October 30, 2014

Halloween Costume Party!!!

Trick or treat!!!! Today's the day! Happy almost Halloween! Let's get this costume party started.

Halloween Costume Party
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"Introducing the high-ridin'-est rootin'-tootin'-est cowboy hero of all time....Sheriff Woody!"

And yes, that's a direct quote. 

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Since Hudson's favorite movie of all time is Toy Story, it's only fitting he dress up as his favorite cowboy.

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And just like Woody, Hudson kept loosing his hat....or refused to wear it. Whichever.

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There's a snake in my boot!

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I picked up his shirt at a thrift store and found the belt, holster, and sheriff badge at a party store and painted the silver parts gold. My mom made Hudson's amazing vest to match the real Woody. She's in charge of costumes from here on out.

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Overall Hudson was less than impressed with his costume, the little stinker! Hopefully I can bribe him with some chocolate tomorrow!

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Cowboy booty....nothing cuter.

Natasha and I can't wait to see your little ones all dressed up! Paste the button at the top of this post to your blog post and link up below!

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October 29, 2014

The Breastfeeding Diaries: Brianna's Story

 It is rare that as adults, we learn something that is completely and utterly new. Something that we have never done before, have never talked about, or have never even thought about doing. But motherhood changes everything. It not only makes you do things you have never done before, it makes you want to do them. It makes you want to do whatever you can to give your best to your baby. Breastfeeding, along with natural birth, was one of the first decisions I knew I could make for my baby and I wanted to do it right.

I think this is what originally attracted me to the breastfeeding class I took when I was pregnant with my daughter. As a first time mom just a short way from her Ph.D., I wanted to be educated and I wanted to be ready. This was my first experience learning about the science of breastfeeding, needs of the nursing mom and baby, breastfeeding positions, how dad can help, what troubles I might have, and how to advocate for myself as a breastfeeding mother in the hospital and beyond. We held plastic babies, we said the words boobs, breasts, and nipples out loud, and we imagined ourselves replacing the doll with our sweet little babies. But, more than anything, we learned. I attribute my 24 months of breastfeeding success to that class.

I got to nurse my baby within hours of her birth, which is exactly what I wanted. It was even written in my birth plan, which thank goodness, was followed to a t. Despite some complications from her birth and with her health, we got off to a relatively good start. The day we were supposed to go home, she was diagnosed with jaundice. I thought it was the end of the world, which of course was an overreaction of a first time mom. While our experience of seeing our tiny baby in an incubator with bright lights directly on her new skin and feeding her through a syringe was heartbreaking, I was mostly terrified that this 24 hours away from her would ruin our breastfeeding relationship, that she would forget everything she had learned about nursing in her 2 days of life, and that she would forget I was there with her, for her. I couldn’t hold her, I couldn’t cuddle her, and I couldn’t nurse her. I could only watch her and listen to her cry as I hooked myself up to a pump every two hours on the hour so she could drink my milk at the very least. The first thing I did when she was out of the incubator was to nurse her and I felt so relieved when she latched right on. I know many moms have gone through/are going through much worse, but these are just some of the things, no matter how trivial, you can’t prepare for as a new mom no matter how many classes you take and books you read.

In the class and in all the reading I did to prepare, I was told about the physical pain that comes from breastfeeding. I don’t remember ever feeling physical pain, not at all. My tubes of nipple cream I had purchased pre-baby were either donated to friends or tossed. The pain I felt was of a different kind. My newborn baby needed or wanted to nurse almost every hour for an hour in the beginning, or at least this is what I thought so I responded to her. Keeping steady with my goal to wait for a bottle until after at least four weeks, I was in pain, pure emotional exhaustive pain. I wanted to nurse my daughter and I did, again, and again, and again. I don’t know how I was doing it, but I was and without help. One night I was alone in the living room with her nursing again and I felt tears running down my cheeks and I was thinking to myself, “Why didn’t anyone prepare me for this? Why wasn’t I ready for this?” I remember closing my eyes and praying that when I opened them she would be asleep, her eyes closed too. At that point at about 3 weeks, I decided to go ahead and give her the bottle. I pumped a bit, gave a bottle and slept a tiny bit through my fears that she would never latch again. Well, of course she did and things kept getting better and better and our breastfeeding relationship got very strong.
We’ve gone through our ups and downs. I vaguely remember the frequent feedings and night waking, trouble with night weaning, side lying and co-sleeping just to get a few extra minutes of rest, a few bites with new teeth here and there, and her phase of pinching, grabbing, and scratching my arms and chest while nursing to the point of welts and sometimes blood that I couldn’t break her of for over two months. What I do remember vividly are the happy moments, when she just absolutely cannot stay awake while nursing and her eyes open and close so heavily until she drifts off, when she smiles up at me and milk spills out of the corner of her mouth, the first time I tried to sing her to sleep sweetly while nursing and she looked up at me and laughed, when she pulls off to look for her Papi (her dad) and after she finds him she smiles and comes right back to the breast fully satisfied that she knows where everyone is that she loves, when I tickle her right after nursing and she is wriggling on my lap, when I get home from work and she comes and hugs me and leads me to our nursing chair saying mamá ven! (come on, mom!)
One day I looked down and I wondered where my baby was. First, she fit beautifully on her boppy, next her legs could touch the inside of the chair on the other side and she was practicing her stretching and kicking skills, then her legs went over the arm of the chair, then she was testing her physical limits while attached to me by attempting to stand, dance, roll over while nursing. Then she started signing please and milk, reaching for my shirt. All of the sudden she was saying moke (milk) and más (more) and otro (the other), and boobie, and then began walking sleepily into my room in the morning to nurse. I am left wondering when this all happened.
My first goal was a year. I was so thrilled that we made it but I was also nervous about what other people would think because we were still nursing. I have heard so many times that people stopped nursing at a year but the only thought in mind was “she doesn’t know she is a year old and it is unfair to take something away from her because of an arbitrary date or rule.” So we continued. We are considered an extended nursing pair. Well past the breastfeeding norm of society in the United States. At around 18 months I sometimes felt like I was still treating her like a small baby, nursing on demand which was still 2-4 times a day, letting her doze off on the breast, bringing her into bed with us after she wakes up in the morning and curling up with her cold toes.

I held on tight when I heard someone talk about the benefits of extended nursing such as the health benefits of the mother’s milk or the fact that nursing satisfies a young child’s inherent need for dependency so she can be more independent later. Some say that there are no long-term benefits of extended nursing. But to be quite honest, our nursing relationship was in the moment not in the future. I was not looking down at my daughter while nursing thinking wow she is going to be so smart and healthy just because we nursed for so long! Instead, I was thinking wow, I love her, I am glad I am doing this for her, with her, right now. We were nursing because we wanted to nurse. I thought to myself, when we no longer want to nurse, we will no longer be nursing. As my daughter approached her second birthday, I thought about weaning a lot, probably every day. I thought about when and how we would do it, and how we would feel. Most of all, I felt that if I forced it I would regret it. When she was weeks away from turning two, we began lightly weaning together. She was down to nursing once in the mornings and sometimes she even forgot she wanted to. By the time she turned two, the time was right for us to end our breastfeeding relationship and morning nursing was replaced with morning cuddles and chats. We are both happy and I have no regrets knowing that that beautiful chapter of our lives has ended and our little girl and mommy relationship is just beginning.

To go back to the first paragraph where I wrote that motherhood makes you do things you never have done before. I want to change my wording. I want to say now that motherhood has let me have the most wonderful experience that not everyone has or can. To put it bluntly, I feel special and I feel blessed. My daughter has given me a gift that no one else could, one that I will never forget. My advice to new moms is to do what you feel is right and learn to advocate for yourself. The most important people to think about as you make breastfeeding decisions are yourself and your baby. Here’s to happy memories and happy babies!

Be sure to catch up with the rest of the Breastfeeding Diaries at the top of my navigation bar.

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October 27, 2014

Halloween Pajama Party!

There's not much cuter than a mini in holiday pajamas, am I right?

Hudson loves his BOO! pjs from Old Navy. And I can't get enough of him.

The only way to get this busy boy to sit still is to put him on top of a table. We've graduated from coffee table to play table. Little stinker!

 And lovin' his "puh-kin" too. I accidentally deleted It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown off of our dvr and haven't heard the end of it! Hudson wants to watch the pumpkin movie All. The. Time. Luckily for this mama it's on again on Thursday and the dvr is already set!

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Let's throw it back to last year...when did my baby get so big??? I mean. Talk about baby fever.

Happy Halloween week! And remember to come back here starting on Thursday to link up your kiddo's Halloween costume for our Halloween Costume Party Link Up! Details can be found here.

Halloween Costume Party
Linking up today with Fancy Ashley, I Love You More Than Carrots, Hello Happiness, and The Good Life.

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October 22, 2014

The Breastfeeding Diaries: Kristen from The Tale of Three Ps

Hi! My name is Kristen and I blog at The Tale of Three Ps. I have an adorable little girl, Miss A, who turned one at the end of March. I nursed her exclusively until five months and we continued nursing until her first birthday. Nursing was absolutely a rewarding experience but it was one of the most difficult things I've encountered so far in parenting. No one ever mentioned to me that it would be difficult! I so appreciate that Julie has this series because it really helped me feel that I wasn't the only one struggling.

After finding out that we were expecting, I threw myself in to research. I am a very type A, information oriented person. I read up on epidurals, vaccinations, and breastfeeding. We also took a Bradley birthing class (which I really recommend). Bradley focuses on a natural birth experience and emphasizes nursing. After all of that research, talking to friends, and taking our class, I felt like I was totally ready to nurse. It was really, really important to me. I felt that it would provide Miss A with the healthiest start I could give her. I remember while I was pregnant, I would imagine nursing Miss A. I just knew that it would come naturally and would be an incredibly sweet, simple experience. To say that I was surprised by our actual experience is an understatement. 

I was in labor for almost 36 hours and was in the hospital for 23. My plan for an epidural free birth went out the window but my plan to nurse didn't. Right after Miss A was born, we introduced her to our friends and family, and then tried to nurse.  I remember being so proud that she latched on almost immediately and thinking ""this is great, we've got this down"". That first night, Miss A kept eating and eating. I knew about cluster feeding and I figured that was the issue. When the lactation consultant came in the morning, she told me that in actuality, Miss A wasn't getting anything. She was a really abrasive, pushy person. She chastised me for allowing Miss A to go to the nursery for an hour, told me to NEVER give her a paci, and that I shouldn't even attempt a nipple shield because I could ruin her chances at nursing. Our latch was all wrong and the consultant was frustrated that I hadn't noticed that Miss A wasn't getting any milk. I was totally overwhelmed by this woman and was terrified to ask her questions. We spent two more days in the hospital and it seemed like things were getting a little better and we headed home.

At our first pediatrician's appointment, we found out that Miss A had lost a little bit more weight than what the doctor liked to see. We didn't have to supplement but I needed to offer her more food. At this point, I started having issues. No matter how much Lanolin I used, I cracked and bled. I would cry when Miss A was hungry. I didn't want to feed her because it hurt so much and then I felt horribly guilty because I didn't want to feed my baby. It was rough.  I ended up pumping for three or four days to let myself heal and then we tried again. It was still painful but I was more proactive with the Lanolin and I figured out a better hold for Miss A. I also remember being frustrated that I was the only person that could feed her. Even though my husband and I split time and had a shift system going, if she was hungry, I was the only answer. That was really difficult for me. I felt horrible saying that out loud, too. There were a lot of nights of tears. After a few weeks, we finally hit our groove and it was smooth sailing after that. 

I'm a teacher so I was able to be home with Miss A for almost five months (summer breaks are the best!). She was exclusively breastfed until her five month checkup. We found out that she had dropped a lot of weight, mostly because she had begun to crawl. We started her on solids at five months but I continued to nurse her until she was a year old.  My husband was wonderful and his work schedule allowed him to bring Miss A to me at lunch each day. I was so thankful for that because I got to see her every single day. Eventually, Miss A weaned herself. She just stopped being interested in certain feedings and I followed her cues. 

I was definitely surprised by how difficult nursing was but I was even more surprised to find that it's difficult for most women. I really believed that it would be natural and easy. That's the way it seems on tv! When I confided in friends, I found that they had all really struggled as well. Knowing that I wasn't alone was what gave me the tenacity to get through the really hard parts.  I also have a very, very patient husband. He was wonderfully supportive and kind and he never showed a hint of frustration, even when I was in tears for the third time that day.  

I am so glad I decided to nurse and more than that, I'm glad that I stuck with it. I really cherished spending so much one on one time with Miss A. There's something so sweet about a pair of big brown eyes looking up at you.  When Miss A was little, she would reach up and pat me on the mouth while I fed her. Those are really precious moments that I'll have forever. I also loved the convenience and ease of nursing. Miss A and I could go on any adventure we felt like, so long as I had my nursing cover. It was great!

My advice to new moms would be that breastfeeding will be hard but it won't be impossible. In the middle of the night, when you're exhausted and in pain, it might seem impossible but it really isn't. Also, whatever you decide to do is the right thing. I would also say that it's ok to ask for help. I was so overwhelmed by our lactation consultant while we were in the hospital that I wouldn't call her once we were home and things got hard. That was really silly of me and looking back, I should have called. I could have saved myself hours and hours of tears. Asking for help isn't failure! 
Thanks so much to Julie for letting me share my story! I hope that it was encouraging to someone going through something similar. 

Be sure to catch up with the rest of the Breastfeeding Diaries at the top of my navigation bar.

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