Toddler and Husband Approved Apple Cinnamon Muffins (packed with nutrients and flavor too!)

If you follow my Instagram page (thatcultivatedlife.life) than you have probably seen me baking a ton in the kitchen with my 1 year old.

Yeah that’s right, baking with my 1 year old! Call me crazy, but it has been so fun, and she absolutely LOVES it.

I’ve been looking for creative baking ideas that are easy (and nutritious) so that she can be more involved in the kitchen with me. I figure if I’m gonna be baking more, I am gonna let her eat it… and if I’m gonna let her eat, it I want it to be healthy and not a sugar bomb.

So I’ve been hitting the drawing board and creating new recipes to test in the kitchen with her.

She has mastered pancakes, and moved on to cookies, and I can only eat so many of those. So yesterday, I felt it was time to move on to the world of muffins! So I sat down and wrote down a recipe I hoped would work out… it worked out ridiculously well!

I wanted to make sure I wasn’t jaded about how delicious they were, so I shared them with a few people. First my daughter, who devoured hers, without sharing with her dog, or uttering a single noise… that means she was fully enjoying it. I also brought some to my in-laws, my husband and my cousin… all of them said they were great.

So I figured I would share it with you all too!

I highly encourage you to make these yummy muffins and get your kids involved.

It’s gonna get messy, they will probably spill things all over the place, but they will have so much fun! They will get a basic idea of where food comes from, and feel a better connection to it.

It also may show them a new hobby they never knew they loved! I have been baking and cooking in the kitchen since I was 5 (thanks Grandma Bracken), and to this day it’s my therapy.

Embrace the mess, let go of perfection, and get those kiddos cooking! And if it’s not your thing, no judgment here. Just give these a whirl yourself and enjoy!

So without further adieu, the yummy gluten free, egg free muffins of your dreams…

Ingredients

  • 2 cups almond or oat flour (I used almond)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 flax eggs (2 TBS flax meal, 6 Tbs water, mix together and set aside for 5 minutes)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or oat milk)
  • 2 small Granny Smith apples diced and tossed in about 2 tsp of flour (this helps them from sinking to the bottom of the muffin)

Preheat your oven to 350°. Grease a muffin tin. This will make about 9 regular sized muffins.

Mix together all dry ingredients. Add the syrup, apple sauce and almond milk and mix well. Add the diced apples and fold into your batter. Pour into the muffin tin and bake for 1 hour, or until you can pull a toothpick out of the center cleanly. Allow to fully cool in the tin (they’ll continue to bake for a few minutes out of the oven), and enjoy!

Happy baking! Let me know if you made these and tag me on Instagram or Facebook! (@thatcultivated.life).

Big Ups to All Our Mom Haters!

There you are scrolling through your Instagram or Facebook, reading posts about parenting, and advice. Something resonates with you so you click on the comments. There you see a mile long list of people judging the author of that post for her take on raising her child.

Now you feel attacked because seconds ago you were nodding along like “hell yeah mama,I feel you!”

Or, maybe you joined a group on Facebook for mothers. Maybe a topic is on a particular parenting method you’re trying out. You write a question because, let’s be honest, none of us actually know what we’re doing here. You ask for help on whatever subject you are stuck on. You post, and close out your phone hoping some angel will help you out, and make you feel like you’re not alone on this.

An hour later you check your post, it’s blown up. Many lovely, supportive mamas have written back to you giving advice or saying “you got this!” “Do you!” … but then there are the few “I don’t know if you know this but that’s NOT how you should do this”, “I would NEVER!”… you know what I’m talking about.

Here you are, a tired, confused, mentally drained mama just trying to figure out how to raise a kind, happy, little human, grasping for a life line… instead they cast you out to sea without a raft.

Listen ladies. This mom thing isn’t easy. It’s hard, like really, REALLY, hard.

We put our heart and soul into every waking moment we have with our kids. We want the best for them. BUT NO ONE HAS A HANDBOOK!

Not to mention the fact that every single person, mother and child, are so different. What works for one kid may not work for the next.

You may have found the perfect parenting book for you, and the methodology works like a charm for you and your kids. Maybe your family is exactly as you want it… but guess what, your idea of the perfect family may not be mine! You know what else? It’s totally fine.

We all come from different places, different types of families, different backgrounds, so it doesn’t make sense that there’s a one size fits all method of parenting.

I’m so happy that you give your child zero screen time ever, and that it works for you. Seriously, I applaud it, and I tried that. But when I’m trying to get dinner ready and my daughter is overtired cuz she refused her second nap, snacks won’t distract her, she refuses to play independently, wants to be held, and I’m home alone… I let her watch 20 minutes of tv and feel ZERO guilt. Someone else may give their kid a few hours of screen time a day and I want them to feel ok with their choice too!

Just because I want to limit my kids intake of screen time, doesn’t give me the right to tell someone else how they should raise their own kid. I knew this inherently before becoming a mom, so I kind of thought everyone would.. turns out I was wrong!

I have decided to incorporate montessori and Waldorf style parenting, and a respectful parenting approach when it comes to raising my daughter. I joined some Facebook groups for ideas on activities, ways to set up our home to be helpful in this, and support. I don’t do everything by the book. I’m a firm believer in taking what works for you, and leaving the rest.

I never really post, but have seen post after post of new moms trying to learn how to incorporate some of these things, being berated for not doing it the “right” way. Some people are purists, and if they see a mom say their kid is doing anything that strays away from the exact ideology they scold!

You bet your ass I comment on those posts, backing up the poor mama who reached out for help and got yelled at instead.

Moms, you know how exhausting and hard figuring all this out is. So why are we attacking one another for having different beliefs and making different choices?

If you disagree with another mom’s choice of how she feeds her kids, how much screen time she allows, that she lets her kids play princess, that she isn’t pushing gender neutrality, that her 3 year old still has a binky, that she lets her son have a doll, that she cosleeps, that she doesn’t cosleep, or anything else she may choose to do, DON’T COMMENT.

