Friday, June 29, 2012

The Perfect Mother

How many of you have met the perfect mom? The one who cooks and feeds her kids only organic food, have children who never have meltdowns in public (or at home for that matter), have children who never struggle in school, moms that never raise their voices, wake up early to work out, shower and have a full face of makeup on and ready to take on the world at 8am?  I am here to tell you one fact:

The perfect mother does not exist.

And if you think she does exist, believe me, she has you greatly fooled (or she has a maid, a personal chef, a personal trainer, a nanny and a butler to do it all for her).

It seems like we are all expected to be supermoms these days.  But if it looks like that mom pushing the grocery cart with 2 small smiling children and carrying her newborn in the baby bjorn has it all together, you are greatly wrong.  What may look so great on the outside, may be falling apart on the inside.

As mothers and women in today's society, we are expected to keep a house running, manage the kids and manage our husbands :) And what exactly does that look like? Well, here are just a few of the small things we have to do daily:

-Washing clothes, folding them and putting them away

-Grocery shopping, keeping the pantry stocked and the family fed, which includes meal planning, cooking, baking and serving food, as well as doing the dishes

-Taking care of the kids, and if I listed out what 'taking care of the kids' meant, we would be here all day, but let's just say it involves diapering, potty training, playing with them, organizing their social activities, school related things, making sure they are fed, hygiene care, etc........

-Organizing the family social activities and date nights

-Family finances, and paying the bills (it seems like most moms end up doing these)

-Cleaning the house

-And about a zillion other tasks that would fill up this blog post and don't have time to put, but you get the idea

A lot of moms out there look like they have it all together, but in real life, they are getting the syrup off the sofa, the poop off the towels in the bathroom, and at 6pm when they are about to feed the kids, look in the fridge and see it empty with just a frozen meal sitting in the freezer.

Real moms realize this and accept it and embrace it. Real moms know it's okay to have frozen pizza for breakfast.  Real moms watch their toddlers have a temper tantrum and will sit down and cry right next to them.

As a child counselor, I feel like sometimes people expect me to have it all together.  That I am the model parent and when I am out in public with my child throwing a tantrum, that I should know how to respond perfectly and everything will work out exactly as the books say.  Well, I am here to say that it couldn't be farther from the truth.  So please don't look at me to do everything perfectly right and have perfect kids.

Yes, I do practice everything I preach and I follow the counseling tools I have learned over the years, but sometimes it doesn't always work.  All discipline techniques and parenting guidance tips are just that- tips.  Sometimes you have to do what you think is right in a situation.  Or sometimes you just have to react with your gut and instincts as a mom.  Believe me, I will not judge you at all if I see you having a meltdown right next to your screaming 3 year old, or screaming teenager for that matter.

As an example of this, I took my newborn and toddler out for our real first outing by myself the other day.  It was Kindermusik class and normally my family or husband will watch the newborn so I can drive 5 minutes down the street to class with my 2 year old for some quality mommy and daughter time.  But I didn't have anyone yesterday, so in the car we go, both kids crying.  I get them in the stroller, both still crying.  We walk down the hall and I get out my toddler but she refuses to come inside the class.  She growls Exorcist style, 'No!' so I just leave her there and steer the stroller in the classroom and wait for her to calm down and come inside. She finally comes in, doesn't want to do anything, then the baby starts crying so I push her a little in the stroller. (This is the point when I probably should have just left and called it a day). Then we are good for 5 minutes, baby cries again, I take the carrier out into the hallway to calm her, my 2 year old follows me crying, I decide to nurse the baby and sit in class to do this. My toddler refuses to do any of the music activities and sits in my lap as I nurse with the shawl on me.  The baby still cries, so I take both kids in the hallway and we just left and went home.

Yep, I totally didn't have it together.  Most moms are able to bring their new babies to class and they sleep all the way through it. Maybe I should have just taken them home at the first sign of tantrums and called it a day, instead of pushing them to stay.  I realize that my older child is also probably regressing with the birth of a new baby, and I am sensitive to that but still wanted to see if we could have a nice time together in class.  Oops, but you know, that's part of being a mom and learning as you go.

I read some great advice the other day that about sums up what I feel.  It said to, "rest easy real mothers, the very fact that you worry about being a good mom means that you already ARE one."  I couldn't agree more!
Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Party Works Giveaway

As most of you know as a parent, planning your child's birthday party can take over your life those several months leading up to it.  I always looked forward to planning all of the fun parts of my daughter's parties, but I dreaded the stress of getting everything ordered and ready for the big day!

