Pregnancy, a Pandemic, and Prenatal Anxiety, OH MY!

My first pregnancy was a dream. No morning sickness, great news at every checkup, and I was calm, cool, and collected through the entire 40 weeks.

This time around I’m facing some new territory.

This time I’m dealing with a pandemic, taking care of my toddler, and oh hey, prenatal anxiety decided to walk into the party.

Now, I have zero reasons at this moment to be anxious or stressed about this pregnancy. Every appointment has gone like a dream. Although I had nausea at the beginning, it was very mild compared to other women’s experiences. I’ve been able to workout 5 days a week, work, and keep up with my 20 month old.

I guess a worldwide pandemic could be cause for anxiety, but honestly it’s not even the first thing on my mind when that sinking, overwhelming feeling sets in.

Instead I’m anxious about all the things that COULD go wrong but haven’t yet.

This is not like me. If you know me, I’m pretty chill. I like to go with the flow, and I don’t tend to freak out or worry too easily.

My first experience with anxiety was when postpartum anxiety hit me like a ton of bricks 2 weeks after giving birth to my daughter. I had never before felt that way. It terrified me! I couldn’t breath, my mind raced, my heart raced and I couldn’t pin point a single thought or reason for it.

It took me about 9 months, research, talking to people and talking with other mothers who have gone through it to finally control it. I learned tools and methods to calm it (which you can find in an earlier blog post), and eventually it just kind of faded away.

The last 5 months I have been pretty calm…. but every once in a while the fear just takes over. It doesn’t just take over, it overwhelms me worse than my postpartum anxiety did.

The thing about pregnancy is you are SO out of control, and you feel it. Your body no longer feels like the one you know so well, you can’t do some of the things you normally can, and no matter how well you take care of yourself you have ZERO control of the outcome.

For some reason this time around that lack of control over the outcome has freaked me out.

I have no idea why since the first time around I had a dream pregnancy. Then again, sometimes I think that’s the exact reason.

I know so many women who have done everything right, and been healthy, and something just went wrong out of nowhere. I know many that this has happened to multiple times… so in the back of my head there’s a voice saying “why would you be so lucky?”

I think about how blessed I was with an easy pregnancy, a healthy baby, and an easy birth all the time. I try to focus on my own experience and use that to focus on how well this second one has been going as well.

Anxiety, however, has no rationality. It just attacks, and it takes your positive thoughts and twists them. It sounds more like “you had such a good pregnancy the first time, while so many others suffered…. why would you think this time would go so well?”

I’m only 19 weeks pregnant, just about halfway through, but early enough that fetal movement isn’t super strong or regular. This NEVER bothered me with my first.

This time if I don’t feel the baby move more than once a day I go into full blown panic mode! My doctor even reassured me at my last doctors appointment that before 22 weeks she doesn’t even usually ask about it, and the fact that I feel it at all is amazing. You would think that would reassure me… but nope!

A major trigger I have noticed is social media. It makes sense that I didn’t see many pregnancy loss stories prior to being a mother, because I didn’t follow mommy accounts yet. This time they are pretty much all I follow.

The month of October is Infant and pregnancy loss awareness month. I think this is super important to bring to light, and beyond necessary to be shared. Sharing stories of your losses helps other mamas going through it, and show others that they are not alone. I love that women are speaking their truths, sharing their stories, and connecting with others about the pain they share.

Now for me…. this has been SUCH a trigger. I have never felt the sting of pregnancy or infant loss, but something about seeing post after post this past month has caused my anxiety to skyrocket.

One day last week, I read two posts in a row about mamas losing their babies at 18 weeks… the exact gestational stage I was at. I lost it.

I realized I hadn’t really felt much movement for the past few days. I reached for the Doppler my sister in law let me borrow a few months ago and my heart sank! I couldn’t find her!

It took me 5 minutes of pure panic until I found her little heartbeat and calmed down. I reached out to my husband and best friends and explained how I was spiraling. They reassured me all is well, and baby and I will be fine.

