What it's done for me...

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Okay, so it's been 16 days so far and here is the list of things that were posted to help us mommas grab hold of our sexiness:

  1. Define what "sexy" means to you
  2. Dance...like no one is watching
  3. Wear red lipstick (or any sexy shade of your choice)
  4. Belly Massage
  5. Yoga
  6. Write a love letter to the body part that your not the biggest fan of
  7. Write a love letter to the body part that you absolutely love
  8. Go commando
  9. Breathing exercise
  10. Mindfulness-connect with your body
  11. Take a compliment
  12. Date yourself week: Buy yourself flowers
  13. Be selfish
  14. Sexting
  15. Buy yourself fancy chocolate

I've done each of these and I've gotta say that not only have I actually noticed a change in my confidence but (a little TMI)..also in my libido. I'm starting to realize that after having 3 kids I should be proud of my battle scars.  I have the body of a real woman and DAMN IT that's something to be proud of.  That's not to say that I don't have any hang ups, but it does let me appreciate my body today instead of wishing it was the body of yesterday. 

I'm lazy when it comes to losing weight. I love a maple bacon donut... or 3 and guess what?? I can still feel sexy and have that donut. 

I'm not relying on my husband to make me feel sexy, which is something I did in the past.  For being the self-proclaimed feminist that I am I can't believe that I never recognized I was actually doing that. Of course I'm not going to feel sexy if I wait for others to validate it for me.  That just sounds crazy now that I say..um..write it out. 

So, where are you in this discovery month?  Have you noticed a change? What do you do to make yourself feel sexy?  Share it sister! We are a tribe of women that need to support each other and it's okay to share the things we talk about in small groups with a larger group that could use your help. Be an empowered woman who empowers women.

Much love, all you sexy beasts.

 

 

 

    30 Days of Sexy

    You don't have to choose between being a mom and being/feeling sexy.  Here's a 30 day guide to help you take back your sexy...with kids and all.  No more excuses ladies!

    Finding My Voice

    by Sara (originally appearing on Still We Rise, April 2017)

     

    "Your scars are someone else's sign of hope"

    ~Danielle Laporte

     

    When I was 14, I was raped.

    I'm 32 now and I am still struggling with these words. I am still learning to put a voice to it. In complete transparency, I've only said these words out loud twice (and only in the last few months). So, here is my way of bringing light to my darkness.

    I have no memory of it. 

    Time and alcohol have a funny way of doing that. What I do remember is being with my best friends laughing, dancing, twirling...until all there is is black. A deep void. Darkness. I was completely incoherent and I'm pretty sure I vomitted at some point. I remember crying and apologizing...over and over...because I was so embarrassed that I was that drunk. I was proud of being the smart, independent one. How could I let myself get so out of control?

    The next morning, in my best friend's yellow-tiled bathroom, I pulled down my undies and saw the blood. I knew right away that something had happened. And I laughed. I fucking laughed. I laughed because, at 14, I had no way to cope with the fact that some guy had forced some part of his body into my vagina. That somehow being unconscious and smelling like vomit wasn't enough to turn off some asshole with a hard on.

    (I would occasionally recount the event). Wow! That sounds so formal, so cold. For decades I barely thought about it. It's hard to describe. I buried it. I buried it so far that, truly, I never thought about it. There were moments, milliseconds, when the darkness would recognize its shadow in a friend's story, in a tv show, in a song, in a movie. But it would rescind as quickly as it appeared.

    It wasn't until I read the Stanford victim's letter to her attacker. I was at work and came across the link on my Facebook feed. "Read it," my soul urged.

    I was numb and wildly electric all at the same time. Hand to my mouth and tears in my eyes, I read her story. And just like that, the wound was fresh. Not only was it reopened, it was infected, oozing, septic, rotten, festering.

    I instantly recognized all the areas in my life it had tainted. I finally understood why the feeling of my husband's hands on my sleeping body would literally make my skin crawl. I spent my teen years dating complete fucking assholes because I figured they were at least upfront about their inability to be decent human beings. I graduated from high school and college with a 4.0 because perfection became my subconscious way of compensating for my irresponsibility. You see, I still felt responsible  for getting raped.

    Accountable.

    And in the midst of my messy healing, the universe (God) provided a mirror reflection of what responsibility and accountability looks like...as a rapist.

    The election (and its outcome) became a catalyst to my healing.

    Let me explain. I thought, surely, after Donald Trump openly admitted (boasted) about sexually assaulting women, his campaign was over. Yet, 62 million people still voted him into office and here we are. His election made it blatantly clear:

    You can be a man, sexually assault a woman, admit it, brag about it, and be elected President. President, people!! Let that sink in for a moment. 

    While I spent two decades of my life fighting against a moment I can't even remember, this man consistently asserted himself onto women's vaginas. While I spent years trying to control every aspect of my life, this man flaunted his inability to control himself as a manly badge of honor. I lost my voice. He used his to continually degrade, violate, and disrespect women at every turn.

    I was raped. I need to own the darkness. I need my voice to fill the void, to echo off its caverness and let love and beauty drape its expansive walls. I need to be unafraid that people will look at me differently, look at me with sadness, with pity. I will not be a victim to shame. I will no longer be small to avoid confrontation or because the world continually tries to remind me where a woman's place is. I did not admit to being raped because I thought it would make me look weak. I knew I would be judged for being drunk, for being irresponsible, for wearing a dress, for asking for it, for being a human with big breasts and a vagina (so, a woman). This is the sick, twisted shit normalizing sexual assault does. 

    Only the weak ones get raped.

    She was asking for it.

    At least it wasn't "real" rape.

    Bullshit.

    I am a strong woman. I was strong at 14 and I am strong at 32. I regularly ask for things like empathy, compassion, human dignity, lots of cream in my coffee, keep the complaining to a minimum, stay out of the left lane if you're driving slow, be grateful, pick up your toys, kindness, and positivity. And there are not "degrees" of rape. When we start minimizing rape with technicalities we say your pain doesn't matter. We say your consent doesn't matter. You don't matter.

    Life is fucking hard. Terrible things happen. It's easy to let it make you bitter and angry. It's easy to harden your heart, to stop trusting, and to believe the worst in people. The hard part is finding the courage to live. To love. To keep your heart open and to believe that the world is inherently good. 

    So, I implore you to have courage. Find your voice. Everyone has a story.

    What's yours?

     

    Quasimodo (or Healing after baby)

    postpartum vagina

    by Sara

    What do Quasimodo and healing after a baby have in common?? Well, friend, let me tell you.

    Google "Healing after baby" and you'll get about 50,600,000 results. You'll come across articles like Crotch Care 101: The truth about what's up down there after your vaginal delivery, Postpartum care: What to expect after a vaginal delivery, and Healing Hints: What Postpartum Recovery Is Really Like. You'll see really lovely photos of beautiful women looking peacefully at their sleeping baby or gorgeously round baby bumps with perfectly manicured hands making a heart right over the belly button. You'll see words like swelling and soreness.

