You Don’t Have to Enjoy Every Moment

enjoy every moment

“Enjoy every moment.”

It’s a phrase most parents have heard. Whether it’s by a total stranger touching your pregnant belly at Target, a well-meaning friend or family member over the holidays, or a meme doing the rounds on social media… it’s often unavoidable. And it seems to be everywhere. 

The goal of this phrase is to remind you that life is short and your kids will only be small for so long. But do parents really need to be reminded of this? It’s an ever-present thought in our heads. What good does this phrase really do?

Here’s a common scenario: you’re in the checkout line at the grocery store. Your toddler is throwing a tantrum at your feet because you won’t buy yet another Frozen toy. The older lady in front of you smiles as she grabs her bags and says “Enjoy every moment. They grow up so fast.” When you leave the store you will have to fight to get your flailing, screaming toddler into their car seat because they just wanted an Elsa doll. You came to get groceries yesterday, but your child dumped a whole container of eggs on the ground so you left. Your cart with the weekly necessities was abandoned in the freezer aisle. You feel embarrassed and like a bad parent. 

Or you are adding cream to your coffee at the local coffee shop, because you’re out of coffee and forgot to add it to the list when your partner went to the store on their way home. You have a screaming baby in your arms, bags under your eyes, and spit-up down your back. The barista tells you “Babies are so precious. Enjoy this time while they’re small.” You haven’t slept for more than 3 hours straight since the baby was born. You don’t have support at home while your partner works 60 hour weeks. You feel exhausted and barely human. 

What about when you’re enjoying a walk with your family around the lake and a stranger comes up to you, puts their hand on your belly, and tells you to “Enjoy your pregnancy, not everyone is so lucky.” What they don’t know is that you’ve been throwing up since you found out you were pregnant and can’t wait to be done. You can count the number of foods that stay down on one hand. This pregnancy was so wanted after two losses but now you almost wish it hadn’t happened. You feel like you don’t deserve to have this baby.

So while this simple phrase may seem innocent enough, how does it really make people feel when they hear it? Some words that come to mind: guilty. selfish. hopeless. invisible. 

Those three little words can have such a huge impact. And here’s the truth: you don’t have to enjoy every moment of pregnancy or parenthood. That is a ridiculous and impossible expectation. Some moments – or days, weeks, even years – just straight up suck. They challenge us, push us to our limits, make us miserable, and sometimes break us. And that is okay. It’s normal. It can’t be rainbows all unicorns all the time. It’s just not realistic. 

So what can you say instead of “enjoy every moment?”

Why not try:

“We’ve all been there.”

“You’re doing a great job.”

“Do you need a hand?”

“Let me help you…”

“Can I stop by with a meal?”

Every moment is not meant to be enjoyed. So stop telling people it is. 

Six Zero Waste, Earth-Friendly Changes for Families

earth-friendly

Many families are looking into ways that they can change their habits to prevent waste and be more Earth-friendly. Here are some ideas to get you started on a path towards zero waste and a healthier planet!

A couple of notes – I recognize that accessibility is an issue for many when it comes to affordability and access to products and that each family has different priorities. Some of these options may not be available (or desirable) for everyone, and that is okay. I encourage each family to look at their own habits and lives and choose what works for them. I also recognize that a large part of the responsibility for the state of our planet lies on corporations. Some believe that changes put into place by individuals don’t matter. But I personally believe that anything I can do to reduce my waste, no matter how small, is worth it. Do what is comfortable and sustainable for you.

earth-friendly

Reduce food waste.

This is, in my opinion, one of the most accessible and important steps for anyone to take. In America, 40% of the food produced is wasted. Are you shocked? I know I was when I heard that number! In my area, food waste is the single largest category of items thrown in the trash. This is one of the best Earth-friendly habits to begin.

