One pan taco salad

During my pregnancy I was so sick that I ate whatever sounded good at the moment and whatever I thought would stay down. That ended up being a lot of Taco Bell bean burritos and basically, junk. When Henry was in the hospital we spent every waking moment there with him and that meant either eating out or eating hospital food. News flash, hospital food is gross. We tried making healthier choices when eating out but you can only do so much. Needless to say… some weight has been gained. So I’ve been on the hunt for healthy and easy recipes to incorporate into my meal planning. One of my all time favorites now is a one pan taco salad.

Because of health and budget reasons, I don’t buy red meat often so I use ground turkey in place of ground beef. If you prefer red meat, substitute and I’m sure it will still be amazing.

Ingredients:
1lb ground turkey
1/2 green bell pepper
1/2 yellow onion
8oz can tomato sauce
1/3 cup of water
1 pack of McCormick taco seasoning (I use the low sodium pack)
1 can of black beans
1 can of pinto beans
Lettuce of your choice (I use butter lettuce for this recipe)

Step one:
Brown meat in a skillet

Step two:
Add seasonings, water, bell pepper and onion and let simmer until bell pepper and onion are tender. Stir occasionally.

Step three:
Add tomato sauce and beans. Stir together and let simmer for about 20 minutes to let flavors mix.

Step four:
Dish up your lettuce and top with the deliciousness in the skillet! I add cheese, a little sour cream, tomato and avocado when I really go all out.

That’s it! Super easy, limited dishes and it is SO good. The leftovers are equally delicious. Because this isn’t super moist and messy, it can also be wrapped up into a burrito which has also been a hit in our house. I don’t know if Henry likes it so much because it’s so yummy or because its messy but as long as he eats it, I’m happy!

I made this for dinner tonight but forgot to take pictures so I’ll have to update this post next time around. Hmm… maybe I’ll have to make this again soon for that very reason 😉

Try it and let me know what you think!

~M

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Mom guilt

It’s 3am and the baby is screaming after only 30 minutes of sleep since the last screaming session and the thought creeps into my head… “What were we thinking” followed immediately by “Crap! Why did I think that?! In a terrible mom!” And then I would hop out of bed and soothe Henry while glaring at my husband who can sleep through anything.

Mom guilt has plagued me in different ways since learning we were having twins and only recently have I started loosening my guilt’s grip on my every day life. I realize that it’s normal (at least for me, when my baby who refuses to sleep decides to haul off and slap me across the face) to contemplate running away from home. Just loading up my dog and going! What’s important is that I don’t actually run away. I fantasize about it for a minute and that counts as my vacation, then I’m back in the game.

Of course, once my little day dream is over I feel a horrible wrench in my stomach. The mom guilt… that bitch. In the first 6 months or more of Henry’s life the mom guilt got me hard. I would hate myself for needing a break, I would power through and try to be everything to my son. I would go to a dark place where I would think about how selfish it was for me to just need a minute by myself. I would tell myself what a terrible mom I was to need some time because Henry was supposed to have his brother with him, he was never supposed to be alone, and here I was wanting to put him in his crib so I could just take a minute and cry, then breathe, then cry again. After a lot of prayer, I had to just let it go. God reminded me that everything is as it is supposed to be. Jackson is where he is supposed to be and Henry is too. I can only be a mom, I can’t be a brother. As much as it breaks my heart, that’s a void that I cannot fill.

Over the last few months I’ve learned that it’s okay if Henry cries for a few minutes while I take a break and walk away. Not only will he survive, but he will be better off because he will have a mom that is more mentally present and fun if I can take a moment to myself. Now, these moments are nothing luxurious. Not even an at home facemask kind of luxury. They usually entail me doing things like checking my Instagram or scrolling through my humor pinterest board. I’ll be honest and tell you that sometimes those moments where I walk away to take a breath are consumed by negative thoughts as well. For example, walking past my dirty kitchen to sit on the front porch and take a breath of fresh air and beating myself up for not using those precious few moments of solitude to put the dishes in the dishwasher or take the recycling out.

