Book Review: Enough by Kate Conner

Last week, I did my first ever product review and, here I am, doing my first ever book review! Again, I am so honored and excited that anyone, anywhere is interested in my opinion and being featured on my blog. Like, who am I? I’m just a little ol’ mama, breastfeeding and trying to dress to impress. I am beyond honored to post a book review by one of my all-time favorite bloggers, Kate Conner. Two years ago, one of my best friends, Barbara, sent me a link to Kate’s post, “10 Things I Want To Tell Teenage Girls” and I was hooked forever. Well, that post has now morphed into not one, but two amazing books that will improve the lives of teenage girls everywhere.

Enough by Kate Conner10 Things For Teenage Girls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kate is a firecracker of a Christian woman, with wit and banter that could last for days. She has had more than her fair share of struggles, which she is completely open and graceful about. She is the kind of friend that you want next to you when you receive bad news, the kind of mom that you want in your labor and delivery room to cheer you on, and the kind of woman that you need when a man boy breaks your heart. Her simple, wise words could cut through the thickest of mistakes that you’ve ever made. To prove it, I’m going to share the times that I could have used Kate’s advice from her post (and now books), 10 Things I Want To Tell Teenage Girls. This post won’t be your typical book review, but I hope you enjoy it!

Chapter 1: Neon Purple Leggings 

Before I met my husband, I looked at male attention like a third-rate celeb trying to get into the tabloids: any publicity is good publicity. I honestly never learned the destructive outcome of that mindset until some painful hindsight sucker punched me in the stomach and made me lose my breath. The most embarrassing and desperate moment I remember is when I wore skin-tight, sheer white pants to school in an effort to impress my boyfriend at the time. Let’s not even get into the fact that I also wore a black thong underneath and actually hoped that you could see it through my pants. I, personally, just so happened to stumble into the arms of a genuine, pure-heart man who looked past my cleavage and loud laugh to find someone he truly respected and admired. Kate sums it up perfectly when she says, “Men who value compassion are drawn to compassionate women. Men who value intelligence are drawn to intelligent women. Men who value style are drawn to stylish women. Men who value bacon are drawn to women who cook bacon. There is a pattern here.” This is a lesson that I didn’t learn in time. In fact, I still fail at this from time to time. I plan a skimpy outfit for a date night with my husband and refuse to indulge in his deep conversations, forgetting that he always loved me for my brain and heart rather than my…erm…assets. Like I said, these are words of advice that I could have sincerely used. For instance, the point that…”No woman should settle for the ability to make a man drool when instead she could have his admiration.”

Chapter 2: The Tanning Bed Trap

When I was in 6th grade, I started dying my hair blonde (or blonder than my natural hair color). When I was in 11th grade, I started tanning. Obsessively. Like, all day, errr day. By my senior prom, I was constantly asked if I was hispanic. I am naturally fair-skinned, light-haired, blue-eyed, and covered in tons of ever-scary and possibly cancerous moles. The darker I tanned my skin, the more and more compliments I got. Tanning couldn’t get rid of my blue eyes and the hair dye helped my hair stay light, so I was somewhat of a walking oxymoron. How many people do you know who have dark skin and light eyes? Not many. They are rare…and they are beautiful because of it. In my early years, I strove to be a rarity. A dark-skinned, light-eyed beauty. Kate brings logic to my actions by explaining, “The most elusive body type, the one nearly impossible to attain under the circumstances of the day, was beautiful.” She also comforts this insatiable desire by saying, “I reject the notion that what I am not is more beautiful than what I am.” Amen.

Chapter 3: In the Cafeteria with a Megaphone

Let me start this part by saying that I am an extremely outspoken and verbal person, friend, girlfriend, daughter, etc. It is not often that someone will get away from me without thoroughly knowing my deepest, darkest innards. As much as I attempt to use my words in a positive way, I have had the tendency to go overboard when I was upset about something and really drive the point home. The problem with that approach is that most of my friends weren’t willing to listen. When they wouldn’t listen, I’d resort to something that would. “Facebook gives us humans something we’ve always wanted-something we crave: a captive audience.” There were so many times that I just wanted someone to hear how upset I was, no matter what the consequence. There were so many times that I just word-vomited all over my Facebook wall in hopes of receiving a few likes and comments to validate my feelings. The truth is, publicly shaming someone for their wrongs is…well, wrong. Kate doesn’t skip a beat when talking about the immorality of it all when she says, “In no real-life situation is this kind of public denouncement of another person acceptable, but the false sense of anonymity granted by Facebook makes it fair game for teenagers today. The result is drama on a cosmic scale.” There is a false hope in publicly posting something that you want to tell someone personally. There is a false sense of being heard. In reality, it only leads to drama.

Chapter 4: Vegan Lions

This is a lesson that I learned recently. I mean, like, a mere 4 months ago. That specific story is still too raw and personal to share, so pardon me for being a bit vague. Vague isn’t really my style, but sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same. Instead, I’ll share a different story. If you’ve read my blog before this post, then you’ll already know that I have a huge passion for breastfeeding. I was kind of catapulted into that passion as I began my own journey in breastfeeding and it has just grown and grown since then. At first, I went on a huge breastfeeding kick all over my Facebook. Very quickly, I started to offend people (or annoy them, at the very least). I aimlessly posted anything and everything about breastfeeding that I could find, with no real audience. As my passion grew, I decided to aim the breastfeeding info at an audience that actually needed it. I started messaging pregnant friends, offering advice. I joined a ton of breastfeeding support pages on Facebook and constantly answered (and still answer) questions from strangers. I started this blog and drafted ALL of the breastfeeding information that I could possibly think of to post in my breastfeeding series. The end result has left me feeling so appreciated and accomplished. I never realized how necessary it was for me to unleash my passions (in the right venue, of course), but I’m so glad I ended up in such a satisfying place with them. I’ve found it so easy to avoid anything dramatic when I’m aiming my passion where it matters. “Our souls need passion and purpose. When we can’t find it authentically, we manufacture it in the form of drama and daydreams to feed our hungry hearts. The problems is that a woman subsisting off of drama and daydreams is like a lion subsisting off of grass, berries, and bugs. We might survive, but we will never be healthy, and we will never be satisfied.” I wish Kate could personally share this point with everyone on the planet. It is so necessary to work towards your passions. Nothing else can fulfill that need. “The excitement of drama can’t hold a candle to the excitement of a cause, a calling.”