Here are some ways to reduce food waste:
Meal plan and use a shopping list.
Compost – in your backyard, or through other options available in your area. In my city, we have drop-off locations for organics recycling, as well as weekly curbside pickup.
Use or freeze your leftovers.
Keep an inventory of the food in your fridge, pantry, and freezer.
Eat what you have first before buying more food.
Come up with ways to use up the “bits and pieces” that you may have at the end of the week. Soup? Casserole? Pizza?
Plan to use up perishable items quickly, such as berries and greens.

earth-friendly

Reduce packaging waste.

Along with food waste, this is a big category of waste for many families. Reducing food waste and packaging are my two biggest goals on my journey towards less waste. Take a look in your trash and/or recycling bin – how many packages do you see? My guess is that there is a lot. There certainly is for my family!

Some ways to reduce packaging waste:
Buy in bulk. This can be done at grocery stores, warehouse stores such as Costco or Sam’s Club, or at local food co-ops.
Bring your own containers to buy items from bulk bins. At many food co-ops, you can buy items such as nuts, grains, coffee, and even maple syrup or liquid soap!
Cut down on single-use packaging. Although these are easy, they can create so much waste! It’s a lot better to buy in larger quantities and divide on your own. Oatmeal packages, applesauce pouches, individually wrapped snacks, etc all add up. This is a big one for us!
Choose recyclable or compostable packaging when possible. At least this way it won’t stay in the landfill forever, it can be broken down and reused.
Buy less packaged, processed foods and make your own at home.

earth-friendly


Know the options and rules in your area.

Do you know what is recyclable in your area? Do you need to sort your recycling individually or can you put it all together? Is there an option to compost food scraps? How should you dispose of paint, medicine, batteries, old furniture, etc? You might learn a lot by googling or looking these things up on your city/county website! There are so many Earth-friendly products out there now, but it’s also great to use what you have!

earth-friendly

Use reusable options whenever possible.

There are a lot of reusable alternatives out there these days! If you can think of a product, there is probably someone selling a reusable variety. For these I suggest you don’t jump in and buy 20 different products at once, but start slow and choose a few that you think will work for your family. You can always add more later! Decide what you’re comfortable with and go from there.

Some popular reusable options:
Reusable food storage, such as glass containers.
Non-disposable “Ziploc” bags for lunches or snacks.
Reusable water bottles instead of single-use plastic bottles.
Refillable applesauce pouches that you fill at home.
Reusable menstrual products – period underwear, cloth pads, menstrual cup.
Washable cloth breast pads instead of disposable.
Cloth diapers and wipes instead of disposable.
Breastfeed instead of formula feed.
Cloth napkins and towels/rags instead of paper.
Reusable coffee cups for both hot and cold drinks on the go.
Reusable shopping bags and produce bags.

earth-friendly

Avoid buying things new.

We live in a very waste-driven, consumer-based society where the ideal products are fast and cheap. It can be really easy to order something on Amazon or grab it from Target. Moving away from that can require intentional effort. If we avoid buying something new (or at all), we are cutting a lot of steps out of that product’s timeline. This is a great Earth-friendly habit to start with!

Some ways we can avoid buying things new:
Borrow from a family, friend, or neighbor.
Join a library for books, toys, or tools.
Buy items secondhand. This is especially easy for babies and kids, as there are many parents selling their kids’ too small clothes, abandoned but like new toys, and furniture they’ve outgrown.
Think about it before you buy. Do you have a plan for it? Do you already have something that can serve that purpose? Will you actually use it?
Fix, repair, and mend items when possible.
Donate or sell your items when done with them, instead of just throwing them away.

earth-friendly

Drive as little as possible.

Driving is one of the worst things for the Earth, and yet most of us do it every day. In order to be more Earth-friendly, we will often have to make a sacrifice or change how we’ve been doing things. What can you do to reduce the amount you drive? What changes can you make in your life?

Carpool. Can you ride with your friends to the movies? Can you take turns driving the kids to school with your neighbor, or soccer practice with a teammate?

Walk, ride bikes, or take public transportation. These are all great ways to help the Earth and give yourself a boost as well. More time outside and connecting with others can’t be a bad thing, right?! Walking has the smallest carbon footprint, unsurprisingly. But the other options are great too! Replace your usual drive to the local park or library with a nice family walk or bike ride! 