Yep it’s that simple.

If you see another mom being judged for asking a question, or stating how she does something, back her up. Tell her she’s doing an amazing job, and doing the best for her kids.

All that matters is that she’s taking care of her children. That they are loved, fed, and supported. It doesn’t actually matter how!

It’s hard enough trying to learn what works best for your kids, and how to approach all the curves parenthood throws at you. No one needs a negative Nancy telling them they’re doing it wrong on top of it all.

Let’s be the kind of people we want our children to be. Kind, happy, and supportive.

If someone tells you about something they are doing with their kids, and it doesn’t align with your type of parenting, just smile and nod. You’re entitled to raise your children the way you want, and so is she.

Lift one another up, don’t tear another mom down. We’re all struggling in this together. Yes, even the moms who claim to know it all… surprise! They don’t!

Don’t let the mom-shamers get you down either. For every opinionated loud mouth mama I have met, there are 10 more who are ready to cheer you on.

My best mama friends and I do everything completely different and somehow we all still manage to tell each other we’re doing amazing when we need to hear it most. Find a mom tribe that supports you through it all.

Remember that we all feel lost, like we are failing, or don’t know what the heck we are doing at times. Be kind, always.

The way you’re treating others shows your children how they should treat others. So before you go shaming another mom on the internet, or in real life, think about how you’d feel if your kid did that to someone else.

We’re all gonna get a little mom shaming from time to time, and for those moments I like to use the beautiful words from Shawty-Lo: “Big ups, to all my haters!”

You do you mamas, I support you. You got this!

To my Baby, on Your First Birthday

Dear sweet girl,

I don’t even know how it’s possible that today you are an entire year old. It feels like the doctor placed you on my chest only weeks ago, not a year. It also feels like I have never known life without you.

A year ago today, at 12 am my water broke, and 19 hours later my life was changed forever.

When they placed you on my chest, you stared into my eyes and stopped crying. It was as if your soul had known my soul for a thousand years. My heart knew your heart. For the first time I felt a wholeness I have never felt before. I felt a love like I had never known before.

Every parent I knew had told me “you can’t describe it, you just can’t know what it feels like til you’re a parent yourself”, and boy were they right.

Words cannot describe the kind of love I have for you. I can try my best, but words don’t exist to truly describe it.

I still have that feeling every day. Every time you wrap your little arms around my neck and hug me, every time you give me an unprovoked kiss, every time I tell you to say “night night” to daddy, and you turn around with a smile and give him the biggest kiss, every morning I go to grab you from your crib and you beam up at me with your beautiful smile. Every day I feel that rush of overwhelming love for you, as if it is the first time you were placed on my chest.

This first year has been a crazy one.

I won’t sugar coat it… you were kind of a lot to handle the first few weeks of your life. You, like mama and dada, had no idea what was happening. You were floating around in my comfy, warm, safe belly just hanging out when all of a sudden my uterus forced you out of a cramped tiny canal, into a bright, cold, and loud world. I cannot imagine what an adjustment that must have been for you.

The first 3 weeks you cried…. a lot. There were moments when mommy cried too, and daddy and I stood in your nursery at 3 am perplexed about what could possibly be the problem as we changed you, fed you, burped you rocked you, and still you cried.

It was scary. You were this fragile little thing. You looked so breakable, and I just wanted to know what was bothering you so I could fix it. It was heartbreaking.

Looking back, I kind of feel like this is God’s way of giving us practice for your teen years. I know at some point in your older years, I’ll see you breaking, and won’t know how to help you. I hope we’ll have the type of relationship where you’ll feel comfortable coming to me and telling me what it is that’s hurting you, but I still won’t be able to fix it. That already breaks my heart.

These are the thoughts I have now as your mother.

I think about every moment of your existence that has already happened. I am in awe. In 12 short months you have changed so very much. You are talking, walking, dancing, playing, eating almost as much as mommy can (you definitely got your love for food from me).

I still remember like it was yesterday the first time you stubbornly flipped from your belly to your back in protest… at 2 months. You hated tummy time, so I guess that was your way of letting me know you weren’t having it!

You have kept that same stubborn determination ever since (also a trait you definitely got from me). You flipped from back to belly by 4 months, and were so determined to get to wherever you wanted to be you crawled a few days before you turned 5 months. You sure gave me and daddy a run for our money. Now you’re walking and I’m really in trouble!

I absolutely love your independent spirit. I see myself in you. I get it completely.

My mother always said “just wait til she wants to do everything on her own!” I think she saw that as something to be sad about, you trying to do things on your own. I truly admire that about you. I am that way. Watching you figure things out all on your own makes my heart sing. I hope you continue this love of independence.

I also hope you never hesitate to ask for help when you need it, a trait I am sorely lacking in. We need help sometimes. As someone who likes to do everything on my own, I can tell you now that it is draining. So never feel like you can’t ask me or daddy for help, no matter what it is.

Your laugh is the most beautiful sound I have ever heard in my life. You make us work for it, but that just makes it so much more rewarding.

Your smile can light up a room. Every time you crinkle you’re little nose and flash those tiny teeth at me, I swear my heart stops for a second. It is the most beautiful sight I have ever seen.

You are quite the little animal lover! Almost every morning when I go to get you from your crib the first words that come out of your mouth are either “kitty” or “Rangeley!” I don’t know how you did it, but you clearly have those two wrapped around your little fingers. I have never seen a cat let a baby kiss them on the head, lay on them, pet them and follow them around the way Madi cat lets you. Rangeley has never brought a child a toy, but over the last few months she has brought you many. Watching you lovingly play with them and snuggle them makes me so happy. You have such a sweet gentle loving soul already my girl. I hope you never lose it.

