Tag Archives: motherhood

Parenting for Real – When your Kids See Your Meltdown

BlocksmessToday my kids saw it. They saw Mamma reach her limit and crack.

I am not talking about losing my temper or yelling loudly. I am not talking about throwing the dirty laundry down the stairs forcefully enough to make myself feel better. I am talking about that moment when you literally reach a physical and emotional peak and there is nowhere to go but down. I am referring to that moment in motherhood that is extremely magnified when you suffer from anxiety and depression. I am talking about Parenting for Real while still trying to find yourself under all the negative talk the little voice in your head makes.

I don’t like to feel out of control. I like my schedule, I like my routine and I certainly don’t appreciate when people put pressure on me to step outside my comfort zone.

laundryMy kids saw me lose control today. It wasn’t even 8:00am.

I don’t know if it was the dirty clothes on the floor stretching from the hallway and down the flight of stairs. I don’t know if it was the yogurt covered raisins covering the kitchen tiles. I cannot remember if it was the mess of blocks that I had just put my OCD to good use organizing. I don’t remember what set it off exactly, but it happened.

My kids saw me drop to my knees and lose control of every emotion I was trying to hold in. They saw their Mamma’s anxiety take complete control over their life and for a split second they were scared of it, and me.

For scaring my children, I feel guilty. For having a complete emotional breakdown in front of them for the first time in both their lives; I feel no guilt. They needed to see me hit my limit so they understand that I have them.raisins

Too many of us suffer in hiding; silently struggling with anxiety and/or depression and a constant internal monologue that we cannot measure up. We fight the urge to ignore those voices, but fail miserably most of the time. We blame it on lack of sleep, being too busy, too distracted, hormonal, spread too thin, or not having enough support. We find every reason we can to evaluate and defend ourselves, but what we don’t do is forgive ourselves for being human. We feel as though, as Mothers, if we are not Superhero Moms, we are not good enough.

We put pressure on ourselves to keep a clean house, to remember birthdays, pay bills, work out a budget, plan dinner, play with our children and still try to support the family financially whenever possible. We were created to be strong because we are so tough on ourselves.

I got into the car to bring my daughter to school and as I turned up the radio, as demanded by the 4-year old in the third row, the words were piercingly poignant; I’m Gonna Dance to the Beat of Amazing Grace and Hold on to the Promise that you made, Cause I know whatever’s gonna come my way – You’re here with me and Its Gonna Be a Good Day.

So here I sit, an outgoing introvert who suffers from anxiety, with my son on my lap and a fresh cup of coffee, trying to fight the butterflies in my gut which want me to stop sharing this with you.

You. Are. Not. Alone.     EVER.

No matter which way you look at it.

So throw things, shout, cry or even hit a wall – but Don’t feel as though you don’t measure up as a Mother. You ARE a mother, and that is Superhero enough for me and my Kids.whywomencry

Parenting for Real – Teaching Your Children about Death

Last week, our family lost the most amazing man. He was a caring Father, Son, Friend and Great-Grandfather to my children. He never spoke unless spoken too and never spoke ill of anyone he knew or encountered.

This is a man who immigrated from Italy when he was just 12 years old with his Mother and Sister back in 1933. He was the son of a shoemaker in New York. His younger sister went off to college and Grandpa-Joe went off to war in the US Army Corps Search and Rescue for downed pilots. This is a man who served 2 consecutive terms with the search and rescue team only to be relieved by another radio-man who never returned from his tour.

Grandpa didn’t have cancer, heart disease, or even a headache. He turn 94 years old less than a week before he passed, and died at home, with family.FullSizeRender_2

In Italian tradition, as I am learning, you have a wake/viewing, service and burial for each member of your family. This was worrisome to me, as my daughter suffers from Social Anxiety and Sensory Integration Disorder. This means, that any new situation or change in routine, typically tends to send her into a full physical and physiological panic attack. I was worried about having her see Grandpa in the casket, worried about the crowds of people, worried about questions she may have at the burial.FullSizeRender

There were lots of questions; “Why is Grandpa sleeping?” “Why are his hands tied up?” [Rosary] “I thought Grandpa went to Heaven, why is he still here?” “Mom….IS THIS HEAVEN?”

