My statement on being a stay at home mom

It’s one question that used to make me sweat profusely and get all hot and bothered. Asked with an ease and nonchalance, “So, what are you doing now?” The one doing the asking, of course, is employed, my age, and interested in knowing my career status. “What are you doing now?”

(sigh)

For some reason, even writing it out makes me cringe.Image result for My statement on being a stay at home mom

While perfectly OK with being a stay-at-home mom on most days, whenever asked about my career status (or lack thereof) I once got defensive, very defensive. No. I didn’t sound defensive or even look it. I just felt it (or defensive.)

“I’m raising my daughter!” There, is that what you wanted to hear?!? (deep breath)

Of course not.

To most of my twenty-something, college graduate peers on the up-and-up in their careers, the thought of leaving a job to stay home with a child is mostly unfathomable.

I know because I once thought my current life circumstance unfathomable for any woman of “promise.” So, my old thoughts on the matter drove my insecurity in twenty-something settings. If attending a friend’s engagement party, I would wonder, “Will they ask what I do for a living?” “Will there be an awkward silence when I respond honestly.” “Will they somehow think less of me for choosing this path?”

And, there would always be an awkward silence, then tripping over words to cover the silence, words about “daycare being expensive” or something else about it being good that we’re able to afford all that we have on one income or “good for you!”

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Making the decision to be a stay at home mom is tough and was tough for me. Most women, myself included, don’t as young girls, imagine that they will grow up to wipe their children’s butts all day and have to schedule in “lunch times.”  Most women, no, most human beings who have worked in their life find earning an income and receiving favorable performance reviews empowering.

But many women do choose, in becoming mothers, to become stay at home moms, not because they can’t do anything else or because their husband’s put them up to it, but because they’ve decided that they’d rather stay home. And, there’s nothing wrong with that or with mothers who choose to go to work each day. It’s their choice. Both realities are tough and come with their share of sacrifices. Trust me, I know.

In becoming a stay at home mom, I’ve learned these truths, and it is these truths that I’d most like to get stamped on a card or maybe even a flyer that I can then give to anyone who asks what I am doing now. I’m doing what I think is best for me and my family right now. Please, don’t judge me for that.

This is supposed to be a rant from a stay at home mom feeling misunderstood or unappreciated, but it may appear that way and for that, I apologize.

Moms who work inside and outside of the home for pay or not, what do you wish to tell the world about your lived reality as a “working” woman? Please use the comment field to speak your mind to the world.

10 Lessons Learned about Starting Babies on Solids

For today’s edition of Babyology, I thought I’d offer ten lessons/tips that I have learned about starting infants on solids.

1. In the beginning, it takes 15 or so tries of giving a baby a new food before you can definitively know their opinion on it. After three “unsuccessful” tries and pureed sweet potatoes down the drain, I concluded “Oh, she must hate sweet potatoes.” This “truth,” of course, set in my motherhood paranoia and led me down a mental trip of guilt of her one day becoming that “chubby kid” who only ate McDonalds and couldn’t make it up the hill at camp. (sigh). Over time, I realized in giving her the same foods other and other again that it wasn’t that she didn’t like, for instance sweet potatoes. It was just that sweet potatoes and all the other weird veggies that I was giving her were so different from breastmilk. Once she became used to the texture, taste, smell of these veggies, she loved them. Now that she is older, it is much easier to introduce her to new solids.

2. Solids are ok.  I was (and still am) in denial about my daughter’s interest in solids. I have to tell myself often that in her starting solids, it does not mean that she is rejecting me as her “other food source.”

3. Spoons are weird objects to a baby. Can you imagine someone attempting to shove an unfamiliar object into your mouth? (I hope you answered “no” to this one.) Whenever I would give Nya solids in the beginning, she would attempt to wrestle the spoon out of my hand. I would like to say that she was always unsuccessful in her attempts, but, hey, even for a six month old, she is a strong girl with a very good grip. Once I figured out how weird having a spoon in your mouth for the first time could be, I made an effort to first get her used to the idea. When giving solids, I would take out two spoons, one for her to play around with in her mouth and another for me to use to feed. I also randomly gave her spoons throughout the day for her to play with. She now is less interested in grabbing the spoon and understands that spoons are ok to go in the mouth.

4. Do not give solids on carpeted surfaces. I learned this one the hard way. In the beginning, I thought it would be a good idea to just put Nya in her Bumbo seat in our carpeted living room for each meal. By the end of each meal, needless to say, there would be stains, crumbs, spit up in the surrounding area. If you do feed your baby on carpeted surfaces, use a tarp or towel beneath where the baby is sitting.

