Saturday, September 29, 2012

why my child-less self just didn't get it

I, like most people, am an inherently selfish being.  I think about myself a lot all the stinking time.  What is inconveniencing me at the moment, what I want, what I need, etc etc.  I often worried as a younger me that I would be a crappy mom because I didn't really want to give up my selfishness, my freedom, my independence.  I suppose I thought that those things were the icing on the cake of life.

I am happy to say that my younger self was very wrong.

In the last seven months (well I suppose the last 18- I can't forget my pregnancy) I have learned that life is infinitely more beautiful when you are finally able to step outside of yourself and think more about the happiness of another than your own.  Now that is certainly not to say that it's easy, because it's not.  I'm not going to lie and pretend that every moment is a picnic, but really- it is amazing.

I was just talking to my oldest friend (who got pregnant and had her baby a month before me.  Fun, right?) and she was telling me how frustrating it was to hang out with some of her closest friends from high school because they just don't seem to get it.  They complain about the inconveniences in their lives- the late night study sessions, job frustrations, etc... but when she would join in and talk about how her son won't sleep well and how tired she is, they all basically said "Well this is what you signed up for!"  She felt like they just didn't get how hard, but how wonderful being a mom is.  They seemed to think that it should be "easy" if you just do things a certain way, and that she shouldn't need an outlet to vent as much as they do.  They had lots of advice for her though.

Your baby would be sleeping through the night if you'd let him cry it out at two months old.

Your baby would sleep through the night if you'd stop nursing him.

On and on and on.

Childless people always have all the answers.  I know I did.  Believe me, I really thought I did, so this is not a Bash-Childless-friends post.

Really what it boils down to is that I was all judgy-judgy before Eisley came along too.  That screaming baby in the store- bad parenting.  The mom who lets her young children watch tv- bad parenting.  The kids who still have food smeared all over their little mouths and faces- bad parenting.

What I realize now is that it's super easy to judge other people when you're able to sleep in every day, pee by yourself whenever you want, take showers every day, and hit up Target whenever the mood strikes.  See, you've got your life all figured out, oh single one.  You have no one to answer to but yourself, and so there isn't a whole lot about daily life and it's simple little tasks that seems overwhelming at this point.  At least, I'd hope you don't have a hard time finding a spare moment to pee by yourself if you're single... but that's another issue for another day.  The point is, you think "life is easy."

When a little person of your very own comes into your life, nothing comes as easily as it used to.  It's a big, huge, sometimes overwhelming adjustment.  You are willingly giving up your autonomy and bending constantly to the whims and needs of a tiny little person who can't tell you what they need, can't sleep through the night, can't wipe their own behinds, and can't even hold their own head up at first.

Whoa there, responsibility.

So maybe sometimes we mommas may complain about sleep deprivation, blow-outs, and saggy-baggy post-baby bodies- we are only human after all.  But ultimately, we wouldn't give it up or trade it for anything.  So when you (all my childless friends and readers out there) hear one of us talk about the less than perfectly lovely parts of motherhood, what I really want you to know is that even those little things  we look back on fondly when they are gone.

Nursing a newborn quietly to sleep in the middle of the night while your husband sleeps next to you.  It's a quite, exhausting, beautiful time that lasts only a short little while.  I know I am not the only mom who misses those sweet moments when they've passed.

Fighting the urge to nap yourself because you just can't stop smelling your sweet baby's hair as they sleep on your chest.

That horrifyingly hilarious moment when your baby poops explosively all over you.  Yes, you will look back on that as a funny memory, not a horrifying one.  It seems crazy, but it's true.

I look back on these moments and I see a couple of things.  I see my daughter growing, and I remember our bonding times.  I also see myself growing.  Growing as a mom, a woman, a wife, and a better human being.  You see, I realize now that life is just not quite so beautiful when it's all about yourself.  It's too easy to become bitter, angry, and disenchanted with life.  It's too easy to think that you have somehow got it all figured out.