    Any resource that sheds light on postpartum care gets my Hallelujah hands. Postpartum care tends to be an afterthought when it comes to birth, so I appreciate any article that will remind women to take care of themselves. That being said, I just could not identify with these articles. Postpartum, I don't feel or look even 10% as perfectly put together as those pictures would have us imagine. Even the words seemed too cautious, too modest, too nice. Labor is hard freaking work. Giving birth is hard. Being a mom is hard. So, I just wanted someone to be real about it.

    (I'm getting to Quasimodo, don't you worry)

    First, I need to give you a little info. My first two nuggets were cesarean births and I rocked the physical recovery for both. Fast forward to 2015, when I had a successful VBA2C (vaginal birth after two cesareans). LISTEN TO ME. I am a birth doula, I love birth, most of my friends are doulas...vaginas regularly come up in casual conversation...but NO ONE told me what was going to happen to my vagina after I pushed out my baby.

    The first shower after you deliver a baby is magical. It is seriously one of my favorite things in life. Seriously. If I were to make a top 5 list of the best things received after delivery it would be:
    1) Baby
    2) Shower
    3) Those disposable mesh undies (also magical)
    4) Hospital apple juice w/ crushed ice
    5) Bacon cheeseburger
    So, I had delivered my baby (vaginally - woohoo!) My sister brought me a bacon cheeseburger from Wendy's. My doulas (and great friends!) made sure I had apple juice. All I needed was a shower. I got rolled into recovery, nursed the babe to sleep, and I was ready.

    I made sure the water was steaming hot. Put out my travel sized, lavender scented soap, shampoo, and conditioner. Lathered up. But when I put my hand on what was supposed to be my vagina I literally froze in place. Silently, I mouthed the words "WHAT.THE.F#@$?!?!?" I could not tell where my vagina, perineum, or anus started or finished. It had turned into a vaganus, a vagerinus....whatever. Apparently, in labor they all met, decided they really liked each other, and were now inserperable BFFs.

    So here's where Quasimodo comes in. First of all, if you don't know who Quasimodo is look him up (the Disney version, please). When I came out of the shower, I'm sure the horror was evident. I told my husband, doulas, sisters, midwives, nurses, friends...literally, anyone who would listen...that my vagina now looked like Quasimodo. She was swollen and disfigured, lumpy and bumpy (I'll be honest, I didn't look and I still haven't looked but I can assume).

    But this isn't some shock and awe campaign. Like Quasimodo, my vagina just needed a little love to feel like herself again. Frozen newborn baby diapers feel amazing and help with the soreness. Using a peri bottle filled with warm water is also pretty fantastic.  Dermoblast will literally numb your bum (ha, yes, I did that on purpose) and Tucks pads were my go to. I don't think I used toilet paper for the first week, or two. Just my friends, Peri and Tucks. And y'all it took a long time. Like weeks. to regain any sense of normalcy down there.

    I was so horrified to go to the bathroom, but was given some really useful tips (that I occasionally still need to use today): take a full cup of water into the bathroom with you and blow bubbles through the straw. It helps release the muscles so you can go pee or poo. Making horse lips will also help relax those muscles. And don't worry about feeling ridiculous. If you already have small ones, sitting in the bathroom with you doing horse lips will be the highlight of their day.

    The other thing that was super helpful  was talking with  friends. It was such a relief to know I wasn't the only one. We'd share our birth stories and talk about how weird our vaginas had become. This is what I love about having a tribe of women friends - they celebrate and admire the pieces (and parts) of you that get labelled "ugly", "not for show", and "awkward". Which in turn helps you celebrate and admire those same things.

    So, now it's your turn. Share your stories and tips in the comments. What was it like for you after your delivery? Shock and awe or rainbows and roses? What are some of your favorite tools and tricks for healing after delivery? Me & Quasi can't wait to hear :)

     

    A Postpartum Life: Building Brotherly Love

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    By Melissa

    Sometimes when I look at my 2-year-old and 6-month-old, they are the picture of brotherly love. Martin comforts Jesse when he cries, they hold hands, or Jesse giggles at Martin’s antics. I can see the playmates they will be in a few short years. My emotions well up as I watch them interact. They don’t know it yet, but the relationship they build with each other now will be one of the most significant in their lives. At least, I can always hope.

    The same is true of my eleven-year-old. More often than not, he enjoys playtime with his brothers. Sometimes, he’s a bit of a rascal, but Martin typically doesn’t mind rough play as much as I do. On the whole, he’s helpful and loving. Unlike the little ones, he’s old enough to understand the importance of his brothers, at least somewhat. However, he’s so much older that his relationship with them for the next twenty years or so will be more nurturing and role-model oriented than the peer-level relationship between Martin and Jesse.

    As amazing as it may sound per the previous paragraphs, our life isn’t always a picture of harmony. Jesse is just starting to be more mobile and capable of grabbing the toys he wants. Martin loves to share with his brother on his own terms, but I’m starting to see jealousy when Jesse reaches for Martin’s wooden train or his favorite car. This jealousy isn’t a new thing. Before, Martin would express his frustration to me when I had to stop playing with him to nurse Jesse or change his diaper. His cries of,   o“No, Mommy, no,” gave me a hint of the jealousy to come.

    I’ve got to deal with it. I’ve got to work with them to get along. It would be easy to say “they’ll grow out of it” or “they are just acting like kids”. It would be easier than saying “no” and telling Martin and Jesse they must get along with their siblings. But in the long run, ignoring or accepting their frustration is detrimental to their relationship with each other and also carries over to their friends and future classmates.

    Our home right now is my little ones’ whole entire world and practice for life. The way our family interacts and loves or hates each other is how my kids will learn to interact with the greater world. What I teach them about loving and accepting each other is what they will take into a diverse and culturally different society. If I view my parenting role as a passive one, especially in how my kids get along (or don’t get along), I’m setting these boys up for interacting in a negative way with all people.

    And so I correct them. I stop them when they show signs of being jealous. I don’t just say “no,” though. I explain we must love each other. Sometimes it is enough. But sometimes, it’s not. Sometimes they don’t want to love each other because it means sacrifice and giving more than they want to give. Those times, I have to make them sacrifice. I have to make them give more than they want to. I tell them we have to learn to live as a team. Being a team and living in harmony often means proactively putting yourself last and pursuing the betterment of someone else.

    And I hope their little brains take hold of this idea. I hope one day it becomes a joy to put each other first. Even when it’s hard, I hope they can see the joy in loving each other well. I hope their brotherhood will extend to friends, neighbors, their community, and the world.

    This type of parenting is humbling because it shows me where I fall short. I find myself learning from what I’m telling my kids. I can’t expect them to be willing to sacrifice and give things up without being a model of the sacrificial love I’m trying to build in them. My words are futile if I’m jealous and angry, if I’m short-fused and frustrated a majority of the time. They will learn to imitate me first and foremost.

    When I see that glimmer of frustration in their eyes, when I see them deliberating about sharing or snatching the coveted toy from their brother, I look to the future and see that same feeling taken into adulthood, maybe a bit more maturely expressed, but hurtful nonetheless. And I impress on their hearts to take those naturally selfish feelings and choose to love anyways. I remind myself to speak love to them, so they will speak love to each other.

    Can I Borrow Some Milk?

