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Friday, January 20, 2012

books - breastfeeding 101

(image from Google)
A review of some helpful books about all things breastfeeding related!

The Everything Breastfeeding Book by Suzanne Fredergill and Ray Fredergill

Great book, tons of good information! This series does a great job with all of its book, this one is the same as the others. Filled with helpful info.

Breastfeeding Made Simple - Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers by Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, Ph.D., IBCLC
This is one of the best breastfeeding books I have read. It's straight-forward, pro-breastfeeding, yet it leaves room for options like bottle-feeding and pumping. It was also written in more of a novel-fashion with chapters, instead of scary information that sometimes books give you with too much info all at once, big words, etc. This book was easy to read.

The Complete Book of Breastfeeding by Sally Wendkos Olds, Laura Marks, MD and Marvin S. Eiger, MD
Another informative book! This one was different from others in that it has a chapter specifically for dads, and also information on Milk Banks, where you can donate your frozen milk to mothers who cannot produce enough or have premature babies who need it. Great topics that are often not written about in other books.

The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers by Jack Newman, M.D. and Teresa Pitman
Yikes... I did not like this book. It was VERY strongly-worded with one single message on each page - breastfeeding is the only thing you can do to feed your child and if you don't, you are bad and your child is at strong risk for issues. It offers myths and facts about formula-fed babies and breast-feed babies, all geared toward pro-breastfeeding. It did not make me, someone who had a difficult time breastfeeding, feel good about not having breastfeeding come easily to me. Not the best resource for a scared mom-to-be who has never nursed before and wants to try it. I'd suggest another one of the books I've listed instead.

The Breastfeeding Cafe - Mothers Share the Joys, Challenges, and Secrets of Nursing by Barbara L. Behrmann
I have not yet finished skimming all of this book, but what I've read so far offers real, honest accounts of nursing - sore boobs and all! It's nice to hear of successes and challenges. I found one incredible piece by a woman who had a difficult time nursing her first child so chose to pump instead, and then tried nursing for two weeks with her second child and gave it up after all around her told her to keep going and instead pumped for a year. She reminds me of myself! I never read about people who strictly pumped, it makes me feel the odd woman out. This book offers stories that women can relate to and perhaps feel slightly more normal after reading we aren't the only ones.

The Nursing Mother's Companion by Kathleen Huggins
This was an informative how-to book with pictures and real information that helps. Good read!

Who knows of any great Web resources for breastfeeding?

book - Run Like a Mother

(image from Google)

Run Like a Mother - How to Get Moving and Not Lose Your Family, Job, or Sanity by Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea

What a great book! This book is all about reclaiming your inner runner after becoming a mother. This book was a bit over my head, as it talked a lot about running 10Ks and half-marathons and real marathons... things I don't ever intend to do as a basic runner who has only done one 5K so far. Still, it had great info in it for someone like me, things that inspired me and wanted to get me going on my goal toward running that first 5K. If you are a seasoned runner who loves the adrenaline of racing, then this book is most definitely for you.

No matter what type of runner you are - beginner or pro or even just considering starting running - the title "Run Like a Mother" just strikes me as something we all should listen to. It means despite being a mom we can do all of these other things that sometimes we tell ourselves we can't do because we are too busy or overwhelmed with our M-O-M status.

A few of my favorites from the book:

"But it's the truth: For an overstressed, overtired, overextended mother, there are few other sensations that rival a delicious run. Once the sweat starts running down my temples, I daydream, analyze, smile, wonder, channel something cosmic. I feel alive and, perhaps most importantly, like myself again." (page 2) - McDowell

Site to check out-

"Running doesn't cure anything, of course. But it's a temporary fix. It makes your blood flow, your lungs fill, your rhythm return. You feel in charge, like you could change something if you only set your mind to it. Like disease and tragedy, running is raw and undiscriminating, but unlike those, running leads you to believe the world spins on order, reason, and positive vibes." (page 149) - McDowell