I love the way you beam when I play music for you. Since day one, music has delighted you. I’ll never forget the first time daddy sang to you, and you sang back at him. You were 3 months old and he sang “ah ah ah”… and you repeated it right back with the biggest smile. Since then you have discovered lots of music, and your favorites by far are Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin, Shakira, Miranda Lambert, and The Beach Boys. You love to shake your booty, and head bang to the beat. I can’t wait to see what comes from your love of music! Grandpa is hoping you follow in his footsteps as a musician, but you can be anything you want my love!

I remember feeling like I wanted the first 3 months of your life to hurry up. They were the hardest. It was the time we were learning about each other the most. Now I wish we could go back and I could have every second all over.

I can’t imagine how fast the next few years will go, because I truly feel like I blinked and here we are on your first birthday.

I love every second I have with you precious girl. Every tear, every moment of frustration, every single milestone, cuddle, everything.

I am so grateful that by some chance you are my daughter. That your soul and my soul are connected forever.

I know a time will come when you will be older, we will have our disagreements, and you may not even like me sometimes… but the love I have for you won’t ever weaken. You’re a part of me.

I want you to know that even when you think you can’t come to me and tell me something, you can. I will never judge you, and if you feel like I am show me this letter to you and remind me. Know that a mother’s love is unconditional, and I will love and support you through anything. Anything baby girl, and I mean it.

I am so grateful for you, and I thank God every single day for you. I love you, and I cannot wait to spend the rest of my life watching you grow into the beautiful woman you were meant to be.

You will move mountains, and I will be here to help you, or support you along the way.

Happy first birthday baby girl.

Love always and forever,

Mama

11 Things I Learned From the First 11 Months as a Mom

11 months ago I entered into the greatest chapter of my life, motherhood. It’s actually super freaking weird to think that it’s almost been a year that I became a mother… but just as weird to think that it’s only been 11 months!

It feels like a day and a lifetime all at once!

That’s just one of the many things I have learned over the last few months. Motherhood has taught me so much more than I ever knew possible, and I’m literally just getting started at this whole mom thing!

Before having my daughter I read all the “must need” lists and the “things no one tells you” lists, but damn was there more than that to find out about.

Nothing you read in a book or on the internet can prepare you for what lies ahead so I’m not gonna pretend like this list will do that.

I am however going to share with you the 11 most surprising and important things I learned over the 11 months that I have spent fumbling through motherhood! So without any further adieu, let’s get right into it!

1. Adult diapers are God’s gift to postpartum mamas:

Yes you read that correct. Adult freaking diapers!!!! This one I did actually learn from the internet. Some women say to steal the mesh undies from the hospital, and some say get diapers so I bought a pack and brought a few to the hospital just so I could see which worked best.

So listen… you’re gonna push this beautiful little baby out, or you’re gonna have a c-section… and no matter what your body has to get rid of the house they partied it up in for 10 months, and they made a big house party mess in there mamas!

It’s not pretty, it’s not fun, and after 9 months of no period at all, get ready to have the longest one of your entire life! Don’t worry though, you just pushed a bowling ball through your hooha or underwent major surgery… this is nothing!

Now, sometime after the nurse takes you to pee for the first time (which if you’re like me takes you about 40 minutes to finally manage the courage to do it), they’re gonna hand you this disturbing pair of mesh undies and stuff ginormous pads, and an ice pack the size of your femur in it and say put this on.

The ice packs are a blessing, steal as many of those bad boys as you can… but that mesh underwear ain’t holding anything in mama!

It took me 3 hours, and I ripped into my hospital bag and was a diaper wearing queen for the next month! Do yourself a favor and order yourself like 3 packs on amazon. You can even get the pretty kind with flowers and bows on them so your husband will find you super attractive when he catches you brushing your teeth in your adult diaper! Jk… you don’t want him finding you attractive for a long time… and trust me these will do the trick

My personal favorite was “poise” discreet! Trust me! Diapers ain’t just for that new baby!

2. Sleep when the baby sleeps… if you can.

Now this we all hear for the entirety of our pregnancy, and it won’t stop once that little bundle of joy comes screaming and crying into your life. Honestly, it may be the best freaking advice you get!

Here’s the thing tho… your husband will most likely have to go back to work at some point. That leaves you all alone at home, with dishes, laundry, and animals, a person you have to feed and clothe, and keep alive now. Sometimes it’s really really hard to sleep when all you can think of is the pile of laundry at the foot of your bed, or the dishes stacking up in the sink.

I napped when I could, and honestly it was always the best decision; however, I also found it really difficult a lot of times to fall asleep with the running list in my head.

Also, at some point most mamas have to go back to work too! When the heck am I supposed to nap then?! No really someone tell me cuz I would love a freaking nap!

3.Instagram is not reality, everyone’s crying on their bathroom floor it’s not just you

4. There’s no need to “bounce back”, and actually your body needs the extra pounds:

So there’s this thing called the internet… you have heard of it right? Well all over it you can see photos of celebrities “bouncing back” after having babies. Not only that, we see it on tabloids, on tv, on instagrams. We see headlines like “how Kim got her body back after baby!”

This is literally RIDICULOUS. First of all… those people don’t bounce back, they work their literal asses off to get their bodies to shrink back to their old size. They have millions of dollars, personal trainers, nannies, and personal chefs to ensure that they have time to devote to getting back into shape. They also have stylists that help them hide any imperfections they may still be working on… oh and plastic surgeons on speed dial.

We are not celebrities. Our careers do not depend on how we look in a bikini… so why the hell do we care?!

Your body just took 9 months to grow eyeballs, brains, bones, a beating heart… and 9 months to gain all that weight!!!! You are not gonna lose it in a month! Probably not even 9 months. I’m 11 months out and I’m still 8-10 pounds heavier than I was pre-baby. I’ll probably never get back to my weight before baby and I’m ok with that!

I’m not gonna lie and say I didn’t want my body to bounce back. I did. I looked in the mirror everyday for the first 9 months after having my daughter and scrutinized my jiggly flabby skin, the little extra weight I now have around my belly and cannot for the life of me get rid of.

I worked really hard to get back to loving my body, and being positive about it.

Also, I heard on Jillian Michaels podcast a few days ago that you’re not gonna lose that last 10 pounds if your breastfeeding because your body literally needs it to do so! Wish I heard that months ago when I was working out and eating super clean and couldn’t figure out why my scale wouldn’t budge at all since 2 months postpartum!

We should love our bodies. We’re not gonna get our body back post baby, because it’s not the same anymore! It’s better! It created, housed and birthed a little human. It’s stronger than it has ever been before.

We should love it and be so proud of it for what it’s done for us, not worry about the last 10 or 20 pounds.

5. Break up with your old jeans mama:

So as we just discussed… our bodies change after having a baby. Even if you lose all that baby weight, there’s a good chance your clothes won’t fit right. My shirts were all 2 inches too short and some of my jeans were never to button again.

This isn’t just because of weight gain… this is because our bones literally shift when we are pregnant to make room and make way for a baby to shoot out of your pelvis.

My hips are wider than they were before and they’re never going back. Chances are yours aren’t either. So say bye bye to all your clothes that no longer “spark joy” as Marie Kondo would say, and go buy yourself a new pair of killer jeans that make you feel amazing!

6. Cravings are worse once your baby is born, at least for me!

We always hear about pregnancy cravings, all the weird things you suddenly want as soon as you see a positive on a pregnancy test.

Well let me tell you… they get worse! I did have a few weird cravings during my pregnancy. Mostly mint chocolate chip ice cream, and grilled cheese with tomato on rye. It wasn’t crazy tho. I only made my husband search for a restaurant that would make a grilled cheese once because we were out and that’s all I wanted in life.

After having my daughter the cravings were so much more intense. I sent my husband out for milk shakes like 3 times a week! I wanted something, and I wanted it right now! I talked to some other mamas when I started experiencing that and they agreed!

Pregnancy cravings were a joke compared to my postpartum cravings!

7. People will just touch your baby… seriously:

I had my daughter in February. Smack dab in the middle of cold and flu season, so for the first few months I left her home most of the time that I absolutely had to leave the house. Our pediatrician had recommended we ask strangers to keep their hands to themselves, and keep her out of stores and crowded places so it wouldn’t happen.

I thought to myself why would a stranger touch my baby? Yeah right lady, like that’s gonna happen!

Whelp…. It does. Like a lot!

I couldn’t tell you what zoo these people grew up in that they think you can just go up to someone’s shopping cart and grab their baby’s hands or face but they do it!!!!

I know that it’s never meant to be harmful, or rude but people please stop touching babies unless you ask first and are given permission. I don’t know you or where your hands have been.

Next time someone does it to my daughter I’m just gonna reach out and touch that persons face and say “oh you’re so cute too!” I bet the won’t like that either!

8 The unsolicited advice gets worse.

Yeah, you thought all that advice you got when you were pregnant was gonna taper off? Yeah right! Think again mama!

It’s JUST begun!

I am not even to toddler tantrum age yet and I’ve already been flooded with lots of advice on how to discipline a child, sleeping, feeding etc..

11 months in I have learned to just smile and nod, because people mean well and this will be going on for 18 more years so I may as well just accept it right?

9. People will ask you how ur doing things, and then act like it’s the wrong way:

So here’s the thing… there are literally a million ways to parent. Go to amazon and search parenting books. Now tell me how many different books you find… yeah it’s crazy!

We are all different. We live in different places, grew up with different religions, beliefs and ideals. We all have different trauma, and life experiences that have molded us. We all come in different sizes, shapes and colors…. it kind of makes sense that we don’t all parent the exact same way right?

As a new mom, you are just trying to get a grasp on this parenting thing. You may do some research… or like me just kind of wing it until u have an actual question like “wait…. when and how do I feed a baby real food?” Or “wait… my baby is supposed to nap regularly?! How the eff?!”

Naturally, people are always curious about your new life as a mama, and what you and that cute kid you made are up to. So they’ll ask questions.

Some people are freaking awesome and super supportive of anything and everything you tell them that you are doing with your baby! They’ll applaud you, and cheer you on for the great job your doing. These are your people!!!

Others… well they’ll ask something like “oh when will you start feeding the baby real food,” and you’ll tell them you did and that you started with avocado and they’ll say… “avocado! Why not rice cereal?! We started with rice cereal, it’s what the doctor said to do.” And the convo will continue and you may start to feel judged for all your choices as a mom.

Don’t worry, the choices you are making are the right ones for you and your baby, just as that persons choices were right for them!

As I said, were all different and that’s what makes us great. So shrug it off when you get a look of disapproval when someone asks how you’re doing things. If it works for you and your family that’s all that matters mama!

10. Baby’s don’t just teeth on toys…

Around 7 months my sweet girl started popping teeth left and right… around 8 months she decided teething toys were not really her style.

She would settle in while I nursed her and look up at me with her sweet little gaze and then CHOMP! The first time it happened I jumped and screamed and thought to myself “oh my she must have done that on accident!”

So we continued nursing… a few minutes pass and again she clamped those freakishly strong toothy jaws down once again! I jumped and yelled again, which made her giggle, and so the game continued.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that my little girl was doing this on freaking purpose!!!!! She was using me as a human chew toy!

I’m telling you this because although I was told breastfeeding would be hard, no one EVER brought up biting! Like come on people! It would have been nice to be prepared!

So here you go ladies, fair warning that your little one may one day decide to test their new teeth out on your nips. Thank me later for the warning.

11. You seriously can’t remember life before your kid, and wouldn’t want to:

My husband and I talked about the idea of children for years. I remember right after we first moved in together, no ring on my finger, him looking at me and saying that he would like to have kids before we’re 30. 25 year old Rachael rolled her eyes and said listen dude, my body my choice and no way Jose!

The conversation usually came up and he would always say let’s just have kids as soon as we get hitched. To which I would usually respond something like “that sounds great but don’t you wanna have fun for a while before we have to plan out date nights and outings a month ahead?”

