Thursday, May 29, 2014

Our Jacksonville Trip

If you're friends with me on Facebook, you're probably sick of hearing about our vacation to Jacksonville last weekend. You probably feel like you were THERE because I pretty much treated FB like Instagram (or how I imagine Instagram to be...since I've never actually been on it!), and I documented the whole trip with pictures. FB posts complete with hashtags and everything! Too legit!

Alas, I'm not finished yet! Must document on the blog! :)

My and Scott's 5-year anniversary is tomorrow. We usually go on a trip to celebrate, typically using tax money. Well, this year we decided to put our tax refund toward paying off our car (we're parents now. Time to be responsible, right?!). And we decided that a trip wasn't very realistic anyway with Grayson. I don't feel comfortable leaving him somewhere for days, especially considering he still breastfeeds, and I figured any vacation with a baby would be more of a headache than anything else.

We decided it was just plain wrong to not do something for our FIVE YEAR anniversary, so at the last minute we planned a long weekend trip to Jacksonville to visit the zoo, the beach, and whatever else we got into. We did it a week early so we could capitalize on the long weekend! Guys, let me tell you, it was SO much more fun having Grayson with us!

For once we didn't have to feel a little silly going to places like the zoo or interactive museums because we had a kid with us. We could get excited about giraffes and monkeys and ooh and aah at the giant snakes because, hello? We've got a baby here!  And it truly is more exciting experiencing the world with Grayson by our sides. I loved showing him new things like zoo animals, sand, ocean waves, etc.. He loved it, too.

Saturday morning we woke up early and, despite our efforts to be on the road by 8 AM, we left the house at 9 AM. Grayson slept most of the way to Jacksonville, but he woke up when we made a pit stop at McDonald's for some breakfast. He did okay until we were about 20 minutes away from the zoo at which point he started crying. We first played an audio clip from Scott's phone of him playing guitar. This worked for about 5 minutes. Then I had to sing (loudly b/c we also had the AC blasting to keep him from getting so hot and sweaty) for the remaining 15 minutes. I think I went through just about every little kid song I could think of. Including 5 rounds of the little monkeys jumping on the bed...

We got to the zoo and spent nearly 30 minutes in the parking lot. I nursed Grayson; we slathered on sunblock; Scott made and packed our lunches; we got Grayson strapped into his stroller with a toy and a paci. Ready to go! We took the zoo by storm! It was a great time and we were going full steam for a few solid hours. Grayson spent some time in the stroller, but he didn't start to have fun until we moved him to the carrier and he could actually see things. He babbled at all the animals, and I don't think we've ever talked to so many passersby! Everyone commented on Grayson and his awesomeness. Hey, tell me something I don't know!

Family Selfie!

After that we checked into our hotel, Grayson took a nap, we all took showers, and then we went downtown to find a place to eat. We had tasty burritos at a little hole-in-the-wall place called Burrito Gallery. It was definitely fun trying out something local and eclectic.Grayson slept through that, too.

We spent our nights cozied up in bed, watching HGTV, until about 9 PM at which point we all passed out hard-core!

Sunday we also woke up early, slathered on more sunblock, got into our swim suits, had some free hotel breakfast, and headed to Amelia Island so Grayson could explore the beach for the first time! He loved it! He loved playing in (and eating!!!) the sand. He wasn't too excited about the water, but since we were there early in the day it was too chilly to really get in (in our opinions! There were already people swimming, though). So, we just put his feet in the wet sand and let the waves wash over them.

We had a wonderful time hanging out on the beach. We played in the sand, chatted, snacked (umm...breastfeeding on the beach is the easiest thing EVER! And if anyone happened to be offended, it would be purely because there was a baby attached to my boob b/c I was showing less cleavage than most women around me. Just sayin'.), saw dolphins(!!), and then packed up after about 3 hours b/c Grayson was getting a little cranky. Nap time was calling and he was too distracted to settle down.

First time touching the sand!

Yum, yum, yum! Despite our best efforts, he managed to eat a *bit* of sand!

We went back to the hotel. Grayson napped. We all showered/bathed. And then we went on the hunt for something to do with the rest of our afternoon. Scott looked online and discovered the Museum of History and Science (MOSH). We went for it! It was so much fun! I think even Grayson liked looking at all the fun exhibits. It will be even more fun when he's old enough to interact with everything more.