This is my favorite from the book, based on the books by Laura Joffe Numeroff, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
"If you give a mom a pair of running shoes and 40 kid-free minutes, she's going to want to go for a run. If she wants to go for a run, she'll need to put on a bra - a sports bra preferably.... When she finally gets to her room to get dressed, she'll realize she doesn't remember where she put her bra.... When she stretches her hand around her foot, she will see that her watch reads 2:20, which leaves her exactly 20 minutes for her 40-minute run. She will swear again, then dart from room to room in search of the bra, get dressed, lace up her shoes, and sprint out the door. And when she hits the road, she'll wonder why she's out of breath before she even started."

In between all of this the mom in the story stops to clean up mess on the floor and clean a daughter's shirt and answer a phone call and swear along the way. As a mom, you know we get sidetracked, find more things that we think "should" take our time at this moment... it's tough to keep on track with putting all of that aside and putting yourself first.

This book...
encourages you to get running, no matter who you are, how you run
talks about running during pregnancy -if it is or is not for you, it's OK
gives advice for sprains and breaks, taking time off, etc.
gives you real advice for putting aside the time you need to work out
talks about races and marathons and running hills and trails
gives you good ideas for working with your partner and around your children's schedules to get running

Every mom can Run Like a Mother. Just get moving.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

equal opportunity parenting - including D.A.D. in the process!

I am one of those moms who believes parenting is just that- parenting plural, not singular. Two of us got us into this mess, so two of us will have to pick up the mess... or something like that! Luckily, I married a man who agrees that his role of Dad is not just one that comes and goes. He's a VERY active father, participating in everything from diaper changes to getting up in the night if our son is teething and upset to reading bed time stories, singing lullabies and giving bubble baths. I'm incredibly fortunate, because I know not all men are created equal on this fatherhood front.

Still I see there being some moms who either think they can do it all or just won't let the dads in for some baby action. If you are a mom who has a partner who won't help you, that's one thing... but if you are a mom who has a partner who is eager to help out with the raising of your child and you are constantly nagging him or telling him how to do it your way that's just silly in my opinion! We all do it, myself included. It drove me insane when my son was younger and I'd explain the clothing system to my husband (clothes that fit currently are in the drawers, clothes that are ready for the next size, aka way too big right now, are on the shelf in the closet) and he'd always choose the clothes that were too big. But after he said those famous words, "If you want me to help then let me do it my way or I'm not going to help again..." I stopped nagging him. I'd rather succumb to too big clothes on my son than not receive help. Because I know I'm not super-mama. I need help. It's OK to admit that.

So in the spirit of letting dads help, also known as Equal Opportunity Parenting, here are a few ways to let Dad in on some of the fun!

1. Let him get up in the night. You don't have to be the one to rush out of bed when baby cries or needs you, even if baby is saying "mama." Let dad do some of that. Take turns. It's only fair that you get some sleep, too.

2. Use bottles.
My husband could not wait to have a try at feeding our son after I tried nursing. Letting dad in on the bonding while feeding is important and special for him. So if bottles are in your child's future let dad give it a whirl instead of you all the time.

3. Let him feel important like you already do; you could not have done what you did without him. Moms always get the attention and pats on the back with anything that has to do with child rearing it seems. And honestly, we SHOULD get most of the attention... typically it is the moms who are doing the majority of the work. However, dads want to feel like they matter, too, like they are making a difference and contributing to their child's life in some way. Point out the cool things your partner did in front of his parents or friends of yours, "Oh yes, my husband taught our daughter how to do that...isn't it cute?" The reward for you will be dad wanting to participate even more.

4. Give him a gift in the hospital. We all know that throughout pregnancy the focus is pretty much strictly on the mom-to-be. This carries on into the hospital. And rightly so, you just did hard work there! You deserve to be pampered and doted upon. However, dad got you here and deserves some credit for helping make the baby and then helping take care of you during pregnancy. Keep him in mind by giving him a sweet card or a gift in the hospital. Pack it under all the clothes you think you're going to wear in the hospital so he doesn't see it ahead of time, then bring it out at night when all the guests leave and it's just you two staring at the newborn. He'll feel pretty special.

