books are already on sale.

If you are currently a mom, you most likely know about food packets (another post on those later).  I am fairly certain that my family keeps Ella's Kitchen in business with our daughter's consumption of these delicious organic products.  The regular price on these is higher than Target, but every so often, they run a sale of buy 2 boxes, get 1 free, which puts them priced well below Target.

In the spring, they introduced a new website to their family called look.com and ran a promotion for 50% off.  That, coupled with their already awesome sale, bought me a pair of Stride Rite shoes for $12.50.

Go here to register: https://www.diapers.com/login.qs?target=createaccount&LoginFrom=&ReturnUrl=
If you enter this code (CHIL0417), you get a coupon for 20% off.

3. Amazon Mom.  As mentioned above, I am a true lover of Amazon.  Visiting amazon.com is like coming home for me.  They have a great program called Amazon Mom, which, for $79 per year, gives you free two-day shipping on pretty much everything with NO minimum purchase.  You can do overnight shipping for only $4.99 per item.

You get great discounts and coupons and can sign up for subscribe and save, which is a program that allows you to get scheduled deliveries of the items that you use most (diapers, wipes, etc).  The best part of this program is that you get 20% off of those things.

By the time your child is 1, you will feel like you are single-handedly paying for the executives at P&G to retire early based on your diaper consumption.  The 20% off helps.  Trust me.

The best part is...drumroll...you get to try this for free for THREE months!  Try it out.  You will be hooked.


And there it is, my one woman effort to help Moms everywhere save money.  Do you have an awesome website that you swear by??  PLEASE share.  I am always looking for new ways to save and shop!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Body Fluid Indifference

Dear Glowing, Expectant/New Mommy,

Up until this point, you were probably a pretty clean person.  I am going to assume that prior to going out in public, you mad sure that your clothes were clean.  You probably didn't poop in your pants, and, if you did, you would most likely change them before going outside.  If you were sick, and your probably were at least once in the past 9 months, you likely tried to make it to the trash can before losing your lunch.  Again, if you didn't, I would put money on the fact that those clothes went right in the laundry.

I can assume of all of those things because that is what civilized people do.  We live in a society that generally frowns upon body fluids showing their face (smell) in public.  Overall, not a bad societal norm.

My husband and in our cleaner days

Now here is the part that no one tells you.  Not only will you start to go out in clothes that are covered in body fluid, but it won't even phase you.  As you stand there now, in your glowing state, taking the wipes out of your wipe warmer to change your baby's soft little butt, be sure that one day, you will be elbow deep in that same baby's poop.  Here is the real shocker though: you won't care.  It won't even phase you.  Guarantee it.  You are going to turn into the smelly, frazzled mother who you turn your nose up to at the store.  The mother who you swear you will never be.

The change just sort of comes upon you after at least one all of these things below happen to you, so just prepare yourself.  They will happen.

One day, you will get to work, only to look down and see that you have spit up on your shirt.  Not just on your shirt, but right on the boob, so that it looks like you had a lactation mishap (which, honestly, is another real possibility).  Not only does spit up not look great, but it smells disgusting, which will be confirmed by the guy in front of you at Starbucks who turns around and wrinkles his nose in disgust when you get in line.

Your baby will have an asstastrophe (a term my friend and I use to refer to catastrophe involving the butt) and the poop will get under your fingernails.  The first time it happened to me was actually not with my own child, but with one of my closest friend's little girl.  It happened in a restaurant.  A restaurant that was 2 hours from our home and had a dessert buffet.  Not only was there poop all over the highchair and booth, but we had to carry the poop covered little girl right past the dessert buffet to get to the bathroom.  Seconds, anyone?  As I was scrubbing my girlfriend's poop covered purse, a stranger came out of the bathroom and said, "umm...I think your friend needs you." She did because the entire bathroom (including my friend) was covered in poop.  Thinking back on it, the fact that the restaurant didn't temporarily close down to try and clean up the mess that we made makes me question the sanitation of the place.

The punchline: I didn't care.  Not only did I not care, but my friend and I now look back on that story and laugh.  That sweet little munchkin wasn't even my daughter and I still didn't care that I was elbow deep in her poop.  Not sure if that is because I love her like my own or if the pregnancy hormones (I was a few months along at the time) start this uncivilized change in you, but I literally didn't care.  In fact, we continued on to the next store like nothing had happened.  Bam!  Moms are awesome.

Your child will poop in the tub.  I thought I had escaped that one, but today, my 19.5 month old darling pooped in the tub.  It was diarrhea.  Pre-baby, I would have probably taken an ax to the tub and filed an insurance claim, but today, I stuck my hands in and took care of it.  Gross, yes, but, honestly, it didn't phase me.

Lastly, even if you strike an agreement to handle all of the poop issues if your husband takes on all of the barf, your baby will inevitably puke when your husband is at work.  If you are lucky like me, she will puke when it is 85 degrees and you are .5 miles into your walk so that you have to carry her, both of you covered in puke, while also pushing the stroller (uphill) back to your house.  Where you will bathe her.  And she will have diarrhea in the tub.  And you will be so happy when she goes down for nap that you won't even shower.  Because it doesn't phase you.  Because, and here is the part that no one tells you, motherhood makes you much less civilized.

So enjoy your cleanliness now while it lasts because pretty soon you will be the person with poop on your clothes whose face shows up on the People of Walmart website.  You think it won't be you, but it will.

The Smelly Lady behind you at Target whose shirt looks like it was attached by a flock of pooping pigeons on crack
aka All Moms of the world

Monday, July 22, 2013

Driving Alone

There seem to be a few common pieces of advice that you will hear during pregnancy.  The most common being, "catch up on sleep now because you won't sleep once the baby comes!"  Even if that was physically possible (and, damn, do I wish it was), sleep is only one of the many things that goes when the baby comes.