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    By Sara

    We agreed to meet in the Dunkin Donuts parking lot around the corner from my mom's house. I was coming home from work, so there were two empty car seats in the back seat. "I'm driving a black SUV" the text read. About 5 minutes later, she pulled in next to me. She opened the trunk and handed over two over-flowing grocery bags. Full of breast milk.

    You know when someone finds a treasure chest of booty (ha! my kids would be laughing so hard right now) and there faces are lit by the glow of gold, diamonds, rubies. The angels sing and their mouths hang open and their eyes go wide. Yup, that was me. Except, instead of booty it was booby milk. I was utterly astonished by the amount of breast milk this other momma was giving me.

    Because when I pumped, I was lucky to get 1.5 oz. Every day I pumped, and every day I got 1.5 oz. My boobs were on strike. Even when I made up lyrics to the rhythm of my pump, nothing...well a few dozen drops, then nothing.

    After my breastfeeding journey with #1 was cut short at 4 months due to a medical condition,  I knew, with my son (#2), that I wanted to breastfeed as long as possible. He was a great nurser. Even after he was born via cesarean, he latched on right away and we had a beautiful breastfeeding relationship. But no matter what I tried, whenever I pumped...1.5 oz.

    So, with the help of a dear friend (who I nicknamed my booby guru) I decided to start supplementing with donor milk instead of formula.

    Here's what you need to know:

    I joined two informal milk-sharing facebook groups: Eats on Feets and Human Milk for Human Babies. They are super easy to use. And I loved that I could write a post during an early morning feeding and get nearly instant responses from local moms.

    Benefits of using donor breast milk:
    It's breastmilk!  Here's 101 reasons to love breastmilk.

    Risks of using donor breast milk:
    (for the record, I never experienced any of these. I choose to believe that the world, and the people in it, are good. If a momma is willing to donate her breast milk to another momma, I don't think she would do anything to jeapordize another baby's health)

    • A number of pathogens enter into human milk if the mother is infected; however, few diseases can be transmitted through human milk, itself. The main diseases that cause concern are HTLV, HIV, and CMV.
    • Possible sabotage by donor (really, I don't think this is a real risk, but there's this story)
    • Human milk that is carelessly collected or stored may be "contaminated by any number of potentially harmful microorganisms".

    Using donor milk is not for everyone, I get that. But it's a really great option. And it's an option that many people don't know about. Our pediatrician never even mentioned milk-sharing as an alternative. I just got the typical supplement-with-formula spiel. As I look back on that time, my heart overflows with gratitude to the women who helped me feed my son. I was able to nurse him for over a year and pumping even got better. Without the stress of having to produce, I was actually able to get full bottles by the end of the day (win!)

    So, I'd love to know! Would you ever give donor milk to your baby??

    If you're interested in using donor milk, I like Eats on Feets' Four Pillars of Safe Breastmilk Sharing and Kelly Mom also has a great resource list. You'll make the decision that's best for you and your family.

    Just be prepared to explain to your sister why the breast milk storage bag is labelled "Owen", when your son's name is Bobby ;)

    Mommy Done.

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    By Sara

    "I. AM. DONE."

    It was 8:47 in the morning and I was explaining (honestly, more like yelling) to my kids that I was, in fact, resigning from my role as mom for the day. I was waiting for the voice-over, just like when I watched General Hospital as a teenager, who would announce  the new actor taking over. They would start the scene with "Hunky blue eyes will now be playing the role of Jason Morgan". But alas, just like no one can play Jason Morgan like Steve Burton, I am irreplaceable.

    We had been awake for approximately 134 minutes and I was already losing my damn mind. One bed covered in pee, three cranky kids, and four  thousand hours until hubby got home (not really, but it certainly felt that way).

    I know there are worse ways to wake up other than getting peed on by your two year old, but it has to rank towards the top. One minute I was peacefully in that morning bliss where you're not quite awake but not quite up and the day's potential seems endless and promising...and the next minute, I was jumping out of bed as my t-shirt and shorts quickly absorbed the moisture from the puddle of pee that was now taking over half of our bed. Needless to say, the potential for the day was also doused to a heaping pile of laundry and misery.

    Okay, okay. This wasn't the first time I've been peed on (I do have 3 kids) and it never hurts to have an excuse to wash the sheets (again, I do have 3 kids).  All I needed was a cup of coffee and I would regroup. You know what's coming, don't you? There was NO COFFEE. We have a canister on our counter, next to the Keurig and a sign that reads "Dear Coffee, I love you. That is all".  I stared into the canister, feeling just as depleted. Luckily, after rummaging through the pantry I came across one lone vanilla cappuccino K-cup. Thank you, Jesus.

    Meanwhile, Bubba & K are arguing about watching My Little Pony for the 538th time or Bo on the Go for the 739th time. I mean at this point, they could probably just act out the scenes. After suggesting they just pick something they both like, they ended up with Rescue Bots. Cool - score one for mom. Nope, it was more like the glimmer of sunshine right before your ship sinks. Because it was a show neither one really wanted to watch, they were easily distracted. Now I was rapidly getting orders for breakfast. "Pancakes", "French toast sticks", "Cereal", "Hotdogs"...hold up. Bubba wanted milk. K wanted water. They were starving. They were whining and circling around me like vultures.

    Rylee's hanging on me like a baby sloth. But instead of being sleepy and cuddly, she's reaching out for the refrigerator handle. The canisters on the counter. Mikayla's hair.  Now Mikayla's screaming. Rylee's screaming. And not to be outdone, Bubba lets his banchee scream go too.

    Ugh.

    I'm usually pretty optimistic. But this day was a losing freaking battle. I literally had nothing to offer these three little beings. I felt completely drained, trapped, and guilty. And to be honest, it's the guilt that makes me want to tap out. Mom guilt gnaws at me. It gives me that twisted, uncomfortable feeling in my belly. Mom guilt - you suck and you need to leave. Like right now.

    Here's the thing (and I know you can all agree with me on this) - same days are really, really awesome. Most days are just mediocre, and downright tedious. Some days are atrocious and you hang on to that morning cup of coffee like a life preserver just hoping and praying you (and your children) can survive the day. It just is what it is. I can't make every day a magical experience for my kids. I can't possibly be everything all day, every day - happy, cheerful, and playful 24/7. I know my limitations.

    So, after announcing that I was done for the day, I drank my luke-warm coffee and settled into my big cozy chair. I took a deep breath. And, I let myself off the hook. I mean, we are our biggest critics. Enough was enough. I was DONE tearing myself apart about not being a perfect mom.

    "Alright, who wants breakfast?" All three clamored onto my lap. "Group hug" Mikayla announced and I had three pairs of arms around my neck. Looks like I'm Momma for the rest of the day.

     

    Top 5 things to do on your due date...

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    Even though it happens, it's rare that women actually deliver on their due date.  These poor doctors try to give their best guess as to when your bundle of joy will arrive and we hope to every power listed that they are right.  Most of us hope it's sometime before then.  So, unless you're one of the lucky who delivers before this magical delivery date, we need to find a way to keep you from driving yourself crazy.  It's time to stop pacing and get to keeping yourself occupied. The best part is that while your mind is distracted,  your hormones will be activated so that labor can (hopefully) start on its own soon!