We walked around outside the museum for a little while, taking pictures, and then we went in search of a place for dinner. We went back toward the hotel into a huge shopping complex where we found Boston's (thanks for a friend's recommendation). They have super tasty gourmet pizzas. The servers all fell in love with Grayson, and he even made friends with the little girl in the booth next to ours.

After dinner we went to Cold Stone Creamery where we stood in a long line and made some more friends. Then we went back to the hotel for our nightly routine! The next morning was basically just packing up, having breakfast, and driving home. Grayson slept the entire way home from Jacksonville which was a huge blessing. I just felt so bad for him when, about an hour after getting home, we strapped him BACK in the carseat to go to Wal-Mart. He screamed and cried. I can't say I blame him. But we made the trip as quickly as possible and then got back home to relax for the remainder of our day. We rented The Book Thief and watched it as a family before going to bed.

Yes, I had to document in such detail! It was our 5 year anniversary trip and Grayson's first vacation for crying out loud!!

Also, I know this is getting out of hand, but I need to document all Grayson's many "firsts" on this trip. It was his first:
1. vacation (other than visiting family during Christmas)
2. zoo visit
3. beach visit
4. museum
5. pretzel(s)
6. shower (he showered with me the first day and the second day we had to put him under the shower at the which he screamed like a newborn. So sad!! But he was covered in sand!!!)
7. time visiting another state
8. hotel stay
9. time wearing sunblock
I'm sure there are others but this is all that is coming to mind!!

Anyway, that was our Memorial Day/5-year anniversary family vacation! What did y'all do for your long weekend?


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

To Doula or not to Doula?

Just minutes after delivery! :) Photo taken by our doula
I didn't know much going into pregnancy, but it wasn't long after finding out I was pregnant before I firmly decided I wanted a natural labor and delivery, with no pain medications or unnecessary medical interventions (internal fetal monitoring, IV, forceps, episiotomy, etc..). For delivery, I basically had two choices (b/c home birth was never something I considered for my first--and prob not for my next one either!). I could deliver at the hospital in town and use my current OB/GYN, or I could deliver at the birthing center in Savannah. One of my good friends had recently delivered at the birthing center and had a wonderful experience. But due to our working schedules and the time commitment it would take to do prenatal visits in Savannah, combined with the fact that Scott and I both had some major health issues as newborns, we decided it would be best to deliver at the hospital in town. I didn't know anyone who had delivered naturally at the hospital, and I knew they also had a high rate of C-section births. I was extremely nervous that I would be pressured by nurses and doctors to get an epidural or even to have a C-section. I knew I wanted to be as informed as possible about the process of labor and ways to manage the pain, but I worried that in the heat of the moment I would forget or not have the energy to fight my case. And I didn't want Scott to worry about standing up for me when he should be focused on helping me breathe and push and all that jazz. So, I decided to hire a doula. (What is a doula? Find out here.)

I guess I just thought the doula would be my advocate and empower me to maintain my resolve. I didn't really know what else she would do.

Well, Emily Bohannon, my doula, ended up being SO much more than that. In fact, I was not pressured whatsoever at the hospital. She did help me maintain my resolve about breastfeeding, post-delivery, but I didn't need any help sticking with my decision to not get an epidural. Honestly, it never even occurred to me to ask for an epidural. I know that sounds crazy, but it didn't. I was too focused on what I was doing to think about it.

So, was it worth it to hire a doula? Yes, yes, YES!! I would, and probably will, do it again! Why?

