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Holidays Uncategorized

What I really want for Mother’s Day.

It’s funny.

I have to keep reminding myself that I’m a part of this whole deal now.

Every time I think of Mother’s Day, I immediately start wondering what to get my own mom. Not the fact that I have been a mom for a little over two years now. And I really still have no idea what I’m doing.

I have a two-year-old now, and she’s wonderful. But full of temper-tantrums and fussiness lately. The “terrible twos” or “terrific twos” or whatever the hell you want to call it, she’s got it now. Sure, there are bad moments, but also a lot of great ones I get the opportunity to witness.

Dear reader, if you are reading my post and wondering how money is going to magically appear for a gift you probably can’t afford, fear not! I have some ideas for you that don’t cost you anything but a bit of time and sweat equity. If you have the cash to spend, great! I also have ideas for you, too. But don’t feel like you have to go crazy.

I am a very busy person. (What mom these days isn’t?) As such, I love things that save me time and money, as well as my own sanity. I have become so scatterbrained at times, even the simplest of tasks may not be done unless I write them down or put them in my calendar. So here are some ideas from my own hectic perspective. Keep in mind, these are things that I would like, and not necessarily every mom would want. I’m probably a bit weird.

Coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

coffee-is-my-friend
I cannot brain until I has the coffee.

I somehow manage to wake up at 4:30 in the morning most days of the week. However, I really can’t start my day without this miracle in a cup. It would just not be possible. This is also one of the nice little things I have for myself to start my day off on a positive, caffeinated, and awake-enough-to-function note. I have a coffee grinder at home, so I like to have the whole bean stuff on hand. Nothing beats freshly ground awesomeness in the morning.

And a helpful beverage container for on-the-go.

yeti-tumblers-are-freaking-awesome
These have been life-savers during long days (and nights).

If you wanted to make a great pairing to the above, I definitely recommend one of these babies. I have two that have been through hell and back, and they still work wonderfully. I definitely wouldn’t mind adding more to my collection.

A helpful subscription service or membership.

treat-yo-self-box-subscription-box
Someone get me this. ASAP.

From subscription boxes like Smartass and Sass, grocery memberships like Costco, and the almighty Amazon Prime subscription, there are many options out there to choose from. If it helps me knock off stuff on my lengthy to-do list, or is just a nice way to treat myself at the end of the month, I’m down for it.

Cleaning services for the win.

maid-cleaning-services-send-help-plz
Did you see my sink? I need help.

Personally, I wouldn’t care if it was a professional or a friend coming to my aid here – I could always use a hand around the house and the yard to keep things clean and tidy. Seriously, it’s like a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders when I come back to a clean home after a long day of work.

Seriously, this one’s great if you know a new mom who is probably sending out SOS smoke signals from the burnout she could be experiencing. Even offering to cook dinner one night would not go unnoticed!

A chance for some alone time.

black headphones with mobile smartphone

A chance to recharge my batteries? Hell yeah, I’ll take it.

A moment of silence after weeks of noise, screaming and lack of personal space? Yes, please.

A nice, long, hot and uninterrupted shower that allows me to shave, exfoliate, and make me feel like a goddess again? Yes, yes, and yes.

I’ve always loved my alone time. After dealing with people all day (no offense, I love people most of the time), this allows me to reconnect with myself and how I am feeling. It’s definitely something I wish I could do more often.

Whether you offer to babysit or give the money to afford a sitter, this gift to me is a godsend.

Money for therapy. Or a spa day.

love romantic bath candlelight

Anything to help take care of my mental and physical health is a must these days. Making time for self-care is essential to my well being, and without it, I wouldn’t be able to kick ass as much as I do during the week. Whether it’s a gift certificate for a massage or a friend to vent my frustrations to, both are amazing things to have.

Wine and chocolate.

No picture or explanation needed here. Just because life.

A playdate without kids.

Moms need to stick together, but we also seem to be eternally exhausted. Can we just binge watch Netflix shows in our pajamas together? With some pizza and the above wine and chocolate, it would be perfect for me.