    Here's our favorite things to do on your due date:

    1.  Invite friends over for a mani-pedi day/ night at your house.  But don't be the hostess with the mostest; instead, have one of your girl(or guy)friends coordinate who's bringing what. Catch up on all the latest gossip, get your toes painted, and even enjoy a glass of wine. Eating moderately, bonding with others, and light massage (or any pleasurable physical contact)  is calming and will help increase oxytocin and endorphins - two hormones that are necessary for labor to start.
    2. Put together a pregnancy memory book or box.  Invite friends and family, or this might  just be a great activity to do with your older kids. Remember all of the fun and sometimes embarrassing times you may have had making this little person.  This will also help everyone feel involved in this very special time in your life. So, while you are laughing at that picture of yourself devouring a rack of ribs, be ready for a boost in oxytocin, endorphins and the bond with your baby!
    3. Go to dinner with your honey bunch, no kids allowed, so that you can have one last adult night before baby arrives. Bonus points if you're eating spicy food or a desert with dark chocolate or pineapple. Spicy food and pineapple encourages your body to produce prostaglandin and dark chocolate encourages oxytocin production!
    4. Prepare a responsibility list of who will do what once baby arrives.  Be sure to include bedtime for older kids, dinner, school drop-off and pick-ups, etc.  All of these things should be laid out before hand so everyone knows what to expect.  Nothing worse than feeling like your carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders with no help.
    5. Have friends come over for board games.  This can happen any time of day and is so much fun! Expect lots of laughs (increasing endorphins). Try Pirate Fluxx - a fast paced card game where you may or may not have to talk like a pirate.

    Remember, you won't be pregnant forever. Celebrate your due date! You've made it this far :)

    If you have any additional ideas you'd like to share, do it! Share all of your ideas to help keep other moms be sane in this sometimes anxiety filled time.

    Overcoming Postpartum Depression: My Story

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    By Angie

    WARNING!! If you have read any of my previous posts you know that I like to keep things on the lighter side.  This will not be the case for this post.  I am writing today about postpartum depression.  This is a topic that I hold dear to my heart because I had it after my 3rd birth.  What you are about to read is raw, open and truthful.  There is nothing pleasant about the words that will follow.  I'm not writing this to instill fear but to let anyone out there going through it to know that you are not alone.  Many women go through this but few talk about it.  So we're talking about it now.

    My story really begins in 2010 when I gave birth to my third baby.  All went smoothly in labor and delivery.  We went home and survived for the first few weeks like all families do right after delivery.  At about 4 weeks, she started to scream bloody murder every night from 7:00 pm to 12:00 am.  This lasted until she was 5 months old.

    This wasn't fun for my 2 boys who, at the time, were 5 and 11.  For me, it was torture because my husband worked nights.  Even with his schedule, we managed to work out an up-every-other-night plan where  we would take turns being up with the baby. I thought this would be amazing but I'm a light sleeper and ended up awake anyway.   I was sleepless, not eating, and not taking time for myself because I was constantly working to keep my family alive and kicking.  Let's add to this that I was under-producing breast milk with a baby that refused to latch.  Pumping wasn't working, supplements weren't working, and I surely wasn't eating enough.  My day consisted of school pick ups, homework, dinner, bedtimes, working at Bellies and Babies (starting month 4), cleaning, feeding, diapering, and surviving the evening torture.  I was tired, frustrated,  panicked. Feeling betrayed by my body. And worthless.

    At month 5 things started to look up for me.  My baby finally stopped the scream fest at night! That's right folks, she stopped.  It was amazing.   My baby girl was smiling like I had never seen.  She was now the baby I had always wished her to be.   That's why what came next really felt like it was out of left field.

    I began to notice that I was losing interest in my everyday life - including my children.  It was a chore to fake being emotionally present.  I would wake up, peel myself out of bed, put on whatever happened to be sitting by my bed, and start the day.  Lets not even go into the fact that I had no connection with my husband.  Our sex life was an urban legend and I was grateful that he came home so late because it meant I didn't have to talk to him.  I want to make it very clear that I loved him the entire time.  He is amazing and tried really hard to make sure that he helped in anyway he knew how or that I told him to do.  In comparison, I was like a laptop without wifi capabilities.  I was alive and working through life but just totally unable to connect.

    Then the scarier parts started to settle into my everyday. Upstairs, I would walk down the hallway with my back up against the wall as if I were a spy skimming the outside of a skyscraper. I could see myself dropping or throwing my baby girl  over the railing to where the stairs were. Then, I would sit on my bottom, holding her for dear life,  going down one step at a time until I got to the bottom.  All of this was necessary so that I didn't hurt her either intentionally or unintentionally.

    Making dinner, I would sit in the kitchen with thoughts off slitting my wrist with the knife I was cutting an onion with.  When bath time came around, I would bathe her in the kitchen.  There were 2 reasons for this: first, there was no way I could drown her in such shallow water.  And, if people were around, it would keep me from purposely drowning her like I had visions of doing quite often.

    I know that this all sounds pretty terrible.  And believe me it was.  What kind of mother would have these thoughts about her baby??  The kind of mother who is going through postpartum depression.

    6 months post delivery,  I was coming undone.  One night,  laying in bed with my husband I began to cry.  It was my night to be up with her.  He turned to me and asked what was wrong.  I couldn't even bring myself to say what I had just imagined about doing to my precious baby girl. My fear was if I did, he would surely divorce me and take our children with him because I was clearly unstable.  I finally got it out.  I told him what I was seeing, feeling and doing to keep myself from either hurting the baby or myself.  He hugged me, reassuring me that all would be okay.  He reinforced the fact that he will always love me and that I didn't have to go through this alone.  Immediately, I felt relieved.  He took that night's baby shift and checked on me throughout the night.  He was thankfully off the following day.

    We called my OB's office and they immediately called in a prescription for Prozac.  We picked it up as soon as it was ready and I took my first dose.  It was night and day.  That morning I woke up feeling unraveled and 20 minutes after taking that tiny saving grace I was fine.  I was able to be around my baby and never had another thought about hurting her.  I as so grateful that they were so quick to respond.  I stayed on Prozac for a few months - scared that if I stopped,  the intrusive thoughts would come back.

    After starting my prescription,  I began looking for someone who specialized in PPD here in Charlotte.  There was one.  That's right - one.   Dr. Thorne is a psychologist  at The Prenatal and Postpartum Center of the Carolinas.  Because she was the only one, it was hard to get in with her.  I tried to talk to my OB office about it but, because I was 6 months post, they told me it was now a primary care doctor issue.  I love my OB but this was really astounding.  Not only did they not help with PPD but there was never any follow up to make sure things were okay.  I was told that my primary care would refill the prescription and that was it.  No one was concerned past the prescription issuance that I initially had suicidal thoughts or thoughts of hurting my baby.  What if the pills didn't work?  What if I ended up dead because of this.

    Quick sidebar...what you need to realize is that with PPD these are considered intrusive thoughts.  They are symptoms of PPD. You see, with PPD you're terrified of these thoughts which is why you don't go through with them.  Postpartum psychosis is the other beast some women encounter that doesn't give the red light that these thoughts are scary.  This one doesn't rear it's ugly face as often (which we're thankful for).  We won't touch on that one this post but I think it's one to be covered at a later date...

