Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Idealism and Motherhood

I recently read this amazing book as seen below. 

I don't think there has ever been a book I have highlighted so much. I didn't know I was such an idealist until I read this book nor did I know how to deal with my idealistic tendencies. 

Idealist defined by good ol' M-Web  (and quoted in the book page 16) 

"A person guided by principles or hopes rather than by practicality. Someone who looks on the more favorable side of life and events, expecting the best outcome. Someone who envisions an ideal world rather than reality."

When I first read this I was a little put off. I felt like, "No! That isn't me. I am practical. I am not just living in a Disney version of life." But as I kept reading the book and read about the gap between expectation and reality, I was sold. I have A LOT of expectations. I don't want to. I try not to. I make gratitude lists regularly. For the past 2 months I have been saying 5 things I am grateful for everyday. I try to ground myself in gratefulness for what I have rather than in hopeful expectations that are not very realistic. 

Lets take Halloween for example. 

Here is my expectation to the right. 

This picture perfect family... literally, I just googled these people, I don't know them. Matching costumes, perfectly fit, and adorable kid. What the heck- How are they so perfect looking? I made the picture small so that I wouldn't look at it too long and get envious. I am sure they are a very lovely family....or maybe they are paid models. I think I'll go with that one. They are paid models in my mind now. 

But as my toddler screamed and cried when I shoved his costume on him, I soon realized getting this perfect picture was not going to happen the way I envisioned it. 

Another example. 

Many people told me that being a mom is a great way to meet new people and make great new friendships. So naturally my idealist self thinks ANY mom who has a kid around the same age as mine will become my BFF. We will have playdates weekly, we will swap toys, swap food recipes, and we will enjoy our kids bedtime over a glass of wine and a cheesy Bollywood movie. These are REAL thoughts I have!  This googled picture also summarized my thoughts well.

But as I have found, it's a lot harder to build mom-friends for a variety of reasons. 

Another example. 

When we moved into our most recent rental I was praying and really was SURE that our neighbors would be sweet nice couple who would fall in love with our son and us and want to babysit all the time and cook us banana bread. 

But, alas, my neighbors glared at me for a while and made it clear that all they want out of a relationship is for me to stay out of the way. (I made them some banana bread so now I get a nice smile sometimes) 

I could literally go on an on with examples. I have DAILY examples. 

Being a new mom (I don't know when I'll no longer be a new mom - because every stage is new- I think I always will be one which is fine by me- makes me feel like I can get more grace and compassion)
....so yes being a new mom, I have had SO many expectations and MANY are unmet and MOST were unrealistic. 

This isn't to say that my whole time being a mom has been one big disappointment, it has been AMAZING and I love it SO much but I also have wounded myself with my unrealistic expectations. 

Here is a list of several of MY expectations I have had in relation to motherhood- maybe you can relate? 

-WHEN I was going to have a baby. For me it was 2 years earlier than I expected and so this unexpected surprise took a while for me to get used to and surrender to
-How my birth was going to go 
-When baby would actually come vs when he really came (due dates are struggling- cheers to the mommas who had to endure to 40+ weeks of pregnancy)
-How the first couple days would go with baby 
-How I would feel (physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually) after baby came
-The temperament of my child
-How "easy" my baby would be
-How breastfeeding and pumping would go
-How my husband going back to work would be 
-How me going back to work would be
-How my relationship with God would be after baby came
-How my relationship with my husband would be after baby
-How my relationship with my family and friends would be after baby
-How quickly I would lose the baby weight (cheers to those mommas who it took a long time. shhh to the mommas who didn't do anything and it just shed off you) 

These things were not all negative, many of them were positives but ALL of them were DIFFERENT than what I expected. 

"Well Elaina, just stop having so many expectations. Don't expect anything." 

Okay. Tried that... and guess what? It didn't go as expected.

That's like telling me to stop breathing. It's not natural for me. 

But you know what is natural for me? (this is taken from page 128-129 of the book describing strengths of an idealist)
I am enthusiastic about the future possibilities.  I strive for self-renewal and personal growth. I strive to become the best possible self I can be and deeply desire to help others grow too. I have an active imagination and think of new cool ideas all the time. I love being visionary and I really do want to change the world! I am eager to tell others about new discoveries I have made and get great energy from doing so. 

So although being an Idealist can bring lots of disappointment and "wounds" from unmet, unrealistic expectations, it also has some amazing strengths. 

The end of the book talks about being a faithful realist: "people able to see reality through a God-lens. Men and women of courage determined to advance despite the facts, bold dreamers grounded in God's will." (pg 111)

I want to be THAT more than I want to be the earlier definition of an idealist. 

