Breastfeeding 101 – How it really works

When I was preggers with J, I took the class Breastfeeding 101; where they teach you how to breastfeed using a stuffed boob and a plastic baby doll.  (Like somehow that actually relates.)  They also show you lots of pictures of other women with their little one perfectly suckled onto their full bosom. This class makes it look so easy.  What they don’t show you is the cracked and bleeding nipples, the bloody pink milk, and the sheer number of random strangers who will be privy to your used-to-be-private parts. Needless to say the class didn’t do much other than show us a bunch of pictures of boobies and babies.  It doesn’t matter how many times you practice the correct latch with that plastic baby or stuffed boob – it ain’t gonna translate.  So, here’s some things that breastfeeding class should teach you instead:

Lesson #1: Full Exposure
With the number of random boobies you will see in a breastfeeding class, it should be your first hint at how many total strangers will see, grab, and massage your boobs the moment that your little one makes their appearance from your other previously private area.  Especially if this is your first baby, get used to the idea that you will have nurses, lactation consultants, doctors, your husband, and probably even your mother “helping” you to get that baby latched correctly.  And by helping, I mean invading your personal boob bubble.  Don’t worry, you will be so focused on your new little miracle that you won’t even notice how many people have now seen your ta ta’s.

Lesson #2: Full Time Job
I hope you didn’t plan on leaving the house, showering, or ever leaving the couch for the first few weeks.  While it’s really awesome to spend all that time with your new little snuggle bunny, you will soon learn that breastfeeding is a full-time job in itself.  Those little piggies want to be fed (what seems like) constantly.  Yes, they sleep and poop too, but I swear the “eat” part of the equation accounts for at least 75% of their daily routine.

Lesson #3: Get Out
Once you get past the first few weeks, you’ll eventually fall into more of a routine.  You’ll hopefully have the latch part down, and you won’t feel like your nipples are about to fall off anymore.  Now it’s time to finally venture out of the house.  Since you haven’t left your couch for the last 14 days, you’ll be desperate to see the outside world.  But seeing as how you’ve gotten used to your routine of feeding your little one in the comfort of your own home, now you’ll face the whole new challenge of learning to feed in public places.  Consider this, one of the best things about breastfeeding is that it’s mobile…

Lesson #4: Let down your guard
The first few months of breastfeeding in public you’ll insist on using one of those cover-up’s specially designed for this very thing.  Let me just say, as soon as your little one learns to grab with those 10 tiny perfect fingers, say goodbye to your beloved cover.  Sorry to break it to you, but no baby wants to be hidden behind a sheet when the world is happening on the other side.  And while you’ll fight (without much success) to keep your boobs hidden under this protective shield of fabric, in the end you might win a battle or two, but your baby will win the war.

Lesson #5: Quick Latch
Once you’ve accepted the inevitable – that your child refuses to be covered for their required regular boob-fix – you will slowly let go of the comfort of your cover. Instead you’ll figure out how to unleash your boob and get your kiddo latched in 3 seconds flat, thus avoiding a prolonged boob exposure to the gawking eyes of any man or judging woman within a 50 foot radius.  This comes down to practice makes perfect.

Lesson #6: The Gawker or Judge
You’ll discover that while your child’s head actually blocks the majority of the exposed boob, any onlooker who really wants to get a peek will do their darndest, and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it.  Cover or no cover, if there is boob present, you’ll have someone trying to sneak a peek.  There’s also the random onlooker who decides it is their business to judge you for daring to feed your child in a public space *gasp*. Give both of these types a sweet smile as if they don’t bother you in the least and let your little one take their sweet time finishing their meal.

Lesson #7: That’s Right
It is your right to breastfeed – anywhere, anytime.  Do it proudly, Mama’s.

Lesson #8: Multi-tasking
After a few months you will have the latch down to an art and you’ll be ready to take on the world.  OK, maybe not the world, but you will become semi ambidextrous as you’ll have to learn to type, write, stir, or use the remote with whichever hand is free at the moment. Baby may be eating, but life and productivity must go on…

Lesson #9: Not all it’s cracked up to be
At times you’ll feel like your entire day is consumed with feeding or pumping.  All the privacy and mystery of your boobs and nipples has gone out the window.  Your nipples have doubled in size, and while your boobs have also grown, they will eventually shrink back to their pre-pregnancy size (sorry men).

Lesson #10: Savor the Moment
Like all things little and lovely, time passes too quickly and your little one will be done breastfeeding before you know it.  You’ll blink an eye and suddenly those days are long past.  So as cliché as it is, savor the moments when your sweet baby is nuzzled up against your chest. There will come a time when you miss it terribly, if even only for a moment.

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10 Things that change after your first kid

Your entire life changes when you have your first, but there’s also a lot that changes between each of your kiddos.  Here’s a few…

1. You take less pictures.  Especially of yourself, but in general your second baby doesn’t have nearly the millions of pics that you took of your first.  The second time around you don’t take a picture every time #2 does something new, or cute, or exciting…because, well, you’ve kinda already been there, done that.

2. You probably let your first sleep in the bassinet next to your bed for months.  And by months I mean like 6 or 8…or maybe even more.  Terrified that you wouldn’t be able to reach over and touch them at any point during the night, you probably jinxed your little one’s sleep habits since they had to learn to sleep through the inevitable snoring of 2 more people.  But #2 got kicked to their own room to sleep ever-so-peacfully in their own bed after only a few weeks.

3. You don’t remember the milestones.  Sad, but true.  While it’s still very cool when your second reaches those special milestones, you just don’t remember them the same as with your first.

4. Less 1-on-1 time.  You’ll have to make a special effort to spend time with just one kiddo or the other now.  Quality Mommy and baby time significantly decreases since now you’ll split all your time and attention between two.

5. You don’t sweat the small stuff.  With your first you worried constantly about what they ate, where they were, how they spent their time.  No TV, a balance of fruits and veggies, and don’t you dare let them put that rock in their mouth!  But with #2 you’ve finally resolved that as long as they are happy, healthy and safe, all the rest doesn’t matter so much.

6. Any former phobias about snot, poop, blood go out the window.  If you used to get queasy at the sight of puss, kiss those days goodbye! You’ll start wiping boogers with your bare hands and don’t blink an eye when you end up with poo all over, well, everything.

7. Let them cry.  While you may still not use the Cry It Out method entirely, you are a lot more willing to let both of your kids cry for a while before you decide if it’s absolutely necessary to pick them up.  Visible blood aside…

8. Back to the food thing. You used to worry if you kid wouldn’t eat anything except for fruit snacks.  OMG they aren’t getting a full rounded meal because they refuse to eat anything I put on their plate!  Well, you finally figure out that as long as that kid is eating something, anything, that they will eventually eat other things too.  So if for an entire week all they will eat is Goldfish and juice…so be it!  They’ll eat veggies another day to make up for it.

9. Get rid of the extra baby crap.  Remember when you registered for everything in the “suggested registry list” at Babies R Us – aka: the entire store?  Yeah, well by baby #2 you’ve weeded out all the extra crap that you never did use and finally your house is only 1/2 full of baby gear.

10. You’ll constantly compare your kids.  Not to other kids so much, but to each other.  Baby #1 did this when they were this age, but Baby #2 is doing this sooner or later than that.  Eventually it’ll all blur together though, and trying to remember who got teeth first and who’s first word was “yeah” will become harder to differentiate.

Twice the kids may equal twice the work, but you’ll quickly figure out how to get them both fed, washed, out the door and loaded in the car each morning and fed, washed, and into bed each night as if it were your second nature.

All About the Poo

From the moment that peed on stick gives you the A-OK that you’re expecting a little bundle, the next 3-5 years will be wonderous, wonderful, and full of every kind of talk about Poo that you could possibly imagine. So, if you’re not the type to openly discuss the bowel movements of not only yourself but your little ones, here’s what you can expect.

Pregnancy: you find yourself spending copious amounts of time on the toilet, praying to the porcelain god that he’ll get this demon poo out of your body.  Constipation suddenly consumes your life, as you tend to spend increasingly more time thinking about how you need to poo or want to poo but can’t poo. Then when you finally do manage to squeeze a little out, in what you can only imagine is a taste of what labor will be like, you are so joyous that you tell everyone (family, friends, co-workers, grocery clerks) about your victory like you’ve just won the olympic gold in pooping.

Labor: yes, you will poop during labor.  If you’ve somehow missed that memo before this point in time, you will find yourself shitting yourself in a room full of people you have never met.  Just cross your fingers that your hubby can get that image out of his head. At least you can take comfort in knowing that everyone does it.

Post baby: O.M.G. Even if you have been warned about the first post-baby poo, you don’t know what to expect.  Believe me.  It’s the worst thing. And if you had the pleasure of having an episiotomy, then the thought of pushing will make you want to die.  Good news is that once you get over the first hump you should be home free.  But in the meantime, make those laxatives your friend.  Just don’t over do it or you’ll pay the consequences for days even after you win the first battle.

Infant poo:  Turn all focus to the poo your little one will secrete from now until you don’t have to wipe their tush anymore.  You’ll track every poo for the first few days. You will find yourself in awe and disgust over the colors, textures, and timeliness of your little ones pooing.  That black tar-like poo of the first few days will morph into bright mustard yellow which will last until you start solids.  P.S. That bright yellow crap will stain everything.  Make sure you pre-soak or get used to throwing clothes away after 1 use.

Baby poo:  Bring on the stink.  Once you start feeding your little one solids that wonderfully odorless, yet incredibly frequent discharge suddenly transforms into something that will stink up your house for the forseeable future.  I don’t care how many Diaper Genies you have, get used to the smell of poopy diapers.  Also, your little one will have the largest, stinkiest, messiest poo at the most inopportune times.  Guaranteed.

Toddler poo:  Potty training.  Oy.  I find this is the thing I am dreading the most.  Even though it will result in a more independent kiddo, and far less poo stink in my house.  Still doesn’t keep you from having to wipe their butt for another few months at least.  I hear that wiping adequately is a skill that takes far more time than the ‘learning to use the potty’ part.  Also, this is where you start having to give them a prize every time they use the potty.  Something a little strange about rewarding a poo with 2 M&M’s instead of only 1 for pee in the potty. But at least you’ll always have chocolate in the house to ease your pain.

If you’re lucky, potty training will be the end of the road.  A poo covered road.  But if you’re not, then you could find yourself wiping little tushies and cleaning up stinky messes for many more years to come. Cheers!

I want my kids to eat dirt

Yes, you read that correctly.  I want my kids to eat dirt.  Not only eat it, but roll in it, play in it, dig in it, discover everything about it.  And not just dirt.  How about grass, sticks, sand, rocks, and anything else they could possibly come across.  When my husband and I were younger, that’s what we did.  Our parents kicked us out of the house right after breakfast and we were expected to be outside until dinner time.  We got dirty, played in the mud, ran around the neighborhood with all our hoodlum friends, and no one even blinked an eye when we came home covered in pine sap coated in gravel with bits of bird feathers sticking out.  That’s how I grew up.  And that is exactly how I want my kids to experiance their childhood.  All the fun, all the mess, and less fuss about every germ and possible disease they could catch from this or that.

In the 29 years since I was running around making forts out of tree branches and playing house in the woods, the mentality that used to exist amongst parents changed.  Now that I’m a parent myself, I see other parents constantly worried about what germs their little one will pick up whilst out at the grocery store or at the playground.  Newsflash – my kid has sucked on those nasty plastic covered cart handles until they were sparkling clean and he has yet to come down with more than a runny nose.  So unless you kid has some medically specific reason to avoid all possible cooties, I suggest you take a breath and let them have a little exposure.

And speaking of exposure…these are a few of the things (in no specific order) that my kid has managed to get into his mouth before I could intervene..

goose poop
wood chips
pine needles
dust bunnies
dog & cat food
the clippy end of a dog leash
the name tag on my dogs collar
restaurant menus

all of which are presumably covered in every type of nasty, dirty guck.  And none of which have seriously harmed my kid.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’d never stand idle and watch my kids stick broken glass in their mouths without a serious lesson in “NO means NO”, but I do my very best to not tell them “NO” every other second.  Especially when you are dealing with children nearing toddlerhood…you’ll drive yourself insane if you have to watch everything they touch, roll in, step in, or get anywhere near their mouth.  You know that age old saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”? I try and keep that mentality hovering around my periferal through these wonderful and few years between infant and teenager.

You’re not alone, Mama

Being a Mom is one of the biggest blessings in life.  There are very few things that are as rewarding, exciting, exhausting, wouldn’t-trade-it-for-the-world, as being Mama.  But speaking of exhausting…some days you wish you could just leave those kiddos for a few days and get back to being JUST YOU.  You are not alone in this, Mama.  We all go through these moments…or days, or weeks, or even months.  Being a Mama is hard work.  Sometimes more challenging than you ever could have imagined.  Often leaving you stressed, sleep deprived, over-worked, sometimes being Mama isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Not ALL THE TIME.  And do you know what?!  Sometimes YOU need a BREAK!  And that is OK!

Mama’s are allowed to have a selfish moment, too.  We give and give all that we have 99% of the time to fussy babies, cranky toddlers, frustrating teens…and even though we wouldn’t trade them for the world…sometimes we would prefer a little “me time” over “mama, mama, mama time”.

The hardest part though, is that Mama’s think they should be able to do it all, everything, 100% of the time.  We think we should be able to be the rock, the meal-provider, the boo-boo kisser, the story book reader, the play mate, the rock to sleeper, the dishes doer, the laundry folder, the dog walker, the bed maker, the bathroom cleaner….but most of the time we set those ridiculous expectations for ourselves.  We hold ourselves to a much higher standard than we probably should.

So, it is OK if once in a while we lose our shit.  We hold it together 99% of the time, so don’t be surprised when that 1% it gets to be too much and we need a little break from it all.  A little time to glue ourselves back together with shopping and dinner as our adhesive of choice.  Your family will survive without you for a day.

Be good to yourselves, Mama’s…you deserve the best too!

The Magic Word

We begin drilling this habit into our children even before they can talk.  “What do you say?” We ask them, expecting this magic word before we will hand over whatever it is they are asking for.  We lead them to believe that the use of this one word will magically grant them whatever it is they desire.  At the drop of one simple word, they will receive anything and everything that they ask for.

Please

Such a simple word, even for little unpracticed tongues.  But little did you know that as a parent, teaching this delightful and polite word would eventually and continuously turn against you…

Especially as they enter toddler-hood, your little one will start to figure out all the ways that they can manipulate you.  That sweet smile, the ear-piercing scream in the middle of the grocery store, or the one word that you taught them…”please”.  You delight the first time your little one uses the word when asked “what do you say”.  “pease!” They answer, and clapping and acknowledgement ensues this good deed that they have finally accomplished.  Positive enforcement continues as each time they use this magical word they are showered with treats, toys, and often the items they need to survive…like food and drink.  Manners, right?  Please and Thank You’s…right?

That’s all great, until you’re standing in the middle of Target and your toddler see’s their favorite treat or toy.  After searching their brain for the magic word – that you will ask them to say first before you hand over their item – they, so very politely, ask “please?” as they point towards that coveted thing.    Heaven forbid that be the first time you actually say “NO” to their plea…watch out Mama cuz here comes the tantrum!

And can you really blame them? You are the one that taught them this magical word.  The one word that grants them anything and everything at the drop of one syllable.  And as you find yourself fighting with a screaming toddler in the middle of the candy isle, you will suddenly hate this word with a passion!  Damn you, manners!  Ahh, the hipocracy of parenthood.  You must say “please” to get this item, and 99% of the time you use this word, it will be magic.  But that 1% of the time, it will send a horrible mixed message to your poor little toddler who thought they had it all figure out…!

And speaking of that 99%…you will find yourself laughing so hard you’ll almost pee yourself when they are throwing a giant fit, wailing and still managing to say “pleeeeeease”, causing you to give in, once more, to their very pathetic and strangely adorable tantrum.

If only they could ask us to Please stop being hypocrites, as it can be very confusing! 🙂

Choose your battles…aka why I let my little one run around with a screwdriver

Don’t run with scissors

The age-old saying.  Obviously some logic to it.  Sharp edges + potential for tripping = imminent injury.  Well, in the last 20+ months one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned for motherhood is choosing my battles with my little spitfire.

J’s always been a hands-on boy.  All boy.  He wants to get into everything…e.v.e.r.y.thing. And he wants to do it all on his own.  Don’t dare try to open his string cheese for him, or you will then have a tantrum on your hands.  It doesn’t matter if he’s actually capable of doing the task itself, it’s the principal.  He will do it. Period.

I don’t remember exactly when J developed his attachment to screwdrivers.  He loves all tools really, and loves to “help” his Dada with projects around the house.  But at some point he almost constantly asked for a screwdriver – or an “ee ewww” as we now call it.  Doesn’t matter how big, which one, or what kind.  But more often than not, he will ask for one.  And if you want to avoid a huge fit, you may as well just give in and give him one.  So yes, I let my 20 month old mini-tasmanian devil walk, run, jog around the house with an ee-ewww.  It has a pointy end and could certainly do him harm in he were to fall into it or onto it…I try not to think about that part and instead focus on the fact that he knows what that ee-ewww is for and he is content with trying to find every screw around the whole house to fit his ee-ewww into.  Real world skill, ya know.

#2 best thing I’ve learned about almost-toddlers is that giving realistic choices can help save not only time but your sanity as it decreases those oh-so-fun tantrums by a noticeable amount.  “Do you want to open your cheese, or do you want help?”  gives J the option of trying it himself as he so loves to do, or asking for help to get it started – thus avoiding the tantrum (usually).  Plus it gives these power-loving little ones the sense that they actually have the power.  It was their choice after all that they wanted yogurt for breakfast instead of oatmeal…they don’t realize then that they didn’t have the choice of a chocolate donut…which they would fight tooth and nail for it you didn’t give them two very specific items to choose from.

Then there are times when you give choices first and there’s still a tantrum.  A very particular little boy (or girl) will get what he wants come hell or high water, so sometimes it’s just not worth the 20 minute fight when you’ll end up giving in before the day is through.  Yes, there are the things that you will stick to – no running in the street, for example.  But with a toddler I try to remember that while I want to keep him safe and teach him what is right/wrong, I also don’t want to always be saying “NO”.  I want him to have as many experiences as he can.  And if he wants to go around the house playing Mr. Fix-it, than I’m certainly not going to stop him.  He is a sponge and he’s trying to absorb the world around him.  He’s always been hands-on, and I will nurture that learning style to the best of my ability.