Bed-share or Crib?

As I lay in my queen bed with my two daughters beside me I am reminded of this ongoing debate: should your children sleep in your bed or should they sleep in the crib from day one?

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None of my three children would sleep in a crib. None. Only one would tolerate a bassinet. To put it bluntly the only use I have gleaned from a crib is to pile the laundry I haven’t bothered to fold. Trust me, it’s useful, but definitely not living true to its purpose.

Many of my friends successfully made the transition to crib and their kids sleep through the night no problem. Some of them did cry it out. No judgement here. Unfortunately this just did not work for our family.

When Camden was born I went back and forth on putting him in the bed with me. I read multiple articles online, personal stories and all led me to the fear that I would roll on top of him in my sleep and suffocate him. It was almost an irrational fear.

I tried putting him in a bassinet and then a crib. Nothing worked and he cried most nights keeping me up until nearly 5am. This went on for three months of the two of us staying up all night (a miserable time for us both) and he also was colicky I suspect which didn’t help matters.

Baby Camden

Finally one night I gave in to my maternal instincts and put him in bed beside me. That night (no joke) we slept better than we had in months. He was calm, he nursed easily, and we both slept. Night after night the cycle continued. And guess what? I didn’t roll on him in my sleep! I felt like I had uncovered the secret to sleep as a new mom and I felt confident deploying the same tactic with my next two children.

So while I am pro bed-sharing, I am ultimately pro do whatever works best for your family. If your baby in a crib is best for you then I say go for it! If your maternal instinct says sleep with your baby in bed then go for it! Bed-sharing has worked great for our family.

Some benefits include: better sleep for everyone, nursing is more convenient, feelings of comfort and security for the children, and studies have shown being close to the mother helps regulate a baby’s breathing and heart pattern. Co-sleeping also reduces the risk of SIDS.

If you care to try bed-sharing here are some tips on how to do so safely:

1. No heavy blankets, pillows, or stuffed animals around the babies face (I personally prefer when they are small to keep the blankets no higher than my waist level)

2. Keep the baby on their back and on a firm mattress

3. Adults bed sharing should not use alcohol or drugs

4. Sleeping on a couch or an area where a baby can be wedged in is dangerous

Lastly I would like to reassure you (as I have heard this time and time again) that allowing your child to sleep with you does not mean they will be stuck in your bed forever. Our oldest is five and this past year he regularly sleeps in his own bed in his own room.

One day they just grow up and stop coming to your room. For us it’s one down and two to go! Co-sleeping is an amazing experience and I can’t recommend it enough.

If you want to bed share, but are feeling nervous about trying it, there is also the option to go the route of getting a By Your Side Sleeper. This allows baby to have their own space in bed, but still allows you to remain close and monitor them. This sleeper features mesh sides which help with air circulation and to keep baby from overheating. This particular sleeper is recommended for babies from newborn to three months. Once they start to roll it’s not recommended for use.

What are your thoughts on co-sleeping/bed sharing versus crib? What works for your family?

For My Son

My son right after he was born

Nearly 24 hours have passed since I first felt the pangs of early labor in my back. The day has been long and eventful filled with warm baths, phone calls, a doctor visit (only to be told I still had time), to the eventual water breaking and knowing it was go time.

We have been patiently waiting for this moment. With every false contraction before the excitement grew. We set up the nursery with your crib and all your cute baby clothes. We have the swing. The carseat. We picked your name.

5:36 AM. After hours of labor, hours of pushing, finally you burst forth into this world and were in my arms. That moment something inside my soul broke and was repaired all at once. It is hard to describe the love that overwhelms you when you hold your first born child. When you smell their sweet baby smell and you feel that animalistic drive to protect them.

Becoming a mom, becoming your mom, is and was the best part of my life. I have always thought of you as a gift I don’t deserve. You are mine to love, protect, teach, and guide.

You have taught me that I am capable of doing hard things. You have taught me patience. Shown me the ways I am flawed and what I need to improve upon.

Sometimes I see myself in you. You have the same introspective nature I did when I was a child. You are sensitive. You are so kind and considerate of others. Everyone says you look like me. In those ways we are similar.

Your mind rivals mine. You are so smart and analytical in your thinking. You have an impressive memory. You can recite every single country in the world and tell me all the names of the dinosaurs.