Chapter 5: A Pack of Wolves Is Natural

Just because your heart’s desires are natural, does not mean that they are safe or right. This lesson has been learned one too many times in my day. It’s the kind of lesson that makes you nauseous and buckles your knees. Your heart was wrong. Again. And again. …and again. Kate says “Follow your heart.” is terrible advice and I have to agree with her. I have followed my heart. I have followed my heart over heartbreak bridge and to the heart breaker’s house we go. I have followed my heart to lackluster dreams. I have followed my heart to unhealthy relationships. I have followed my heart to damaging places. I have stopped following my heart. Kate has a long list of better things to follow, but I’ll let her careful words guide you (or your teenage girl) in this lesson, because I haven’t found what is best to follow. I only know that following my heart is not best.

Chapter 6: Get Mad, Not Mastered

There was a day last week, actually, that I was so overcome with emotion that I cried on the entire drive to work. My emotion was valid. It’s a genuinely heartbreaking situation. (It’s a political one, so I’ll refrain from spilling too much of my opinion. Just know that, in all things, I err on the side of loving another human. No political conversation could change that about me.) I pulled into the parking lot at work, grabbed my bag, and dragged my feet into work. I yelled, “I HATE this world!” to the two of my employees who were there. We had a short conversation about the issue (all in agreement, as far as opinion goes) and I had to rush into my office to get things done for the day. After a few meetings and a chance to clear my mind, I emerged from my office and declared, “If others won’t love them, I WILL.” We spent the rest of the day researching how to volunteer and get involved. My heart is still mad over this issue, but it isn’t mastered. Emotion is a good thing. Emotion gets some of us elbows deep in a soup kitchen or ten stories high to talk a stranger off a ledge. Emotion can drive the best of behaviors, as long as you don’t let it master you.

Chapter 7: Smoking Is Not Cool

This chapter has one page…and it says, simply, “Smoking is not cool.” Get it? Ok, moving on.

Chapter 8: Six Circles

There are six circles that represent who has an opinion about you that matters. Let me just tell you that it includes everyone from God to strangers. Yes, Kate dos think that a stranger’s opinion of you matters. She says, “It matters because God says it matters.” and goes on to give many scriptures as evidence. I’m guilty of saying (and thinking), “I don’t care what they think about me.” Mostly before making a poor decision. Mostly before saying something off-color. Mostly after I notice an opinion about me that I absolutely do care about, but don’t have the bravery to change. “Relationships matter, reputations matter, testimonies matter. Girls should care what other people think about them.”

Chapter 9: Dumb Is Never Cute

There is one, single line that I wish Kate would have screamed in my face until I went deaf: “The world is vast and big and bright for teenage girls-and too many women have worked too hard to see women esteemed for girls to act like a bunch of flirtatious twits to get what they want.” I have always taken pride in the fact that I can always manage to get what I want, but I’ve grown embarrassed of the efforts I’ve used in the past in order to do so. In high school, I would become fixated on a single guy that I wished to date and I would relentlessly flirt with him. My flattery was never an honest depiction of my feelings, it was merely my way of getting him to like me: getting what I wanted. I’m not much of a heart breaker, but I’m embarrassed to look back and know that I used such a dishonest scheme as my weapon of choice to get boys to like me. Kate should have been there to tell me how to actually go about flattering people, “Love people well-and know that in so doing, there is no room for manipulation.” As I shared earlier in this post, I am still guilty of thinking that my husband would like for me to revert back to the “flirtatious twit” that I was in high school in order to get my way. It has taken a lot of men who believe in my brain and my heart for me to realize that I’m capable of getting what I want by showing my intelligence and my love for others rather than shoving my flattering wit into their faces. Kate calls me to keep the relevant things front and foremost by saying, “Sisters, we either show the world that we have brains, passion, and skills-or we don’t. We can’t have it both ways.”

Chapter 10: Enough

Kate hilariously describes her own “uncharacteristically high self-esteem” and I have to say that I, too, suffer from uncharacteristically high self-esteem. While I know that I am an attractive and intelligent person, I still struggle with a sense of being enough. At first, it seems bizarre, but Kate explains, “The most beautiful, self-assured, powerful, productive woman longs to hear, at the end of every long day, “You did enough today. It is okay to breathe now. You are enough.”” Amen, Kate, amen. Even though I am confident in my appearance and so very proud of my accomplishments, I’m always craving  the reassuring “more” that is makeup, home decor, or knowledge. I need more makeup to be pretty. I need more home decor to be organized. I need more knowledge to be smart. Kate gives me permission to release myself from needing to be “more”, “Whether you are 15 or 115, it is never too late to throw off the shackles of “not enough.” There is no expiration date on the truth. When an advertisement asks, “Is your skin too dry, oily, wrinkly, old, blotchy?” You can dare to say, “No.” You can dare to believe that you don’t need every fix for everything that is purportedly wrong with you.”

In the end, I realize that I needed this book now just as much as I did when I was a teenage girl. I know a few grown women that I will pass this book on to, as well as keeping it in mind for any teenage girls that are in my life. I feel as though Kate has just the right amount of grace and sass to truly drive each of these points home and nail them onto the walls of my heart. It is an amazing thing to find someone who can teach you a life lesson through their writing and that’s exactly what Kate is capable of with this book. I hope you’ll buy this book for yourself and for any girls or women in your life (buy it here). I hope you’ll give “10 Things For Teen Girls” to every teenage girl that you know (buy it here). I also hope that you’ll enter my giveaway for this book!