Remembering that self care needs to be a priority is incredibly difficult and I know that I’m not the only mom that struggles with this. It can be something as simple as blow drying my hair for a few minutes after a shower instead of throwing it up in my usual mom-bun (not to be confused with the far less attractive “man-bun”), having a piece of dark chocolate while I sip on a glass of wine, and maybe, just maybe, swiping on a little mascara.

The moral of this story is that mom guilt sucks. She’s relentless and quite frankly, a bitch. It’s okay to tell that mom guilt to get the hell out, you’re doing your best and that is enough! So put the baby in a safe place and walk away for a few minutes, call a friend or family member to give you a break if thats an option for you and take that break sans the guilt, or tell your husband you need an hour to yourself on his next day off, grab a good book and glass of wine, take a bath and just relax and let him handle the kid(s). You’ll all survive and be better off for it.

~M

My cape doesn’t fit today

I’ve seen a meme on Pinterest that goes something like “I was the perfect parent until I had kids” and today that just kept running through my mind. Mostly it was running through my mind as Henry was screaming on our morning walk that he usually loves, as we were driving home to the sound of his screams and the Rafi Pandora station, then again as we were heading out to run our errands (not quite crying, but definitely unhappy). I was able to get as far as buying my dog’s food before throwing in the towel and just going home to hide out with my monster for the rest of the day. By the way, getting dog food was my first errand of the day… When I pulled into the driveway after admitting defeat, I looked at the clock on my dashboard and couldn’t help but laugh when I saw it was only 11:30 in the morning.

I juggled my kid, his diaper bag and the bag of dog food and stumbled through my front door, kicking off my flip flops on the way into the house. As Henry was screaming we walked by the kitchen that was a mess and into the living room, stepping over a stray pool noodle on the way. I plopped Henry down and ran back to go to the bathroom real quick. And when I say real quick, I mean it. Now that Henry is mobile I’m pretty sure I can pee and wash my hands in less than 30 seconds. Turns out Henry is also quick because it wasn’t long at all before those little chubby hands pushed the bathroom door open and he squealed with delight. Clearly he thought we were playing hide and seek and he had just won. He wasn’t aware I was playing “hide and pee alone”, two very different games.

As I collected my rambunctious and moody baby, I hung up my supermom cape for today and admitted defeat before noon. Henry has been incredibly challenging the last couple of days and I don’t know why. Nothing I do seems to help for long and I feel like I’m losing my mind. I went to work for the first time in months on Monday and my mom guilt tells me that’s why he’s acting this way. But my sweet husband is assuring me that it’s not, there must be something else going on. “Maybe his teeth are bothering him” is what we tell ourselves and each other just to try and make sense of it all, to come up with an excuse so we know there is an end in sight, something we can understand and blame for his behavior. In all honesty, I don’t know what’s going on with him right now. I know that teething is a good possibility but I also know that at 10.5 months old, his little brain is working to process all of his new skills he’s developed. Over the last month and a half he has started and perfected crawling, pulling himself up to a stand, discovered he likes sleeping in his own crib, is more coordinated than ever and is starting to communicate verbally. That’s a lot for a little guy in such a short period of time and I know it is playing a role in our week.

Its times like this that I need to remind myself that even when all the tools in my mom tool belt have been exhausted, when my patience is gone and I put Henry in his crib even though he’s crying because I just need 5 minutes to cry by myself, when I’m missing my husband and I know Henry is missing his daddy, when I feel like there is nothing I can do to make my sweet and sour boy feel better, that it’s okay. I need to remind myself that what my son needs the most in times like this is just me. He doesn’t care if my eyes are red and puffy from tears of frustration, he doesn’t care that I feel like I’m failing him. All he cares about is that I love him, I will hold him tight and kiss those chubby cheeks and sing to him our special song. Even screaming and crying and pushing away from me, he is my sunshine, my only sunshine. He is my biggest accomplishment, my pride and joy.