5. Communicate! Communicate! Don't assume he knows what you're thinking with baby. This is probably most important. We women have a tendency to assume our husbands read our minds. Not so much. Especially when hormones are flying, insecurities are rampant, you both have no clue what you are doing with this parent thing, and exhaustion is at an all-time high... you HAVE got to communicate what it is you are thinking and needing at any given time.

6. Let him do it his way. He'll be more likely to help you out if you don't nag every little detail of how he did the diapering, bath or feeding time, playing, etc. It's OK if you do it better... let him do it worse just a few times, your child will survive!

7. Keep him involved. Ask him what questions he has before pregnancy and then later before baby well-visit doctor appointments. My husband loved this. He sometimes had no questions, told me he trusted me. Yet other times he'd remember something we'd discussed a few weeks ago that I'd totally forgotten we wanted to ask the doctor about. Again, letting him feel included and important will keep dad wanting to be a great father to your child... something you all will win from.

8. Say thanks. Despite if you feel that you do almost everything there is when it comes to parenting, thank your partner for what he does contribute. Maybe I did all the diaper changes today, but my husband worked over time so we could pay for my son's birthday party coming up. That counts in the realm of our parenting together. Maybe it's not a huge thing for him to do the bath routine once out of every 7 days that you do it... but thank him anyway. Feeling appreciated goes a long way for us, so of course it will for the opposite sex, too.

A few good sites for dads!

My amazingly helpful husband and SUPER DAD to Owen, Jared!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

what did I do with all that time I had?!

Do you even remember what time you had before baby arrived or before being pregnant or thinking about being pregnant?! I stopped to consider this today. Here's the sad list I came up with:

--read books, magazines, newspapers, emails
--watch TV that does not involve cartoons
--stay awake past 9 p.m.
--focus, think
--carry on conversations with my friends without asking them to repeat what they said or saying "no, Owen, put that down!"
--complain that I had no time or I was exhausted
--waste time I wish I had now
--be on time always, not just sometimes, to wherever I was going
--have enough energy and zero guilt about leaving the house
--write thank you notes and reply to emails and phone calls within a day instead of a week or more

What would YOU add to the list?

Friday, January 6, 2012

boy? girl? who cares?!

Pregnant with baby #2 and not finding out the gender this time (didn't find out with our first son either) people around us seem so agitated by our decision to wait. Most people with our first were like, "oh that's sweet, good for you for being able to wait! it'll be fun!" This time, even grandparents are like, "oh come on, just find out already!" I won't pretend we aren't curious or that it's not difficult at times to keep it a surprise from ourselves. At the notorious 5-month appointment when we were finally allowed to find out the gender, it was extremely difficult not to peek at the ultrasound screen. Because I have a higher risk pregnancy with fibroids I go in for ultrasounds every month... so every month knowing we could find out if we wanted to is a challenge in the back of my head. Yet when outside of that ultrasound room both my husband and I do not want to know, genuinely don't care to find out, tell people we love the surprise at the end. We never cared to find out with our first son. Maybe knowing this time it could be the opposite of what we do have already is more exciting.

I say all this to let the others (the majority of people, really, both in my personal life and according to the ultrasound lady at my doctor's office) who do find out ahead of time what they are having that I have no judgment of them finding out. I say, as with absolutely everything in parenthood, to each his or her own! I would love for someone who did find out to write her own Top 10 list of why they wanted to find out the gender ahead of time just to give the other side.

For now, here are mine and my husband's opinions:
Top 10 Reasons We Are Waiting 9(10) Months to Find Out the Gender of our Baby:

10. We don't like all blue or pink baby things...
which is what we've seen friends get at their showers when they know the gender. We happen to be fans of tan, yellow, blues and greens for girls or boys. It also helps for the second child to make sure we have some neutral colored things ready for him or her.