The book gave me some great spiritual practicals that I have been implementing since but I won't spoil it for you or for the authors of the book. Go read it for yourself, or for a friend or for a child. Then, after you read it we can live happily ever after...oh wait, that wasn't the point of the book? Just kidding. 

"Jesus changed the world for all eternity. He was a visionary leader and a brave preacher. He faced stiff opposition and constant criticism. He was able to see the reality of the sinful world around him yet was not discouraged by it. He was compassionate but not naive. Bold and unashamed. But above all, he was humble. The true faithful realist." (pg 124) 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

A Year of Lessons

I did it! 
I kept this baby alive for a whole year and I am still here! 
What. A. Year. 
I wouldn't say it went fast as it felt like the longest year of my life but it also is amazing to think how much has changed, how much he has grown. From this screaming, puffy, football shaped head newborn who couldn't hold up his head or do anything but eat, sleep, poop, and cry*. (People really need to add that one in). 
After 28 hours in labor with 4 hours of pushing I got to meet my son. 

Looking back at this picture, it is precious but man he was alien looking! And his head! The hat is covering it but his head was super cone head. It is a miracle he has such a cute head.....I was nervous. 

But oh did he smell good.
He smelled like fresh baked cookies, and love, and softness. 

When he was born I just was so relieved I was done. 

My husband?
He took this picture of himself. 
He couldn't stop crying. Probably because he was awake for 2 straight days listening to Enya. 

(side note: if you make a relaxation mix for labor you might want to make it several hours long and make sure your labor buddy likes it- poor James had to listen to the same songs 100 times) 

Now I think about all the things that happened this past year. 
-the struggles to get him to sleep on anything that wasn't us. 
-car rides to get him to sleep
-car rides that he hated for several month
-swaddling becoming a contact sport
-breastfeeding being so much more challenging than I thought.
-the first time I said "Hi" to him when he was handed to me and he stopped crying to listen. 
-the first time he smiled and it wasn't gas
-the first time he giggled and I died of cuteness
-the first time he rolled over 
-the first time he sat up on his own...in his crib at 4am and I woke James up to tell him to look....he wasn't as excited as I was
-the first steps and the joy I felt in my heart
-the first time he ate solid food and most of it did not make it to his mouth
-the first time he said "dada" and "mama" 

So much has happened this year. It is hard to believe that it has just been one year. 
I have learned many things this year. Here are some favorites...

1. Psalm 127:3 
"Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him."
Its true! I feel so blessed to have such an amazing gift from God! 

2. Enjoy the moments
Yes and no do they go by fast. Yes its temporary. No it doesn't feel that way. But try to enjoy the moments; if its enjoying extra snuggle time when your baby won't sleep on anything but you, or being grateful your child's lungs are working well as he/she is wailing away- there is something we can strive to enjoy. 

3. Hebrews 4:12 
 "For the word of God is alive and active..."
Yes its an old book, the bible, but its still relevant and it has THE best parenting advice out there. This gives me so much hope as there are so many conflicting opinions and studies out there of what is safe and good for your baby. One day something is "safe", the next day it isn't. But I can be confident in the bible to give me the best advice for raising my child. 

4. Don't compare!
Babies are all different. I really really learned that this year. Its not helpful to compare my son to others. I have struggled with this one as my son was not the easiest of babies. It helped to tell my son things I loved about him rather than in my head or out loud say things I wish were different. So what my son doesn't sleep anywhere but his crib or the car, he is curious, smart and silly.... oh and he is ridiculously good looking. 

5. "Sometimes" 

This has been my favorite word recently. I struggle(d) with the no-schedule, complete sense of lack of control when it came to an infant. But when I think/say sometimes it really helped me to surrender to things going differently. Sometimes he wakes up at 6am, sometimes 5am and sometimes 7am. Sometimes he sleeps through the night. Sometimes he is really fussy. Sometimes he is super giggly and smiley. Sometimes he likes to cuddle. Sometimes he prefers to play independently. It helps me remember my baby is not a robot. 

Although we did dress him up as one. 

This Year has been amazing. I am so incredibly grateful to be a mom. It has brought so much fullness to my life, so much laughter, tears, and joy. I have learned a lot and I am grateful for all these lesson. 

Stay tuned for my journeys with a 1 year old! 😁

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

New Year

I love New Years. 

It seems like there is more hope in people as they decide how they want this New Year to be. There is hope for change, hope to be different, hope to be better. I love to hear peoples New Years resolutions they are made with with hope. 

I struggle to make resolutions at times. I have made many some years that were impossible to keep and other years I didn't make any and entered the year with hope of change yet no real vision or goals of how to change it. 

