Life Lately: Simple Christmas

Friday, I left work a little early to try to do some cleaning at home before Brian got off work and picked up Edison from daycare. I turned up the Christmas worship music, and starting from the living room, began mopping my way to the other end of the house. It was slow work, since we haven’t mopped for, oh, a few months? It’s bad when you can’t remember the last time you mopped.

But when I made it to Edison’s room, as I flipped on the light, I felt that the light switch was all sticky. And I couldn’t help but smile.

Sticky light switches make me think of our nightly bedtime routine. After Edison has his pajamas on and his teeth brushed, while I hold him up, he switches off the bathroom light, then the hallway light, and then his bedroom light last of all.

I never would have thought there’d be a day that sticky light switches made me happy. Or the puppies, trucks, books, and blocks I see scattered all over the living room floor from where I sit typing.

But when I see toys all over the floor, or touch a sticky light switch, I’m struck by that feeling. The one all mothers know, the feelings of overwhelming love, joy in this moment, fear that life is going by too fast, sadness of knowing how fleeting it is, sheer happiness in the present. All mingled and combined into the emotion that is motherhood.

So, I’m trying to take each day slowly. My house isn’t decorated as much or as well as I’d like, like the photos I can’t stop pinning on Pinterest, but Edison loves the Christmas tree (and especially the switch that turns the lights on and off) just as it is.

We haven’t made any cute Christmas crafts. I probably won’t have time to put together clever gifts for his teachers at daycare. I forgot to get the mailman anything. I’ve fallen behind on my Advent calendar and devotional, but the scripture and lessons for the days I have done has been a blessing. I might not get all the gifts for all the people I’d like, or send enough Christmas cards, or bake anything at all.

After all, people, I’ve just mopped my floor for the first time in … a very long while, so that should tell you where to set your expectations.

We probably won’t go do all the fun Christmas activities, or fit in all of the Christmas movies, or see all the people we’d like to see while we’re in Iowa for Christmas. But I don’t want this Christmas to go by wishing I’d done more, or seen more, or had more. I just want to be truly present in each moment.

I think that’s the best gift I can give.

4 Tees New Moms Need

The tricky thing about Mother’s Day is that you’re really not supposed to buy things for yourself – it’s up to your husband and children to deliver on showing you their appreciation. But what do you do when the child in question is too young to put their hand-prints in cement, color a picture, or “help” make breakfast in bed? 
Plus, I think we can all agree that moms need to be recognized year round. So maybe this time, treat yourself to one of these tees. All of them support other mom-run companies!

1. Grace Upon Coffee Tee from Camplight Apparel

Keeping it real people! New moms run on prayers and caffeine. I own this shirt, and not only is it super soft, but it’s also not super thin. It’s one of my go-to tees for the weekend. Plus, this is from a mom-run business that gives back – a portion of all proceeds go to feeding malnourished children.

2. Proud Sponsor of Coffee and Cuddles from Dovetail Vintage

I own the Fruit of the Spirit baseball tee from Dovetail Vintage, but I almost bought this one. It’s too perfect for mom bloggers!

3. Don’t Waste Your Motherhood from Today Is A Miracle.

Here’s the heart behind this tee: “For those mommas who put their own health on hold to bring your child into this world, for those mommas who fought hard and kept believing even when all logic said to give up, for you mommas who couldn’t carry your own babies and had to ask for help, for you mommas who know deep in your bones how priceless this gift of motherhood is…this one is for you.  Don’t waste your motherhood.” Also, $5 from every tee sold is donated to the Cystinosis Research Foundation.

4. Embracing Mommyhood from Sweet T’s Design Shop.

The story behind this tee:

“Here at Sweet T’s, we are passionate about women. We are passionate about Moms. And we are passionate about sharing what we have with others. Our goal with this tee is to have Moms wear it and be reminded to embrace the hard days, the good days, and all the in-between. Mommyhood is a huge calling and though it’s not always easy, it’s what we were created for and we can do it!!
With each “Embracing Mommyhood” tee purchased, we are going to donate 10% of the proceeds to Young Lives. This organization brings hope to teen Moms and gives them a safe place to feel loved. They share the gospel with these sweet girls, they love on them without judgement, and they accept them … All Mamas, young and old, deserve this love and acceptance and we want to help spread this message.”

It doesn’t get better than that!
And even though it’s not a tee, just for fun, I think every new mom in your life needs one of Honeycomb Baby Good’s super cute teething necklaces!
Edison greats me every day when I get home from work and pick him up by promptly chewing on my necklace. These beads are made from silicone and are soft and chewy, perfect for little sore gums.

Of course, these tees don’t just make great gifts for new moms – moms of all stages would probably love one of these great tees. 

So there you go! Treat yourself, support other moms, and give back to great causes! Happy Mother’s Day!

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Life Lately: Savoring the Days

There will be a week when we don’t go to the doctor! But this is not that week.

I began the week with a sore throat, and since strep has been going around … I just didn’t want to take any chances. The doctor gave me antibiotics just in case, but with as stuffy as my head feels today, I’m pretty sure it’s just a common cold, thankfully!
So, I’ve been chugging tea with honey, and taking lots of Cold-Eeze. Brian says they work for him, so I’m giving it a try. I even ate raw garlic. I hate being sick that much. It’s not for the faint of heart.
But let’s back up. Last weekend, I met my good friend and mentor for coffee. I’d think about getting together with her, and then put off sending a text. Or I’d get a text from her, and say “We need to have coffee!” but then never set a date. I finally decided this weekend I would just make it work. I felt so refreshed and encouraged afterwards!
My sister-in-law spent last weekend with us. We went to the farmer’s market on Saturday morning, and I made a great discovery. I’d been having such a hard time watching Brian scarf down M&Ms in front of me (ok, so I did put them on the grocery list for him as a thank you for all the early morning feedings he does, and just generally for being a great husband) knowing that the pain a little milk protein causes Edison is not worth even one tiny M&M. But seriously folks, after a long day of taking care of a fussy baby, I just wanted some smooth chocolaty goodness to make me feel better. 
So when I tasted Stonegrindz’ samples at the farmer’s market, you better believe I bought some! Dairy-free for the win!
And those cotton candy flavors – the peanut butter and jelly one was crazy good!
Per the doctors orders at his two month appointment, we worked with Edison on sleeping in his crib instead of just his swing a few times this week. Now he’s awake…
… and now he’s out. 

He fell asleep in the time it took me to text his mom and sister-in-laws a picture of him in those pj’s. They’re a little too big still, but they belonged to his daddy when he was a baby. They must be very cozy!
Edison has not wanted to stay asleep when taking naps this week. The photo is blurry since the swing was still in motion, but this is his “I’m not going back to sleep and you can’t make me” face. 

The only time he wants to sleep it seems is when mama is holding him. That means I haven’t done much else this week, but I have photographic proof of my excuse.

Who can resist that face? (Also, apparently I really like that striped shirt!)
I will admit that I start stressing out over how little I get done every day. Our floors haven’t been mopped in who knows how long, and the bathroom is starting to look like a research study of just how remarkably grimy a bathroom can become when only two people use it (it defies logic). Every time I walk by the sticky places on the floor or see the dust on the coffee table, I think: someone should probably clean that.
My mother-in-law has this beautiful poem hanging on her bedroom wall: 

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

I also visited a daycare on Monday, and it impressed on me how little time I have left to spend just holding him as much as I want to. So the cleaning can wait.

Sirius is taking his role as nanny more seriously lately. 
But he seems to think that entitles him to special privileges. 
Guess who is sleeping through the night now! ALL OF US! With the exception of last Saturday night, after a day of being out and about and off his schedule, he’s going on about two weeks of eating between 8-10 pm, and then sleeping until between 4-6 am. 
That means someone, aka me, is now getting up for that first early morning feeding so that Brian can go work out. His half Ironman triathlon (!!!) is coming up in a couple weeks, so every extra workout counts! I have never ever been a morning person, so this is taking some getting used to. 
Edison is back to taking his reflux medicine. We’ve found that that combination of medicine plus dairy-free diet works really well, and without one or the other, after a few days Edison will start being in pain after eating and having a difficult time sleeping. And it takes at least a week for any milk product to leave my system, which is very motivational as far as keeping me from eating those M&Ms. 
On Tuesday, I’d signed up for a group clinic with the lactation consultant and a pediatric chiropractor. It was really the only thing left that I hadn’t tried. Over the weekend, breastfeeding was as excruciating as always. Then of course, I got this cold. So on Monday night, I told Brian, “I just really don’t want to go.” 
“Then don’t go.” He said. “This means you’re done, then, right?”  
“Yes, I guess I’m done.”
And that was that. Not how I wanted this to end, but I’m ready. Yes, it’s time-consuming to have to feed Edison from a bottle and then pump afterwards. And I worried for a long time about missing out on the bonding experience, but I really think we’ve bonded just fine. I worried about how much we’d also spent on procedures and consultations and felt like if I just stuck it out a little longer, maybe it would work out. But I finally decided that enough was enough. Enough money, enough doctor appointments, and enough pain and frustration, on both my part and Edison’s. 
I know some people who stuck it out for four months, and others who’ve told me if they had half of the issues I’ve had, they would have quit a long time ago. Ultimately, I know that now is the right time to stop for us. I plan to try again with the next baby, should God give us one! 
Whew. That was really hard to share! I honestly didn’t think when I started sharing our post-baby troubles that this would be the conclusion, but it didn’t feel honest to not write it. 
On a lighter note, I had a post-baby first today. While I was pumping, the doorbell rang. I turned and saw the pest control guy standing there, and I remembered in a flash that they were coming to spray our house TODAY. I got unhooked from the machine in record time! 
And that’s life lately! Thanks for reading!

20 Things I’ve Learned After Having A Baby

A few tips, advice, and lessons I’m learning so far on this adventure:

1. Look into cord blood donation.
The blood in the umbilical cord contains stem cells, which can be used to treat many conditions, including cancer. You can bank your cord blood privately, so that only someone in your family can use it, but I decided to donate cord blood to a public bank. I’d rather be sure that someone somewhere gets to use it and has a new chance at life, rather than pay for it to sit unused, possibly (hopefully) forever. It’s free, but in some states, you need to pass a screening before 36 weeks, so as I discovered, you do have to plan ahead! 

2. Book your newborn photographer during your 2nd trimester.
Somehow, the fact that I would want newborn photos completely slipped my mind until a few weeks before my due date. Guess what – it’s really hard to get the photographer you want on short notice! Thankfully, it worked out, although we ended up taking pictures on the hottest day of the year! 

3. Get a free breast pump.
Because of the Affordable Care Act, your insurance might provide you with a hospital grade breast pump for free. So don’t worry about adding one to your baby registry right away – call your insurance company first and find out what they offer. It’s worth the 40 minutes of your life that you’ll never get back while you’re on hold. Maybe.

4. Take a breastfeeding class.
I actually registered for a class at the hospital, and then wrote the date down wrong, and missed it by a month. #PregnancyBrain. I highly recommend you look into it, because as I learned, it’s not always as “natural” as you might expect. 

5. Open your product boxes.
Insider tip: Open the boppy pillow, and any breastfeeding product packages once you get them from your baby shower. I didn’t open things until I needed them, and when I did, I found lots of coupons inside that I wished I’d had earlier. 

6. It’s really hard to trust your intuition as a new mom.
Especially when experienced moms, nurses, and even doctors are telling you everything is fine, you’ll get used to it, or he’ll grow out if it in two months. But listen – your mom-tuition doesn’t lie! You’re the one who’s with your baby 24/7, so if something is bugging you and just doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. You have to be your baby’s advocate, so even if it turns out to be a false alarm, it’s worth looking like that typical new mom, if there’s a chance you’re right. 

7. After two weeks, breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt.
Even if someone told you it’s normal, or it’s just because you’re fair-skinned – DON’T BELIEVE THEM. Google a lactation consultant near you, they know their stuff and even if they can’t fix the problem, they can at least put your mind at ease. 

And listen, it’s probably not you. I know right now, if feels like it’s all your fault and you’re just a failure as a mother, but trust me, that’s just the postpartum hormones talking. Tongue-ties and lip-ties are common, and even more commonly missed by doctors and nurses, so get a second opinion.