This was helpful at the moment but still…. the anxiety creeps back in all the time. I’ve been abstaining from mindless scrolling on social media, and it has been a real help.

Prenatal anxiety is a bitch. I want to enjoy this pregnancy like I did the last. I want to walk through my day with my daughter, and not be freaking out while I should be having fun with her. I just want to feel more in control of my mind.

Thankfully, this is not my first rodeo with anxiety. Postpartum anxiety has helped me to be much more prepared for prenatal anxiety.

I am so grateful to have the guidance and tools from my postpartum experience to help me calm it. Instead of it lasting hours, I use my breathing techniques and other tools to calm myself within a few minutes. I use art, being in nature, and exercise to keep it at bay.

Without knowing these tools I don’t know what I would do.

I wanted to share this so that other pregnant mamas know they are not alone. About 10% of pregnant women experience perinatal anxiety or depression. There are resources for you. There are forums to talk to other mamas going through it. There are therapists trained to help with this exact type of anxiety.

If you’re feeling any type of anxiety or depression during your pregnancy please know you are not on your own. Talk to a loved one or a friend. If it’s crippling you tell your doctor. Don’t suffer in silence.

Pregnancy and motherhood can feel isolating and lonely to begin with, but you’re not alone. Anxiety can heighten those feelings, but again, you aren’t alone.

Share your feelings, don’t be afraid of them. Journal it out if that helps. Just get the help you need mama, because you deserve it.

Let’s normalize these topics of women’s mental health. It is so important to know you never stand alone.

We will get through this, and come out the other side stronger because of it.

Second Pregnancy: Prepare to be Just as Unprepared

That first time you read that positive pregnancy test, you jump for joy, and dive head first into the first trimester of pregnancy. It’s wild. You embark on a journey like no other you’ve seen before.

You feel like you’ve been hit by a truck, feel like your boobs have been used for punching bags, and you’re probably puking. All the while you’re thinking “no one prepared me for this!”

The second time you would think you’d go into pregnancy saying “Been there done that, this should be a breeze!” However, in my newfound experience in my second pregnancy…. that just ain’t true!

In full transparency, my first pregnancy was a breeze.

Not a hint of morning sickness, no aches or pains, maybe some sore boobs, but honestly my only real symptom was pure exhaustion. Exhaustion like I had never experienced before. Taking naps in my car on my lunch break and still falling asleep at my desk, and napping at home after work level exhaustion.

I expected that the second pregnancy would most likely be a little different, because as we know “all pregnancies are different”.

Well it started off different.

This time I knew. I knew before I even took a test. I told my husband, and one of my close friends that I swore I was pregnant a few days before I could test.

I was able to recognize the signs. My box of wine in the fridge suddenly went untouched…. and I had been having a glass every other night since covid hit because I mean that’s what you do in quarantine right? Suddenly I didn’t even wanna think about alcohol. That was the first weird thing I realized the first time around, before ever thinking I was pregnant. This time it was a giveaway.

I started craving orange juice. Immediately. I also started having vivid dreams, and I just had this innate feeling that I had a tiny little creature beginning to suck the life out of me.

Sure enough I tested the earliest day I could in my cycle and there it was… a second pink line.

Just like the first time there were tears, excitement, and joy! I expected my symptoms to begin sometime in the next few weeks and that I would be needing some naps very soon.

Boy was I in for a shock.

This pregnancy could not be more different.

Yes, I did get the giant wave of exhaustion…. but it was ten times worse…. probably because, Idk, now I have a toddler to chase?! Also naps?! What are those? So I began my first 3 months of zombie life.

SPOILER ALERT: the exhaustion didn’t stop past first trimester. Although, yes I am definitely LESS exhausted now that I’m in that blissful second trimester stage, mama ain’t got time to rest working from home, taking care of a 20 month old, and a house. Mamas, this just comes with the territory!