Enter to win a copy of “Enough” by commenting your own experience with one of these life lessons on this post and following my blog!

Giveaway ends this Friday, August 1st! Good luck!

(Must complete both items to be entered. Open to U.S. residents only. Winner will be chosen at random on Friday, August 1st. You can follow my blog through BlogLovin’, WordPress, or by email. All buttons are located to the right, on my sidebar. To follow my blog on BlogLovin’, click the plus sign button under “Follow and Connect”. To follow me on WordPress, click the “Follow” button near the bottom, above my Beauty and the Binky button. To follow me by email, enter your email and click “Follow” in the line under my Instagram feed.)

Breastfeeding Series Part 9: Breastfeeding Twins, a Guest Post

Last week, I talked about nursing a toddler and, this week, we continue the crazy breastfeeding journey by talking about breastfeeding twins! I am so thrilled and proud to post an experience with breastfeeding twins by Natalie Young from Those Young Twins and Three Little Crowns! What an amazing mama! I have touched base on the difficulties I’ve had with breastfeeding and I have to salute and applaud Natalie for having the strength to do it with two! …and now for Natalie’s post about breastfeeding twins!

Breastfeeding twins

I never really had an agenda when it came to how long I would breast feed the twins. I knew I wanted to do it and I was determined to give it all I had, but, prior to becoming a mama, I had heard stories of other mamas who really struggled with breastfeeding. I was nervous about the whole idea of not one, but two, newborns being solely dependent on me for food. I was scared to commit to something I was so passionate about and then fail at it, so I decided I would take it one day, one week, one month at a time. I definitely didn’t expect to still be nursing both boys at ten months old, nor did I expect I would love it as much as I do!

No one told me I shouldn’t breastfeed the twins. In fact, my decision to nurse them was encouraged and supported by the hospital staff when they were first born and I was so fortunate to have had a very positive experience those first few days. I carried the boys to 37 weeks, they both latched right away without any issues, and my milk came in on the second day.
During the first weeks, I did get a lot of surprised reactions whenever friends, family or even strangers found out I I was nursing them. At first this made me doubt my decision a little, but then I think this is in part what helped me through those first months. Knowing that others respected and applauded me for breastfeeding two babies encouraged me to keep going, to push through the challenging moments, to give it more then I ever thought I could.

The twins both tested low for sugars during our 2 night stay in the hospital when they were born so the nurses encouraged us to supplement them with a little formula along with breast feeding. At first I was hesitant of this as I was determined to exclusively breastfeed and was discouraged at the fact that I wasn’t able to give them everything they needed. But I have learned as a mama that you do what you have to do. Not everything goes the way you want it to and that’s ok. I realized later how thankful I was that the boys learned to drink formula from a bottle right off the bat so that my husband/a sitter can feed them once and a while when iIm unable. It’s also very helpful for when were travelling or on the go. When we stop for a feed, my husband will feed one a bottle while I nurse the other. I’d say that, to date, they are about 90% breastfed and 10% formula fed.

Trying to think back to those first few months after we brought the twins home from the hospital, I remember it was HARD in the beginning. Newborns eat A LOT and OFTEN. With two babes, I was totally a feeding machine. I nursed them together when I had assistance in setting up. Since my husband worked a full time job during the week, I generally nursed them separately through the day as I just found it easier and I also enjoyed the bonding time I had with each babe. The only problem with nursing them separately is they were often hungry at the exact same time. I had to develop strategies to keep the other one content or I would lose my mind. When they were very tiny, for example, I would pick one up to feed and lay the other across my knees and bounce him until I was done with the other then SWITCH! I barely left the couch those first weeks as there was very little time when I wasn’t feeding one of them. It was a constant balancing act. A friend lent me an awesome bouncy chair that worked wonders over the next months. I would bounce one in the chair with my foot while I nursed the other.

During one of our first midwife appointments after the twins were born, we found out one of the boys had thrush. It was a mild case and I didn’t show any symptoms myself at that point but the next weeks and months became extremely difficult and frustrating as the twins passed it back and forth to each other and I began to experience the excruciating pain that occurs during and between feeds. It was so bad that I remember crying to my husband on multiple occasions that I didn’t want to breastfeed anymore. He was so supportive of whatever I decided to do and assured me that if I wanted/needed to stop tomorrow, I wouldn’t be a failure or the worst mom in the world. He also told me that six months would be here before we knew it…and it was. (Thank goodness for gentian violet as it seemed to be the only thing that helped clear up the thrush for good within a few days.)

Night feeding has been a whole different story. It took me a long time to get on any sort of routine during the say (you can read about that here), but for the first 6 months, I was fairly consistent with keeping the twins on the same feeding schedule through the night since I had my husband to help out. If one got up t feed, we also woke the other one up. This ensured we all got longer stretches of sleep between feeds. Lately, I’ve gotten more lazy with night feeding. I stumble to the nursery to quickly collect whichever child has woken in attempt to keep the other sleeping. I then normally collapse back into bed and side-feed whichever babe is up. We generally both fall back to sleep within minutes, which creates a mad cycle for the rest of the night as the boys then take turns getting up every couple hours and I just keep alternating them. I keep telling myself that I need to make more effort to stay awake for feeds so that we all get longer stretches of sleep, but, during the night, it’s much easier said than done.

So here we are at 10 months! The boys are now eating lots of solids and, as Jaclyn stated in her last post, as more food is introduced, breastfeeding becomes less about nutrition and more about comfort/bonding. Breastfeeding has become something that is so close to my heart. Now that they’re older and a lot easier to maneuver around, I feed the twins together on a more regular basis, which is a huge time saver! However, I still treasure the quiet and intimate moments I have with each of them when I take the time to nurse separately. There are still some days when I feel like quitting because I feel like I’ve spent half the day sitting there nursing and haven’t been able to cross a single thing off my to-do list or I know they are just getting up constantly through the night to nurse as a method of soothing. But, when I actually think about it, I get emotional at the thought of stopping. As of now, I don’t plan to go much past a year, but I will re-evaluate once we make it to that point.