A thing from my own kid.

No matter what it would be, it would make my heart melt. It could be a picture of them, a picture they drew, or something that will remind me of them during the day, especially when I’m away.

And one last thing… Sleep!

alone bed bedroom blur

I need this to function. Allow me to take a nap once in a while. And I’ll be yours. Smitten forever.

 

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Uncategorized

13 things I took for granted before baby.

Life was so simple before baby. I thought I had it bad while I was in college. Boy, how wrong I was. These things may seem so simple. That’s because they really are. Children are a lot of work.

Here are my top 13 that I would love to indulge in once again someday.

1. Being able to make spontaneous plans.

making-spur-of-the-moment-plans
Imgur.com/AlmightyLenny

Nope. Don’t even think about it. Everything these days revolves around a schedule. Mind you, I already had a “schedule” before PJ, when I worked 9-5 during the weekdays. Now my schedule is basically from when I wake up to when I decide to crash for the night, Sunday through, er, Sunday. Which means forever. Speaking of sleep…

2. Sleep.

no-sleep-for-me
Reddit/SimplyGage

For now, I’ve been one of the lucky few to get a solid 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. But it was not always this way, and it definitely will not stay this way. When we came home from the hospital, Dan and I were literally zombies. Thank goodness for people who brought us food during that month and a half. They were the MVP’s.

3. Privacy.

no-bathroom-break-for-you
Pinterest/Social Rugrats

Yes, it’s true. Especially for moms. PJ loves to follow me into the bathroom whenever I need to pee. And if I try to go by myself, she goes into full meltdown mode. In fact, going anywhere around the house is usually a game of tag between me and my little minion. Dad tries to help when he can so I can try getting a moment of peace, and it usually doesn’t work. But I appreciate that he tries.

4. Language.

holy-mother-forking-shirt-balls
NBC/The Good Place

Oh boy. Back in the day, I would swear like a sailor. Not anymore. I definitely need to clean up my mouth, or I may face the searing embarrassment of the little one picking up on these words – and using them at the most inconvenient times, like while we are at church. I’d rather not be excommunicated.

Also, it is surprisingly grueling to use baby talk all day, every day, 24/7. It will feel like a breath of fresh air when you actually get the chance to talk to another adult. If you can’t get me to stop a conversation with you, it’s likely because I desperately need the social interaction.

5. Sick days.

calling-in-sick
FowlLanguageComics/Brian Gordon

Moms only get sick time when it’s bad enough to go to the hospital. I’m serious. There is literally no way I can tell PJ to change her own diapers for a day while I recover from the flu. I’m very fortunate to have grandparents to come get her if I’m really bad, but I also try not to overburden them whenever I have the sniffles. I basically just work through it, while Dan can be knocked out on the couch recovering from a sinus infection.

Sigh. I would kill to trade places sometimes.

6. A clean house.

funny-parenting-memes-83-1

I used to think I was a slob before PJ. Now, I try my best to stay on top of things like dishes and laundry, but I’ve come to accept that there is always going to be at least one room in the house that is not completely clean. And if I end up having guests over, I’ll just throw the mess I can’t clean in time into the bedroom and keep the door closed. They’ll never know.

7. My Netflix shows.

no-more-OITNB-for-me
Rebloggy.com

Goodbye, OITNB. Now that I have a little one, I can’t indulge in my guilty Netflix pleasures until after she has gone down for the night. And usually, that time is used catching up on something I was supposed to do during the day, not to binge watch shows like I did in the good ol’ days.

Also, I seem to lose a piece of my sanity every time I need to put one of her favorite cartoons on. Pocoyo all day, every day. The theme song haunts my dreams.

8. Videogames.

game-over-broken-heart
mattsai.tumblr.com

HAHAHAHAHA IF I CAN’T EVEN PEE BY MYSELF WHAT MAKES ME THINK I CAN HAVE TIME TO DO THIS EVER AGAIN??

Hopefully, one day I will have a weekend where PJ stays with her grandparents while I can veg out and dive into a game like I used to and just waste my hours away.