With having a small child and now a newborn, I am now more than ever loving the convenience of getting everything online!  Getting out and running a lot of errands with kids in tow is not fun.  And when you order things online, it gives you more free time to give to your kids.  AND the best part is it lowers your stress, a major plus to stay a sane mom!

As I am helping a friend plan a party now, I just ran across an amazing party planning website that I wish I had a few months ago when I was organizing my 2 year old's party!  It's called The Party Works and today they are offering one lucky reader a free Toy Story 3 Party Package for 8 (see below)!

Their site has everything you can think of to purchase for kids' birthday parties, as well as for teenagers and even adults.  The one thing I like about their online store, is that it has more themes than any other site I found.  I had a hard time finding Elmo themed merchandise for my daughter's birthday and wish I had come across this one sooner!

Look at these cute party favors they offer for Elmo, and for 3.99$ you can't beat the price!:

Hooray for Elmo Party Favor Kit

So what themes do they offer? A TON!  Some of the many themes they have for children are: Minnie/Mickey Mouse, Super Mario Brothers, Strawberry Shortcake, Chuggington, Curious George, etc.  And for adults they have a ton of themes as well such as Bachelorette, Over the Hill and general merchandise such as decorations for a summer BBQ.

You can shop for your son's Chuggington merchandise while you also order your July 4th party gear:

Chuggington Standard Pack for 16 

Another great thing about The Party Works is the package deals you can get.  They have different package deals starting with 8 guests and can include things like: plates, napkins, table cloths, candles, invitations and thank you notes, centerpieces, balloons, utensils, decorations and even pinatas!  They also sell cake decorations, party favors, costumes, and over 4,000 different items.

Patriotism Standard Party Pack for 16

For those into cakes and cupcakes, they have an amazing selection of decorations from cake pans, cupcake toppers, cupcake stands, fondant, sugar decorations, edible cake images and more!

Construction Site Cake KitThe costume selection is amazing too if you are looking for something to coordinate with your package or for the upcoming Halloween season!

Sesame Street Elmo Plush Deluxe Toddler Costume

AND speaking of packages, The Party Works is offering a free standard birthday package for Toy Story 3 for one lucky reader!  That's right, we are having a giveaway and how exciting is this?  The giveaway package is the Standard Pack for 8 and includes: 8 invitations, dinner plates, dessert plates, cups, forks, spoons, 16 napkins, solid-color tablecover, mylar balloon, 12 balloons (2 colors), curling ribbon (2 colors), crepe paper rolls (2 colors), and cake candles.

The giveaway starts today, Wednesday, June 20th and runs until Saturday, June 23rd at 11pm CST.

One lucky person will win a Toy Story 3 Standard Party Pack for 8 from The Party Works:

Toy Story 3 Standard Party Pack for 8

All you have to do to enter is jump on the Rafflecopter and complete one or more entries! The more options you complete, the more chances you will have to win. (Enter with the Rafflecopter form below. If you have any questions or problems entering, there is a video tutorial found here that can help.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: Many thanks to The Party Works for the giveaway package!  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed in this review are honest and my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.



Sunday, June 10, 2012

10 Things They Don't Tell You About Postpartum Recovery

Okay, long post title, but had to get the idea out there, that there are things that they don't tell you about until you find out right after you give birth. For those with 1 or more kids out there, am I right or what?  And some of this may be a bit TMI, but hoping it helps some of you out there prepare if you don't know this already, or help a friend who is about to have a baby:

1. Post Partum After Contractions: These were somewhat uncomfortable with my first pregnancy. I had to take an ibruprofin and was okay. Well, here comes baby #2 and it was as painful as the contractions I had during the beginning stages of labor.  And these after shock contractions came on immediately after they placed my precious baby on my tummy.  I was trying to enjoy the bonding moments, but agh, it was a little painful.  So much so that it was hard to have a conversation with anyone during one.  Having a natural childbirth made it worse because I did not have the epidural to help with pain or the drugs from a C-section recovery.

I get home 6 hours after I deliver and they are still no fun.  The next day, it was worse and as I was nursing they came on fast. My post partum doula called my midwife and she called in a prescription, because Ibruprofin was not doing the trick at all!   And what did the doula tell me as I was laying in my bed recovering: "oh yeah, when you have your second kid (and 3rd, etc.) they are much worse."  Oh thanks for the heads up :)  Apparently your uterus weighs around 2.5 pounds at full term and over the next few weeks it shrinks back to 1/2 an ounce, so your body has to go through a lot of contractions to help it shrink back.

2. Sweating: I vaguely remember sweating with my first pregnancy, but this time around it's awful.  First it was 24/7 and constantly being hot, then it turned to the night sweats this week. I wake up in a pool of sweat with my hair all damp.  I'm going through clean sheets every night.