Being a new mom has shown me some parts of myself that I don't particularly like. Its also shown me some parts of myself that I didn't know were there that I love. 

One of my resolutions is to read the entire Old Testament of the Bible this year. While I read it I am focusing on how God is redeeming us and how he rescues, protects and cares for people. When I see a passage that highlights that I underline it. I have lots of underlines already! 

I wanted to share some of my thoughts from my personal bible study the other day that has helped me to identify what I hope to change in this year....

I am at the end of Genesis and its the story of Joseph, who is one of my favs. I am always impacted by how he suffered so well. All the injustice done to him yet he remained faithful to God. I feel ashamed of how quickly I can blame God and shake my fist at him when something so small like my son not sleeping well (according to my standard) sets me off. 
It reminded me of a passage I read early this month in Job

"Beware of turning to evil which you seem to prefer in affliction."- Job 36:12

WOW! How true is this of myself and many of us. When affliction, suffering, hard times come its so easy to turn to evil. 

I have heard the phrase "Hurting people hurt people." I think it represents this passage well. I would probably also say that "Tired people hurt people", and "Hungry people hurt people (aka hangry)", and "Disappointed people hurt people"....

I have not responded well in my "suffering" or "affliction" at many times. Its embarrassing. I look at others who are going through some real tough situations with their babies being sick in the hospital or loss of a loved one or another tragedy and I feel so guilty and so immature because of my reaction to my "suffering". 

It doesn't seem to help me change though. I see that others have it worse off. It does give me a reality check to be grateful and that does help start my change but its also helpful for me to admit and be real with myself and others that BEING A MOM IS HARD and there is suffering and affliction involved even when your baby is completely healthy and so are you. 

I also meditated on

"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."- 1 John 4"10

Love is sacrifice. 

I love my son SO much. 
I sacrifice for my son SO much. 

This year I want to suffer well. How? 
I look at my examples of Joseph, Job, and Jesus- they feared God, got humble, and they entrusted themselves to God. 

"When they hurled their insults at him (Jesus), he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly."- 1 Peter 2:23 

For me that looks like when baby doesn't sleep the way I want him to, when I don't get my "me time", when things don't go the way I planned, when I don't get that nap or food I wanted, when losing the baby weight is harder that I thought it would be, when I can't do what I want when I want, when life is just HARDer now that I have a baby. (Sometimes I question who is more the baby me or my 8 month old as we both cry over things getting taken away from us and food not being ready when we want it to be....Its okay you can laugh at that)
I won't throw a fit, pity party, my fists up to God or my husband. I won't in my frustration blame God or others for things not going my way. 
INSTEAD I will entrust myself to God, the just judge, the righteous, most wise, sovereign King who loves and cares for me. 

I hope that I can make some changes this year. I want to grow and mature in this ugly area thats been exposed in my life. I am grateful for the many examples both biblical and in my life now of people who have and are suffering well. You inspire me and are helping me to grow. Thank you. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The real deal about breastfeeding

I always knew I wanted to breastfeed. I felt like I knew all the benefits that breastfeeding had for baby and for me. I didn't really know too many people who didn't breastfeed and I didn't really understand why people couldn't or wouldn't breastfeed.....now I totally do. 

When I thought about the idea of breastfeeding when I was pregnant I envisioned this magical moment of bonding between me and my baby. I envisioned a convienant and cheap way (hello free!) to feed my baby. I envisioned pumping and having pumped breastmilk so my husband or a sitter could feed my baby. I even thought it would be great to have enough to sell my breastmilk(before you think its weird, look it up, you can get a lot of money for it).  I envisioned having no problems breastfeeding. 


I realized quickly that Breastfeeding is hard!!

This was something moms would tell me when I was pregnant but I never understood why. I had, what I though was  a pretty good education about breastfeeding from nursing school, my own research and a prenatal class I attended.  BUT there was so much I just didn't know! 

What I thought about breastfeeding before I ever breastfed: 
-It doesn't hurt
-Every mother can do it if they desire to 
-Its natural and its healthy
-If it does hurt that means there is a bad latch and you just gently take the baby off and try again
-There can be some pain in conditions like mastitis, clogged ducts, and engorgement; also you can have some pain early on so apply nipple cream and or your own breastmilk
-Leaking can occur so wear nursing pads
-Pumping is a great way to provide a bottle for your baby so you can rest 

These were things I was taught and learned from professionals. Most all of this is true...kinda, but there is so much more I learned these past 6 months of breastfeeding my baby. 

I could write so much about this topic (and have been trying to write this post for months now) because I really was the most surprised by how difficult breastfeeding was and how little I knew about it. Even though I was "informed" about breastfeeding I really had no clue. 