9. We don't feel we can name a baby before we meet it...
therefore we don't want to tell the gender, then have the next question be what's the name instantly.

8. We don't want to share the name and get the awkward responses... "really, that's the name you're going with? how about this one?"

7. We like the guessing game
that we and everyone around us plays for 9 months ("You are tiny and carrying low, must be a boy" and the next day from someone different, "You are really big and carrying high, must be a girl."

6. We like surprises.
There aren't enough of them in life.

5. It's fun watching people around us get more stressed about not knowing the gender of our baby than we are!

4. What is there to plan? We don't understand the need to plan according to the gender, which is one reason so many friends tell us is why they chose to find out.

3. It's fun getting two sets of presents - one at the shower and another when baby is born. When guests don't know the gender at the shower they bring things you need - diapers, wipes, crib sheets, etc. instead of getting caught up in the gender items like pink frilly dresses or pajamas with trucks on them. Then when baby arrives, people get excited all over again and go for those awesome and adorable pink or blue items!

2. For us, it's simply more exciting
to find out that a friend has had a boy or girl when for 9 months we've been guessing, than it is to find out at 5 months pregnant that it's a boy or girl but we have to wait another 5 months to meet it.

1. Nothing compares to that moment. Having not found out once before we know there is no other moment in our lives - including our wedding day - that can compare to that moment of the doctor (or in our case, my husband) yelling with excitement, "It's a boy!" The world seems to stop in that moment... and I don't know that it would be the same in an ultrasound room when it's just the parents and the ultrasound lady and a black and white image versus a team full of doctors and nurses who are smiling ear to ear and two parents whose patience has run its course and are tearing up seeing their little one for the first time, taking it all in that finally they know what that little kicker was for all those months in the belly. Nothing compares to it. It's simply worth the wait.

Monday, January 2, 2012

resolutions for all MOM-kind

10 Resolutions All Moms Should Make This Year

1. For the love of God, stop the guilt sessions! Stop feeling like you aren't a good enough mom. I have seen so many blog posts and talked to so many moms about how they don't feel they are a good mom. I never understand this. Despite my flaws, if someone asked me if I thought I was a good mom I'd instantly answer, "OF COURSE I AM A GOOD MOM!" I just know that I am. Do I do everything other moms do? Nope. Do I do everything perfectly? Nope. Are there things I wish I could improve in how I parent - like serve up more veggies at dinner time and take my child to more cool places if I had the money or not have to work certain days when I'd rather stay home with him? Sure, there are things I'd change. But at the end of the day I feel like the things I DO make me a great mom. I don't waste time feeling guilty that I can't do it all. What matters to my son are the little moments we spend together, like when I make sure I shut the radio off so we can talk for the 30 minutes on our drive home from the babysitter's after work, or when I try to take him to the playground a few days a week or when I let him help me stir the pasta when we're cooking at night. Guilt doesn't help anything. Let it go.

2. Stop comparing yourself to other moms. Oh this is a big one! You have different things going on in your life than other moms. It's just the truth. So stop pretending everything should be the same. If another mom takes her kid to play groups and music class but the thought of it makes you want to vomit, that's OK! You are still a good mom. If another mom takes pictures of her kid in every location they go to and you don't even own a camera, it's OK, your child will not hate you someday. If another mom's house is spotless but yours is a disaster most days, it's all right. If you chose to use formula instead of try nursing, own it! Don't feel guilty. Let it go. Be who you are and don't feel ashamed of it. Remind yourself you do the best you can.

3. Let your child be who s/he is! Stop comparing your child to other children. Your child is unique, isn't that how you want her to be anyway? So let her be who she is and stop comparing her to other kids. My son walked at 17 months but talked sooner than my friend's kid, whereas her kid was walking at 10 months. It's all relative. They all do it differently, and that's OK. They all somehow get to kindergarten potty trained and talking and able to sit in a circle. How we get there the previous 5 years is up to our varying circumstances, genetics and lives.