9. Dressing myself, and only myself.

where-is-your-other-shoe-every-parent-ever-29636755
me.me

I miss being able to take an hour to myself to put makeup on my face and make my hair all cute. Now I’m lucky if I’m able to remember to wear deodorant. Dan tries to help me here when he can, too.

He only needs like 4 minutes before he looks flawless. Grrrr.

10. Going out to eat.

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I’m sure we get glares from the waitstaff when they see us walking in with a toddler. That usually means a bigger mess to clean up. They’re usually right. (And they get a bigger tip from us for doing so.) Also…

11. Going out basically anywhere.

cant-have-nice-things

This takes 250% more effort with the baby than it did when it was just me, myself and I. Running errands by myself now feels like a treat, not to mention a chance to get away from the house and all of the chaos that now resides in it.

12. Having nice things.

get-into-all-the-things
Reddit.com

Babyproofing the house 100% is basically impossible. PJ will find a way to make something that seems perfectly harmless at first glance turn into screaming metal death traps.

Those cords from the Xbox don’t look like they’re going to harm anyone, right? Forget about having one of those fancy kitchens with knives on display on a magnetic strip. Or anything fragile for display. Everything in the house to PJ is just another toy. Or something to poop on, like my white blouses.

13. “Me” time.

morning_tea_and_breakfast_with_book
Enjoying tea and oatmeal while having a rare reading opportunity.

My non-negotiables are my hot cup of coffee in the morning and being able to take a hot shower by myself every once in a while. But moments to myself now are rare. In fact, I’m using my allotted “me” time to write this blog for today. And now I hear PJ waking up from her short nap.

Here we go again! Til’ next time.

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Life Uncategorized Work

Boobs, bottles and breast pumps: How I managed to survive breastfeeding.

**Okay, here’s a disclaimer before we begin. You are about to read my personal experiences with breastfeeding. I talk about my boobs here and if that makes you uncomfortable, please stop reading now and go do something nice for yourself. Maybe treat yourself to some ice cream and go get your haircut or… something. You do you.**

Alright, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I wanted to rant a little bit about the challenges that I’ve faced while nursing and pumping for my daughter these past 8 months. (Woo! only 4 months until I meet my goal!)

I didn’t really give too much thought of whether I would breastfeed or give formula while I was pregnant. As I was en route to the hospital to deliver PJ, I was at peace with either method, as long as my daughter was getting fed and was healthy, that’s all that mattered to me. Without a second thought, I flung myself into the responsibilities and incredible discipline that came with breastfeeding and pumping.

The first few months were HARD.  The first few weeks? Almost unbearable.

While I spent my first few days with our new little bundle of joy, I was in a complete fog. I think I was still in shock that I had actually delivered my baby without dying and that I was holding her and looking at her for the first time. But soon enough, she became very hungry. The lactation consultant would come into the room and latch her onto my breast but did not really explain to me what I was about to experience.

“It will feel a little tender at first, but nursing shouldn’t hurt.”

Don’t listen to people who tell you this. These kinds of statements are LIES.

I screamed in agony as PJ tried to latch on to nurse for the first time. My boobs were definitely not ready to be my baby’s new chew toy. We had a lot of problems right out the gate. Her latch wasn’t great, as this was a skill that babies actually have to learn to be able to drink at the breast efficiently. I didn’t get the memo that this was something that had to be practiced in order to be able to work. I fumbled with my other breast and tried to perform what was called the “nipple sandwich” in order to feed my squished nipple to PJ.

Surprisingly, if you keep trying to put one of the most sensitive parts of your body into a hungry newborn’s mouth, you end up with pain. Lots of pain. Imagine that.

Tears were rolling down my face as the nurse and lactation consultant tried their best to console me. They believed PJ was not getting enough milk, and so they brought out these small, 3-ounce bottles of Enfamil to feed her and to encourage her to sleep. Even though I knew before stepping into the hospital that I would be okay if breastfeeding didn’t work out, I was totally devastated in the moment. I thought that this was something my body was supposed to do, and I started to think that I was a defective mother right from the start. Of course, this was while my hormones were out of whack and I was far, far away from recovering from the delivery, but my feelings were real.