Do any of these sound doable for your family? How do you plan to change your habits to be more Earth-friendly? Let me know in the comments! The Earth thanks you!

Learn more about me!

Guide to the Minnesota State Fair with Kids

It’s that time of year again… time to load up the family and gorge ourselves on fried food with hundreds of thousands of our closest friends. That’s right, it’s time for the Minnesota State Fair! Although the fair is loved by many, it can seem a bit overwhelming to bring the kids. Here are some tips to make it fun for everyone!

Make a plan.

While showing up the fair with no agenda and going with the flow can be fun, now is not the time for that. There are many things to consider. How do you plan to get there? Will you drive, take the bus, or take a free shuttle from the park and ride? What day will you go, and how much time will you spend there? Are there any discounts on the day you plan to go? What do your kids like to do – and what is a must for you? Make sure to grab a map when you enter the Minnesota State Fair!

Think about how you’ll transport the kids.

My preferred method is babywearing. It’s simple, your kid can’t escape, and you don’t take up much more room than normal. You can bring your stroller or wagon to haul the kids around, but those take up a lot of space and can be annoying in crowds. The fair also has wagons and strollers you can rent for $15-$17 per day.

Write your information on your kids in case you get separated.

There are multiple ways to do this – some people just write on their kids arms with permanent marker. You can make a necklace/lanyard for them with your information on it. You can also get a free bracelet made specifically for this reason from the information booths. And make sure you have photos of your kid from that day in your phone. This is always our first step once we get into the fair.

You can bring food and (non-alcoholic) drinks into the fair!

Pack some of your kid’s favorite healthy snacks along with water bottles for everyone. Since a lot of the food at the fair is decadent, bring something healthy. Fruits and veggies are always a good option. Offer them to kids in between activities. You can even bring coolers into the fair – but not the grandstand. And be prepared for your bag and cooler to be searched when you enter the fair.


Photo by @mrs_rachdana ⁣

Make time for breaks.

The fair is fun, but it can also be too much if we go go go without taking the time to rest. Find a quiet, shaded bench to have a break and a snack. If your kid still naps, take that into account as well. Do you need to leave before they nap, or go in the evening after they nap? Can you leave and come back again later? Will they nap in the wagon or stroller?

Check out the myTalk 107.1 tent for a quiet place to pump or feed your baby.

This space is great! I used this space for 3 years of the fair and am so glad it exists! They have fans, toys for older siblings, places to plug in your pump, comfy seating, and a diaper changing area with supplies. It’s semi-private – there are no divided spaces. It’s just a big tent. There are also other areas around the fair that you can pump or feed if you need a calm, quiet space with electricity. Some also have space to change your baby’s diaper.

Lower your expectations.

High expectations can ruin any experience. You may think you’ll take your kids and everything will be perfect, but that’s not guaranteed. It can get hot, tiring, and overstimulation for little ones. The Minnesota State Fair is one of the most attended state fairs in the country! Large crowds, new foods, noises, and lots of walking can overwhelm anyone but especially our kids. If you go into the day expecting too much, you might be disappointed at the end. And don’t think you’ll get to do every single activity you have on the list, or eat all the foods you want to try. Keep it laidback and simple.

Some of our favorite activities for kids at the Minnesota State Fair…

Eat an apple cider freezie
Alphabet Forest and Math on a Stick
Great Big Sandbox
Little Farm Hands
Look at the tractors on Machinery Hill
DNR building
Giant Slide
Miracle of Birth Center
Animal buildings
Scavenger hunt (pick up at Alphabet Forest)
Sit on the horse in the Horse Barn
Nature Adventure Play Yard at the Eco Experience
Minnesota Farm Bureau
Rides at Kidway or Midway
Free live music
Education building
Watch the parade
Meet a PBS Kids character at the TPT booth

minnesota state fair
Photo by Jenelle Hill

What are YOUR favorite Minnesota State Fair tips or activities for kids? Let me know in the comments or contact me!

