The Results Are In…

Dave and I are overjoyed to share that our sweet little Pork Chop has officially been cleared of all genetic/chromosomal conditions!!!!!!

Of all the times I’d love a drink to celebrate, this is it but instead, we’re going to treat ourselves to a round of ice cream!

There are no words to express the relief and happiness (happy is an understatement) we feel right now, which is probably why I’m sitting here blubbering away as I write this.

It’s always so much easier to be positive on the flip side of things, but faith, love and kindness from others kept us strong. If you’re currently going through a shitty situation, we pray you can find some light in your darkness.

Peace & love,

Annie and Davey

Breast to Work

Empowering Woman: Tineke

It took me quite a while to get breastfeeding well established and to really start enjoying it. In the first months it was quite difficult (understatement..), not only painful (don´t get me started on cracked nipples or mastitis) but also the pressure of an underweight baby who needed to eat very often (and took his sweet time meaning you were basically only having 1 hour breaks in between feeding sessions) and not knowing how much milk you actually have and whether he was eating enough. By now I can say I loved breastfeeding but it took quite some tears and screams to get there.

So when my 16 weeks of maternity leave were over I definitely wanted to continue breastfeeding for a little longer. I guess my situation was quiet luxurious in the sense that I work 4 days a week of which 2 from home. So the 2 days from home were easy to cover: until midday when my partner was taking care of Lucas at home I would plan my breaks from work around feeding Bottletimes and in the afternoon when he was with his grandparents I had to extract milk once and then the evening session was live with mommy again. However, the days that I did go into the office were much more complicated. I have a very long commute to my office (2,5hours) so I would leave the house a little before 7am and come back only after 8pm. In the beginning I still did a morning feeding around 6am but once Lucas got a better sleep rhythm he wouldn´t wake up before 7 / 7.30am anymore meaning that I was not home for any of his feedings. Then my challenge was where and when to extract in the office or even on my way to the office.

When you have a baby, sleep is not a commodity anymore so there were some trade-offs involved. This basically meant that I could choose between getting up 20 minutes earlier to extract milk or leaving my first pumping session for the commute… Yep, sleep is scarce so I chose the second option. So I would extract milk in the train under a huge scarf hoping and praying that the passenger sitting next to me would keep sleeping (advantage of the early morning train!) or working and at least not notice that something was moving under that scarf.

Then the next challenge came with the fact that in my office there was no nursing place. Our “office” is basically a little village with over 10k employees divided over different buildings and we have loads of convenient services in the village (gym, childcare, pharmacy, doctor, dentist, optic, travel agency, supermarket, Starbucks, hairdresser, and the list goes on) but no nursing room to Pumpbe found. So that left me with the option of the toilet (which was very cold because of no heating system, and let´s not get into the background noise) or booking a meeting room. The inconvenient part of meeting rooms is that most have windows so there were only a few I could work with. I would try to book these meeting rooms that had no windows or at least windows at strategic locations so I could set-up my “extraction station” with a barrier on the table from my bag, laptop and my notebook standing up open so that if somebody would come in, not too much would be visible. After a few months with the combination of toilet and meeting rooms, I finally found out that the reception had a closed printing room behind them and although it had no chairs I did use that option for the last weeks of breastfeeding. On the commute back home at night I would repeat the scarf trick.

All of this involved quite some logistics, not only the choice of scarf but also to bring your small cooler bag, make sure you put it in the fridge as soon as you arrive, don´t forget it in the fridge when you leave, getting the milk from the toilet / meeting room to the cooler bag in the fridge without everybody noticing what you´re doing and most importantly, keeping that cooler bag stable in your backpack on the commute back home. I did come home one night noticing a lot of little white spots on my black boots, yep, one of the bottles with extracted milk had opened and spread through my backpack…. The worst part was that my immediate thought was not “uh oh my laptop” but “noooo, after all the effort 250ml down the drain…”.

Meme

Another challenge is when to pump. When I had relatively ok days with some meetings here and there I would just block my calendar every 3 hours for 30min but when you have full-day workshops or team meetings it gets a bit more complicated because obviously the breaks there are never on convenient times for your pumping schedule. So I would sneak out a few times a day with my grey Medela bag. (Also in Spain you never know when a break will actually happen, because hey who needs an agenda or if there is one why stick to it, so of course I would often go out in the middle of a discussion and 2 minutes after I came back they would break..)