I will just share just a couple things of what I have learned and hopefully it can validate those who have breastfed and help manage expectations of those who desire to. And to the brave men reading this hopefully this will educate you to treat the breastfeeding women in your life like queens. 

1. Breastfeeding does not hurt*
*Except for when you first start to breastfeed and your nipples get chapped, can crack and bleed and you feel like your nipples are on fire and everything remotely close to you hurts. Or when you experience engorged breasts, plugged ducts, mastitis or a yeast infection in your breast(s). Or when your child has a bad latch even if you do everything correctly to latch them on right and "simply taking them off and trying again" only frustrates the baby and mom even more and makes for a terrible awful feed where you are both in tears. Or when your child decides to arch his back and yank his head back still attached to you. Or when your child bites you. Or when your your letdown reflex is painful. Or when your child cluster feeds and you are sore from overuse. Or when you get a milk bleb and it feels like shards of glass overtime your baby latches on....more symptoms might occur not listed. 
When Breastfeeding hurts it hurts bad. At the beginning its 8-12 times a day you are feeding your baby breastmilk so if you have an issue that causes pain you have it 8-12 times a day. So thats fun. 

2. There is often no "quick fix" when it comes to breastfeeding issues and the issues are not always obvious. 
"It could be this...", "Try this for a week or two and if it does not help call me" (Which would leave you 8-12 times a day in pain but trying to see if this recommendation would help), "Huh, I don't know". All things said to me by the experts. I just wanted a quick fix. I just wanted it to be easier. I just wanted an epidural again for my breastfeeding pain. But alas there was none. 

3. Know what is normal!
So there will always be a Suzy-milks-a-lot out there who pumps 10oz every morning and afternoon and makes you feel like you have a super low milk supply. I felt like my supply was low when I could only pump 2-1/2 oz MAX of milk because my baby would drink 3-31/2 oz when he drank breastmilk from a bottle.Which would mean I had to pump twice to get a bottle, which for me meant waking up early in the am and pumping when I had the most supply.  I talked to multiple lactation consultants and they said that was normal to need to pump multiple times for 1 bottle and that baby can always get more than the pump can. Know what is normal: like it is normal for baby to lose weight after they are born just talk to doc about what is too much, it is normal for your mature milk to not come in till on average 3-5 days after baby born, it can be normal for baby to be fussy while feeding (talk to  a specialist to rule out any issues but sometimes baby is just fussy). Also it can be normal for a newborn to take 20-40 minutes to breastfeed! This was a shocker to me as my little guy took 45 minutes EACH time he breastfed for the first 2 and half months. I tried everything to speed him up but eventually I just surrendered to it. Now he is older and more efficient so it does not take as long but at first it was really hard for me to feel like I could do anything other than feed my baby. Oh and they tell you to feed your baby every 2 hours at first but it starts from the time you started your feed so when little guy ate for 45 minutes that left me only 1hr and 15 minutes between each feed to sleep, eat, bathroom, live life. And this is NORMAL!?!? Yep. 

4. Breastfeeding doesn't mean you will lose all your pregnancy weight without trying!
Yes its true you burn more calories while you breastfeed but you also are more hungry and hormonally you crave sugar! I envisioned pounds just shedding off me- but alas they seem to stick around. 

5. Time heals!
This is my least favorite advice. But it is true. It may not be true that it gets better exactly at 6 weeks, 3 months, 4 months, or whatever time frame people what to rubber stamp to say its better now. I just wanted to know when it would get better. Currently at 6 months breastfeeding is the best it has ever been but it is still difficult at times for me. 

These were things that actually helped me with my breastfeeding issues

1.  Change up the position!
Laid back and side-lying position were game changers when I actually tried them when I was really sore. laid back position video (note: these videos show actual people breastfeeding) After I tried it I ditched the nursing pillow because I realized it was not actually helping me get in the best position for me and baby. Also side-lying position is so nice in the middle of the night to just stay in bed and roll over to my side. (I couldn't do this position well until my little guy had better neck control). I never really did get very good at laid back position, felt like we had to be more coordinated for it but it was helpful to attempt it. 

2. Get help! 
A friend, a breastfeeding center, a lactation consultant, a doctor, a midwife...whoever it is just get help! I talked to them all! I saw about 4 lactation consultants and was on the phone with one at least once a week for a solid month. I went to a La Leche League meeting in my city for free and it was VERY helpful. The woman leading the discussion is a lactation consultant and gave me free advice and watched me breastfeed and then emailed me several videos and tips. She sent me the laid back position video and this good latch video to help me. I also talked to a lot of my mom friends, especially my mom friends who are newer moms too that could be emotional support to me as well in this time. Because sorry older moms sometimes you forget what it was like to be in the trenches. 