Having Eisley has helped me realize that I don't have it all figured out, and that I really never will.  I also look at other moms now and smile as their child throws a tantrum in the grocery store.  Maybe their baby is sick, just had their vaccinations, or is a little on the gassy side.  Maybe that mom just desperately needs some food to feed herself and her babe, so there just isn't a way that she can walk out of the store grocery-less.

It has been a constant and ever-evolving death to self.  I have to put Eisleys's needs largely over my own.  Sometimes, in a moment of weakness I complain about the sleepless nights, fussy days, and lack of alone time.  Sometimes I grumble about all of it.  The thing is, once the words have left my mouth, I realize how lucky I am, and how good I have it.  How blessed I am.

I certainly don't have all the answers and I have plenty of weak moments, but I love being a mom.  It's different than anything else in life.  It's messy, beautiful, hilarious, sometimes tragic, and heart-expanding.  So when one of your friends complains about some aspect of motherhood, take it with a grain of salt.  I guarantee that if push came to shove, they would choose it again over anything.

I know I would.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Boobs, Babies, and Controversy- or Why People are Dumb

Oh man, I just can't help myself.  The stories that just keep popping up in the media about outrage over moms breast feeding in public just don't stop.  Seriously.  Yeesh.  I feel really torn on occasion- like the most recent story about the professor who breastfed her sick baby during a lecture.  I can totally see both sides here.  The mama bear in me yells "A baby needs to eat when a baby needs to eat!" and the more private person in me says "I don't think I would have done that.  It doesn't strike me as super professional."  Most of the time when I read stories of outrage over breastfeeding I simply think that people are ridiculous and hypocritical.

But here's the thing.  The real issue as I see it.

We've lost site of what breasts are for.  What they do.  Why God, in all of His infinite wisdom, created them.

We live in an age of Victoria's Secret commercials, movie stars who bare their bodies in films like it is no big deal, and audiences that don't flinch any more at full or partial nudity.  A woman's body is presented as an object.  Something to desire, admire, lust over.  We wear push up bras and spend hundreds of dollars each year to make our breasts perkier, bigger, more desirable, and we are afraid of the day when they sag from old age or from breastfeeding multiple children.  Incredibly to me, this last one is a reason why lots of women don't breastfeed to begin with.  There have been some studies in the last few years that actually prove that breastfeeding alone is not typically the culprit when it comes to saggy baggy boobies(here is just one).

But God forbid if our boobs are less than perky.

Seriously.  Is this what we have let ourselves come to?  I care about my appearance as much as the next woman, but to make an important decision involving the health of our babies based on our own insecurities blows my mind.  That's not to say that I don't understand.  In our society it sometimes feels as though our worth is based on how attractive we are.  It's sick, and it's wrong, but it's really hard to ignore because it is so pervasive in our culture.  Even beautiful models and celebrities are photo-shopped and airbrushed to be made more "perfect" and "beautiful" and more entirely fake and un-achievable.

Personally, I think the uproar over breastfeeding in public is less about the occasional exposed breast, and more about the outrage over a woman choosing to cast off societal expectations and using her body for a selfless reason.  When a woman chooses to breastfeed, she gives up her physical autonomy.  She stops being completely egocentric and begins to look outside of herself and her own needs.  She changes the way she feels and perceives herself.

When I started breastfeeding I stopped seeing my breasts as something exclusively sexual and started seeing them as a way to nurture my daughter.  And it also changed the way I see our country's expectations of women.

This is all a little muddled.  Bear with me here.  I promise I am trying to get it out.

Our society is uncomfortable when others are not focused mainly on themselves.  A selfless person makes us feel a little squeamish.  Not because being selfless is bad, mind you.  Selflessness is amazingly difficult, and amazingly beautiful.  But it makes people around you uncomfortable because it  forces them to recognize the level of their own selfishness.  It shines a light on their own lives and makes them realize that maybe, just maybe they are living the wrong way.

We push back on anything that has this affect on us because we don't want to feel the need to change.

For decades, woman have been trained to feel that having a baby shouldn't be a reason to change their lives, alter their dreams, or even their daily routines.  We long for babies because we are biologically and emotionally wired to do so, but we have also been trained from a very young age to pursue a career, education, etc.  Now please don't mis-understand me.  These are wonderful things.  I went to school.  I believe in education and going after your dreams.  I also believe that it is a natural reaction to having children to change your goals, dreams, and desires.

Now how does all of this relate to breastfeeding?  I'm trying to get there, I really am.

Public outrage over breastfeeding keeps happening over and over again because in this day and age, public breastfeeding is akin to holding a sit-in or protest or rally.  Public breastfeeding sends a very clear message that we don't accept the roles or values that our culture has assigned to us as women.  It says that we will value something intangible over the consumer-centric gimme-culture that we were raised to esteem.

Yes, you may be uncomfortable with seeing a tiny flash of a real woman's breast when she breastfeeds her hungry baby in public, but my guess is that you are more uncomfortable with the message that you feel this mother is sending you.  And maybe you should be.  Because maybe then you will begin to realize that not everything in this world is about you or me or us.  Maybe my breasts are here primarily to nurture and feed my children, and not for mine, my husbands, or anyone else's enjoyment.  So you won't even blink when you see a naked woman's breasts in that movie you're planning on seeing this weekend, but you are probably uncomfortable seeing a mom quietly nursing her baby at the mall.  I hope that someday soon we can get to the point where these ways of thinking are reversed.

I'm hoping that by the time my daughter is a mother that breastfeeding will be looked at as normal and natural, and the sexualization of women's breasts is a bit more taboo and makes people a bit more uncomfortable than it does today.  I hope we can stop the lynch-mobs that attack women for doing what is natural, healthy, and beautiful.  I hope that we can just stop fighting about all of this and establish good clear and helpful laws that protect nursing mothers and babies.  I sincerely hope that we can get to a point where we find real women and all that they encompass beautiful.

I hope that made sense, and I hope that I got my point across without making anyone feel attacked.  Because seriously, that's my point.  Let's stop attacking each other.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wordless Wednesday- How Can You Resist This Face?

On Long Car Rides With Babies

I have been kind of MIA lately!  Life has just been a little on the crazy side (in a good way fortunately!) with visiting family in Chicago, working, writing up reviews for This Flourishing Life (ps- if you haven't checked out Erica's blog, you should!  She has some of the yummiest gluten free recipes on the web), parenting, and trying to keep my disaster of a house from collapsing under the weight of the mess.

Ok, so I'm failing at that last one, but hey, no one can have it all.

This past week we ventured back up to Chi-town to visit our families and give them all some Eisley time.  I was a little worried terrified that E would scream her pretty little head off the entirety of our 8 hour car ride, but she did so well!  I suppose it helped that we got on the road around 3:30 am so that she would sleep three or four hours for the first part of our trip, but even after that there was barely any fussing!  Thank the Good Lord.  Seriously.

Here is what I learned about traveling with an infant.

1.  There is no such thing as packing light when you are traveling with a baby.  Pack 'n Plays, toys, food, blankets, clothes, baby carriers, et.  So much for loading our car at our traditional Ikea trip.  No room!  boo!

2.  Bring a lot of toys that your baby has never played with.  It is a lifesaver when they start to get a little fussy.  We got one of these and waited to put it on her car seat until the morning we left.  It was a big hit, and kept Eisley busy for quite a while.  yay!

3.  Be willing to stop.  A lot.  Diapers will still need to be changed, babies will still need to be fed, and little legs will need to be stretched.  Nick and I were all about just pushing it and getting to Chicago quickly before Eisley cam along.  We'd stop to pee, or get some lunch, but that was it.  We had to stop a lot more often with Eisley to keep her happy, and it was fine!  Not a big deal at all.

4.  Cloth diapering on vacation really wasn't hard for us at all!  Granted, we weren't staying at a hotel, and my mother in law was fine with us washing E's dipes at her house, but it was easy peasy!  I was grateful that we have quite a few travel-sized wet-bags, but otherwise we didn't really need to do anything all that differently.

5.  Bring your noise machine.  I don't think Eisley would have napped at all without that thing.  My parent's house is like a petting zoo (my mom rescues injured and abused animals, so there are always foster animals around.  Check it out Dire Straits Animal Rescue) and my in-laws also have a dog.  Not only that, but you just can't expect everyone to tip-toe around like you do in your own house every time you put the baby down for a nap.

6.  If your baby is able to safely munch on snacks on their own, I would highly recommend Baby Mum Mum snacks or something similar.  Eisley was a total mess every time we gave her one of these, but she loved the fact that she was feeding herself, and it kept her totally entertained.

7.  Take lots of photos.  Of course.  Someday I will upload them and brag about all the fun we had.  =)

I think driving 8 hours with E was a little stressful for my hubby, but I didn't think it was all that bad.  It's certainly not what I would cal relaxing, but it also just wasn't as bad as I thought it could be.

Thank goodness.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Best Cloth Diaper Accessories To Make Your Life Easier

When I tell people that I cloth diaper, they often look at me like I must have lost my mind.  One eyebrow will rise, their mouth gapes open, and I can see the questions start to form in their brains.  As I try not to laugh at their incredulity, I prepare to answer the same questions I always get.

"What do you do with the poop?"

"How do you clean them?"

"What do you do with dirty diapers when you are out and about?"

The answers to these questions are largely influenced by the easy peasy accessories that are available to today's cloth diapering parents.  So today, we are going to talk about the best cloth diaper accessories out there, and how they can make the day to day easier.  Then when the uninitiated and slightly baffled masses ask you how you can say cloth diapering is easy, you'll have some answers and strategies.

So in my opinion the best cloth diaper accessory is a great hemp insert.  A great hemp insert or doubler will keep your little one dry and free of leaks while you are out and about.  So not that you won't need to deal with the occasional dirty diaper, or public diaper change, but odds are pretty darn good that you are not going to have to do a public outfit change because of a leaky diaper.  Hemp is also a natural fiber, which I am a fan of.  It doesn't get as stinky as microfiber, and holds a ton.  If you don't have any hemp inserts in your stash, save up some cash and get some.  They are also a must have for night time diapering.

Now on to the question "What do you do with the poop?"  Well besides the glaringly obvious answer of "you plop it in the toilet!" I tell people all about diaper sprayers.  These little gems will help you clean up the most disgusting of poops without having to scrape, swish, dunk, or wipe poop off of your diaper.  Just hook it up to your flexible line, set it to the right water pressure, and just spray that poop off of your baby's diaper and straight into the toilet.  So easy.  It is one of the best cloth diaper accessories that you can invest in.

When people ask how I clean the diapers, I tell them about my washing routine.  I am a big fan of Tide for diaper washing, but there are some other products that I do depend on because we have extremely hard water.  RLR is a cheap and easy way to keep your diapers from building up stink, and it will keep them looking fresh and white.  Since using RLR on my diapers, I've also started using it to get my daughter's clothes looking nice and new again.  It is amazing.  Just add it to your diaper laundry for upkeep purposes, or run a wash cycle with clean diapers and just RLR to strip as needed.  It has been a life saver for us, especially since smells have been harder to battle in this crazy summer heat.  I will also say that I think water test strips are a great little accessory to invest in.  At only $.99 per strip, it will make it so easy to find the right washing routine for your water quality.  Washing has been the biggest challenge for us as far as finding a routine that works really well goes.  Once we discovered that we have very hard water, it made it easy to figure out what aspects of our washing routine to tweak.

The third and final must-have accessory is a great wet bag.  When people ask what I do with soiled diapers when I am out and about, I pull out my super cute wet bag.  They keep moisture and smells in, come in various sizes, and will keep your diaper bag nice and clean.  You will probably want to have at least two travel sized wet bags in your stash in case one is in the wash when you need to run out for something.

So if you are new to cloth, or just need some ideas of what kind of products you should recommend when people are curious, these are what I believe to be the best cloth diaper accessories you can have.  Banish the fears of those who are interested in using cloth but think it is going to be complicated or messy, and show them all of the great accessories available to make cloth diapering easier.  There's a million reasons to cloth diaper, and these modern conveniences make up quite a few of them.

So happy easy peasy diapering!

disclosure- this blog post was written as part of the Diaper Junction Blog Squad, and I have been compensated for this post.  That being said, all the opinions stated are completely my own, and your experience may vary.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Fall Fluff Giveaway! $75 Worth of Diapering and Baby Essentials

Welcome to The Parenting Patch Fall Fluff Giveaway Hop! James and Heather, a husband and wife team, launched The Parenting Patch: Where Parents Grow on September 15, 2011. In honor of the first anniversary of their blog and website, The Parenting Patch is hosting a cloth diaper giveaway hop that runs from September 1, 2012 through September 15, 2012. The minimum value of each prize package participating in The Parenting Patch Fall Fluff Giveaway Hop is $15. Each giveaway prize is related to cloth diapers. Giveaways include, but are not limited to, cloth diapers, wet bags, cloth wipes, cloth diaper laundry detergent, and cloth diaper ointment. Additionally, The Parenting Patch is sponsoring a huge cloth diaper grand prize that consists of one (1) wet/dry bag in sage, one (1) handmade wet bag in an owl print, one (1) Smush Tush diaper, one (1) Awesome Blossom diaper, six (6) bamboo/microfiber inserts, nine (9) microfiber inserts, and ten (10) Alva Baby pocket diapers in red, orange yellow, green, blue, light blue, purple, black, brown, and white.

Enter to Win The Parenting Patch Fall Fluff Giveaway Hop Grand Prize The Parenting Patch Fall Fluff Giveaway Hop grand prize is open to legal residents of the United States of America and Canada. To enter to win, simply use the Rafflecopter form found at The Parenting Patch Fall Fluff Giveaway Hop: Grand Prize Cloth Diaper Prize Pack Giveaway. Good luck and happy cloth diapering!

Are you ready to hear all about the great fluff I have the pleasure of giving away?  Everything in my giveaway are items that are some of my personal favorites.  They are fantastic products that I use every day, and I'm really excited to give one of you the chance to win!  From our amazing sponsors we have a Fuzzibunz One Size Elite from Buttercup Baby, a Lambie Love wool soaker and lanolin, a Smart Snugs cloth diaper of the winner's choice, and last (but most certainly NOT least) a H3idiho Designs teething necklace of the winner's choice.  That's about $75 worth of my favorite baby gear.  Now if only I could win my own giveaway *wink*.  Here is what is up for grabs!  

One Smart Snugs Diaper of the winner's choice

One Mint Fuzzibunz One Size Elite from Buttercup Baby

One Teething necklace of the winner's choice from H3idiho Designs

One wool soaker from Lambie Love

Lanolin from Lambie Love

Please make sure you check out the posts about all of the sponsors.  They have been ridiculously generous, and they really are great products, and hopefully you will love them all as much as I do.  So enter away, and leave some love on the sponsors' facebook pages!

Good luck!!!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also be sure to enter the other giveaways participating in The Parenting Patch Fall Fluff Giveaway Hop:

 The Parenting Patch Fall Fluff Giveaway Hop grand prize is restricted to legal residents of the United States of America and Canada. The Parenting Patch Fall Fluff Giveaway Hop grand prize ends at midnight EST on September 15, 2012. One winner will be chosen at random via Rafflecopter. The winner will be sent an email and will have forty-eight hours to respond. If no response is received within forty-eight hours, another winner will be chosen. Note that the Awesome Blossom diaper will ship separately. Disclaimer: Neither The Parenting Patch nor the other bloggers participating in The Parenting Patch Fall Fluff Giveaway Hop are responsible for sponsors who fail to fulfill promised prizes. All participating giveaways end at midnight EST on September 15, 2012.

DisclaimerI did not receive any compensation for this post.  All opinions are my own, and your experience may vary.  This post contains affiliate links.