Becoming a Stay at Home Mom

FullSizeRenderI never thought (or if I’m honest, even desired) to be a stay at home mom.

Growing up I always thought of myself as a an independent, take-charge, feminist, ready to stand up to any man and take on any challenge! I wanted to break glass ceilings and shatter stereotypes. All the women in my family worked full-time outside the home, and as far as I knew, they always had. (I didn’t realize at the time they had almost all stayed home when their kids were little.) So I just assumed that I would have a full-time job as well. Even when I got pregnant with my son, Maddox, I fully planned to return to teaching after a short maternity leave.

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One Big Happy Wonderland!

My family has always loved Christmas! A time to give, love and celebrate family. One of my favorite Christmas memories, although it drove me crazy at the time, was from Christmas morning when my mom would make the entire family wait on the stairs while she took a family photo before we could go down and start opening presents. As a kid, I swore it took her 3 1/2 hours to take the picture! It was like she was torturing us! Haha! But the waiting and anticipation somehow made the present opening even more exciting!
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A few years ago my mom started a new tradition of matching family pajamas! At the time, once again, I thought she was crazy. Then, when I had my own kids, I totally understood and I’ve carried on the tradition with my own family. Every year we pick a new set of fun holiday pajamas. Even though Josh whines every year, I KNOW he secretly loves his pajamas! This year I let Maddox help me pick our matching pajamas and he chose these adorable holiday bear pjs from Gymboree! For 10 days, from December 1 – December 10, across stores nationwide, Gymboree is helping customers add wonder to the season by gifting them with a holiday memory in the making. When customers visit the store, they’ll give them a scratcher at checkout. The scratcher might inspire family game night with a Mattel Prize Pack of Uno, Apples to Apples and Pictionary plus $50 to for Gymmies to outfit the evening! Or perhaps, a gift basket of Mrs. Fields Cookies – sweet treats for Santa! Or, a mid-holiday shopping trip treat with a Free Auntie Anne’s Classic Pretzel. Two lucky customers will be treated to their next holiday vacation, with a Club Med all-inclusive family vacation. Every scratcher will reveal a special surprise, One Big Happy Wonderland!
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What are some of your favorite or most memorable family traditions? Every year we add new ones. Be sure to visit a Gymboree store near you (between 12/1/16 – 12/10/16) to outfit your favorite holiday moments and pick up a scratcher for a chance to add more wonder to the season!
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Nursing in Public

If you are nursing your baby, what do you do when you are out and about?  Do you try to find somewhere private? Do you use a cover? Or do you just nurse and not worry about it?  I do a mix of all three.

With Maddox, more often than not, I went somewhere private to nurse him. I completely support a woman’s right to nurse her baby anywhere! However, as a first time mom, I wasn’t as comfortable nursing in public all the time. There were many times I nursed Maddox in the bathroom. And I have to admit I hated it. I felt so isolated, left out, and dirty (public bathrooms are so gross)! Trying to nurse a new baby while not touching anything is incredibly hard! When Marlow was born I was tired of going to the bathroom to nurse. While I have done it on rare occasions, I decided I was tired of leaving dinner, missing conversations and searching for nursing room while shopping.

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Post Baby Body

Marlow is almost 4 months old! I can’t believe how fast it has gone by! I’ve had a few new moms ask about weight loss after baby and I wanted to do a quick post. To be honest I have no idea how much weight I’ve lost. When I came home from the hospital I jumped on the scale and discovered the batteries had died. So I decided I wouldn’t replace them and I would just go by how my clothes fit.

The main reason I don’t stress about weight loss is because I’m nursing. I know the weight will eventually come off and I don’t want to restrict any food and risk my supply going down. So instead I buy a comfy pair of jeans, a few nursing tank tops (usually black, white and nude), and tops to layer over my tank top. Side note- I find wearing a nursing tank top with a shirt over it is the easiest way to nurse when we are out and about. I can discreetly and easily nurse whenever I need. I like nursing tanks that are soft but supportive (so I don’t need to wear a bra). After Maddox, it took me almost a year to fit back into my pre baby clothes. Full disclosure- If I don’t leave the house I stay in yoga pants and a nursing tank top ALL DAY! ? When I’m feeling fancy I throw on a little make-up… Nope… That was a lie… I throw on big sunglasses so no one can tell.

So I basically bought a few set staples:
– Dark blue jeans
– Black jeans
– Black yoga pants (these high waist ones from Target are awesome)
– Nursing tank tops (From Bravado)
– A lose fitting, soft t-shirt
– A long cardigan (to hide fun new post baby belly and long enough to cover my thighs because they got HUGE.
Here’s an example of what I normally wear day to day.

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Attachment Parenting

I’ve had many people ask me about my parenting style, mainly my attachment parenting. I’ve tried to write a post about it many times and each time I’ve stopped and started over. There are so many different parenting styles, and we each have to do what works best for us, for each baby, and for our family. Keep in mind that I am currently able to be a stay-at-home mom, and your circumstance may be very different. I’m hoping to convey my feelings without sounding prejudiced against those who parent differently.

