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.

Welcome to the Hood

A few weeks ago my husband and I found ourselves having our regular evening conversation.

We’re still in the beginning stages of parenting so it still goes kind of like this: “she’s amazing, I just love her so much” “I’m so happy she is sleeping, but my goodness I miss her!” “Hey did you take any videos today? Got any pics we can look at?!”

Go ahead and gag if you want y’all, but I know this sweet baby stage isn’t gonna last, so just let me have this okay?!

Anyway, somewhere in this discussion my husband turned to me and said “you know, it used to annoy the shit out of me when people would say ‘you won’t know until you’re a parent what it feels like’ but omg it’s so true! It’s like a members only club, and we finally got the card!”

I laughed and said he was spot on, and we had a good chuckle about the naive, innocent, fun loving, footloose and fancy-free people we used to be 9 months ago.

RIP pre-baby Krupski’s! You had a good run of late nights, and quiet weekends where you could sleep in and nurse your hangovers from more than just one glass of wine. You blasted countless hours of Nicki Minaj on your car rides to work, and dropped the F-bomb freely whenever you F-in wanted to.

These were good times.

Enter Victoria Mary Krupski… the good times went to AMAZING times.

I truly mean that.

Yes, like I mentioned a few lines earlier, I can’t have more than a glass of wine without a raging hangover. Yes, my alarm clock is a squealing baby at 6 am no matter what day it is (ahhh sleeping in I remember you fondly). Yes, my radio no longer plays my favorite bands, and is now screaming “Baby Shark” until my ears bleed. Yes, any and all plans I make for a day are subject to change due to nap strikes, teething, tantrums, and days where all she wants is mama.

Yes to all of the above, but also HELL YES to it’s been the best 9 months of my life.

It’s hard as hell, and there is literally no freaking way to know what each day will be like (which for a planner like me was hard to come to terms with); but waking up each morning to her smiling face, snuggles and hearing her say “mama” as she reaches for me in her crib makes that all worth it.

Some days I want to cry, because I can’t get a single thing done. The days she wants me to hold her or nurse her non-stop. The days she refuses to nap. These are rough days for me, but at the end of the day, I always find myself a little bummed that they’re over. Never knew I could feel like that.

When she falls down and bumps her head, and cries (happening often because she’s determined to walk already), my heart literally feels like it’s breaking. Watching her little tears stream down her face, and hearing her scream cry “mama” kills me.

I never knew I could physically feel my child’s pain. She’ll stop crying two seconds after it happens and I’ll still be trying to recover. I’m so screwed when she goes to school and someone else’s kid does something to hurt her… anyone seen This is 40? Thinking that scene where the mom makes the little boy cry for picking on her daughter is a vision of my future.

The crazy rush of love that I get every single time I look into her eyes is overwhelming. As cliché as it is, there is literally no way to put that feeling into words.

I really can’t wait to put her to bed at the end of the day. I’m all touched out from her clinging to my neck. I can’t wait to sit in silence instead of next to her while she plays, because if I walk away she screams at me. I can’t wait to just have 10 minutes alone once she’s in bed.

Then the weirdest thing happens. I miss that little girl! Soooo freaking much.

I look at photos, Nick and I watch videos. We have conversations that mostly revolve around her. It’s ridiculous! Ridiculously amazing.

My mom was right (I see that happy smirk on your face Mom). All my mom friends were right. I didn’t know until I had my daughter what it felt like.

I have officially received my members only card into the craziest club I’ve ever had the pleasure of joining.

There are sub groups within this club, and they too are members-only.

There are boy moms, girl moms, single parents, co-parents, adoptive parents, parents of multiples, rainbow baby parents, working moms, stay at home moms, stay at home dads, military parents… the list goes on.

Until we have our children, no matter what way, we really don’t have any clue. So let me apologize to all the mamas I rolled my eyes at before I had a baby…. even while pregnant (yes i admit it).

I am so honored to have joined this group of amazing men and women, and to know the most incredible love I have ever felt.