Being a mom is hard. Easily the hardest job I have ever had and just when I think I’ve figured things out, something changes. Ironically, that used to be something I looked for in a job. I didn’t like anything mundane, I liked a job that was challenging and continually evolving. Well played, God. Well played. I’ve been given the most challenging and ever evolving job there is, Motherhood. Well I say bring it on! I’ll wipe my tears, finish my glass of wine, say an extra prayer and tomorrow the cape goes back on.

“You know my every longing
You’ve heard my every prayer
You’ve held me in my weakness ’cause You are always there
So I’ll stand in full surrender
It’s Your way and not my own
My mind is set on nothing less
Than You and You alone
I will not be moved”
-We won’t be shaken, Building 429

~M

How I simplified my life with a planner!

As D and I continue to figure out how to be adults, we know that really understanding our finances and managing them is key. I am very active on Pinterest and it is my go-to resource for ideas for everything from recipes, decorating and style to budgeting and life organization. After searching ways to budget, get ahead of finances and run a home smoothly (since I was new to this stay at home mom job) one thing kept popping up in all of my searches. Daily planners. I started looking into them and the creative side of me loved seeing that these days planners are so much more than calendars. They are basically weekly scrapbooks where you organize your life.

I did a lot of research on the best planners that would meet our needs as a family. I didn’t want a planner for our daily/monthly lives, activities and appointments and then something else for budgeting. I wanted something that did it all, something that I could tweak and adjust to meet our families specific needs. Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to introduce you to the Create 365 Happy Planner! Below is a picture of my planner. This company hit the nail on the head for customize-able planners, let me tell you. There are 12 month planners, 18 month planners, big ones, small ones, expansion kits for things like budgeting or school work, more stickers than you could ever imagine and even charms and shaped paperclips. Honestly, it takes an insane amount of self control for me not to go completely overboard with all the extras you can get.

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Because one of the main focuses of this planner is to help our family set a good budget and get ahead financially, buying the extras wasn’t practical. I bought an 18 month large planner, the budgeting expansion pack and a pack of cute little post-its. I already have stickers, pens and washi tape on hand because of my scrap booking so I saved some money there. Though I do want to get highlighters, that’s also not a need but a want and not necessary right now. The budgeting expansion pack adds a bit of bulk so I only kept July-January 2019 in my planner and put the rest safely in a bag in my craft closet to use when the time comes. I figure for life planning and budgeting purposes, 6 months at a time is plenty. The budget pack also comes with additional monthly views that are not marked or numbered which is nice. I went back and forth about whether or not to use the extra monthly views or to just keep everything in one place and eventually decided I wanted the extra space. I wanted to have a place where I could turn and clearly see our expenses for the month and what bills were due on what days. This is the first full month of using the budgeting pack and so far I really like it. The only thing I’m not so good at is keeping up with the expense tracker, I need to make that a part of my evening routine as well as mark the days of the week where I didn’t spend any money. Lets be honest, that deserves to be celebrated because it is no easy task. I have a hard time managing my spending, especially with little things like Jack in the Box iced coffees which is my current Achilles heel. They’re just so tasty! But those little purchases add up really quickly and can take a big chunk out of the budget so I need to hold myself accountable and the planner is a fun way to do that.

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I think this budget review page is going to be particularly helpful in pointing out areas that need work and helping me reflect on the month and how I can improve our finances. I get wrapped up just waiting on that next paycheck and I think this will help me be more conscious about what is going on with our money.

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The expense tracker is another great way to focus on the details of my spending. I also like that it has the columns to track where the money came from (debit/credit/cash) and whether it was a need or want. Again, this will be helpful when reflecting on areas to improve upon for the next month. The hard part for me will be keeping up with it.

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In addition to budgeting, I use it to keep track of our appointments, play dates and plans with friends and family. I also use it to write down little tasks and reminders. For example, I remind myself to make blogging a priority which is difficult with a 10 month old who refuses to sleep. He happens to be fussing in his crib as I write this, fighting his afternoon nap with all his might and calling for his “Dada” to save him. Not today Henry, dada is at work and mama needs you to nap! If there were a expansion pack for getting my kid to sleep I would definitely buy that.

