Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Another Post on Gratitude

One of the things I've been thinking about this morning is how grateful I am. And not for the reasons one might think. Yes, I am grateful for my new baby, whom I love dearly. I am grateful for my family, my husband, my job, all of the things outside of myself that I feel God has given.

I feel like I've been a gift through years of mistakes, rebirth, the trials of being a new wife, a new employee and finally, a new mother/stepmother. I've learned from my two stepdaughters and I've grown a tremendous amount because of them. And what I was thinking this morning was that being a new mom, in addition to being a stepmom, has given me a confidence in myself that I've never had before. And for that, I am grateful. 

The reason I feel this new confidence is that I've had to tap into an intuition that I wasn't even sure I had. As I've mentioned in my previous posts, there is so much information/misinformation out there for new moms. There are all kinds of books and their information seems to be completely opposite of each other. One of the things I really struggled with early on was trying to figure out what choice to make. I was tired of making decisions and not really knowing if it was the right one. So I eventually just went with the initial one. If I felt a strong urge to go one way, that's what I did, trusting that I somehow intrinsically know what is right. And sometimes, the decision I made wasn't right, but the world didn't end, and that has helped me gain confidence in myself. 

I was talking to a friend yesterday, and we were discussing a person's fear of being who they are to others. I think of this quote from Marianne Williamson:

 “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” 
― Marianne WilliamsonA Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles"

We were discussing teaching yoga. As a new teacher, I feel like we sometimes do the basics because we're afraid of being rejected. I'm just going to go through the asanas, and leave anything questionable out because someone might not like it and that would be bad. I so had this fear! Once I started teaching yoga after a short maternity leave, I felt a strong urge from within that told me to go ahead and add the things that I like about yoga in my class. I was nervous because I was afraid of rejection. What if someone doesn't like it? what if I offend them? But I just let go and trusted that inner voice. I trusted that gut feeling, and after class, I got a lot of positive feedback. So I did again. And the feedback was positive... again. And I did it again, and the feedback was positive.... yet again. The same result that I got from trusting myself as a mother, was happening in other areas of my life. 

I started to think about why we have this fear in the first place. There has been so much controversy recently about comments made in the news regarding certain situations, and the result has been polarizing. One of the things that I like to do is read the comments section on articles, any articles. It doesn't even have to be a political article, or a parenting article. Sometimes, I read one about fashion, or a sports team, and the comments are outrageous! People get so offended so easily, it's no wonder I'm afraid to express my opinion. 

1) For whatever reason, when someone gets offended, they respond by hitting below the belt
2) It seems as if that person does not believe in that exact way, they are somehow a flawed human that is going to be punished in life

Why would a reaction be that strong? I believe it's out of fear. Fear that the other person might actually be right and if that's the case, then I'm wrong. And I can't be wrong because then the world will crumble and I will die. Ok, that's an exaggeration, but isn't that where our fears come from usually? Fear of pain or death? What I've noticed is that the more confident I am, not only in my convictions, but also in my ability to make mistakes, the less I care about the opinion of others.I'm able to consider another perspective without feeling threatened. I've realized that there is always more than one way to view something. And sometimes, that way may be better and I just haven't thought of it before. And that's ok. I can change my mind, or I don't have to change my mind. it's my choice and I don't have to spend my life trying to prove to others that I'm right and they're wrong. I can just allow them to be. That gives me so much relief. I can spend more time in the present moment. 

Healthy discussion is a good thing. How can one grow without facing adversity? We cannot. It's through hearing all different sides, I'm able to see the truth, and what the truth represents for me. I'm not perfect at all, and I'm writing this because this has been my struggle for the past decade, probably longer. I've always felt the need to be right in the situation. Because I was afraid. That's why I'm grateful, because I've found my own voice and I trust myself. I accept myself for who I am, the good, the bad and the ugly. It allows me to be wrong sometimes. I can't wait to see what else I'm going to learn through life. I feel like it keeps getting better as I get older. 

Merry Christmas!! 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

To The New Mommies...

Not that I'm an expert in mommyhood, that's for sure and I'm certainly finding that out this week, but just felt like blogging about this since it's been on my mind. After having Ellie nearly 16 weeks ago, my life has COMPLETELY changed in a way that no one could've ever told me. I mean that in a good way and in a bad way. It's WAY harder than I ever imagined and it's also WAY more rewarding than I ever imagined.

