Weaning With Love

After 27 months of breastfeeding, R weaned a few weeks ago. We began the weaning process just after his second birthday in May, but I wanted to move slowly. He is my last baby; since I won't be breastfeeding ever again, I really wanted to make sure it was something we were both ready for.

Over the course of a week, we moved from a few times a day down to just nap/bed time. That slowly transitioned to once every few days. After about 5 days of not nursing, I started to notice a change in my mood: I went from feeling normal to feeling really angry, I had a hard time getting out of bed in the morning, I didn't want to leave the house, I was exhausted despite doing next to nothing all day. I recognized these symptoms as matching up with my postpartum depression and anxiety. After speaking to my husband, he acknowledged that my behavior seemed to have changed drastically.

I bet you can guess what I did next. I put that toddler back to the breast for two reasons: I was starting to feel full/uncomfortable, and I didn't want to go down that road again. Depression during or after weaning is not unusual (read more here and here), but it is not studied very often. Many moms report feeling sadness or grief, especially if they weaned before they were ready to do it. If you notice symptoms of depression in yourself during or after weaning, please reach out to your health care provider ASAP. You're not alone in your emotions!

Over the next few days, I made sure to nurse once a day (usually bed time) while doing the things my therapist suggested I do to reduce depression and anxiety symptoms. I noticed my mood stayed more normal (whatever that means) and I felt better emotionally. One night, R didn't want to nurse. He said, "no, Mommy," and cuddled up to me instead. That was that, he was done. I haven't offered since that night and it has been about 2 weeks since he last showed an interest in breastfeeding. We had made it 27 and a half months. Now when I ask him if he wants milk, he runs to the fridge in the kitchen. Yup, definitely done.
 


I'm sad to see this chapter in my life end. It helped me reduce my risk of certain types of cancer, helped my sons reduce their risk for diabetes and other chronic illnesses, and it made them healthy and strong. Breastfeeding not only helped me nourish my sons, it helped give me a focus and direction in my life. My journey with my oldest helped me realize that I wanted to support and advocate for breastfeeding mothers. To say it played a big role in my life would be an understatement. You wouldn't be reading this blog post without it!

While there is sadness, there is also joy. Joy in the next chapter of my life as a mother, in wearing shift dresses, in sharing my experience with others in hopes of helping them. Now I will have to parent without my breasts, which is both thrilling and scary. I'll still be discussing breastfeeding and #bfingstyle on the blog, that is one thing that won't change. With that, I raise this large glass of wine or cup of coffee, depending on what time it is as you read this, to my breasts. Thank you for nourishing my babies, for helping define me in such a big way, and for not completely disappearing now that breastfeeding is over.


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The Nursie: Not Your Average Nursing Pillow

Products featured in this post were provided to me in exchange for a blog post. All opinions are my own. Please visit my disclosure page for more information. 

One of my favorite parts about MommyCon Austin were the vendors. There were rows of vendors; some were international companies, while others were smaller mom-owned businesses. I came upon the Nursie booth and was really intrigued by their product, a different type of nursing pillow. I got to speak to Tiffany, creator of the Nursie, and learned that it was born from her own needs.

As a mother of 3, she was looking for a nursing pillow that was easy to toss into a diaper bag but still brought baby up to the breast. She decided to make her own pillow (I'm jealous of her craftiness) and had a number of mamas who were happy to help her test prototypes. After a few changes, she developed a product that other moms would like. Instead of messing with straps with a squirming, hungry baby, a mama can just slide the Nursie pillow on to her forearm. It's small enough to put in a diaper bag, but supportive enough to keep baby at the right height. The inside of the pillow is so soft and minky, while the outside is available in a number of patterns and colors.

My friend  Sydney  uses  the Nursie pillow  to feed her 10 month old at MommyCon.

My friend Sydney uses the Nursie pillow to feed her 10 month old at MommyCon.

While it has been designed as a nursing pillow, it can easily be used by moms and other caregivers for bottle feeding. It helps keep baby close to the person doing the feeding, which can help reduce gas pain for baby and reduce back pain for the caregiver! All Nursie pillows are machine washable, in case a diaper explosion happens - and they will happen! Available in a number of colors and prints, each Nursie pillow is made with love in New Braunfels, Texas. 