I didn’t give up. I used the hospital pump religiously around the clock to see if I could give breastfeeding another go. Holding one pump funnel onto one breast, and holding the baby in my other arm, I tried to pump and nurse PJ at the same time in my hospital bed. At the end of the second night, my nipples became raw, cracked and started to bleed a bit. It was not a pretty sight. I was not a pretty sight. I felt like a great big mess the entire time I was recovering.

And then, we got the discharge papers.

I was not ready to go home without knowing I had tried my best to get the milk flowing for my daughter, but I knew the nurses had better things to do than deal with this weeping, squishy blob of a woman who was formerly myself. I kept trying. And kept trying some more.

And then, a miracle happened.

I got a quarter of an ounce of milk from one pump! From just a few drops, I was starting to make more of what I needed to feed PJ, and I was over the moon with this achievement.

But after I got home and googled everything about breastfeeding and why I was having so much trouble, I found that what I was experiencing was NORMAL.

Apparently, most newborns only need about an ounce or so of milk in the first week of life. And it is common for women to make only an ounce or less in the beginning. And the nurses were giving my newborn 3-oz bottles of formula. Huh.

The pain eventually started to subside as I kept pumping and nursing, but it wasn’t until after 4 long months that I noticed it became a little less painful. I was able to get used to the sensation at that point.

I used my pump at home just as religiously while I was on my medical leave, practicing for the big day when I would be returning to my office job, about a half an hour away from home. Bigger challenges were ahead of me, but for the moment, I was just happy to be out of the hospital and back home where I needed to be for the next few weeks.

 

door warning
What my HR manager and I  originally wanted to use as a “do not disturb” sign.

Returning to work was another great obstacle I faced when trying to keep my milk supply up and prevent some painful conditions, such as mastitis. Babies are not very predictable creatures. They don’t always eat the same amount at the same time each day. My boobs were engorged, confused, and feeling raw on a good day. You don’t wanna know what a bad day was like.

Also, with the new laws in place to protect breastfeeding mothers, my previous employer was required to give me a pumping area (that was not a restroom) to use during the workday. Which I had no idea about and I was perfectly prepared to go pump in my car if needed. That probably would have been pretty awkward to some poor person who had to walk by my car in the parking lot.

I believe I got a pretty decent setup. A cute and comfy chair from Target and a small Ikea-like table were set in a small supply closet, next to a mini refrigerator to store any pumped milk. (So the other coworkers would not confuse my breast milk with the coffee creamer, I’m sure.)

My Human Resources Manager at the time was super supportive of the decision to breastfeed my daughter and the company was happy to assist me with whatever I needed within reason. However, when things were starting to pile up at work, it would cut into my pumping time and would cause me to be in an incredible amount of pain if I didn’t take care of business – at least two to three times during the workday. A dual electric pump was a necessity. I was so thankful that my insurance covered a Spectra S2 breast pump that I used at home, and that I received a Medela Pump in Style breast pump from my baby shower to use at work. I carried that Medela EVERYWHERE, and I loved that it was so discreet. It just looked like I was carrying around a harmless black tote bag.

pumpsss
The Spectra S2 (above) and the Medela Pump in Style Advanced (below).

Having the ability to take work home with me and use flex time if needed was huge, but I also needed to make sure in the long run, I kept work at work and didn’t bring it home with me. I was blessed to have this ability since I know that not every mom has the luxury of even a supply closet to use when needed if she chooses to breastfeed her child after returning to work. There are moms that I know that still need to use the work bathrooms to pump, despite the new laws put in place.

Fast forward a few months later, around the 6-month postpartum mark, and I noticed some changes – the milk I was producing seemed thicker and had more fat content in it. Shortly after I noticed this, I became extremely fatigued after every time I nursed PJ or pumped. I had forgotten that producing milk took a lot of energy from my body, and even more so now that PJ was starting to become more active and alert – she needed the extra energy, and it had to come from somewhere.