3. Motivation!
When I was at the worst of my pain my husband and I made a sticker chart and every time I had a "difficult feed" (baby really fussy or just really painful) I got a sticker on my chart then after 10 stickers I would get to draw from a jar a paper with a prize on it (milk shake, $5 accessory, nail color change...ect). I know it sounds so childish but it gave me motivation to help me continue. I also watched a favorite netflix series to keep my mind off the pain. Whatever will help you feel motivated to continue because it literally feels like forever and like it will never get better. 

4. Extra Strength Ibuprofen!
That 600 mg of Ibuprofen they give you after you deliver.... I used it mostly for breastfeeding pain. Didn't remove it but it did dull the pain! 

5. Prayer!
It got me through the hardest parts when I just wanted to quit and when I felt so frustrated with the whole situation. I had many people pray for me too. Breastfeeding issues were way more than just a physical thing for me (and a lot of women I talk to), I needed emotional and spiritual help to get through it. 

6. Wool Nursing Pads
Like these are amazing. I tried multiple nursing pads but these were the best they are super soft, helped heal soreness and I love that I don't have to wash them after every use or throw them away. 
I ordered a pair online and the sizing was very different than what I thought. So this "blanket" to the right was returned for a smaller size but before I returned it I had to take a picture of myself with it to show that it was bigger than my face. 

7. Nipple protection!
nursing shells are really helpful especially the first couple of days when anything touching you hurts, but I was told to not use them too long because it can be too moist of an environment and yeast can grow and turn into an infection. Lanolin nipple cream- they give you in the hospital usually is a great barrier to protect you from chapped/cracked nipples but if you have an infection it prevents it from healing. It is great however to use before showering if showering is painful (it was for me). Coconut oil- has a lot of great healing properties! Your own breastmilk- can't get any more natural than that and great for healing and preventing chapped/cracked nipples!  These soothing gel pads were amazing the first couple days of breastfeeding- they provided lots of comfort. (pack them in your go bag!) You need a prescription for this one but they call it All Purpose Nipple Ointment aka magic cream it has antibacterial, steroid, pain reliever and some other things I think too it it basically to help multiple issues you can have with breastfeeding (because remember breastfeeding issues are not always clear) BUT you can only use for 2 weeks because the steroid can actually thin your skin and prevent healing.

8. AIR!
Yes. Airing out the girls is really helpful for healing soreness and can prevent and treat yeast infections from occurring in the breast(s)

9. Take a break!
Give baby a bottle of pumped breast milk or formula and give your body a rest even if it is just 4 hours.

10. Surrender!
Letting go and surrendering my expectations about breastfeeding and surrendering to reality has helped. Surrender is often something thats not just a one time thing. 

It has gotten "easier" over the past 2 months and I realize it will probably never will be what I envisioned it to be but I sure have learned a lot through it! 

This post doesn't contain as many funny pictures because there just isn't many. I did find this one which I think is very accurate. 

The only memes and pictures I found were about people complaining about breastfeeding shaming and the fight against using a breastfeeding cover. I don't have anything to say about either of these issues that is worth blogging about. I just wish there was more talk about the difficulties of breastfeeding instead. 

So with all the difficulties I had why did I continue to do it? .....I don't know. There were many times I called breastfeeding "stupid" and said "I hated it". I am honestly  not sure if it was worth all the pain, stress, and hardship I put myself and husband through and at times doubt my choice of continuing to exclusively breastfeed. I felt pressure to just feed my baby formula instead. Maybe it would have been better. I won't know for sure. I know many people can have many strong opinions on this topic and I am not here to get into a debate about that but more so share my journey and prayerfully my journey can be helpful. 

As I mentioned in my first blog Being a new mom is hard between bad latches, fussy feeds, mastitis, plugged ducts, low milk supply, over supply, strong letdown, slow letdown, engorgement, yeast infections, lip tie, tounge tie, vasospams, reflux, milk blebs, nipple wounds, and probably many other things I don't know about.... breastfeeding can be super hard! 

With all that said .....
I love being able to breastfeed my baby. I love the closeness it brings to us. I love how sometimes he looks up at me and stares into my eyes while he eats. I love how he tells me he is hungry by snuggling into my chest. I love how his eyes sometimes roll up and it just looks like he is drinking the best thing ever. I love the ease of feeding him without having to go make something. I am amazed by how God created women to be able to breastfeed! 

