The Upside of Down

Some of you may not know I have a job outside of wiping butts and boogers.

It’s true, there’s a life outside of cutting cheese into hearts and having an audience watch you pee.

During naps and after bedtimes, sometimes at three in the morning, I work on a magazine that I’m the editor of.

I’m also writing a book… And I work as a freelance writer putting together nifty little articles for some of your favourite spaces on the internet.

If you asked me when I became a mom if I could handle doing the working-mom-thing, the answer would’ve been no.

If you asked me when I actually went back to work after my first born, I would’ve broken down and cried in your arms.

At the time, it wasn’t right for me – but neither was the job.

I’ve been spending my entire life trying to find my place.

Navigating this big old world, trying to define myself, and redefine myself, and redefine myself once more as the world tells me I need to be more like “her”, more like “them”, more like that “mom”.

I’ve lost myself so many times trying to find the place I thought I had to be or be the person I thought I should be, that I completely lost sight of who I was and what I wanted.

The truth is, I love being home with my babies – but I also love being Anneliese. An ambitious, creative woman with a passion to better this world.

And what’s even more? I’m a better mom when I get to be that woman.

Working all hours of the night on my passions and all hours of the day on my babies can drain my soul sometimes – but it also lights a fire within me.

It pushes me closer towards the woman I always wanted to be.

When you start shushing the noise and start listening to your soul, your life comes alive.

And who would’ve thought I would’ve learned all that in a pit of darkness?

But sometimes, there’s an upside to down.

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#CraftMom

Does anyone else try to do the “fun mom” thing?

You know what I’m talking about.

Paint. Crayons. Glitter. Water. Sand. Play-doh.

That sort of stuff?

It always seems like a good idea. You think to yourself:

“Today. Yes! Today, I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna be that mom. I’m gonna craft this shit out of this day.”

And you confidently strut to the craft closet, or bucket, or nook, and pull out all those cool goodies you picked up at the store after being inspired by a bomb caterpillar made out of nothing more than an egg carton and pipe cleaners.

Easy peasy.

Or, omgosh. You can paint a giant mural. Your little Picaso can put his tiny, sticky, crayon craving hands to good use.

Yes.

This day is gonna be so fun.

#craftmom

So you roll out a big and I mean BIG sheet of paper for your kid to colour all over. He can’t miss it. The floor will be saved.

And some water to paint with because it’s not messy.

Woo! Super fun.

Then your kid pours the entire bucket of water on his head.

Still colours on your floors.

Eats the crayon.

And leaves you with a giant friggen mess to clean up.

You wonder where the heck it all went wrong.

Was it the water? The crayons? The attempt to be #craftmom?

Somewhere it all went astray.

You vow to never to be #craftmom again.

Then lo and behold, one rainy Tuesday….

Hello – Adele (Sleep Parody)

Hello, It’s me.
I was wondering little baby, will you ever go to sleep?
To hit the pillow, would be a dream.
They say caffines supposed to help ya,
Well, then hand me a Venti.

Hello, can you hear me?
I’m mixing bottles, changing diapers…trying every damn thing.
Shut your eyes, baby, please.
I’ve forgotten how it feels to have a solid block of sleep.

My eyes are droopy, yours are wide,
We’ll be rocking through the night.

Hello stars up in the sky,
I’ve counted you a thousand times.
To my dog, I’m sorry, you’re losing sleep too,
But I promise, I’m doing all I can do.

Hello from the night time.
At least I can say that I’ve tried,
To go to bed early and sleep if I can.
Doesn’t matter, insomnia has another plan, every time.

Hello, how are you?
It’s so typical of me to huff and puff, oh my dear, I’m sorry.
The moon, it’s shining bright,
On the spit up in my hair and the bags under my eyes.

It’s no secret, this sound machine
Does absolutely nothing.

So, hello from the night time.
My kid has pooped a thousand times.
And this night, my gosh, will never it end?
But wait, his little fingers just grabbed onto my hand.

Hello stars up in the sky.
It’s almost time to say goodbye.
But don’t worry, I promise, I’ll see you again,
And one day I’ll miss how much he needed me, way back when.

Ohhh way back when,
Ohhh way back when,
Ohhh way back when,
Way back when.

Hello from the night time,
My babes asleep and I survived!
It’s now time for me, to crawl back into my bed,
Next to my husband, who’s been snoring all through this mess.