As my two-year old ran around shouting ‘Wake Up Gam-pa!” My 4-year old pondered the concept of death. To her, people were crying because Grandpa was tied up in a box and no one could wake him up. To her, adults were sad because they missed a man who was actually right in front of them. To her, this man of faith, was simply sleeping because he was tired. To her, death was an easier concept then to most adults.FullSizeRender_1

Bean wasn’t scared, she wasn’t worried. She wasn’t confused. She simply asked questions out loud and we as parents, hoped we had the right answers. A good friend put is perfectly when she said, “There is no fear in death but only an understanding of Heaven.” Perfectly stated if you ask me.

I learned that my child’s simplistic view on life is one we should adopt as adults. I learned that the way she was comprehending death was the same way Grandpa lived his life; in the moment. Bean woke the morning after Grandpa passed telling me she was angry because he went to Heaven before she could give him the card she had spent the afternoon crafting….I had not told her that Grandpa had died. The days following she woke with multiple dreams of Grandpa and short but vivid visits from a man she only got 4 years with.FullSizeRender_3

Do not fear facing death with your child, but instead take away some of how they do it and apply it to your life.

  • Be childlike in your faith but mature in your thirst for an understanding and history of it.
  • Defend those you love with passion, courage and consistency and without reservation or fear.
  • Love deeply and without boundaries
  • Mourn those you lose without losing yourself
  • Find the ‘happy’ in any and all circumstances

You see, this opportunity to ‘face death’ and ‘teach’ my daughter about death was really about me, learning from her. It is not something to fear, but only a part of life. Eternal life.

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Parenting for Real – When You Think You Got it Wrong

Today is one of those days when I feel like I got parenting all wrong.

I lost my temper, a lot. I did enough yelling to make my voice hoarse.

I carried my son out of a store this morning, screaming in an under-arm, football hold. I didn’t leave the store as he started his tantrum, but instead, put into my cart what I came in for and held him under my arm, screaming and kicking, as I waited in line, paid and loaded the shopping cart.

I still had to run into the grocery store to get a few necessities….tantrum #2.

I continued through the store and tolerated not only my son’s screaming and kicking from the top seat of the cart, but I also endured the stares, nasty comments and pointing from onlookers. I walked as slow as I needed too, continued to check my list and compare it with the items now in the cart and head to the checkout lane. As we waited for the cashier to finish the customers purchase in front of me, I handed my 4 year old a bag on M & M candies. She had been an angel during this morning of torture brought on by her younger brother and deserved an unexpected treat.

Kicking and screaming, my son, continued as we loaded the car, buckled and drove home.

Upon arrival, I took off his shoes, kissed his face as he swatted at mine and told him he needed to rest. I placed him calmly and quietly into his bed, shut the light and closed the door.

A well-deserved silence followed.2014 11 15_4063

A nice afternoon on our bikes, leaf pile jumping, playing with our dogs and in the neighbors hot tub and we headed home for dinner.

The tantrums ensued just in time for a bath and continued as I washed his body, his hair, put on a diaper and his pajamas. I combatted the pinching and the face smacking with a yell or a quick tap on the rear. Deservedly I think.

Instead of leaving him in the room this time I shut the door, left on the light and I sat on the floor; watching as his screaming continued. I didn’t try to talk to him, or to calm him down. I didn’t worry about how loud he was or how badly it was paining my eardrums. I sat and waited.

When he was ready, and not a second before, while still screaming, he made his way to me still criss-cross-applsause on his floor and he placed his arms around my neck. One big breath and he collapsed into my lap, eyes already closing and needing to rest.