Watching you grow up is bittersweet. I love to see you thrive. Every year you grow taller. I know soon you will be taller than me. Every year you are focused on something new and adding to your repertoire of knowledge. You are learning and appreciating our family traditions. You love your family wholeheartedly and I can see that they love you as if you were their own child.

As you grow I hope we retain this close bond. I know someday you will be driving a car. You will have a job. A girlfriend. Maybe someday children of your own. As you learn and grow you will only strive more for independence and every year I need to let go a little more.

Life is full of changes, but the love a mother has for her son is eternal and unchanging. I love you my sweet boy and am so proud of you. I will never forget the day you came into this world and made me your mom. Thank you for being my son.

Not A Perfect Mom

Me and Baby El being silly

Do you ever take a step back and realize just how much of your life is dictated by technology? Particularly ‘the image’ we try to convey to everyone else. In the age of social media we are bombarded with pictures and status updates of beautiful people, seemingly perfect families, trips, inspirational quotes and stories.

I have been guilty of this too. Sometimes I find myself writing something that sounds more like it’s out of a hallmark card or cheesy beyond cheesy and I cringe a little, but I post anyway because hey, everyone else is doing it right?

I just want to stop and take a moment to be real with you. I am not a perfect mom. It’s not my intention for you to think I am a perfect mom.

I mess up all the time. I struggle with anxiety. Sometimes I yell at my kids and get frustrated. I haven’t figured out how to parent perfectly, I’m just doing my best in the moment.

I will never be the ‘cool mom’ in my group of friends. Most of the time I look a hot mess and don’t do my hair or makeup. Usually I grab whatever clothes look semi clean out of the crib piled with laundry and put that on. I bite my nails. I have split ends.

I’m really shy. I’m not good with the spoken word. I try to be friendly, but I think I can come across as socially awkward. I don’t like to make decisions. I tend to repeat myself.

My ‘social status’ is average at best. I live in a two bedroom apartment with three kids, no A/C or laundry. We struggle to save money. We have student loan debt. Southern California is an expensive place to live.

I struggle with comparison and being content with what I have. I want the beautiful homes you see moms posting on Instagram. I want to wear the designer clothes (well not really, but maybe up my game a little bit) and look presentable at all times.

My point is maybe seeing all these images isn’t healthy for us. Most of it probably isn’t even true. It’s all for show. I realize that, I’m sure you do too. I’ve posted about pictures a bit in a previous post if you care to check it out.

I just want to reiterate that I am not perfect, do not have a perfect life, and I’m sure you don’t either. But I am happy. I am trying my best to be content. I am not a perfect mom, but I am doing my best.

Surviving Disneyland With Young Kids

It’s A Small World: We love this ride and it’s air conditioned!

This weekend we stayed in Anaheim while my husband went to the D23 convention. I decided – to pass the time – I would take the kids to Disneyland.

It was a short walk from our hotel and I am familiar with Disneyland so I felt pretty comfortable with the idea, however, this was my first trip to Disneyland without my husband. Just me and two kids, so here are my tips for making your day more manageable and enjoyable at Disneyland.

TAKE A STROLLER

Most people going to Disneyland already have this covered, but just a reminder that there is a ton of walking involved and depending on the time of year you go it can be very hot. Hot, whiney, tired kids are no fun and who wants to be stuck carrying kids around?

BRING PLENTY OF WATER AND SNACKS

Disney will allow you to bring in water bottles and snacks no problem. If you must, you can buy water and food in the parks but it can get expensive fast. It’s great to have snacks and water ready for when you are waiting in line for rides as well.

UTILIZE THE BABY CARE CENTER

If you prefer not to change your baby in a bathroom or need a quiet place to nurse the baby care center is a great place to visit. They also sell items like baby food and pacifiers.

KNOW WHEN TO TAKE A BREAK

There is an overwhelming amount to do at Disneyland, especially if this is your first trip to the happiest place on earth. I suggest doing two to three rides, maybe a character meet and greet and then taking a break.

Today, for example, we went on a few rides in Fantasyland, walked over to Star Wars Land, met the princesses at Fantasy Faire and then we decided to head back to the hotel. My baby needed a nap and my son was tired out from the heat.

These are just my basic tips for getting through a Disney trip. I am happy to report that my first solo trip with kids was a success! If you have any questions or suggestions to add please comment below!