This is the best club I have ever joined, and the weirdest one as well.

After all, there ain’t no hood like parenthood.

No, We are Not Ok, Thanks for Asking

Recently Megan Markle was interviewed about being a new mother. If you haven’t seen this yet stop what your doing and go watch it. The princess was asked how motherhood was treating her and the interviewer asked a question she wasn’t expecting. “How are YOU doing?”.

The poised royal answered truthfully that it has been difficult and she isn’t “ok”. She thanked him for asking how she was doing, a question that is usually not asked of new mothers.

When I saw this interview I actually cried. It was beautiful to see this woman, who is expected to be a picture of perfection, get real and raw about how hard it is to be a mother. I Was blown away.

Even Megan Markle was stunned that someone asked how she was doing personally, because not many people ask how WE are doing after the baby comes.

As new moms we just went through the craziest 10 months of our entire lives, had the most physically intense experience, and are given this tiny living creature with no set rule book or instructions.

We are healing from a human being escaping our bodies, most of us have stitches, some had major surgery. Our hormones are wild. Our world has been turned completely upside down.

We are constantly asked “how’s the baby?” but rarely asked “how are you doing?”

The answer… even when we default and say “I’m good!” is probably “I’m not ok!”, and you know what… that’s okay!

I don’t care if you’re the queen of England with all the help in the world, the emotions that come with motherhood are intense. The pressures that come with motherhood can be overwhelming.

I am 8 months in, and while my crazy hormones are finally beginning to level out (although this may not be the case for every mama), the intensity has not.

I can only imagine that as this little girl gets older the pressure I’m feeling and the stress will build. I mean right now she can’t say more than “mama” and “dada”, she isn’t getting bullied by other kids, and I’m not dealing with test scores, homework, dating or driving.

As moms in today’s world we try to balance so many things… key word is try.

We work, we take care of our household, our significant others, our animals, our families. We try to make time to see friends. We try to make time for both sets of grandparents. We try to make time to do things for ourselves, like workout, get our nails done, get a haircut for the first time in a year, take a vacation to target because everyone says it’s important.Oh yeah and make sure your spending enough time bonding with your child, feeding them the best foods, helping them reach their milestones, playing with them, giving them new experiences, and the rest of the list of things society expects us to do to raise an ideal human being.

Believe me there is no balance happening here.

Facebook is flooded with articles directed towards moms about the toys we shouldn’t allow our babies to use, how baby led weaning is better tha purées, “breast is best”. Articles saying you shouldn’t vaccinate your kid, articles saying why you should vaccinate your kid, how we shouldn’t yell at our kids, how our kids need stricter rules, how they need less rules…. as if trying to figure out this parenting thing wasn’t stressful enough!

I know that as time goes on,and my baby becomes more independent and self-sufficient that some things will become easier, but you know what, some other things will become harder.

I mean every time I get a schedule down or think I know how to deal with what my daughter needs, it all changes again. That’s life.

As soon as we feel like we’re getting slightly on top of things, life throws a big old curve ball. I mean… did you know there are like 5 sleep regressions!!??

We need to be ok with not being okay. As mothers we need to acknowledge that no, we in fact are not always ok.

We need support, we need community, we need love, we need help.

I am beyond blessed to have friends that have gone through pregnancy and motherhood before me. I’m blessed to have two best friends that I was pregnant at the same time as, that also have baby girls that I can be open and candid with, that I can cry with, laugh with, and vent with. I’m blessed to have a husband that constantly points out how proud he is of the mother I am to his daughter, and tells me how grateful he is for me. I am blessed to have my mother, mother-in-law, sisters-in-law and so many other family members nearby to help me.

Not every mama has these people.

Some moms are raising their babies on their own, some live hundreds or thousands of miles away from family, some are the first of their friends to experience this, some don’t have people in their life that are open to sharing the hard times along with the good. Some mamas don’t have supportive husbands or family.

To all the moms out there I see you. Know that you are supported by me. Know that you aren’t alone.