Hello stars up in the sky,
Good night, sweet dreams, lullaby.
Thank you, my  baby, you’ve stolen my heart.
Wait. Stop. That better have just been a fart – oh help me.

Jack | One Month Old

Dear Jack,

Today you are one month old. Life before you seems like a distant memory. Adjusting to having you in our world rather than in my tummy has been one of the most incredible experiences your Dad and I have had the privilege living. This isn’t to go without saying that having a newborn hasn’t been a lot of work.

Our new life has been complicated, messy and often unpredictable. Your Dad has quickly grown to resemble a member of the Nascar pit-crew. He approaches a diaper change with speed, precision and great care – constantly challenging his time  and improving on his method to avoid and combat disaster. While I on the other hand have quickly grown to resemble my pre-teen self. I enjoy 2 hour windows of sleep, have my very own brand of eau due parfum and wear pajamas as if they’re “what’s hot” this season. There are nights I seem to rock you endlessly, as you press against my chest while I whisper lullabys in your ear. There are days I drink my coffee ice cold because you’ve pooped on me for what will be the first of many times of that day. Then there are days I look at you and cannot believe my body was able to create something so perfect. That your Dad and I were able to create something so perfect.

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The speed in which time has passed this month has terrified me. I’ve been warned that my life will flash before my eyes as I watch your life grow – and now it’s happening. As I fold your little newborn clothes and pack them into storage, my heart aches and celebrates the next step you’ve taken in your very fresh but very real life.

You have gone from our tiny 7 pound, 10 oz infant to our sturdy ten pound baby.  You have beautiful grey-blue eyes and have started to use them to explore your new world. You are beginning to recognize your Dad and I,  and you capture our hearts with each gassy smile. You love bath time, car rides and being rocked and swayed to rap music. It appears you have your Dad’s taste in music, we’ll work on that.

Jack Josef, you are the apple of so many eyes. You have brought sleepless nights and endless joy to this little kingdom you call home. Each and every day your Dad and I grow and learn more about you, more about being a parent and more about each other. The best part about having you here is the new purpose and thrill we’ve discovered in our lives.

This is only the start my sweet boy – of change, of learning, of the love we expect to grow within our home and family, and you are in the center of it all.

 

 

Mom and Baby’s Favourite Things

Jack’s officially been a part of our family for a little over three weeks now. Being that this is baby #1, there has been a lot of trial and error over the last three weeks to learn which baby items work for us and for Jack. Here’s a quick list of the baby items that we currently can’t live without!

  1. 4mom’s MamaRoo: The MamaRoo is an item that was kindly gifted to us by family at our baby shower. It’s an expensive must-have for baby’s who love to be rocked and swayed. The MamaRoo replicates the natural motion parents use to comfort their baby through five motions and speed options.
    Why Mom loves it:  It’s great for rocking Jack to sleep or keeping him calm while I tidy up the kitchen or sip that cold cup of coffee.
    Why baby loves it:  As the weeks pass, Jack loves to be held and rocked more and more, and when Mama needs a hand-free minute this little contraption does just the trick!
  2. Baby Einstein Caterpillar and Friends Play Gym: This is a toy that I think will be used for months to come. The gym features 6 activities – from rattles to glowing lights, sounds and melodies. The soft play mat is the perfect place to lay baby down for tummy time. The gym also features a musical star which can be removed and attached to a crib, stroller or car seat.
    Why Mom loves it: Easy to clean, easy to assemble, easy to use. We currently use the mat for brief entertainment and tummy time (Jack’s laying on the mat figuring out how to roll as we speak). As Jack gets older the gym will help develop his motor skills and hopefully continue to keep his attention!
    Why baby loves it: Even though Jack is only three weeks old, the Caterpillar and Friends gym has already grabbed his attention. He swats and kicks his legs – unintentionally hitting rattles and responds to sounds. He also loves the musical star, which calmed him to sleep on a five hour road trip this past weekend.
  3. Earth Momma Angel Baby Nipple ButterThis all natural, organic, plant based nipple butter is heavenly. Breastfeeding and/or pumping can do a number on a Mama’s nipples (cracked, bleeding, dry) and this pricey miracle butter is worth the investment! Due to it’s natural ingredients, there’s no need to rinse it off before a feeding – and, it smells like chocolate, added bonus!
    Why Mom loves it: Before I discovered Earth Momma Angel Baby Nipple Butter I was using coconut butter to sooth my sore nipples. The coconut butter was unable to provide the comfort I needed after my intense pumping sessions (every 2 to 3 hours), I needed something more. Although the nipple butter is on the expensive side, you really only need a small amount and it provides instant relief!
    Why baby loves it:  The taste and texture have no impact on the Jack’s feeding.
  4.  Medela Freestyle Double Electric Pump:  This lightweight, double electric pump has met all my pumping needs. It’s portable and chargeable so you can pump anywhere. It also has a timer and back-light which makes it easy to track your night time pumping sessions.  The two phase expression technology encourages more milk production, which has been an added bonus! Our freezer is currently stocked meaning Mama can have a glass of wine every once and awhile. Lastly, the kit comes with all of the accessories you need: tote bag, bottles, breastshields, tubing, membrane, handsfree accessories kit – and it’s compatible with medela nursing bras.
    Why Mom loves it: A few weeks ago I shared my struggles with breastfeeding. When we first brought Jack home he had trouble latching. Jack became dehydrated, Jaundice and lost weight while I nearly lost my mind. I was lucky enough to have had invested in the medela freestyle pump prior to bringing my baby home, so I was immediately able to pump my breast milk and feed it to my son. As soon as I began pumping and bottle feeding, Jack began gaining weight. We’re able to track his intake which helps ease this Mama’s mind as I’m able to ensure he’s getting enough to eat. I wasn’t attached to the idea of breastfeeding but really wanted to feed my baby breast milk if I could, this was the perfect solution for our situation.
    Why baby loves it:  Food. Baby loves food.
  5. Medela Nipple Shield: The medela nipple shield is a thin, silicone shield that is worn on the nipple while breastfeeding. The nipple shield is used when a Mom and Baby have a difficult time securing a latch.
    Why Mom loves it: I was introduced to the medela nipple shield after two weeks of exclusively pumping.  On our first attempt using the sheild, Jack was able to latch. After a week of using the shield, I have been able to get Jack to latch occasionally without the shield. Getting Jack to latch without the shield is still a work in progress, but the shield has given me the ability to breastfeed my baby.
    Why baby loves it: Food. Baby loves food.
  6. WubbaNubb Giraffe:  A WubbaNubb is a nifty little soother with a plush toy attached to the end. You will never lose a soother again!
    Why Mom loves it: Jack hasn’t grown dependent on a chooch but there are times where we use it so he can sooth himself to sleep. We found Jack was over eating because he loves to suck and introducing a soother has solved that problem.
    Why baby loves it: I literally watched my 3 week old maneuver this chooch into his mouth today. The plush toy makes a great cuddle buddy and also helps baby guide the soother into their mouths.
  7. Baby Jogger – City Mini 4-Wheel Stroller:  It took us FIVE visits to Snuggle Bugz to select our stroller. We wanted something that was lightweight, easy to fold, would fit in my Ford Focus, would fit our car seat adapter (Maxi Cosi – Mico AP), could go “off-roading” and wouldn’t break the bank. Well folks, it exists! I give you the City Mini stroller by Baby Jogger. Although not suitable for off-roading, the stroller is all terrain and meets the needs of our family.
    Why Mom loves it: The one hand fold and lightweight of the stroller gives the ability to quickly and easily take the stroller in and out of my car. The adjustable handle is also a plus when my husband is in the drivers seat. The storage bin at the bottom could be a little bit bigger (it only fits a diaper bag), but there are various compartments on the actual stroller that allow me to store my wallet, keys, cell phone, etc.
    Why baby loves it: The shock absorption makes for an incredibly smooth ride.
  8. Live Clean Calming Bedtime Bubble Bath & Soap + Body Lotion: I cannot say enough good things about this product. The live clean calming bedtime bubble bath & soap + body lotion was another gift we received at our baby shower.  Both the lotion and the bubble bath are infused with natural ingredients known for their calming and relaxation properties. It’s also designed to keep baby’s skin smooth and soft.
    Why Mom loves it: The product is made of 98% plant based material, so I feel comfortable and confident putting it on my baby’s skin. In addition to that, the product smells amazing. After Jack’s bath (which he absolutley loves), I snuggle his little body and smell him for hours, love me those newborn snuggles.
    Why baby loves it: I’m not sure if it’s the calming properties in the bubble bath, but Jack is in LOVE with bath time. On occasion he instantly falls fast asleep as soon as his little bum hits the water. The lotion has also been a savior for soothing his dry skin.
  9. Ingenuity Rock and Dream Sleeper: This soft sleeper is perfect for keeping baby close (if you chose to have your baby out of their crib for the first few months of life). It’s easy to assemble, clean and use. The vibrating motion and rocker are ideal for comforting and calming baby.
    Why Mom loves it: When Jack first came home he slept in a bassinet beside our bed. It wasn’t before long that we found ourselves up all night due to an uncomfortable baby. Jack suffers from some minor reflux in addition to gas after feeding. He would wiggle, squirm and wince when he was placed flat on his back at bedtime. The rock and dream sleeper keeps Jack at an incline which helps manage his reflux. It also cradles him in a way that makes him feel safe and protected, just as he was in my tummy. We love the rock and play because it’s easy to assemble and take a part (requiring no tools). We brought it with us on a recent weekend trip which made for easy sleeping arrangements and a happy baby.
    Why baby loves it: He can (almost) get a good night’s rest now – between feeding every two hours.

Well, there you have it! Our favourite Mama and Baby items during Jack’s first month in our home. I’m sure there’s more but these are the ones we use on a daily basis. Are there any items you would add to the list?

Confessions of an Exclusive Pumper

Our experience in the Labour and Delivery ward of our hospital was outstanding. Our nurses were kind, compassionate and caring. They were my biggest cheerleaders next to Dave and when it was time to say good-bye at the end of their shifts, I felt as though I was saying good-bye to friends. I recovered from birth in the Post-Partum ward, where the nurses were friendly but not nearly as kind, helpful but not nearly as patient.

We were discharged from hospital 24 hours after Jack’s birth. For those 24 hours in hospital the nurses did what they could to help Jack latch. This included forcing his head to my breast repeatedly, even when he showed signs of frustration. When we arrived home, we quickly learned their helpful methods were incorrect and a big no-no to establishing a healthy latch. This resulted in a frustrating start to a breast-to-baby bond with my son.

Jack struggled to latch in hospital and continued to struggle when we arrived home. Our discharge nurse told me Jack “wasn’t going to breastfeed” and sent us home with formula. As a first time mom, I felt completely defeated.

For the next two days Dave, my mum and a hospital lactation consultant attempted to  help Jack latch onto my breast. Just as he did in the hospital, Jack would flip up his bottom lip and suck on his tongue rather than his meal source. The hospital lactation consultant advised us not to intervene with a breast shield, a pump or a bottle. We were encourage to syringe feed our son while practicing “suck training.”

When Jack was three days old we had our first appointment with our family doctor. It was then we would find that our baby’s inability to latch was having larger consequences than we anticipated. We discovered Jack was discharged from hospital on the high end of normal for Jaundice. Sending him home with the inability to latch resulted in breastfeeding Jaundice. Jack was not receiving enough to eat through the syringe method and was nearly readmitted to hospital that day for treatment.

Our family doctor immediately connected us with a private lactation consultant. Within an hour of leaving the doctor’s office Jack was breastfeeding with the aid of a breast shield and topping up with the use of a bottle. Over the next 24 hours he would gain 3 oz. Within two days his Jaundice symptoms began to ease up and within three days he returned his birth weight. We accomplished this by exclusively pumping.

A few people have asked me whether or not I’m breastfeeding my son. We’ve all heard breast is best, after all. The question, which is a sensitive one, especially when a mum’s experience isn’t what she expected, is one I’m addressing today because I believe no mum should be judged for the way she chooses or is obligated to feed her child. Weighing out all of our options (cost, nutrition, benefits to baby and mom) we decided to exclusively pump and feed our son breast milk via a bottle.

The decision to exclusively pump first made me feel defeated. My son and my body weren’t bonding easily like I anticipated and I felt as through I wasn’t providing my son with the best source of nourishment possible. As we’ve transitioned into this new parenting plan, I feel empowered because despite being unable to breastfeed, I’m still able provide my son with breast milk (really, this was my number one priority and goal). Bottle feeding also allows my husband the opportunity to bond with our son and give this Momma an extra hour of shut-eye during some of the late night feeds.

Our decision to exclusively pump is a decision that requires commitment. Although I’ve only been at it for little over a week, here are some highlights from what I’ve learned:

  • To establish a good supply you will want to pump every 2 to 3 hours for 15 to 20 minutes (for the first three months).
  • Your body produces the most amount of milk between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. Try to pump between those hours if you can!
  • Stay hydrated! You will require lots and lots of H20 to keep your supply up.
  • Continue to practice skin-to-skin contact. It will help you gain some of those hormonal benefits for yourself and baby without actually breastfeeding. If you feel ambitious, you can also try latching your baby to your breast during this time. Jack and I give it an honest effort a few times a day. When he becomes frustrated, we stop.
  • Invest in a good pump. I love the Madela Freestyle.Madela It is a lightweight, rechargeable double pump.  Some insurance companies will cover the cost of your pump, so be sure to check with them!
  • Massage your tatas while pumping. The last thing you want is to develop a blocked duck. Massaging will help you with your let-down and milk production.
  • Invest in good bottles. Bottle fed babies are more likely to suffer from gas and colic. We are using a slow-flow nipple head provided to us by the hospital on our medela bottles. The slow-flow nipple head controls the flow of milk into the baby and helps establish a good suck. Your baby is more likely to transition onto your breast while using a slow-flow or natural-flow nipple head because it mimics the flow of breastfeeding more accurately.
  • Remember the 6, 6, 6 rule. Your breast milk will last:
    • 6 hours at room temperature
    • 6 days in the fridge
    • 6 months in the freezer

As a new parent, you have many important decisions to make. One is to choose whether to breastfeed or formula feed your baby – make the decision that works bets for your family in consultation with a health care professional. Coming to the right decisions can take time and can be frustrating. Whatever decision you make, stand proud by it and don’t let anyone make you feel like you’re doing anything less than your best – you’re one strong Momma!

Exclusively pumping is something that will be a big part of my life, so you can expect to hear more about this topic on my blog!

Pregnancy Update: 37 Weeks

WE DID IT!

Well folks, we did it! Today officially marks 37 weeks pregnant and we’re in the safe zone for delivery. New bets have been placed on when I’ll deliver (officially due August 16) and all to-do tasks are done! We’re ready!

Baby Stats

Baby boy has been measuring a week ahead of schedule and weighs (approximately) just under 7 pounds. He’s expected to gain half a pound per week until his due date. With three weeks left this could put him in the eight and a half to nine pound range. Pray for me.

Highlight from the Week

Bed rest is officially over. With an okay from my doctor, I was able to fulfill my maid-of-honour duties for one of my closest friend’s wedding this past (hot, hot, hot) Saturday. Baby boy was a champ and allowed me to party hard until 9:30 p.m. WOO.

Annmarie was a beautiful bride and her wedding left not one dry eye in the house. We’ve been friends for the last 16 years and to watch her marry the man of her dreams was truly a blessing. 20160723_204132

Mama & Baby’s Health

Yesterday morning I happily told Dave I hadn’t reached the “I feel miserable” stage of the third trimester.  Well, I jinxed myself and my body laughed at me. Everything and I mean everything started to hurt come mid-afternoon.  Getting back on my feet after being off of them for 6 weeks has introduced some new aches and pains but it’s nothing a good bubble bath can’t fix.

Overall, Pork Chop is doing very well.  He’s grown a little reputation for himself at the hospital as “the swimmer” (we’ve become well known from all of our visits). He’s always moving and grooving, making it difficult at times to take proper measurements – but a moving baby is a happy baby.

Cravings

Bring me all the watermelon and white flesh peaches!

New Symptoms

I really struggled with insomnia during my first trimester and it seems to have come back in full swing. If I’m lucky, I’ll score about 4 combined hours of sleep (between the tossing and turning and frequent bathroom visits). Despite all that I seem to be keeping my sanity and making it through the days fairly well with only one power nap.

I’ve also been experiencing loss of appetite and a ton of pain in my hips. Thankfully I have a kick-ass (and should I add, incredibly handsome) husband, who has literally gone above and beyond anything I could have expected.

On Saturday he offered to follow me around in an air-conditioned car while we snapped pictures outside for my friends wedding. He brought Popsicles, snacks and frozen bottles of water to ensure baby and I were well hydrated, well fed and avoided the dangers of the heat. Bless him.

That’s all for now – I expect my next post will be our birth story – so stay tuned and stay cool!