In my mind we would be married for a few years and then consider children.

Well jokes on me!

2 weeks before our first anniversary, I was at a restaurant with my husband and realized I had zero interest in the beer I just ordered. I handed it to him and said I would drive… he was in disbelief because I NEVER want to drive.

After finishing our meal, a friend met us at the restaurants bar, he ordered a drink. I was probably 10 feet away from him, and my nose immediately identified his dark and stormy… and it hit me. I never had a super powerful sense of smell before, and I’m not one to turn down a weekend beer… holy crap…I’m knocked up!

I peed on a stick the next morning and BAM, our lives were changed forever.

My daughter was born 9 months later, and we entered the realm of parenting. We never looked back. Yes, I have to have at least a weeks notice if someone wants to go out to dinner so I can find a babysitter. No I can’t just up and leave the house whenever I want anymore. Yes traveling is a big to do now. Yes my entire life revolves around a tiny human now.

You know what though… I literally cannot for the life of me remember what it felt like before! I remember having lots of fun with my husband, being spontaneous and just going out to dinner or a bar cuz we felt like it. Meeting up with friends with 30 only minutes notice. I just don’t remember how that felt… and honestly I wouldn’t go back if I had the chance.

Yes parenting is a lot of work, and takes a lot of self sacrifice, but oh my goodness is it the most rewarding experience I have ever had. The love and fulfillment I feel from snuggling my daughter or watching her learn and grow is unlike anything I have ever known before.

Daily, my husband and I talk about how we can’t remember life before her, and how we wouldn’t want to.

This whole mom thing is hard, it’s exhausting, it’s emotional… but if someone gave me a chance to pick a different life I wouldn’t even dream of it.

These have been the best 11 months of my entire life, and I can’t wait to see what the next 18 years has in store!

Breast is Best, and Other Lies I Told Myself

I can still remember it now; pregnant, glowing and naive. Every time someone asked “will you be breastfeeding?” I would smile eat your ear and say “of course!” What a silly question, I would think to myself.

The truth is I had always planned on breastfeeding my future children. I had read the studies and (more often than actual studies… let’s face it) the viral Facebook posts about breast milk being the best option.

My mother exclusively breastfed all three of her children, so naturally it was just what I always thought I would do too.

I had seen all the gorgeously curated instagram photos of Insta moms lovingly snuggling their breastfeeding babies. I wanted that.

I had dreamt of the bonding it would bring me and my future children.

Also… if I’m being super honest, that stuff is free!!!! Like FREE free…. of course I’m doing it!

On February 9th, 2019 my daughter was born. Like most millennial mothers, I brought to the hospital my neatly typed out birth plan, which, like most millennial mothers birth plans are, was thrown right out the window (plan all you want future mamas your plans are probably gonna change).

Although my overall plan was scrapped, I made sure that my main wishes were met: immediate skin to skin, delayed cord cutting, and a delayed bath. Skin to skin was most important to me so I could begin what I thought would be the most beautiful part of our journey together… breastfeeding.

About 5 minutes after my daughter was born and placed on my chest, she began to nurse. She latched perfectly, all on her own, and we began this beautiful chapter together.

She only lost 1 oz, of weight going home from the hospital, and when we went for her 1 week check up the following week she had gained 4 oz! My nipples were sore, but not cracked, she was eating for 20 minutes every 3 hours on the dot, and gaining lots of weight. I remember being so proud and so happy, and thinking “wow this is so easy!”

Well fast forward a few weeks… Suddenly my happy eater was screaming, crying, and unlatching constantly at feeds. My husband would rub my shoulder and tell me it’s gonna be ok as I cried because she was crying and wouldn’t eat.

Well I talked to the lactation consultant at our pediatrician. Turns out I had a quick and heavy let down and an oversupply. This made a ton of sense to me because I would fill my breast pump bottles 2 minutes into a pump session. I remember her saying “yeah you would think that was a good thing right? Actually you’re drowning her in milk.”

I was relieved to have an answer, and she helped me work through the issue. We practiced all the tips she recommended. We continued breastfeeding.

A few months in I began having more issues. My ducts we’re constantly clogged, and I continually got milk blisters. Turns out the milk blisters were the cause of the clogged ducts. For those of you who don’t know what they are, it’s when the skin on your nipples just randomly decides to grow over your duct and cut off the flow. This causes the milk to build up and cause a very painful blister, which becomes even MORE painful as your child nurses.

I would feverishly try all the remedies to fix it, because they were so painful, and I feared mastitis. Sometimes they would last days. Still I refused to give up. I wore heating pads in my bra, dunked my boobs in and out of hot epsom salt water, massaged the crap out of my huge engorged and lumpy boobs, and pressed on! Nothing would stop me from my goal, no matter how painful!

I returned to work 4 months after my daughter was born. It was only part time, so I began pumping the 2 days I was working. This was working well for me; but, slowly my supply began to drop. It was super slow but noticeable.

I began supplementing to boost it back up. I ate pounds of oatmeal, added brewers yeast to all of my smoothies, drank lactation tea, ate lactation cookies. This had an effect for a while, but eventually it kind of plateaued.

When she started eating more and more solids around 7 months, it really started dropping. I turned down trips away, and nights out because I didn’t want to dip into my stash more than necessary. I needed that milk for work and events I had already planned on going to.

I began to get really upset about it. At first I just kept it to myself, and got nervous when I’d pump and watch my supply drop throughout the day. Eventually I started voicing my concern to my hubby.

My husband told me to stop stressing about it and just try some formula to supplement. I’m pretty sure I snapped at him. If I remember correctly the conversation went something like this:

My super supportive husband: “Honey, if it’s getting that bad why not try introducing some formula. That way you can still go places without her, and she’s getting fed. You’ve done an amazing job so far, don’t kill yourself over it.”

Crazy me: “are you freaking kidding me?! I’m not gonna give her formula unless I have to! I have enough for when I need to leave her with a babysitter, and I’ll just make it work until she’s 12 months! I can do this!”