I kissed his sweaty forehead and realized that through it all; the yelling, the punishment, the structure, the screaming, the kicking, the pinching… he still knew that I loved him. And that was a win for me.2014 12 13_3978

You see, our kids may not always get the best of us as parents, but they deserve it every minute of every day. We all struggle and we all have those days when nothing seems to go right. We tend to beat ourselves up every time our child doesn’t measure up to ‘normal’ instead of celebrating how they are unique. My son is usually very easy-going, kind-hearted and loving….what did I do to make him so angry today? Our internal monologue only deepens the knife we used on ourselves.

But – It’s ok.

You see, in those moments when you think your child doesn’t deserve your love, is when they possibly need it the most. Be kind to yourself and take comfort in the fact that you are not the only one out there having THIS day. There are other parents burning the midnight oil because they need a moment alone after a long day or they simply like to revel in the quiet after bedtime.

No one ever said that being a parent is an easy job, in fact I most often hear the opposite. You can only do what You believe is right for your family and for your children.

Be thankful that you have each other. Period. No matter what kind of day it has been.2014 11 15_4098

What No One Tells You

We are starting a segment on this blog in the coming weeks called ‘Everything no one tells you.’

It will start with a segment on conception; the truth, insane as it may be, on what we do and do not truly know about the conception, growth and birth of a baby. It will then move into Everything No One Tells You about Pregnancy and Birth. We will laugh as fellow mothers, cry as friends in loss and rejoice in holding our children for the very first time.

It will walk you through a 7 year journey to parenthood. A mother’s first pregnancy loss as well as first successful pregnancy and birth. You will endure the physical and emotional struggle with her as she journals the events.

The Blog is going to cover what no one tells you about these events in life, both medical and emotional as well as open your eyes to the honest, and yet sometimes raw, truths about becoming a parent.

Please share with anyone you know who is struggling to get pregnant, or maybe a friend who just suffered a miscarriage because we will work our way through these events in laughter, tears and joy. Healing is on the horizon my friends!

Selecting A Carrier (Part 2)