5. Babies like peas. Peas were the first (and I think only) food that Nya liked on the first try. If you are not having much success with the standard sweet potatoes, carrots, bananas, or applesauce, give peas a try.

6. Be prepared for stinkier, thicker poop. I miss the days of Nya’s exclusively breastfed poop. In one of my fondest memories in the beginning of her life were changing her very mustard colored, vanilla cake mix smelling poop. (sigh) I can’t say that her poop rivals that released by my uncle after thanksgiving dinner, but it is definitely more smelly than before. The consistency of her poop has also changed from runny yogurt to thick toothpaste/peanut butter.

7. Your baby will always seem more interested in what you are eating than what they have in their colorful bowls. Even if it is the same thing (albeit pureed beyond recognition from its original form).

8. Water proof plastic bibs are the way to go! I used to used the cloth bibs that you can buy in bulk from Babies R’ Us. That is until I realized, as a result of a “necessary” trip to Target, that some genius had invented an alternative. The plastic bibs are easier to clean and seem to “catch” more food.

9. When using solids to complement nursing, it is easiest to create a flexible schedule for yourself. Before creating a schedule, I could never figure out when to offer solids. I always worried that I was feeding her too much or not enough. I used this schedule by mother-2-mother as my guide and revised it to my liking.

10. Make your own rules! Go with what works for your baby. Don’t worry as much about how things should be.

As Nya matures, I continue to learn more and more solids. She is now eating veggie and fruit-based purees, oatmeal, and cereal but I plan to incorporate more textures and protein.

What lessons have you learned about giving solids? What foods did your children enjoy? 

I should be happy; My daughter’s ready to wean from breastfeeding

I never thought I’d be sitting here at seven in the morning writing a post about my surprisingly intense feelings about weaning my daughter from breastfeeding, but I am.

I never thought I would (or could) feel these feelings or that I would be so sad that in becoming pregnant again my milk supply has nearly diminished, but I do.

Of course, I thought I would be celebrating this time, this time of, what was supposed to be, my renewed “breast and body independence.”

I thought I’d be celebrating that my daughter is ready to step fully into the next chapter of her childhood.

Eating a bowl of cereal

But, I’m not.

I thought this day would be the answer to all of my motherhood problems, or the sleeplessness, the saggy breasts, the constant feeling of being needed.

But, now that I sit here, awoken from a night’s sleep uninterrupted by my daughter’s need for my milk and after a day, a full day, of no nursing, I feel sentimental about the whole thing.

Perhaps she tired, I thought to myself when drinking this morning’s cup of tea, of my little milk and of crying because of that little milk. Or perhaps, and more likely, she was ready to end things.

And, I thought I’d be ready to end things, too. After all, breastfeeding as a pregnant mom was (is) painful (very painful). I only kept own, biting my upper lip and pinching my thumbs to get through the “latch” because I wanted to believe that she wasn’t ready.

I know now that in truth, I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready to move on because I was afraid of what moving on would really mean. I was afraid of losing the one tool in my motherhood arsenal that helped my daughter through illnesses, boo-boos, sleeplessness, and tears.

I was afraid of my daughter growing up so quickly and wanted, in continuing breastfeeding, to slow something down, to keep something still.

In spite of my fears, I know that where we are today was inevitable. And, that’s motherhood. The moment you think you can’t take something anymore, you realize that you can and when your child has moved on from that thing you then find yourself trying to “pick up” the pieces to reclaim what once was, but never will be again.

Oh, motherhood, you do mystify me.

Moms: Any words of advice for this sentimental mom? I know that I should be happy about this day, that I couldn’t breastfeed (nor did I want to) my daughter into elementary school, but I just feel very sad about it all. How do you get over feelings of sadness that come with the ending of phases in your child’s development?

Breastfeeding for Weight loss?: What really works

You want to know what I “love”? I “love” it when celebrity moms show up on red carpet events two to three weeks postpartum looking skinny and toned and when asked about how they lost the weight, they pull the “just breastfeeding card.”Really? Let me get this straight, you dropped 50 pounds, managed to get super defined legs and abs in three weeks just by breastfeeding?In pulling the “just breastfeeding card,” these celebrities also make it a big point to say they didn’t do it through their assumed usual ways of, oh, I don’t know eating nothing but fennel soup, detoxing,  and exercising for hours on end.

And, while the breastfeeding advocate in me salivates at their promotion of breastfeeding to mainstream audiences, the formerly breastfeeding mom in me knows that their promotion of breastfeeding as a diet is, at best, well, misleading.