My Birth Story

birth story

Here is the birth story of my daughter, Wren. It’s a bit long so get comfy before you start to read! Go ahead and grab your popcorn, I’ll wait. (Warning: I try to keep the story positive but there is talk about blood, pain, and some complications for both me and my baby.)

The beginning

I was tired of being pregnant. It was mid-August so it was hot and humid. It was a normal Tuesday evening at the end of my 38th week of pregnancy. I was feeling really tired so I went to bed early. Around 10:45 I woke to a strong, different feeling in my belly. “Was that a contraction?” I wondered, but I went back to sleep. I had noticed more discharge in the previous days (my mucus plug) and when I used the toilet I noticed some dark blood (bloody show). I had another contraction and woke my husband after 1 am. We got up and were too excited to go back to sleep! Was this really happening? I showered, cleaned, and snacked before eventually going back to sleep.

When I woke up in the morning, I was definitely sure I was in labor. I was craving bagels, so we went to get bagels and smoothies. I was having steady contractions and remember needing to hold onto the booth while waiting for our food. My husband decided to work from home and I napped, packed our bags, and tried to keep myself fed. My contractions varied in intensity and were pretty sporadic with timing. We started to get discouraged as the day went on – my husband even told a coworker that he would probably be in the next day when he logged off of work. My water hadn’t broken and there was no clear contraction pattern, but we began timing contractions using an app as they seemed to be getting stronger and more intense. The contractions would be an hour apart, then 20 minutes, then 4 hours.

We decided to walk around Lake Harriet to provide a distraction and hopefully get things moving. On the way there, things seemed to begin picking up. At this point, it was 6 pm, and walking must have done the trick because by the time we were halfway around the lake, my contractions were between 2-10 minutes apart lasting from 10-30 seconds. Still sporadic, but getting intense enough that I had to hold onto benches and trees. Towards the end of our walk back to the car I was feeling the need to vocalize through some of the contractions and just wanted to go home. (I bet I was getting some interesting looks on our walk at the lake, holding onto trees and moaning through my contractions!)

On our ride home, my contractions got more intense and frequent, and I was vocalizing through all of them. I also started to realize that I was experiencing back labor, and I wasn’t too thrilled about it! We decided to call the midwives at the Minnesota Birth Center when we got home. My midwife suggested I eat, take a bath, nap, and try some Spinning Babies movements. We did pelvic tilts and forward-leaning inversions, to ease my back pain and help baby get into an optimal position. They were not comfortable and I didn’t make it through all of the suggested movements, but they definitely worked because by the next hour my contractions were consistently 3.5 to 4 minutes apart. I tried to rest and took another bath and a shower. We eventually decided to head to the birth center around 11:30, just over 24 hours after my first contraction.

At the birth center

We got to the birth center at exactly midnight. I remember looking at the clock when we got out of the car and it hit me that it was the day we would meet our baby! That was one of the moments that has always stuck with me from my birth experience. Once we were at the birth center my midwife, Kaitlyn, checked my cervix and told me that I was dilated to 5-6 centimeters and 100% effaced. This was great news! I remember being really worried about ruining the beautiful white sheets, which is hilarious because birth is what they do. (And bleach is a thing.) Since I was Group B Strep positive, I needed to receive IV antibiotics so we got those going. I was having contractions every 1.5 to 2 minutes and thankfully was able to sleep in between. I never would have believed that I would be able to sleep in labor!

I was able to enjoy the birth tub while we had the IV running, which was incredibly comforting and soothing. I drank water, coconut water, and bottled smoothies. Using the toilet was extremely uncomfortable due to the pressure on my tailbone, and I spent a lot of time holding onto the towel bars in the bathroom. They’re pretty sturdy! Kaitlyn checked me again and I was at 8 cm. We discussed breaking my waters but I wanted to avoid any interventions so we decided to wait. About 10-15 minutes later, I felt a pop and a gush while laying on my side and knew my water had broken on its own.