Ellie at around 3 months

What I want you to know is that the biggest challenge I have faced as a new mom is weeding through misinformation and finding what works for me. There is no one stop shop with all of the answers. Every baby is different, and from what I understand, even babies from the same mama are different. EVERYONE wants to give you advice, and at first, I was super grateful for that, even searching for it. I would look on message boards, and ask questions on facebook, all of those things. I still do that every once in a while when I'm really perplexed. But there are so many different "studies" out there that are exactly the opposite in the information it gives, and then add personal experiences on top of that, you get a cluster of info that can be super overwhelming. 

my punkins!

Here's an example that I think of all of the time. It was our very first night in the hospital, Ellie was only hours old, and she kept screaming and screaming. I didn't understand what was wrong, and both my husband and I were at a loss. We kept calling the nurse and asking for help. I would pick her up and try to hold her, rock her, whatever. The nurse came in for a final time and something she said really struck me. She said, "oh boy, this baby is going to be spoiled." At that time, it sent me into a frenzy because I thought, oh God, what am I doing wrong? Well, the nurse finally suggested that I pump (Ellie had latching issues), and finger feed her which is what we did. Amazingly enough, after she ate, she fell asleep and was fine. I was just so grateful that she was happy and sleeping, that I never thought much about what the nurse said, but here recently, the situation has played out in my mind over and over. 

1) She was hungry. She was asking for us to help her in the only way she knew how, to cry. Being a new mom, I just trusted what the nurses said about not needing to eat in that first day, but obviously, my baby was different and she needed to eat. 

2) Let's pretend like she wasn't hungry, and we were doing something wrong somehow. Why in the world would you tell a brand new mom that is upset and doesn't know what to do, that she's somehow "spoiling" her baby in it's first few hours of life? 

3) If by saying that I'm "spoiling her", you mean, I'm responding to her cries because she's brand new into this world and doesn't know what happened to her, so I pick her up to comfort her instead of leaving her in the little plastic thing by my bed, then ok, I'm going to spoil her because she is a day old. In fact, if she's 6 months old and she's crying because she wants to be held, I'm going to go ahead and "spoil" her. Will I buy her a new toy when she pitches a fit in the store, no. But if she asks me for a hug in the only way she knows how, I will do it every time. 

I obviously am a little upset about this still, but I just feel like we should be supporting each other as women, and new moms and that felt like the worse possible thing to say at that moment. 

I only give that as an example because I was following my own intuition in that situation and I was right. 1) she actually was asking for something, and I knew it, and 2) I was responding to her cries with love and affection because that's what I'm supposed to do. 

So my ONLY suggestion I'll give you from one new mom to the next, listen to your gut. I know that sounds weird, but your instinct is probably right. You may not know what to do, but if you feel like something is wrong, it probably is. Forget the baby books. They're nice to guide you, but they aren't a one size fits all solution. If you feel like you should be doing something, or not doing something, then follow that. A lot of my views on raising an infant are unpopular, and I'll probably never discuss them here for that reason, but I know if my heart that it's the way I am going to do it, so I am. 

I shouldn't have said my only suggestion above, because I have more. Remember that they're only small for a little bit and they'll be going to school, graduating, sooner than you think. Cherish each moment, even if it's not fun, and see it from the little one's perspective. It may seem trivial to you, but it's not to him/her, so in each situation, how can I, as a mom, respond with love. If I am responding with love, then it can't be wrong. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Eating Allergen Free

It's been a major adjustment learning how to eat allergen free, but I think I'm finally getting the hang of it. Initially, I thought she just had a dairy allergy, but I think many of the common allergens bother her as she still had blood in her stool, so I've eliminated gluten, dairy, soy, tree nuts, fish and corn. At first, I thought that meant eating meat, fruits and veggies which is great, but can be a bit boring as well as time consuming. And it's really hard to cook 3 meals a day plus snacks with a 10 week old. After trying a few things and exploring different brands and blogs, I've found some really good food that's not making this diet seem so bad.

For Breakfast:

If you're from the south, and you like grits, this is a good alternative. It's brown rice cereal and quinoa flakes. I put in a little butter substitute, and it's delish. 

Speaking of butter substitute, I use Earth Balance - 

It's pretty good. Pre-Ellie, I would've never used anything like this simply because I felt like I don't want to use artificial things like fake butter and fake meat, but when you're so severely limited in your diet, you'll concede to a few things. 