    Anyway, no one was concerned.  My doctors didn't refer me to anyone.  No nurse called to make sure all was well.  At the time, there wasn't a support group or meet-ups for postpartum depression that I could find. I never talked to any of my friends about this.  I was ashamed.  My friends who didn't have kids would think terrible things of me. My friends with kids would think I was an unfit mother and stop talking to me before they called child protective services.  None of this would have really happened but it didn't matter.  That's how I felt so I walked this road alone until I told my husband about it.  I was basically left to my own devices to figure this thing out.

    My prescription just kept getting re-filled with no end in site so I decided 6 months later that I wanted to stop and researched how to make this happen. I began to self-wean.  For the next year, I'd be fine for a while until  it would start going down hill and I'd go back on the pill again (but at a lower dose). I'd be fine again, and then again things would start going down hill. The cycle kept repeating.

    I didn't like the  fact that this was my new normal so I began to really consider my life style as a contributing factor.  I started concentrating on my health  by changing my diet, eating right, doing yoga, and taking time to decompress on a normal basis.  This was really hard initially because, with 3 kids, a husband, and a business to run,  there was very little time left in my day for "me" time. But I made it a priority.  It was amazing the immediate changes I saw after just the first few weeks which in turn made it something really easy to maintain.  I knew that if I was going to survive it was something that had to happen.  I was happy, more rested, at ease in mind and soul and really able to handle the struggles that entered my day to day life.

    Given my field of work, I was always talking to expectant and new mothers about PPD and what to watch out for.  This was not a foreign topic for me so I was surprised that I never saw what I was going through as PPD.  After the fact, I got really good at spotting it in the women who would come in for postpartum massages here at Bellies and Babies.  After poking around a bit for details I would share my story with them.  Some would break down in tears.  Others would express relief that they had someone to talk to about it. These conversations were eye-openers. These women were surprised that they were going through PPD and that I was going through it as well.  It's always the ones you least expect.

    If we as a community know this is something that happens, why do we still play the shame game?  Why do we make it so hard for women to discuss the terrifying things they go through during this time?  Instead of embracing these women and offering them the love and support they need, as a society we make them feel like they are less mothers because of it.  None of us are perfect, especially in motherhood.  We are constantly seeing things on Pinterest and Facebook that show other women rolling into motherhood with ease and grace.  What about those of us who walk around in 3 day old pj's crying our eyes every night?  What about those of us who feed our kids cereal for dinner because it was just that kind of day?

    You can help by reaching out to your tribe and let them know that you read this post.  Even if you haven't gone through it yourself, it is very real for someone you may know.  Show the love by stopping the shame game. If you have any tips, suggestions, or stories please post them here so we can pass along to someone else in need.  If you are a provider that can help in Charlotte or its surrounding areas, contact us so we can add you to our contact list for referrals.

    A Postpartum Life: Travel Dilemmas and Summer Fun

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    By Melissa

    June has been incredibly hectic for our family (and here I was hoping for a relaxed, laid-back summer). But with kids, it’s often easy for simple things like taking all three kids to the pool by myself to become overwhelming and make me feel I need a glass of wine and ear plugs.

    But there are amazing moments to cherish as well. Watching my kids discover the world around them in the summertime means more than any logistics. Pointing out the many colors of flowers, splashing in waves, searching for lightning bugs, selecting fresh produce, and watering plants at dusk are some of the ways I’ve seen the earth alive in my children this season.

    We’re heading out of town again in July, and I’m looking back over our travels in June to see what worked and what didn’t in how I prepped physically and mentally for travel with kids. Here are some rules I’m claiming for our family:

    1. View each trip with children as just that - a trip. The word vacation is reserved for solo travel or travel alone with my hubby. Viewing our travels as a trip helps me keep my expectations in perspective. I will still have to get up at 6 a.m. I will probably not be able to nap on a raft in the pool.
    2. Try to keep my diet intact as much as possible. I’m avoiding dairy, soy, and eggs right now, and I’m trying to get rid of the last 10 lbs. of baby weight. The last thing I want is to undo all of the work I’ve done to keep allergens away from the baby and pounds from my hips. If I have the mindset of keeping my diet as much as possible, I won’t go overboard when a few extra sweets or delicious meals present themselves (as they inevitably will).
    3. Just enjoy the time away. Even if the weather doesn’t cooperate and even if children meltdown, just enjoy it. These moments are what make nostalgia.
    4. Pack as light as possible with small children. This seems impossible, but there are some easy ways to lighten the load:
      • Take about 5 kids’ books for bedtime reading.
      • Take 1 floating device per child.
      • Have 1 easy-to-pack bag/basket/box for toys and let the children pick them out with guidance. Whatever fits, goes. Whatever doesn’t, stays home. End of story.
      • With a baby, choose the most versatile and compact seat/play gym for the trip.
      • If you have access to a washer/dryer and are going out of town for a week, use it. Pack for 1/2 of your time there and do a load of laundry mid-stay. It really doesn’t take that long.
      • Bedding - this can be tricky, but we found using a bedrail (easy to pack on the bottom of the van) on a twin-sized bed worked for our toddler, even though he still uses a crib at home. If you don’t have a big car, look into a portable kid’s cot or inflatable travel bed. They collapse smaller than a pack-n-play.
      • Have a few rainy day activities up your sleeve. Coloring, play-doh, bubbles, etc. Keep them hidden until they’re necessary. If it never rains, use them to distract the kids while you’re packing up to head home.
      • Take a booster seat for convenient eating. We forgot ours and had to purchase another because the chairs and table were really high at the beach house.
      • Even if the week is busy with extended family, take at least 30 minutes alone or 30 minutes with your spouse. Ask: What am I enjoying? What could I/we do to make this trip better? How can I/we enjoy time and build relationships? While at the beach Tyler and Itook a walk, discussed the week, and took a few moments for ourselves (Tyler took pictures and videos, and I explored the dunes and looked at shells).
      • Less is better. When we packed in June, our minivan was full, almost overflowing. And everything I brought seemed important while I was packing. But we didn’t use it all. Just because we have the space in the minivan, doesn’t mean we need to fill it. If possible, pare down to the basic essentials. Isn’t the point of going away from home to experience a new place? You can’t do that with your whole house packed in the car.

    I’m hopeful these tips will allow us to focus our time on the place we’re exploring and the friends and family we’re loving. And I’m hoping they will reduce stress along the way

    Postpartum sex was not great for me...

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    By Angie

    So...it's inevitable that at some point you will have sex postpartum.  Yes, it's true.  Even squeezing in the thought of sex is a chore for most women. That was definitely the case for me.

    I know this may be TMI for anyone who knows me but I don't care.  I think this is a really big topic to talk about. Everyone needs to know that's it's okay to be completely exhausted and sometimes grossed out by the thought of sex in postpartum.

    I'll start with a short bio on my family as reference.  I have three kids (18, 12 and 5) and a lovely husband who I will refer to as "Monkey" from here on out.  My older two are boys  and from a previous marriage. and my youngest - a girl - is our toughest, and our last.  The older two were so long ago that I don't even really remember postpartum sex so here's my experience with my last:

    I delivered her vaginally at 39 weeks with slight tearing.  I went home...I was able to keep all three of my kids alive (Yay me!)... and I was exhausted.  When I got the okay from my doctor for sex and physical activity, I actually laughed.  I had no desire for either.