+ Emily met with me early in my pregnancy (around 12 weeks), went over her contract, explained her role in labor and delivery, and suggested resources and tools for me to look into. Because of her, I watched The Business of Being Born, Scott read a book about the Bradley Method, and I read a book about breastfeeding which took me from considering it to committed to it!
+ Emily was an available resource throughout  my entire pregnancy. She checked in periodically, recommended new resources she discovered along the way, and she was available when I was struggling with some, ahem, downstairs issues.
+ She met with me around 36 weeks to go over laboring positions, techniques and positions to help manage pain, and to show me her "bag of tricks" which included essential oils and other tools that could distract me from pain (such as a rubber ball to hit against the bed rail and a hair comb to squeeze during contractions).
+ She met with me the day before my estimated due date to administer acupressure. I suggest this method to everyone b/c I started having contractions just hours after! Coincidence? We'll never know!
+ She asked if I could eat dinner at the hospital, which we all assumed was a no. And I got to eat Zaxby's chicken salad and a milkshake as a result! :)
+ She suggested varying activities and positions throughout labor to help with pain and progressing labor. 
+ She massaged my back and shoulders with essential oils and rubbed peppermint oil on my chest whenever I felt nauseated. 
+ Emily helped me get into the shower during labor and sprayed my back with warm water (so helpful!!)
+ She spoke encouraging words to me throughout. I'll never forget how she told me to think about how Jesus has felt every pain that we feel on Earth. How, though he did not experience childbirth, he felt my pain as he went to the cross, and he overcame it. I'm not sure I've ever felt as close to Christ as I did at that moment. It was incredibly comforting and reassuring.
+ She reminded me to use low sounds during contractions. High pitched screams or cries (or just crying in general) uses more energy and is less effective at working through the pain. I had to be reminded of this over and over and over! And, admittedly, there were a couple times I wanted to tell her to shut up! But I was a good student and obeyed her reminders as much as possible, and I truly believe it helped.
+ I was constantly reminded that I could do it! By her presence alone, I was encouraged and strengthened. I knew I had someone on my team who had two natural deliveries herself and had helped several other women have successful natural deliveries. She was a reminder that it was possible.

I've heard from several friends reasons why they would not want a doula. Not trying to discredit those reasons, because I believe labor is extremely personal and you should do what makes YOU comfortable, but I want to give my personal reasons why these issues didn't bother me.

1. My husband is my birth coach. Why do I need another one?

I wanted Scott to be there for me and encourage me, but I didn't want him to feel any pressure about coaching me. I didn't want him focused on trying to remember what he had read in various books. I didn't want him stressed about how he can "fix" things for me. Knowing him, he would take on too much responsibility for my pain management and it would lead to more stress for everyone. Scott certainly helped in many ways. And Emily put him to work with massaging, encouraging me, etc... He was an active part of my team. But it was nice that he could be really focused on me and what was happening and not worrying about what he should be doing to help.

2. I don't want a stranger in there with me while I'm pushing a baby out of my hooha!

Hate to break it to you, but there will be many strangers in there while you're doing that! A crew of nurses, your doctor, and who the heck knows who else might be stopping by! (I kid...sort of) I did not think of Emily as a stranger. Yes, I knew her before this, but we were never close. But after meeting with her a few times during pregnancy, and after hours of labor, she didn't feel like a stranger. Labor comes gradually. You don't just start out making crazy noises and getting naked! You work up to that. By the time you get to that part, you're totally comfortable with your doula. And to be honest, by the actual pushing phase, you really don't care who is looking. You're just focused on pushing! Also, for me, it was empowering to have someone less familiar in there with me. I felt a little like I needed to be strong. If it were just Scott or some other family member, I might be more tempted to break down. But with a doula, I felt like I needed to be tough. Like I COULD be tough! It was encouraging.

3. I've done all the research. I have a plan. I don't need a doula. get to a certain point in labor that your memory is probably not all that sharp. When you're dealing with the pain of frequent contractions, you're not really taking the time to plan your next position or coping mechanism. (I.e.: you will forget to make low moans because you're just reacting to pain. It helps to have someone there to remind you and encourage you. It just does.)

4. Having a baby is expensive enough! I can't afford a doula!

Maybe you really can't afford one. But if there is any possibility that you could swing it, it's totally worth it! I promise!!

5. It's just weird. Doctors know what they're doing. I'm just going to do what they tell me. 

The doctor is usually only there at the very end. Mine barely made it in time to "catch" the baby! And yes, there are nurses, but they are busy. They won't be with you the whole time. They more or less just check in with you periodically. Sure, if you're having an epidural and plan to just lay on your back throughout labor, there may not be a reason to hire a doula (though you might still find it helpful!). But if you're going to have a natural labor and delivery, you will likely not want to do it alone! And there will not be nurses or doctors in there suggesting ways for you to manage the pain. And for me personally, laying on my back would be the WORST way to manage my pain! I don't think I spent any time on my back at all. (I didn't even deliver on my back!) If I just laid there and tried to deal, I don't think I could have done it. Plus, massage with essential oils? Come on! Who wouldn't like that? Labor or not! 

So, friends, I think it's safe to say that I highly recommend having a doula. Particularly if you think you want to try a natural delivery. And, just as an additional note, it is a fact that women are more likely to deliver naturally when they have a doula. And I have friends who have taken the "I'll just see how it goes and tough it out as long as I can. If it hurts too bad I'll get the epidural" route. Yeah. It's going to hurt that bad. So go ahead and plan the epidural if that's your tactic. But if you're serious about doing it naturally, have a plan. And I recommend making a doula part of that plan! :)

*If you would like more information about my experience, please feel free to contact me!* 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

How Crunchy is my Granola?

No, this photo has nothing to do with the post. Just gotta have a picture of the little boy! :)
With some of my more natural living tendencies, I thought I was well on my way to being a crunchy mama! I had a natural labor and delivery, I add coconut oil and Vitamin D to my coffee, I give my baby probiotics, I make my own deodorant, I breastfeed and do (mostly) Baby Led Weaning. And I do wacky things like put breast milk up my baby's nose (and sometimes up mine too!).

But after doing more research and being more involved in natural mom groups online, I've discovered I am far, far from crunchy!! I don't eat organic. I generally don't worry about GMO's, parabens, pesticides, refined sugars, etc... I certainly don't use all natural body products (not even close!) or cleaning products (though I do use vinegar and/or Dawn dish soap for just about anything!). I vaccinate Grayson. I don't spend a fortune taking countless supplements. I don't exclusively buy my groceries from farmer's markets or Whole Foods.

Some of those things, I wish I did. When I read more about the dangers of some of these things, I do worry. But I don't always have the time, energy, or resources to do something about it. And sometimes there are things I do feel strongly about, but I don't always follow through. For instance, I feel pretty strongly that we should seriously limit our use of antibiotics, particularly in babies and young children. I did NOT want to give any to Grayson. But he ended up with a double ear infection and pink eye. The doctor even told me that I didn't have to give him the antibiotics, that his body would probably fight it off on its own. But when your baby is crying in pain and won't nurse - which is the one thing that usually calms him down no matter what - you become a little desperate. Suddenly my strong opinions were out the window in an attempt to comfort and heal my baby. And after the first dose, I immediately worried that I had made the wrong choice. I regretted my decision, but you have to finish the dosages once you start them. So, I just upped his probiotics for the week and had to give myself some grace. Because no one is perfect, and I was just trying to care for my baby.

And I guess that's what I have to keep coming to. Do what I can. If I'm really concerned/interested about something, I'll research it like crazy. And then I'll feel panicked for a couple days thinking about all the cancer causing, deadly things I'm surrounded by each day. But then I'll stop and figure out what I can do. Is it realistic for me to live a completely natural lifestyle? I don't think it is. Maybe it's possible if I tried hard enough to make it a reality, but again, I don't always have the time, energy, or resources available for that. So, I do what I can, and try to let the rest of it go. And if I slip up and do something I regret, I have to let that go, too.

We live a healthy lifestyle, in my opinion. We eat a balanced diet, albeit not all organic. We indulge in sugary sweets and food from boxes, cans, and fast food sacks on occasion. But we also eat fresh fruits and veggies and healthy fats. And in all honesty, life is too short, and this is so far removed from the overall importance of living for God and serving others, to spend so much time and effort worrying about every little thing. At least that's my humble opinion.

So, maybe I'm not a crunchy granola mom. Maybe I'm crunchy-lite? Like Rice Krispies. ;)

What about you? Do you struggle with feelings of guilt or fear when it comes to natural living? Join me in doing what you can and giving yourself grace for the rest! I think it will be very liberating!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

7 Months!

Dear, sweet, little 'Smo.

I cannot believe you're already 7 months old! You are growing and developing so quickly. You are learning so much! You simply amaze me. Every new thing you do is both a joy and a tiny reminder that you won't be a baby forever. For that reason, I try to soak up every little detail of you that I can. At 7 months, here is what you're up to:

+ You crawl!! Well, army crawl, but still! You can get exactly where you want to go with no trouble whatsoever! And you're quick, too! Nothing is stopping you now! :)

Watch out kitties! It won't be long now...

+ You can sit upright unassisted with only minimal toppling.
+ You can get into the seated upright position all on your own.

This is the kind of thing you do now...

Coming out of the toy basket :)

+ You sat in a public high chair for the first time on Mother's Day.
+ Your babbling is becoming more and more coherent. You can make all kinds of letter sounds, even combination of sounds!
+ You click your tongue and smack your lips.
+ You shake your head no and say "uh-uh"
+Still working on eating. Some days are better than others. You're still not very interested in food and you have a very strong gag reflex. So much so that you make yourself throw up at times. It makes me and Daddy very sad to see you struggle, but you don't seem too bothered by it. You seem to really enjoy feeding yourself and gnawing on steamed veggies. Your favorites are green beans, toast fingers with hummus or fruit preserves, pureed peaches, and mashed avocado. You do not like pears or broccoli and you will only sometimes tolerate apple sauce. beans! ha!

+ You can put yourself to sleep! You don't do it every night, but you've done it a few times, and recently you've started putting yourself back to sleep when you wake up at night. I hear you wake up and watch you on the monitor. You look around, study your feet, and roll side to side until you eventually settle on one side. You play with the crib bumper until you just fall back asleep. It has allowed Mommy some extra sleep, which is very nice!
+ You slept through the night over the weekend! You woke up once and put yourself back to sleep, but other than that you didn't wake up until 7:30!

Couch naps... too much cuteness!

Sweet and snuggly!

+ You sleep in your own room in your crib for the whole night about 99% of the time. Last night I moved you to my bed after you woke up at 4:45 simply because I missed sleeping with you. :)
+ You give great open mouth kisses! You especially like to kiss Daddy's nose by putting the end of it in your mouth! And whenever I pick you up out of bed to feed you or get you up for the day, you wrap your arms around my neck and kiss/lick my cheek. <3 p="">
Nose kisses! :)
Daddy does some silly things to you...but you're a good sport!

+You're starting to giggle a lot more often, but you still reserve them for especially hilarious Daddy sticking his tongue out at you or Mommy threatening to "eat you up!"
+Despite only laughing occasionally, you smile all the time! Such a happy boy!
 +You love taking baths, but it's getting trickier! You want to sit upright and not reclined in your bath seat. But if you lean forward too much you tip the seat. And if we try to put you directly in the tub, you slip and slide and try to crawl around. Still working on a solution!
+ You HATE getting out of the bath! You scream and cry while we lotion and dress you. You act like we're torturing you. We also have to pin you down b/c you try to roll away. It's all a little dramatic!
+You still like to snuggle when you're sleepy, but you mostly want to get on the floor and play.

I love you with all my heart, little boy! You are SUCH a joy and a happy, laid-back baby! Everyone thinks so! :)


Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day Struggles

There's nothing quite like a day devoted specifically for mothers for Satan, my own self-doubt, completely random circumstances -whatever you want to call it- to make me feel utterly inadequate at being a mom.

Isn't it so easy for moms to feel not good enough? With all the forums, FB groups, mommy bloggers (myself included!), Pinterest, and just social interaction with friends and family, it's easy to start comparing yourself to others. I typically don't let this bother me too much. I know I'm not perfect, but I also know no one else is perfect either. I feel confident that I do my best to be a great mom, and I usually feel like I do a pretty darn good job! But every now and then, something tests my patience, or something doesn't go quite how I planned and I start to doubt myself. And then it's all too easy to spiral into a series of questions, doubts, fears, etc...

 I started the weekend out feeling tired. I had to work early Saturday morning at GSU's graduation ceremony, and despite Grayson sleeping really well this past week, I found myself dragging and missing those precious extra hours I'm used to getting on Saturday morning. That evening, Grayson's schedule got thrown off because we drove to a town about 30 minutes away to purchase a keyboard that someone was selling on Craig's List. We met the lady at 5 PM, so from about 4:30 until 5:30, Grayson napped in the car. He usually starts his bedtime routine around 6:30 and is asleep by 7. But of course he wasn't tired at all by that time since he had such a long nap so late in the day. We didn't make a big deal out of it and let him stay up and play for a while longer. By close to 8, he was getting irritable and clearly sleepy. He would rub his eyes and fuss. It was time to put him to bed. But since his schedule was so off, he was a terror trying to put to sleep! I tried rocking him, swaying with him, bouncing him...nothing worked! He squirmed and arched his back and cried. He pulled my hair and pinched me. Meanwhile, I was completely exhausted. Between the exhaustion, frustration, and the literal pain I was experiencing from his antics, I lost my patience pretty quickly. Usually, even on nights like this, I can stay perfectly calm and soothing and wait it out until he falls asleep. But I couldn't do it. I laid him in his bed and walked out. I told Scott I needed a break. We waited to see if he would put himself to sleep (not this time!), and when he started crying again, Scott took his turn. And within minutes, he was able to get Grayson to sleep. At his point it was 8:30 and I could barely keep my eyes open. I couldn't even stay awake long enough to watch a 30-minute show, and I passed out on the couch.

The one good outcome from Grayson getting to bed late was that he slept through the night for the first time! Despite my uninterrupted sleep (sort of. I was still up throughout the night checking the monitor...), Sunday morning I was up early again to get ready for church and still felt very tired. Scott and I were both serving at the 9 AM service. Scott made me breakfast and we had a good time. I was in a good mood all through church, and was especially looking forward to snuggling up with Grayson for an after-church nap like we often do on Sundays. But, for once, he actually napped at church. So, he wasn't sleepy after church. We had lunch with some friends, and then went grocery shopping. Of course, Grayson took his second nap while we were at the store! I was so disappointed that the one Mother's Day treat I had wanted, a nice long nap with my baby, was not going to happen. I know it sounds silly, but it's the little things sometimes!

Scott had planned for us all to go to the park and have a nice family outing, taking Grayson for a walk and hanging out. It was a lovely idea, and usually it's exactly the kind of thing I love doing on the weekends. But I couldn't. All I wanted to do was take a nap. So, Scott took Grayson for a run in the park and I stayed home and slept. It was great to get some sleep, but all I could think was that it was Mother's Day and I had just turned down an opportunity to spend time with my family. I felt extremely lethargic and I couldn't even enjoy the nap to its fullest because I was ridden with guilt!

Then later that afternoon/evening, we were having our Sunday afternoon family movie time and decided to multi-task and offer Grayson some food at the same time. We've been doing a combination of baby-led weaning (allowing him to feed himself finger foods) and spoon-feeding purees. Sometimes he does well, other times he really struggles. I'm sure there are a lot of factors, like which foods he prefers, timing, how full he already is, etc... But sometimes he pukes when he eats. He doesn't choke, but he gags either because a piece of food is in his mouth and he doesn't swallow it, or because he doesn't like the taste, or he's full and doesn't want anymore...I'm not always sure of the cause. Well, last night was going okay, but it got cut short because he pooped and had a blowout. We got him cleaned up and decided we were done with food for the night. I had a tiny glob of apple sauce on a plate that I was going to feed to him as well, but didn't have a chance. While he was sitting on the floor, I decided to just give him a tiny taste of it before putting it away. I didn't even get any in his mouth because he turned his head, so only a teeny, TINY bit got on his upper lip. He gagged and projective vomited ALL over himself and his surroundings! And I'm telling you, there was NO food in his mouth! He literally gagged because there was a tiny bit of food on his LIP!

But when your baby projectile vomits as a direct result of something you did, you feel kind of crappy about that. I just kept apologizing. Scott assured me that I didn't do anything wrong. Grayson was fine. He didn't even seem that upset by it until we started peeling his wet, sticky jammies off. Scott took him to take a bath because, after a blowout and puke, it's really the only option. I scrubbed the carpets and just started sobbing. I felt like such a failure.

I try to do everything right. As I'm sure you've noticed from the blog, I research like crazy. I know the pros and cons of just about every parenting decision. I'm active on support groups and online forums. I seek advise from other moms, medical professionals, and a wide variety of resources in making the majority of my decisions. I have very strong opinions, values, and parenting philosophies. I do what I feel is best for my child. But some days, despite all that, things just don't go well. And it's no one's fault. I'm not doing anything wrong. But it doesn't feel that way in the moment. It feels like I made bad decisions, or it feels like I'm not strong enough, loving enough, or patient enough.

But I guess the truth is, I'm not. I'm not strong enough, loving enough, or patient enough. And I don't know enough to make the right decision every single time. And I don't have enough control to dictate how things will turn out, even when I make the right decisions. God is the only one who can fulfill all those qualifications.

I ended my Mother's Day snuggled up in bed with Scott, drinking a cup of tea, talking it out and praying to God to remind me of his sovereignty.

It's not how I would have pictured or planned my first official Mother's Day, but at the end of the day, I was reminded of the reality of being a mom - it's a tough job and I can't do it alone. I humbled myself and allowed Scott to lead me back to Jesus for strength. And I think that's really the perfect way to end any day.

Grayson and Scott, snuggled up and reading the blessed!!

** Despite the struggles, the immense blessing of having moms and being a mom was not lost on me. I spent special time praying at church for all the mommies who have lost babies and all the babies (no matter how old they may be!) who have lost their mommies. I can only imagine the pain of either of those things, and I hope all those in that situation managed to find comfort and peace on the day just for mothers. **

Friday, May 9, 2014

Pumping at Work - VLOG

A question I get a lot is how I manage to keep up with breastfeeding since going back to work. It seems like a lot of women out there are unsure whether pumping at work will be realistic for them. There is a lot to consider, and it's definitely more difficult than just breastfeeding at home. But I feel confident that if you are determined to keep breastfeeding, you can do what you need to do to make it work. And with that comes overcoming the challenges of pumping at work!

I decided to do something a little different for today's post and do my first Vlog! No, I have no video editing knowledge. This is just a video I did on my webcam (yes, I'm at work, but I'm on my lunch break!). Straightforward and simple! I thought it would be useful to show you some of the supplies and whatnot in video format.

Enjoy, and be kind while watching!! :)

A Couple Points I meant to make!:
 + If you're pumping in your car, or if you are afraid of someone walking in on you, you may want to wear a nursing cover or cover yourself with a blanket, shawl, or scarf. Tinted windows are also nice!
+ The two-shirt method is good for nursing and pumping. Wear a cami under your tops. Pull your top up and the cami down. Minimal exposure!
+Be realistic about how much you're going to pump. Check the Not Pumping Enough? link below to see average pump amounts.
+ If you can't keep up with your baby, maybe the problem is not how much you're pumping, but how the baby is being fed. Click the bottle feeding the breastfed baby link and the paced feeding link for info on making your milk last longer!

Other Resources:

Paced feeding? - how your baby should be fed!

Please feel free to email me or post a comment with any questions or concerns you may have. I'm not an expert, but I would love to be able to share my experiences or help you find the proper resources to address your concerns

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Weekend Wrap-Up

I'm posting this on a Tuesday because I already had a post scheduled for yesterday, so this one got bumped! I don't usually do weekend wrap-ups, but this past weekend had so many fun events, I just had to post about it! :)

Friday night was our first out-of-the-house date night since Grayson was born (7 months ago!). Scott had a work banquet and we asked some awesome friends to watch Grayson for a few hours while we attended. The idea of leaving Grayson was more stressful than the actual act of it was. I was worried that it would be too sad to drop him off after already spending all day away from him at work. I was afraid that he might not be able to fall asleep without me there and would miss bedtime and be cranky the whole evening. I worried that our friends would have trouble taking care of their 2 month old and our 7 month old at the same time. Turns out, none of that was a problem and the evening was SO much fun! The banquet had an open bar (WHOOP!) and fairly decent food. We had a good time hanging out with Scott's coworkers. Afterwards, we went back to our friends' house and hung out for about an hour because Grayson was soundly sleeping, so why not? :)

Forgive the lack of eye makeup. Earlier that week I contracted pink eye! Ick!! I was still on drops at this point and couldn't wear mascara or my contacts. :( So happy to be done with that now!
Saturday was packed with fun! I host a working mom group at my house on Saturday mornings. It was a small turnout this week, but we had a great time hanging out, sharing stories, and encouraging one another. It's a tough job being a working mommy! I'm so thankful to have this awesome support system of inspiring and loving women!

Then we headed to a first birthday party for one of the kiddos in the group. It was an outdoor party so we got some cute hat pictures! :)

After the party, I met up with a friend to go visit another friend who just had a baby. Her new baby is SO beautiful! It's hard to believe that Grayson was a little newborn just 7 short months ago. Time really flies!

Saturday night we had dinner with some friends at our house. It was so much fun -- good food, good friends, good times! :)

Sunday was more of a lazy day, which was perfect after our busy days prior. We woke up and went to Waffle House for breakfast, which was a fun little adventure. Then we went to church, went grocery shopping, came home and took a TWO HOUR nap with Grayson (amazing!), and then had a quiet evening. Scott unfortunately had to work at a finals study event on campus from 6 pm to midnight. So, after dinner I played with Grayson, gave him a bath, put him to bed, cleaned the house a little, and then settled in for a cozy evening with a book and a cup of tea. A little silent alone time with soft lighting and tea was the perfect way for this introvert to recharge after a fun filled weekend of social activities.

How was your weekend?


Monday, May 5, 2014

Being Genuine

Two similar things happened last week that left me feeling convicted.

As I'm sure you've realized from the blog lately, I've become pretty passionate about pregnancy, labor/delivery, parenting, breastfeeding, etc... I love reading about it, talking about it, sharing stories and encouraging others.

In my work book club we somehow went from talking about introverts and extroverts (the topic of the book we're reading) to breastfeeding. Someone said, "I'm not sure how we got on the topic of breastfeeding!" To which I replied, "I'm sure it's my fault! It just always seems to come up with me!"

And one of my coworkers and friends just had a baby this week. She previously was unsure about breastfeeding and thought she may not want to even try it. Turns out, she has tried it and is really enjoying it so far and wants to keep at it! I was SO unbelievably excited!! I just wanted to keep telling her stuff and giving advice (and probably talking too much!). After I rambled for a while, I said, "I'm not sure why I care so much, but I do!"

Why do I care so much? Because I believe it's an awesome experience and it's what is best for the baby and I want every mom and baby to get to experience it also. I also feel like there is a lot to know about breastfeeding and many moms are unaware. I want to make sure they have an opportunity to know about it!

Why does it come up so often? Because if you care about something enough, it just comes up naturally.

Immediately following each of these events, I felt like God was reminding me that this is how I should feel about Jesus. I know firsthand how a relationship with Jesus can change your life for the better. How I am more joyful, more fulfilled, and understand how to love more completely. I know that Jesus provides security, not in the worldly sense, but in the eternal sense. I know that no matter what this world throws at me - and it will throw some doozies - that God has my back. And that helps me maintain peace, comfort, and strength in all that I do. I know that Jesus has forgiven my sins and I know that with that comes amazing freedom. So....if I really know and believe these things, why are my conversations not constantly going in that direction? Why do I not frequently sit back and wonder, how did we get from x,y,z to Jesus?? Because I should. If I can be that way with breastfeeding, how much more should I be that way with Jesus?

Hobbies, interests, and passions are not bad things. In fact, they are often very good things! And there is certainly nothing wrong with wanting to educate and encourage new moms about the awesome design of pregnancy, delivery, and breastfeeding. Those things are straight from God, after all.

I'm not saying we should do/talk about good things less often.

But as Jesus said, "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks" (Matthew 12:24). 

And what should be overflowing from our hearts no matter what? Love for Jesus! Therefore, we should naturally be speaking of it as well. It's not about forcing Christianity on people or trying to convert everyone you come across. It's about sharing your life with others, talking about what's important to you, and being genuine with your friends and family.

If I am genuinely a follower of Christ, shouldn't this just come up?

I pray that God would continually fill me with His Spirit, humble me and remind me of His goodness and grace, and give me the courage to be genuine with the people in my life.

I pray that I walk away from several conversations this week thinking, How did we get on the topic of Jesus?


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