Something I've tried recently, but am not sure how it will affect her, is sausage. We typically love Jimmy Dean sausage but it has so many ingredients that are not pronounceable, that I decided to try Bob Evans. (My husband took a trip to Bi Lo vs Whole Foods). 

When eating Gluten Free, you have to be careful with non organic meats because even though the meat itself may not have gluten, the feed corporate farms use has wheat, and it can be passed through. Ideally, any meat one eats would be from a grass fed animal. The other thing you have to look for is, does the meat have casein in it? Many times, they use fillers and casein will be in meat, especially deli meat. 

When an infant has a reaction to dairy in it's diet, it's not the lactose, but the milk protein which is casein. So you have to look closely at ALL ingredients because many things have casein. For example, at Trader Joe's, there some chips I wanted but they contained casein. Chips. Like, chips. And from Trader Joe's, which is why I don't like that store. Whole Foods is expensive as is Earth Fare, but they take the time to monitor what ingredients are in the food and are very specific in making sure the ingredients are whole or the package is properly labeled. The Fresh Market and Trader Joe's are just hipster expensive groceries that have cool packaging vs actually being organic or of high quality. 

This is delicious! And it's so nice to finally have some ice cream because I have been wanting some so badly! 

These are actually pretty good too. Would I buy them if I could eat dairy, no. But as a sub, they're really good. 

One thing that I haven't found that's free of all allergens, and that's bread. There is no bread or bread dessert that doesn't at least have soy, corn, or almond meal in it. Other than that, it hasn't been too bad. And as a side note, I've lost all of my baby weight. I'm fitting into my pre pregnancy clothes at 11 weeks out. What a nice side effect :)

I'll start putting up recipes of things that I like because it's REALLY REALLY hard to find recipes that are completely allergen free and if anyone else is having these issues, I'd hope that I can help. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Dealing with an allergy

As I mentioned in my last post, Ellie has a dairy allergy. I think it was about 3 weeks when she was almost inconsolable at night and I knew something was wrong. I took her diaper to the doctor and they tested it to see if there is blood in the stool. There was, which Dr Matthias said meant she had a dairy allergy.

She told me eliminate all dairy, soy and wheat from my diet. I also decided to eliminate eggs and tree nuts as well, because some of her symptoms seemed to have persisted over the past couple of weeks. Eliminating the food from my diet in addition to the Zantac has helped a lost but it can be hard because one doesn't realize how much food actually has dairy in it. These are the foods I've had to eliminate:

*Milk - duh
*butter, yogurt, buttermilk, half and half AND non dairy creamer (it still has dairy remnants)
*bread (it has both wheat and dairy), and all bread products so croutons, cookies, pita, etc. 

I started looking at vegetarian stuff because I thought, hey they probably won't use as many dairy products but most of them contain soy and 60% of babies with a dairy allergy also have a soy allergy. So no soy milk, nothing made with soybean oil (ahem, mayonnaise, pam), edamame, tofu and almost every non dairy vegetarian dish. 

Then I was thinking, hey what about paleo - nope because paleo peeps like to substitute with Almond meal a bunch. I'm eliminating tree nuts which is self explanatory but not recipes with almond meal. no almost milk, etc. 

Lastly, I got rid of eggs too. So, what in the heck am I eating? I've actually found a lot of really good things:

Oatmeal! and although I don't like it, I found the dairy free, soy free chocolate chips that are really good and I add strawberries. So the oatmeal is just a filler so I won't be hungry in like, an hour. For lunch, I typically have a meat or quinoa burger (frozen because I can't cook a ton when you have a baby crying that she's hungry or tired or wants to be held), and some fruit, lots of apples, pineapple, and watermelon. 

I also recently tried this recipe I found on pinterest:

It was kind of funky, but kind of good. Am I going to rush to make it again, no - does it give me an option of something to make other than plain ole' meat and fruit - yes. 

I've also found Rice Cereal is really good, especially when I add bananas and Rice milk. 

All in all, it hasn't been too bad adjusting, I just have to look at ingredients a lot. In the past, when presented with a very stringent diet, I have balked because I don't like or agree with them, but when I get tempted to eat a crouton with my salad or a Krispy Kreme donut, I remember that this is going to make my baby sick and it helps me control myself. 

