Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Reflecting on my first year of motherhood

My baby girl is one year old this week, and so my emotions have been all over the place! I have written a letter to her, sealed it, and will be giving it to her when she is older during a special life event - marriage, having her own child, graduating college. In that letter I included all my hopes and dreams for her future, and so that is a private gift between her and I. I also thought it would be nice to write down some of my reflections from my first year of motherhood, to look back on in the future. This post may be all over the place as a result.

Thinking back over this past year, the only thing I can think is wow. So much has changed in what feels like so short of a time. Motherhood has been different than I expected, but in the best way possible. I have never been more exhausted, physically and emotionally, and I have never been more in love. More in love with my child, more in love with my husband, more in love with my life. There are so many moments I know I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life. At the same time, it wasn't easy.

Luckily, over time I learned love outweighs perfection. I was reaching for some lofty goal of being the "perfect mother". There is no such thing. I know for a fact that I am the perfect mother for my child. I am the mother she needs, and her smiles and kisses tell me that. My only goal before I had my daughter was for my children to go to bed every day knowing they are loved, and I can happily say that so far that appears to be true. I am proud of myself for that.

Love also needs to be evenly distributed. Being a stay at home mother means that I wake up to my job, and I work until I go to bed. At least in this past year it did. I lost myself at times, and I am so grateful to have a husband call me out on that and help me try to find a balance. I am more than a mom, I am a wife, and I am my own person too. I founded this blog as a way to nurture myself and my own passions, and am glad I did. Taking time for myself each week and using this as a creative outlet has made me feel like me again.

This past year has shown me how amazing my family and friends are. My family - both my relatives and my husband's - have been there for us many times. I have friends both old and new who have helped me more than they can imagine. With every kind word and gentle push when needed, I have grown as a mother and a person. I am happy that our relationships are even stronger than before.

Baby girl, if you ever somehow run across this know that I am a better person just for knowing you. I wrote that in my journal at two months pregnant, and it continues to be true. You are the light of my life, my most precious gift, and I feel and see God in you daily. I am not sure what I have done to be so lucky, but know I never take it for granted.

Eric, you are my best friend. Thank you for being my partner in this new phase of our lives. There is no one I would have rather embarked on this adventure with but you. "Yours was the first face that I saw. I think I was blind before I met you." I see you now more clearly than I ever have. Thank you for being my partner, and walking with me hand in hand.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Breastfeeding Essentials

Today we are talking all about my breastfeeding essentials! I'm in my eleventh month of breastfeeding, and am so close to the year mark. Along the way I have tried out different products, and what others claimed I would need. I have put together a list of the top ten things that helped me continue breastfeeding, and what may be helpful to you as well if you are a new mom. You can click on each product picture to go to the product on Amazon. As an Amazon affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases.

A comfy chair: This may seem obvious, but it wasn't for me. I had my grandmother's old wooden rocking chair and thought, "that'll do". I slapped a cheap cushion on it and went to the hospital without a second glance. I ended up getting an episiotomy, and that chair ended up in another room. For the first few weeks I actually preferred to sit on the floor during night feedings. Trust me, get yourself a comfortable chair. You will use it, especially if you live in a two story home. I definitely didn't want to go downstairs every feeding to sit on the sofa, and I preferred not to co-sleep when my baby was really little.


A water bottle: Have one in the places around your home where you typically nurse. When you breastfeed you can almost feel your throat dry up. Be sure to stay hydrated in order to continue to produce breastmilk!

Breastfeeding pillows: Try out a few different ones, or use a pillow from around the home. Breastfeeding is pretty physically demanding on your back and your arms, so proper posture is important.

Lanolin/nipple cream: Just trust me on this, your nipples will thank you.

Soft shells: When I started breastfeeding I had an oversupply as well as a blood blister (ouch!). At one of my daughter's doctor's appointments the doctor took a look and recommended these to me. When you have sore or aching breasts, getting air to them is very important. Moreover, breast milk has healing properties! This product allows air flow and collects milk. Don't feed that milk to your child, and empty them often. You will feel better in no time.

Nursing bras and a sleep bra: or you can use nursing tanks. I bought a few off of Amazon, and they have lasted me the year. Easy access to your boobies is worth it, as often as you will feed. No need for fancy nursing clothes if you have these, as I mentioned in my previous post.

A baby carrier: I am a huge proponent of babywearing because it provides physical touch as well as easy access to breastfeeding! I have worn my daughter around the house and nursed her, all with my hands free to complete whatever task I am working on. When we have multiple little ones running around, I know this will be helpful as well. Look for a babywearing group near you! They often have Facebook pages. My local chapter allows you to try on different carriers and/or borrow them to test drive them.

A breast pump: If you are going back to work and plan to breastfeed, you need a pump! Luckily, many insurance providers cover this so check with your provider. I use the Medela Free Style.

A pumping bra: When I was working part time and pumping, I would often wear a pumping bra and multi-task by doing office work/documentation.

Nursing pads: will keep you from leaking onto your clothes! These are especially useful in the early days when your body is learning how much milk it needs to produce.

And there we have it! Please let me know what your breastfeeding essentials are in the comments.

NOTE: Included in this post are affiliate links to products.