There are a few pre-baby things that I miss desperately that no one warned me about.  This one snuck up on me: driving alone.

If you have never had a baby (or, worse yet, a toddler) you cannot appreciate the pure freedom and glory of driving alone.  The bliss of just rolling down the highway with your music on and the windows down.  Or, better yet, the privilege of being alone with your thoughts.  No conversation and no technology...a true break from the day to day.

Sadly though, I never appreciated driving alone.  I viewed driving, especially alone, as a burden.  How I wish I knew then what I knew now.

Let me also explain that I never drive alone now.  Although I work part time, it is a director at a daycare, so I bring my daughter to and from work with me.  She literally goes everywhere with me.  The side effect of that is that I either have "Elmo's Song" or "Old MacDonald" in my head at all times.  God Forbid I try and listen to a normal, adult song on the radio and she starts to yell, which is only slightly worse than the 40th round of "Row Row Row Your Boat."

We spent last weekend vacationing with my husband's family in Asheville, NC, which is only a 3.5 hour drive from my house.  My husband took off of work Thursday and Friday and wanted to leave on Thursday morning.  My father-in-law was in town, and, being retired, was able to leave any time.  By some grace of a higher being, I had to work that day (and, if you know me, that is rare because my work schedule gives a new meaning to flexible) and couldn't leave until 5 or 6.  We were having this conversation at dinner one night and that is when it hit me: Holy S*^%, I could drive ALONE!  No kids, no dog, no husband.  That is when it was decided.  Whether or not I had to work, I wasn't driving with my husband, toddler, or dog.  Even if it turned out that I was able to leave work early, I would simply hide under my desk and wait it out so that I wouldn't arrive home in time to drive with anyone.

I know, I know, to those of you without kids, it sounds awful.  What a selfish mother.  Seriously though, I don't care.  Driving alone was an amazing experience.  As stupid as it sounds, I felt like I was able to reconnect with myself.  If I had time alone at home (ha ha), I would have spent it cleaning or doing laundry.  Being in the car truly allowed me to have 3.5 hours to myself.

I strongly considered driving from Virginia to North Carolina via Maine to extend my glorious free time, but thought that the 24 hour delay in my arrival time might raise a few eyebrows.

So, here is it, my advice to expecting and/or future moms: the next time you are in the car, just take a second and enjoy it.  Listen to the radio or just your own thoughts because before you know it, you will think that a 3.5 hour drive alone is vacation.

"The pure bliss of a good car ride"

As a side note, I did bring my dog (pictured above on a different car ride) and I did start singing "Hickory Dickory Dock" at one point when passing Hickory, NC, but it was still a great trip.  :)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Pregnancy Sucks

Being pregnant sucks.  That sentence will strike you one of two ways.  The first is that you will think, "what?  This woman is crazy and clearly does not love her child."  The second is that you will think, "hell yeah, it sucks and thank God someone said it!  I love my baby more than life itself, but the process of growing him/her sucks."

I was never prepared for a rough pregnancy.  When we first decided to get pregnant, I had this blissful image of pregnancy.  I would sit, in my glowing state, on our back deck, eating organic, locally sourced food (hipster alert), while gently caressing my basketball sized belly.  I had every intention of continuing to work out with my personal trainer so that I could quickly regain my pre-baby body after giving birth (funny, right?  More on that later).  I would giggle with delight every time my baby's teeny tiny feet gently kicked my growing, yet still adorable stomach.  It would be an experience that I would always cherish.

Ha.  Pretty much none of that delusion image came true.  Working out ended for me at about 9 weeks of pregnancy because my "morning" sickness was made worse by any sort of physical activity (read: waking up in the morning).  Despite the promises of doctors, mothers, friends, and family, and the internet, the sickness never went away.  The nausea and vomiting was replaced by debilitating migranes, which were eventually joined by carpal tunnel syndrome, fluid retention, heartburn, and blood pressure problems that required a brief hospitalization (on Thanksgiving).  To be fair, part of my image did come true: I did eat dinner and I did sit on our deck.  Amazing.

My pregnancy from hell would have been bad no matter what, but it was made worse by the fact that it completely blindsided me.  No one had told me that pregnancy could truly be the worst, most painful time of my life.  No one prepared me for the possibility that I could be sick every single day.  Every. Single. Freakin'. Day.  No one told me that pregnancy can be taxing on your relationship with your husband.  Yup, I said it.  It can be an incredibly trying time in a relationship, even after years of marriage.  Imagine that you work all day, come home from work and make a delicious and healthy dinner for your wife only to have her puke the second you bring it into the room.  Imagine that you try to be sweet and upbeat, but your wife is so sick that she just lays on the floor and cries.  For 9 months.  It is really stinkin' hard.  For EVERYONE involved.  But, guess what?  No one tells you that!

I distinctly remember going to my OB when I was around 12 weeks pregnant and breaking down, telling her, "I am going to be the worst mother ever.  I HATE being pregnant.  Everyone else loves it, but I hate every second."  She smiled and told me that most people hate it, but people are afraid to say it out loud.

Why?  Why are we afraid to speak the truth?  It is OKAY to hate pregnancy.  I love my daughter with all of my heart, but guess what, the process of growing her sucked.

So, this is to you.  You, the girl who spends all day with her head over the toilet.  You, who gained 100 pounds with your first child.  You, whose back hurts so bad that you can't sleep.  You, who can only walk barefoot because your feet are too fat to wear shoes.  It is okay to hate the process of growing your baby.  I did.  At the end of the day though, it will, hands down, be the best thing you ever do.
9 days before giving birth - my face is SO swollen!