After 4 months of this, when I had some business trips coming up and when Lucas had started eating solid food and therefore only has 2 milk feedings left I decided it was enough, but it definitely has been an interesting experience! The downside of stopping with breastfeeding is that it gets a bit depressing to look at your “new” breasts in the mirror (You would almost understand why in Spain they tend to keep breastfeeding for years!). Also I am already a bit nervous for Lucas´ next monthly check-up and the speech that I am going to get from the breastfeeding-taliban-nurse, but that´s a whole other story!

Photo credit Medela: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/dharder9475/23919221670/”>dharder9475</a&gt; via <a href=”https://visualhunt.com”>VisualHunt</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>CC BY-NC</a>

 Photo credit extracting in office: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/cafemama/118317846/”>cafemama</a&gt; via <a href=”https://visualhunt.com”>VisualHunt</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>CC BY-NC-SA</a>

About Tineke

Tineke I am Tineke, a Dutchie living in Spain, happily not-married to César and mommy of Lucas. Before becoming a mom I always thought I was busy, however since we have Lucas the term “busy” got a whole new definition! Trying to juggle two demanding jobs, a busy social life while squeezing in some sports, keeping the house somewhat liveable, pursuing both of our entrepreneurial ambitions ánd having sufficient family time makes me wonder how I ever thought we were busy. And all of that in a country which is not my home country and therefore causes quite some cultural clashes in this whole motherhood thingy.

 Want to read more about my adventures as a working mommy abroad?

Workingmommyabroad.wordpress.com

Instagram: @workingmommyabroad

Twitter: @tinekefr

 

Things I Will Never Do for My Kids

Empowering Woman: Fran

Before I became a parent, I had certain ideas of what kind of a mother I wanted to be. Those ideas were fairly vague initially, but nonetheless I had a list as long as my arm of things that I knew I would NEVER do. I wasn’t going to be THAT mum. I wasn’t going to be a slave to my kids. Nope. Not me. There was going to be rules and those rules would be followed. So here are some of those things that were on my list of things I wouldn’t do.

  • Give in to their begging for sweets. Not going to happen. I will not be blackmailed by a 3 foot Tyrant! Cry all you want. You think you’re persistent? Guess whom you got that from! That’s right!
  • Follow you around the house bowl and spoon in hand trying to feed you. If you are hungry, you’ll eat sitting down at the table like a normal person! Else, you go hungry.
  • Get drawn into your fashion allures and the whole circus around it. You are 3 years old. You will bloody well wear what I picked out for you!
  • Co-Sleeping. What do you think I bought that cot for? That’s where you will sleep. That’s what the book says.
  • Cook more than one dinner. Are you high? You will eat what everyone else is eating. You get what you get and you don’t get upset. Isn’t that what they teach in school?
  • Molly-coddle you past the age of, let’s say, 5? That’s the cut off. After that I have expectations of self-sufficiency. Maybe you could get yourself a part-time job or something.

…..and then I had kids.

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And that’s when everything changed. My world was turned upside down. Theory met reality. The more kids came along, the more the rules went out the window. The more I started free styling. Partly by choice. Partly by necessity. Did I say I wasn’t going to give into your begging? Go on. Just say “Pleeeeeeeeeeease” again with the cute face and that big smile of yours. I know you are trying so hard to win me over. You know how to play me and you know you have me wrapped around your little finger. I guess in the perseverance competition you win hands down.

And yes, I have run after my baby, bowl and spoon in hand, when he just refused to sit in his high chair. We all know that food equals sleep. The more he eats the longer he will sleep. At least in theory. So Mother will do what she needs to do to get that food into him.

Baby – 1

Mama – 0.

Fashion allures? Well, unless it has Minions, Batman or Turtles on it, the boy child won’t wear it. He has his own ideas of what he likes and how he wants to look. I have tried to be persistent and enforce that what I say goes, but another very important lesson in the parenting game is “Pick your battles”. I am not going to get upset (again) or upset the child over a silly T-shirt. Today he has chosen to wear all 3 of them. Batman, Minions and Turtles. Who am I to argue with that.

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Co-Sleeping. When I started co-sleeping with my eldest child, I explained to him, that he needed to sleep by himself like a big boy. His reply to me was “But, Mama, you don’t sleep alone!” Good point, and so well made. That got me thinking. No-one likes sleeping alone. We have co-slept with all of our children. By choice. Then choice became habit. While there are days where I wish we had our bed to ourselves and that one of us wouldn’t always end up in the spare room or on the floor, I know this is for a short time…..relatively short time. I mean it’s been 5 years give or take. But this isn’t going to last forever and I know that the kids sleep peacefully and happy and will (hopefully) grow up to feel secure and loved and close to both parents.

I’ve been cooking more than one dinner for the best part of my parenting tenure. I have had two very fussy eaters and I have tried the approach of “You’ll eat what everyone is eating” and failed. I chose the easy way out because (see above), you have to pick your battles. Now one of the fussy eaters is nearly 5. I can reason with her. I can tell her about food and the importance of eating her vegetables and coax her by telling her about the poor children in Africa. She gets that now and we are on the way to one meal for the whole family. (Can I get a whoop whoop please!)

I mollycoddle all of my kids. Mum-turned-Slave will do everything a lot for them. I will stand outside the shower, holding the towel for my 9-year-old. I will make sure his hair is brushed and that he changes his socks. I will clean up after all my kids and do their jobs for them. I know. Sometimes it’s just easier. Sometimes I get a fit of “This is it!” and “Things are going to change around here!”… Tomorrow. Tomorrow I’ll start putting my foot down.

Note to self:

1625748_10152050181536704_320173756_nMaybe the things all critics and I think of as parenting mistakes aren’t really ‘mistakes’. Maybe they are a chance to learn to trust ourselves, to trust our instincts and to do what we feel is right at any particular point in time and enjoy riding the waves of parenting. Without the need to constantly second guess ourselves. Everything we do, we do by choice. It is OK to back down from the society-imposed or self-imposed parenting expectations because we know what is best for us, for our family and our children. No-one else knows what we know. No-one else knows our children like we do. No-one else is walking in our shoes. All that matters is that we care about our children and that is why we walk the extra mile bent over backwards to make sure we give them all they need…..and much, much more.

What are the things you said you would never do and have done when you became a parent?

 About Queen of My Castle: 

I am a thirty-something parent and lifestyle blogger passionate about parenting (fueled by wine & coffee), art, DIY and interior design. I’ve four children aged 1, 3, 5 and 9. Recently having gone through a career transition from Customer Service Manager in a multinational company to family manager, I am looking for a new sense of presence, possibility, and creativity. I am the “Queen of my Castle” riding the waves of parenting and I write about stuff that stirs our motherly souls while trying to survive life that’s never boring (or relaxing for that matter), with 4 kids running circles around me. Embrace yourself for tales of toddlers, tantrums & triumphs as well as the joys and frustrations of parenting.

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Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fulltimemumqueenofmycastle

Twitter: @queenofmycastl1

WordPress: https://queenofmycastlesite.wordpress.com

 

An Odd, Yet Truly Heartfelt Letter to Baby Gap

Dear Baby Gap,

This thank you letter is probably unlike one you’ve ever received before. It has nothing to do with your staff or your customer service. It has nothing to do with the pleasant shopping experience I had darting around your online store. It does however, have everything to do with the joy a recent purchase brought me.

For the last seven weeks my husband and I have been going through the ups and downs of genetic testing. We are expecting our first child, and the wonderful pregnant glow that most women get to enjoy has been ripped from beneath my feet. With so many unknowns about our beautiful little baby, we’ve feared becoming “too” excited.

Last week I couldn’t resist splurging on adorable items at your store. I made my purchase with both giddiness and hesitation. In the week that followed my purchase, we continued to wait for our baby’s results. Today, we are still waiting.

Yesterday was one of the harder days for me. After a chat with our hospital, we were advised we could have another week and a half of waiting. Another week and a half of torment. Another week and a half of wondering if our little baby will be healthy. Then my husband walked in with a package.

Tearing it open, the contents inside brought immediate tears to my eyes. I envisioned my child, healthy and happy as can be, with their tiny little bum in your tiny little pants. I imagined the fall, with my child sitting plump in a pile of leaves, transformed into a little cub while sporting your adorable bear hat. For a moment, my spirits were lifted and I had, what I imagine, is the feeling of excitement most women have while experiencing a healthy pregnancy.

So here’s an odd yet fully heartfelt thank you, Baby Gap. Your clothing gave me hope. It gave me excitement. It put my husband and I back on cloud nine. You delivered exactly when we needed it, in a moment of weakness and tears. And we couldn’t be more grateful.

Anneliese

Managing Guilt as a Working Mom

Empowering Woman: Ana

As a working mom I feel like there is always this guilt of leaving your baby to go to work.  As much as you might love your job, there is no love like the one for your son/daughter. While I was on maternity leave I honestly couldn’t wait to get back to work and my “normal” life.  I thought I wouldn’t miss my daughter that much, after all my mom was the one that would be babysitting.  Boy was I wrong!

The first couple of weeks after I returned to work were great! I felt like the “old me”. I missed my daughter but I knew she was in good hands at home with my mom.  I received a few pictures and videos throughout the day and I was fine.  Fast forward to 3 weeks after maternity leave and one day it just hit me out of nowhere.  I missed my daughter so much, I felt so guilty and nearly wanted to cry.  I just wanted to go home to her and hug her and kiss her.  But I couldn’t, because you know, I had to be an adult.  Ever since that day I have this constant guilt that I am not sure it will ever go away. Every time I leave to work, I know I do it to keep sane, but also because I want to provide a better life for my daughter.  It is a crazy concept.

Like I said before, I am blessed that my mom is able to care for my daughter.  There really is nobody else I would trust. In the beginning I remember having to tell my mom how Cami liked being held, how she liked being rocked to sleep, her schedule, etc… But now, she is the one that has to tell me how to be with my daughter. It breaks my heart. It is only natural tho, Cami spends most of her time at grandma’s. When she gets home its play time, nap time, bath time and her night time routine to get to bed.  My time with Cami is so limited. So even on days when I get to workout, ugh, it is hard! I feel like such a bad mom or even selfish for taking time away from her.

So there is this love/hate battle I have within me about loving and hating how much Cami loves spending time with grandma.  Sometimes feeling like I am not enough.  What if she doesn’t realize that I am her mother?  What if she thinks that my mom is her mom? Does she feel more comfort in my mom’s arms? Man, am I the only one that feels this way? Am I bad daughter for feeling this way? I don’t know. I would so love to be able to stay home with Cami every day and not have to worry about leaving her, or wonder if she knows who I am.  But that is just not possible for our family at the moment.  Although, I was able to move my work schedule around and reduce the amount of hours I work, I feel like it is just not enough.

Then there is the issue about how my husband and I want to raise her vs. how my parents would want to do things.  Obviously, they are the grandparents so they want to spoil her. So having to tell my parents to not do this or that, or do things a certain way is not the most pleasant thing. They have more experience at parenting than us, yes, but Cami is ours and sometimes having different parenting styles can be difficult. Having to say “no” to mom and dad is hard, especially when she is spending most of her time with them. However, I know my parents try, for the most part, to do things the way we ask, and it is so appreciated.

 

I realize that all these feelings I have may be normal.  I just never expected to feel this way. Deep down I know Cami knows I am her mother and loves me. She is just  growing so fast and I just hope to be able to experience all her firsts. I am very grateful to have such a loving and caring family that support us in every way possible, and that Cami will grow surrounded by so much love!

About Ana: 

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Hi there! My name is Ana, I am a 26 year old first time mama to a baby girl.  In my blog, The Blushing Mama, I talk about my experiences as a first time working mama, as well as health and fitness.  I love my job as a Paralegal, but most of all I love being a mama! In my down time I love spending time with my family discovering new places, working out and hey why not, catching up on some Netflix. The Blushing Mama is dedicated to my fellow mamas and women in hopes of creating a positive space to support and encourage each other in this crazy amazing life.

Stay Connected!

Website: http://theblushingmama.com

http://facebook.com/theblushingmama

http://twitter.com/theblushingmama

http://instagram.com/blushingmama

Why We Need to Stop Referring to Babies as Normal

As seen on the Huffington Post.

 

What is normal? Well, according to the Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, normal is defined as usual or ordinary; not strange. In the same definition, Merriam-Webster’s adds normal is a representation of mental and physical health. In the concept of society, normal is defined relatively the same. Normal is largely based on how a person’s behaviour and appearance conforms with social standards. You are either “normal” and you fit into society or you are “not normal” and therefore do not. Until recently I placed little thought on the definition of normal and the injustice it serves for many members of our society.

It may be because I’ve been exposed to the sensitive nature of human normality, but I find fault in Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defining normal by the mental and physical health of human beings. There is also fault in our society in the way we judge each other and categorize one another based on social norms. We live in a world that is so complex and filled with great difference. Differences that should be embraced and used as inspiration for kindness, generosity and understanding. A world where the term “abnormal” should only be used as a term to indicate results in medicine, not to define a human being. Even more so, not to define a fetus in limbo of a diagnosis.

It was only three weeks ago when my husband and I had our twelve week ultrasound with our first child. I watched my husband light up as he looked at the little life we created on a black and white screen. I clenched my husband’s hand with excitement, awing at our tiny baby’s nose. Little did I know I would rely on that hand only days later to be clenched as a result of panic and fear. In the days that would follow, we would anxiously be seated in our doctor’s office awaiting results we never anticipated to hear — that our baby had an abnormality.

 

The words used to describe this abnormality were as complex and scientific as they come. In medical terms, our baby had a thickened nuchal translucency. In more common terminology, the condition placed our baby at higher risk for genetic differences such as Downs Syndrome, and congenital heart defects. As quickly as the words left the tip of my doctors tongue, the tears were streaming down my face. I locked my eyes on my husband and plowed through an entire box of Kleenex as our doctor explained the tests we would have to undergo, doctors we would need to see and risks of our pregnancy. There were few words that stuck with me during that conversation.

We were sent home with a copy of our ultrasound. The top of the paper stamped with urgent in big, red, block letters, and the bottom of the ultrasound using the word abnormal to define our little 12 week baby.

In the days that would follow I would search the Internet to find expectant parents in a similar situation. To my surprise baby forums were flooded with parents whose baby had the same abnormality. The majority of mother’s discussed the tremendous amount of heartache they went through, only to find out that their baby would be born “normal.”

From the few people we shared this heart breaking news with, many wished us well and hoped that our baby would be born “normal” rather than healthy — and each time someone wished our baby be born normal, my heart ached. In one sense, I understood that their intentions were well-meant, but in another sense it was clear that if my child was born with physical or mental differences, my child would not fit into society’s definition of normal. In combination with the serious complications and medical issues that come along with Downs Syndrome, society viewing my child as “not normal” was not something I was ready to accept.

A team of genetics counselors prepared us for the worst possible outcome. We were forced to place value on the life of our child, and the value they would have in our world. I continued to imagine our little baby, who my husband and I created through love. A baby with innocence and purity. A baby who I loved without even meeting and continued to love despite the differences he or she may have.

After a grueling two weeks our baby’s DNA testing came back low risk for trisomy related chromosome conditions. Before we had a chance to breathe a sigh of relief, we were told a second abnormality was found and we would require further genetic testing. My heart aches for my husband and I as we face this new path of unknown, but my heart also aches for the families who will become the statistics we fear. The family who will have to integrate their beautiful child into a society with a closed definition of normal.

If you know a family member, friend or coworker in a similar case of limbo, please do not tell them you hope their baby is born normal. Rather, substitute normal with the word healthy. It may seem like a small request to make but it means a world of difference to the people living this situation. The word normal is a shitty reminder that it’s not just good enough to be born healthy.

To everyone who has ever felt like they never fit in, who has ever felt like they were not normal, know: what makes you different makes you beautiful. Embrace your difference. Our world is a beautiful place full of many beautiful people. Placing a standard or status quo on what makes a person normal in our society masks the true beauty of all of our differences.

A Letter to My Body During Pregnancy

Dear Body,

We need to talk. I know you’ve come to learn that something foreign has been hanging out within your skin. It’s okay. I know it’s there – and it’s time to ease up, we’re growing a baby.

That’s right. A baby – not a virus, or a parasite. Just a human, that we need to grow… from pretty much scratch.

It may seem like a lot to ask, but hear me out. Women have been doing it for years.

Between the all-day “morning” sickness, mood-swings, and aversions to pretty much all of my favourite foods, I could almost swear you weren’t happy to be housing this little sea-monkey.

Mom’s have shared that you’ll eventually come around and give me a little bit of a break. But they’ve also shared that before long you’ll start attacking me again with sleepless nights, swollen feet, and leaky-breasts.

I’m here to ask you to be patient as we protect and grow this new love of mine. This is new for us. You’re changing in ways you’ve never experienced before (yay, boobs!) and you’re also supplying life to a very special little person. This is something to be proud of.

They say we will forget about all of this, after we go through hours of painful labour, and eventually push a 7 to 10 pound person out of our vagina. I’d like to believe them. Women often do this more than once after all.

One thing I do know for sure and can promise you, is whether we forget about this or not, the prize we gain at the end of this journey will be more than worth it.

So hang in there, body. You’re doing okay.

We have a 6 more months left to go, so it’s time to man-up and give it our all. One small request though – can you stop making me cry? My husband is starting to think I’m a little bit batty.

Love,

Your soul.