    A few weeks later I finally decided it was time to give sex a go.   Not only was I nervous, but tired, and feeling  dirty (but not in the sexy way).  I did't know it at the time but I was also battling with PPD...but that's a talk for another post. This is the perfect storm for no bootie, but I did it anyway.

    Since we're now getting to the nitty gritty, I'm going to introduce you to my vagina, Marcy.  Yes,  I believe she deserves the respect of a name.  I will also refer to her as if she is a real person because, damn it, she's been through a lot and has lived a great life.  Marcy was still angry with me about delivery when Monkey and I were attempting our first go at sex postpartum.  Marcy was still somewhat tender and dry as a desert.  We tried foreplay for a while and it did help but nothing like before delivery.  Having completely forgotten about this one I didn't have any lube just sitting around the house.  After giving foreplay a chance I thought, "alright, let's do this".  I was still not completely into it and Marcy was like, "Girl....what are we doing here?"  I agreed but let her know that this was happening whether she liked it or not.

    She fired some warning shots but no matter how much foreplay happened she was not giving in. Then she let me know upon penetration that we better take it slow because she was still feeling thin from the stretch of delivery.  I assured Marcy that  we were going to take it slow and stop if things got really uncomfortable.  She proceeded to get even more angry as things progressed but I thought she would definitely get over it soon.  She didn't.  She started to really tense up which made for even more uncomfortable friction due to the dryness.  It was very clear that I was losing this fight.  After giving it my all, she won.  I was sore, a little irritated and frustrated because the baby was now up.  Monkey went to work while I sat the rest of the day with Marcy saying, "I told you so".  ALL! DAMN! DAY!

    The moral of this story: it takes time for your body to fully recover...and it may not be at the 6 week mark or whenever your doctor says its ok. To be honest, you may have some numbness in the vaginal area (interior and exterior) for a few months once you get past the initial tenderness.

    If you choose to talk about this topic with friends who have "been there, done that" you will probably hear a lot of the following:  Be sure to have some sort of lubricant available for your first few attempts as the body may not be ready to take care of this one on its own.  Remember that even if you want to be into it, your body may not agree with you.  Emotions play a big role too.  Your libido may be non-existent until your hormones really get back into check...and you start getting some sleep.  During sex, stay in constant contact with your partner to ensure everyone is on the same page so you don't injure yourself. And most importantly, talk to your partner about how feel about sex.  Let them know your fears, how it feels, whether or not you're ready and how to stay connected in the meantime.

    Everyone experiences sex differently in postpartum.  This is my story but it may not be yours.  I'm sure your experience will be more unicorns and rainbows than mine was.

    Disclaimer: We are not doctors.  Wait until you get the okay from your doctor to attempt sex in postpartum and make additional contact if things just don't seem to be right.

    39 Steps

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    By Sara

    There are 39 steps from our third floor apartment to the ground floor. Thirty.nine.

    No big deal, right? It's two flights of stairs - 18 steps each (36), plus our hallway (37), the landing (38), and the sidewalk (39). I know this because my kids have counted it at least 100 times.

    I convinced myself when we moved in that living on the third floor was good because walking up those stairs every day would be like forced exercise...especially carrying an extra 20-30 pounds of extra tired-child weight (feel the burn!) What I didn't think about was HOW LONG it would actually take us to walk up...and down...those stairs every day (sometimes two or three times a day!)

    My two year old moves at the pace of a tortoise. Y'all, he is ssslllooooow. Slower than molasses running uphill in the winter. Slower than a Sunday afternoon. Slower than a snail herd moving through peanut butter...uphill...on a Sunday afternoon :) You get the idea.

    Here's an idea of what our typical "stair conversation" looks like: "Bubba, come one...Come on, Bubba...Keep moving...Come on...Let's go...Hurry up, Bubba." It takes us anywhere from 3-5 minutes to walk those 39 steps.

    That's not a long time (in the scheme of life) and I've learned to build in an extra 10 minutes to get wherever we are going . "So, what's the problem?", you ask. ME. I HATE waiting. I am holy impatient. I feel uneasy and anxious when I'm not moving (which has its benefits - thank you, tidy house).

    Then, one day, my oldest looked at him and said "You are as slow as a turtle". He looked at her, in all seriousness and replied, "No, I'm Bobby".

    Reva-freakin-lation.

    Vocabulary lesson. Did you know that early senses for the word "wait" include "observe carefully" and "be watchful". So, instead of waiting on Bubba to walk those 39 steps, I have been more intentional about just watching him without one attempt to hurry him along.

    Sometimes he counts the steps. Sometimes each step is a letter of the alphabet (with one step usually being LMNO). Sometimes we talk about dinosaurs (and how they ROAR - which is extra fun in an echo-y hallway) or animals (which always seem to roar too). He wants to know where we're going, and where we're going after that, and after that can we go to the park or pool, Somehow, it always ends up as a race I didn't know we were having when, on the last step, he proudly exclaims, "I beated ya, Momma".

    The kid moves at his own pace. Bless his heart. You know what, that slow(er) pace will serve him well. He will take his time making big decisions. He will be steadfast in times of turmoil and chaos. He will measure twice and cut once (sorry - hubby's an electrician and he says this all the time!)

    He'll notice the little things because he's not in a hurry. He'll enjoy the journey.

    And I will applaud him every time for being one step ahead of me. Every time.

    Poop Watch 2016

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    By Sara

    You know it's going to be an interesting night when your husband texts you: "I THINK RYLEE SWALLOWED A MARBLE OR POSSIBLY MARBLES". I'm sure my husband thought the same thing I did - oh sh@!. Of course, his was more figurative where mine was much more literal.

    You see, when a one year old swallows something they shouldn't (i.e. a purple marble, or possibly purple marbles) and they don't choke to death (seriously, one of my biggest fears) and it's not dangerous (think circle batteries or safety pins) that said "something" will pass...by way of poop.

    Hubby called his sister to see what we should do because apparently Google's answer was not sufficient. She's a nurse (and a mom) so she knows.

    Side note: Isn't it funny how we always ask a mom for a diagnosis?! I'm 31 and I still call my mom with a list of symptoms and ask, "So, mom, what do you think I have?"

    Anyhoo, her answer was the same. A marble is round and smooth, so she'll poop it out.

    "You're just going to have to check her poop," she tells me (as I'm making tacos. You're welcome for the visual), "just get a baggy and squish the poop around."

    My response: "Girl, my life at this point is all about poop. It's all good."

    And it will be. I'll check the little lady's poop for the next 4 to 5 days (more like 2 - according to Google) and find that purple marble...or possibly purple marbles. Nature will take it's course.

    I mean, but seriously, isn't this kind of like life?! Sometimes we have to let go and let nature take it's course. We find something shiny and think "what the hell?" and then discover there's no emergency exit. The only way out is though. And we might be knee high in poo at the end (figuratively, of course) but we survive. And y'all, so victorious when we find that dang marble - or possible marbles.

    Best Worst Day Ever

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    by Sara

    I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook.