So Bean and I went through a number of different types of carriers and had found a few temporary solutions, but nothing permanent. It was back to the books – and the Dr. Sears Baby Book Bible for me. He discussed an adjustable carrier called a ‘Ring Sling.’ It sounded more to me like something for a broken limb, but after some research I would discover different. At first, I was reminded of the Standard/Non-adjustable sling that I tried  for free, which was unsuccessful (www.sevenslings.com), but the more I read about this Ring Sling carrier the more I wanted to try it. Pix from phone 112First, a Bing search; Mya Wrap, Bibetts, pure cotton, linen, quick-dry etc etc. I was already overwhelmed with the choices. I elected to start with name-brand carriers since I had little knowledge of this style. I got Girasol, FrogMomma, Mya Wrap, and more and although I was learning more about the Ring Sling style, I was becoming very overwhelmed with the pricing….most were almost $100 and many were more then $50. I had already spent more then this on my Ergo and that was a failed attempt.  I was so discouraged…and tired…because it had been days since I had worn Bean and she was back to her 2 hour feeding intervals. On a whim, I did an internet search for “DIY Ring Slings” and came across a number of YouTube videos! I have never had formal training in sewing as I was more if a ‘learn-as-you-g0’ type gal. I was however, willing to give this a try. My journey to JoAnns Fabric (TM) was that same morning and I stood in every isle, inspecting every bolt of fabric for touch, stretch and quality, finally selecting a Flannel Giraffe print; stylish and cute. I then went over to the crafting section to look for my rings….what would a ring sling be without rings? I found a 3″ wide pair of unstained wood rings and grabbed them. I felt as though the wood would be strong enough for hold and the unstained wood, would be the healthier choice if Bean ever decided to use them as a chew toy. Pix from phone 111 After cuts, mistakes, re-stitching, measuring and stitching yet again….and again…..I had finished it. My first Ring Sling….I was ugly, but I was confident this would work. I ran upstairs, where Bean was screaming to be fed and after her routine, 40 minute feeding, I tried getting her into it……FAIL.  I may have been able to sew this sucker together but it was a whole new monster to thread it and get her into it….Back to YouTube. After a little ‘research’ and I only use that term loosely, because I don’t know how credible many YouTube videos actually are, I figured it out. In two rings and out one….threaded. I pulled the tail of the fabric tight enough so Bean would sit right at chest-level and I could easily pull the tail again to adjust. We stood over the bed as recommended in one of the videos….just in case. Bean was in…..tail pulled……fabric tucked under her rear-end and face/nose clear from fabric for oxygen. Check. Check. Check. She was quiet as I tried desperately to adjust the Sling so that she sit more taut against my body. Then….a crack. At first I thought it was the hardwood floors because Lord knows they are squeaky in the Winter…but then I felt Bean’s body pull from mine. CRACK! as I pulled the sling taut again. I was lucky enough to have had my left hand under her rear end when the wooden purse handles snapped in half from the ‘all of 15lbs’ my daughter weighed. They broke, she almost fell and I was back to square one. I believed in this style Sling. I just needed the right tools. So after more research, I found accompany that made Rings specifically for Slings and took a risk ordering a few pair. Best risk I ever took. Pix from phone 120 The rings were a success, as were the 4 more Ring Slings I made that week. I became a Master Threader, could get my child into it without thinking through the process and never had another ‘sling break’ again. She could sit at my chest, with her ear over my heart. I could cover her head with excess fabric in order to keep strange people from rubbing her hair. As she gained head control I was able to sit her on my hip and she could see the world as I carried her. She LOVED it! I mean I think she actually preferred the Sling over her own mother….lol. She was sleeping better and consistently fed in a minimum of 3 hour intervals (this was success for us). I thought to myself….there HAS to be other mothers out there who have dealt with situations like mine! I cannot possible be the only one going through these kinds of struggles! There in lies the birth of Flip & Bean LLC (formally called Slings and Things). I started a small, home-based business which targeted the idea that a good quality Ring Sling should be available to all parents and at an affordable price. I joined the Baby Carrier Industry Alliance (BCIA) and read everything I could find of safety, quality affordability and market for Ring Slings and launched a small Etsy shop. It took me almost 6 months to sell my first Ring Sling, but after that, there was no turning back. We are a 100% word-of-mouth, family and faith based business that I run out of my own home. In under 2 years we have gone from selling Ring Slings to becoming a full fledged LLC and now offer not only carriers. but Patent Pending Carrier Covers! (Kiddie Kloak line). Last fall we also launched our personal URL! (www.flipandbean.com) SOOOOOOO….in order to celebrate our LOVE for baby-wearing and our LOVE for the Ring SLING we want to share the LOVE with YOU!!!!!! Pix from phone 129 Pix from phone 138 After visiting our website www.flipandbean.com and tell me your favorite pattern of Signature Ring Slings…..I will pick a comment at random and  GIVE ONE AWAY for FREE!!!!!! You have all day to comment and first thing Sunday February 15th, EST (when I get up) I will select one of you, at random, to received the free sling that you selected – FOR FREE! Thank you for following us, supporting small business and a working SAHM and HAPPY VALENTINES DAY! -From Flip & Bean!

Selecting a Carrier

After all the research I did on the benefits of Baby-wearing I just knew this would be the answer to our sleepless nights. I was determined to find the best carrier for Bean and me.

Pix from phone 104I started with a free Sling from Seven Slings (www.sevenslings.com).  Well, I paid the $12 shipping and got a free sling. After a number of attempts, I just did not feel like my daughter was safe in it. If I put her in the newborn hold (like a nursing or feeding position) her chin would rest in a deep slouch on top her chest. I felt like she wasn’t able to breathe in this position and because this particular carrier is not size adjustable, there was no other position that worked for a 15lb, 4 month old. I tossed it to the back of the closet.