3. Breastfeeding leaking: You buy the breastmilk leak pads before you have a baby as they tell you to in your birth class, but you have no idea until after you have a baby the amount of leaking you have.  Once your milk comes in and you are super engorged and in pain, you start leaking from one side and then the other (and on your sheets too so put a waterproof pad under them). I can just look at my baby and I start leaking.  The burp cloths are not just for her spit up, but for the extra leaking for the new mommy too!

Oh and most of us have heard about the benefits of breastfeeding so that's nothing new, but one thing I also didn't know was that when you start breastfeeding, Prolactin and Oxytocin are released-the relaxing hormones.  As soon as my baby latches on and starts nursing, I all of a sudden feel sleepy and calm. It's like that 'put me to sleep feeling' you get when you get your hair done, reminds me when I was a kid and my mom would french braid my hair.  New moms really need this perk to help them get through the day!

4. Post partum bleeding and fluid: Yes, we all hear about the period you have after you give birth that lasts from 4-6 weeks.  But no one tells you how different it is and the instructions they give you as you leave the birth center or hospital is kind of scary too- all I'm gonna say here is 'golfball size', yuck.  They want to make sure you monitor the 'flow' and look for signs of hemorrhaging (eewh) and clots (double yuck).  So they told me to wear Depends, and I thought they were crazy but so glad I bought them for the first few days.  You have strange fluids and liquids leaking out of you that it's way better to wear them and dispose of them than worry about wearing your own underwear.  And you definitely have to take it easy those first 6 weeks postpartum, because if you do too much, then your flow increases, which is a sign to get more rest and off your feet!

5. Your first BM is not fun: A lot of moms told me to get a stool softener for after birth.  So I asked my practitioner for advice and she suggested I take Mama Calm (from Whole Foods). It's a great drink for moms to get your body back in synch, because yes, your body is not the same in that department right afterwards.  It's almost like when you have had the stomach bug a few days and it takes awhile to get back in the swing of things, if you know what I mean.  The first time you have a BM it can be kind of scary, especially if you had a tear down there, so definitely take something to help.

6. Tears and repairs and sore lady parts: I had tears with both pregnancies and the second was not too bad.  But you still are in pain and no one tells you how uncomfortable it will be. So I got this great tip from my lactation nurse to put a little water on a maxi pad and then freeze them. Voila, instant comfort!!  And my doulas also suggested to buy Mother Love sitz salts to take a sitz bath, very helpful as well!  Also, for those with c-section recoveries, I have heard how painful the incision can be and to not lift anything over the weight of the baby. Hard to do when it's your second and you have a toddler to take care of, but hopefully your child is more independent and doesn't need to be lifted into a crib.  If not the case, then enlist some help from family or hire some help, because you will definitely need it.

7. Breastfeeding hurts the second time around too: Yes, breastfeeding hurts at first, but keep it up, it does get better!  When I weaned my 20 month old from once a day feedings, I remember thinking how easy it was to nurse her now and how quickly you forget how it was painful as a newborn.  Fast forward 4 months and here I am doing it all over again. Yes, when your milk comes in, you are huge and engorged and it feels painful.  And those first few days of breastfeeding, or for me it's been more the first 2 weeks, the nipple pain is no fun. I had to tell my husband that when he sees me about to nurse our baby, to not talk to me, because those first few seconds of latching on feel like someone is pinching and twisting your nipples. Ouch!  But it's just you getting used to it and pretty soon it will be pain free.  I haven't ever had cracked or bleeding nipples, so if you are and having problems, consult a lactation nurse.

8. No paci or bottle the first 3 weeks: Okay, had not heard this one until I was in my 32nd week of pregnancy at our birth classes with our first.  So that means my husband can't give my baby a bottle the first few weeks to relieve me?  Yikes. Or a paci to calm a crying baby?  They say it's because you need to establish your milk supply and if your baby is sucking a paci, it will mimic a feeding and/or they may loose their suck reflex. And if you give a bottle too early, it can interfere with your milk supply and you may not produce enough and will have to supplement with formula.  AND on top of that, I learned that you have to introduce a bottle between week 3-5 and if you wait until after week 5, then they may not ever take one.  So when it's time, make sure you've pumped some milk, then leave the house while your husband gives them a bottle, that way they won't smell your milk and will more likely take one.

Oh, and as for the whole pumping thing- ugh, don't get me started, but if you give a bottle, you STILL have to pump if you don't want to mess up your milk supply, because believe me you will get engorged and will be in pain.  Good idea to buy a manual pump in case you are out and can't get home in time to use the big pump.

