Just Mom

February 11, 2019

Someone recently told me, “I’m so glad you started blogging/crafting/going to lunch with friends/etc.; you’re doing something for you again! 

...I was worried you were losing yourself to motherhood.”

Then I see articles and memes and posts floating around Facebook and Instagram:

“You’re not just mom. You’re still you.”

Something about that felt weird to me. 

Then a dear friend recently sent me an article that I think sums up why pretty well:
Caregiving isn’t valued. It’s the work of those in the shadows — maids, nurses, stay-at-home-moms — who need feminism to lift them up so they can find their real talents and their authentic selves. There is no sense that we can be happy in it. There’s an implication that we should be doing what we want to do, and what we want to do is not take care of someone else. How could we possibly want that?”   
How Feminism Has Left SAHMs Behind

I’ve said this before, I don’t parent the way I thought I would, I do things very differently than I expected to. I don’t necessarily parent by the book or the mainstream way. I parent by my heart, by my gut, by my instincts that evolution and biology and the universe are still somehow trying to guide me by. For me, those instincts are saying to spend as much time with my child as possible, to follow his lead, to soak up every moment, to be as much for him as possible, to always be there to meet his needs and help him navigate this world.

The moment that pregnancy test turned positive, the moment I heard that first heart beat on the monitor, the moment I felt that first kick, that first contraction, the moment they told me his heart rate was dropping, the moment they placed him on my chest for the first time; in those moments those mama instincts started to roar to life. 
And every moment since, I’ve had someone tell me they were somehow wrong. 

But here’s what they’re missing: Our best days are the days when I honor those instincts. Our worst days are the days when I question myself, when I question my child, when I let others’ ideas and societal pressures tell me that wanting to be with my child is somehow wrong or abnormal, that it’s anti-feminist, it’s anti-woman, it’s anti-me.

I’m not losing myself. I’ve grown in becoming a mother and I’m getting to know the new me. And I’m getting to know my child. And in doing so, I am doing something for myself. I’m allowing myself to soak in every precious moment, I’m allowing myself to connect, I’m allowing myself to slow down, I’m allowing myself to block out the world for just a little while and fully enjoy all that motherhood brings. For a mother with PPD/PPA, sometimes feeling like you’re enough is a struggle and trusting those instincts is especially important. Forcing something when you’re not ready or your child's not ready, only makes it worse. Forcing it on terms you may not be fully comfortable with it, only makes it worse. I’m not just doing this for him (though it benefits him just as much); I’m doing it for me, too. 

We need to stop telling moms, especially new moms, that in being with their child, holding their child, trusting themselves, they aren’t enough or they’re doing something wrong. 

I’m happy being *just* mom. In this stage of life, that’s who I am, that’s what I want to be. And that’s my choice. 


December 12, 2018

I haven’t posted in a while. Life with a near-toddler is crazy and I’ve been trying to soak up every last minute of his baby-hood, especially now that we’re in his first holiday season! It’s hard for me to believe that this time last year we were counting down the days til little Mister’s arrival, which we thought would be sooner than it ended up being. Not many people know this, but I’d been in early labor for around a month before he decided to join us earth side. That made Christmas preparations quite interesting, not knowing if they were even needed, really, and boy were my hormones and anxiety out of control. 

But I digress. 

It’s a year later and we’re preparing for another special holiday season, this time with our sweet boy here to celebrate with us! It’s had us thinking a lot about traditions; the traditions we grew up with, the traditions we miss, the traditions we want to create. At first the idea of having our own family traditions seemed like this vast ocean we were going to get lost in; so many options, so little time, and how do you decide what’s worth it?

After my usual “we can do it all! And then some!” ambitions were proven to be a tad bit too much to handle, it hit me: we may not have time to do it all right now, but we have plenty of time in the grander scheme of things. We don’t have to do it all now. The lasting traditions should funnel down to that which is most important to us and the foundation upon which we want to build. For us, we want traditions to be a mix of adventure and simplicity. We want our family traditions to be found in the little moments as well as the big. But more than that, we want our family traditions to be about time spent together, rather than just going through the motions. We don’t want to build gingerbread houses just for the final product, we want to build them for the time around the table talking and laughing and creating together. We don’t want to bake cookies just to eat them (though let’s be honest, we’re looking forward to that, too), but also for the time spent experimenting and guiding and learning together. 

The idea of traditions also became less daunting when I let go of the pressure to plan them all out now; the next 18+ years didn’t need to ride on what I could come up with this week. Instead, we needed to open ourselves up for a more organic experience. What seems most worthwhile to us right now may be not be what seems most worthwhile to us in 5 years, and who’s to say what we enjoy now will be what we enjoy in 5 years, when we’re all a little older, Desi and future kids more capable. We have to leave room for growth, for exploration, for budding interests and, scary as it seems sometimes, for change. Do I hope some of the things we did this year continue on for years to come? Absolutely. I really love our matching pajamas! But I am also looking forward to seeing what our traditions become! I have a feeling not forcing them will allow us more genuine and enjoyable memories, and that’s what’s important to us! Like with most things in parenthood it seems, I’m learning to let go.

Informed is Best: Navigating Breastfeeding in Today’s Society

November 07, 2018

I always knew I wanted to breastfeed my children. It was something I was very sure of and passionate about. It’s what I felt was best for my children and my family. When I found out I was pregnant, like with most things, I jumped head first into research mode. I wanted to be prepared. The birthing center that I was going to for my prenatal care offered free breastfeeding classes with a wonderful lactation consultant for their patients, so we went to all of them (being the supportive husband he is, Burkley came with me so he could learn the ins and outs as well; this made a world of difference for us). Most people think breastfeeding just comes naturally to moms, it just happens, but there’s a surprising amount you actually have to learn about the process to be successful with it, especially in today’s society.

I have been very fortunate to have had a relatively easy time with breastfeeding from the beginning. It was a little bumpy at first, but because I had such easy access to proper breastfeeding education and was surrounded by so much support (family, informed doctors and nurses, lactation consultants, etc.), we were able to navigate those tough times and get to the other side without too much drama. We battled weight loss and jaundice, questionable diaper counts, worries about supply, pain, blisters, anxiety, and tears, but here we are, 10 months into it, and it’s second nature now. 

(For those wondering, yes, I plan on breastfeeding over a year old. I’m sure that’s not much of a surprise.)

Today’s society works against mothers from pretty much every angle. The biggest problem is the lack of access to proper education. Not everyone has free classes offered to them; often times when classes are offered, mothers can’t afford them, or if they can, the information they’re taught is outdated or just flat out wrong. Many women think they know what they need to, but because not many people actually talk about their struggles openly, these women don’t know what they don’t know, and are left to figure it out on their own when the time comes. We also live in the world of instant gratification, so often times if breastfeeding is tough at first, mothers are urged to just quit. Or they’re pressured by ill-informed doctors to supplement when it isn’t really needed, or when it is needed, they aren’t told how to maintain their supply in hopes of weaning off the supplementation. Furthermore, women who have to or want to go back to work aren’t always supported when it comes to maternity leave or their need to pump; the basic mechanisms of breastfeeding are not widely taught, so those not in the know make up policies that ultimately cost a mother her supply. And the second biggest issue I’ve seen comes down to how women are treated in almost every aspect of their lives; they’re taught not to trust their bodies. 

I want it to be clear, I am not against formula. I think it’s wonderful that an alternative exists because some women decide breastfeeding isn’t right for their family, and because there are times where supplementing is necessary or breastfeeding just can’t happen, but the way the system is in the US right now, people think that happens way more often than it actually does. I have seen far too many women forced to give up breastfeeding when they really wanted to because they weren’t supported, I have seen far too many women told they weren’t enough, and I have seen far too many women shoved into the deep end of guilt and post partum depression because of this, because they think it’s their fault, they did something wrong, their bodies didn’t work right, when in reality, they were the ones let down. By not being supported, the choice of how they wanted their child fed was taken from them. I have seen first hand the difference education and support can make, and I desperately hope that one day all women will be afforded the same experience I’ve had.  To do my part in changing this, I’d like to share the information I’ve learned that made a difference in my breastfeeding journey. 

Please note: While this list is long, it is not an exhaustive list; this is the information that has stood out to me as some of the most helpful. This is general information and does not take into account specifics of every case or individual, especially in the case of premature birth, disability, or other underlying medical issues, physical or mental/emotional. If you are having trouble breastfeeding, please consult an IBCLC for help with your situation. Again, I am not a medical professional, I am simply sharing what I have been taught through my breastfeeding journey.

  • Whether or not your breasts leak during pregnancy does not indicate your ability to breastfeed. Nor does the size of your breast.
  • You have milk from the beginning, in the form of thick, nutrient and calorie rich Colostrum. Colostrum is all babies need at the beginning, since at birth their stomachs are about the size of a cherry. It can take anywhere from 3-7 days for your body to begin producing mature milk (when most people say “your milk is in!”) because it’s not until the placenta detaches from the uterus after birth that the body is signaled to begin producing mature breastmilk. 
  • In the beginning, most babies will clusterfeed. There are a few reasons behind this: first, the more baby latches and nurses, the faster your nature milk will come in; second, colostrum/breastmilk is very easily digestible, combined with having tiny stomachs at the beginning, this means baby needs to eat often; and third, babies nurse for comfort (they’ve been in a dark and cozy womb for nearly 10 months, it’s been just you and baby. Now suddenly they’ve been through the tough ordeal of birth and are in this big, loud, bright and confusing world; that’s a lot for a little one to take in).
  • Pretty much every baby is going to lose weight in the beginning. For the last 9-10 months, baby has been taking in the nutrients you’ve provided, but not expelling the waste. For the first few days, baby poops out “Meconium,” all the waste that’s built up during that time, which can make up a significant potion of their birth weight. The general guideline for babies birthed vaginally is that they can safely lose up to ~11% of their birth weight. A recent study done has shown that for babies birthed through csections, a loss of around 15% of their birth weight can be safe and expected; this is due to the fluids and medications pumped into mother (and subsequently baby) during the procedure. It can often be more accurate to use babies weight at 24 hours old for calculations with csection babies. 
  • Many babies will experience jaundice early on. Jaundice is when a baby’s still-developing liver is slow to remove bilirubin, a yellow pigment produced during the normal breakdown of red blood cells. In most cases, jaundice is very easy to treat, through frequent feeding (to help flush baby’s system) and sunlight. In more severe cases, phototherapy is needed for more concentrated UV exposure. Many doctors, in an attempt to treat the jaundice faster, will suggest supplementing with formula to flush baby’s system. If the jaundice is that severe, you can achieve the same results with pumping and feeding breastmilk. Jaundice can last anywhere from 3-12 weeks after birth, and as long as bilirubin levels are monitored, complications are rare. (This is known as Breast Milk Jaundice, not to be confused with Breastfeeding Jaundice, which is jaundice resulting from insufficient milk intake, which is very rare.)
  • The best way to track your milk supply is by watching baby’s weight gain and diaper output. In the beginning, baby should have at least one wet diaper and one dirty diaper per days old, until 6 days old (meaning day 1: 1 pee, 1 poop; day 2: 2 pees, 2 poops; etc.). After day 6, baby should be having a minimum of 6-8 wet and 6-8 dirty diapers (no, that doesn’t necessarily mean 16 total diapers (though that is possible), as baby can poop and pee in the same diaper.) After 6 weeks, baby is expected to have a minimum of 4-6 wet diapers and anywhere from multiple poops in one day to pooping just once every few days. —-This where we had the most worry with Desi. He pooped 6 times on day 1, then only peed once on days 2 and 3. However, while I was freaking out about starving him, our pediatrician (thankfully well versed in breastfeeding) told us that because he “overachieved” on day 1, it averaged out and wasn’t too much of a worry, especially since by day 4, when my mature milk was in and ready to go, he caught back up on his diaper counts.
  • Latching should NOT be painful. For the first few weeks, the initial latch may be uncomfortable as your nipples are getting used to being used in this way, but pain throughout an entire feed indicates an issue. Baby may be latching too shallowly, or there may be tongue or lip ties that need to be evaluated. If you are experiencing pain, blisters, bleeding, or clogs, make an appointment with an IBCLC as soon as possible. 
  • In the beginning, while your mature milk is still coming in, your body is figuring out how much to make, and baby’s weight is under scrutiny, you should be feeding baby every 2-3 hours, minimum. This often requires waking baby, which for some takes a little more effort than others. For Desi, what worked best when we found out picking him up, tickling him, that sort of thing didn’t work, was undressing him down to his diaper and doing skin to skin with him. A few times he was sleepy enough to warrant a quick wipe down with a cold cloth. I also had to make sure I burped him sitting up rather than resting on my shoulder, otherwise he’d fall back asleep and not want to finish a full feed.
  • Because of clusterfeeding (which again, is a good and necessary thing), some babies will want to eat more often than the 2-3 hours. This is ok, and you should follow baby’s cues. The 2-3 hour recommendation is the longest you should go between feeds in the beginning.
  • Feeding every 2-3 hours (minimum) should be done until Baby is over their birth weight. Once over birth weight, follow baby’s cues and feed on demand. Again, it depends on baby if they want to eat more or less often than 2-3 hours; trust your baby to tell you what they need.
  • In the beginning, it is recommended to nurse off of both sides at each feed, for around 10-15 minutes per side, though the second side tends to be nursed for less time than the first side. Allow baby to nurse until they decide to unlatch. 
  • You should alternate which side you start on. So if you nurse left then right, at the next feed, nurse right then left. This ensures each breast is being drained equally and fully. Burp after each breast. 
  • It is generally advised to wait until 4-6 weeks post partum to begin pumping. This is because baby is much more efficient at getting milk out than pumps are. Breastfeeding works through supply and demand; it makes what it’s told is needed. While your supply is regulating (which can take up to 12 weeks), you want your body to know how much baby needs, not how much a pump is able to get out. Pumping too early can cause supply issues, clogs, and if done incorrectly, permanent damage to your nipple and breast tissue which may hinder breastfeeding. Make sure you read your pumps manual and get fitted for correct size flanges. Pumping is not necessary to maintain your supply unless you are not latching baby at every feed, like in the case of mothers who work outside the home.
  • If you decide to pump and bottle feed, whether it be exclusively or occasionally, make sure you are Pace Feeding baby. This means feeding baby no more than 1.5-2oz per hour between feeds (not to exceed 4oz in a single sitting), and using the slowest flow nipple available for your bottle. This ensures baby is working to pull the milk out, like they would at the breast, and not being overfed, which can cause their stomach to stretch, making their bodies think they need to eat more than they actually do. If babies stomach is unnecessaryily stretched, it can cause supply issues because the mothers breasts won’t have known to make more milk.
  • As I’ve mentioned above, the best way to tell if baby is getting enough milk is by watching their diaper counts and their weight gain. Doctors watch baby’s growth by using a growth chart and tracking the curve they follow on that chart. Ask your doctor whether they follow the WHO chart made for breastfed babies, or the Similac chart, which was made for formula fed babies. The way baby is fed affects how they grow, and at what rate, so if your child is being tracked based on a chart that does not fit their situation, they may be incorrectly labeled as not growing fast enough. 
  • If supplementing with formula or pumped milk becomes necessary, whether it’s because of a health issue or weight issue, again, be sure to Pace Feed baby to avoid stomach stretching and the supply issues that may follow. Also make sure you are pumping every time baby gets a bottle to keep up your supply. You can also request that the formula be fed to baby through an SNS tube feeding system, where a tube is attached to your breast (just tape, don’t worry) and dispenses the formula/pumped milk even while baby is latched to your breast, that way your breast is still being stimulated and signaled to make milk. This can help if there are latching issues and worry about possible bottle preference. 
  • A common misconception is that breastmilk is made from what the mother eats. It’s actually made from the mothers blood. This has two implications. First, this means that, with a few exceptions (like dairy, gluten, soy, other high allergen foods, alcohol, and foods with proteins that make it into your blood), what you eat is unlikely to cause stomach problems or fussiness in your baby. So eat that broccoli. Second, it also means that regardless of what you eat, your milk has all the nutrients in it that your baby needs. Unless your body is deficient in vitamins and nutrients (keep taking your prenatal vitamins while breastfeeding), it will prioritize putting those nutrients into your breastmilk for your baby. There is a feedback mechanism in your breasts that “reads” baby’s saliva to know exactly what baby needs, in terms of vitamins, fat and water content, and antibodies. 
  • I recommend here several times to seek help from an IBCLC if you’re experiencing issues. An IBCLC is a super specialized and certified Lactation Consultant. They are a step above a lactation consultant and can give you the most accurate and specific information to help you with whatever issue you may be having. 
  • While some pediatricians have taken the time to learn all about breastfeeding, it is not part of their regular education. Not all pediatricians understand or prioritize proper breastfeeding practices and bad advice can cost a mother her supply. I will never say don’t listen to your pediatrician, but it is a good idea to interview your pediatrician before deciding who will care for your child, and a second opinion from an IBCLC on breastfeeding matters is highly encouraged.
  • There are many different positions for nursing, and different ways to hold your breast to support it for baby. I recommend looking at pictures and watching YouTube videos prior to baby’s arrival to become aquatinted to the different options. What works for each mother and baby will be slightly different as it ultimately comes down to preference, breast size, baby size, and comfort. Since I had a csection, I found Football Hold to be most comfortable for in the beginning while my belly was tender and sore, and it made it easier to support my breast and keep baby’s airway clear, as I am a good bit larger in that area. I absolutely loved the MyBreastFriend nursing pillow, as well. If something about your positioning doesn’t feel right, or feels like it’s affecting baby’s latch, request that the hospital or birthing center’s LC come check you out and give you pointers. 
  • While breastfeeding, your body needs anywhere from 500-800 extra calories per day, and lots of water, in order to make milk. Dieting and weight loss supplements should be avoided until after you’ve weaned. 
  • Spitting up is normal. Lots of spitting up can be normal. Baby’s digestive system is still maturing and developing. However, some babies do have acid reflux. The best way to tell if your baby needs medicine for acid reflux (besides speaking with your pediatrician or IBCLC), is to pay attention to baby’s weight and whether or not they seem to be in distress while spitting up. Desi was a very spitty baby for a while, often spitting up what seemed like an entire feed, but because his weight gain was good and he seemed to barely notice the spit up, our pediatrician was not concerned, and he eventually grew out of it. The peak age for spit up is 3-6 months. 
  • The same goes for gas. Gas is normal. Sometimes your baby may need help with some trapped gas by burping, doing bicycle legs, gentle tummy massage, being held with their tummy against your forearm for a bit of pressure, or getting a warm bath. However, if baby seems to be in pain or the gas issue seems to be constant, speak with your pediatrician. There may be a food allergy that needs to be tested. 
  • At some point or another, you may face clogs, mastitis (infected clogs), or thrush (yeast infection either in baby’s mouth or on your nipple). Clogs can be treated at home with heat, massage, dangle feeding, pumping, and increased nursing to get the clog out. Mastitis and thrush, however, need immediate medical attention. Mastitis symptoms include pain in the breast, redness or streaking on the breast, fever and flu like symptoms. Thrush usually presents as pain with latching and white spots in baby’s mouth that are not easily wiped away (milk and fat on the tongue can look white, but is usually easily to wipe away with a wet cloth). 
  • Not all medications are breastfeeding safe. Double check all medications with your pharmacist and/or IBCLC. You can also call the Infant Risk Hotline (US) to ask. 
  • If you are facing supply issues, of course you should speak with an IBCLC. You should also check that you’re eating and drinking enough. Also check that you haven’t ingested large amounts of peppermint, or taken any medications that are not nursing friendly (antihistamines for example can dry you up). A few things that can help increase your supply: increased nursing sessions, pumping after nursing, power pumping, and in some cases certain foods or supplements can help, but generally only if you’re not eating or drinking enough. Some women have found that Fenugreek helps their supply, however, it has also been shown to dry some women up, and to cause increased gas in baby, so take with caution. Oatmeal, flax, coconut, and brewers yeast are favorites for trying to increase supply. They are not guaranteed, however, and the best thing to do is to increase how much milk is being demanded from your breasts. Again, breastfeeding is supply and demand. It makes what you tell it is needed, within reason. 
  • In the US, public and uncovered breastfeeding is legal and allowed anywhere you are legally allowed to be. No store policy is above this law. If you need to feed your baby and are comfortable being uncovered, you are allowed to do so whenever and wherever you need.
  • If you are a working mother who needs to pump, federal laws are in your favor. Any company with 50+ employees must allow you to pump as you need, and must provide a safe, private, lockable, and hygienic area for you to do so, until your baby has reached 1 year of age. They cannot make you pump in the bathroom. Some states may have stricter policy in your favor. If you are being denied these rights, print out your states laws as well as the federal laws, and speak with HR. 
  • Besides speaking with your Lactation Consultant/IBCLC or Doctor, you can get more help and information at KellyMom.com or visiting your local La Leche League chapter (they also have online Support Groups on Facebook). 
With the right support and education, you can feed your child the way you want. You can be successful at breastfeeding. I hope something here will have helped made things a little easier for you. 

Peace ☮f Fabric

October 10, 2018

Burkley and I are big into babywearing. At first, it was a matter of convenience. After my csection, it was difficult for me to carry Desi, and I didn’t always feel safe doing so since I was seriously lacking in core strength, so when he needed to be walked around or bounced for comfort, that often fell to Burkley. But not having been offered paternity leave from his company (a rant for another time), the time he spent at home after Desi was born, he was technically working from home, often being forced away by phone meetings and urgent emails. Babywearing helped him juggle both: Super Dad! 

Once I felt more physically capable, I began to wear Desi, as well. It was an easy way to get him to nap well, it made public breastfeeding a little more comfortable, and it freed up my hands to do chores. It also made me feel more comfortable bringing Desi out of the house; it felt more secure since he was literally attached to me, it made it harder for strangers to try and touch him with their germy hands, and it staved off public meltdowns if we’d timed our outings poorly. It was one of my most used parenting tools. But beyond that, it was one of the most necessary and valuable resources for my mental health and my ever-growing bond with my new baby. 

Kangaroo Care is the practice of caring for newborn babies through close, often skin to skin contact. It helps with temperature regulation, heart rate regulation, hormone regulation, anxiety (for both mom and baby), and even helps with a Mother’s milk production. Through babywearing, we’ve had 9 months of Kangaroo Care. For 9 months, my baby boy has stayed close, almost as close as when he was still growing within me, and comforted. On our toughest days, my Ring Sling, my carrier of choice, was close by to help us reconnect, to help me wrap my baby in layers of arms and fabric and love, making both of us feel safe and secure and at peace. On days when I was struggling emotionally, feeling like I wasn’t good enough for a plethora of reasons, I could don my linen armor and take on the world, knowing my baby was in fact in good hands and I was strong enough to make it through the day. 

Wanting to learn more, we also joined a babywearing organization that helps members find the right carrier for them and educate them on proper and safe carrying techniques (it’s more than just sticking baby in and doing some buckles). If you’re at all interested in babywearing, I highly recommend finding a local group and attending some of their free meetings. I have learned so much, and being able to try out different carriers and different ways of carrying has opened us up to so many opportunities and possibilities, as well as making a difference for us day to day. Having learned to carry Desi on my back in a buckle carrier, for example, has made it easier to cook dinner every night, which means a lot to our family, and makes it so I can include Desi in on the experience more, showing him what I’m doing and explaining the steps for the recipes, all while keeping him safe and happy. 

Being able to hold my child close whenever and wherever the want or need arises has forged a bond like nothing else. And the smile that spreads across his face when he sees us pulling a carrier out, stretching his arms out eager to “go up,” is heartwarming. The meaningfulness we found in babywearing is part of what lead us to finding Attachment Parenting, peaceful, gentle, intentional practices that felt like crystal clear answers to how we wanted to raise our child in this muddied and messy world. 

It Takes a Village

September 26, 2018

Being a mom is tough. It’s amazing and fulfilling and really, really hard sometimes. The first two and a half months after having Desi and being home on my own were fine; we were finding our rhythm, getting used to this new way of life, and I was still recovering from surgery, so I wasn’t comfortable leaving the house on my own with a fragile baby. Our days were roughly the same, and I focused on taking it easy. But by the time Desi was 3 months old, I was going stir crazy. Our schedule was a bit all over the place, Desi was still at the age where he slept a lot during the day and couldn’t really play or do much, so there wasn’t much I felt I could do, either. I somehow got it in my head, though, that by not going out, not doing activities, not creating these Pinterest worthy moments for him, I was letting him down, I wasn’t doing my job, I was being lazy, I was failing, again. I was constantly beating myself up, not taking into consideration we were still in the “fourth trimester,” and it was starting to affect my mental health, so I knew I needed to make a change. At first, I just started doing little outings in our neighborhood: short walks, quick trips to the grocery store, and, if naptimes allowed, storytime at the library. It helped; it broke up the monotony of the day, forced me to get dressed and feel human again, and made me feel like I was being proactive in exposing Desi to the world and providing him with enriching experiences. I felt great, I was doing a good job. But after a month or so, I started getting in my head again: I wasn’t doing enough, every day was the same, I was failing.

Burkley has always been my biggest supporter, and every time I talked to him about how I was feeling, usually after a minor breakdown with tears running down my face, he’d assure me I was doing a great job, I was doing more than enough, but it didn’t always feel like he really got it. He wasn’t doing anything wrong, his days just looked very different than mine, so he couldn’t truly understand. He went to work every day and interacted with people, fixed problems, worked on something tangibly productive. That’s not to say what I was doing wasn’t productive; I was keeping our child alive, happy, thriving, that’s pretty productive, but after the fourth hour long nursing session on the couch, it doesn’t feel like you’re doing much, and when the one person you spend your days with has no language skills yet, it’s hard to get reassurance that actually breaks through your own self doubt.

Motherhood is lonely, especially when you’re a stay at home mom who doesn’t really have any friends with kids or who are home during the day. It took me a while to realize it, but that’s where the root of my problem was. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t do it alone. Humans are a social species, we need community, and at that moment, I was seriously lacking in it. It was just me, my baby, and, on evenings and weekends, my husband. I may have been providing enriching experiences for Desi, but I was forgetting about myself and my own needs. That was the next change I needed to make. 

I started reaching out to other stay at home moms in the area, through social media and apps designed to connect moms (the fact that those existed should have clued me in to the fact that I wasn’t alone in this feeling). I started finding other moms that I had a lot in common with, and as we talked more, got to know each other more, and started hanging out together, we all recognized we were having the same problem, and we all started to notice a shift. We still had our tough days, we still questioned ourselves, we still had breakdowns here and there when we had really overwhelming days/nights/weeks. But this time, in addition to the support from our significant others, we also had the support of a community of women who were going through the same things, who could offer advice where applicable, and, often most meaningfully, true and sincere understanding. We no longer felt alone. 

“It takes a village.” We had found ours.

To any moms out there going through something similar, the single best piece of advice I can offer you is to reach out to other moms. We get it, and just knowing you have someone to talk to who really does get it makes a huge difference, day to day, and long term. If you don’t yet know any other moms, feel free to reach out to me, join some Facebook groups, or try out apps like Peanut or MeetUp to find local moms and/or mom groups. I promise, it helps. 

On Routines (and expectations vs reality)

September 12, 2018

As a nanny, I was always very routine based. I had calendars and schedules and everything was predictable. Things happened at basically the same time every day and everyone knew what to expect. This is how I assumed I would be as a parent, as well. Turns out, I’m not that way as a parent at all.

Burkley and I are Attachment Parents. While we subscribe to the AP philosophy pretty heavily now, we actually came upon it rather organically, later finding out the way we were doing things had a name. With attachment parenting, everything is very baby led; it’s all about following baby’s cues and responding to them quickly and empathetically. 

When Desi was just a few weeks old, I remember sitting in bed beating myself up over the fact that we didn’t have him on a schedule. Nap times happened at what felt like random, he slept for varying amounts of time, he wasn’t staying awake long enough to introduce the idea of play time or to read 3 books to him every night before bedtime. I felt like I’d already messed up. But he was happy, and thriving, and we weren’t nearly as exhausted as so many other new parents seemed to be, so I couldn’t have messed up that bad. 

I hadn’t messed up at all. I was meeting my son’s needs as they arose, not forcing him to wait it out until what I deemed to be the right time. Babies don’t follow the clock, they follow instincts, and that’s how I should be (and was) responding. And that was working beautifully. 

That’s something I’ve learned about parenting, you have all of these expectations, you read all of the books and articles, you think you know everything going into it, but until you meet your child, you can’t *really* know. Every baby is different, reacts differently, responds differently, has very different needs, and thrives in different ways. Parenting is about figuring out what works for you and your child, and sometimes that looks completely different than what you expected. And that’s ok. 

Do those moments of self doubt still creep up? Absolutely, especially when you’re doing things a bit differently than others around you. But then I have a moment where Desi’s fussy and tired a little earlier than I would have expected, but I still respond to it, and within 5 minutes of laying down with him and nursing, he’s fast asleep with a little smile on his face. In those moments, I know I’ve done the right thing by trusting not just my instincts, but his as well. 

To the Unplanned C-Section Mama

September 05, 2018

For many women, most women probably, something about their labor or delivery doesn’t go quite as planned. Like much of motherhood, we like to think that if we do all of the research, watch all the videos, write out a plan, things will go how we want them to. And, like much of motherhood, we are quickly shown how little control we actually have. Labor and birth smacked me in the face with that lesson.

Even though I told anyone who asked that I would “go with the flow” of my labor wants and needs, knowing logically that things change and you can’t really know what you need until you’re in that moment, I still had a vision in my head of how I wanted the birth to go. When it ended up going in the opposite direction, I wasn’t prepared at all. At first, I was able to take it in stride; I had my baby, he was safe and he was healthy. That’s all that mattered. And while, yes, that was the most important aspect, that’s why I agreed to the csection, when I got home and the realities of my recovery hit, and all those post partum hormones came rushing, I began to question myself. 

Here’s the thing about unplanned csections: people often treat you like the lowest rung on the birth totem pole. Not only did you fail at having a natural birth, but you weren’t quite to the point of having a scary, emergency csection, so you just failed all around. You took the “easy way.” And I internalized that idea. I felt like I failed. I pushed aside the reason I agreed to the csection, I pushed aside the fact that I’d had major surgery and was looking at months of recovery, I pushed aside every small detail that lead to the need for a csection and focused on everything I felt I could have done differently. 

Maybe if I’d labored at home. 
Maybe if I played the birthing playlist I’d created but said I didn’t want in the moment. 
Maybe if I’d worn the clothes I’d picked out for labor instead of the pajamas I happened to be in. 
Maybe if I didn’t stay in the tub for so long. 
Maybe if I’d done more squats. 
Maybe if I’d refused the epidural. 
Maybe if I kept pushing. 

Maybe I could have had the birth I’d dreamed of.

Maybe I would have lost my son. 

What I didn’t realize at the time was why, knowing full well the csection was the right decision, why I mourned the loss of an experience so heavily. It wasn’t until we found out that our midwife unknowingly captured a video of Desi being born that I figured out why it affected me so much. 

During a csection, there is a drape placed around you, at about shoulder level, making it so you can’t see what’s going on. Even though my child was still coming out of my body, I was separated from it, blocked from it, not really part of him being born. I didn’t get to see him come into this world, I didn’t get to see him when he made his first cry or opened his eyes, I didn’t get that moment of overwhelming emotion and joy when all your hard work has paid off, I didn’t get to see the moment when his Being separated from mine and the cord was cut. That’s what I was really mourning. Discovering the video was the first time I saw my son being born. 

A little while after, I decided to write a letter to all the unplanned c-section moms saying what I wish someone would have told me, hoping maybe one day it could help a woman out there who’s feeling like she wasn’t good enough. 

To the unplanned, unexpected csection Mom:

You didn’t fail. You put your child before yourself. You laid yourself down on that table for the safety of your baby. You became a mother. 

It’s going to be hard, you’re going to need help, you’re going to feel helpless at times, but remember the sacrifice you just made. Its ok to need help. In no other instance is someone cut open so extremely then expected to care for another being right away. You are doing the impossible. So take it easy. You aren’t weak, you are healing. And you will be for some time. Take it one day at a time. Do not push yourself too hard. Rest often. 

Be proud of your scar. It’s a war wound, it’s a physical reminder of the warrior you are, of the strength you have, of the amazing thing you just did! You’re a mother! That is where your baby came in to the world from!

And if you’re able to: get pictures/video during the procedure. You may not want to see it right away, but one day you will! And you’ll be glad you had them! You’ll be glad you got to see your child’s first moments earth side! 

It’s hard. But it’s so worth it. You are a mother now.

—Deanna Patterson

Baby New Year: A Birth Story

August 28, 2018

My due date came and went. I remember laying down to go to bed that night, relaxed from a long bath, promising myself I’d continue to take it easy until Desi decided he was ready to come. I played on my phone a little bit, then went to bed at around 11pm.

Having been in early labor for so long, my nights were often filled with random contractions, and like any pregnant woman, lots of trips to the bathroom. But at around 1:45am, I had a contraction that made me jump out of bed (well, as close to a jump as you can get when you’re all belly). I chalked it up as just being anxious and tired, but in the time it took me to go to the bathroom and walk back to bed, I’d had two more contractions, just as strong as the first. I woke Burkley up and we called the midwife. Again, in our 7 minute conversation with her, I had 2 strong contractions, so she told us to come in. 

By the time we got in the car and started driving to the birthing center, my contractions were 1.5-2 minutes apart, lasting over a minute long. This was definitely it. 

When we got to the birthing center, around 3am, I was 5cm dilated. We were given the option of going back home for a little while or staying and laboring there. Given that we lived 45 minutes away, we decided to stay. Since my contractions were already so close together and very strong, we all thought it was going to be a quick delivery. 

But the clock kept moving, contractions still coming every 1-2 minutes. 

By 9am I was 8cm dilated, almost there. 

A few hours later, I started feeling like something was wrong. I remember sitting in the bath during a contraction saying, over and over again, “I can’t. I need help.” The contractions had started spacing out for some reason, to around 5 minutes apart. At around 3pm, 6 hours after the last time I’d been checked, I was still only 8cm. The midwives thought getting some rest would help move things along, but that wasn’t possible the way things were, so we agreed that the best thing at this point was to transfer to the hospital for a therapeutic epidural. After 17 hours of nearly nonstop contractions, my body needed a break.

Best thing ever. 

I got some rest, got to eat a bit, and was finally fully dilated. Ready to push! 

I pushed for an hour and half. And then things took a turn. Desi wasn’t descending like he should have been (geometry problems), and his heart rate started dropping lower and lower with each push. The midwife called in an OB for a second opinion, and they both agreed a c-section would be necessary.

To say I was heartbroken would be an understatement. My dream of a medication free birth had already gone out the window, natural birth was close behind. 

They gave us the option of pushing for a little longer, but neither the midwife nor the OB thought that would change anything, and Desi’s heart rate kept going down. If we waited too much longer, it would become an emergency and he could have ended up in NICU, or worse. 

I looked at Burkley. “I don’t want my first decision of motherhood to be putting my desires before his needs.”

They wheeled me into the OR and before I even knew they’d started, at 10:18pm, I heard his cry. It was the most beautiful sound I’d ever heard. 

The nurses cleaned him up, confirmed he was doing ok, and then placed him on my chest. I was in and out of consciousness from all the meds, but I clearly remember the feeling of him nuzzling his face into my neck and placing his hand on my cheek. We knew each other. 

Little Bean

August 17, 2018

I miss being pregnant. I didn’t expect to, but I do. I regret this deeply now, but I spent a lot of my pregnancy ready for it to be over.

I didn’t have an easy pregnancy. I was diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (a severe form of morning sickness) pretty early on. I was dehydrated, losing weight, unable to eat normally until close to my third trimester, and being threatened with home health care before the medication my doctors prescribed finally started working. I had really bad round ligament pains, and moving was difficult. I was in early labor for a month before delivering. We were also going through a pretty serious family emergency at the time. 

But I don’t want to focus on the bad. My son deserves more. He deserves happy memories and stories of him from the beginning. So that’s what this post is about: the happiest moments with who was then known as “Little Bean.”

Finding Out:

I found out I was pregnant at exactly 4 weeks. Because we had been consciously trying, I knew exactly when to test. I woke up eager that morning, anxious and nervous, but filled with excitement and hope. I tried to ignore the test strip while waiting for the results; I wanted to give it time to show up rather than worrying too soon. That second line showed up pretty quickly, though, and I stared at it in disbelief. For some reason, excited as I was, I really thought it was going to be negative. After a few moments, hands shaking, I went downstairs to tell Burkley. It was early, but I couldn’t wait to tell him. Still half asleep, he wrapped me in his arms and told me how excited he was! Then asked if we could go back to sleep! I was too excited, though, and begged him to come with me to get another test, so I’d know it was real! He giggled at me and obliged. Again, the positive result, this time in the form of a digital “Pregnant” showed up quickly. And my hands immediately went to my belly. 


We decided to tell our immediate family first. For my mom, we gave her an early Mother’s Day card to “Grandmother.” With my dad, my sister (who was living with us at the time and we told that same morning) asked him to sign a Mother’s Day card, which she’d addressed to me. We told Burkley’s mom by Skyping her and holding up a onesie that read (in Portuguese) “Everything is better with grandmother kisses!” His dad we told in person by making him think we were just coming over for a visit to catch up. The best announcement, by far, though, was to his brother who lives in California. We sent him a Potato Parcel that read: Deanna’s pregnant. Nobody knows. (We weren’t sure when it would arrive and didn’t want him accidentally announcing for us). 

A few weeks later, after we’d heard the heartbeat for the first time, we had a gathering with my extended family. Midway through the gathering I changed into a shirt that read “Pregosaurus!” (My nickname growing up was Deanna-saur). It was hilarious how long it took my family to realize what it meant. 

At 12 weeks, when we were given the all clear by our doctor, we made it public, posting the picture above! The outpouring of love and support we received was heartwarming! 


The first time we heard his heartbeat, it was like a song I’d always known! It felt like it fit right in the rests of my own heartbeat. 
The first time we saw him kick on the ultrasound, I couldn’t help but gasp in amazement! 

The first time I felt him kick, it felt like popcorn in my abdomen! It wasn’t long after that Burkley could feel it, too! We’d often spend our evenings with our hands on my belly, waiting, as still as possible, to see if he’d do it again! I’d sleep with my arms wrapped around myself, finding peace in the tiniest of movements!
The first time I saw his kick from the outside of my belly, he was actually kicking our dogs nose! She could tell there was something going on and liked to dig her nose against my belly; I guess he was eager to play with her from the start! 

The first time we saw his face, with a 3D ultrasound, I already recognized him. I finally saw in person the face I knew I’d be staring at for hours on end. 

Boy or Girl?

Throughout the first few months of my pregnancy, people kept telling me they thought I was having a boy. I thought so, too, but didn’t say anything. Most of the old wives tales predicted I was having a girl, but as it turned out, we were right! And boy was he not shy about showing us! Before the ultrasound tech could even say anything, we shouted “it’s a boy!”

The Baby Shower:

My baby shower was perfect! Despite being October, it was warm and sunny outside! My aunt was kind enough to host, and she really went all out! It was Where the Wild Things Are themed, same as the theme we had picked for the nursery! Burkley and I were surrounded by friends and family as we celebrated the wonderful gift to come! 


At 32 weeks pregnant, we had the brilliant idea of sticking my massive self on an airplane and flying down to Florida for a weekend. It was actually really lovely! November in Florida is still warm, and being able to float in the water felt so good! We saw manatees and collected shells, and most of all, we relaxed! 

The Desi Tree:

Christmas fell one week before my due date. I’d been in early labor for 3 weeks at that point, so safe to say I was not in the mood to decorate or host anything. But family was in town for the holidays (and anticipating the birth), and our house is kind of the hub for family gatherings (which we actually love, don’t get me wrong). Thankfully everyone was very understanding and made it so we could still have wonderful holiday celebrations without me needing to lift a finger! Despite loving real Christmas trees, Burkley surprised me one morning with the artificial tree I’d been eyeing for a while (I was not dealing with a real tree when there was the potential of having a newborn in the house), and my mother in law went all out designing what we deemed “The Desi Tree!” Instead of the usual Christmas ornaments, it was decorated with Where the Wild Things Are characters and scenes, so we could leave it up as long as we wanted after he was born! It was perfect! 

New Year’s Eve:

My due date was finally here, but no signs of Desi actually coming, so I decided to finally relax. I’d spent the last few weeks really pushing my body, walking, bouncing on a yoga ball, going up and down the stairs, eating dates, drinking teas, forcing down pineapple, trying to get the early labor to switch to active labor. But with my due date finally here, it clicked that I really didn’t have any control over when he came, so why was I forcing myself and using up all my energy? I’m going to need that energy for when he does come, so maybe I should be focused instead on resting and recharging. And that what we did! We blew off the New Years party we normally go to and opted instead for an evening of movie watching in the bath! It was a  wonderful way to end the year and, little did we know, the best way to welcome in our new one!

In the beginning

August 12, 2018

Here's the problem with always knowing you wanted to be a mom: You're ready for kids before you're actually ready for kids. Baby fever was real. But in order to have the life I wanted, to be prepared to offer my kids everything I felt was important, there was a lot that needed to happen, not just for me, but for my husband as well.

Burkley and I met in high school. We were only 15 years old, and while most people scoffed at the idea, we knew we wanted to be together. We said "I love you" early on, we planned our future, we were inseparable, and if we were apart, we were texting each other nonstop (I'm not kidding, we probably could have set a record with how many texts we sent a minute--I think we topped out at about 16,000 texts a month). It was important to both of us that we finish school before starting a family, though. So we finished high school and went to college. We moved in together our sophomore year of college, when we'd both secured jobs that would cover rent and expenses. I was eager to get engaged, like many girls, and even though my hints were anything but subtle, we'd also talked about not getting married until after we graduated. That day finally came 7 1/2 years into our relationship, the day after my birthday, in our senior year! It was perfect! I can tell you that whole story another time, though! We graduated 2 months later; I started working full time as a nanny, Burkley started grad school and working in a physics lab. We saved up money to pay for the wedding and for a house. That fall we were finally wed! 

Ok, I'm definitely ready now! We're married, we have money saved, let's do this! Let's have kids! 

Not quite. 

Sure, we were financially stable for our current situation, but if I wanted to stay home, there's no way we could make that work while Burkley was still in school. So we added a few more boxes to the checklist. A year and a half later we bought our first home (we were 23 at the time), and not long after, Burkley graduated. Great! This is it! Now we can have kids!

Not yet.

Job searches these days can take...forever. 

So we waited, Burkley kept applying, and it wasn't until almost 6 months later that the offers finally started rolling in! 

Now we can have kids!

Mommy New Year

July 31, 2018

So why “Mommy New Year?” Simple, really: I became a mommy on New Years Day! Yes, my son has the unfortunate (though hopefully not too unfortunate) luck of being a holiday baby. I foresee lots of compensating and over the top wrapping differentiations going on in the near future. But lots of fun, too!

In addition to becoming a mom on New Year’s Day, though, I also sort of became a new person. I found a piece of myself that I’d always been waiting for. With that came a confidence I’d never had, a sureness, a feeling of right and completeness that I’d been searching for. Entering this new year, this new role, I finally became me.

A little about me: I’m Deanna, a mid/late-twenties, “new” stay at home mom (I put new in quotes because I was actually home throughout the majority of my pregnancy, but more on that later). I’m married to my high school sweetheart (cue *awwws*), he’s a physicist. I grew up 30 minutes from where I live now, but have been fortunate enough to travel to some beautiful places around the world. I have a degree in Biological Anthropology as well as a certification in Wedding and Event Planning. I’ve dabbled quite a bit in different fields: I had an in-home bakery business, I’ve worked at hospitals and cookie shops, used furniture stores, and in the library of a private school. I was also a freelance concierge and virtual assistant for a time, and my longest job posting was as a professional nanny. I knit and bake and cook, I enjoy reading, I watch way too much Netflix, and I love rescuing animals (dogs, cats, pigs, squirrels). I’ve started getting into gardening (especially herbs and veggies), I’m trying to learn to sew again, I’m an avid thrifter, and I enjoy some amateur graphic design when I get the chance. I’m obsessed with the Titanic, early 20th century living, and hope that Atlantis is real. I am a planner, a lister, a perfectionist, and I love doing paperwork. I play tug of war with anxiety pretty often. Since getting pregnant, I’ve become very passionate about pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, babywearing, and attachment/gentle parenting. I’m a member of far too many Facebook groups. I just got a library card for the first time since childhood (and quickly checked out way more books than I’ll be able to get to any time soon, oops). My favorite color is Tiffany blue, and my favorite season is fall. Did I miss anything? Probably. But all this to say, I’m all over the place, and I like to think I’m on the slightly quirkier side of normal. Hopefully someone out there relates. If so, don’t be afraid to say hi!

Coming up soon, my journey to motherhood. 

Popular Posts

©Mommy New Year 2018

Unless otherwise stated, all images and thoughts expressed are the property of Mommy New Year.