So I hope this post does not scare you away from breastfeeding and hopefully you will have none of the issues I had or others had with breastfeeding. Breastfeeding it is hard but it is also really great but if you can't or choose not to I just wanna say loud and clear there is no shame because it is not for everyone! I believe that sometimes breastfeeding really is not the best choice for everyone but you are the best choice of a mom for your baby. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

15 Mom Secrets

When I asked people what being a parent is like before I had a baby I heard a lot of "It's the hardest thing ever but its the best thing ever!" and "You get no sleep, but it's worth it!" or something else along those vague lines. I did have several people who were very helpful and gave me some of what I call "secrets to parenting". They gave me the real deal of what it's actually like and what to prepare for. 

Here are just 15 things either I am glad someone told me / the things I wish someone told me about being a new mom. 

1. Night Sweats- if you wake up drenched in sweat, its okay, you are not dying. Its just your hormones. 

2. 10 diapers a day- yep at first you are changing lots of diapers. If you breastfeed its a lot of poop at first. The diaper changes amount does slow down but I was shocked at first. Also with boys just surrender that you will get pee on you. It is sterile. I got this wipeable changing pad cover. Time saver! Also I am glad someone told me about target up and up brand diapers. Cheap, just like pampers and fit (at least my baby) super well. We seemed to always have explosions with Huggies...guess they didn't hug him right. hehe

3. Rock'n Play- We were struggling getting our little guy to sleep anywhere other than our arms the first month. Our friends let us borrow their Rock'n Play and we all started sleeping. We used it for 3 months than transitioned him to the crib. I had no idea about these things but then I went to a new moms group- all the moms seemed to know about it and rave about it. 

4. Books- So I tried a couple books but I really didn't understand them or like them for the first 4 months. Also many of them seem to just say for the first 4 months just survive. I just got The Happy Sleeper and I wish I started this before baby or when he was a newbie. Its simple to understand and has suggestions to do in the first 4 month window as well to develop good sleep habits. I have not finished the book but so far it just makes sense to me. This was another thing that most moms are like oh yeah that book is great when I ask them about it- but they didn't tell me about it before baby.

5. Breastfeeding- I already decided I will have a whole post about breastfeeding because it has been the most surprising aspect of being a new mom to me. So I will save it till then. Just know that secretly its super hard and there are a lot of things they don't tell you about it. 

6. Newborns have days and nights confused (most of the time)- yep. Its rough. We felt like the day seemed pretty good, then the night came and we felt like he turned on us and was now a terrorist trying to destroy us. 

7. Hunger- after labor and delivery. So much hunger.  I delivered at 2am then breakfast wasn't served till 6am. As if labor wasn't hard enough.  I brought snacks but I (and my husband) went through them all really quickly. So next time I am in labor I am gonna get a dozen bagels and pack it in my go bag. 

8. Go bag- I brought wayyyy too many things in in my go bag. Mostly way to many clothes. If I was to do it again

Yoga pants, stretchy shorts, nursing tank, t-shirt, sweater, slippers, nursing pillow (I used it mostly for me to sleep on- they had a pillow shortage at the hospital that day), blanket (also they had a blanket shortage too), small portable fan, toiletries, dozen bagels and other snacks

Don't bring:
Water bottle (they give you plenty), underwear (the mesh underwear really is great they give you), lots of other clothes, socks (they give you socks- unless you really like your fuzzy socks) 

9. Get a pedicure before labor- you feel nasty and gross during labor so its nice to look down at your feet and feel somewhat pretty. 

(Funny short story: I got a pedicure and at the end of my pregnancy my feet got super swollen and the lady who was doing my pedicure kept saying in her broken english "your feet so big!" over and over and pressing her finger into my basically tempurpedic feet.....She didn't get much of a tip.) 

This is a real picture of my feet. Those lines. From my scrappy sandals that I had someone else fasten for me because I couldn't reach. 

The glamour of pregnancy 

10. Take everything from the hospital- I am glad someone told me to do this. I took extra mesh undies, pads, socks, ice packs, baby diapers, vaseline tubes, wipes, baby t-shirts, pacifiers, nose suction thingy, nipple cream, nipple shield... I regret not taking the water jug they had for me. It mysteriously left my room somehow though. 

11. Video Monitor- You don't need to interrupt your babies sleep and you can still check on them! My brother and sister-in-law engrained in my mind the NEED for this and I fully agree now. I got this one baby monitor, it was the cheapest, highest rated video monitor I could find. I wish that I could turn off the video and just have sound sometimes but other than that it works great. 

12. Car seats/strollers- okay so I never really used one before so how was I supposed to know what I wanted?! So difficult to decide especially when there are a million ones to choose from and it's not just about color! A mommy friend told me she just went to the store and tried them out. So that is what we did and just found the lightest, easiest, most affordable one. 

13. Bouncers and exersaucers- I like to be practical with the things I purchase. These things baby will only use for a short time, so it seemed impractical to buy one or register for one so I didn't get one. But then some friends let us borrow theirs and its amazing!  But yeah its annoying they only last for a short time but it is worth it for just a couple minutes to be able to shower, make dinner, fold laundry! Because these things can only be used for a short time I recommend looking for them used or borrowing them from friends. 

14. If at first you don't succeed, try again- Baby J did not seem to like the baby carrier, pacifier, swaddle, bath time, or swing when we first tried them. I kept trying and trying and trying, and now he loves them all...sometimes. 

15. Exercise ball- great for pregnancy exercises and just a comfier place to sit when everything is uncomfortable when you are pregnant. It was my favorite place to labor before I got an epidural and great for bouncing a fussy baby. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016



You get a lot of that as a new mom that's for sure. And honestly you need a lot of it because there is so much THEY DON'T TELL YOU. Like the other day I was at the pediatrician and asked her about when to start trying solid food and she gave me some general advice and I felt good about it then I came home and I was like so wait HOW do I do this? And this is just an example of one of the many things I feel clueless on. 

The difficultly lines in that there are 1 BILLION ways to do things with your newborn and many of them contradict each other or some say they are "unsafe" or will mess up your baby some how. 

I like safety. 

I also like the idea of not scarring my child for life. 

But its overwhelming how many STRONG opinions people have on raising children! 

I think we all really just like to feel like we know what we are doing. But in these past 4 months I have come to the conclusion that parents who look like they have it all together are just really good at faking it. And parents who are well past the newborn phase and think they had it all together have baby dementia and have lost contact with what really happened. 

I decided to share some of my favorite advice over the past 4 months. I think of this as good for everyone to read new parent, not a parent, grandparent, older parent....as someone fresh in this experience maybe some of these things will help you too. 
So here is some advice and words that ACTUALLY helped me. Because not all of it has been helpful. 

[Short story- I was out in public about a month ago and my baby was crying in the stroller because he was fighting sleep. And this complete STRANGER started telling me what he needed...... my heart reaction was not patient, kind, loving, or generous. I know she was trying to be helpful but it just wasn't helpful. I keep having to tell myself (even now)- she just doesn't know. She had good intentions. She didn't mean any harm. Because me being angry at her doesn't help]

So here is my top 10 favorite advice/encouragment as a new mom....

1. "Try to rest even if its just putting your feet up when the baby is sleeping early on." I loved this WAY more than the "sleep when the baby sleeps" because sometimes you just can't. I would toss and turn and get frustrated that I couldn't sleep. Also when else would I sleep? 

2. "Use the nursery in the hospital"- yep sent baby there a lot! I actually cried when it was time to leave the hospital because there was no nursery at home with nurses. Those nurses were magic at getting him to fall asleep so we could actually sleep too. 

3. "Accept help" (this one was tricky for me to figure out since I didn't know my baby well at first so I didn't know how to tell someone to help me with baby- but having them help me with household stuff was GREAT) things like cleaning your house, making you a meal, walking your dog, doing your laundry, putting gas in your car, ect. So helpful! If you can have someone overnight helping you with diaper changes, rocking and putting to sleep so all you have to do if feed your baby- that is SO helpful. After 3 months (I probably could have tried earlier) I tried side-lying position for breastfeeding so all I had to do was roll over on my side in bed and feed baby then give him back to grandma or hubby to take baby when he was done eating. 

4. "Yeah, that's hard. I am sorry. I remember that being difficult." Simple. Relatable. Makes me feel like I am not the only one. Also this isn't really advice but new moms need empathy as well. Below is an amazing video about empathy. I love Brene Brown and all her TEDtalks. 

My favorite line "Um no. Wanna sandwich?" LOL

5. "You look great!"- thank you to all the people who said that to me the first couple weeks, you are angels and I have asked God to give you extra treasures in heaven. 

6. "Your baby just thinks your the greatest most beautiful woman in the world"- Yeah! He does! Thats right! I am! Speaking for baby is a thing a lot of people like to do. "Oh you are tired", "Oh you are hungry"....I do it all the time. Sometimes it gets overwhelming though of the demands and you want some praise. Having other women "speak" for my baby in a way that praised me felt amazing. Thank you to those women who did that for me early on! Treasure for you too! 

7. "Most babies like to be swaddled"- simple but helpful as my child is a swaddle escape artist we just thought he hated it. Then we got some advice from our doc and some more teaching and he started sleeping better after that. 

8. "He/She will change"- I am grateful for this reminder, but also hate it because at times I just want to know WHEN they will change this thing thats challenging right now. But it does help me not get my expectations that it will ALL be all better soon, because in my experience its not true. Certain things can get better but then other things become more difficult. So instead of "it gets better" to me "this is a season, it will change" has been more helpful for me. Each season has its joys and challenges but I can choose my attitude about them. 