It was one of the few times where I actually had to eat more food to keep up with the caloric demands of this new milk. Worried that I would put back on the pounds from pregnancy, I had started to revert back to my old habits and diet, where I would only eat about 1200 calories in a day, along with exercise here and there. I was determined to get back to my pre-baby weight, and even that was considered overweight for my height, at 180 pounds.

However, breastfeeding moms need additional nutrition to keep milk supply up – which can be anywhere between an additional 400 to 500 calories a day or even more. It took some trial and error to realize that even though I was still overweight, I needed to be taking in at least 2000 calories a day. I was definitely not eating enough and I was thankful my mistake didn’t cause any damage to my milk supply.

I have to remember that weight loss after pregnancy is a marathon, not a sprint. I will get there. I hope.

Now I am only 4 months away from meeting my goal of nursing PJ for one entire year. It has been a labor-intensive act, but I am forever grateful that this experience has helped me bond with my daughter and allowed me to slow down enough to spend quality time with her during her first months of life. Also, all the money I saved by not having to buy formula was also a huge bonus.

But after this, I’m definitely going to think twice about breastfeeding and if it would be the best choice once baby #2 comes along. And hopefully, that’s not for another few years.

 

 

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Life Uncategorized

No more mommy guilt.

I literally only have three wrapped presents under the Christmas tree for PJ. Her first Christmas is coming up, and I feel like I am a horrible person for only getting her three things, and two of those things are just re-gifted hand-me downs. But still, I’m thankful that after this rough year there are even any presents under our Christmas tree.

PJ is definitely still too young to understand what this holiday is even about or how it is celebrated, but I definitely have my work cut out for me when she DOES understand what is going on. I remember my Christmases fondly when I was younger – my mom (with the help of Santa, or course) made sure there was a huge mountain of presents waiting for both my sister and I on Christmas morning. Those were some of the most exciting days of my childhood.

But why am I feeling like the world’s worst mom right now?

Maybe it’s all of the things I ended up doing to get by this month. Dropping her off at my mother-in-law’s has become a weekly thing. Am I not spending enough quality time with her? Or maybe it was the one time last week we got McDonald’s and I ended up giving PJ some of my cheeseburger and fries. So much for having a healthy baby. Even the TV has become a babysitter in a pinch. I needed to dust off my resume, so I sat her down in front of Little Einsteins for an hour or so to prepare for an interview. But the American Academy of Pediatrics says to avoid screen time for children under age 2. How can I help that if she is already trying to grab my phone from me? All she knows is that its a pretty bunch of lights coming out of a flat, square-looking thing.

It’s difficult, especially with parenting abilities easily judged these days from keyboard warriors behind the screens of the Internet, trying to reinforce the fact that you aren’t doing enough for your kid, or you aren’t doing something the right way. (Have you ever googled ‘sleep training’? Just don’t.)

Did these guys even have kids? Or did they forget what it was like?

I’m so grateful to have a small group of moms (including my own) in my life that can easily say “been there, done that” and remind me that I am not so horrible after all. It may seem silly to others, but someone randomly coming up to me to tell me that I am doing okay is always refreshing to me and it is definitely needed. Especially when moms like us fall in the trap of comparing ourselves to other moms out there, it’s really easy to get discouraged and feel like we are not living up to the ideal standards that are out there today.

Today is one of those days where I feel like a sub-par mom, but I know that these feelings are temporary and they will pass. Especially now that PJ is awake from her nap. As soon as I walk into the room and she sees me, the smile she gives me is enough to melt all of those thoughts about being a bad mom away. And I’m so thankful for that.

 

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Life Uncategorized

I’m not going to do it all.

The universe doesn’t care if you’re Beyonce or the President of the United States – we all get the standard 24 hours in a day. Granted, we don’t have the luxury of having special assistants or personal managers to help schedule and block a day’s timeline perfectly like a game of Tetris. No, we are usually left to fend for ourselves when it comes to managing time. And even with help, things don’t always go to plan. I groan whenever a decently sized plan ends up falling apart, only to hear my mother in law tell me later in a coy but I-told-you-so way – “If you want to make God laugh, make a plan.” (Love you, Alyce!)