9. Baby Blues affect 80% of moms: I had no idea how common it was for moms to get the baby blues. 80% is a super high percentage and most of my friends had the blues with frequent crying, mood changes and anxiety. I didn't get the baby blues but was for sure extra sensitive to things, especially things on TV that were sad, made me extra teary eyed and I am sure my husband will tell me I had a mood swing here or there :)

Post Partum Depression is also very serious as it affects around 40% of pregnant moms but it starts more after 4 weeks of delivering.  Back to my first point in this post, for hundreds of years, women used to take 40 days to recover from delivering babies and had extended family live with them and take care of them and chores, but today, we are expected to bounce right back in carpool lines, running errands and housework.  Too much is expected and our hormones and bodies have gone through so much! My midwife said what childbirth does to our bodies is the equivalent of running a marathon or two.  I think our society really needs to reach out to new moms and help them out, and extended family needs to be sensitive as well and look for warning signs.  Just because a mom seems to be doing okay, she may be hiding what's really going on.  I had a guest blog about PPD here and she wrote an excellent post about it.  For baby blues and PPD, please reach out to your doctor or midwife to let them know.

10. Saggy Tummy: I know what you're thinking, "but you just had a baby, don't be so hard on yourself." Behold the saggy tummy.  Yes, well with my first it was so hard to get back into the groove of things.  I lost all my baby weight pretty fast but my body was no where near what it used to be. I had this lingering 'tummy' where I looked about 3 months pregnant, until I got pregnant again.  Your tummy deflates and then it just kind of droops and clothes look super strange on you.  Those Hollywood mommies? I'm convinced they schedule early inductions like at 35 weeks just so they don't gain anymore weight and then they have personal trainers for like 5 hours every day, AND get tummy tucks.  My second pregnancy is even harder!  After you give birth you either wear maternity clothes and look strange, or you try to wear your old clothes and you look like you've put on weight.  And my midwife gave me advice at my 10 day appointment this week: "oh, well, in case you didn't know, it's much harder to loose the weight with your second." Tell me about it!

But the best advice for post partum recovery is to get some REST! Remember they tell you to rest 6 weeks after delivering, more if you've had a c-section. If it's your first, second or beyond, take as much time to sit down, put your feet up and hire a maid.  Having older children can be more hard, but remind yourself you need to sit down more and not worry about the mess.
Thursday, June 7, 2012

Welcome Baby!

We welcomed our second baby girl, Belle, on May 23rd at 1:14pm!  We are so, so happy and her older sister is super excited to be a new big sis.  Hence the delay of a blog post, we've been a little busy to say the least :)

We had a great birth experience at the birth center that I blogged about here.  I was afraid that we might not be able to deliver there, since they wanted to induce me due to a umbilical cord issue, but it all turned out well.  They use alternative induction methods where I had a catheter balloon inserted and they also broke my water.  The balloon helped dilate me and then breaking my water sent me into contractions pretty quickly.

I walked a little bit during labor, then got in the jacuzzi tub which really helped curb the pain!  I was thinking I would have another hour at least of painful contractions, but then all of a sudden I was ready to push, and out she came! Two hours of labor, not so bad!  I have my genes to thank for that, and my midwife and assistants in helping me not go for the pain route which can slow down labor.

I also loved delivering at my birth center because my husband got to 'catch' the baby.  He actually pulled our baby out of me, as he reached from the side and was guided by my midwife. It was so amazing to have him place her on my chest and I was so glad he was able to be a part of her birth in that way.  They also took great photos of her birth, but I think I will spare you all the glamour shots :)

AND, we chose the name Belle after waiting 3 days to decide.  I know, call me crazy.  I loved the suggestions you all gave us, and there were some big top contenders, but we couldn't agree on a lot of them.  We went back and forth and I was so glad that we waited, because some of the choices just didn't suite her sweet face.  I wanted something different to go with our first child's name Luna.  So we went with another favorite of mine, Belle.  It means beautiful in French and I think it's very fitting!

We are adjusting to life now as a family of 4.  We are so happy our extended family has also stepped in to help us with that, and we also are super thankful for the post partum doulas that we hired the first few days.  When you have a baby at a birth center, you go home 6 hours later, and are on bed rest for 3 days.  So the doulas and my family helped me recover, take care of chores and the baby.  I loved how they reminded me that up until the past 50 years, most women took 40 days to recover from childbirth by relaxing and letting family and others help with older children and housework.  It makes sense to me!

I am so excited at being a mom to a new baby girl, and I love now saying the plural phrase, "my children!"