9. "Remember your spouse"- It is possible to not turn on each other! One of my favorite memories is several times at 3am we would both be awake for some reason and just laughing about how hard it is to be a parent. We would make silly songs up and just be stupid-tired together. I strive to daily state specifically what I appreciate about my husband, it not only helps my heart to be grateful but also encourages him! We still have had plenty of times of getting mad at each other but as a whole we have had a ton of fun being a team. 

10. "God is gently leading you through this time"- 
"He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young."- Isaiah 40:11 
I love Gods character shown in this passage. God gets it. He knows this is a special time that requires gentleness. He also is leading me, I am never alone, I always have a great helper and I can always ask him for strength, wisdom, and comfort. 

There it is, my top 10 (so far) favorite advice and words of encouragement as a new mom. I am thankful for all the helpful advice and kind words I have received so far! 

Love- Elaina 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Being a Mom is Hard

Being a new mom is hard.

I said it. High five me or think I am a terrible awful person. 

I am not saying it is hard to complain but just that it is a true fact I have come to realize these past 4 months since my baby boy was born. I knew it would be hard- but experiencing it is something different.

But it's not just the sleepless nights or crying. It's the things people didn't really tell me much about that make it so hard.

Like how insecure you feel if your doing things right. Though they say there is no right way, there are a million and one wrong ways.

Or like how difficult breastfeeding is between bad latches, fussy feeds, mastitis, plugged ducts, low milk supply, over supply, strong let down, slow let down, engorgement, yeast infections, lip tie, tounge tie, vasospams, reflux, milk blebs, nipple wounds, and probably many other things I don't know about. This supposedly "natural" thing feels stupidly hard at time. 

Or like how difficult it is to make the smallest decisions because you don't know how your newborn will respond. Should we go out to eat? He might be crazy he might sleep the whole time. Should we try to put him down for a nap? It might take an hour or 5 mins. Should I take a shower now? He could wake up in 50 seconds or right when I step in the water. Should I put this in the oven? He might want to eat and then I'm stranded if the timer goes off.

Or like how the unsolicited advice people give you make you feel like a failure.

Or like how crazy your hormones are leaving you so sensitive to the littlest of comments or looks.

Or like the mourning of your prepregnancy body as your body will never be the same and now you need new clothes, new prescription glasses, new shoes, and a new hair style. 

Or like how you feel like you should know what you baby wants or likes but you’re just faking it and guessing.

Or like the mourning of spontaneity you had before.

Or like how really precious things like an uninterrupted conversation is, or a leisurely trip to the grocery store, or a shower.

I could go and I'm sure so could other new moms but I say this not to complain but more to reflect on the things I've been learning the past 4 months. (I also say this to help other new moms and maybe remind older moms too)

I love my son and I love being his mom but to be honest sometimes I don't love being a mom.
It's hard.  It exposes my sinful nature and just how selfish I am. And me comparing, being self­-focused and insecure, ungrateful and entitled make motherhood even harder. 

Psalm 118:24 “This is the day that the lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it” (ESV)

Every day is SO different with a newborn. There is no normal. But if I can rejoice in each day, what God is showing and teaching me, I can experience gladness. When people say enjoy this­ it goes by so quickly I feel like okay uh how do I do that? Should I stare at him longer? Should I enjoy his crying more? I realized that part of me was desiring to fast forward the “hard” part and get to the “easier” part. Then I learned there was no easier part (that was a SHOCKER). So I strive to rejoice in each day because God has made each day and there is something I can rejoice in.

So even though being a new mom is hard. There is always something to rejoice in.

Like how miraculous having a baby is.

Or like how amazing it is I can feed my baby from milk my body produces.

Or like how incredible hormones are that make us forget some of childbirth pains, energizes us when we see our babies and moves us to feel deeper than we ever have.

Or like how heartwarming it is to see your spouse, family and/or friends light up with love seeing and holding your baby.

Or like how crazy it is to love something so much that just eat, sleeps, poops, and cries. 

Or how wonderful it is to see the first smile.

Or how heartstopping it is to hear the first giggle.

Or how funny he is when he plays with his blanket, smiles at you or just farts.

Or how special it feels when he falls asleep in your arms.

Or how your heart leaps when you smell him.

Or how empowered you feel when he holds onto you.

Or how you could just spend hours looking at him and feel like it was just a minute. 

And again I could go on and of course so could other moms.

Being a new mom is hard but there is so much to rejoice in.

Somedays I focus more on the first list than the second but I am grateful for Gods grace and mercy and His compassion that means I don't have to stay there.

With love- Elaina