How Do We Normalize Breastfeeding?

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Chances are you’ve seen the memes of an innocent mom feeding her baby (with not much exposed) and next to her a woman wearing a bikini (with definitely more skin exposed) shaming you if the one of the mother feeding her baby offends you but the other does not.

Quite frankly, I don’t think either should offend you, but it does seem like women in bikinis are more widely accepted than a mom simply trying to feed her child.

Breasts can be sexual, yes. But breasts are also for breastfeeding babies if a mother chooses to do so. And a mother should be able to feed her baby, however, wherever, she needs too. It’s not something to debate.

I have read so many comments on posts about this that make my head spin. Most of them are from older women stating that they breastfed their children, but they did so ‘modestly’. Often times this means they used a cover, went somewhere private, or my favorite – waited until they were home to feed their baby.

To refute these comments I say what does modesty mean to you? Not all moms want to use a cover. Not all babies want to eat with a cover over their head (especially when it is hot). Do you like to eat with a cover over your head? A mom should not have to go somewhere private to nurse her baby unless it makes her more comfortable. Breastfeeding is not about YOUR comfort, it’s about baby and mom. I would love to know how did waiting until you were home work out? Babies (especially newborn babies) cannot wait to eat. They have tiny tummies. They are hungry. They will cry. It is so much easier to just feed a hungry baby and calm them down.

More comments that make me livid – what if my husband or my kids see your breasts? They don’t need to see that!

My response: God forbid your children see a mother feeding her baby! God forbid your husband see a boob! Has he never seen one? Why have we made breasts and breastfeeding such a taboo thing? If you see a mother breastfeeding her child you (and your husband) have the maturity to look away if it bothers you. Use this as a teaching moment for your children if they seem curious or have questions.

I have breastfed all three of my children. My son for a year, my daughter until she was almost three, and my baby is still nursing. Breastfeeding is a personal choice and overall I am glad I chose that for me and my babies. With my first two I was extremely self conscious and wanted privacy so I used a cover to nurse. It wasn’t always easy or comfortable.

With my third I said screw it and I nurse her without a cover, wherever I am, whenever she needs to nurse. I have NEVER been shamed for nursing my child. Most people do not give me a second glance. This is my personal way to normalize breastfeeding.

I also teach my children that this is how babies eat. To them a mother nursing a baby is normal. They are not traumatized by seeing it. As they grow up I hope it continues to be just a normal, every day thing to them. I believe if we make breastfeeding normal while our kids are little, they will grow up to be adults that also normalize breastfeeding.

To summarize, breastfeeding is normal. Breastfeeding is about the comfort of mother and baby. Breastfeeding does NOT require, a cover, privacy, or your permission. Teach your children that it is normal, and be sure to support the moms in your life you know that choose to breastfeed.

What is your experience with breastfeeding? Did you choose to feed your baby this way? Have you ever been shamed for doing so? Comment below.

After Baby: Navigating Postpartum Care

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After the excitement of laboring and delivering your new baby, a new sense of reality begins to set in.  If all goes smoothly and you have a relatively normal delivery then you will be discharged within a day or two to go home.

What happens then?  What do you need to get by?  Let me share my experience of not just the monetary things you need, but what you will need physically and emotionally the first few days.

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1.  REST

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Having a baby is incredibly hard work.  You are likely exhausted, running on low sleep (if any), and it’s incredibly hard to rest in a hospital with nurses coming to check on your vitals frequently, or to make sure you have fed baby.  When you get home you will need sleep, you will need to recover from the amazing marathon your body just performed.

2. HELP

If you are going to rest, then you need help.  Help can come in many forms, but I speak from experience when I suggest you have family or a friend that can come and watch the baby for you while you sleep, bring you a glass of water, help you to the bathroom, whatever it is you need.  Often times our birth partners are tired from the birthing experience too and in those first few days I think it’s nice to have someone that is caught up on their sleep helping out.

3. PADS AND WITCH HAZEL

Whether you have a C-section or vaginal delivery you will need pads.  Postpartum bleeding can vary from woman to woman, but you will need an ample supply to keep yourself clean and comfortable.  Witch hazel is also very soothing. If you prefer you can purchase pads with witch hazel already on them.

4. BREASTFEEDING SUPPLIES

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If you choose to breastfeed you definitely need to invest in nursing pads (either washable or disposable) and some lanolin cream.  When your milk comes in and your supply is still balancing out you will be leaking and pads may make you feel more comfortable. The lanolin is great for soothing sore and cracked nipples and it is safe for baby as well.  If you are planning to pump and bottle feed you will also need to invest in a quality breast pump, bottles, and breastmilk storage bags. I also make it a priority to invest in some nursing bras that are wire free and comfortable to sleep in.

5. DIAPERS AND WIPES

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Babies go to the bathroom nonstop in those first six weeks.  It will feel like you are changing diapers constantly, and you are, so it is important to have a large supply of newborn or size 1 diapers depending on how quickly your baby will size up and plenty of wipes.  My favorite brand of wipes is Huggies Natural Care.

6. BASIC ONESIES

With how often you will be changing babies diaper you will not want an outfit that is complicated to take on and put back on.  Save the cute outfits for when baby is older or for a photo op, but in the meantime when you are recovering at home stick with basic simple onesies.

7. SELF CARE

It is really hard at first to focus on anything for yourself when you have a baby who is completely dependent on you.  But it is vitally important (and much easier if you have help) that you take the time to do basic things for yourself like shower, stay hydrated, rest, make sure you have a good diet.  I remember how terrified I was to take a shower and leave my baby alone for five minutes, but you can do it I promise, and your baby will be just fine.

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Eventually you will settle into a routine and the day to day care of your baby will become second nature.  This list is only the things I would suggest you have in the first few days of coming home to ease you both into the new life you have together.

Is there anything else you would add to this list that a mom needs in the first few days postpartum?  Comment below.

Finding Your Village

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We all have bad days.

Maybe it’s not even a particularly ‘bad’ day by definition, but it certainly feels like it to you. You feel irritated, overwhelmed, like there is too much to do and not enough time to do it, like you are being pulled in twenty different directions and just can’t cope.

Phew.

I am having one of those days today. It’s no secret I struggle with anxiety. I’ve talked about my struggle a bit here. I try to be cheerful and put a positive spin on things, but there are some days where it will hit me out of nowhere. And it sucks.

And this is why you NEED a village. Someone to pull you out of the funk. The calm to your crazy. You need friends. A support system.

I live 8 hours away from most of my family so that outlet does not exist for me. There are many days where I miss my mom and wish I could call her up and hang out with her (or dump the kids on her). On top of that I am a stay at home mom so I am with my kids literally ALL day.

Me and my husband. He is my rock, the calm to my crazy, my ‘person’ as Meredith would say.

I am very fortunate to have a husband that handles my mood swings and anxiety like it’s second nature to him. I am also fortunate to have a group of friends I discovered when I moved here a few years ago. We have shared the ups and downs of parenting and watched our kids grow up together. Without my husband and without my mom friends, I would be alone with my crazy self and oh my poor kids…

So here is where you can find your village:

THE PARK

Go to the park! Moms love the park. This is where we take the kids to get out their crazy energy, to get some vitamin C, and also to find some adult conversation. This is where I found my first mom friends when I moved here. Chances are you will find someone who needs a friend as much as you do. Don’t be shy! Strike up a conversation (moms love to talk about their kids), feel out the situation (some moms already have a ton of friends and don’t seem interested in having more), get a phone number, arrange a play date.

MEETUP

This app is where my new park friend led me. From here I found an entire group of mom friends to have play dates with, celebrate holidays, birthday parties, and to have a kids free night out. Meetup is great for finding people in your area, or you can create your own group if you feel so inclined.

This is my good friend Irene. We met through Meetup and now she’s stuck with me!

CHURCH

I know church is not everyone’s cup of tea. If you are not religious then you can bypass this one. But when I did attend church I loved interacting with the older folks that have already ‘been there, done that’. There is a lot of wisdom to be had from those that have already raised their kids. Chances are you will find someone that will encourage you, listen to you, and share in your struggles without offering judgement. Churches also tend to have a ton of activities geared toward kids.

There are plenty of other places to go out and find people, but these are the few I highly recommend (especially the park).

On days like today, when my anxiety is peaked, I know that it is temporary and I am grateful for the village I have found for me and my kids. And if my daughter wasn’t sick right now I would definitely be spending time with them.

Do you have your own village? Where do you go to meet new friends?