    Love because I enjoy still feeling a part of the daily lives of my family & friends (especially now that we live 740 miles away). I get to see pictures of my nephews playing soccer, my niece graduating Kindergarten, the fabulous culinary deliciousness prepared by a friend...and that Chewbacca video...c'mon. That's just feel good, laugh out loud after a long day with 3 kids goodness.

    Hate because I fall into the pit of comparison WAY more than I'd like to. Well-behaved children, perfect marriages, exotic vacations. #blessed #WTF

    But then hubby posted about our first family boating experience: "Friday funday! Had a blast! Kids loved the beach I found!" And he posted 14 pictures of the five of us smiling, swimming, and having fun. But let me tell y'all something - it was a lie. Well, maybe more like a half-truth. There was a lot more frowning, frustration, and yelling (Yes, I'm a self-admitted yeller. I hate it, but it's the truth).

    So here's the reality:

    Getting to this spot was WORK. The boat wouldn't start after we put it in the water. Hubby was sweating profusely (and it wasn't because of the Carolina sun) and it took EVERYTHING in my soul not to whip out every sarcastic, passive-aggressive, mean comment I had been cleverly creating as I listened to the motor stall over and over and over...

    Hanging out at this little island was definitely the best part of our little boating expedition. What a better way to share this moment than with a summery, sun-kissed selfie? Honestly. I would have much rather skipped the moment all together. I wanted to be at home, lazily sprawled on the couch, binging on Netflix, pizza, and wine because I was utterly exhausted (not the kind of exhausted when you just want to go to sleep, the kind of exhausted when you just want to cry ) from my first full work week (I haven't worked full time in over 3 years), sleepless nights with a teething 16 month old, and missing my two sisters back in NY. But big girls don't cry. We take selfies.

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    And ask our kids to smile too. As we headed back to the dock, the beloved pink noodle flew off the back of the boat and Bubba sobbed like we had just thrown away all of his beloved dinosaurs. I mean, you would have thought I had just told him that he could never eat hotdogs again.

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    I'm not kidding you, it took about 15 minutes of going around and around that dang noodle before hubby could get it back on the boat. That noodle was called several colorful names - none which included pink.

    ...and then it fell out again. Rinse and repeat.

    But here's the thing. There was alot of bad. ALOT. But there were also moments of pure joy. My problem was my perspective. I focus, like a ninja, on the bad.

    There was the smell of sunscreen on the baby's hair, the new freckles on KK's nose, the unadulterated laughter that made the night feel electric and magical. There was that unforgettable, heavenly feeling that loosely embraced us all night long. The feeling that we are right where we are supposed to be. That in this season of our lives there may be more mud than money, more dinosaurs than date nights (way more), more  toilet training than travelling and that's all ok.

    So, from my family to yours  - here's to unfiltered, grainy, slightly blurry pictures. Embrace the beautiful, messy chaos. It's life. Like it or not.

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    Were they just being women?...

    By Angie

    First off...I want to clarify that the woman in the picture is my alter ego and I shall call her Badass Bellamy (my name is Angie so I thought Bellamy was a cooler name). 

    So I've been thinking lately about what being a woman in this day and age really means.  Then started thinking about women throughout history and what being a woman in their times felt like to them.  THEN...while wandering around Barnes and Noble came across a magazine called Kindred Spirit.  Their website is really awesome for those of you who might be interested. I started flipping pages and there it was in all its glory, an article titled, "Wake the Witches"..  I love, love LOVE articles like this!

    This article went on about how the word witch conjures up thoughts of warts and covens...and she's right.  Immediately, my mind went to Halloween and I love that stinkin' holiday.  She continued on with comparisons between witches and women. Believe it or not...there weren't that many differences.  Yes, witches work with spells and crystals and most women don't.  But here is the list of what she described a witch to be:

    • an unapologetic woman
    • alchemizes experiences and emotions
    • a woman with power, agency, and sovereignty...and has it on HER terms
    • she creates and manifests
    • she is self-sourced
    • she freely communes with Nature/ Spirit/ God/ Goddess/ choose-your-own semantics
    • being a witch is being in her own power
    • someone who trusts her inner authority, and does't look outside herself for validation and/ or approval 
    • it's being someone who uses her own personal magic to navigate and negotiate the environment she currently finds herself in

    After looking through this list, I realized, HOLY SHIT! I"M A WITCH!  Hell.to.the.yes ladies! After my excitement came down a notch or two because I've always wanted to be a witch, the next thought was "wait a minute....how many women were burned at the stake or persecuted for just being women?" Valid thought right?  Have you ever thought about it? Of course I took to Google and found a list on mentalfloss.com of what constituted a witch/ woman in times when it would've cost you your life:

    • you are female
    • you are poor or cannot support yourself
    • you are rich/ financially independent (we just could not win back then)
    • you have one or more female friends
    • you have an argument with one or more of your female friends
    • you have an argument or disagreement with someone (again...not winning here)
    • you were very old
    • you are midwife
    • you are married with too many children
    • you have exhibited "stubborn', "strange" or "forward behavior"
    • you have a mole, birthmark or third nipple
    • butter or milk has spoiled in your fridge (even with modern conveniences, I'd be screwed)
    • you had sex out of wedlock
    • you have attempted to identify the identity of your future husband
    • you have broken any rule in the bible (which means you have made a pact with the devil)

    Men were also persecuted as witches but, of course, the majority of them were women.  There's no way a woman could've been her own person back then without fear of death.  Can I get a "fuck that" for the folks punished for just being women?  Most of these characteristics were identified as "witch like behavior" by the elders at the time (which were mostly men!!!) Throughout history, women have always taken the brunt of male fear and ignorance AND oppressed and pushed to the side because we were thought to be the weaker sex.  WHHHAaaaaat! THE! WHAT?

    Women are depended on day in and day out to perform a list of tasks while still performing all of the same tasks their male counterparts perform...while ALSO taking care of them.  Men are still paid more and are still given additional advantages in the workplace over women.  All this while living in times where it seems like the witch hunt is still very real.  Women - when will we wake up the witches within? When will we stop villainizing other women for embracing their inner witch? When will stop taking shit...from anyone?  We should be celebrating each other instead of claiming other women are bitches (witches) for speaking their minds and getting what they want...in other words, sending their witchy self on a mission and making shit happen.

    I, for one, now feeling a little empowered by knowing I have some witchiness. I will be spreading the word to my coven (otherwise known as my girlfriend circle) of details that have come to light.

    Go hug your fellow witch today.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Parenting at it's finest...

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    That moment you realize you have made a really bad decision…

    My husband and I had enjoyed a wonderful dinner out with our precious little 6-month-old daughter. As always, my husband carried our daughter inside and put her carrier on the kitchen table. He unstraps her and carefully pulls her out of her seat, when that sudden look of terror came over his face. He then asks, “Hun, are her pants wet?” I immediately cover my mouth and giggle because secretly every mom loves to see her husband get poop on him! She had a giant mound bulging from her leggings.  I quickly grab a hand full of paper towels and wrap her legs like a burrito in hopes that we won’t have any spillage. We then discuss whether we should go straight to the tub or try cleaning her up on her changing table. This is where we make our big mistake. We decide on the changing table…

    We get upstairs to her room and gently place her on the changing pad. We decide the best course of action is to roll her pants down to the problem area...only to find, that everywhere was a problem. So we get the bright idea to grab wipes to cover our hands and continue the removal process. As my husband is rolling down her leggings, I’m going behind him cleaning the poop as fast as possible. Finally the pants are off and we are feeling really lucky this went so well. Or were we? The poop immediately oozes out of the leg holes and gets all over the changing table just as I get her diaper open.