Next, I pulled out a strap carrier. It was one I found in the local Walmart clearance section while I was pregnant. I don’t remember the brand, but it was the same style as a standard Strap Carrier, with soft cushioning all around. The upside, was that she could sit in front and rest her head on my chest, which is what I was looking for. The downside, was that the straps were not meant for a person my size and I never got it to fit well enough to wear. There was also no head support in this one,  so I continuously had to hold her head while I wore her – which in the end, kind of defeated the purpose of wearing her.

At my baby shower, before my daughter, and thanks to technology, I had received 3 Moby wraps. If you have never heard of this type of baby carrier you can learn more about them here – (http://mobywrap.com). However, as a brief summary – they are about 6 yards of 95% cotton/5% spandex fabric that you contort around your bodice and hips in order to hold the baby. It took me a number of attempts as well as a lot of You Tube videos in order to figure this one out….but when I did….magic. I felt as though it held Bean safely, her head laying on top my chest so she could hear my heart. According to my Dr. Sears ‘bible’ if I wore her for 3 or more hours every day  she would rest better at night….well….I think I wore her for 8 hours that first day….and for the first time in her 4 months of life, she slept a full 3 hours between feedings! I was in love! I worn Bean as often as possible; cleaning the house, vacuuming, washing floors, in the bathroom, walking to get the mail, walking the dogs, talking on the phone, grocery shopping, at church, at restaurants, and schools. Bottom line; she loved it, she was safe in it and I could simply pull the fabric over her head in public places so no creepy strangers would try to touch her. Heaven.Pix from phone 091

So, I know what you are thinking – this is too good to be true. How could the answer to this ‘high-needs” baby just be in a baby carrier? Well, you are not wrong unfortunately. Although the Moby was my saving grace for those first few months, she outgrew it quickly. I tried to DIY a wrap with more fabric, or wider panels, but it was a flop. The Moby found its way to the carrier graveyard with Dr. Strappy and Mr. Seven Slings.

I had a $200 gift card to Babies-R-Us…so shopping I went. I had been eying an Ergo a friend had for sometime but was waiting to buy it. Well, with ‘cash’ in my pocket I took the plunge. I knew nothing about the Ergo carrier before I bought it, other then the fact I had 2 or 3 friends who’s children lived in it. I bought it in black, with the infant insert. (http://store.ergobaby.com). I went straight home and took it out of the box and started trying to figure it out. My first impression, “holy crap – this is huge!.’ Bulk, it had a LOT of bulk to it and even if Bean liked it, it was not going to be easy to fit it into my diaper bag or purse.

Pix from phone 064Moving on.  I got her in it. Then, I walked.

You know the ‘walk.’ That walk that every parent does to soothe their crying child. You go in circles, or up and down the hall. Anything to make the crying cease…..am I wrong? Aren’t you smiling right now because you ‘remember those days’ or crying because ‘today are those days.’

I digress.

As I walked, I realized that I must have put it on incorrectly because it began to hurt my shoulder blades. I ignored the pain and continued my walk….until she fell asleep. I reached up behind my head and unclipped the strap to a euphoria similar to the one where you unbutton your pants after Thanksgiving Dinner. I sat, or plopped, onto the couch, sleeping baby on my chest, Ergo strapped to my hips and started crying. Was I ever going to find a carrier that worked for us?

Back to the books. And the coffee.  Pix from phone 099

 

 

 

 

Baby Wearing 101

Pix from phone 094So when the sleep ‘training’ failed epically, I  decided it was ‘back to the books.’ I used Dr. Sears’s “The Baby Book” most often as it seemed to understand what I was going through. It actually has a section called ‘High Maintenance babies.’ I felt like I wasn’t alone in this and most mothers would agree, that is an important part of surviving the first year.

