Monday, April 6, 2015

5 Things I Wish I Knew before Having a Baby

You've got a seat squished between two strangers. Your stomach is churning a bit from the less than gourmet food you slammed down on your way to the gate. Your breath is starting to quicken, your heart racing, as you realize you that you're pretty much trapped. You can't really move. You're breathing everyone else's dirty air. You get the feeling you might have to pee. And just when you feel you can't take it any more...

"Attendants, prepare the cabin for landing."

Have you ever breathed such a sigh of relief? Well, that's how I feel today, having emerged from the deep; my son's first 7 months of life. He's finally laughing and cruising around and fun to take places, so I feel like I'm out of the clouds. Sure, the postpartum depression played a role in this prior "trapped" feeling, but in actuality, I legit had no idea what I was getting into when that little stick give me the thumbs up. I feel cheated that some Fairy Godmother of Mothering didn't leave this list in my mailbox before my husband and I started going for the gold. So, please, enjoy this hard-earned advice from someone who was in the dark for far too long.

Why can't babies be born THIS age?
1. Your life is not over. 
Yes, it feels like someone took a hammer to your entire life - from how you arrange your day, to where you shop, to what you expect from yourself and others - and shattered it like an eggshell, and demanded you to put it back together. Well, what they don't tell you, is that you don't have to put it back exactly how it was. As long as the yolk isn't spilling out all over, you're good. And please, spare yourself the whole "my life will never be the same!" tantrum, where you sink into a depression about never having time alone or a full night's sleep. Don't do that to yourself, because that's a hard spiral to stop. Look around, and see that you still have friends, family, a home, interests, places you want to go, dreams you want to accomplish...all with the addition of something that makes all of that even more special. You have a new life. And you wouldn't have it any other way, and you know it.

2. A baby changes you.
Yeah, there's the flab...the stretch marks. Whatever. That's no big deal to how much a baby actually changes you. He changes who you are. What you value. Your work ethic. How you treat others. After having William, I have taken jobs with fervor, no longer thinking about missed Bravo shows, but about making my baby proud and giving him security. I'm no longer scared of opportunities or conflicts, because, after pushing a nearly 9-pound baby out of you (in my case, with no meds!), why would you be? Nothing really intimidates you. You have so much more confidence, and go into every situation with a gentle ease knowing inside, you are a mom. You take better care of yourself (at least as much as you can in the moments you're not killing yourself over his wellbeing), make sounder decisions, get really clear about what you want your future to manifest (I've had some of the best opportunities of my career since becoming a mom). You find out you have more love to give, and it spills over into other relationships. There's absolutely no doubt, you come out of pregnancy as a better person. 

I need to feel like I'm a part of something bigger (with Geena Davis)
3. If you want to work, that's okay.
When I quit my job as a radio host just days before delivery, I was under the impression that hey, if being pregnant made me want to call in sick every day (oh, I was so miserable!), then having a kid would give me all sorts of reasons not to show up! Not true, because a) being pregnant makes you feel not only tired but hormonal, and b) as I said in #2, you have a different outlook on work once you have the baby. You either want to work your booty off being a stay-at-home mom, or hit the workforce the moment cabin fever sets in! What I didn't realize until my son was 8 months old (that's days ago), is that, it's okay to leave him under the care of others. It's okay to fulfill your own dreams! Now, I get to enjoy a "break" from baby for few hours, five days a week. What works for me, is those are either hours spent running my business, or freelance jobs; both of which are flexible, so I can still have as much time as I want with my son. So, if SAHM life is not right for you (I definitely couldn't hang!), find a way to work that works for you; that will fulfill you and sustain your family in the long-term. And that is NOTHING to feel guilty about.

4. Your husband won't be the perfect dad.
Even though he thinks you're the perfect mother. As new moms, our expectations for our partner are way too rose-colored-glasses when we're pregnant. I actually feel bad now that I've "awakened," to realize that ever since the baby was born, I've been keeping a secret scorecard on my husband. 
He didn't wake up with the baby this morning, even though I did the overnight feeding
Or I called the exterminator and also put the baby to bed, so he needs to mow the lawn and cancel that subscription, and also put the baby to bed tomorrow
Date nights are when you remember, you're on the same team
Or how about this doozy:  He told me to go have time for myself, yet when I got back, he hadn't even put the lunch stuff away or done the dishes, even though I always multitask while I'm with the baby
Me: 3, Dad: 0. But really, I'm the one who's losing. 
Instead of turning into my husband for support, using communication and setting mutual agreements, I turned to that toxic devil Resentment, which made me feel uber unappreciated, overworked, and alone. Once I dropped the expectations, and realized we are both doing the best we can with our own skill-set (like I'm just super-awesome at multitasking, whereas he spends so much quality time with baby that he doesn't get around to the dishes), I realized I had a partner, and a darn good one at that.