To all the mamas of multiples out there, if it’s your desire to breastfeed your babes, you CAN do it!  It’s possible. I seriously never thought I would make it this far and love it as much as I do. But, if for any reason, you are unable to, don’t feel like a failure. As mamas, we need to learn that we are all on our own journey, each one different but each amazing and we need to do what is best for both us and baby. Had it not gone so well for me in the beginning and if I didn’t have as much support as I did, I know for a fact that I would not have made it this far. Thank you for reading and thank you so much to Jaclyn for letting me share my journey in breastfeeding twins. Happy Monday!

breastfeeding twins 2

As I said, what an amazing mama! You can follow along with Natalie and her twins over at Those Young Twins and Three Little Crowns! I’m so excited to post a momma/baby giveaway next Monday! Follow my blog to stay tuned for that post!

Product Review: Eco Nuts Laundry Soap

Eco Nuts Laundry Nuts

You guys, it’s my first ever product review! I have been so honored with the wonderfully positive response I’ve received from followers and shops alike! A huge thank you to everyone who has been so sweet to me! I have been especially honored to collaborate with people who are trying to gain awareness for their product or shop/boutique! I have learned to be careful to only work with people that have unique products that are aligned and related to my blog. So, here I am, in the middle of a breast feeding series, to tell you about…laundry soap.

Being a breast feeding mom means that your diet does not only effect your body, but also effects your child’s body. From watching your caffeine to reducing dairy, some moms have to be really careful about their diet while breast feeding. I thought I was going to have to be one of those moms. When Owen was about 2 months old, he started to get small patches of eczema in a few different places. As an overly allergic person, I am highly familiar to eczema and all other unexplained, itchy irritations. You’re talking to the girl who can’t even touch grass without getting hives. …and that is not even a joke. Owen’s pediatrician agreed that it was eczema and recommended a few lotions and precautions. One of her biggest precautions was diet. Not only Owen’s diet (which was only breast milk at that time), but my diet. I tried to avoid certain foods for a week or two in order to see if it made any improvement on Owen’s skin, but nothing ever seemed to make a difference.

I finally broke down and did what all girls do when they’re at their wits’ end and cannot think of what they could possibly do next: I called my mom. My mom also has easily irritated skin, but she mostly reminded me about my own skin allergies and how I’m highly allergic to a lot of laundry detergents and soaps. My worst ever hives (we’re talkin': body-covering, ever-itching, red-as-the-devil, worst-ever-hives) were from Gain and Sun laundry detergents and any fabric softener on the planet. I just got an itchy spot from typing that sentence. I’m not even kidding. I learned long ago to wash my clothes in clear, thin detergent, IF I used any at all.

I am lovingly known to be somewhat of a “hippie”. Although, as I meet more and more all-natural moms, I realize that I’m much less of a hippie than I thought I was. Regardless, my friends and family know that I eat off the ground, fight illness (on the extremely rare occasion that I get sick) without medication, bathe without soap, and only wash my hair once a week. To add to that, I usually wash my clothes without detergent. For all my skin, hair, and clothes, I always feel like soap just builds up and makes them sticky, icky, gunky messes. My hair is an especially good example for this, because you can tell when I’ve washed my hair too much in one week by how weighed down and greasy my roots are. The difference is as huge as wearing a baseball hat to let your hair dry versus blow drying it: flat as a paper versus voluminous as a cloud. I didn’t realize how much of a difference it could make with clothing, too!

I’m sincerely relieved to have found a laundry soap that cleans my clothes, but still caters to my inner hippie. Mona from Eco Nuts was kind enough to send me a box of soap nuts to try! After one use, it was already apparent how much lighter and cleaner our clothes were! The difference was like my previous analogy with my hair: a baseball hat versus blow drying. Our clothes felt less weighed down, less waxy, and much fluffier! I saw this picture on the Eco Nuts website and I have to say that it is a great visual for the difference from regular laundry detergent (on the right) to Eco Nuts laundry soap(on the left)!

towels washed with Eco Nuts Laundry soapWho doesn’t love a nice, fluffy, clean towel?!

I am also sincerely relieved to have noticed an improvement in Owen’s eczema!! At this point in his diet, it would be impossible to rule out specific foods that may be causing him to break out and there isn’t even a guarantee that it is food-related! On the other hand, it is quite simple to monitor what his skin comes in contact with. From the lotion we use, to the laundry soap we use, we have found that more natural products really help improve his eczema. Eco Nuts are taken straight from nature, endure a sterilization process, and are USDA organic approved! It is a great feeling, knowing that you’re helping to use natural, organic products without any extra effort on your own part! In fact, Eco Nuts really saves me effort. I don’t have to measure laundry soap (very inaccurately, if we’re being honest!), I just pop a few into their bag and toss it into the washer. (Read the directions directly form the Eco Nuts website here, but that honestly is all there is to it!) They also last longer than regular laundry detergent, so I don’t have to buy them as frequently and I save money by using them! I swear, I’m willing to be a walking billboard for them and I know I already sound like one!

A little mommy guilt that I always have is from using disposable diapers when there is such a huge market of reusable diapers. I wasn’t aware of reusable diapers until after I had Owen and, at that point, I felt like I was already in a routine and decided to stick to what I knew. For all of my more-hippie-than-Jaclyn-mommas who do use cloth diapers, Eco Nuts is especially helpful! Besides the natural quality and reducing allergic reactions, I read on the Eco Nuts cloth diaper website that they can help increase the absorbency of cloth diapers by helping to “de-gunk” the fabric from regular detergent! (See previous reference to hair after wearing a baseball hat versus hair after blow drying.) In my personal situation, I know that I would be much more comfortable using an organic, all-natural product for an item that would come in contact with Owen’s “goodies”! It’s also admirable of the company to think of ways to connect with and support new parents. We all know how much we need it.

Folow my blog to stay tuned for the chance to win a box of Eco Nuts to try for yourself, along with many other mommy/baby goodies!!

Breastfeeding Series Part 8: Nursing a Toddler

nursing a toddler

Last week, I talked about nursing in public and how distracted Owen gets while nursing, which leads me to this post. As with most of my posts about breast feeding, I’m not going to get into the benefits involved in nursing a child past infancy. This post is for moms who have made the decision to nurse their child past 1 and for moms who are curious about the details of nursing past 1. If you feel negatively towards nursing a child after the age of 1, then this post is not for you. …or maybe it is. When I began breast feeding Owen, I constantly heard the timeline of “6 months”. I initially thought that my goal should be in line with what seemed to be the norm, 6 months. At 6 months, I couldn’t imagine how completely changing our routine and feeding method would be appropriate for anyone, so I continued as we had already done. 6 months turned into 10 months, which blossomed into 12 months, and has now morphed into 16 months! (Side note: did I mention the time warp phenomenon that is parenting?! Don’t blink!) At 16 months, Owen is obviously eating food. A ton of food, by the way. Like, so much food that I sometimes wonder if I will wake up to a grown man in his crib! (How creepy would THAT be?!)

The thing is, nursing a toddler is different than nursing a newborn. As they consume more food, they naturally start nursing less often and will sometimes nurse for shorter periods of time. Nursing becomes less about nutrition and more about comfort/bonding. (Please note that I said “…LESS about nutrition”, but breast milk is still a highly nutritious substance for humans of all ages. The focus just shifts a bit from survival to bonding.) Nursing a toddler may not happen every 2 hours anymore, it may happen every booboo instead. For us, Owen started to nurse less and less throughout the day until it got down to nursing before naps, nursing before bedtime, nursing at night, and nursing when he’s upset or hurt (which usually JUST SO HAPPENS to coincide with being tired, kids have great timing). There may be times that nursing a toddler happens more often, like when your toddler is teething or when you’re traveling away from home. Nursing a toddler isn’t just different, schedule-wise, it’s also different physically. Obviously, toddlers are larger in size than newborns. For us, the normal cradle hold is still the most comfortable. I’m able to hold him that way while standing, too. Toddlers are also more mobile than newborns AND stronger than newborns (I know I’ve already called my kid a hulk and I stand by that statement)! You would think that they would set aside their strong acrobatics while nursing, but you would be thinking wrong. Ringling Bros. should really look into hiring a nursing toddler for their show; they’d have people everywhere just mesmerized by how many ways a nipple can be twisted and stretched without injury. My son is actually really mellow during nursing sessions, thanks to our nursing necklace (click the link or the picture to the right to visit Little Lemon Treasures on Etsy and get a nursing necklace to help your circus freak stay focused while nursing…or follow my blog for the chance to WIN one in a few weeks!) and the fact that he mostly nurses when he’s ready to go to sleep. When Owen is super active while trying to nurse, I usually take it as a hint that he isn’t in need of nursing at that moment. If he seems upset when I set him down to play, then we will try to nurse again. He usually gets the hint when I set him down and is more mellow the second time around.

nursing in public geo necklace

After you’ve figured out how to hold your acrobatic baby hulk, they may thank you with a nice little bite. While it may seem like a side effect of the hulk emerging from inside of them, you can help teach them that biting (among other things) is not acceptable while nursing. (Isn’t nursing a toddler SO much fun?!) It took one single bite for me to stop nursing Owen proactively. Instead of trying to feed him before he was hungry like I would when he was a newborn, I learned to wait for his cues. Personally, I have only had a couple run ins with teeth and I know I’m very lucky for that.

nursing a toddler

Our biggest struggle with nursing a toddler has been how distracted he is, which I talked about in my last post. Like I said, nursing necklaces have really helped with that. You can see, in the picture above, that he sometimes plays with my normal necklaces, but I get really nervous that he’ll break them! The other thing that has come up, for me, is breastfeeding aversion. I’ve realized that nursing a toddler is far above the expectation I initially set for breastfeeding and I am quite anxious to stop nursing at this point, so the sensation of nursing can sometimes become so overwhelming that I feel like I’m locked in a box of rats or something equally terrible. I’ve enjoyed nursing Owen, even as he gets bigger. Something inside of me just started to react differently to the physical requirements of nursing a toddler. From minimal sleep to the endless pit of MESS that is supposed to be our home, us new parents are being maxed out in the patience department. Being physically needed is just another demand on a parent, which can lead to stress and negative feelings towards nursing. I haven’t heard many moms discuss any negative feelings during nursing, so let me go ahead and say that it is frustrating. After being “touched out”, frustrated, and feeling crazy, you’ll feel sincerely guilty for feeling that way while nursing. Don’t. Do not feel guilty. It is a chemical reaction in your brain that you have done nothing to initiate. Find ways to positively refocus those feelings during nursing. I usually only feel that way when I’m overly tired and Owen is using me as a pacifier. We’ve started to go to bed earlier (for MANY reasons, not just this one) and my husband knows to offer to take Owen when he’s done nursing, so I can avoid being a human pacifier (although that is completely normal and I am usually comfortable with it). As with any frustrating time, find ways to help calm yourself and try to get as much assistance as you can. I LOVE this list of ways you can try to relax when feeling stressed out about nursing a toddler (or just a clingy day, in general).

Nursing a toddler is different than nursing a newborn. In ways, it is easier. In other ways, it is harder. I heard a great piece of new mommy advice that also applies to nursing a toddler:

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I’ve posted about all of the different aspects of breast feeding that I could think of, from the knowledge you need in the very beginning to breast feeding in the NICU and nursing in public. There is one topic that I really wanted to share, but didn’t have the knowledge to share: breast feeding twins! I’m SO excited to announce that I will have a guest blogger next week! Natalie Young, from Those Young Twins and Three Little Crowns, will be sharing her experience breast feeding her 9 month old twin boys!

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Breastfeeding Series Part 7: Nursing in Public (and a Distracted Nurser)

nursing in public

Last week, I talked about “Night Nursing” and how it’s a huge part of breast feeding. This week, I’m talking about nursing in public (or NIP, as some refer to it)! Nursing in public can be an intimidating and stressful task, especially as your baby grows! I’ll share my experience with nursing in public, resources regarding your right to do so, and an Etsy shop review that could help your journey with nursing!

Let me start by saying that I know nursing in public is a sensitive topic. This post is solely one mama’s experience to another mama who is interested in nursing in public. If you’re not interested in nursing your child in public, then this post is not for you. Period. There will be no banter or debate regarding nursing in public. It is protected by law and does not require my argument. That argument was settled in 1981, with these words:

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BOOM.

Personally, I’ve had a fairly smooth journey with nursing in public. (Except for that one time I tried to “respect” others by disrespecting my son and covering his face while he was eating. He’s as strong-willed as I am and non-verbally told me exactly where I could shove that nursing cover.) When I was on maternity leave, I was stir-crazy and often went on mall walks with friends or ventured out for lunch dates. I know…I sound crazy. I actually got up early the day after I had Owen, showered, changed into my own clothes, refused pain medication, and had visitors. I know…now I don’t just sound crazy, I have proved that I am crazy! I just couldn’t sit at home for 2 months straight, so we had outings. For the entire first 2 months, Owen definitely fed every 2 hours or less. I was always sure to nurse him riiiiiight before walking out of the door, but he never failed to want to nurse again while we were out. I had a gorgeous, gray and white, scroll print nursing cover from Udder Covers. It was convenient to use and I successfully used it for the first 3-4 months. It slips right over your head or unsnaps, it has a curved plastic piece sewn in to keep the fabric open so you can see baby, and it was made of light fabric. Did I mention that it was gorgeous? As Owen grew, so did his curiosity and mobility. He became a very distracted nurser, requiring me to constantly walk around in order for him to actually nurse! At that point, I usually nursed him in a private room and, sometimes, a bathroom. Nursing in public was such a task at this stage, because he would sit up and look at every person that walked by! Luckily, our local mall has a nursing room designated for breast feeding moms! In that phase of Owen’s life, it was such a convenience! At one point, on a trip to the zoo with a few friends, I tried to nurse Owen with a little blanket blocking us or covering him. Please refer to the first line of this paragraph to know how that went. Shortly afterwards, my best friend and I parked it on a bench in a little cut away area to nurse our babes. Our husbands stood by, chatting, and many people walked by without even noticing us.  I realized how stressful it was to try to nurse Owen with a cover. It seems like a small task…and it used to be, when he was little…but being a mom means adapting to your child and it was time for me to change with him. On one of my trips for a work conference, we sat next to an older gentleman who started a conversation with us. At one point, Owen woke up and needed to nurse. Immediately, the man next to me said, “Sweetie, I’m a grandpa of 10, you do what you need to do and don’t you worry about me.” I will never forget that man. He made my trip and my breast feeding experience infinitely better.

When I’m planning a day out with Owen, I have to be conscious of what I wear and how difficult it would be to pull up or pull down in order to nurse. Most of my shirts have a v-neck or a scoop-neck, so I’m usually in the green. If I’m wearing a shirt that I have to pull up, I usually wear a thin tank top underneath my shirt so that my stomach can stay covered. (You can kiiiiinda see this in the picture at the top of this post. I have a tan tank on.) I, personally, don’t do anything to cover the part of my boob that may be exposed while nursing. I think it’s important for me to say here that no momma is obligated to wear extra layers or dress a certain way for breast feeding. Through your breast feeding journey (really, right after labor), you’ll realize that discretion isn’t always a part of all of your breast feeding experiences. You’ll either find ways to work around that or you’ll start to become more comfortable with it. I’ve actually done both and they’re both valid ways of being a successful breast feeding mama. While I would love for every mom to feel comfortable nursing in public with nothing covering them, it’s obviously important for momma to be comfortable.

At this point, Owen is still a very distracted nurser (even at home). He only nurses about 4-5 times in 24 hours, but still needs to nurse occasionally while we are out. To help with Owen’s distraction, I always wear a necklace for him to fiddle with. Now that he’s older and so much stronger (it’s scary at times…like, is there a tiny hulk inside of my baby?!), I get really nervous to wear my favorite necklaces around him. He has actually pulled a piece off of one of my bubble necklaces, which I have yet to find. (New moms beware: babies are professional thieves with the capability of forever vanquishing your things. Say goodbye to your remote, earrings, and chap stick tubes!) I recently had the pleasure of stumbling across Little Lemon Treasures’ Etsy shop and Brittany (read more about Brittany below!), the shop owner, was kind enough to send one my way to try!

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Not only do these adorable necklaces help keep Owen occupied while nursing, but they also double as a teething necklace! The colorful beads are made of BPA and toxin free silicon and the wooden beads are natural maple wood coated with organic beeswax and olive oil. They also help keep babies from scratching, hitting, or pinching. Since I’ve worn a nursing necklace, Owen has rubbed the silicone beads and moved the wooden ring back and forth on the necklace while nursing. I’ve been so pleasantly surprised by how Owen focuses on my nursing necklace instead of, like, every other thing on the planet. Brittany just added these adorable geometric necklaces to Little Lemon Treasures that I’ve been eyeing!

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Follow my blog in order to stay tuned for the chance to win a necklace of your choice from Little Lemon Treasures along with many other goodies for momma and baby!

Meet Brittany:

First-time mommy to sweet 6 month old Jackson!

First-time mommy to sweet 6 month old Jackson!

Jackson is, of course, the inspiration behind Little Lemon Treasures!

Jackson is, of course, the inspiration behind Little Lemon Treasures!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Know your rights when it comes to nursing in public and use whatever products help you feel comfortable doing so, whether it is a nursing cover or a nursing necklace. Now that we’ve talked about nursing Owen in public as he has gotten bigger, follow my blog or come back next Monday to read about “Nursing a Toddler” in our home!

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Breastfeeding Series Part 6: Night Nursing

night nursing

Hello! Last week, I talked about the overwhelming topic of pumping! This week, I’m talking about “Night Nursing”. I have so much to say on infant sleep and society’s poor understanding of child development, but this post will focus on infant sleep as a part of breast feeding. …and it is a big part of breast feeding. As I said before (in Part 1 of this series), I had little knowledge and unrealistic expectations when it came to breast feeding. That statement is also true for baby’s sleep.

Before I jump into my journey with Owen’s night nursing, I’d like to share some information about co-sleeping and how important it is to breast feeding. Co-sleeping is shown to increase breast feeding success, it is biologically natural for infants and children, and it increases the amount of sleep for mama (the links in the previous sentence outline each of these benefits of co-sleeping). If I had to admit my biggest regret from Owen’s infancy, it would be putting him in his own crib in a separate room. Since then, I have learned so much about co-sleeping and what is developmentally appropriate for our little ones. I even tried returning Owen to our bed with us, but he has grown to enjoy spreading out on his own. We did move his crib into our room, in hopes of nurturing this dependent stage as best as we can. Please do all that you can to look into every available option for your family, because you can’t make an educated decision without knowing what your choices are. This goes for any parenting decision, not just sleeping arrangements.

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I plan on discussing our journey with sleep in the future, so I don’t want to give too much away! In relation to breast feeding: it has always been clear to me that Owen needed nourishment throughout the night, even after the point that they recommend “babies can go all night without feeding”. I have often had times of confusion when I read about the magical, mystical land of “sleeping through the night”. Even worse, I have had so many moments of frustration in the middle of the night, when I’m “touched out” from nursing and want to scream. I’ve gone through many stages of adjusting eating habits, trying to foster good sleeping habits, and trying to asses if my child should be sleeping more. At the end of all of those shenanigans, I realized that I always knew what Owen needed: to nurse throughout the night. Bottom line. Regardless of my personal desires to sleep all night and regardless of all the recommendations for getting a baby to sleep all night, my baby needed me. I read a lot about teaching your baby to go to sleep on their own and about creating “good habits”, etc etc etc. Again, I knew my child needed to nurse, whether it was supposedly a “bad habit” or not. He needed to nurse. So…we nursed. And we still nurse at night. At this point, Owen wakes up and nurses at least once every night.

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The best cure for my nighttime frustration has been reading up on gentle parenting advice and gentle sleep advice. I’ve heard a lot of remarks about how we should parent our children (as does any new parent!) and most of them involve controlling their behaviors, but gentle parenting makes a lot more sense to me. As an educator, the goal is always to guide children and it’s no different for my own child. Having resources that aligned with my own logic has been such a relief in my parenting journey, especially during frustrating experiences like night nursing.

I still have moments of frustration, mostly due to my half-asleep-brain being incapable of logic and understanding at 4 a.m. Like I already said, the best way to calm my frustration is always with knowledge. (…must be the teacher in me!) As my understanding for Owen’s sleep behaviors grew, so did my patience. I learned that newborns are biologically designed to wake up and feed. I learned that nursing a baby to sleep wasn’t a bad thing as long as you were comfortable doing it. I learned that breast milk contained higher levels of melatonin during the night, which promotes sleep. That’s right, night nursing helps your baby sleep. Read even more information here!

There are so many different resources out there to help you better understand and feel comfortable with night nursing. As frustrating as it can be, use everything you can to gain knowledge and gain patience in the process! Follow my blog or come back next Monday to read about the ever controversial topic of “Nursing in Public”!

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Breastfeeding Series Part 5: Pumping

Hello! Last week, I talked about my discouraging journey through breastfeeding in the NICU. This week’s topic is actually a continuation of part of that journey, since I began pumping when Owen was sent to the NICU. I’ve pumped almost every day since Owen was about 3 days old (except for the days that I am off and home with him). Pumping is a whole new hell that I don’t wish on my worst enemy, pumping is a completely different journey than breastfeeding, and pumping is one of the biggest reasons that many moms supplement with formula. There are a lot of products out there to increase the amount of milk that you produce, but I find that overfeeding is usually the biggest reason for pumping and production stress. The last paragraph of this post has the most important info. about overfeeding and calculating how much baby should have in each bottle! There are some instances when supplementing will be absolutely necessary, like when a working mom’s body doesn’t respond to a pump. Besides some specific, personal scenarios, there is a lot that you can do to ensure that you make enough milk while you’re away from your baby. In fact, now may be a good time for you to re-read Part 2: The Breastfeeding Mantra. Trust your body to feed your baby. Besides that, I hope I can pile on as much information as possible to help prepare you for pumping or answer questions you have about pumping.

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When Owen was in the NICU, I tried pumping one side while nursing on the other for a short time. It actually worked out well for me, but one of the nurses advised against it (I don’t remember her reasoning, but I didn’t know any better at the time). As I look back, pumping on one side while nursing on the other would have been a good option for me. In Part 3, I explained how your body adjusts the amount of milk it makes once it realizes how much your baby actually eats. If you pump on one side, then you will be telling your body to make double what your baby actually needs. This is called an “oversupply” and it can actually be a really bad thing. Click on the link to learn more about oversupply and the different issues that come along with it. I have never personally dealt with oversupply, so I’ll leave that topic to another breastfeeding pro. In the 3 short days that Owen was in the NICU, it would not have created an oversupply to pump while nursing. If you’re looking for a permanent pumping routine, this one is highly advised against by many moms who face oversupply issues. Some babies only nurse on one side and that may be an opportune situation to pump on the other side. I also tried pumping after nursing, which didn’t work for me. Again, you’d be creating an oversupply if you begin doing this before your body has regulated its’ milk production. This method won’t double the amount you make, which can help avoid having an oversupply. I finally just started pumping at night when I went home to rest and I continued to pump once every evening. Owen slept for a longer time once he went down at 7, so I had the chance to pump. I saved up a lot of milk by doing that and I stored it for when I’d return to work. I pumped at the same time every evening, so my body would respond well. We did not set a specific schedule for Owen, but he naturally ate/slept around the same times each day, which made me careful to stick to a schedule for pumping.