I’ve always managed to do just fine with time management in my life before baby. I mean, I had to be good with it, my survival at the time depended on it. I worked three different jobs while in college (full time), and I was also actively participating in three student organizations. I’ve learned more than once that burnout is a nasty beast, and it takes forever and a half with 5 shots of espresso in a Venti sized Starbucks coffee to manage to pick myself back up from the fallout and get moving once again.

I’m still trying to adjust after throwing a baby in the mix, even 8 months after coming home from the hospital. Guys, I still don’t feel “back to normal” yet. In fact, I’m just coming to terms that my life will never go back to what it once was – being able to enjoy a hot cup of coffee is something that I have to literally force myself to have. It is one of the little things that help keep me sane during this time of transition and keeps a sense of normalcy alive, even when everything else around me seems to be going up in flames. Frankly, I was relieved to be going back to work after my medical leave was over, but I was still struggling with how much life had changed when I came home. There was a baby to care for, and chores to be done, and bills to be paid, and errands to be run, and laundry, and cooking, and doctor’s appointments, and… I think you get the point.

My to-do list got way out of control. There was no balance left. There was no “me time” anymore. Something had to give.

I’ve found that adding the little things back into my life has helped me shape firm boundaries that need to be respected so I can be a happier person. (I NEED MY COFFEE.) First, it was the coffee. Then, it was a shower. A good hot shower, not the rushed 5 minute ones just to get myself clean. After that, it was a good meal. I wasn’t eating properly because I was placing the needs of others before me, and it showed. I slowly kept adding things back into my life that made me feel like a person again. Laundry and dishes be damned. They could wait. I had to put myself before the pile of stinky diapers that needed to go out that night.

The struggle with a new identity such as “MOM” can be overwhelming, as new expectations for how you should be as a person are just magically thrust upon you once that baby is conceived. It doesn’t help with the most recent set of standards for moms that have popped up on the picture-perfect Instagram photos and Pinterest posts. Cloth diapering. Organic, homemade baby foods and snacks. Breastfeeding. Cute and stylish outfits that put your 90’s clown-like childhood photos to shame.

You don’t have to do it all. I’m certainly not. Disposable diapers are my time trade-off for a cuppa joe in the morning. I’ll take it! And remember, social media tends to show the better side of a person. People like to post the best of themselves, while hiding and editing out the not-so-perfect aspects. (Like how I need mascara to make it look like I have lashes.)

Do what works for you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. There is no shame in calling someone to watch your kid if you need a time out from life. And maybe a margarita.

 

 

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I’m feeding my almost toddler oatmeal while I’m typing this.

And as usual, she’s dropped everything on the floor in hopes to regain my attention. Luckily, my husband has come to the rescue and has scooped her up for a moment while I figure out what to type next for this post.

Motherhood requires an enormous amount of multitasking. And from here on out, I shall cast no judgement on mothers who do similar things –

Ope, hold on – the toaster went off. Husband wants his pop-tarts.

*burns self with hot pop-tarts*

*runs back to laptop*

Okay, I’m back! Where was I again? Oh yes, the multitasking bit. You need a lot of it. I understand how some women end up with the dreaded “Mom Brain” condition. This is when you often lose your train of thought due to constantly switching between tasks and then forgetting what you were originally trying to do in the first place.

So, why did I start this blog? Hold on – I actually legit forgot for a moment… It will come back…

This blog is dedicated to those who are trying to navigate the new perils of what parenthood is like, while trying to find a new normal in their own lives. I want to use this as a place to vent during my own experiences and struggles. I’ve gotten past the point of being afraid of judgement from other people. I’ve just come to accept that, well frankly, haters gonna hate.

So if you’re reading this, welcome! I’m glad you’ve decided to join me in documenting this wonderfully exhausting and crazy new life I’ve jumped into. Enjoy! More posts coming, as soon as I can get my child down for another nap…