Breastfeeding burns a lot of calories and can lead to weight loss, but, and as the millions of mothers out there who breastfed their children until preschool and are still carrying around their baby weight will very quickly tell you, it doesn’t always work that way. Breastfeeding is not a magic pill (sorry, if I just broke your heart).

I lost all 40+ pounds of my baby weight from my first pregnancy within six months, not three weeks. Breastfeeding was a big part of my weight loss, but it wasn’t the only part. The other parts, or how I used breastfeeding to increase my weight loss postpartum are included below by way of some tips.

Breastfeed your baby on-demand. Breastfeeding can burn between 600- 700 calories a day. In order to best take advantage of it’s natural calorie burning properties, and to keep your baby happy and gaining weight (which are very important) you should always, always feed your baby on cue, or own demand. Scheduled feedings not only limit your natural calorie burning potential but they negatively impact your milk supply, and, thus, your baby’s happiness. hehehehe.

Breastfeed exclusively for at least the first six months of your child’s life. When you begin to supplement your baby’s feedings with other things (formula, cereal, etc.), your weight loss potential decreases, mainly because you aren’t burning as many calories as before. Exclusive breastfeeding has other great benefits to your baby, too, like a decreased risk of infections, food allergies, etc.

Eat lots of proteins and complex carbohydrates. Breastfeeding hunger is an ugly, ugly monster with two heads and bad breath. It’s a monster that will roar all day long unless tamed with good foods like lean meats, legumes, leafy greens, whole grains, fruits, and veggies.  While pizza buffets and Doritos are OK sometime, you’ll find that in eating these things, you’ll be hungrier sooner and have only more love handles to show for it. Really.

Eat when you are hungry. When you are breastfeeding, it is not the time to skip meals or diet. Doing so only increases the toxicity levels in your milk and will cause your body to hold on to the fat that it thinks it needs in order to make breastfeeding possible. The key is to eat when you are hungry, not bored or tired or stressed (emotions which happen often in motherhood), but when you are genuinely hungry.

Eat more at the front end of your day, rather than the back end. A reader and dear friend, Lucy of the blog Lucille in the Sky, suggested this to me in a comment on this blog. And, boy am I thankful that she did. By eating more for breakfast and lunch and making wise snacking choices during the day, I was less hungry by night when my body naturally began burning less calories.

Do moderate exercise (cardio and strength training). I know what you’re thinking, “What the— But, I don’t have the time!” But, oh, you do. You just have to decide to make the time. I thought I didn’t have time either, until I figured out how to exercise with my baby. I would walk in the morning, or if the weather was bad, I would turn on Exercise TV, strap my daughter in a Moby Wrap, and do an at-home walking workout that I would highly recommend by Leslie Samsone. Walking alone helped me in the first four months to lose 90% of my baby weight. The final 10% or 10 pounds, well, they were stubborn. To get rid of them, I had to add a strength training regimen into the mix. I was (and still am) too cheap to buy a gym membership, so again I did a workout (every other day) on Exercise TV called 10 pound slim down by Chris Freytag. It’s a 30-day program that works.

Drink lots and lots of water. Hydrating yourself while breastfeeding is important, not just for weight loss but for a lot more. When I was breastfeeding, I aimed to drink at least 8 glasses of water.

Get lots of sleep (when you can). As hard as it was, I eventually had to give into the idea of sleeping while my baby slept. It was really the only way. Co-sleeping with my baby also saved me from having to deal with all the night wakings.

Don’t stress. Most people eat more when stressed because stress produces “protective” hormones in your body (Cortisol and Adrenaline) that cause you to feel, over time, very hungry.  As a mom (breastfeeding or not), you should make it a priority to de-stress in the best way you know how (of course, other than eating).

Don’t focus on the scale. The scale is not always your friend when you are breastfeeding. It may, even with all these changes, show the same number over and over and over again, even though you know by looking in the mirror that you’ve lost weight. It is for this reason that rather than focusing on numbers, focus on how your clothes are fitting. The numbers will fix themselves, usually, when you wean your baby.

Enjoy breastfeeding. This is the most important tip! I’ve seen the forums of moms pumping x amount of milk a day (beyond what their baby needs) in order to accelerate their weight loss. And, while I respect that approach, in my opinion, there’s more to be gained by taking the more traditional approach of feeding-your-baby-when-he’s-hungry. Rather than focusing on how to use breastfeeding to lose weight, it helps to focus on feeding and nourishing your baby and taking care of yourself. By doing these things, you will lose the weight in time. Really. Just be patient and enjoy breastfeeding your baby.

Moms: Did you lose weight through breastfeeding? Please do share your experiences with other readers. Any tips that you can add? What do you think of celebrity moms’ promotion of breastfeeding for weight loss?