My husband and I had previously taken a 12 weeks birthing course entitled ‘The Bradley Method.’ In one of the weeks we went, there was an entire lesson on baby wearing. They brought in all sorts of contraptions; some of which I thought might carry laundry or groceries better, at the time. Mei Tai, Ring Sling, Ergo, Baby Bjorn & Moby. My brain was on fire and retained almost nothing from the class that night. (Besides the fact that the class was during dinner time and I was 8 months pregnant).

Next, I did what any desperate mother would do; I googled it.

Hundreds and hundreds of links to carriers and opinions and rules and regulations and recalls only left me more confused. So instead of focusing on a style of carrier I began to research the benefits of carrying.Pix from phone 061

According to Baby Wearing International the following benefits are true for children who are carried.

“• Happy Babies. It’s true … carried babies cry less! In a study published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers found that babywearing for three hours a day reduced infant crying by 43 percent overall and 54 percent during evening hours. [43%? I would give my left arm for 10% less crying!]

Healthy Babies. Premature babies and babies with special needs often enter the world with fragile nervous systems. When a baby rides in a sling attached to his mother, he is in tune with the rhythm of her breathing, the sound of her heartbeat, and the movements his mother makes—walking, bending, and reaching. This stimulation helps him to regulate his own physical responses. Research has even shown that premature babies who are touched and held gain weight faster and are healthier than babies who are not. [This would conquore more then one battle for my first-born; we need a steady weight gain in order to keep the pediatrician quiet AND my daughter was considered a preemie, being born before 37 weeks. These words were music to my ears]

Confident Parents. A large part of feeling confident as a parent is the ability to read our babies’ cues successfully. Holding our babies close in a sling allows us to become finely attuned to their movements, gestures, and facial expressions. Every time a baby is able to let us know that she is hungry, bored, or wet without having to cry, her trust in us is increased, her learning is enhanced, and our own confidence is reinforced. This cycle of positive interaction deepens the mutual attachment between parent and child, and is especially beneficial for mothers who are at risk for or suffering from postpartum depression.  [I desperately longed to ‘get to know’ my daughters cues more confidently. I was beginning to beat myself up as a mother and slipping into a introverted state of depression].

Loving Caregivers. Baby carriers are a great bonding tool for fathers, grandparents, adoptive parents, babysitters, and other caregivers. Imagine a new father going for a walk with his baby in a sling. The baby isbecoming used to his voice, heartbeat, movements, and facial expressions, and the two are forging a strong attachment of their own. Baby carriers are beneficial for every adult in a baby’s life. Cuddling up close in the sling is a wonderful way to get to know the baby in your life, and for the baby to get to know you! [Being able to have my husband soothe our daughter would give me a well deserved 10 minute break!]

Comfort and Convenience. With the help of a good carrier, you can take care of older children or do chores without frequent interruptions from an anxious or distressed infant—which helps to reduce sibling rivalry. Baby carriers are also wonderful to use with older babies and toddlers; you can save those arms and go where strollers can’t. Climbing stairs, hiking, and navigating crowded airports all can be done with ease when you use a well-designed baby carrier! [Okay – lets not even discuss future siblings.]”

Dr. Sear’s book mentioned that a worn baby will grow to know, love and trust their caregiver enough to start sleeping longer periods of time.  Well, with a 3 month old who was still feeding every 2 hours….and taking 40 minutes each feeding…..I was willing to try anything!Pix from phone 062

STEP ONE: Research baby wearing.  DONE.

Now it was on to finding a carrier that worked for me…..

Ringing in the New Year

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Every year brings more lessons of the heart. I learn more about how to be a better mother, woman, wife and friend.

There are always ups and downs and always revaluations with the hard times. This time of year makes me remember those we have lost and how fortunate I am to have been blessed with the friends and family who are part of my life.