My contractions definitely got stronger, more intense, and closer together. I got back in the tub and things started to get REAL. The contractions were on top of each other, back to back, and I wasn’t getting a break. I was very vocal, moaning and screaming through the contractions. This is clearly when I hit transition – it was the peak of strength in my contractions. I remember yelling “no no no” and telling everyone that I couldn’t do it. Back labor is intense, and coupled with baby’s head moving down, the pressure felt like too much. I didn’t want to drink, I didn’t want anyone to touch me. I started feeling like I needed to poop and I was terrified. The contractions were radiating from my back to my front, and it was really intense. I just wanted to be done.

I tried to listen to the midwife and birth assistant when they told me to push, but it was too intense. I was hyperventilating. My body was pushing on its own and I was fighting it because I was tired, overwhelmed, in pain, and scared. I got out of the tub and they got me an oxygen mask, then talked me through pushing to get my baby out. She was having some troubles keeping her heart rate up and I remember the birth assistant telling me to breathe oxygen down to my baby. That helped me focus on breathing vs completely losing control. I continued to push, screaming and crying.

After what felt like forever, but was really only about 30 minutes, I heard the words “there’s her head!” and my husband told me what he could see her hair. I pushed a few times and her head was out. Everyone got very serious and started talking very quickly, and I was told that we needed to get my baby out now. It turns out that she was pretty blue and her cord was wrapped around her neck. I could feel her shoulders and it was so intense that I didn’t want to push anymore. But two pushes later, she was born at 4:34 am.

They got her cord unwrapped and suctioned her mouth and nose so she could breathe. They gave her my oxygen mask and rubbed her. Finally, she started to cry. My husband cried and she was placed on my chest. We were bundled up with blankets and laid there for the next 1.5 hours. She finally started to “pink up” and slowly looked less purple. My husband cut the cord, and I eventually delivered my placenta. They were concerned about my bleeding and thought I might have a cervical laceration. There was a piece of tissue in my uterus from the amniotic sac, plus Wren was grunting and not keeping her oxygen levels up. So they called an ambulance to transfer both of us to the hospital. Thus, we both got to have our first ambulance ride at 6 am on August 14, 2014.

Hospital transfer

At the hospital, I had a D&C where they removed 12 cm of tissue from my uterus. Wren was taken to the special care nursery where she received an x-ray and antibiotics for fluid in her lungs. It could’ve been pneumonia but they don’t really want to biopsy a newborn’s lungs so she got IV antibiotics instead. I was finally able to go hold her and nurse her at 12:30, 8 hours after she was born. She latched on immediately and stared up at me with so much love in her eyes, and I cried. After all the drama, chaos, and exhaustion, I was finally able to hold my baby and stare in her eyes, and all the love and adoration that I didn’t feel that morning came flooding to me.

I was admitted that night and trudged from my room to hers every 2 hours to nurse and snuggle. She stayed another 3 days in the special care nursery after I was discharged, so my husband and I slept together on the tiny couch in her room. I was exhausted, hormonal, and emotional. As I talked about here, I felt so guilty. Her birth ultimately did not go as planned and was traumatic, even though the care we received was incredible. My midwife was with me during the surgery and came to check in on me the next day. My husband was very supportive. The nurses in the special care nursery were amazing. But it was a rough start to life with our new baby.

After my experience, I began to understand why support is so crucial during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Would having a doula have changed anything that happened during our experience? No, I’m sure it would have ended up being the same. But I really do believe that the way I felt would be different. I wouldn’t have been alone in the recovery room for 6 hours. My husband wouldn’t have had to choose to leave me or our daughter alone. I would have had an extra voice in the room that could’ve possibly broken through the terrifying thoughts and overwhelm in my head. I would not have felt so alone when we left the hospital and had to go back to “real life.”

This is why I believe doula support is important, and this is why I doula. Because of my experience, I hope to help others avoid feeling helpless and alone. I was a birth doula intern at the Minnesota Birth Center in 2018-2019 because I believe the care they provide for birthing people and families is incredible and I loved my experience supporting families there!

birth story

Doula du Nord at the Twin Cities Birth and Baby Expo!