In conclusion, if you’re like me and have a hard time remembering appointments, bills, automatic payments and just basically struggle with adulting, check out the Happy Planner. If you’re budget conscious, do what I did. Wait for a sale and just buy the basics, you can splurge later. If your only goal is organization and fun, then go nuts! I guarantee you they will have plenty that meets your needs and matches your style. I got my planner and accessories from Hobby Lobby when they were having a sale of 50% off planners and supplies. For my planner, budget pack and post-its, I paid a little less than $40 which I thought was pretty good. I’ll post an update after I have been using the budgeting pack for a few months and let you know how it is working out for our family.

Thank you for reading!
~M

Battle for the boob – My fight to breastfeed my son.

This week is World Breastfeeding Week and I thought that created a great opportunity to talk about my personal experience with breastfeeding and some of the things that helped me through it. I want to start by saying just because it’s natural does NOT mean it’s easy. I’m going to repeat it because I feel like we as women don’t talk about how difficult breastfeeding can be, we just feel pressured to do it. JUST BECAUSE IT’S NATURAL DOES NOT MEAN IT’S EASY! *Whew* Okay, lets get started.

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When I got pregnant I knew that I wanted to breastfeed. It’s the healthiest option and I know formula is expensive so it was also my way of saving us a significant amount of money each month (easily $100+ a month from the very beginning). I also liked the idea of not having to pack bottles around and breastfeeding meant I always had his food with me, no matter what. I had been around breastfeeding so it wasn’t a foreign concept for me. I read about it and took the breastfeeding class offered by the hospital I was going to give birth at, I prepared as much as possible and didn’t think I would have any issues.

Enter reality.

As I’ve covered in my previous posts, my pregnancy and delivery were far from typical. Henry, being so little and also “early term” meant he had an under developed sucking reflex. It was difficult for him to get anything once I got him latched on. When we realized his blood sugar was critically low, formula was introduced to get some calories in his system after not really eating at all the night he was born. The nurses assured me that I would still be able to breast feed, this was just to make sure he had some food in his belly to try and stabilize his blood sugar. I was trying not to feel discouraged but it was hard. The lactation consultant that was supposed to be working in that hospital that weekend had called in sick and even though my nurses and the nurses in the NICU were trying to help, I was still having a hard time. Everyone was giving me different information and contradicting each other. I felt like in my hormonal and exhausted state, I was left to sift through all the information I was being given by all these different people and see what was right for us.

I continued to try to nurse him every feeding but neither of us were happy about it. Henry’s latch was really shallow because of an upper lip tie and his small size and his sucking reflex wasn’t strong enough to transfer enough milk to satiate him. I pumped after every nursing session to be able to add some liquid gold to the bottles of formula he was taking. We tried different holds and positions, we tried with a pillow and without, we tried the SNS feeding system and nothing seemed to help. I desperately wanted to have that connection with my baby and even more so, I wanted him to have the best nutrients possible for the battle his little body was fighting within itself. I felt like I had failed him when it wasn’t working. I can’t tell you how many times I cried over those first few days as we tried and tried to nurse.

On the 3rd day is when Henry was transferred to the higher level NICU and there I FINALLY got some help. They set me up with a lactation consultant that very same evening and she was wonderful. She was so encouraging and hopeful that we would make this happen for both Henry and I. I cried again, but this time with a smile on my face. She gave me a hospital grade pump to use for 6 months and showed me how to use it as well as gave me a pumping schedule to encourage my milk to come in and my body to produce more. She worked with Henry and I on positioning and showed me how to help him get a deeper latch which made nursing more comfortable. We had the same routine every feeding, I would nurse for 15 minutes and then D would bottle feed him some previously pumped milk while I went and pumped for the next feeding. We did this for weeks, even at home. It was so much easier to try and relax and nurse at home and I finally felt like we would have some success.

Those first several months were awful. I was in horrible pain every time I nursed. I finally went to see an outside IBCLC (Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant) and she happened to be one of the best in Northern California. I had seen several LC’s through the hospital and all I was ever told was to just “keep trying” and “it will get better”. In addition to struggling with latch, I also struggled with supply. Henry and I had an uphill battle for sure. When I saw the IBCLC she did a visual exam and immediately told me I had thrush and that it was one of the worst cases she had ever seen. No one else was able to diagnose it, everyone else just told me to keep trying. The best way I can describe the pain I was feeling is that it felt like someone was holding lighters up to my nipples. ALL. THE. TIME. I cried from pain every time I nursed Henry. I dreaded it. She showed me how to fix his latch more effectively, suggested some supplements to help my supply and told me to email my doctor right away about getting medication for the thrush that Henry and I both had. THANK THE LORD! I took the medication as well as applied diluted grapefruit seed extract on my nipples after each nursing session and washed my clothes with hydrogen peroxide added to the wash to help kill the bacteria. After 2 weeks I felt so much better. I was pumping enough to give Henry strictly breast milk and he was finally latching better too.

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Henry is now 10 months old and he no longer gets bottles, his milk is straight from the tap. Nursing is still a struggle for me at times, even 10 months into it. He still gets lazy with his latch and I still get pretty sore some times but we’re making it work. Finally my stubbornness has paid off! If Henry didn’t have the struggles he did in the beginning I doubt I would have pushed through all the pain, it was almost unbearable. I dreaded it every time he got hungry, but I am proud of how far we’ve come. I needed to know that I could do this, I needed to know that my body is capable of sustaining his life. I believe successfully nursing has been one of the most healing experiences I’ve had since we lost Jackson. It restored my faith in my body.

I believe wholeheartedly that it is the absolute best thing to give a baby and that although formula is an option, it will never be as good for babies as breast milk. It really is liquid gold and if you doubt that, I suggest reading about the benefits of breast milk. That being said, I know that breastfeeding isn’t for everyone. Some women can’t due to things like health issues and low supply. Some women can’t because the struggle in the beginning to figure things out is just too much in their already delicate state. For some women the pressure to breastfeed negatively impacts their relationship with their baby. So even though breast is best from a nutritional standpoint, it’s more important to figure out what works for your unique situation and for your family. I think that we, as women and as a society, put an incredible amount of pressure on women to breast feed their babies and I think that can have a reverse effect. We need to be accepting, understanding and loving to each other and less judgemental of each others parenting choices. Perhaps, if we create a safe place where women can come and feel accepted they would be more open about the struggles that they are having. If we offered judgement free advice and support instead of the standard “Keep trying, it will get better”, more women would be successful. If I had just “kept trying” it wouldn’t have gotten better.

As always, please feel free to   comment or send me a message with your own stories or any questions.

Have a wonderful day!
~M

Disneyland!

Disneyland has been a big part of mind and D’s relationship from the beginning. When we were friends, our mutual love of Disneyland was one of the first things we bonded over. This is where D and I have gone on several vacations together, D proposed to me in the most magical and perfect way, and now we were getting ready to take our baby boy! We had been planning this trip since shortly after finding out we were expecting and we were so so excited to share it with Henry.

Now, Henry was a fussy and difficult baby so there was also a certain level of anxiety along with the excitement. Anxiety about staying in a hotel with people just on the other side of the wall, anxiety about how he would be waiting in line, about how he would do on the rides he was able to go on… Not to mention the drive! We live about 6 hours north of Disneyland and a drive like that with a 4 month old was slightly scary. The plan was to leave around 4am so that I could nurse him, load him in the car and then hopefully get about halfway there before needing to stop and feed him again. Let me tell you, that kid was a CHAMP! He slept for about 3 1/2 hours before I got nervous about him going a while without eating (left over anxiety from his hyperinsulinemea and the fear of dropping blood sugar) so we pulled off at the next stop, we all ate and back on the road we went. Not a peep from Henry the whole ride! We got to our hotel, checked in and changed Henry from his jammies to his first Disney outfit of the trip. Have I mentioned Disneyland is a big deal for us? Because it is and Henry was equipped with adorable Disney outfits for the whole trip. Another fun fact about me as a mom, I figure with everything that I had to go through to get Henry into this world, I deserve to dress him up in cute clothes as often as I want. I don’t care if the outfit lasts 5 minutes because he is the spit up king, he’s going to look cute!

So, with our little boy dressed and ready to go, we headed for the park. A key item for my survival as a nursing mom was my big water bottle full of ice water. I had it filled and attached to our stroller the whole time. You can get free cups of ice water at all Disney restaurants and some of the food carts that offer soft drinks. It can save a lot of money if water is your main beverage of choice, which for me it is. Another great thing about Disneyland is they let you bring snacks into the parks. When I was pregnant that was especially important because if I got even slightly hungry, I felt sick almost immediately. Again, as a nursing mom that came in handy as well. I like to pack snacks that give me a lot of bang for my buck, such as packs of nuts, granola bars and, my personal favorite, fruit and chia seed KIND bars. They come in a variety pack and I got a big box of them at Costco right before our trip. The chia seeds provide fatty acids as well as keeping you full for longer, that in addition to the fruit make it a healthy snack choice that holds you over for a while. I also like to grab the Costco muffins and bring them as our breakfasts each day. Not the healthiest option, but when you’re walking miles and miles in a day the carbs count less and its a meal that will hold me over for a while which then cuts our meal costs pretty significantly. Anything to save money in Disneyland!

Henry LOVED being in the parks. He was taking in all the sights, sounds and smells and our fussy, difficult baby seemed right at home. We enjoyed the park with my family that first day and D and I couldn’t believe how happy Henry was. Clearly he knew at even a very young age, Disneyland is part of our lives. We got to the hotel that evening and laid Henry down for bed in his pack-n-play, an unfamiliar sleeping environment since he sleeps in a bassinet next to me at home, but he settled right in and slept ALL NIGHT LONG! I was floored! Henry doing so well that first day really helped ease my anxiety moving forward. I was able to enjoy myself and enjoy watching my baby experience something that I have loved since childhood, something that is significant to D and I as well as to our families. It meant so much to me.

While day one involved a lot of nervousness on my part, adjusting to a slower pace in the park for D and I, learning to navigate the parks with a stroller and letting go of our worries while leaving the stroller parked, by day 3 we felt like pros. We learned that taking things slow meant really seeing more of the park and seeing it through our sons eyes which was an amazing experience. We also learned that walking the park with a stroller involves equal parts courtesy and aggression. You may think that’s a strange combination but when you’re faced with walking up main street during fireworks you’re going to need to let some people in front of you but also give a little “nudge” to those that aren’t paying attention or respecting the fact that you aren’t as agile as someone without a stroller. When parking your stroller, use common sense. Tuck your diaper bag underneath and bring your wallet on the ride with you. Remember that security in Disney parks is top notch and also that people are there to have a magical experience with those they love, as a general rule they aren’t there looking to pilfer from strollers. Trust that your stuff will be okay and enjoy the ride.

D and I are currently planning our next trip to Disneyland which will be to celebrate Jackson and Henry’s birthday. I am even more excited for this trip than the first one. Our little boy will be a year old and likely walking by then, though probably not gracefully. He will be able to really interact with his surroundings and take in the experience more. I cannot wait! I already have a couple of outfits planned, of course. After the year we have had, our little family deserves to celebrate. We are going to celebrate Henry, our happy and healthy boy who has already overcome so much in his short life. We are going to celebrate us, our marriage and our relationship for the new depths it’s reached over this difficult year. We are also going to celebrate Jackson, our noble watchman and the missing piece of our family. It’s going to be a wonderful trip, I already know it.

If anyone has any other tips and tricks for visiting Disneyland as a pregnant or nursing mom, please send them my way! I’m always on the hunt for anything that will make our Disney adventures even more magical.

Thank you for reading!

Until next time,
~M

The early days at home

I don’t know about other new parents, but when it was finally time to load our baby up in the car and take him home I really didn’t feel qualified. There was a level of disbelief that we were going to be allowed to bring him home. Not just because we had been waiting 17 long days for this, but because it just didn’t seem like we should be trusted with such a precious life. We aren’t responsible or mature enough! What were they thinking?! But there we were, packed up and headed home.

D had taken the rest of the month of October off for paternity leave, not anticipating spending so much of it at the hospital. We came home on the 22nd so D only had a week and a half home with us before having to go back to work. Looking back there were a couple of blessings that came with our NICU stay. As new parents we had nurses everywhere that were happy to help us and show us their tricks for diapering and soothing our fussy baby, they also had him on a pretty strict schedule because of his blood sugar issues. A big difference with us and normal new parents adjusting to being home was we had to take Henry’s blood sugar every 6 hours and keep track of it as well as give him his medication. Now, in case it wasn’t obvious, babies don’t like being stuck in their heel with needles several times a day and another little known fact, moms don’t like making their babies scream and bleed several times a day. That was harder than the lack of sleep for me. I dreaded every heel prick.

Blood sugar readings aside, Henry was a normal newborn with quite the set of lungs and a pretty serious aversion to sleeping at night. His schedule stuck to some degree for a few weeks but of course, sleeping at night was the first thing to go. I was still struggling with supply and pumping around the clock, sometimes in place of nursing to offer a bottle and also after nursing so when Henry woke up in the middle of the night to eat I would nurse him for up to 45 minutes sometimes, burp him and get him back to bed and then have to pump to try and increase my supply. This meant every time Henry woke up (every 2-3 hours) I was awake for up to an hour and a half, so I was only getting between 30 minutes to an hour and a half of sleep at a time. I was EXHAUSTED! D started taking the first wake up of the night and feeding Henry a bottle so I was only waking up to pump and could be back to sleep in 30 minutes. That helped a lot, not only with sleep but also with the pain I was in from breastfeeding.

Everyone will warn you about how exhausting it is adjusting to this new but temporary normal way of life. I thought I knew how tired I would be, I was wrong. So as much as you can, just mentally prepare yourself for a serious lack of sleep. Maybe you will be blessed with an excellent sleeper from the start, but as they say “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst”! Personally, I never knew a 15 minute shower could feel like a vacation but it definitely can.

My advice to new parents bringing home a baby is to have easy meals already in the freezer and ready to go with instructions right on the top so anyone can help you with making dinners happen, have lots of snack foods like protein bars, string cheese, crackers, anything easy to grab that has some protein and fat, have a few flats of bottled water (again, easy to grab and go) and also get stocked up on things like toilet paper, paper towels and even paper plates because you won’t feel like doing the dishes, trust me. If you have friends and family around like we were fortunate enough to have, don’t be afraid to ask for help with some house cleaning while YOU cuddle YOUR baby. You might have people that come in that feel entitled to time with your baby, that will offer to hold the baby while you do the less appealing chores around your house. I encourage you to remember that it’s your baby and if you don’t want to give it up to someone else so they can “help” by cuddling your sleeping baby so you can glove up and do dishes, don’t allow them to pressure you into that kind of help. You’re the one that has to be there when your baby is screaming in the middle of the night (or sometimes throughout the day too), you deserve to relish in those beautiful moments of sleeping baby bliss more than anyone else. Don’t be bullied into giving those moments up. Also, a baby swing saved our lives, I cannot recommend them enough! When D and I tried everything to get him to sleep and to comfort him and nothing worked, the swing did. It was a sad sad day when he outgrew it.

Invest in some comfy, nursing friendly jammies, prepare to have just enough energy and clarity of mind to keep everyone happy and fed and know that that is enough. The first time I felt like I had a good mom day Henry was several weeks old. It didn’t happen on day one for me, or even in the first week. I felt like I was suddenly given the most important job in the world with no instructions, no training and no idea what the hell I was doing. Eventually, I figured it out and you know what happened as soon as I felt like I might be getting the hang of things? Henry switched the script and he still does every time I think I know what’s going on. Parenthood is an extremely difficult and demanding occupation but when people tell you that it’s worth it, it really is. I can’t imagine being anything other than D’s wife and Henry’s mom now. And this is coming from someone who went their whole life without ever wanting kids, until my blue eyed, sweet, handsome, loving husband entered my life. I feel like that gives me some extra credibility when I say it’s worth it 😉

~M