Even when we have all the help in the world we can feel alone and isolated.

So moms, friends of mothers, family members, partners, if you see a mom who seems to be struggling offer her some help. Offer her a hug, to hold her child, to watch her kids for an hour so she can go to the store. Tell her she’s doing a great job, because she probably has no idea that she is.

It’s ok to not be okay. It’s ok to struggle. It’s normal.

Let’s lift one another up, band together and be the community each of us needs. We may parent differently, feed our kids differently, live completely different lifestyles but we are all struggling along the same journey.

Let’s be kind to one another and supportive of our differences rather than judge another mom for doing things another way.

Let’s start the hard conversations that no one likes to talk about. Let’s open our hearts and share our struggles.

We’re all struggling one way or another. Even the mom who bakes everything from scratch, only feeds her kids organic, personally sewed her kids Halloween costume, and is dressed to the nines has her moments of self doubt and tears.

I see you mamas. I am here for you.

Let’s be ok with not being okay, because differences aside, we’re all going through this together.

Baby’s First Paints: edible and easy to clean

My daughter is 8 months old now and super curious. I’ve been noticing she gets bored much easier lately, and a bored baby is a cranky baby.

Our house isn’t very big, and I try not to clutter it with tons of toys for her. Honestly, her favorite things to play with lately are pots and pans, bowls and boxes.

I’m a firm believer that less is more for little kiddos. When I was younger, although we had plenty of toys, my favorite playful memories were made using my imagination. Kids today have so much technology and so many toys around them that I think it’s a little harder for them to tap into this part of their brain than it was for us.

I try to encourage Victoria to use her imagination already. I set down in her play area a few toys and let her play on her own with whatever she chooses however she chooses. It’s amazing to watch her little brain work when I’m sitting back and watching her play independently.

The other day she saw me painting at the kitchen table and seemed pretty curious. It gave me an idea.

She loves sensory play so I thought finger painting would be super fun for her. My one hesitation was that she’s also still at the age where EVERYTHING goes in her mouth.

I have non toxic paints for her… but I just didn’t feel comfortable with my 8 month old put a handful of chemicals that shouldn’t be ingested straight into her mouth. I’m sure it will happen eventually but I’d like to avoid it for now.

I researched some options and finally decided to make my own.

I combined 3 simple ingredients

  1. Flour
  2. Water
  3. Food coloring

In 3 ramekins I put about 2 Tbs of flour and slowly added some water and mixed the two until the mixture was the consistency of paint. Some I had to add more flour some I had to add a few more drops of water.

Once I got the right consistency I added the food coloring til I got the color I wanted.

I taped a piece of paper to her high chair tray, stripped her down so I wouldn’t have to do laundry, and let her get to work!

She immediately tasted every paint, and once she realized it didn’t taste like much got to painting!

She finger painted for about 30 minutes and then decided it was time to be done. But she sure made a masterpiece!

The paints wiped up easily off the high chair and a quick bath cleaned her right up! No staining no big mess. It was great!

I highly recommend trying this with your little one! The whole process of making the paint took less than 5 minutes and she had so much fun!

Happy play time!

Trigger Happy: How Motherhood Can Trigger Us and Tips to Work Through it

Becoming a mother has been the greatest journey of my life. It has blessed me in ways beyond what I even have words for. It has also changed me more than any other life event I have yet experienced.

I’d like to think of myself as a pretty confident person. I pride myself in my ability to make new friends, I can laugh off most of my silly mistakes, I have sang my heart out in front of audiences of complete strangers, and have rocked a crop top after age 25.

That being said, every single person has moments of self doubt and self consciousness, and I have many.

I’ll be honest. It had been years since I have had issues with my self esteem, and my body image. I worked super hard on loving my body and myself and I am beyond proud of that. I can honestly say that for the past 6 years my self confidence level was at an all time high.

I rarely doubted an outfit choice, I ate what I wanted with no regrets or hesitations, and I rarely cared about leaving the house without a lick of makeup on.