What works best for my family falls in line with attachment parenting. Attachment parenting is defined as: a parenting philosophy that proposes methods which aim to promote the attachment of mother and infant not only by maximal maternal empathy and responsiveness but also by continuous bodily closeness and touch.

To me this means skin-to-skin contact as much as possible (especially in the early days), baby wearing, breastfeeding, responding to all my babies cries, co-sleeping, and gentle parenting. Some of these are self explanatory but I wanted to talk about how I respond to their cries. I’ve always thought of crying as the only way babies can communicate their needs and wants. I believe whole heartedly that babies cry for a reason. I’ve never thought of their crying as manipulative or deceptive. It’s their only way to tell you what they need, whether it be hunger, dirty diaper, pain or just needing comfort. I also felt that by ignoring their cries, I would be telling them their voice doesn’t matter. That their one way of telling me what they need doesn’t work.

For this reason, we’ve never considered using the Cry it Out method or sleep training. It’s important to add that neither of my babies have had any medical concerns such as colic that would cause excessive crying.

So when Maddox or Marlow cry, Josh and I comfort them. Sometimes that means picking them up, talking to them, singing, moving to a new environment, distracting with toys, but mainly just keeping them close so we can respond quickly. For example, here’s what we would do when Maddox or Marlow would wake up crying. When they were tiny babies, we always picked them up immediately and softly talked to them to comfort them (i.e. “It’s ok. Shh. I’m here”). As they got older (maybe 4-6months), we didn’t pick them immediately. We cuddle next to them, pat their backs, and talk to them using the same language we did before to reassure them and comfort them. Our goal was for them to open their eyes and realize we were right there and they were ok.

We want to provide constant, consistent nurturing and comforting, and the way we do that changes as they mature. With Maddox, we have gone from immediate comfort when he was an infant, to verbal comfort as a pre-toddler, to encouraging him to “use his words” to express his distress, as he became verbal. Now I see an independent almost-three-year-old who seldom needs the sort of comfort I now offer Marlow, but who still gets our full attention when he does need it. And one of the most amazing things, since Marlow was born, I’ve also noticed Maddox offering comfort to Marlow in the same way that we did to him!

My thought behind always comforting them is that they know we are always there and they are safe, comforted, and reassured. This is what has worked best for my children and my family so far. I would love to hear what has worked for you. We do not all parent the same, but we all want the same thing — happy, healthy, well adjusted children.

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Quick Tip: Diaper Rash

The antibiotics Marlow has been on for her UTI has caused really bad diaper rashes! I picked up a few quick tips that really helped that I wanted to share.

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  1. Rinse wipes before using them. You don’t have to rinse every wipe but I did this about half the time. Even though I use pampers sensitive wipes they still have some disinfecting chemicals that can further irritate diaper rash.
  2. Use a hair dryer to completely dry everything! Turn the hairdryer on low and cool settings.
  3. Triple Paste diaper cream! It’s the BEST. Use tons of it!
  4. Diaper free time. Letting their bottom really air dry can be huge help! It’s not easy to do but I bought doggy pee pads at the store and I would lay them down on the floor and her play mat for her to sit/lay on to play. Much easier to clean up a mess that way!
  5. Frequent Diaper Changes: I literally change Marlow’s diaper as soon as she goes (sometimes before she’s actually done..whoops)!

*Side note with antibiotics: Ask your pediatrician if you can give your child probiotic! I give Marlow half a pack of Florastor of Kids twice a day. It comes in a powder form so I mix it with 2oz of water and give it with a medicine dropper. Probiotics are good for so many reasons but they are especially important when taking antibiotics.

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Favorites: The Shop Binxy

IMG_8580I had no idea how different shopping with two kids would be! Marlow doesn’t love her carseat so keeping her in her seat in the shopping cart isn’t really an option for us. Not to mention there’s no room in the cart for groceries if her carseat is in there! If she’s asleep, I can put her in her Ergo Baby carrier and carry her that way sometimes. However, if she’s awake she wants to be looking around and interacting with people!

So when I saw the ShopBinxy I knew it would be perfect!It’s a baby hammock for your shopping cart! It’s soft and comfy, like laying in a hammock. She can still look around and be entertained. And it’s designed so I am still able to put groceries below her! Maddox also LOVES that he can turn around and play with her while he’s sitting in the cart as well. This awesome new inventions made shopping with two kids SO easy! Here’s a link to the website www.binxybaby.com Check out the pictures below of us shopping at Target!

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Favorites: Wooden Teething Toys

IMG_3624I wanted to start sharing some of my favorite baby things! First up on my list are Finn + Emma Wooden Teething Rattles.

I got these toys for Marlow but Maddox clearly loves him! He hasn’t even let her play with them yet! Not sure if it’s the cute animal designs or the soft rattle sound but he loves them! I know Marlow will soon too!