I go back to the idea that breastfeeding, while very beneficial for your baby and very rewarding, is hard. I just thought you popped a boob out and bam, baby eats and you're on your way. She has to learn how to latch, then hopefully your supply is right - not too much or too little because both cause issues, she's not allergic to anything in your diet, etc etc etc. It's hard. But it does keep getting easier and I am grateful that I have the opportunity to do it because I feel very connected to my baby in a way that is important to me. 

I'll probably be putting some recipes on here because it really is hard to find this stuff, so maybe it'll help :)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Adventures in Mommyland

I haven't blogged in a long time and had really given it up. Ever since having Ellie, I've been wanting to blog again, 1) to keep a journal of Ellie and I's life together and 2) so my family can keep up with everything that's going on. If you've read my blog in the past, you may not know that since I last wrote something, I got pregnant and had a baby girl, Ellie, who is now 6 weeks old.

a picture of me very pregnant

a picture of my cute Ellie

The pregnancy was amazing and I really have nothing to complain about. The first trimester, I did have a lot of nausea and I was sick daily, but now, I can't even really remember it. The second and third were great and I really loved being pregnant. In fact, I was really kind of sad to not be pregnant anymore, even though I love Ellie being here. I was never miserable like people say, I walked daily, and while I gained about 45 lbs, I didn't feel like I was too heavy. 

I definitely am one of those people who's going to have to eat my words of things I said when I wasn't pregnant. I confess, I said, if it were my kid, I'd do this or I'd do that, but even in this short 6 weeks, I didn't realize how hard this is. And no one can ever tell you. It's the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. 

Challenges I've faced so far:

1) Ellie had an issue with latching. The first night, she screamed all night because she was hungry, and we eventually had to tube feed her because we couldn't get her to latch. I saw the lactation consultant like, 5 times in the hospital and one time after I was discharged. We're still learning - in week 6. 

2) I have an oversupply and overactive letdown issue. I remember I was so worried about having enough supply before she was born, that I prayed and prayed I would have enough. Well, God answered but maybe I shouldn't have focused so much on supply! The only reason it's an issue is that it has contributed to her inability to latch (we're using this shield that helps but ideally, we'd get off of that asap), as well as it contributing to her reflux simply because it chokes her and it's a lot all at one time. 

3) At about 4 weeks, she kept getting fussier and fussier, and was having some issues (poopy) so we found out she is allergic to Casein, a protein found in milk. I was happy to find it, but it was tough with her screaming all day long in pain. It's taking 2 weeks for it to completely get it out of my system, and I think we're getting out of the woods. We also found out that she has reflux on top of that. 

4) In addition to her food allergies, I also developed mastitis which is an infection of your breast tissue and can bring on flu like symptoms. I was very sick and while I caught it early enough, I felt miserable for a couple of days. My body hurt, I had a terrible headache and towards the end of the day, my hands were tingling and going numb, my joints were hurting and I had shortness of breath. It was unreal. 

So needless to say, it was rough the first 4 weeks. Over the past couple of weeks, she's been a completely different baby. She's been so happy, smiling and laughing, recognizing my voice, getting better sleep, although she's not much of a sleeper, etc. 

The thing that makes it all hard is that your baby is crying and your body physically reacts to it. You love that baby so much, more than you ever thought you could love something, and you can't help her feel better. 

That's the other challenge I've had with her. I'm one that typically keeps myself closed off from people. While I'll tell you anything about myself, I tend to keep a distance from all and rarely let people in completely. It's, I guess, a way of protecting myself. But with this baby, I'm completely vulnerable. I love her more than anything I could have ever imagined and it's a love that's almost too big, if that makes sense. I can't protect myself from her. If something happens to her, I'd be devastated so I have to rely on God. I pray more now than I've ever prayed because I feel helpless in protecting her. The worst thing I can do to her is allow my fear to hinder her life experience and so I have to just trust in God. It's also made me very sensitive to other mothers and their struggles. One girl I know just had a baby and is struggling with stomach cancer. Another girl I know had triplets at 27 weeks, so they're in the NICU. A lady I work with has an 18 yr old with leukemia. Someone I know who's had trouble getting pregnant, recently did but it's still very early. All of these things make me pray for them as well. I don't want anyone in the world to feel the loss of their child because I know what that fear feels like. It's all good, I think we're supposed to live with an open heart. I think that's what God wants, but WOW - that's hard to do. 

So after what feels like a very long post, that's my thoughts after 6 weeks of motherhood. I love every second of it and even though it's way harder than I ever imagined, I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat.