An Exhausted Mom’s Guide to Sleep

Jess was four months old when I realized I had not slept a full night in almost a year. Between first trimester bathroom breaks, third trimester backaches, and newborn nighttime feedings, I was sleep deprived and exhausted. Something had to change.

Perception Reality

Before my realization, our nighttime schedule consisted of watching late-night TV and nursing as needed. I mean, we essentially had no schedule. It dawned on me that our poor baby had no idea what to expect at night, and didn’t know how to differentiate nighttime from nap time. Ah-ha!

I researched nighttime routines and rituals online, and adapted what I read fit our own style. And it actually – eventually – worked!

Our schedule in a nutshell:

7:00 pm – bath
7:20 pm – mini baby massage
7:30 pm – bottle & story time
7:45 pm – baby in crib, lights out

Don’t be misled, it took a little adjusting and quite a few tears, but we found it. I could finally stop rolling my eyes when I read about babies who slept through the night and moms woke up rested. That was me!

I’m not telling you that this will work overnight (pun intended). I promise you that full night of sleep is on the horizon. future.

Here’s to well rested babies and mamas!

Tips for Breastfeeding Success

Breastfeeding Tips

Breastfeeding is an intimate and special experience between mom and baby. With that said, it can also be a scary and vulnerable time for a new (or even seasoned!) mother. When things don’t go exactly by the book, moms of infants may feel guilty for “doing something wrong,” or ashamed of “not getting the hang of it” immediately. But thousands of moms experience some level of struggle with nursing before finding a rhythm.

The following are the best of the best tips in breastfeeding success. Pick and choose from the list as the items pertain to your needs. Above all, remember that finding your nursing groove takes time. The bond you and your baby will experience (not to mention the health benefits for baby) make the effort worth it.

BREASTFEEDING TIPS AND TRICKS

The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine – This is a worldwide organization of physicians dedicated to the promotion, protection and support of breastfeeding and human lactation.

Kelly Mom – This is a great site created by a lactation consultant and mother of three. The website provides evidence-based information on breastfeeding, sleep and parenting.

Breastfeeding Video – It’s sometimes useful to see breastfeeding in action. This real-life video gives tips and tricks to make nursing easy.

Nursing Positions – There are many ways to hold baby and position yourself to make nursing comfortable for both parties. Find the best position for you and your infant.

Forums for Nursing Moms – These online groups allow you to ask questions and communicate with real moms experiencing similar struggles and victories at the same time.

La Leche League – This organization has a multitude of resources, including local groups where you can connect with real life nursing moms.

Breast Feeding Inc. – This site has a ton of resources including videos, forums, etc.

Dr. Jack Newman – Dr. Jack Newman is a great advocate for breastfeeding. The site has a loads of info, including videos, articles and troubleshooting information.

NURSING SUPPLIES

While one of the benefits of nursing is that you don’t need a ton of stuff to do it, some of these items help make breastfeeding a little easier.

Nursing Pillows – These comfortable and supportive pillows is a must for all breastfeeding moms.

Nipple Cream – Sometimes your nipples will become sore, and will require some type of additional soothing moisturizer to protect and care for them.

Reusable Nursing Pads – While you are establishing your milk supply at the beginning, nursing mamas tend to leak. Using these pads, you prevent embarrassing spotting on your shirt while out in public. Reusable pads save you money in the long-run.

Christmas Killed Our Hippy Dream

When my first two children were born, I didn’t even think about using cloth diapers. They were old fashioned, bulky, and way, way too much work. I just happily diapered my little sons’ bottoms with whatever disposable was on sale, threw the used ones in the trash, and moved on with my life.

But then, ten years after deciding we were done having children, my husband and I were blessed with a surprise. A change of life with another baby. A princess to complete our family!  By that time, we were older, wiser, richer, and more environmentally conscious. And so, after a completely natural, water birth, we swaddled our breastfed, little girl in a fluffy hemp diaper. And it was great. We felt like we were wrapping her in a big blanket. We congratulated ourselves on beings so evolved. Not only were we protecting her little bottom from a scratchy paper diaper, we were doing our part to protect the environment.

Sure, the diapers were bulky and we had to buy bigger outfits for her. Yes, she looked a wee bit deformed with a bulbous bottom protruding from her tiny body. And okay, washing the diapers was a hassle. But we were doing a good thing. And we kept at it for six months.

Then Christmas struck. And we were forced to dump our good intentions.

Suddenly, on top of work, and homework, and housecleaning, and breastfeeding, I was swamped by the usual Holiday rush. I was shopping, and wrapping, and crafting, and baking, and the diapers began to pile up. We slapped a disposable on her and promised that as soon as things calmed down we’d sterilize the diapers that were molding in the diaper pail and get back to being the environmentally conscious, enlightened parents we knew we could be. The problem was – things didn’t calm down. With a teenager, a tween, an infant and two hectic work schedules there was no way I could keep up with the extra work of cloth diapers. It had been a blissful, hippy dream. But I’ve been a mom for long time, and that makes me a pragmatist.

Yes, I’m contributing to the landfill. And okay, disposables aren’t as cute or soft. But I’m getting it done. I’m keeping my head above water. And sometimes when you’re a mom, that’s the best you can hope for.

Halloween Killjoy

I’m sorry, but as a whole I think Halloween is a stupid holiday. It’s not because of any extreme religious convictions or anything. It’s just that I think Halloween traditions are more annoying than magical.

Take for example, carving pumpkins. I have a picture of my niece that perfectly depicts the way I feel about carving pumpkins. She’s about four year’s old, standing on a chair, staring into the inside of a pumpkin, and gagging. And I totally get it. Pumpkin innards are stinky and disgusting. But that’s not the only thing I hate.

I hate costumes, too. What?! You hate costumes? Well, not all costumes. Little kid costumes are adorable. But as kids get older, the whole thing starts to get weird. I mean, what kind of costume are you supposed to put together for a preteen boy? Which brings me to another reason I hate Halloween.

The awkwardness over when to quit trick or treating. No other holiday presents this problem.  We’ve never made much of a fuss over Santa in our house. (I’m starting to sound like a real party pooper. I love most holiday traditions. I promise!) So busting the Santa myth has never been an issue. And Easter egg hunts are something kids seem to transition out of all by themselves. I’ve never seen a teenager with an Easter basket. But the allure of candy is strong even after puberty hits.

And what are you supposed to do with all that candy? Your kid’s got fourteen pounds of sweets spread across his bed, chocolate smeared on his face, and a glazed look in his eye, and every year you’re forced to make a decision. Let him fall into a sugar induced coma or start the rationing. I am just not freewheeling enough to let my kids eat all their candy at once. So I ration. But rationing leads to begging.

“Mom, can I have some candy? I need some candy, Mom. But Mom, it’s my candy. It’s my Halloween candy, Mom. Mom! What’s the point of Halloween if I can’t even eat my candy?”

“I have no idea, honey. I have no idea.”

That said, if your children are going out on Halloween night trick or treats, read this post on how to plan for a safe and happy Halloween for kids.