5. You can afford THAT.
The massage. The weekend away. Whatever "that" is for you, and your husband - you can afford it. Doing things that de-stress, and make you feel like you, and make you two feel like a couple, are as important as any other bill you have, so don't guilt yourself over spending it. My husband would often urge me to go get a massage, to which I used to stupidly reply, "I shouldn't spend money on that, when we have to pay the babysitter three times a week now that I'm working." THEN I'd get mad at him for not planning anything for me! Let go of those money issues. You can always save your money in other places (buy used kids stuff, for one! Whenever I see my friends buying baby clothes at Nordstrom's, I always think, "Haven't they heard of Kid to Kid?" or "Wouldn't they rather use that money on themselves?"). 

The first few months of motherhood would have been a lot easier if I didn't think the world was ending, or that I had to be chained to my home, with blinders on toward the baby. I am listening to my son let out a high-pitched squeal through a smile half the size of his face, and had my baby come out like this, all wacky and explorative, maybe I wouldn't have needed all this advice. But since we all start out with a non-encouraging newborn, new moms need all the help we can get.

Friday, February 13, 2015

How I knew I was done being a SAHM

It's the kind of cry where just the self-pitying sound of it, makes you cry more.

And it's not coming from the baby.

This baby has ruined my life.

I'm sitting on the edge of the bathtub, escaping his demanding outbursts just long enough to cry a few tears of my own and get back to it. And I think, It's quite literally true. A baby's birth equals the death of your former life. Almost nothing you did before is the same, and even the things you still do the same, you do with major adjustments. But I might be taking on more than I even need to.

My love is DARLING, and a handful!
See, my 6-month-old bundle of joy is becoming more squirmy and demanding, which is unfortunately paired with a sleep regression, which means night-waking and fewer naps. In fact, after my husband leaves for work, he takes exactly zero naps. So, when he finally goes down around 7 p.m. I muster just enough energy to twist open the spout of my boxed wine and collapse into our barely used easy chair.

I've started accumulating a feeling that kind of reminds me of when I was diagnosed with postpartumdepression. I definitely don't have that overwhelming sense of doom like I did in those hopeless couple of months, but I do have that feeling I'm missing out on something exciting happening outside the lonely confines of my home.

I can't relate to moms who say, “each day is better than the last!” Yes, it's absolute HEAVEN to see my baby smile, and watch him experiment with his voice, but there's just no getting past the extremely difficult job of being his sole caretaker after my husband leaves for work.

Why don't I get out more, you ask? I definitely go get my hair done or take the fam on walks, but it's not like after hours of wrangling a toddler-sized baby, I want to wrangle him into clothes, then into a carseat, then around whatever venue becomes our crash site.

And I even have a job. A few of them, actually. But they are only a few hours a week, and happen while my husband is home (so it's not like I get to work fewer hours of my “mothering” workweek).

My closest friends think I'm crazy.

“If I were a stay at home mom, I would be on pills.”

After a week covered in baby food, I can't wait for my Saturday morning TV gig!
Another one says, “Working is the only way I could have two kids.”

And now, as I look into my baby's excited face after finding a toy that will make him happy for maybe 3.5 minutes, I am declaring:

This stay-at-home-mom thing is not for me.

It WAS, at one point. I told you in the article I wrote when I quit my radio job, that I just had to do it, so that I could figure out - without pressure - how this new family dynamic works. I definitely feel like a different person with different desires now, so the former career would not have worked anyway. Plus, I've been blessed with a front-row, round-the-clock seat to the most formative years of my son's life. I'm grateful for that.

But, I'm sorry, son. I enjoy our time together so much, and love you more than anything in this world. But I need a break. I need to experience life outside of my home, which - unless I can figure out how to afford a nanny so I can go standup paddleboarding all day - means going back to work.

This is kind of good news for everybody. I have finally learned that my baby will be just fine without me for a few hours. You know that saying: “You've gotta take care of YOU before you can be your best for others?”

Well, this momma's gonna do HER.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Getting Happy at a High Altitude

Winters in Utah can be a total drag. Not just because they last through May, but also because the nasty inversion that seems to get worse every year. (Be part of the solution HERE.) But did you know feeling blue amid the winter white can actually be blamed on our high altitude?