4. Stop nagging your partner. Instead, ask him for help and let him do it his way when he steps up. If you need help - which yes, you should be acknowledging that you aren't a super hero and you do need help with this crazy thing called mommyhood - then you need to ask for it instead of sighing around the kitchen slamming drawers. Then when Dad steps up to help... stop the nagging and critiquing of how he's doing the task you asked him to do. Dads may do it differently than we do - and sure, I admit we totally do it better in many cases... however we need to let them help us - for ourselves and our child's sakes.

5. Live in a judgment free mothering zone.
No judging other mommies! Let's just stop it all. Nobody enjoys this do they? Every mom and dad and child are different, so there is no point in judging anyway.

6. Put yourself first. OK enough excuses of being too tired, too busy, or needing too much to be Super Mom and do it all before you help yourself to a bubble bath, a glass of wine, a girlie magazine, or a run on the treadmill. This year, put yourself first. It's like that old airplane motto of moms and dads needing to put their oxygen masks on first before assisting their children. It's important. Your entire family will appreciate you and even enjoy your presence a lot more if you take just 15-30 minutes a day for yourself doing whatever it is you like to do. Even scan the site Pinterest or reply to emails or check out looking at Facebook. Whatever you do, do it for you, before you do all the other things you need to do.

7. Let the little things wait... or go away entirely. Instead of rushing to put bags away, clean up last night's dishes, or start supper instantly... try playing with your child for even 10 minutes. It'll make a world of difference to you and your family. You will cherish those moments a lot more than seeing a basket of laundry all folded and ready to be put away.

8. Be in more pictures instead of taking them all this year. So often I go back through a year of videos and pictures and I'm no where to be seen, except my voice in the background! My personal goal this year is to be in those videos so my son remembers I was just as fun as his dad appears!

9. Acknowledge on a daily basis that you are doing the best you can at this mothering thing. Serving up Hamburger Helper, not being able to nurse, letting the baby cry a bit, getting a sitter so you can go out instead of read stories another night... it's all OK and not detrimental to your child.

10. Get your priorities straight. This encompasses all of the other resolutions. It means making time for yourself, actually going out on dates with your husband, not comparing yourself to other moms, being kinder when talking about other moms, letting messes wait, and realizing you ARE a GREAT MOM!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

run, momma, RUN! - part 1

I know with a new year many women pledge to get in shape, to lose those last few baby pounds, to get back to whatever exercise you used to do pre-baby-bump. I think New Year's Resolutions are fantastic! I always make at least a dozen in my head and even start projects on January 1st that I try to keep up with until the following December. However, this year, I'm hoping more moms will stop and realize that simply stating you want to lose 10 pounds or stop eating treats or start up at a gym when you've never been to one in your life are not great goals to set for yourselves. Simply put, you will waiver, you will lose energy and time and patience. You will end up putting yourself last once again.

My plea to moms out there wanting to start getting in better shape is to set a different goal, a more realistic and more long-lasting goal. Putting yourself first is a good one. Or trying to get your body stronger is a good one. Even setting aside 3 days a week that you go to the gym and do anything cardio is a good one. Just make it about being a healthier person overall, instead of trying to attain some ideal of losing weight and returning to the body you once had pre-babies.

Here's what worked for me... good luck and Happy New Year!

There comes a moment... OK like 200 moments... after the baby has officially left the womb when the momma will long to get back into shape, whatever that means post-baby, lose the bump, and be back to "normal," again, whatever that means.

For me, that real moment - the moment I decided to actually do something about how I felt physically - was a week after my son turned a year old, the same day I packed away the breast pump and said goodbye to being so dedicated to strapping on tubes and bottles every 2-4 hours for an entire year, aka the moment I had more time to myself.

Sure, I'd started walking again over the summer when my son was 6 months old, but as for going back to running again or even walking for the sake of getting myself in some real shape that didn't happen until I could actually focus on myself again instead of the numerous diaper changes, feedings, nap schedules, starting solid foods, etc. that became my focus and life that first year with baby #1. Sorry to be so blunt, but the girls that were providing the milk on my top half HURT like hell when I tried running! Nevermind trying to fit into a sports bra at that point. So running was just not an option for me until the milk dried up.

As soon as I realized I no longer needed to carry around or spend the time pumping or fixing up bottles, and when my son started eating off my plate instead of pureed fruits I made for him everything became easier. It was like, wow, we survived that first challenging year of figuring it out day by day, minute by minute, now we know what we are doing, and it's time for mom to get her groove back and focus on herself once again!

I LOVED that time. I started reading books again that had nothing to do with baby development. I hung out with girl friends - and talked about things other than my baby rolling over for the first time. My husband and I actually went on a date and started having real conversations about whatever it was we used to talk about before the baby took over our house. I started RUNNING and taking time for myself! It was amazing.

It's the purpose of motherhood, isn't it? To give of yourself entirely, to be selfless and put your family first above all else? That's all wonderful, and I loved every second of doing those things. However, I think all moms must reach a point where they think, OK well that was great of me, but now it's my turn to focus on myself and put ME first for once... in an attempt to be an even better caregiver to my family.

The thing that worked for me was the Couch to 5K running plan. Google it and you'll find the exact plan to run by. This plan did two things for me - 1) it got me running again and back into shape post-baby, and 2) it made me put myself first.

The plan calls for 3 days a week, 30 minutes each day, or slowly learning to run again. The plan specifically says not to do more than this amount of running. It took about 3 months to finish the plan I believe. By the end I was indeed running 30 minutes straight, or the length of a 5K.

The best part was having something I was unwilling to falter from, to quit. It forced me to make myself and a goal of mine a priority. I would run one to two times during the week, at night, after my son went to bed. This meant postponing dishes, clean up from supper and toys everywhere, not doing laundry, and even meant asking my husband to make dinner on those nights or to at least wait the 30 minutes for me to be finished running before eating. The other day I'd run on the weekends, in the morning Saturday or Sunday, during my son's morning nap around 8ish. This meant making sure I got up early enough to have breakfast so that it didn't interfere with my run later in the morning. This was oftentimes a challenge. My husband was left with cleaning up my son after his breakfast, getting him down for his nap. He didn't mind it, but it was not easy for me to just hand it all over instead of doing it myself.

I literally had to force myself to turn toward the treadmill room, lace up my sneakers, put on some ridiculous show on the lap top, and shut the door behind me... knowing all that was waiting for me later in the day. It was not easy... yet knowing it was only 30 minutes a few days a week and that everyone - my husband, my son, the house and chores - would all be fine if I took time out for me for a bit - made it easier.

My goal was to run a 5K race, my first one ever, on Mother's Day. I won't ever forget the final run I did on my treadmill, the last one of the Couch to 5K program. I kept the program printed off above my treadmill, crossing off each session as I ran it every week. The second I stepped off the treadmill, all sweaty, totally in shape for the first time in more than a year. I was ready. I had accomplished something I didn't think I could do... after spending so much time devoted to my son.

Running in that 5K was exhilirating. Putting yourself as a priority... or at least as a thing on your own long to do list is important. I highly encourage everyone to do something like this. Don't try losing the baby weight like everyone talks about doing. Instead, do something to help your body be stronger, to improve your self esteem, to spend time on yourself. Don't focus on the number on the scale or what size your clothes are... it's all different anyway after the baby and what your body did - the amazing job your body did - to carry that baby. Just focus on getting stronger.

Why not run is my question?
Running helps you...
stay focused
clear your mind
make yourself a priority
have fun outside and get fresh air
enjoy solitude
be physically strong enough to care for your family, lug babies, carry babies during pregnancy
let you eat whatever you want without that dreaded guilt
makes you feel like you can do anything

Stay tuned soon for part 2 of the running how-tos with info from a great book, Run Like a Mother.