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An Ode to Pumping

Let me start off by saying that my breastfeeding and pumping journey has not always been an easy one! I have struggled with recurring thrush throughout this journey, which has been painful and challenging. If you don’t know what thrush is, a quick google search will clue you in, but it’s a painful infection that is relatively common in breastfeeding moms. I’ve tried all the recommendations – I modified my diet, I take herbal supplements, I use vinegar in my laundry, I sterilize my pump parts daily… it still keeps coming back. There have been days I wanted to just give up altogether, be done with breastfeeding and pumping and pain, but I pressed on for my daughter.

But now that summer is here, one part of my breastfeeding journey has come to an end, and I am bursting with excitement! As a teacher, I have the next three months off to spend with my daughter. This means: No. More. Pumping.

I had started my pumping journey before I even came back to work. My last few weeks of maternity leave, I started pumping in the mornings so that I could build up a freezer stash before going back to work. Then, once I returned to work, I added in two pumping sessions during the work day, taking up both of my prep periods. And because I was so worried about not keeping up with my daughter’s demand, I added a fourth pumping session after I’d put my daughter to bed at night. For a while there, it felt like I was hooked up to my pump almost constantly!

Some time around the 6-month mark I ditched the night time pump session, but throughout the school year, I was pumping 3 times a day on work days, and every morning on the weekends too. It truly felt exhausting. I was up before 5 on weekday mornings to have time to pump, feed my daughter, and get everyone ready for the day before leaving for work. It almost felt like I was working a second job!

Needless to say, the prospect of ditching the pump was exciting! I didn’t realize how time consuming, exhausting, and stressful this journey would be. And honestly now that I’m done pumping, I feel like a large chunk of stress has been lifted! At work, I always had to worry about a prep getting moved or changed. If we had an assembly or special event or field trip, I had to plan accordingly and find someone to cover my kiddos so I could pump. If we had plans on the weekends, I missed out on sleeping in so I could be up early to pump before leaving the house. I wasn’t fully aware of how much stress it had been causing me, but now that I’m done pumping, I feel so relieved!

I will say that while this journey has not always been easy, I’m grateful for it nonetheless. I’m grateful to have been able to nourish my daughter all these months. I’m in awe of my body’s ability to respond to my daughter’s needs and meet her ever-changing demands. I’m thankful for all the money we’ve saved. I’m grateful for the bonding experience that it has been. It has been a path of many obstacles, but it was a memorable and worthwhile trip.

Top 10 Uses for the Ergobaby Carrier

Before my daughter was born, I loved the idea of Ergobaby carriers. I had obviously never used one before, and I really hadn’t heard many reviews one way or the other from my friends with kids. But I thought it seemed fun and practical to wear baby in a carrier rather than lugging around a bulky carseat or stroller. So we put it on our registry, and ended up with our Ergo a few months before baby arrived. My husband and I enjoyed trying it our with our dog, who wasn’t necessarily a willing volunteer, and then we packed it away in the closet until baby girl made her debut.

It took a few weeks after my daughter was born for me to pull out the carrier and give it a try. Understandably, my mind was a little preoccupied with other things, and I’d honestly forgotten about it. But when we finally tried it out, I was wishing I’d remembered it sooner. My daughter loved skin to skin contact, so snuggling up against my chest in the carrier was her favorite thing in the world! We quickly incorporated the carrier into our daily routines, and I found that it made life so much easier in so many ways! Check out the list below for my top 10 favorite uses for our Ergo!

1. Chores around the house. My daughter would seriously sleep in our Ergo while I vacuumed! If I put her in the bassinet or her bouncer seat, the vacuum noise always woke her up, but in the Ergo she slept so soundly! I always avoid anything that involveS chemicals (e.g. cleaning the bathroom), but vacuuming, washing dishes, and laundry are easy ones to accomplish with her in the carrier.

2. Grocery shopping. Now that she’s a little older and can sit in the shopping cart seat, we don’t do this as much now, but when she was real little, I always used the Ergo when we grocery shopped. So much easier than lugging in the car seat and taking up half the cart with it, plus my daughter was so much more content in the Ergo for our weekly Walmart trip.

3. Walks. While I was home on maternity leave, I took my daughter and our dog for daily walks. I used the stroller a new times, but with our crazy dog pulling on the leash and me trying to navigate the bulky stroller, it wasn’t ideal. The Ergo made walks so much easier! It left both my hands free to hold the dog leash (and pick up her little presents), and my daughter was so much more content than in the stroller anyway.