I’m obsessed with these teething rattles! They are made from Indian hardwood, finished with natural vegetable seed wax, and filled with beans. Check out this awesome organic company at  www.finnandemma.com! I love that all Finn + Emma products are made with G.O.T.S certified materials using fair trade labor practices.

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BONUS Get 15% off your order using this link: http://finnandemma.refr.cc/2HRN53H

 

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First Trip to the ER

Once again, I’ve killed all my plants…

So Marlow and Maddox were both sick the past few weeks. We went to Marlow’s one-month checkup, expecting an easy visit, only to find out she had a fever. She was eating and sleeping just fine and acting totally normal. I was shocked. Then we were sent straight to the ER. Marlow was catheterized, had a spinal tap and blood drawn. Scared me to death, but unfortunately that’s all apparently standard when a 6 week-old gets a fever. Finally, we found out she had a UTI. She had no other symptoms, and doctors said luckily, thanks to finding it at a scheduled checkup, we caught it early. However, not knowing what was going on, seeing Marlow get poked and prodded, and staying in the hospital for 2 days was not fun. It was terrifying, heartbreaking, and traumatizing at times. To be honest, at one point I had convinced myself something was seriously wrong. I was expecting the worst! The fact that Marlow was so young made it all so scary, but to add to that, this was our first ever kid ER visit.

To make things more complicated, and of course scarier, when they were doing Marlow’s spinal tap they hit a blood vessel, which put some blood in her spinal fluid, so they had to do a brain ultrasound to make sure there wasn’t bleeding in her brain leaking to the spinal fluid. That took 30 minutes and it was the longest 30 minutes of my life. I was convinced they found something horribly wrong, and I almost passed out I was so stressed. When the doctor came to read the results from the brain ultrasound and told us everything was fine, I was so happy and relieved I literally burst into tears. It was only a UTI, which is easily treated by antibiotics, and we were headed home 2 days later. I am beyond thankful that it wasn’t something more serious!

Once we got home and just as I was starting to relax, Maddox got sick with some sort of virus. My stress level flew through the roof again, worrying about Maddox and about Marlow getting his virus.  When kids are sick you drop everything and focus on them. So to all those parents out there who have or have had a sick kid… My heart seriously goes out to you! Stay strong and tell the rest of us how to help you. Seeing your child sick or in pain is beyond anything I ever imagined.

So needless to say… I’ve once again killed my plants… I can’t totally blame the circumstances because well… I kill plants all the time. But this time I feel like I at least had a legit reason for neglecting my plants.

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Bringing Home Baby

13308275_682624648352_211249782888313148_o-2Our friends and family have commented at what an absolute rock-star of a big brother Maddox has been since Marlow was born (And I totally agree). Preparing for Marlow’s arrival was very different from preparing for Maddox. We already had most of our “baby necessities” that we acquired when Maddox was born, so one of the main things we really tried to focus on was preparing Maddox. We talked a lot about Marlow and what would happen when she was born.

First, we shared our plan for what would happen when Mommy and Daddy went to the hospital. Until our first night in the hospital, Maddox had never spent the night away from us. So we worried this separation might be tough. To prepare, we discussed, almost daily, how Mommy and Daddy would go to the hospital and Maddox would go stay with Lolli, Poppi and aunt Kelsey. We talked in detail about how much fun he would have, where he would sleep, and when he would come see us. We also had him tell us what the plan was and what he wanted to do. I really think all the preparation and discussion made for his easy transition! He was amazing and never once seemed upset or unhappy about being away from us at all!

The second thing we really focused on was discussing with Maddox exactly what it will be like when we bring Marlow home. Very early on we started reading “new baby” books with Maddox. Our favorites were: I’m a Big Brother, The New Baby, My New Baby and Babies Don’t Eat Pizza. (Thanks for books Lolli!) The books were the best help for us. Reading them together really opened up the conversation for us to talk with Maddox. Some of the books are step by step bringing baby home, and others go through examples of what new babies can and can’t do.

Lastly, throughout the pregnancy we talked with Maddox about Marlow as a real baby, who was already part of our family. We really tried to include Marlow in all our conversations. When we were playing, we talked about how we will play with Marlow. We still do this. When we are building with blocks, we talk about how Marlow may knock our blocks down and how that’s what babies do sometimes. When we eat, we talk about what and how Marlow will eat. You name it, we try to talk to about it

So while it’s only been 4 weeks, Maddox has been a truly amazing big brother! He looks at her with great tenderness. He sings to her, and if she cries he offers comfort. We do everything we can to make him feel included and important when it comes to Marlow. He is our “big helper” and he loves doing jobs to help take care of his baby sister. I can’t predict how the future will be, and I’m sure there will be crazy days, but so far the transition of bringing Marlow home has been a very smooth one, and I credit really thorough preparation for that.

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