This conversation happened a few times… basically, whenever something fun came up and I said no because my supply was starting to dwindle.

Around this same time my daughter began popping teeth left and right. The girl went from all gums to 7 teeth in about 6 weeks. My poor daughter was teething nonstop, and often using my boob for comfort and pain relief.

While nursing, every so often she would test out these new teeth. That’s right… she would chomp down…. HARD. So hard that I’d scream! She thought this was hilarious.

Once again I asked friends and the pediatrician/ lactation specialist for advice. I tried it all. I took the boob away for a few minutes every time she would bite me and tell her no biting, I would pretend to cry and get real dramatic, and I would push her face into my boob til she would un-latch.

Whatever I tried this kid thought was hilarious! I screamed, she smiled. I pretended to cry she pulled off and laughed. She started pushing her own face into my boob because she thought that was a game, and the funniest game she ever played…. oh and then she’d bite me.

Then, after months of her sleeping through the night, she started waking multiple times. A thought popped into my head a few weeks in…. maybe she’s not getting enough to eat before bed? This would kind of make sense because when I would pump after 2 pm I would get about 2 oz total…. not exactly enough to keep my ravenous 10 month old full through the night.

Finally, faced with sore nipples, low supply and now lack of sleep I was ready to listen to suggestions, and admit that it may be time to supplement some formula.

I texted one of my best friends who had been supplementing her own baby with formula for a few months. I asked which brand she used, and asked how to do it etc.. I researched, asked a few other friends and finally, I ordered my daughter a formula I felt comfortable giving her.

Still I felt resistance to giving up on my goal and giving my daughter the formula. Not because I think formula is bad, just because I’d be admitting defeat…. yes I know that’s crazy. Mom brains are not always sane brains.

I gave her the first bottle a few weeks ago during the afternoon so I could see how she would react to it. She took that bottle down like it was the best thing she had ever tasted!

I sat there in awe watching my daughter chug a bottle of formula, and had so many thoughts and feelings flood through my brain.

I thought I was going to cry, I thought I would be so sad to watch her enjoy anything but nursing. I didn’t. I felt joy. I felt freedom.

Mostly though, I felt so relieved. The pressure was off! Pressure I felt from media with the constant “breast is best” campaigns, pressure from society, from well meaning friends, but mostly pressure from myself.

I had set this goal for myself to breastfeed until 12 months, and I was so set on meeting it. I was so focused on doing it perfectly. Why?! For myself? What was I winning? What was I gaining?

I felt so much happier the second I watched my daughter take that bottle, so much lighter. I realized I had been making myself miserable for the last few months from sheer stubbornness. I set a goal and I was gonna meet it.

It never occurred to me that I could keep breastfeeding, and supplement a bottle of formula here and there. No, I had to do it perfectly, as if there was even a perfect way to feed my daughter.

Here’s the real kicker; I have always encouraged others to feed there babies however they had to. Several friends of mine couldn’t breastfeed, or had to supplement with formula, or just chose not to and I was always there cheering them on.

I truly believe that fed is best, period. If you don’t want to, or can’t breastfeed for any reason, I completely support you feeding your baby any which way you have to. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how your baby got their nutrition, it just matters that they’re fed.

However, when it came to myself I couldn’t give myself that same support.

I realize just how insane that is. Even as I would hear myself get defensive when my husband was trying to help me, I knew how crazy and hypocritical I was.

I knew that formula wasn’t bad and wasn’t going to harm my child, in fact it was going to help her get the nutrients she needed… but it felt like I was failing her to admit that I may need to supplement.

I’m not alone in this. Almost every mother I know who wanted to breastfeed and had to come to terms with stopping or supplementing has felt this way.

It’s crazy! Why do we do it?!

Part of me thinks it’s because we are so bombarded by Facebook articles and Instagram posts about how important breastfeeding is. We are told by media that anyone can do it, and that you should not give up no matter how hard it is or how much you have to work at it.

We have literature shoved in our face at the hospital, and by pediatricians telling us never give up! Nurse through the pain! You can do it!

There’s a damn poster in my pump room at work that makes me so angry every time I pump my sad supply. It says: “of course your body can produce enough milk, it just made a baby!” It is so triggering! It’s also NOT true, but a struggling mama may take it on and feel so bad that she’s not able to.

Well here is the facts, your child benefits from any amount of breast milk they receive. If they breastfed once, they got amazing benefits from it. As long as they are given love, shelter and food, your baby will grow up and thrive whether they are breastfed or not. Most of our generation, and our parents entire generation were formula fed. Seriously! I’m pretty sure most of them turned out perfectly fine!

My daughter looks at me the same way now as she did when she was exclusively breastfed. She knows she is so loved, and she is getting all the nutrients she needs to grow and be a healthy child. That is all that matters.

I fully encourage all mamas to breastfeed if that’s what they choose, and are able to do. I also encourage you all to know that you are NOT a failure if it doesn’t work out, or if that’s not what you choose to do.

Let’s stop pressuring ourselves, and other mamas so much. Unfollow that “breast is best” Instagram if it’s making you feel awful. Follow uplifting mama pages instead! You know the ones that support any and all kinds of mamas.

Stop asking mothers “are you breastfeeding?” I know you mean well, but maybe they aren’t able to. Maybe they tried everything to make it work and it just didn’t. Maybe they couldn’t handle the mental and emotional strain it was putting on them. Maybe they just didn’t want to! Know that it is none of your business to know how a baby is fed, as long as they are being fed.

The fact is that your child will grow up, and nobody will be able to tell if they were formula fed or breastfed. They won’t know if that child’s mama tried for months to breastfeed and failed. They won’t know if that baby started on formula the second they were born.

What people will be able to tell is how loved your child was, how nurtured, what kind of morals they were taught, and how well adjusted they are. We are all raising our babies in hopes that they’ll be productive, happy, kind members of society; none of that can be caused by how they are fed.

So let’s focus on the time we spend with them, and the love we share with them. The fact that you worry about any of this at all means you’re doing a great job mama.

If you have felt any shame or failure around feeding your baby please know you aren’t alone. If you know someone feeling this way, be supportive, share this story with them, and know that we are all trying our best.

Fed is best, and you are the best mama your child could ever hope for. Trust me.

We Plan… Baby Laughs

I have always been a planner.

I like to plan what I’m eating for each meal, I like to plan my weekends (a good 5 days ahead), I like to plan what time I’ll be in bed. I just like to have a plan!

Since becoming a parent, planning has become super interesting. Plans become EXTRA important in many ways.

We have to plan ahead and pack 100 diapers… just in case our kids randomly decide to poop up their backs. Hand in hand with that, we need to make sure we have an extra outfit in case they do, have an extra layer in case it gets cold, extra socks, cooler clothes, pjs… just in case!

We need to plan a time when we absolutely have to start getting everyone ready so that we’re only a few minutes late, and not an hour late. We need to plan waaaaaay ahead of time if we want to do anything without our kids, because we need someone to commit to watching them.

There’s a whole lot of planning going on here!

Today I planned on taking my daughter to a play date at our church. It’s a weekly open play date held by the local mother’s club, and I was excited to finally go to one with her. I RSVPd on Facebook a week ago with excitement! I seriously love taking Tori to play with other kids, because she lights up around them.

My best friends also had planned to take their little ones, which I appreciated because I’m shy around new people.

My daughter woke at 7:30 this morning, just as I finished writing up my last report for work. PERFECT! That meant she would take her nap by 8:30, and be up by 9:30, giving us just enough time to get dressed and get out the door to make it right on time! We played for a bit, read some books, I nursed her and right on cue she started rubbing her tired eyes.

With a smile on my face for my perfect planning, I brought her to her room to lay her down. I kissed her, handed her her pacifier and waved as I closed the door, proud of myself to sticking to such a good schedule.

She didn’t make a peep! Wonderful! This was going just as I planned…

I began emailing the reports I had finished. I got about 10 minutes in, and that’s when I heard it.

“Maaaaaaama! Maaaaaaaaaama! Daaaaaadaaaaa!”

She was not sleeping. Not even laying down. I opened my baby monitor app and low and behold, my sweet angel baby wasn’t napping. Nope, she was preforming a concert for her stuffed animals in her room. She sang loud and proud, and bounced her knees as she smacked the side of her crib to keep the beat.

I waited. “She’ll go to sleep, just give her a few minutes,” I thought to myself.

Well, 30 minutes passed, and she was on her second set. It sounded like her teddy bears were demanding an encore, and she wasn’t going to disappoint.

She was happy, so I let her continue her merriment.

About 45 minutes into her performance, she took her final bow and laid down for her nap.

I looked at the clock… plans had been derailed. There was NO way that we were gonna be at the play date before 10:30, and at that point it was far more work to get there than it would be worth it.

I texted my girlfriends “why is it that every time I make plans my child refuses to take her nap?” This is universal code to our other mom friends for “hey… don’t kill me but we’re probably not going to make it.”

Within seconds I had two texts back saying the exact same things. No ones plans were going the way we had hoped.

#MOMLIFE… am I right? Why do we even bother trying sometimes?

It seemed that none of our babies wanted to nap, and wouldn’t be up in time for the play date. This didn’t stop me from having hope for a few minutes!

We even attempted a new plan to possibly go for a walk instead after the girls napped… key word POSSIBLY.

You guessed it… that didn’t happen either!

The planner in me wants to freak out when these things happen.

In my head my daughter and I were going to have a beautiful day. We were going to meet other moms, she was going to play with other babies, and we were all going to have so much fun.

I’ve grown used to plans changing quickly and abruptly over the last 9 months, and I’ve learned to embrace it. It is what it is.

Yes, it would have been lovely to get out of the house for an hour today and have some adult conversation. Yes, Victoria would have had a blast and probably taken a nice long nap for me this afternoon. Yes, time with my girlfriends would have been amazing.

It would have been great, but it’s ok that we couldn’t make it. There will be others.

I used to beat myself up when I’d make plans and they got all thrown off. Now I have been forced to learn to accept it and go with the flow.

No, my plan didn’t work out today.

Instead Victoria and I took the dog for an extra long walk on the farm after we fed our ducks. She and I sang and laughed the whole time. We ran into her aunt on our walk and she got to see her and smiled from ear to ear.

We laughed together as I showed her pictures of my grandmothers and asked her if she had met them in heaven (pretty sure she said yes). She learned how to say “Nana” and “Oma” (what HER two grandmothers go by). We danced to some music.

We snuggled.

We smiled… a LOT!

Today didn’t go as planned, but it did turn out to be a pretty awesome day with my daughter. Just the two of us.

That’s what is important these days; not the plans I make and wish would work out. The important thing these days is making the most of the precious time I have with my little girl; soaking up every second of the days I get to spend with her, and giving her my full attention.

She’s not going to remember the group play date that mommy didn’t take her to when she was 9 months old. She WILL remember that I made her laugh, smile, and feel so loved. She will remember how often I just let her be herself and play, and sat back to watch her.

It does seem that every time I make a plan Tori throws it completely off, but that’s ok.

It’s totally fine, because it also seems that the days those plans go out the window are some of the most magical days we have together.

So mamas embrace those plans that went up in flames. Remember to just enjoy every moment we have with these precious gifts we call our children.

Every moment we get with them is a part of the greater plan, and that’s all that matters.

Thank You for Being a Friend… Seriously, Thank You!

As you prepare for your future child you pour yourself into research, you read all the books, you make all the lists.

You browse the aisles of Buy Buy Baby with your partner with a twinkle in your eye as you compile your registry.

You Pinterest all the baby hacks, and things you need to keep your baby alive for their first year.

You set aside a room in your house for the nursery and nest til your little hearts content!