4. Traveling. When my daughter was a few months old, we went on a weekend trip to Door County with my family. The Ergo was perfect for bumming around downtown, dropping into the shops, and grabbing a bite to eat. Ever since, we don’t ever travel without it. In fact, I even got a second Ergo carrier once my daughter got a little older, and now we keep one carrier in our car at all times!

5. Yard Work. Just today, my husband and I were working in the yard. If I’m being perfectly honest, my husband was doing most of the work and I was mostly providing moral support, but nevertheless… I strapped my daughter into the Ergo, and she napped for an hour while I “helped” with yard work. Our carrier is an open-air mesh one, so baby always stays comfy, even when it gets warmer out. Again, I wouldn’t recommend it for use when chemicals are involved, but watering plants, sweeping the patio, and raking leaves are all a cinch with the Ergo!

6. Day trips. With summer just around the corner, I’m excited to put our zoo pass and museum pass to good use! You can bet I wouldn’t even attempt these kind of day trips without our Ergo. My hands stay free for whatever I may need, and baby stays happy in the carrier!

7. Sporting events. We went to Brewers opening day this year, and of course the Ergo came along! She obviously didn’t stay in it throughout the whole game, but we were glad to have it on hand, especially when entering and leaving the stadium. I’m sure it will get more use this summer for Brewers games and my husband’s softball games!

8. Calming a fussy baby. With very few exceptions, this carriers works like magic to calm my daughter when she’s fussy. Sometimes when she just can’t get comfortable for a nap, I can put her in the Ergo and she quickly nods off. This thing is seriously a miracle worker!

9. Easing mom guilt. Especially when I first went back to work after maternity leave, I experienced a lot of mom guilt when I was home but not directly interacting with my daughter. For example, I hated making dinner when it meant having my daughter in the other room and not with me. So the Ergo helped to give me the best of both worlds! I was able to wear my daughter while I got dinner prepared, and it eased some of my mom guilt because I wasn’t having to spend that time away from my daughter.

10. Quick stops or busy places. Last weekend we went out for coffee on Saturday morning. The little shop we went to is small, and almost always busy. This means there’s not a lot of room for a bulky car seat, stroller, or fussy baby. So as soon as we pulled in, we decided the Ergo was our best bet. My daughter was so happy in the carrier, and I wasn’t anxious about my daughter having a melt down in the middle of the coffee shop!

There are so many amazing uses for Ergobaby carriers! Ours has definitely made life so much easier, and I can’t imagine not having it. What are your favorite uses for your Ergobaby carrier?

Lazy Saturdays

This morning I was up around 4AM with a cranky baby. She’s been cutting a tooth for the last week, and that combined with the thunderstorms we had overnight made for a tough night of sleep. After numerous (failed) attempts to get her back to sleep in her crib, I snuck her back into bed with us and we all got another few hours of sleep.

Once we were all up for the day, I nursed our daughter while my husband caught up on Game of Thrones re-runs. We all got dressed and ready for the day. We went for coffee at the little bakeshop where we got our wedding cake. We came home, and I snuggled up on the couch with my daughter for her morning nap. Later we have some yard work and laundry to do. Maybe some cleaning around the house. It’s a day filled with little tasks here and there, but all in all, a relaxed and lazy Saturday.

In the days before my daughter, we rarely had lazy days like this. We filled our weekends with day trips to the mall, visits with friends and family, projects around the house, and errand running. We liked having our weekends busy, and looked forward to weekend plans. But now, I live for days like today. Sure, I still love visiting our family and taking fun family day trips on the weekends, but it’s crazy how exhausting the workweek can be as a working parent. I spend my days teaching, loving, and caring for other people’s kids as a teacher, and my nights doing the same for my own child. When the weekend finally rolls around, I look forward to having no plans, and getting to enjoy these lazy mornings with my family. I love lazing in bed until the morning sun filtering through the blinds wakes us up. I love coffee dates with my husband and daughter. I live for these nap-time snuggles on the couch, watching out the living room window as people zoom by, eager to get on with their busy days. I love that time seems to slow down on these lazy mornings, and I can soak up these precious moments with my family.

Life already moves too fast. Sometimes it’s nice to slow down, enjoy the ride, and appreciate all the little blessings!

Colorful Clutter

We bought our house in March of 2018, just 5 months before our daughter was born. We were beyond blessed to have found our perfect home after only a week of serious house hunting. But after our first showing of the house, we fell in love! It was perfectly located, an even half an hour from BOTH of our families and our work. It was an older home with character, lots of charm, and a fenced in yard for the dog. It met all of our “must-haves” and nearly all of our “wish list” qualities for a home. We were simply in love from that first showing, and knew in our hearts that this was our home. We had to contend with another offer, and waited almost 24 painful hours to find out that we had gotten the house!

Fast forward two months, and we were signing the papers and moving in! We set about making this little dream house into our dream home, filling it with our furniture, adorning it with our own decorations, and hanging our pictures on the walls. We tackled little projects; fixing up the flower beds, replacing light fixtures, installing a new kitchen faucet, and painting the nursery. It quickly started to feel like our dream home! We had made it our own, and we took a lot of satisfaction in our sweet little house.

Then our daughter came along, and suddenly our dream home that we’d worked so hard for was overtaken by a world of baby toys, foam flooring tiles, and child-proofed cabinet doors. Everywhere you turn, there are signs of our daughter. A baby gate at the staircase, toys jammed under couch cushions, a little rubber whale on the faucet in the bathtub. A pack ‘n play takes up one corner of our living room, the end table is strewn with board books, and even my bedroom nightstand is adorned with pacifiers, a burp cloth, and an elephant-shaped noise machine. It’s not the home we once thought it would be when we bought our dream house just over a year ago. Our home has been overtaken by the tiniest member of our family!

I expected our lives to change drastically with the birth of our daughter, but somehow I’d overlooked the fact that our home would be changing too. In retrospect, I should have realized. But nevertheless, it took me a bit by surprise when our daughter started crawling, and almost overnight our living room transformed into a colorful jungle gym of baby-proofing and toys.

I know that this is just our season of life right now. A season of our home being overtaken by baby gear and toys. And I welcome it with open arms, even if it took me a bit by surprise. When I look around our house, I sometimes miss our sophisticated adult home with our rustic wood coffee table and cabinets that opened without a key. But I also love the colorful foam letter tiles on our living room floor, and the baby blankets that hang on the back of our couches. I miss the uncluttered space we had before all the baby gear, but I strangely enjoy the colorful clutter that our daughter has brought to our home.

Someday, I know this season will pass. Our children will outgrown the need for baby proofing and pack ‘n plays and toys, and someday we will get our adult home back. But I’m in no rush for that to happen! I will enjoy this colorful, cluttered, baby-proofed home while I have it. Cause like they say, “You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone!”

Parenting Isn’t One-Size Fits All

Before my daughter was actually born, I had all sorts of ideas about what parenting choices I *thought* we would make. During my last month of pregnancy, I spent lots of time reading articles and blogs on Pinterest to prepare for our impending arrival. What I discovered is that there is a lot of information out there, and a lot of people with very strong opinions who feel there is only one right way to do things.

If you feed your baby purées, they’re going to develop bad eating habits. If you don’t breastfeed for at least a year, your child is doomed. If you co-sleep, you’re endangering your child. If you use disposable diapers, you’re destroying the environment. If you let your baby watch TV, you’re rotting their brain. If you let your baby nap in your arms, you’re spoiling them. The list goes on and on!

As I read up on all these things during those last few weeks of pregnancy, I was feeling a little overwhelmed. Like any new mom, I just wanted to give my sweet girl the best possible start! So I set my mind to a hundred different parenting choices. I would breastfeed for a year. We would try baby-led weaning and cloth diapers. We wouldn’t let our daughter set eyes on a TV or device. We would do all the “right” things. But then a funny thing happened. Our daughter was born and we tried all those things, and I quickly found that while some of them were right for us, some of them just didn’t fit for our family.

My daughter still naps in my arms all the time. I know that some people would say that I’ve spoiled her by always letting her nap in my arms. And I probably have, because now she doesn’t nap well if she’s not being held. But I wouldn’t trade those lazy Saturday morning naps for anything! For our family, this is what works!

We tried baby-led weaning, and it just didn’t work for my daughter. She would try to stuff too much food in her mouth when we gave her things that were stick-shaped, and she was always gagging and coughing, which obviously terrified me! If we gave her tiny little pieces of things, she couldn’t get them in her mouth, and would end up crying and frustrated. So we fed her purées for the first few months of her solid-food eating experience. Now that she can handle finger foods, she’s mostly self-feeding, but we used a combo of purées and self-feeding, because that’s what worked for our family.

Our daughter still sleeps in our bedroom, even at 9 months old. She transitioned out of her bassinet around 4 months, but I wasn’t at all ready to send my baby to sleep alone in her nursery across the hall. So my sweet husband disassembled the crib, moved it into our room, and re-assembled it. I love having our daughter in our room at night, especially through a rough sleep regression that saw us up 3-4 times a night for almost 2 months straight. It was nice to be able to grab her from the crib right beside me, nurse her back to sleep, and then put her back down without having to leave our room. Even my husband admits that he likes having us all hunkered down for the night together in our room. It’s a warm and fuzzy feeling having the whole family all snuggled into our room together. I know rooming-in for this long isn’t what’s right for everyone, but it’s what works for us!

I’ve learned that parenthood isn’t about doing what’s trendy, or what other people think is best. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to parenting. Everyone (and I mean EVERYONE!) seems to have an opinion about your parenting choices, but at the end of the day, it’s really just about finding what works for your family!

Cold Coffee

This morning, I drank a cup of cold coffee. Not the fancy iced kind from Starbucks with whipped cream and chocolaty drizzle. Plain ol’ coffee pot coffee, left on the counter and forgotten for a bit too long.

It’s a routine I’m not unfamiliar with. In fact, most mornings I drink my coffee cold. Between the hustle and bustle at home, and the chaos of my morning at school before my kiddos arrive, it’s rare for me to find the time to chug down a cup of coffee before my attention is drawn elsewhere.

And as this thought dawned on me this morning as I drank my cold coffee on the living room floor, it occurred to me that motherhood is a cold cup of coffee.

Motherhood is forgetting yourself to put your child first. It’s listening to nursery rhymes on an endless loop in the car when you’d rather listen to the new Taylor Swift song. It’s cooking dinner and feeding the rest of your family before you get to eat yourself. It’s packing lunches with a baby on your hip because she just wants to be held. It’s waking up at the crack of dawn, and sacrificing prep time at work to pump milk for your baby. It’s repeatedly stacking up a tower of cups on the floor because your daughter loves to knock them down. It’s wiping your child’s snot on your own sleeve when you don’t have a tissue. It’s spit-up stained shirts, sleepless nights, and poopy diapers. It’s unpainted nails, because you’d rather snuggle your baby than take the time to paint them. It’s split-ends and grown-out highlights, because you’d rather spend the money on books, toys, or cute jammies for your child. It’s spending your Saturday in line at a crowded mall to get a picture with Santa or the Easter Bunny.

It’s a cold cup of coffee, set aside and forgotten, because you were too busy putting your child’s needs first. But you know what I’ve discovered? Cold coffee still tastes just as good.

Sure, hot coffee is delicious. But I’ll take my cold cup of coffee any day of the week.

A Letter to My Husband

Dear Husband,

This morning, the alarm clock rang all too soon. It was 5 AM, and I slowly dragged my sleepy self from the bed and started making my way toward the bathroom to get in the shower. My plans were halted by the soft fuss of our daughter. I paused, waiting to see if she’d go back to sleep, but of course on tired Thursday mornings like these, she never does. I made my way back to the crib and pulled our crying daughter into my arms.

“I have to get in the shower,” I whispered to you in the darkness, and you reached out sleepily, making a nest beside you in the bed, and pulled her into your arms. Moments later she was back asleep, and I crept out of the bedroom to get ready for work.

I returned a half an hour later to grab clothes from the closet, and in the faint glow of the morning sun, I saw you snuggled up with our daughter beside you. Both sleeping peacefully, the faintest traces of smiles on both of your faces. I didn’t linger too long – I didn’t want to wake you. But I stayed just long enough to soak up the moment, and appreciate the amazing father that you are.

I know that this parenting thing isn’t always easy, but I can’t imagine being on this journey with anyone else but you. I love watching you love our daughter. I love the way you can make her laugh like no one else can. When you plant sloppy kisses on her cheeks and whisper in her ears, she erupts into a deep belly-laughter that she doesn’t ever make for anyone else but you. I love listening to you talk to her after a long day at work, telling her, “I missed you so much today.” I love seeing you beam with pride whenever you lay eyes on her, because I know that our sweet little princess has you wrapped around her tiny finger. She has your heart, and that little girl is your whole world.

Dear husband, thank you for being the kind of father I always dreamed of for my children. We love and appreciate all that you do! ❤️