Enter motherhood. The most amazing, beautiful, complicated, and triggering transformation of my life.

Becoming a mother has changed me in so many ways. I am much more open (I mean here I am sharing my story with you), more loving, and accepting; but, as I have shared in the past it has also been one of the hardest changes in my life.

Mentally, it has taken a toll. I have suffered from postpartum anxiety and so many issues from my past have come back to haunt me.

Most know me as a easy going and happy person, and for the most part that is true. What may surprise people is my past relationship with my self image and my very disordered relationship with food.

From the ages of 15 to about 24 my relationship with my body was very toxic. For 3 years in high school I starved it, restricting calories to about 600 a day and working out every night for at least an hour so I could burn off whatever I had consumed. When I got to college I went through bouts of binge eating, followed by restricting again.

I had days where I would look in the mirror with such disgust for what I saw reflected back to me, and I cried. I had days where even at my lowest weight in high school I changed 10 times because I truly believed that I looked “fat”. No matter what I did, what I ate, what I weighed, I was unhappy with my body and myself.

I finally worked on my mental health and healing this relationship with my food and my body around 25. I researched nutrition, and taught myself how to fuel my body. I began working out not to punish my body but because I wanted to feel healthy and to treat my body with love. I surrounded myself with body positive images, friends who built me up and supported me, and really worked on self love.

I finally began healing myself. I finally started to love myself and my body.

When I got pregnant I thought my changing body may trigger my past thoughts but it didn’t. Instead, I was one of those women who truly loved watching my body change and grow the beautiful life within me.

I even remember the first week I was home with my baby feeling such pride for my body and what it had just accomplished. It literally grew a baby from a cluster of tiny cells into the perfect angel that was placed into my arms that beautiful day. It kept her strong and healthy, and when the day came for her to be born it endured the most physically challenging event of my entire life! Who wouldn’t be proud?!

Well, around the time my postpartum anxiety showed up so did my negative thoughts and feelings from my past.

This is pretty normal for mamas after having a baby. We look in the mirror and see cellulite, extra skin, extra weight, stretch marks, dark circles that just won’t go away and we think to ourselves “who even is that?!”

Now (and trust me when I tell you this is not to brag) I am well aware that for someone who had a baby 7 months ago I am in very good shape physically. However, mentally this has been a difficult internal struggle.

Body dysmorphia is a very real mental issue. Sadly many women deal with this today. How many of us know someone who you can compliment about their looks and they just can’t seem to accept it as truth? Some days the image I see in the mirror is what others see, and others my body dysmorphia takes over.

9 months before giving birth to my daughter I was in the best shape of my life. I was eating well, I had found a workout routine that worked for my body and I had ample time to fit it in daily, and I was confident in myself. Here I was a few weeks after giving birth to my baby, and suddenly life as I knew it was upside down.

Schedule was thrown out the window, eating healthy became a luxury that took a back seat to convenience, and the person I saw in the mirror was unrecognizable to me. I had been in such a comfortable place for so long, in the flow of routine, and in just a few weeks motherhood catapulted me out of it.

Losing control of my lifestyle and my routine really began to trigger me.

My old beliefs about my body began to replace my pride for the body that had given me a child. The lack of time I had to focus on eating healthy, and filling my fridge with fruits and veggies began to stress me out.

15 years later I was seeing myself fall back into my unhealthy relationship with my body.

Thankfully this time I was equipped with tools and experience to bring me back to alignment, along with the biggest motivation for self love ever: my daughter.

I know what it feels like to look in the mirror and have such sad thoughts about what I see, and that is the very last thing I want for my girl. I want her to look in the mirror and be so proud and happy to see the beautiful woman staring back at her. I want her relationship with her body and herself to be healthy and positive. The only way for her to have that is for me to model that for her.

We have to change the narrative we tell ourselves to inspire the narrative our children will tell themselves.

As mothers, it is so easy for us to be critical of ourselves whether it be our appearance, how we keep our house, how we spend our time, or something else. We all want to be the best mother humanly possible for our little ones. It’s also so easy for us to compare ourselves to other moms who seem to have it all perfect.

Today moms aren’t just bombarded with our own fears and thoughts that we are less than, we see it all over social media. Instagram and Facebook are flooded with perfectly manicured mamas matching their little ones and smiling as they bake the most beautiful pie you’ve ever seen in their spotless minimalist kitchen. Their children are groomed, smiling, and dressed to the nines. No crying, stressing or whining here! The mothers in these photos have flawless hair and makeup and their bodies could rival a top model.

With images like these flooding our psyches, it’s easy to see why so many mamas have such doubt about their beauty and competence as a mother.

These images can be super triggering to any mama who is still trying to drop her baby weight, figure out a routine, and just survive the craziness that is raising a child.

One of the first things I did once I recognized I was having these thoughts was unfollow all these insta moms that were fueling my self doubt. Anyone I felt that I was comparing myself to I deleted. It’s seriously amazing how much this helped me.

I began looking in the mirror daily and inwardly noting one thing that I truly love about myself. It could be a physical or non physical attribute. This truly has helped me to start with a positive outlook on myself which carries me through the rest of my day.

I also started telling my daughter every morning “you are smart, you are kind, your intelligent, your powerful, you are important, you are loved, and you are enough.” Saying these words to her every morning not only is helping her learn confidence, but saying those words over and over myself has seriously helped to shift my own mindset.

I journal. I used to do this in high school, but back then it was more a tell all of the sweet things I thought of my boyfriend at the time, or rumors I heard in the hallways at school. These days it’s all my doubts, all the things that I am grateful for, and any inspirations that come to mind. Getting thoughts out on a page has become very therapeutic, and writing at least one thing I am grateful for a Day makes me recognize all the other amazing things I have to be thankful for!

I do things that I know bring me joy and peace. I take walks and leave my cell phone behind. I lay in the grass with my daughter, sometimes for an hour at a time. I take her down to the beach. I listen to my favorite music and dance around the house with her. When you do things that bring you happiness, although it may not bring you immediately back to peace, it will help lift your spirits and get you out of the dark.

Turning to friends and loved ones has always been difficult for me when I’m in crisis mode. Asking for help is not something I find easy. I have always been the friend that listens and offers advice, but for me, asking for it myself doesn’t come naturally.

Thankfully I have some amazing girlfriends, family, and a super supportive husband that are always there to listen, as well as call me out when I’m not acting myself. This should be your first step when ur having feelings like this, and if you don’t have anyone or these feelings are super intense see a therapist.

There is no shame in asking for help, and truth be told Mother’s probably need help the most! We do so much for everyone else in our family that we often put ourselves and our needs on the back burner.

Motherhood changes our lives completely and can trigger so many thoughts and feelings. It’s easy to get stuck in the low vibe, lack mentality, doubt ourselves and feel like we have lost ourselves.

The truth is that to be the best mothers to our children we have to first take care of ourselves mentally. We have to take the time to make sure we recognize what’s going on, and that we give ourselves the space and the tools to get out of it. The best mamas are happy mamas.

I’m not writing this post because I’m an expert on the matter. Believe me, I know that I am far from it. I’m writing this because I too need this as a reminder. Every single day I work on making sure I’m the working towards being the best version of myself that I can be.

I want my daughter to see me as positive, happy, confident and strong. I want to feel this way for myself as well, I mean who wouldn’t? This is something I work towards every day and that I know I’ll have to continue to work on, probably for the rest of my life.

Motherhood is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I mean that when I say it. It is truly beautiful, but also so triggering.

I hope that sharing my story helps other moms know that you aren’t alone. You aren’t the only person out there feeling lost, or wondering where your old self has gone. I hope this will inspire other mamas to start difficult conversations with each other, to support one another.

Let’s embrace that we aren’t those “insta moms” who have everything perfect. Our lives are messy, they get dark sometimes but at the end of the day they are beautiful and we’re all just doing our best.

We got this mamas!