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You may already have a pump and what not, but here are some specifics tips: You’ll want an electric, double breast pump and a pumping bra (click the picture above to buy the Medela hands-free pumping bra). The “shields” (big circle things that go on your boob) come in different sizes and they should fit to where your actual nipple doesn’t rub against the sides or top. There’s more information about choosing the right size from the Medela website here. You can use breast milk bags or bottles to pump your milk into. The bags are disposable and the bottles can be washed and reused. I use bottles, because you can reuse them and they attach to the nipples we use to feed Owen! (Click the picture below to buy the Medela breast milk collection bottles.) All equipment is supposed to be extremely clean/sterilized. There are wipes that you can take with you or you can use soap and hot water. When you’re done pumping, you can pour the milk from each side together or you can save it separately. I recommend saving milk in 2 oz. amounts while you’re pumping before you go to work, because you probably don’t quite know what amount baby will eat at that point. Once you go back to work, you’ll know how much he should get each feeding and you can save milk in that amount so each bottle has exactly what baby needs. You need to store the milk in a cooler or fridge. I take a cooler with ice packs every day. Breast milk is only safe in a cooler with ice packs for 24 hours, but is safe in different containers for different amounts of time. The specific times are here.

When I went back to work, I was careful to stick to a pumping schedule (not to be confused with a feeding schedule, Owen nursed on demand). I found this to be one of the most important aspects of pumping enough milk for Owen. At first, I tried pumping 2-3 times each day (in my 8 hour work day), but I didn’t pump as much milk as Owen was eating. Then, I made sure to pump as many times as he would normally nurse. In the beginning, Owen still nursed every 2 hours. Once I started pumping every 2 hours, around the same times that Owen normally nursed, I started getting the correct amount of milk. It’s important to pump as many times as baby would normally nurse in that time. You, baby, and your milk should all be on the same schedule. (Of course, this schedule will change so much throughout breast-feeding. I now only pump twice in my 8 hour work day!) Of course, there are times that you may not be able to stick to your pumping schedule. I recommend always trying to pump the same amount of times daily, even if you have to pump right before you leave or in the car on the way home (see above picture)! Don’t worry, your body will produce more milk for your baby when you get home. Even if you pump right before you nurse, your body will most likely have a second let down when your baby is nursing. All of our natural instincts and bodily functions are ways to preserve the human species and your body will feed its offspring. If you question this, go back to Part 2 of this series!

Once you go back to work, it can be hard to get into the groove of pumping. It’s much different from nursing your baby. I used to chug water right as I began to nurse and I still do it when I’m pumping. It became a signal for my body and it helps my let down when I’m pumping. I recommend beginning a signal for your body before going back to work! It has always been my go-to. It also really helps to look at pics or vids of your baby! I have a vid of Owen crying just in case I can’t get a let down, because that’s your body’s biggest signal! Also, make sure that you’re hydrated. I drink at least 4 giant cups of water a day and I try to drink a Gatorade each day (it helps with producing milk). Make sure you’re comfortable and set expectations for your co-workers and boss. Your boss and anyone relying on you throughout the work day should know that pumping can take anywhere from 10 minutes to over an hour, depending on many factors, and that it is your legal right to pump at work. Pumping at work can feel embarrassing or stressful, thinking about someone hearing the pump or all the crap you have to do as soon as your done. It’s important to do your best to relax and zone out of all that.

It’s extremely important to assess how much milk your baby should have in each bottle. I struggled trying to understand how much Owen should have in each bottle when I was at work and it got to the point where he as eating almost double what I pumped, which would have completely ruined our breastfeeding journey. Pumping doesn’t always produce as much as baby gets when eating, so it’s hard to tell how much they eat each time they nurse and each breastfed baby takes in a different amount. The rule of thumb is that most babies should get 25-30 oz. in a 24 hour time period. You can count how many times your baby nurses and divide it into 25-30 to see how many oz. your baby eats each time it nurses. When Owen was 2-3 months, he nursed about 8 times in 24 hours. 30 oz. divided by 8 feedings means that he needed 4 oz. bottles. You can enter your baby’s feedings here to see how many ounces they should get in each bottle. Owen initially cried when he was done with a 4 oz. bottle, so my mother-in-law (who took care of him while I was at work for his first year) immediately thought that he needed more milk at each feeding. It’s important to stand your ground to whomever is taking care of baby (daycare, family member, etc.), because a lot of people over feed babies. Babies love to eat, they love to suck, and they love to feel FULL and sleepy (channel your happiness and comfort on Thanksgiving day after stuffing yourself full). Owen just wanted to suck more, so my mother-in-law would give him his pacifier after his bottle. Caretakers also need to be aware of the proper techniques to use when giving a bottle to a breastfed baby. I recommend discussing this info. with them and ensuring that they will support you by properly feeding your breastfed baby. As I mentioned earlier in this post, pumping is one of the biggest reasons that I’ve heard for supplementing or even switching to formula. It is imperative to your breastfeeding success that your caretaker is not overfeeding and is supportive of you. A baby only needs more milk IF: they aren’t peeing at least 6-8 times a day, they aren’t pooping a few times a day (this decreases a lot each month and breast-fed babies can actually go about 10 days without pooping, so I don’t use this guideline), or they aren’t gaining the minimum weight each month. If you’re concerned that you baby may need more milk in their bottles, there’s more info. here. I’ve seen a few guidelines of 1 oz. per hour away from mom and no more than 3 oz. in each bottle. I chose to use the calculator and I also kept “1 oz. per hour” in mind when assessing how much milk to give my son in each bottle.

Pumping is a whole new task in your breastfeeding journey! Learn all that you can, make yourself comfortable, and ensure your baby is getting the right amount. Follow my blog or come back next Monday to read about “Night Nursing” and the science behind it!

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