    Have I mentioned that my daughter is constantly moving? Well, picture this…two grown ups, one extremely animated baby, a pile of poop on the changing pad, and an open diaper. Our daughter decided at this very moment to start kicking her feet like crazy. Now the poop is flying. I mean, it’s splattering on the wall and our clothes. She has even managed to sling it on a pile of clean folded clothes in the laundry hamper on her floor. With much hesitation, I go in knuckles deep to hold her legs down. There is literally poop oozing through my fingers. Since her legs are now being restrained, she begins to put her hands in this mess. And of course, her hands go straight to her hair!

    Long story short, this took us 25 minutes to deal with and a half a pack of wipes. All to end up with the three of us getting a shower to clean this disgusting poop off. Our new motto is:
    When in doubt, go to the tub.

    by Tiffany D., mom to (now) 16 month old adorable little girl

    A Postpartum Life: Fighting the new bedtime

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    I love each moment I spend with my kids during the day. I love the post-nap cuddles, the picnic lunches, and I even can appreciate the hard discipline and apologies when one of my kids is disrespectful or disobedient.

    But I also love the freedom of nighttime. There is something about the necessary quiet enforced by sleeping children upstairs and the moments of decompression after a day of play and work. Tyler and I really cherish our time together at night, whether we’re playing a game, talking over a glass of wine, or spending time separately on different hobbies and interests.

    We have some of our best conversations at night when we can speak freely without trying to talk over songs and chatter. As my first-born has gotten older - he’s almost 12 - our time together has been pushed back further and further. We’ve had to establish nights of the week where he reads or plays in his room so my husband and I can spend time together, but often he doesn’t go to bed until around 9:00 pm or so.

    This has caused us to get creative. Sometimes he’s included in whatever we’re doing. We’ll play a family game or watch a movie. Sometimes video games are involved. Other times, we sit on the back porch and he stays inside.

    Since the addition of baby Jesse to our family, things have changed a bit. While Jesse is sleeping better at night, we’re still not getting the amount of sleep we got before his birth. I’m still getting up 1-2 times at night, and I’m exhausted. I’m exhausted in the way that one is once the newness of an infant has worn off. I’m back in the world of commitments, library trips, and dinner plans. It’s not as radical as newborn sleep deprivation, but it makes me feel haggard and foggy and comes with a side of memory loss.

    Because we’ve gotten back to normalcy, Tyler and I have been trying to stay up in order to hang out with each other. We know we need time together to keep our relationship healthy and talk about something other than logistics. But what I’ve come to learn is the extra time we stay awake ends up being a bad idea.

    One of us falls asleep on the couch and we have a hard time getting up in the morning. Every once in a while, like when we have a date, staying up late benefits our marriage. And by late, I mean 11 p.m.

    We’re fighting the reality that we must have an earlier bedtime. We’re pretending we’re still in college, and we can be up half the night and skip to our classes the following day.

    When napping is impossible, or improbable, going to bed earlier is the only rational option. As much as I hate to admit it and as much as I covet and cherish the idea of those extra hours at night, sleep is important to my digestion, my energy levels, my ability to fight off disease, my mood, and a whole other host of physical and emotional aspects.

    With three kids to care for, a dog who loves running more than anything else, and a wonderful husband, I have to keep up with my sleep, even if it means getting a few less minutes alone each night. I’ve come to appreciate the quiet of breastfeeding (when my 2-year-old is napping). I take time for myself instead of cleaning when both little ones happen to be asleep. By creating times of peace and quiet for myself during the day, I’m able to give up some of my time at night. I can focus on my husband for a little bit, and then I have to sleep. I can’t do it all, and I have to prioritize what is most important.

    As much as I miss staying up, I know this is a season. Like all of life, it’s temporary. This season means going to bed earlier, getting up earlier, and regularly wishing I could nap all day. But it’s a beautiful season of sweet coos, tiny fingers, dirty feet, tractor sounds, and lullabies

    What? He's so young!

    harry.png

    So I'm on my period...again!  Why does this thing keep coming?  Anyway, every month I ovulate then get my period and every time I spend a week and a half day dreaming about some young freak that my ovaries choose to obsess about.  Natural?  not sure.  Crazy? Maybe.  Totally fun?  Absolutely.  Every cycle I go through this teenage phase where I daydream as if I were 16.  It used to be Jared Leto.  If you're a Gen X'er, you'll remember Jordan Catalano from my "My So Called Life".  So hot.  He's the freak of a tiny man that every woman fantasizes about "Fifty Shades of Grey" style.  Terrible segue but....then my little girl got into a Disney movie that I will not name but I will say that if you check out Schesendants 2 to check out Captain Hooks son who we'll call Shmarry.  At the ripe age of 41, I now understand the full feeling of being a cougar.  

    **Disclaimer**  I want to continue after stating that I am happily married and love my handsome, sexy, lumber jack of a husband.   

    So continuing onto my my nutty cycle....

    Skills....

    I am on my period and now can't seem to stop thinking about this young guy who has no idea that there is a 41 year old woman daydreaming about his amazing, umm, skills?  Is this normal?  Am I the ONLY woman in America who has a young someone that pops into the picture only during ovulation and period?  This never happened until I hit my 40th year of life.  There are so many hormones roaming now I can hardly keep up.  Why do we go so crazy with these damn times?  Not just during these hormonal times of the month but after we turn 40?  I have no control over what pops into my mind.  There are so many thoughts that my previous prudish self would've blushed at.   

    After much thought and consideration, I'm starting to think fuck it.  Why shy away from it? Why not embrace the wild women that peaks out from time to time asking to be let free?  When I started typing I thought this would be a post about my hormones and fantasies to see if I was the only one.  What this is turning out to be is a post about letting down my hair and living my life.  Why have I never embraced this side of me that is now apparent has always been there but too scared to show her face?  As a woman I was raised to believe that sex was shameful and that you would go to hell for it.  Fast forward to now where it's all I can think about and surely this is more normal than originally I was raised to believe.  Why do we torture ourselves into forcing our sexuality into the closet until we go out for date night with our life partners and claim toohave too much to drink?  

    This is me now saying that as women, we were programmed to be alive and sexual.  We were made to be BEAUTIFUL and SEXUAL and POWERFUL!!! We are powerful DAMN IT!  Embrace it ladies.   We spend our days wearing bras that we hate, clothes that we THINK we should wear, and cover up the parts of us that make OTHERS comfortable.  I for one am embracing my inner gypsy and have found that going bra less makes me feel free and comfortable.  I love it.  If it's you, do it?  If it's not, great.  Whatever YOU is, please embrace it.  You deserve to live free in life, sexuality and in love. Not to sound cliche but "DO YOU BOO".