I always try to see the positive in things, as I m naturally a very happy and light-hearted person. However, this year brought on so much anxiety from World Events to things happening right at home. I found myself at times, struggling to simply go grocery shopping without being ‘on guard’ to those around me. It was an awakening like I had never had before and one that brought on instinctual ‘mother-bear’ reactions. (Some of which were not appropriate or loving.)

But the New Year offers hope that we can start fresh and in some respects, start over.  It gives us a chance to wipe the slate clean and start painting a new picture of what we want out of life. It is a time to set goals, to reflect on the past and change our path so history does not repeat itself. A time to forgive those that hurt you so that you can release the negativity in your life enough to start healing and moving on.

Surround yourself with those you love and friends who reassure you of a job well done.  Rid yourself of those who make you less then you are capable of being. Don’t surrender your dreams for anyone….chase them whole-heartedly with those that love you lifting you up with encouragement.

Love yourself this year. You are doing great things – even though the weight of the world may be resting itself on top of your shoulders. Be yourself.

You are special.

You are an individual, whom some may not fully understand. Don’t let their fear come across as bullying – love those who cross you so that they may get to know you instead of misunderstand you.

You are one-of-a-kind. You are loved.

May this New Year bring you more love, more happiness and contentment like you have never had before. God Bless.

Let’s Talk Breastfeeding

Pix from phone 035 I am not going to lie; I was 100% against formula, bottles and pacifiers while I was pregnant with my daughter. I decided ‘breast was best’ and was not taking NO for an answer.  I actually  had a small distaste, due to uneducated assumptions on my part, for those that would not breastfeed. If you follow our blog, you already know that after a traumatic cesarean section my daughter, Bean, ended up in the NICU, on formula because I could not get her to latch for the first three weeks of her life.

So let’s start from there. She latched! I thought my long nights of pumping and bottle feeding were over! Well, they were, but now my daughter was eating every two hours, around the clock and it took her about 20 minutes each side….so lets add that up for fun; 12:00am feed daughter till 12:40 and sleep 1 hour and 20 minutes before I had to wake and do it all over again. It was almost worse then pumping because my husband couldn’t help this time!

A side note, and yes I am very good at tangents. For the ladies who have had babies and had their milk come in…..H-E-L-L-O? I went from an A cup to a D cup overnight?!?!?!? There were times I found myself trying to tuck the extra skin on my stomach, into my pants just to see what my body would look like with a D cup….and without the Buddha belly. Sorry – I digress.

Back to breastfeeding.

What shocked me most about breastfeeding, was how unnatural the whole process was for me. I mean, just because Bean latched the first time, we actually had to practice the ‘lift & tuck’ technique every time she fed. Sometimes it would take me 10 minutes to get her on a good latch before she ever started feeding! This made for a frustrated little baby as well as a mother. But I learned something amongst all the struggling; we were learning about more then just a good latch, but how to trust one another and about one another’s needs. The entire week, after that first latch was exhausting and long, but eventually, with many around-the-clock feedings we mastered the technique and she needed almost no help to latch and feed successfully.

Unfortunately, with a good latch, comes some really amazing pain. Yeh, I said it. The hidden secrets about breastfeeding that no one tells you and then you are way to busy to think about. PAIN! Not just the pain of a stubbed toe, but P-A-I-N like you have never felt before on a part of your body that has NEVER seen this much action. Seriously! I remember one time I sat into a huge comfy recliner assuming this feeding would be pain free and when she latched I actually had to catch my daughter in mid air because when my body felt that first suck I threw her. No joke. (she was fine – and only upset due to hunger).

Why does no one tell you about this pain? Do you think people are afraid it will discourage you from nursing? (Likely actually). I asked my mother one time about whether or not she went through such pain and she snubbed it off with a casual ‘oh, I don’t remember.’ WHAT?!?!?!? My daughter is now 3 years old and I have a very vivid memory of the pain. Pix from phone 056

Like I am sure many mothers have, in their silent suffering, developed a coping technique that I link to call “sour puss.” It is when you take a very deep breath in, just before your child latches, and when you get the first suck you squeeze. No, not your child, but everything else you have control over; your eyes closed, your lips pursed, your fingers and finger nails into the palm of your hands, your toes into the floor and your rear end cheeks so tight you could hold a quarter. Now count to 10……and it is over. The pain is short but fierce.