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve been accepted to have a table at the 2019 Twin Cities Birth and Baby Expo!
This is a great event for anyone who is pregnant, has kids, or is planning to have a baby. And it’s family-friendly too! I hope to see you there.

birth and baby expo

Details:

When?

November 2, 2019
9:30 am to 3 pm

Where?

Capitol Hill Magnet School
Saint Paul, MN

What?

A wonderful event featuring local businesses related to pregnancy, birth, and parenting as well as kid-friendly activities (face painting, storytime, and more!) and presentations/workshops.

Have questions about the expo? Contact me!

 

8 Common Breastfeeding Myths

With so much information floating around the internet about breastfeeding, it can be hard to know what is true and what is a myth. I’ll break down eight of the most common breastfeeding myths so you can tell fact from fiction! Keep reading for the bonus myth at the end.

It’s normal for breastfeeding to hurt.

This is a very popular myth. There are even ideas out there that you should “toughen up” your nipples during pregnancy to prepare for breastfeeding. Rubbing your nipples with sandpaper is NOT necessary… really, please don’t do that!

Pain while breastfeeding may be common, but that doesn’t make it normal. It can be a new, sometimes uncomfortable feeling as you and your body adjusts to nursing (or pumping for) your new baby, but it shouldn’t be painful. If you’re experiencing pain while breastfeeding your baby, you might need some troubleshooting to make it more comfortable. And if you ever experience toe-curling, intense pain, please talk to an IBCLC or your medical provider!

You can’t eat onions (or garlic, broccoli, chocolate,etc…) while breastfeeding.

People say that you have to eat a bland diet while you’re breastfeeding. No onions, garlic, spicy food, chocolate, broccoli… But the truth is, breastmilk is made from your blood, not your stomach contents. And besides, your baby already got a taste of the foods you eat regularly in utero through the amniotic fluid. Science even says that your baby may like foods more that they taste through breast milk!

In some cases, babies have an allergy or intolerance to something in breast milk, such as dairy, soy, or wheat. If you suspect your baby isn’t reacting well to something in your milk, consult your medical provider and consider keeping track of your diet and baby’s symptoms.

Breastfeeding is “all or nothing.”

This myth is absolutely NOT true. Breastfeeding is an amazing thing and any amount that your baby receives is beneficial. But it is fine if you need or want to give your baby formula, supplement with donor milk, or pump and give your breast milk in bottles. It’s also okay if you breastfeed for a while and then stop – even one teaspoon of colostrum is shown to have benefits for babies. You are doing a great job, regardless. Breastfeeding does NOT have to be all or nothing.

Only people with large breasts can breastfeed.

Good news – breast size doesn’t affect whether or not you can breastfeed! Milk production is not based on the size of the breasts. Someone with an A cup can produce as much milk as someone with a DD cup. Having smaller breasts doesn’t mean you will not be able to make “enough” milk… and having larger breasts is not a guarantee that you will be an overproducer or make “too much” milk.

You can’t continue to breastfeed your baby if you go back to work/school.

You can absolutely continue to breastfeed if you’re planning to return to work, start a new job, go to school, or otherwise be away from your baby! Many parents pump and provide breast milk for their babies when they are apart. Some parents feed their baby with donor milk, formula, previously pumped milk, or a combination. Pumping to provide enough milk for your baby during the times you’re not together can be a lot of work, but people do it every day!

You shouldn’t breastfeed in public.

Personally, I think this is the silliest myth of the bunch. Do people think babies just don’t get hungry outside of their home?! Babies need to eat, just the same as everyone else. Don’t be afraid to feed your baby in public!

How you feed your baby in public is really up to you – it’s a personal preference. Some people prefer to find a private space, such as a nursing room or the car. (Don’t assume you just have to do it in the bathroom – there are better options!) Others prefer to use a lightweight blanket or nursing cover/scarf. Sometimes people buy clothes designed for breastfeeding that provide easy access and generally keep it somewhat covered. Another option is to use the “two shirt method” of having one shirt underneath and pulling the other up to give baby access to the breast, leaving your breast mostly covered. And others are totally fine breastfeeding with no cover at all. There are some people who prefer to give baby a bottle in public so they don’t have to deal with breastfeeding.