Next came something I was blessed beyond measure not to have dealt with the first go round: nausea. Boy was I unprepared for that.

From weeks 6-10 I spent nauseous pretty much all day. I lived on pizza, Mac and cheese, pasta and crackers and ginger ale. Even water made me nauseous. Also…. although it “went away” I’m 17 weeks along now and still experience nausea every once in a while… I even puked for the first time yesterday… what an unexpected turn of second trimester events that was!

Aches and pains came quite fast this time. Round ligament pains showed up somewhere around 8 weeks and have been more intense this time around. Headaches too! Headaches galore. Oh and back pain. I swear I can feel where I had my epidural!

That belly shows up waaay sooner too. I started showing around 8 weeks, and started really popping by 12. My husband and I actually had a good laugh comparing my 12 week pregnancy belly to a photo of me pregnant with my first at 17 weeks…. my belly at 12 weeks was larger this time.

That’s just how it goes. The body remembers what it went through the last time and starts preparing the womb a little quicker this time.

Besides the physical symptoms being different, so is the rest of the experience.

The first time around you read all the books, you check the apps daily to see how baby is developing, you make lists and lists of names. You spend hours dreaming up the most beautiful nursery. Your husband beams at you, and you beam back at him as you think of the little bundle of joy joining you soon.

This time you know from experience what’s going to happen to your body, and you’re lucky if you remember to check your apps once a week. I’m proud I know what week I’m in, but i couldn’t tell you how many weeks and days I am unless I find my app. Last time if I was asked how far along I was I could tell you down to the hour!

In planning the nursery, instead of searching the baby furniture stores for the most beautiful crib and furniture set, in perusing Facebook marketplace. You realize how little of the baby registry stuff you ended up using, and are just happy to have a place to put the baby.

People keep asking us about a name, and the truth is we haven’t even had time to really sit down and discuss it! While we’re just as excited about bringing this little girl into the world as we were our first, there’s very little sitting and and imagining what that will be like.

The truth is, the second time around you have a little one you’re already spending all your time focusing on. We’re so focused on her and her needs, feeding her, entertaining her, and keeping her alive that we have little time to discuss the new baby.

Something else I hadn’t experienced before was the thoughts every second time mama has. “Will I love this one as much as my first?!” “Is she going to love the baby, or resent her?” “Am I going to be able to handle two?!”

I’ve talked to so many moms of multiples, and they have all assured me that these thoughts are normal, and that yes I will love them exactly the same amount and that yes they will love one another. Also… my grandma had 10 children so surely I can handle two!

Pregnancy is wild no matter if it’s your first, second, or any time after. Your body reacts differently to each pregnancy. You may feel differently mentally as well. You may have completely forgotten some of the pesky pregnancy symptoms.

The truth is, pregnancy reminds us that we aren’t as in control as we think we are.

Whether it’s your first or second, it asks you to go with the flow. Just like motherhood, we have to adapt, change and let go of the control we wish we had and give ourselves grace during this time.

No matter how different your pregnancies are, the result will be the same. You will be handed this sweet innocent little baby, and your heart will explode into a million more pieces.

It doesn’t matter how prepared we are for pregnancy, or what it may throw at us. You’re a mama now, you can handle anything!

Be a Good Listener: A Lesson We May Need More Than Our Children Do

A thought recently popped into my head, and I haven’t been able to get it out.

So here it is:

How can we as parents tell our children that they need to learn to listen, when we haven’t seemed to learn to listen at all?

I mean think about it.

Look at your social media platforms. Your Facebook wall is riddled with people sharing something they believe, things they feel strongly enough to share.

Instead of reading, or watching, truly listening, and letting their words or feeling sink in, most people who disagree angrily type a rebuttal.

It seems that we are so desperate for our own beliefs and feelings to be heard that we can’t hold space for anyone else’s.

Yet here we are, every day, scolding our children to stop talking over us, to stop arguing with us, and just listen to what their parents have to say.

Funny isn’t it?

What’s good for our children to learn, seems to be lost on us adults.

We’re all guilty. We don’t even realize we’re doing it!

When someone states how they feel, maybe even share some statistics to support that feeling, instead of listening and holding space for that person and acknowledging that they’re feelings are valid, it seems our rational minds shut down and we revert to toddler behavior. We primitively think “surely their feelings cannot be valid because that means mine aren’t!”

Rationally we know this isn’t true. We all have different life experiences, and all of them are very real and very valid.

Intelligent, rational, educated adults react this way. In person, and behind their computer screens.

So how can we expect our children to learn to be good listeners and acknowledge other people’s feelings if we seem to have lost the ability ourselves?

We seem to forget that we are all the same on the inside. We all have feelings. We all have hurt and pain. We all bleed, we all cry. We all experience anger and love.

Whether you realize it or not, we all feel deeply, and we all want to be heard, adults and children alike.

There is room enough for everyone to share their beliefs and feelings, we just need to share that space. Truly share it. That means being a good listener.

It doesn’t mean you have to agree with that person. It means that you hold space for that persons feelings.

You listen to what they have to say without interrupting, without judgment, without arguing. I mean think about it; if your kid interrupts you while you are trying to speak what do you do? You reprimand them, and tell them what they are doing is wrong. Tell them no arguing, just listen to what I have to say!

So why is it ok for us as adults to do this on a daily basis to one another? How will our children learn to listen and work together, when their greatest teachers can’t seem to do so ourselves?

In a world where everyone’s opinions are louder than ever, it’s time we start walking the walk, and talking the talk.

Instead of deleting your friend off Facebook for their post on antiracism and structural racism statistics; read it, take it in, look at their sources and sit with what they are telling you. Assess how it makes you feel, and instead of hitting unfriend, realize that they are asking to be heard, not asking you to take up arms with them. You may not agree with what they have to say, but you may connect with them on a deeper level knowing a pain they are feeling.

If your friend is posting police lives matter, and you feel like that is attacking your cause, don’t press unfriend either! Read it, listen to their message, sit with their pain too. How does this make you feel? Why does this make you feel this way? Don’t respond in anger, just let them be heard just like you want to.

What if your child “unparented”you because they didn’t like what you were telling them. That would be ridiculous right?

Kind of like how ridiculous it is to let people voicing their differences in opinion be a reason to end relationships with them. Think about that next time you hit “unfriend” because you can’t believe your friend on fb feels differently about something than you do.

Political posts, religious posts, feminist posts, spiritual posts, Veganism, keto diet, parenting, and any other hot topics people love to argue about on the internet (it seems like everything)…. just read it, watch it, observe what that person is trying to tell you they are feeling.

They are trying to show you a piece of themselves. They’re asking you to look at their hearts, their pain, their struggles, their triumphs, their love, their victory, their passions and just hold space for them.

They aren’t trying to force you to believe what they do, because no one thinks they’re going to change your mind based on a post on the internet.

We all just want to be listened to.

So think about that next time you tell your kid “you’re not being a good listener!”

WE are not being good listeners.

WE, the adults, need a good hard lesson in listening. WE need to do better.

Think of how much better the world would be if we listened to one another, really listened. We could understand, and use empathy to work with on another.

Understanding someone’s pain or belief doesn’t mean that you feel the same way, it just means you acknowledge that it is very real for them.

When we can do this, we can work together.

We tell kids to do this all the time when they play with, or work on projects with kids they don’t necessarily get along with or enjoy. So why is it different for us as adults?

It shouldn’t be.

As parents we all want to raise our children to be good, kind, successful… think of how much better, kinder,and more successful they will be if they learn to listen to others, and be able to work through differences.

So let’s teach our children to listen by first being good listeners ourselves.

Start today, and be the example for your child.

It starts with us.

When we listen so will they, and because of it, the world will be a much better place.

Check on Your Quarantined Mom Friends… We are NOT O.K.

We are all feeling a little stir crazy right now.

No one ever imagined that the lockdown situation would have lasted more than 2 weeks, a month tops… but here we are.

While it’s easy to find statistics for death tolls and infection rates plastered on Facebook walls and media outlets, there are some other rising numbers the media doesn’t seem to be covering.

The mental health crisis happening right now in America is a silent pandemic. I haven’t spoken to a single person who isn’t feeling a mental strain right now.

Humans are not meant to be isolated from one another. Virtual connection has literally been proven through science to leave people feeling lonelier. That’s right. You actually feel more alone connected through a screen.

Human brains produce oxytocin when we hug, kiss, smile or even just see someone we love walk into a room. This hormone is very helpful in boosting our immune systems.

Isolation causes depression and anxiety which actually weaken your immune systems. This can’t do much good when we’re worrying about fighting off a virus.

I completely understand why we are being asked to stay home, wear masks and gloves, and social distance. I am very thankful for our health care and other essential workers, and wish to support them by any means I can, and if that means abiding by these rules I will.

Now that being said…. I am f*^$king losing it!

A day before Mother’s Day our state was told that the lift of the NYS “pause” would not be happening next week. Now it is moved until June.

I literally felt my soul die a little when I heard this. Yes I can read, yes I listen… I know that he is opening regions in stages… but I can say with certainty from numbers that my region won’t be one of them.

I am blessed to be able to earn an income from home. My husband is considered essential and is working as well. So we haven’t even had to worry about half the burden so many are dealing with right now.

I have had family members and friends who have contracted the virus, and even been hospitalized for it, but I have suffered no great loss from this.

I am lucky to have my husband and daughter to keep me company while we’re stuck at home. Something I do not take for granted at all. I feel for all those doing this alone.

Still, my mental health has been suffering since the start…. and I am in no way alone.

Every single friend I have spoken to in the last few weeks has talked about the mental toll this is taking on them. We are all feeling it.

The media isn’t sharing the fact that suicide rates, depression, anxiety and domestic abuse is on an exponential rise right now, but if you google it on your own you’ll find it.

We need human connection.

You could argue that I’m getting plenty of human connection at home right now… and I don’t want to complain because I realize I’m blessed.

Let me paint you a picture of what being quarantined at home with a toddler looks like right now.

We wake up every day around 6:30.

If I want any time to do anything for myself I have to get up by 5:30 or it isn’t happening.

She just finished getting her molars in all at once, and now her canines decided they’re gonna come in all at once as well! If you don’t know, this means she’s cranky AF from the second she wakes up til nap time 5 hours later.

About an hour after she wakes up she demands her breakfast. Although she can say quite a few words, I still have to guess what she’ll want to eat for breakfast each day… and if I get it wrong it’s tantrum city. Some days I can get through this first wave of tantrums, and somedays I want to cry too.

After breakfast I usually try to get some work done from home. This means I use my trusty babysitter Sesame Street to watch her for an hour or two so I can sit at the table and attempt to get something done uninterrupted…

5 minutes later… I’m interrupted.

She wants to “help work”. It’s adorable but after a few minutes I wanna cry. She isn’t much help… in fact she just makes it impossible to get anything done. My husband is a real hero on the days he is home, and this interruption can be avoided for the most part… when he’s not home I’m pretty much interrupted every few minutes until nap time.

Work is harder than ever before and ten times as stressful. I miss being able to drop my girl off to a babysitter so I could get my work done, without having to stop and change diapers, make sure someone isn’t going to jump off a couch to her doom, or eat something she shouldn’t. Now I want to cry about an hour into work because it takes me twice as long to do anything.

Finally it’s naptime! Emphasis on FINALLY!

This is the two hour period of time I use to cram in any important things that need to be done. Usually I use this time to get as much work as I can done. If it’s not a workday I clean my house, I try to take a shower that’s longer than 3 minutes, and I may even shave! Cleaning is almost impossible stuck home with a toddler unless they’re napping, so I usually pick my battles and save it for bedtime or days off. You can tell me cleaning can wait because no one is coming over… but a messy home just makes my anxiety skyrocket!

Two hours goes way faster than it used to… she’s up again! I kinda missed her, but I’m also kinda stressed about her being awake again. Bye bye productivity time.

Lunch time means the same battle that happened for breakfast. This time she usually throws most of the food to the dog and demands my food… which is the same as hers, but for some reason tastes better off my plate.

The next few hours are a blur of tantrums, reading the same books ten thousand times, trying to give her some outside time (and myself because otherwise I will cry), and trying to finish my work.

Now it’s the race to get something edible together quickly while my daughter has a meltdown.

She is crying because she wants to be cooking with me but I can’t let her up by the stove that’s hot, or near the knife I’m using to cut the veggies. I try to use the tv again as a distraction but this time she usually doesn’t take the bait. I end up cooking a meal listening to her scream at me and pull on my legs until I pick her up… this makes cooking dinner very stressful and take much longer.

She usually throws half of that on the floor too.

Bedtime… a mad dash to get a bath, some pjs, and a bottle. We read a book, the tantrums melt away and now she snuggles up to me and daddy. At this point of the night I finally feel peace… I feel so loved and forget some of the stress for a while. I rock her and sing her nightly lullaby and lay her down….

Peace and quiet… just what I need.

Now if it’s a work day I get right back to it! I usually work for another hour or so, then I clean the house… and by the time I’m done… bed time for mama.

Guess what… repeat that every damn day.

On days off you can pepper in a little extra outdoor time, and a LOT more chore time.

There are no breaks.

No babysitters.

No binge watching tv shows.

No naps for mama.

No trips to the nail salon for an hour.

No unaccompanied trips to target where I can aimlessly browse the store.

No cocktails with my best friends.

No nights out with my mama tribe to share our battle stories, and decompress.

No alone time… real alone time where I can do something just for myself.

This is what it’s like to be quarantined as a mother of a toddler.

Add on the strain or trying to educate your child from home, having multiple children, being a single parent, being unemployed or a single income family now.

Try being a brand new mama who just went through a traumatic experience birthing a baby during a pandemic… many alone, and now you’re navigating this new chaos completely isolated. The mental strain can be unbearable.

Every single mother I know has compared this to feeling like they did the first few months after giving birth. Those baby blues, the isolation. We are all feeling like postpartum is hitting us hard again, without that new bundle of joy.

In a normal situation we need that human connection of a night out with a friend. We need in person conversation with anyone who isn’t a child or your partner. We need that time to vent, to cry on each other shoulders, and to feel supported and less alone… we can’t do that right now and it feels all the more isolating.

So check on your mama friends. They already do so much on any normal day… and right now they are handling double the normal physical, emotional and mental load.

They’re therapists, teachers, and caregivers to their children. Support systems for their family. They always feel the pressure to be everyone’s everything, and even more now. That’s a lot.

When all this is over I hope all the mamas get the chance to have the ultimate moms night out. Leave your cell phones on silent, and tell your husbands to figure it out. We have a lot of decompressing to do.

Dads you guys deserve one of these nights too if I’m being honest… I see you.

In all seriousness, this is a very hard time for everyone mentally. We all need a little extra love right now, and are all craving some human interaction. But mamas, I know how hard this is hitting you.

We are always the ones telling our children and families it is going to be alright, and right now that’s what we need to hear desperately.

You are not alone, and if you need a support group please contact me. I would love to get one together.

We will get through this. We got through pregnancy, birth and postpartum, and it made us stronger… so will this.

I hope we can all experience a hug with our friends, a long leisurely trip to target, or a moms night out soon.. but until then just know you aren’t alone mama.

You are stronger than you know, and you can do hard things. That’s what moms do. We got this.

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!

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!