 

Ready to try one for yourself?

You can get 10% off your order from now through September 15, 2016 by using code CELEBRATE at From Meinhart to Yours!

 

Full disclosure: I was provided items by From Meinhart to Yours in exchange for my review. The opinions expressed are my own. For more information, please refer to this site's disclosure policy.

 

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Life Lessons to Learn From Our Children

As adults and especially as parents, we are expected to teach our children to walk, to talk, math, and more. Sometimes we get so busy teaching them that we forget that they can teach us things as well. Here are six life lessons I've learned from my children.

It's okay to say "no" 

This seems to be my toddler's favorite word and we hear it several (hundred) times a day. Hearing him say no reminds me that I can say it, too. I struggle with saying it because I hate to turn down opportunities, but I tend to burn out if I don't use some restraint in taking on new tasks. 

Love yourself

I touched on this a little bit in a recent post. My sons have no issues when they get dressed in the morning. They don't worry about things like whether those shorts make them look stumpy or whether their arms look more like chicken wings in this shirt. Instead, they talk about how strong they are and how big their muscles are. I am truly in awe of the way they hurtle through life without an ounce of insecurity or self-consciousness. 

Have a big and forgiving heart

I am far from the perfect mother. I raise my voice more than I would like and am not as patient as I could be. These beautiful little souls I am responsible for do not care. Their hearts are as big as their imagination and they forgive quickly. A hug and an apology for yelling leads my 5 year old to say, "it's okay Mommy, I forgive you." Six little words that humble me each time I hear them.

Use your imagination often

Whether it's a box that has turned into a rocket ship, my boys remind me to use my imagination. In a world of bills, deadlines, and chores, it's nice to make believe I'm a pirate or a chef or a world class athlete. 

Use your body often

As a boy mom, I need to get used to high energy kids. We go for walks nearly every day, play outside for as long as the weather allows, and move our bodies a lot - at least it seems like a lot to me! My kids remind me to get out and get active regularly. On extra hot or rainy days, we have dance parties in the living room. i'm a firm believer in the power of dance parties. Now if only there was some way to bottle their energy and sell it...

Be curious

Watching my children learn things for the first time has been one of my favorite parts of motherhood. From questions on how plants grow to how a carwash works to the electoral college (seriously), my oldest is constantly asking questions. Their ability to be fascinated by things I take for granted is a wonderful reminder to always be curious.

Have your children taught you any lessons about life? Share in the comments below!

 

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Twilight

I'm in the twilight of my breastfeeding relationship with R. We're currently at 18 months, but I know he won't want it forever. I know I won't want it forever. He's slowed down just a little bit. Some days he doesn't nurse to nap. The end is getting close and I have mixed feelings about it.

On one hand, I'll be glad to be done with breastfeeding. A lazy toddler latch and a mouthful of teeth can make sleepy feeds uncomfortable. I'll be glad not to worry about how accessible my breasts will be with the top I'm wearing. My body will be my own once again, without hands being stuck down my shirt. No more stretched out shirts!

On the other hand, I will miss so many things about breastfeeding. The quiet moments, the heavy eyes, the hands and feet in my face, the giggles as I bite those hands and feet. The tantrum taming power, the confidence boosting power, and the snuggling power. The antibodies being passed to him, the reduction in various cancers, the reduction in risk of diabetes for him. I'll miss the bonding and knowing that I am his safe place and source of comfort. 

Photo by the amazing Valerie Cannon Photography

Breastfeeding him for this long has been a wonderful reward for my difficult pregnancy. Breastfeeding him helped me make it through postpartum depression and anxiety. He was the ray of sunshine during the long period of darkness that followed his birth. Breastfeeding him has been more than just nurturing him - it has nurtured me as well. Breastfeeding this sweet boy has meant more than I can express.

Since he's the last baby I will breastfeed, I am treasuring the special moments. Sometimes it's tough - the lazy toddler latch drives me crazy! The end of breastfeeding is a sad time for me  since it's a closure in the pregnancy and childbearing years of my life. But we are not there yet. Until we decide we are done, I will enjoy the twilight.

