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Who is The Guilt Free Mommy?

A brief overview of me and why I am sharing my life.

Who am I?  Why should you be interested in learning about me and my journey through motherhood?  I want to use my experiences to let you know you are not the only one who thinks you are loosing it.  I also want to just share some of the amazing moments I have and will experience raising my now toddler daughter.

I am a wife to an amazing husband who is a very intelligent engineer, but lacks some common sense in the kitchen.  I joke, I joke, no really.   He tries, so it is the thought that counts, right?  I am the cook, the maid, the teacher, the discipliner, run a one toddler day care (for now), and so much more.  I am a domestic engineer, also known as a stay at home mom.  I chose this job role knowing I wanted complete control of my daughters first few years.  Originally, I worked at a hair salon not far from my home.  I have a degree in psychology and human services, yet I still haven’t found a job in the field that satisfies my passion.  I love to help people in ways that are not obvious.  I do not like to tell people what they should and shouldn’t be doing.  I HATE when people do that to me.  I like to find the motivation in people and use that as a basis for what drives them to do good or make important decisions.

Now to why I am here.  I officially became a mommy on May 20, 2015 to a beautiful, super smart, and sassy, girl named Dakota.  She has completely flipped my world, my life and my mindset are on a whole different level than it was before.  From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I knew that my life was going to change.  It has been exhausting, challenging, rewarding, and oh so much fun since she came into our lives.

I have so many people, friends and acquaintances, ask me questions about pregnancy, labor and delivery, and raising my daughter.  I used to only talk about the good stuff, the happy stuff.  Yeah, that’s nice right?  I wouldn’t want to scare anyone from wanting to become a mother one day.  But what about all the messy and ugly stuff?  What about all those times that you just sit in your closet crying because you are lost, or tired, or even pissed off?  Or when you are hiding in the bathroom crying hoping your husband will get up this one time and pick her up?  But you feel guilty because you are home all day and don’t have to get ready for work in the morning.  This is the reality of becoming a mother, its a very rewarding job, but it is very demanding.

So without getting completely into my journey, I just wanted to give a short synopsis of why I feel the need to start writing and publishing my stories, my life, and even my day.  I hope that it helps fellow mothers, mothers to be, or those thinking about motherhood to have a more realistic perception of what this life brings.  Or just makes you say, “Whew, I am glad I am not the only one.”  I have learned, for the most part, to leave the guilt behind.  Try and take every experience you think is a failure and learn from it.  So much easier said than done, but it has made me feel like I am a better mommy for it.

Skipping the “Terrible Twos”

Today my daughter truly tested my patience.  I am very calm around my toddler, even while she is throwing a tantrum, pulling my hair, aggravating the dog, screaming at such high levels your ears start to ring, wants up then back down and then screams to get back up. Usually its only a few or just one of these things going on.  Not today, today she was on full blast.

Let me also add that my sweet daughter is also a talented climber.  She enjoys climbing on the chair and onto the table.  Nothing is off limits, everything is hitting the floor if I don’t grab her in time.  She wants to be up high so she can not only demolish what is in her path, but also so she can see more of what’s going on.  So when it is time for me to start dinner she wants up.  She wants to be held, which makes prepping and cooking impossible.

I found this video scrolling through Facebook of a stool with a fenced in top part.  It looked like the perfect solution to our problem.  My dad has taken on wood working so I sent it to him and asked if he could make it happen.  Well, our new contraption was delivered yesterday.  We named it Dakota’s Tower.  Now she can stand on it while I cook and “help” me instead of hinder me.

dakotas-towerSo back to this morning.  I am looking at my kitchen after I have put her down for her afternoon nap and want to cry.  How in the world did this tiny 2o pound being cause this much chaos?  Sure she climbed in her tower, in and out, but then she wanted to come out of the wrong end and got stuck.  She has slid chairs all over the kitchen as well using them to climb where she can’t reach.  I still have a mess from making egg salad, that literally took me at least 2 hours to make.  When I finally get to eat my breakfast, oh wait, its noon so now its lunch, she is screaming “I want it, I want it!”  So of course I share my hard earned meal with her.

One phrase comes to mind, “the terrible twos.”  Are we already there?  Wait, what are the terrible twos?  Is it just a catchy phrase someone made up to categorize rowdy children who just so happen to be in or approaching their second year of life?  While she still has another 4 months until she is two, can she already be hitting this “stage?”

Honestly, I really don’t even like that phrase at all.  I believe that my daughter, as well as a mass of other toddlers, start to explore the world with more understanding.  They begin to have an opinion of what they want, but are still learning how to communicate it effectively.  This way of thinking is what keeps me calm in moments of chaos like this morning, and every evening now.  I want to model that screaming and throwing tantrums are not the answer to getting her way.  If I raise my voice or become “scary,” then that is what she will reciprocate.  I want to teach her that we calm down and talk it out.  We figure out the problem and then go from there.

Here is one example that made me feel like my efforts are working.  Last week we went to our weekly gymnastics class.  She threw the worst temper if I took away her snack pack of cheerios.  I could not get her to calm down.  I am talking full on throwing herself on the floor tantrum.  What did I do?  I did not yell at her, I did not threaten or spank her.  I took her into the lobby where we were alone, calmly explained that we are leaving the cereal here for after class.  I got her to answer me and she calmed down enough for us to go back to class.  I was such a proud mommy, not only did it work but it was in public!

What I am trying to stress is that, as hard as it is sometimes, I try to take what could easily be seen as near impossible challenges and turn them into lessons learned through experience.  My daughter is learning how to deal with every day emotions and she needs my guidance on how to effectively do this.  Sometimes it’s good to walk away and let her get it all out, while other times she needs me to talk her through it.

 

The Unpleasant Side Of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is a natural occurrence that doesn’t always happen naturally. This is my story, the impediments I faced that I could not have prepared for.

Congratulations!  You are having a baby, or maybe you are just thinking about it.  At some point you are going to have to make decisions and answer questions about your child before you have even met them.  Are you going to breastfeed?  Are you going to pump?  How are you getting a pump? Will you have formula in case you need it as a back up?  What if you don’t produce enough milk?  These are just some of the obvious questions, although still annoying.

Let me begin with my story.  My answers to these questions were simple.  Yes, I am going to breastfeed.  My original plan for a pump was to rent one through our insurance.  Luckily, my husband’s aunt, who is a lactation nurse, gave me one at a baby shower.  What a life saver, but I will get into that later.  I learned a lot more about pumping later, but duh, I have a pump now so I will use it.  Formula?  I gave away my samples that were sent in the mail.  I had already decided it was not an option.  I don’t have anything against formula, I had just decided for myself that I was going to do whatever it took to make my breastfeeding journey a success.  Oh boy, and was that journey a tough one.

So let me skip ahead past all those glorious months of pregnancy (insert eye roll).  After 12 hours of labor, my daughter made her grand entrance to the world 8 days early.  One of the nurses asked me if I want to try and feed my daughter for the first time, way to put me on the spot.  Saying you are going to breastfeed is the easy part.  So I, uh, just put her on my boob and uh, nature takes over?  If it was that easy, wouldn’t every mother be doing it?

I had no clue what to do at this point.  I had read that getting the latch right the first time was the key to successful breastfeeding.  So we tried, and we failed.  We tried some more, but the latch was so wrong.  Then one evening, my saving grace walked through the door; my husband’s aunt, skilled in the art of breastfeeding.  She worked with me for almost 2 hours showing me different positions, when and how to create the perfect latch, and explained everything I needed to know in great detail.  One key fact I can share that I had never heard of was the shape of your nipple when you break the latch.  If your nipple looks like a tube of lipstick, with the angled end, then the latch isn’t right. That was one of the most frustrating experiences I had because every time we unlatched, we saw the lipstick nipple.

Three and a half days in the hospital and its now time for my party of three to go home and do this all on our own.  Having a baby is exhausting, but there isn’t much time for rest.  After she has been fed and goes to sleep, for about an hour at at time, now I must pump.  My first pumping sessions were extremely defeating.  I could hardly get an ounce out.  Is this a reflection of how much my baby is getting?  Once again, my husband’s aunt comes to my rescue.  She explained to me that it doesn’t take much to fill my baby’s tiny stomach and that pumping is not necessarily a reflection of my supply.  As she requires more milk, my supply will start to accommodate to her needs.  So with that in mind, we began the continuous cycle of feeding, pumping, cleaning pump parts, and maybe a little bit of rest before the cycle starts over again.  I fed her every hour and a half, if we made it that long, because that is what worked for us.  I never knew exhaustion like this before.

After a very long week of the feeding cycle, I was ready to stretch my legs and get out of the house.  I decided we should all take a trip to grocery store, that is when everything started to fall apart.  As we were standing at the deli counter I had a wave of weakness overcome me.  I started to shake from being so cold.  It couldn’t be from the weather, it was May!  I turned to my husband and told him we had to leave now, something was wrong.  We went straight home and I went to bed, only waking up to feed my baby.  My temperature was going up and was over 103 even hitting 104.  I had flu like symptoms, but my right breast wasn’t quite right either.  After googling and doing some research I realized I most likely had mastitis.

Okay, I have heard of getting clogged ducts but no one tells you about mastitis.  My right breast was not emptying like it should, maybe I was favoring my left side more because it was my “good” breast.  I called my doctor and they saw me immediately.  After a round of antibiotics, I still had a knot and large red spot on the side of my breast.  I was told to keep a heat pack on the lump and gently massage it to try and release the clog.  At one point, it even peeled like a sunburn.  So I was put on a second round of antibiotics and sent to a breast surgeon.  She was convinced I was going to have to get those ducts drained because of the size of the knot.  After viewing the ultrasound, which by the way looked so cool, she was able to see that the knot was scar tissue.  So I was sent home to continue my the antibiotics, heat pack and massaging.  The best thing that I could do in this situation was to continue feeding and pumping until empty.

I can remember feeling so engorged one morning, so I jumped in a warm shower.  I can remember crying and squeezing my sore breast with no success.  My husband calmly joined me and asked if he could try.  It was like he had done it before, he gently began massaging and squeezing and then a stream of milk came shooting out.  It is a relief I can’t even begin to describe.

So many mornings began like this, waking up to one or the other or even both breasts so full and so painful.  There was no time to set up my pump because I needed immediate relief.  I would grab an empty bottle and squeeze straight into it, because I did not want to waste a drop of my liquid gold.

Looking back, there were so many times where I could have given up.  When I looked at my daughter, all I could think was that I wanted her to have to best and the best I could give her at the time was milk from my body.  After months it became second nature.  When in doubt, give the boob.  It was the answer to everything.  Not only did my breasts feed her with the nutrients specialized for her needs, but it provided comfort, pain relief, healing, and an overall bonding experience that only the two of us shared.  Would I do it all over again?  Absolutely.