In this well researched article from my favorite local magazine, Catalyst, researchers point out that Utahns are prone to a depression-causing condition called hypoxia, where, basically, your brain becomes deprived of essential fuel like oxygen, and creatine. Creatine? Like the stuff your boyfriend slams down before hitting the gym? The stuff that gives you a blast of energy, while its annoyingly meathead-y canisters promise an increase in lean muscle? 


The article says that our brains actually already make creatine - which reportedly is as essential to your feel-goods as serotonin and dopamine - but that hypoxia restricts your body's ability to access it. So, the study suggests supplementing your daily vitamins with creatine. (Ask your doctor what kind to get!)

I have been trying it out - I put half of the daily amount in my morning smoothie, then half in a cup of tea later in the day to ensure absorption - and I am ALL for it, to the point where I took some over to my mom and sisters and preached to them all about it! You see, I don't just have sustained energy - not the euphoria-now, crash-later sort of stuff - but I also feel a stabilizing of my mood! It seems ever since I had postpartum depression, I have been prone to more dips in my cheerfulness, and this is just what I needed to even me out. I feel like before, if something unexpected came up, I would get super stressed and bummed out. Now, I feel like  I can take a deep breath and see the positive side more often.  

Oh, and remember to ski. Who's ever been sad doing that winter sport?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Small, DIY Fixes that Transformed Our Home

2014 was a big year for the Joneses (isn't every year? Oh, the joy of progression). We had a baby, I started a business, and we also moved. We picked up and left our little busy-road bungalow in a questionable (yet conveniently walkable) area, and nestled ourselves in a liberal ski community against the Wasatch mountains.

We love our ranch house! And have done quite a bit to it since we've been here.




Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Body Issues are More than Skin-Deep

This company says our vaginas need deodorant!
"Hail to the V!"

It's the seemingly empowering slogan of "feminine hygiene" company Summer's Eve. But the message behind their products, like vaginal deodorant and "freshening" wipes, is anything but squeaky-clean.

I remember in my later years of high school, one of my best friends just lost her virginity. Sitting in my '89 Chevy Suburban in the parking lot of Alta High, she recounted her first night with Chad.

"Everything was going really good, until he was like, 'I want to go DOWN THERE!'" she exclaimed, eyes wide in horror.

"Did you let him!?" I recoiled, equally terrified of facing her boyfriend's preposition.

"No way!" she wailed. "What if he thought it was GROSS?"

Even before companies like Summer's Eve were telling girls and women our vaginas are - I'll just go ahead and say it - smelly, society has been laying the bricks for that stigma. This Jezebel article attributes women's smell-shame to a history of women being shamed for simply having a vagina, period. (Ever noticed how, since ancient times, it was never a man who was deemed, "unclean?")

I also believe that pop culture (comedians, movies, etc.) has perpetuated the idea that vaginas are gross. My husband and I were watching some comedian, I can't remember which one, but I cringed when I heard him smugly slur into the mic: "If you can smell it on the way down....go back up!"

Even the medical world has started vaginas off on the wrong foot. WebMD says, "It's normal for your vagina to have a slight odor," giving a negative connotation to the organ's natural scent.

Products like Summer's Eve, along with pop culture, are not doing men any favors, either. If a male expects a woman to smell like roses, he will be disappointed. But the wiser man will use our natural musk - and the arousing pheromones contained within - for his pleasure.

I'll admit, I've often been uncomfortable with my own area. Not just growing up, but also when I first got with my husband. I remember on our first night "together," me pleading to the Gods for him to "like it" down there! It took me a while, actually, before I could just sit back and enjoy that part of our sex life....till I realized, he enjoyed it, too.

There are days, however, when something is truly "off." The vagina is such a complex, self-policing and healing organ, that it sends messages to us through various odors and secretions. But it's unfortunate that some people's experience with a "fishy" day (typically signaling an infection), can scar them for life.

Breasts are also up to bat in the shame-game. I remember in high school, a football player asked me to flash him. And I did, thinking that was my tax for hanging out with the "cool kids." I was a late bloomer, though, and I guess the kid told his friends that my boobs were "weird." Weird compared to what, I dishearteningly thought, when the rumor made its way back to me.

Society has created the "normal" breast type: Whether they're big or small, they must be round or teardrop shaped, and perky, with small areolas. Don't believe me? Listen to any plastic surgeon discuss the ideal image with a patient (or go to their websites and see the "embarrassing" before and afters). Or ask Hugh Hefner what type of breasts he allows to be showcased in his magazines.

Even mainstream magazines don't offer any consolation to those who fall outside "the norm." Cosmopolitan featured an article where the advice for dealing with boobs of "two different sizes" is: Pad one side of your bra, or get plastic surgery.

So, how can women cope with this "perfect" pair standard, WITHOUT surgery?

Love them just how they are, right now.

Easier said than done. But I changed my opinion about mine, so I know it's possible.

In her book, Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom, Dr. Christiane Northrup says the best way to love your breasts, or even the lack thereof, is a daily practice of basically cupping each one, and sending loving thoughts to them. Conversely, Dr. Northrup claims that loathing your lumps is linked to breast cancer. Extra: Watch this video on the power of words.

If you've already been under the knife (and according to this research, 74% of Utahns have), STILL practice loving them. Because the grass is ALWAYS greener if your eyes are only focused over the fence. Comparison will slowly kill any semblance of self-love and acceptance.

And then there's this: Despite the fact that the media's trying to brainwash all of mankind into desiring the perfect double D, when you're face-to-face with your partner, he will likely be charmed by your chest, no matter what they look like.

So, let's "hail" our own breasts and "V's;" but not with products or surgeries, just love. We women deserve to love the very things that make us women, and to have others respect them, as well.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Postpartum Depression Update

It's been almost 7 weeks since I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. You can read all about that here. And though the Zoloft was tempting, it appears that my natural remedies (and just straight up endurance) paid off, and now, I feel like the fog is lifting.

I think it has A LOT to do with this smile....

The Formula Dilemma

Researching formula, it seems that every mom-blog about it starts with an epilogue of guilt. "I just tried and tried to breastfeed, but he wouldn't latch," or "I really did everything I could to breastfeed, but my milk just didn't come in." Ok, moms - drop the breastfeeding guilt! Yes, it's a great way to pump your kid full of antibodies, and it's cheap as hell, but what if you just plain don't want to be a milk machine for your newborn? That's ok! Especially with the high rate of postpartum depression; a little freedom can go a LONG way.

So, I will spare you my excuses for why breastfeeding didn't last very long for me (2.5 months, to be exact). Bottom line, formula happened. I went straight for organic, but guess what? It constipated him worse than that first time in the bathroom, right after I give birth....I digress. Plus, organic formulas are major GMO/chemical offenders, too!! That USDA label doesn't mean much these days (that's why now, I'm like, "Farmer's Market - FTW!") If you wanna read something freaky, here's a great comparison of organic formulas and which ones have more bad stuff than others (spoiler alert - they're ALL guilty).

Necessary evil?
The constipation issue was solved when we found Enfamil GentleEase in the ready-to-use bottles (I think the powder form of most formulas had a lot to do with backing babies up). How I loved the fact that William was no longer in pain! But how I loathed the fact that not only were we pumping him full of non-organic milk and chemicals, but also littering the Earth with plastic bottles (that we recycled, but still...)

My DIY formula
I refused to believe THIS was William's only option. Thank goodness for Google! (Hours, and hours, of Google...). I finally found a recipe for formula that jived with all my ideals. It's a twist on the Meyenberg Goat's Milk recipe (and I've already told you all the ways in which I love goat's milk, but mainly, it's just easier for human bodies to digest it than cow's milk i.e. closer to breastmilk than just about anything else out there.) 

This is the recipe I made (pasted below), and William is eating it up! It's all organic, his burps aren't followed by a river of spit-ups, and his bowel movements are regular! Hallelujah! Sure, I have to make a batch almost daily, but it's wayyyy cheaper (about 50 bucks to gather all the ingredients, which will last you MONTHS! I'd spend 50 bucks on two weeks' worth of formula!).

"This recipe makes 32 oz. of goat milk formula – or 4-8 oz bottles.  I put all the ingredients in my Ninja blender, then pour in a 32 oz container, seal and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.  Here’s what I use and why:
  1. 4 tbsp powdered goat milk – I first purchased powdered goat milk at a local health food store.  I have since discovered it is sold at Whole Foods and I’ve recently found it online at Amazon.   It is cheapest on Amazon ($9.07 per 12 oz can) plus shipping is free.  Additionally, you get a 5% discount if you enable autoship in which you can pre-order the milk for up to 6 month increments.
    The Meyenberg brand is the only brand I’ve found and it works great!  It is fortified with folic acid and vitamin D as an added bonus for babies.  I have also used store-bought goat milk and diluted it using a 1:1 milk/water ratio (for this recipe, that would be 2 cups goat milk to 2 cups water).  I have read that evaporated goat milk can also be used.
  2. 4 tsp organic coconut oil – Coconut oil is the most abundant natural source of an essential saturated fat called lauric acid which is found in high amount in breast milk.  In fact, breast milk is the only other natural source that contains such a high amount of lauric acid.  Lauric acid helps to destroy bacteria, viruses and fungus in the body.  As well,coconut oil is known for regulating blood sugar and thyroid function.
    I have always kept coconut oil as a kitchen staple.  This was a plus because the initial investment for goat milk formula ingredients can be pricey albeit worth it.  Not having to purchase coconut oil was great!  I purchase my coconut oil fromAmazon as well because I can usually take advantage of free shipping.  I pay about $9 for a 15 oz container of coconut oil.  I know this is sacrilege for me, but I have never done price comparison shopping for coconut oil so if you think you can find it cheaper elsewhere, you probably can :).
  3. 4 tsp organic sunflower oil (alternative: extra virgin olive oil) –Sunflower oil (and olive oil) provide monounsaturated fats and vitamin E.  Unsaturated fats balance blood cholesterol.  Sunflower oil has significantly more vitamin E than olive oil, but olive oil contains more vitamin K than sunflower oil.  I prefer sunflower oil for the milder flavor/scent in the infant formula.  Since both provide enough essential unsaturated fats and vitamins, and we are adding a multivitamin to the formula (keep reading), both oils will work.  I have also read where the oil can be omitted.
    Like most households, extra virgin olive oil is a staple in my kitchen.  I buy it blindly when I shop at low-price leader grocery stores and don’t pay much attention to price.  I’ve even found it at Aldi and Walmart.  Sunflower oil, on the other hand, was much more difficult to get my hands on.  I found it at Whole Foods for about $5 for a 16 oz bottle.  Sunflower oil can also be purchased on Amazon.
  4. 4 tbsp organic agave nectar (alternative: organic 100% maple syrup, brown rice syrup) – The sugar and high carbohydrate content found in agave nectar are necessary for brain growth.  Forty percent of the calories from breast milk come from carbohydrates called lactose.  A breast milk substitute, therefore, would have to be high in carbs as well.
    I have been buying agave nectar in bulk at Costco since I have startedplant-based eating.  It is much sweeter than regular sugar so I use less of it, and therefore, it lasts a lot longer.  I cannot recall how much I paid for it (since I’ve had it for so long).  I do know that it is sold in most grocery stores.  I also keep maple syrup as a kitchen staple for plant-based eating.  I am not particularly fond of maple syrup’s taste as a condiment.  However, it works fine as sugar substitutes in most baked ingredients.  Like agave nectar, 100% maple syrup can be found at almost any grocery store including Walmart.  I’ve found it the cheapest at Aldi for about $4.
  5. 1/2 tsp unsulphured blackstrap molasses – This provides B-vitamins, iron, calcium and trace minerals.  Molasses also helps with alleviate constipation.  I have not had a problem with this amount, but decrease the amount if stools are too loose.
    I found molasses at Walmart and thought I struck gold.  When I got it home, I realized it was notunsulphured blackstrap molasses and the two differ by processing method.  I found the unsulphured molasses at Whole Foods.
  6. 1/2 tsp infant probiotic strain – I had always heard of probiotic in my favorite yogurt products before now, but never paid much attention to it.  Breast milk is extremely high in probiotics.  Probiotics improve digestive functions and boost the good bacteria in our bodies to fight the bad bacteria which prevents infection.  Breast milk contains numerous probiotic strains including lactobacillus genus, lactobacillus gasseri and lactobacillus fermentu.
    The infant probiotic comes in a vitamin bottle and is a powdery substance so it’s easy to add to liquids and foods.  I found a brand by Maxi Baby Care at Whole Foods.  It can also be purchased at Amazon, GNC, Vitamin Shoppe and most health food stores.
  7. 4 tsp natural infant liquid multivitamins (or proportioned amount per package directions and amount of milk being made) – This adds in all the missing and extra vitamins your infant needs.  If you are adding this to his/her daily diet already, I would not advise including this in the formula too.
    I found a multivitamin brand by Maxi Baby Care at Whole Foods.  It can also be purchased at Amazon, GNC, Vitamin Shoppe and most health food stores.  Poly-vi-sol is another popular infant vitamin brand and it can be found at Walmart.
  8. 32 oz warm nursery or filtered water – Goat milk powder is harder to dissolve in cold water than store-bought formula.  Make sure your water is hot or warm for better mixing and clump-free formula."

Enjoy! And remember, stop with the breastfeeding guilt. :)