A Breastfeeding Confession

As a breastfeeding advocate and future IBCLC, I have a surprising confession:

I don't like breastfeeding right now.

My 15 month old is getting his molars. His latch is painful and he flips out anytime I try to adjust. He's fussy and nursing around the clock.  I feel like I have a newborn all over again. He bangs on my chest or head butts me when he wants milk. I'm touched out.


Something that is not said much is that breastfeeding isn't always perfect, fun, or even enjoyable. The breastfeeding relationship is just that, a relationship. As with a marriage, partnership, or friendship, there will be peaks and valleys. There is give and take, even if it seems like it's mostly me giving for the past few weeks. And just as with other types of relationships, it will get better.

I am working on setting boundaries with him: I show him the milk sign (which he knows, but I suspect he forgets) and remind him of gentle hands. If he nurses more than twice in an hour during the day, I offer him a snack or water instead of my milk.

I suppose I could wean him, but I don't want to. He's still getting so many nutrients and immunological benefits from my milk. He's still learning and growing. So much is changing for him and it seems to be happening very quickly.  I'm glad to still be a source of comfort and to be able to comfort him with by nursing him.

So for now, I will try to remind myself that we are likely in the twilight of our nursing relationship. I will take a deep breath and remind myself that this too shall pass. I will trace his eyebrows and stroke his cheeks, memorize his eyelashes and dimpled fingers. I will try to enjoy him, but not force myself to enjoy the moment. Right now I don't like breastfeeding, and that's okay.


Protecting My Mama Heart

Last week my big boy started pre-K. He is going to the same school he went to last year and many of the kids in his class are coming back for pre-K. He was excited to make friends and meet his new teacher. He couldn't believe he was going to be one of the big kids he talked about last year.

Our first day back went well. I only cried on the way back to the car, but he had a wonderful day. After I picked him up on his second day, I noticed a different attitude. He seemed less excited and told me he didn't want to go back to school. He eventually opened up to told me that a child in his class came up to him and told him that we weren't invited to the classmate's birthday party.

My heart sank and I felt sick to my stomach. Some kid was being mean to my son and excluding him?? OH HELL NO. I could feel the mama bear starting to come out. I had a hard time controlling it after E shed a few tears. We tried hard to turn it into a teachable moment. We talked about how he won't always get invited to every birthday party, and that it was okay. We talked about how the boy in his class may not have realized how hurtful he was being, and how E could tell the boy in his class how those words made him feel. He seemed to understand and he was excited to go back to school the next morning.

After he went to sleep that night, I cried. I cried for my sensitive little love's heart being sad, I cried because I knew this was the first of many tough moments as he started going to school, but most of all I cried because I can't protect him anymore. This day has been nearly 5 years in the making and I thought I would be ready for it. Unfortunately, I was not nearly as prepared as I'd hoped. I realized that I have no way to protect my mama heart.




Gone are the days where a quick nursing session would calm him down, when singing a favorite song would ease the tears, when kissing a booboo would make it feel better. This is a harsh reality for me as I learn to navigate this next phase of childhood. Gone are the baby days for my oldest. Instead they've been replaced by curiosity and personality. So much personality.

From here on out, I will remind myself that we are raising a strong, sensitive, independent, smart, and funny little boy. While not everyone will think he's as amazing as I do, he will go out into the world and kick some ass. He will come home some days and be sad because someone will be mean to him. It will break my heart every time, but I'll be there with a big hug and kind words. I know he will find his peer group. There will eventually be a group of sweaty boys in my house eating all my food. At some point he'll stop opening up to me, but I hope that day is very far away. I really hope that day never comes, but until then I will take it one birthday party at a time.


My Summer Bucket List

My friend Cheyenne at Girl v. The World put together a great blog post with her summer bucket list. I thought I'd follow suit with a list of my own. This summer is different than every other summer I've had: I'm at home now, with two kids who are also at home, in a brand new city.

In the past, E has gone to a summer program at school and I've worked full time. I'll be honest, I'm both underwhelmed and overwhelmed at all the options. Some days it seems like there's lots to do, but some days it seems like there's nothing to do. So how do I keep myself and two young kids busy this summer?



Explore Austin We live in this new cool city full of hiking trails, splash pads, and so much good food. We haven't been checking out the city at all, but I think we're ready to start now.

Get our library cards Dave and I loved the library as kids and we both hope the boys will be bibliophiles like us. It has an unusually rainy summer, so this would be a great place to go for story time and activities.

Eat out, not take out Up to this point, going to dinner with a preschooler and an infant has been nothing more than breastfeed, entertain the big kid, order, breastfeed, entertain the big kid, eat, breastfeed, walk the big kid around, get the check, leave before the baby freaks out. It becomes stressful and isn't fun or relaxing. Since the baby does well with table food and the big kid can sit for just a little bit longer, going out to eat has been more fun. We've even got an incident-free Sunday brunch under our belt!

Swim Our house is in a community with fantastic pools. We need to make use of them. We could also get a kiddie pool for the backyard for immediate splashing.

Build more pillow forts to watch movies on rainy days. Because Ethan will only be 4.5 years old once, he adores them, and we won't always want to go to the library.

Take Ethan to his first movie A local movie theater offers a "Baby Day," where infants are welcome: movies are slightly turned down and lights are slightly turned up. Bonus points if we can get Daddy to take the day off to join us.

More messy arts and crafts This is the perfect time to let E go wild with paint. I can take him outside to clean him up or he can paint outside.

Make use of our memberships We have memberships to a couple of neat and kid friendly places. While I'm sure they will be packed all summer long, I can't think of a better time to go and explore.

What's on your summer bucket list?



We're Halfway There

I can't believe I'm at the halfway point of this pregnancy. That means there are only 20ish weeks until Bebe arrives, of which I've got maybe another 10-12 good weeks until third trimester fatigue and discomfort hit. Yikes.

I'm feeling more connected with the baby and I'm feeling more pregnant, too. The movement, yoga, and the big 20 week ultrasound have helped me focus. D & I have been figuring out sleeping arrangements, baby clothing storage, and what we want to pull out from storage. All of these things are making it seem more real. I haven't been posting as many updates as I would like this pregnancy, but you can follow me on Instagram for more snippets of my pregnant life.

How far along:

20 weeks!

Total weight gain:

-11 pounds. First trimester nausea and food aversions caused me to lose weight.

Maternity clothes:

Pants for sure, some non-maternity tops and sweaters still fit if they're long enough.

Sleep:

I will pass out by 10pm if no one wakes me up. Sleeping pretty well, but the crazy pregnancy dreams have started.

Miss anything:

Champagne on New Years Eve

Movement:

Oh yes. Lots of it. Bebe didn't like all the coughing and sneezing when I was sick, he/she let me know!

Food cravings:

fresh baked chocolate chip cookies, apples, oranges, Cobb salad (no meat other than eggs & bacon), french fries

Anything making you queasy or sick:

Still not a big fan of beef or chicken, but it's getting better.

Have you started to show yet:

Yep

Gender:

Surprise baby

Labor signs:

None. Not even Braxton Hicks yet.

Belly button in or out:

In. It never popped out with E, so I don't expect it to pop out with this one.

Wedding rings on or off:

On, I don't have swelling. Yet.

Happy or moody most of the time:

Moody. Commercials make me cry all the time.

Looking forward to:

 My sister coming to visit in a few weeks!

Recurring Thoughts from the Last 4+ Months...

Well, I'm finally a few weeks into my second trimester. The first one was really rough. Lots of nausea, vomiting, and food aversion. None of the holistic stuff was cutting it. I finally broke down and asked for a prescription to Zofran. It was a life changer, but caused my digestive tract to come to a screeching halt. Thankfully I found a way to take it while still keeping things going and things got easier. My energy level is still pretty low compared to my pregnancy with E, but I'm now having to chase a toddler around after a day at work. I don't have the luxury of laying around like I did before we had him.

I am definitely having a harder time connecting with this pregnancy. Most days I forget I'm pregnant, unless I get up to quick or feel nauseous. The baby is moving around some, but it's not feeling very strong yet. Perhaps I have more fluff this time around and am not as receptive to the movement. I feel pretty guilty for not having the same connection this time around, but after talking to other friends, it's not a strange way to feel. I don't think these emotions are tied to the loss earlier this year. I have started a prenatal yoga class, but it seems to be more of a workout than a way to connect with your baby. I wish my old instructor was still teaching!

I haven't even started processing my feelings on having to split my attention between E and the new baby. Oy. That's going to be fun.

How did you connect with your pregnancy? Did you have similar feelings when you were pregnant with subsequent children? Feedback is appreciated!

Party of Four

Lots of big news over here. A few months ago, I accepted a position that is a huge step in the right direction for me. I'm finally working at a place I don't mind going to every day!

I think the biggest news would be our family becoming a party of 4. I'm pregnant and Baby 2 is due in May 2014!


Story time with E. Photo taken by Valerie Cannon Photography


Everyone's got some new reading material. Photo taken by Valerie Cannon Photography

This pregnancy has been a lot more difficult than my pregnancy with E, both physically and emotionally. Between the loss this summer, constant nausea/vomiting, food aversions, and not being able to keep up with a toddler after working a full day, I have not been enjoying it as much as I enjoyed E's pregnancy. However, baby is healthy, growing, and wiggly all over the place, so I know all of the difficulties have been worth it.

Expect to see this blog become more active again. As long as my energy stays up, of course.

Wordless Wednesday - 8.14.13

It's quite obvious that this blog has taken a bit of a backseat to life. My little family has a lot (too much) going on and most of it is not positive. I've been really struggling with sharing, but I'm not sure I'm quite ready for that yet. So please bear with me, dear friends. Things should hopefully be back to normal soon.

Between my full time job, my breastfeeding "extracurricular activities," and classes towards IBCLC, I've been trying to focus on the part of my life that bring me the most joy: my little family.

The Magic of Mama's Time Outs

I've been 32 for about 10 days now and it hasn't been sunshine and puppy dogs. Thanks to the nutrition class I recently started, I've had another ball to juggle, time has had to be shuffled and reallocated, I'm stressed about homework and video lectures. I've been struggling for the last few days. I've cried and I've yelled and I've given myself (or have been given) several time outs.


Someone put Mommy in a corner, please.

You know the symptoms. We know the symptoms. You've asked your child(ren) to "please stop doing that because you will get hurt/it will break/the dog doesn't like that" about 1700 times in a 3 minute span. You've tried reasoning and explaining and distracting them, but it doesn't work. Someone's standing on the coffee table/jumping on the sofa/trying to color the dog. You feel your pulse in your ears and a heat in your face and holler, "THAT'S. IT."

Or something like that.

It's at that point where I turn on the TV or put E's game on the iPad or tell his dad to watch him and go into another room. Sometimes I take the dog with me. All I need is a few minutes to reevaluate the situation. Is he acting up because he wants me to stop cooking/cleaning/farting around on FB and pay attention to him? Is he bored? Am I still in work mode? I think hard for a few minutes. Or sometimes I just lay on the bed under the ceiling fan and close my eyes. But I come running out if I hear a yell or crash.

I've been getting time outs from my husband. "Nay, go take 5," he'll tell me as he swoops in do whatever it was I abandoned in a fit of blind rage. Even if I insist I'm okay, he tells me to go away. Sometimes when I come back, there's a glass of Malbec waiting for me. I like him.

It's not perfect parenting (but what is?), but it works for me. It helps me diffuse and step away from the situation. In the few minutes I need to gather myself, things aren't as bad as they were before I stepped away. It helps me yell less and parent better. There is a need to stop and focus. Or not focus on what's going on and just stop. There is a lot of magic in Mama's Time Out.

Do you give yourself time outs?

Be the Change

I've been struggling with how to deal with having a child in this violent world. How do I teach him that there's more good than bad in this world and not to hide out in a doomsday shelter? How do I teach him to be nice to people and the importance of being a decent human being? The best way to show him is to do it myself.

I want to do something nice for my fellow humans. I can't afford to donate hundreds of dollars to a charity, but I can afford to buy the order of the person behind me in the Starbucks drive thru. I can let the frazzled parents with the fussy baby go ahead of me in line at the grocery store. A small gesture can make a huge difference.


Image by Miss Turner (Flickr)


I want my son to grow up thinking it's normal to do something nice for others, that it's normal and not a special occurrence.

"Be the change that you want to see in the world." Who's with me?