All of these options – and any others that you come up with – are totally valid, and totally okay. Do what you’re comfortable with and need to do to make sure your baby is fed and happy!

You can’t breastfeed your baby if you take medications.

The majority of medications are safe for breastfeeding. There are some that are contraindicated, but if your plan is to breastfeed, be sure to talk to a medical professional or IBCLC about any medications you’re taking. LactMed (website & app) and Infant Risk (website, app, & hotline) are great options for learning about how medications interact with breastfeeding.

You should only breastfeed your baby until… (enter milestone here.)

Everybody has an opinion about breastfeeding and is more than willing to offer it up. Some people say that you should only breastfeed your baby until they can talk, until they eat “real” foods, until they can walk, until their first birthday…and the list goes on.

The WHO (World Health Organization) recommends “exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond.”

What do I think? I think that breastfeeding is a relationship between you and your child. You should breastfeed for as long as it is mutually beneficial. Sometimes that simply means providing colostrum for your baby for the first hour after birth. It could mean breastfeeding until your baby turns one. Or it may mean breastfeeding into toddlerhood and beyond. It is a decision for you to make, and nobody else.

Bonus myth: You’re a bad parent if you don’t breastfeed.

I know sometimes it feels like you can’t do anything right, especially if you can’t or don’t breastfeed your baby. There’s a lot of shaming out there. But it’s not true. You’re a great parent, no matter how you feed your baby.

What do you think of these breastfeeding myths?
Contact me if you have questions!

New Services! Tuck-In and Evening Support

I’m so excited to announce that I’m offering two NEW postpartum services!

I have been thinking of more ways I can support families during the postpartum time. These seemed like a great way to offer more support to families during potentially stressful times. Both of the new services are designed to relieve your stress and helpyour home run more smoothly.

Tuck-in services provide an extra set of hands to help everyone get settled after the birth.

Whether you’re coming home from the birth center or hospital, or your homebirth team is leaving, those first few hours after can be rough. There’s often a lot of commotion and uncertainty. Your whole world just changed and now you are expected to carry on as you did before the birth, just with a new tiny human.

Tuck-in services are meant to bridge that gap and let you settle in more slowly. I will make sure your home is tidy, dishes are clean, and the laundry is running. I’ll feed you and change the sheets on your bed. I will answer your questions about recovery, breastfeeding, and newborn care as you make yourself at home with your newest family member. I’ll take the dog outside, hold the baby so you can take a shower or bath, and let you have a nap.

Tuck-in services are $150 for 4 hours and are available now!

Evening support provides occasional help with dinner, bath, and bedtime routines to take away the headache and give parents a break.

Those few hours before bed are often a challenge. There’s often a transition home from work, school, or childcare… not to mention homework, meal prep, and the baby’s witching hour! Let me provide an extra hand to give you a break. I’ll prepare/serve a meal (and clean up after!), make sure kids are bathed, and help with the bedtime routine. You’ll get to sit down and take a break and enjoy your meal without rushing around serving everyone else. You can also enjoy some one-on-one time with your partner and baby.

Evening support is $100 for 4 hours or $60 for 2 hours and is available now!

Questions? Want to book?
Contact me!

Feature Friday – Raven Ivory, Photography + Films

Hello and welcome!

I’m excited to announce a new weekly feature on my blog and social media! Each Friday I will feature a different product, service, event, or business. I will try to mix it up but will mainly focus on the topics of pregnancy, birth, postpartum, breastfeeding, and family.  Read more

I Didn’t Love My Baby Right Away… And That’s Okay

baby

We’ve all seen the photo – you have, haven’t you? – of the parent holding their new baby in their arms, breathless with joy, tears in their eyes. We’ve heard the story – surely you know the one – of the moment when their newborn child was placed on their skin and all they could feel was an overwhelming sense of love. That’s how birth goes, right? That all-consuming, overwhelming, indescribable sense of immediate joy, love, and connection.