8. Know your after-hour pediatrician and OB phone numbers.
Hopefully, you won’t need them. 

9. Get a good nipple cream.
I didn’t know, but women who use only lanolin have triple the number of  infections, per my lactation consultant. Use a cream with some natural antibiotics in it, like Motherlove, or my favorite, Earth Mama Angel Baby. This tiny tub lasts forevvvvver, and it smells good enough to eat. Makes great chapstick too.

10. Doing nothing and letting people take care of you is really hard.
But healing from giving birth is hard too, and you really do need to just sit and do nothing. I had a difficult time with that, because I knew other people couldn’t do things the way I would (#ControlIssues?). And it was hard to ask someone to get something for me that was just a few steps away…but when you get it for yourself eight times a day, those few steps add up. Those of you who have experienced bedrest – I salute you. But guess what happens when you give in to your control  freak nature and you overdo it: you get mastitis. Twice. 

11. Postpartum feelings are REAL.
Do your research so when you start thinking you’re going crazy, you’ll remember that actually, it’s just your hormones talking. I was surprised by the anxiety, how sucky the blues felt, and how struggling with breastfeeding really messed with my head. Feel all the feelings, cry it out in the shower, and then talk to someone else about it. You will feel better, one day at a time.

12. Amazon Mom is the way to go.
Diapers, wipes, nipple cream, batteries for the baby swing, even my pumping bra (highly recommend!) arrived right at my door in no time. 

13. Sleep deprivation is REAL.
And it will make you do funny things. Like the time I sent a text message to Brian: “My nipple cracked open and is bleeding again… it just never gets better,” except it wasn’t to Brian… it was to the photographer. Awkward.

Or the time you put all the return address labels where the stamps go on the birth announcements. That might have happened. 

14. Read everything twice, maybe three times.
Even then, you’ll still forget what you just read. 

15. Gift-giving is apparently the love language of my friends and family.
Everything from homemade quilts to baby clothes and gear galore has been lavished on us. I don’t even send birthday cards. If Facebook didn’t tell me, I wouldn’t know when anyone’s birthday was. I feel very undeserving, and in awe of everyone’s generosity, and it truly motivates me to do better.

16. Postpartum wardrobe: the struggle is real.
Just like in the first trimester, there’s another awkward stage when you’re too big to fit in your regular clothes, too small to fit in your maternity clothes. The hair-tie through the jeans button-hole trick is your best friend again. 

17. I completely understand yoga pants.
I never got it before, but now I see the light. Your jeans are too tight, you’re having hot flashes from those pesky hormones, and you just want to get out of your pajamas, but into something stretchy and supportive. Yoga pants are the answer. 

18. Always plan to leave an hour before you need to.
Because here’s how it goes: by the time you feed them, change their diaper, change their onesie because they just spit up all over it, then get yourself dressed, do your make-up and hair, pack the diaper bag, and strap the baby into the car seat, they will be hungry again. So then you can take them back out of the car seat, feed him, change him again, strap him back in the seat, and finally arrive at your destination, you’ll only be a fashionable fifteen minutes late. 

19. There’s only one rule when it comes to taking care of your baby.
Seriously. No matter what advice you follow, someone will tell you the exact opposite. For example, don’t give your baby a pacifier until after four weeks because you’ll cause nipple confusion, but you have to give them one before four weeks, or they’ll never take one (real conversation with a nurse). Put your baby on a schedule so they feel secure, even if they have to cry it out when they’re hungry too early. Don’t let your baby cry it out, because if you don’t respond right away to their needs, then they’ll be insecure for life. This article on baby advice makes me laugh so hard I cry. 

There are some rules, like don’t shake the baby, and don’t leave the baby in the car, but they really boil down to one: Keep the baby alive. By whatever means possible. 

20. Finally, you’re doing it right.
However you’re doing it – you’re doing it right, because it’s right for you and your baby and you know it. And even it feels like you’re blundering your way through every day figuring things out as you go, you’re doing a great job. 

What did you learn after having a baby? Comment below with your favorite piece of advice!