You have your shower and neatly put away all the things that you have been told are completely necessary to raise your little baby (many of which you will never use or open).

Well I’m here to tell you that one of the most important things that you will need when your child is born is not on that baby registry. Nope! You won’t find it in that parenting book you have read cover to cover, you definitely can’t buy it in a store, and most likely no one has even mentioned it to you as a necessity.

In my experience so far, this has been extremely important to my survival as a mom. You simply need some really good mom friends.

Sorry husbands, and family members! You are also important. You cooked for me for weeks after the baby came, you cared for me, and you love my daughter better than I could ever hope for. I’m not taking any of you for granted, but hear me out.

Mom friends are so so so important.

Motherhood is the most amazing experience of my entire life, but it can also be super lonely. The days can feel long, and isolating when your trapped at home with a fussy baby, dealing with the baby blues, and trying to figure out how to keep yourself fed and clean on top of the pile of chores around the house.

My husband is absolutely amazing. I tell him all the time that I literally do not know how single parents do this, because without him I would be failing at life.

My parents, siblings and in-laws are wonderful. They have all gone above and beyond to help us out with the baby whenever we need, and have been an amazing support system for us.

Friends who aren’t parents yet are also super important. I can’t tell you how thankful I am to grab a drink with a girlfriend and have a conversation about her dating life, rather than diapers and burping. It’s a breath of fresh air to have a conversation about anything other than your baby when you’ve been taking care of them day in and day out. You need these friends to remind you that you’re still you even after having a kid. I’m beyond grateful for all of my good friends, and love them like family.

That being said, a good mom friend is the only person that can make it feel like you aren’t alone on new parent island!

My husband is a very social person. He will make friends with just about anyone. Seriously… we’ll be in a store 100 miles away from our house and I’ll come back from another aisle and find him laughing with some random person, and when I ask him who it is he says “I don’t know, just some guy I met in the aisle.” Needless to say, he’s always making new friends.

I am not this way. I am friendly, but slightly shy.

I’m horrible at keeping up with friends. If you haven’t heard from me in days, weeks, months, years it’s not because I stopped liking you, it’s because I literally cannot take care of myself and my home, (and now my child) and remain in contact with other people as often as if like.

In the past I have been known to say to my husband MANY times, “but we don’t need any new friends, I love our friends and I find it hard enough to keep up with socializing as it is!”

Well people… things change! Give me ALL the mom friends!

You know who doesn’t give a shit if you text them daily or weekly… other moms! They aren’t annoyed or thinking you hate them! They’re just as frazzled as you are, and odds are they read your last text and forgot to respond for a month because their baby woke from their nap as they opened it.

You know who isn’t offended that you are late to every single plan you make? Mom friends! Yeah you both said 10am, but you also both know that really meant whenever you manage to escape your house after battling your child.

You know who also isn’t offended that you canceled your plans an hour before you were supposed to meet? That’s right! Your mom friends! They get it. They have felt the sting of defeat when their child won’t nap, and is screaming at the top of their lungs as you try to get them dressed to go somewhere.

They just get it.

They’re going through these same things you are, and they couldn’t be happier to share all these hair pulling, tear jerking moments with you, as well as all of your triumphs.

It feels so good to have friends that text you back “oh girl, I am right there with you” when you feel like you could scream after a day of your child going on nap strike.

When you lose your shit, you need someone who is losing their shit right along side you, so that you don’t feel like you’re the only one who may be headed to the mental ward. It’s good to know you’ll be heading there with a friend or two.

No one else knows the feeling of wanting to murder their husbands almost every single day, while simultaneously loving them, and being ridiculously grateful for them at the same time. Yes men, you thought we were complex before… wait til we become mothers.

The other night I had the pleasure of grabbing a glass of wine with 4 other mamas. One of my friends started a story by saying “oh my gosh I have to tell you this story, because I know none of you will be shocked when I talk about poop!” Ain’t that the truth!

No one but a fellow mom will bond with you over poop stories. If I were to talk to any of my friends who’ve yet to have children, and recount the amount of blowout stories I have I’m pretty sure I may never hear from them again. You know who is happy to hear you vent about your kids “fun with feces”, and will happily compare stories with you? A mom friend! They are glad to compare and see who’s day was literally shittier!

You can talk about your kids non stop! You know when you’re out with a bunch of your friends who aren’t parents, and your having a conversation, and then you realize “oh my goodness, I’m just rambling about my kid… I can’t even stop! Have I run out of non-kid things to talk about?” Well, no worries about that when you’re with your mom friends!

The best thing about finding good mom friends is the support. No one lifts me up like my mama friends.

If I tell them I’m having an awful postpartum anxiety day, they check in on me. If any of us are having a hard time with something we get on our group chat and ask advice. We cry on each other’s shoulders. We tell each other “you’re right” when we need someone to reassure us.

We vent to each other about all the heartaches, emotions, and difficulties of mom life. We pour each other a glass of wine and let each other know it’s going to be ok. We try to get each other out of the house kid free (key word try).

We are all different. We each will parent our children differently. However, we are there for each other; there for all the hard times as well as the beautiful ones.

It doesn’t matter how you became a mom, if you are a stay at home, a working mom, or something in between. It doesn’t matter if you are super outgoing or super timid. It doesn’t matter if you have all the help in the world, or are struggling to stay afloat. This is the hardest job any of us will ever have. Having mom friends is like having a team of coworkers who you can bitch at the water cooler with.

If you are a new mom, or the only mom in your group of friends, I highly encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and find a mom friend. Even just one!

Take your kids to a play group, a baby program at your library, a mommy and me workout, join a mother’s club! Trust me, I am super shy when it comes to meeting new people, but it is worth it!

If you need a mom friend in your corner, I’m here for you.

Find your mom tribe, because no mama should ever feel alone; and because you’ll never feel more seen than you will sipping your cold coffee with a fellow mama who also isn’t quite sure if she brushed her teeth today or not. We’re all in this together.