But what if that’s not how it goes?

My daughter’s birth did not go how I expected. She wasn’t in the “optimal” position, even after completing exercises. I felt each surge so intensely in my back – and it was not fun. My childhood/past traumas came out during the later stages of her birth and I was completely blindsided. I had my husband and incredible midwife to support me but I was lost. I felt out of control. It felt like I was floating in darkness, fear, and pain, and I couldn’t figure out how to get out. There’s a lot about my daughter’s birth that I don’t remember. I’ve since learned that trauma survivors can dissociate during childbirth, which is likely what happened to me.

By the time she was born, I was exhausted, overwhelmed, and totally DONE with the whole experience.
When she was born, I felt relief that she was here and I didn’t have to go through anything else. I felt wonder at what I had just done, and that it didn’t actually kill me, even though I was sure that it would.
She had some minor complications, so I felt worry and concern for her. But when I think back on those first few moments, what I remember feeling most is this: guilt and shame.

“What is wrong with me?!” I wondered. “Why do I feel like this?”

We both had to transfer to the hospital (from a birth center) and spend a few days there. On our second night there, at one of the middle of the night feedings, I finally broke down in sobs as I confessed my guilt and shame to my husband. “Why don’t I love my baby?” I cried. “I was supposed to love her as soon as she came out. But I didn’t. I’m a horrible mother.” We talked it through and I was finally able to release some of that guilt, shame, and fear that I had been feeling since she was born.

I was relieved that my husband didn’t think I was terrible. He thought I was sleep deprived, exhausted, and had been through a traumatic, intense experience. He didn’t blame me or look down on me. But still – I didn’t feel the way that I had been made to believe that I SHOULD feel. By the next day, I was already able to feel more attached and connected to her, and by the time we went home on day five I was feeling those joyful, loving feelings. For me, it took a few days and some time to process what had happened. It wasn’t immediate – and that is okay.

It’s okay if you don’t feel that immediate rush of love towards your baby.

There are so many ways you may feel after giving birth – and they are ALL okay. There is not one way that you should feel. Birth can be overwhelming and intense, and it can be easy for all of the feelings to get muddled together. It’s okay to not even know how you feel. You can still love and connect with your baby! There is nothing wrong with you.

I hope that reading this can help you prepare for birth, feel understood and respected if you experienced something similar, or help you support someone you know during or after their birth. I would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment below or contact me here.

(If you feel that you struggle to have a connection with your baby or child and it’s affecting your life or relationship, please discuss it with your doctor or midwife. They are there to support you.)

BRAIN – The Best Acronym for Making Informed Choices!

brain

The BRAIN acronym

There are times when choices or situations come up that we might night know how to approach. We don’t always know the right answer, and making a decision can feel overwhelming. If you take the time to look at your options and ask some intentional questions, you can make an informed choice! This is a great acronym for any time you need to make a choice, but I’m introducing it to you today as it can be especially helpful during your pregnancy, postpartum, and birthing time. If you’re faced with a decision that has you feeling unsure, overwhelmed, confused… first, take a second to pause for a deep breath.
Then, use your B.R.A.I.N:

1) What are the benefits? If you decide to do the procedure, have the test, make the choice… what are the advantages? Why should you choose to say yes? What are the pros of this choice? How will it positive impact yourself, your baby, and/or your labor?

2) What are the risks? The opposite of the above question – what can happen? What are the disadvantages or the cons? How will it negatively impact yourself, your baby, and/or your labor?

3) Are there any alternatives? What other options do you have? Is there a similar test or procedure? Are there other choices that could have similar results?

4) What does your intuition say? Listen to your gut. What is it telling you? How does your partner or support person feel? Does this choice fit in with your values? Does it make sense for you?

5) What if you do nothing or you say NO? What will happen if you decide not to do it, or if you decide to wait? Can it be delayed? Can you take some time to think about it and talk it over with your partner or support person?

Contact me to learn more about how I support families during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum!