Sunday, April 29, 2012

My list of tips for expecting or future mamas :)

Hi friends!

I wanted to make a list of tips for expecting, new, or future moms of things that I learned on my own and found to be very important.  (I'm apparently really into these lists lately.. haha!) I have given this advice to a lot of my friends with babies on the way but I figured I'd put it all into a blog post so that I can share with everyone who is interested.

Remember, these are things that worked for ME, and I don't expect them to be for everyone. There is nothing that annoys me more than someone who thinks that their opinions and ways are the only right way. I am not one of those people. I do think however that some of these tips could help and/or prepare new mamas and I'm happy to be able to share them!

1. Don't let someone convince you that you won't need an epidural. Don't get me wrong, I am ALL for avoiding drugs WHENEVER possible, and I think many women can handle not having one! I am flattered that so many people thought I was one of those people... but I seriously thought I was going to die for the first couple hours I had contractions.  There is no WAY I could have done it without the help of that magical shot.  I was induced, and for the first few hours of miserable contractions I wasn't dilated enough for the epidural yet.  My body would NOT relax enough in that kind of pain to dilate, so without an epidural I probably would have been in labor for 2 days straight. In that kind of pain, it would have been a glimpse of what hell is like.

2.  Bring extra snacks and pillows to the hospital. This tip is from my husband. Lol. He wanted me to add this to the list, and I do agree with it 100%. First of all, when I was taken in to be induced from fetal monitoring at 6:00 pm, I was starving and haven't eaten since lunch. I asked them BEFORE I went in if I could PLEASE go get food first, and they said NO! You do NOT get to eat until after labor.  So I wasn't able to eat until the following morning when they brought us breakfast. So, if you have a choice, EAT before you go in because once you enter the hospital doors, they are food nazis. All you get is ice chips until you have your baby. It's ridiculous. If I would have known I was going to get induced that day I would have eaten a BUNCH of food before going in. Also, we would have packed extra snacks in our hospital bag. As for the pillows, the hospital ones are like cardboard, and if you want to be comfortable bring extra. My poor husband slept on the cot-like bed in our hospital room for 4 nights and was SO uncomfortable! I wasn't comfortable either but I wasn't doing much sleeping anyways.

3.  Using our sweet and adorable nursery was not possible or practical until about 2 months after Cole was born.  The second we walked in the door from the hospital, looking like zombies, I grabbed Cole and took him up to our bed, and Michael instantly moved the changing table from the nursery into our room. There was no way I would be putting my baby to sleep in his crib right away, and there was no way I would be walking all the way down the hall every single time Cole needed a diaper change.  Especially in the middle of the night.  Having a set up in our bedroom for the first couple months until I got everything under control as a mommy was crucial.

4.  You may not want your baby to sleep in a bassinet.  I tried to put Cole to sleep in it for a couple nights, but when he would cry I would be so tired I would just bring him into bed with me and we would fall asleep together while he was nursing.  It ended up that Cole slept with us for the first 2 1/2 months because that was what was EASIEST for us as parents, and helped us keep our sanity.  The bassinet DID come in handy however for when I was showering. It was the only safe place I could put Cole where he had a mobile to stare at and music to listen to. Oh, and the vibrating feature was a lifesaver, he loved that.

5.  Side laying nursing is the BEST!  Once I discovered it I never turned back.  My mom told me she used to do that with us kids, so I decided to give it a try.  You lay on your side with your baby laying on his side facing each other while he nurses. Sooooo AMAZING! This made it so we could both cuddle and relax while he nursed, and even fall asleep if needed.  In the first months of having a newborn, it is so nice in the middle of the night to do this.  There is nothing more UNCOMFORTABLE than sitting up in a chair at 3 am half asleep with a baby on a pillow nursing and trying to keep your head up as you doze off uncontrollably.  To this day I still nurse Cole laying on our sides, we both love it.

6.  No matter how much advice people give you, you HAVE to do what works best for you and your baby.  You have to just figure it out for yourself. I sought advice from just about everyone and sure, I took bits and pieces of it, but in the end I had to do what my mommy instincts were telling me.  For example, I tried doing "Baby Wise" sleep training, and while that book is great and works for SO many people, following it to a T was not working for us.  I took parts of it and used what I thought was right for us, and then made a few exceptions and changes, and found the perfect routine for us.  Trying to mold yourself into what worked perfectly for someone else is only setting yourself up for failure. So, even with this blog post, consider my advice, but if something isn't working out for you don't try to force it!

7.  Letting your baby cry it out for a few nights is rough, but NECESSARY and so worth it!  After 11 weeks of him sleeping with us, Michael and I both decided it was time to get Cole sleeping on his own.  The EARLIER you do it, the easier it is. Don't wait until they're old enough to stand in their crib and SCREAM at you for hours and hours... when they're really little they have less stamina and will fall asleep quick. I also knew that rocking Cole or nursing him to sleep every night was not good, because he would depend on that forever and he needed to learn to self soothe.  So, it took a few nights of him crying for 30 min to an hour before he fell asleep, but after that he started getting used to it, and now he LOVES his crib.  If he cries when I lay him down it's only because he's winding down and releasing energy.  He usually falls asleep within 5 minutes or so and wakes up SO happy!  Only bad thing about this is now he doesn't really know how to fall asleep anywhere BUT his crib! Thankfully he will in the car seat though. That's a given.

8.  Establishing some kind of a schedule is a good thing.  Some people don't believe in timing out when your baby eats, but I know that if your newborn had his/her way, they would nurse around THE CLOCK.  I did that with Cole at first and my nipples almost fell off.  You NEED to set boundaries even with your baby, for your own sanity! (In my opinion.)  After getting the hang of nursing, I started having Cole nurse every 2 hours (which is how often the pediatrician recommended), and then as he got older I pushed it to 3 hours, then 4... and then once solids come in things change even more, and you start nursing even less.  Also, it can be hard but TRY and be consistent with nap times.  Lay your little one down within the same 30 minute time frame every day, for naps and for bed time. It will help them get into a routine, and will make your life so much easier.

9.  Nurse (or bottle feed) after they wake up, not to put them to sleep.  This is one of the tips I did take from the Baby Wise method.  It helped a lot because then Cole learned that nursing was not a tool to help him fall asleep. Once he was over 2 months old he was old enough to start getting in the habit of self soothing himself to sleep, and then when he would wake up I would nurse him. Then play time, then sleep. Eat-wake-sleep. That was the routine. Try it, and thank me later. :)

10.  Do your homework on serious decisions like circumcision and vaccinations BEFORE your baby gets here.  I'm not going to go into how I feel about these topics, but I do know that if you wait to make these decisions after the baby comes when you're sleep deprived and confused, you might not make the right choice for you.  Don't let your pediatrician bully you into ANYTHING! You have the right as your baby's parent to make any decision you want and feel is best for your little one.

11.  GET A BABY WRAP. Or a baby carrier, whichever.  My best recommendation is the Moby Wrap.  It was so comfortable for Cole and I, and easy to use.  I would put him in it while I cleaned house, cooked, walked the dogs.. whatever. It MAJORLY came in handy.  Before your baby is mobile or can entertain himself, all he will want is YOU.  The wrap makes it so your baby can have you while you actually accomplish what you need to.

12.  Don't give up on nursing.  I feel so strongly about this topic.  For most women, it's going to be a challenge at first, and sometimes painful.  For me it was both. If I wouldn't have pushed through the pain and been determined enough to get through it, I would have switched to bottle a couple weeks into it. I'm so glad I didn't! A week after Cole was born my right nipple had puss coming out of it, yes... sorry to make you cringe, but it did.  I went to the lactation specialist at my hospital who helped me figure out what I was doing wrong.  It is ALL about positioning.  There are also certain things you can do to help with the pain. See # 12.

13.  USE LANOLIN!!!  My favorite brand is Lansinoh.  It helps SO much with the nipple pain.  But here is a trick that NO ONE told me, that I figured out for myself: Use it BEFORE you nurse, not just after. There is something in it that helps numb your nipple a little bit so when the baby latches there is less pain.  There isn't supposed to be pain when your baby latches normally, but at first when you're trying to get the hang of things it's inevitable.  So until you and your baby have the hang of it, do this little trick and I promise it will help.  It is perfectly safe for the baby so don't worry that it's not good if the baby gets some in his/her mouth.  Also, if you do end up with any scabbing like I did at first, Neosporin WILL help your nipples heal quick.  Just remember to wipe it off with a wash cloth before you nurse. THAT shouldn't go into your baby's mouth of course.

14.  Stock up on breast pads.  Disposable ones worked best for me... the washable kind I leaked right through.  I also liked Lansinoh brand for these. I went through boxes and boxes of breast pads in the beginning when my boobs were leaking like faucets 24/7.  Do yourself a favor and stock up before the baby comes so you don't have to make emergency runs to the store with a screaming newborn in tow.

15.  Pump, pump, pump.  In the first few months you will have so much milk, your baby won't be able to keep up with drinking it all.  Pump and freeze. It's tedious and so time consuming but WORTH IT! I didn't do this enough in the beginning, and when it got to a point where Cole was drinking every last drop (at around 5 months or so), I sometimes wished I had more stored in the freezer.  The reason I wanted some stored was for when Michael wanted to feed him a bottle. It's important for daddy's to feel involved in nurturing their baby's too, and pumping so they can feed him a bottle of your milk is the best way to do it, (again, in my opinion.)  Also, there was one day when Cole was 5 months that I needed my mom to watch him for about 4 hours and I could NOT pump more than like an ounce, and my freezer stash was long gone. So, for the first 6 months or however long your body allows, PUMP AWAY! It also helps your milk production.

16.  DON'T forget to EAT.  Especially if you're nursing. You burn so many calories nursing and caring for your child, if you don't eat (which believe me - it's REALLY easy to forget with a newborn) you will faint.  Make it a priority!

17.  Go get a manicure.  For the first few months of Cole's life, Michael's parents would come visit once every 2 weeks or so. When they would come I would sneak out and get my nails done while they watched Cole.  It gave me an hour to myself, to focus on me for a minute and do something nice for myself.  Plus, if you don't go GET your nails done, they pretty much never WILL get done because the second you go to let them dry you will smudge them while changing a diaper or something. So, ask your hubby or one of your parents to watch your baby at least twice a month for just an hour so you can go be you for a minute.  If you don't like having pretty nails, then I don't know, go get a massage or go shopping! Anything! You WILL need it.

18.  Cloth diapers are not practical.  Okay, I was warned on this one... but I didn't listen.  So I advise you take it from me. I was sure that being a stay at home mom and with only 1 baby I would be able to handle it. But I wasn't, and they were a huge waste of money.  I cannot imagine washing diapers 24/7 and running out constantly.  I don't know how our mothers did it before disposables!

19.  Make your own baby food.  Honestly, it's not hard or time consuming. It's cheaper, and MUCH better for your child. Jarred baby food is made to last up to 3 YEARS on the shelf. That's a lot of preservatives. It's also so expensive. The organic baby food is the way to go if you're going to buy baby food. We got the Baby Bullet, and at first it was great for making small amounts of baby food. It also comes with a little recipe book and tells you what foods are good for the your baby at what age. But once Cole was eating bigger portions, the baby bullet wasn't big enough so we started using our regular food processor. If I could do it again I would probably just get my recipes off and make them all in the food processor to begin with. Also, you will need to buy some extra ice trays to freeze the food into cubes, and then a bunch of quart size freezer bags to put the cubes in once they're frozen. Every now and then I will buy the Happy Baby brand squeezable organic baby food for when we're on the go, but for at home, we make all of Cole's food.

20. Document everything.  Take a billion pictures and videos, and keep the baby book or journal out so you can jot things down easily.  It's easy to get lazy and forget to capture everything but DON'T let these moments be forgotten. Being a mother is the most wonderful thing in the WORLD and you and your child will want to look back some day and remember everything. I promise you this!

Hope these tips help you.. because I sure could have used them a year ago! :) xoxo

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

10 things I've learned about myself since I became a mom.

As my baby's one year birthday is approaching, (5 days away to be exact), I keep finding myself on Facebook looking back through all of his baby pictures and wiping tears from my eyes! It all seems like yesterday but also seems like SO long ago... I created an album for every month of his life so far, filled with pictures from each month. Not only do I cherish those pictures, but looking back from them brings back memories from how I was feeling at that time about being a mother, the lessons I was learning, and the different moments and incidences that formed who I am as a mother and a woman today. I know some people might be reading this and chuckling to themselves because I have only been a mother for one year, what could I REALLY know yet right? I partially agree with that, I know this is ONLY the beginning of my journey into motherhood. But the AMOUNT of things I have LEARNED about myself, and my baby in this past year blows me away. I can only imagine the knowledge I will have 17 years from now, as I'm watching him drive off to his first day at college. I can only imagine the love that will be spilling out of my heart for my son, and possibly other children, after raising them through their entire childhood and watching them grow into amazing adults. Okay - enough with thinking about that because the tears are coming back again!

I decided to make a list of things that I have learned over the past year that have shaped the mommy I am one year after the best day of my life so far. The day that Cole Michael was born. I hope that someday Cole can look back at this and see how much I have loved him from day one and how much his birth transformed me and his father's life in such a way that will NEVER be able to be fully explained. But I do hope that we can at least show him a glimpse of how much we love him by being the best parents ever... and I don't mean perfect parents, I mean the best parents for COLE - because God made him for us, and us for him only!

Okay so here's my list:

1.  I have discovered my amazing talent of multi-tasking. Holy moly. I can do dishes, feed Cole, spend time with God, work out, eat breakfast, pick up toys, throw in laundry, and get ready for the day all in like an hour. I guess that is technically not multi-tasking, that is doing a million things in a short amount of time, but during each of those things I'm also multi-tasking. Lol.

2.  I have realized what a loving, sappy, compassionate person I am. I'm not bragging right now, my baby just brings this out of me. I surprise myself with how many TIMES I can kiss that kid a day. I am almost disgusted with myself at how many times I tell him I love him. And it's ridiculous the things I will do just to get him to giggle, because hearing him laugh and knowing he's that happy makes my heart so incredibly full of joy.

3. I now know how hard it is for me to discipline as a mom. Before kids I never imagined this would be a difficult thing for me to do. I guess it'll get easier when he's older and actually able to comprehend what I'm trying to teach him, but I have had to start teaching him not to bite and touch things he shouldn't, and it's really hard! I get sad when he looks at me and cries. A lot of the time he looks at me and starts laughing when I discipline him though, and that just makes me laugh, and then I realize we are getting nowhere. So now I hide my face if I laugh. :x

4.  I now have a sixth sense.  I call it mommy-mode.  I can hear my child crying from a mile away, I wake up to every single sound I hear at night, and have become an even lighter sleeper than I was before. When I wake up for the day, that mommy sense turns on and I'm in full on mommy-mode for 12 hours straight until it's his bed time. Then when he's asleep it is VERY hard to turn off mommy-mode.

5.  I realize how high maintenance I used to be.  All I think about is Cole and his needs now.  I still do things for myself, I'm not one of those moms who completely loses themselves in their children, but the amount of time I spend thinking about myself and doing things for myself is nothing compared to what it used to be.  For example, I never used to leave the house without a full face of makeup, hair perfect, and in a cute outfit. Now, Mon-Fri I pretty much live in jeans and tank tops and super light makeup. I only get all put together when we're going somewhere important. I have definitely perfected the messy bun and the art of applying the bare minimum of makeup in 5 minutes flat.

6.  I was an idiot for considering cloth diapers, and spending hundreds of dollars on them.  Serious props to the moms who go through with cloth.  And to all of my friends who were moms before me that warned me not to, yes, you "told me so".

7.  I am obsessed with nursing and SO proud to say I still am. 3 times a day. I HOPE to be able to until he's 18 months. Yes, I said it ladies, 18 months.  Most women these days give up long before that, or don't nurse at all.  Many women are unable to nurse for many reasons, but some just decide NOT to.  I have no clue how you could not want to do something so amazing that benefits you and your baby SO much in so many ways, but to each their own.  I had a rough start to it, but pushed through like a champion and I'm so glad I did.  After a couple months Cole and I had it down perfectly, and nursing time is both of our favorite time of the day.  We get to relax, snuggle, and bond.  When Cole was four months old, Michael mentioned to someone something about me nursing Cole, and this person was absolutely FLOORED that I was still nursing. At FOUR MONTHS!!! LOL! I have had so many friends and people I've met over the past year very surprised that I'm still nursing as well. I don't get it... What do you think God gave us breasts for?  What do you think they did before 60 years ago when there was no such thing as formula? Breast milk cannot be replicated.

8.  Now I know why God made me a dork. To entertain my children someday of course! The people who know me the best have seen the weird, nerdy, goofy, dorky, strange side of me... I can make some pretty scary faces and do a mean dinosaur impression. I'm not ashamed of it whatsoever. And I am proud to say that Cole loves my weirdness... and the best part is, he totally picked up my goofy sense of humor too. Poor kid. Hehe!

9.  I now realize how much my parents love me.  It wasn't something that was understandable until I experienced loving my own child for myself.  Thank you dad and mom for loving me so much, and I'm sorry for all the times I didn't appreciate it.

10.  Last but not least, I realize how much I love my HUSBAND.  10 times more than before, even though I didn't think that was possible.  He is such a GREAT father to Cole, he takes such good care of us, and seeing Cole look and act more and more like his daddy is the most wonderful thing I've ever seen. Thank you Jesus for my boys.

Thanks for reading :)