Thank God I am Irish, Scottish and Stubborn or I never would have been as successful as I was. We developed a wonderful bond which we still thrive off of today. I understood and now still understand my daughter in a way no one else ever could or would. I know her fears, what makes her anxious and I know how to calm her in the midst of a fit. It may not have been the easy route to take, looking back, but breastfeeding my child was the only natural thing about her entire arrival into my world!

I mean seriously – look at that sweet little face.

Pix from phone 053

Looking for the Manual

Pix from phone 038     So after my debacle, which lasted a month, at the hospital I was literally handed a pile of discharge paperwork, asked to sign it and kicked out. I had been on bed rest, attached to 4 different machines, sliced open without a completely working spinal, had a child ripped from my abdomen, and could have lost my life, and I didn’t even get a high-five as I left. Seriously?

I tore through the paperwork when I got home in search of a manual. I needed some sort of step-by-step instructions for this little human I must now carry outside my womb. Obviously, it had to eat, it needed protection and such…..I waited for those ‘instincts’ to kick in, but all I felt was bloated, sore and exhausted. Is this the elation everyone was talking about when referring to motherhood?

Why did no one tell me that there was a chance I might not instantly bond with my daughter? I was both mortified and ashamed at how I was feeling and assumed I was alone with fear. I had pictured my birth experience over and over in my head; no drugs, vaginal delivery, doctor pulls her out and places her directly on my chest, she latches without incident and I immediately bond with her as our eyes meet  and I can see into her soul…blah blah blah. Missed that boat, didn’t I?Pix from phone 042

Here I was, a brand new mother, who was now pumping breast milk around the clock in three hour intervals and then bottle feeding my newborn. This was NOTHING like I pictured motherhood to be. I was determined, while pregnant to exclusively breastfeed after reading research on the benefits, but could not get my own daughter to latch after she was born. Granted, that was in part due to the fact that I was on Narcotics from the C-section and exhausted from the trauma of her birth. However, my head was also filled with all sorts of nonsense from the NICU nurses, lactation consultant and everyone else in the world who had NEVER been in my situation; your nipples are too small to nurse, it is because she is a preemie, you have to use a nipple shield to start out, if you cannot latch her by the next feeding we are inserting a feeding tube with formula. PRESSURE?!?!?

For 3 whole weeks I pumped around the clock and NEVER supplemented with formula – this meant I pumped for 20 minutes and then took another 40 to feed my daughter. Ex. 12:00am Pump. 12:20am Bottle feed my daughter. 1:00am Wash bottle, freeze remaining milk. 1:30, go to bed. 3:00am Pump 3:20am bottle feed my daughter…..you get the picture. Motherhood was completely robotic for me at this point. I longed for things to be ‘normal.’

After a friend invited me to a La Leche League meeting, which I first thought she was asking me out for coffee, I did get my daughter to latch. The leader asked if I had ever heard of the ‘lift and push method.’ Assuming she was not talking about my new method of putting on a brassiere I sat there, bare-chested and allowed this woman, whom I had never met before, to show me how to correctly place my daughters mouth onto the breast. My daughter latched instantly, and for the first time since I gave birth, I felt like a mother. She was 3 weeks old.Pix from phone 043

So, lesson learned; there is no instruction manual for those first few weeks so that you are forced to learn what works for you and your child. This is the process that creates the bond between mother and child. So if you find yourself frustrated and lost and not sure where to start or who to turn to for advice, just focus on cuddling that little human being you just grew in your womb. As thier body heat radiates enough to start a fire, take comfort in the fact that you will figure it all out together. I promise.