Motherhood is a beautiful new thing. You join a new community of “mothers” that offers so much advice and help. Although most people celebrate in your joy, unfortunately, whether intentionally or unintentionally, many people offer very awkward comments to new mothers. It becomes a rite of passage for new mothers that you aren’t officially a “new mom” until you received an awkward comment. Most of the comments are well-meaning, but that does not make them any less awkward!
I am a seasoned breastfeeding mother. I have been through the trenches not once, but twice. I have spent hours trying to get my babies to latch correctly, silently clenching my teeth, tears streaming down my face as stabbing pain shot through my raw, bleeding nipples. I’ve rocked hysterical babies through the wee hours of the night as they struggled with reflux, and sat in a zombie-like state for days, during marathon cluster feedings. I have a permanent scar on my left nipple from a newly sprouted tooth. I spent hours attached to a machine, urging my body to produce milk via pump, often with very little luck. I’ve compressed clogged ducts in the shower, painful to the slightest touch, and have woken up to rock hard breasts and drenched sheets. I’ve been there, Mama. I’ve been through it all. And I just want you, the new breastfeeding mom who’s struggling to get through the day, to know, it’s all going to be ok.
Lately, my children have been telling me that I look beautiful. I have to admit, I take a moment – just a few seconds – each time they look at me with those sparkling, wondrous eyes and truly genuine smiles, and compliment my appearance in unadulterated admiration and awe, and I bask in the feeling it gives me. It’s been a long time since someone has acknowledged my outer beauty. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t know the reason why.
From the moment my son was born nearly 6 years ago, motherhood just swallowed me whole. It consumed all of me, wrapped me up in its massive arms and held me hostage. It took hold of my heart, and my love became singularly focused on my little creation. It syphoned my energy – every ounce of it – and left me with what so often in those early days felt like the shell of a person, depleted and barely functioning, but surviving on baby snuggles and a euphoric new sense of worth. In other, far less poetic words, I looked like a walking zombie.
If you missed part 1 & 2 of my surprising journey to better health and wellness, please read that first, here (part 1) and here (part 2). This is the conclusion to my 3-part story, but really, it is just the beginning of my journey!
You’re less judged than you realize. Where does this need to have the “house picked up” before friends or family come over come from? What was it your mother said (or MIL) to you that instills this cringing fear of OMG, the house is a mess and they’re coming over. First things first, messy is not the same as filthy. Messes tend to happen when children are running around daily and there’s a lovely collection of activity-induced materials strewn across the home. This is normal. Filth is literally like sludge, grime, pools and pools of dirt – an uncleanliness that can actually cause sickness. So let’s face it, Mom: Unless there’s a super-nanny-cleaner at the heels of your family members to pick up, dust off, wipe up, catch, prevent, and finally care enough till their dying day, having a messy home is simply: A part of a successful mom-life.
Should I breastfeed or bottle feed? Swaddle or co-sleep? Read to them every night or just hold them close? Never yell or keep my frustrations to myself? Gee, that’s a lot of questions to ask oneself! “Perfection” in terms of motherhood pretty much alludes to the best of us no matter how hard we try. And yet, we keep apologizing for our shortcomings that seem undoubtedly, normal. So, I stopped being the ‘perfect” mom; and just became, Mom.
If you missed part 1 of my surprising journey to better health and wellness, please read that first, here.
I left my doctor’s office, thinking I would just cure myself with nutrition and fitness (nevermind the fact that I loathed working out and loved donuts), and got myself on the wait list to begin the partial inpatient day hospital in January. And unexpectedly, things began to spiral really, really quickly. My mood worsened, and it took nothing to set me off. I was snapping at everyone, and basically woke up yelling. Sun up to sun down, I was yelling. If any one thing went slightly wrong, I collapsed into a puddle of tears. Every single tiny inconvenience – or anything really – even a child asking a question – was incredibly irritating to me. The process to get into the day hospital (read: insurance nightmare) was enormously challenging for my increasingly fragile state, and I remember standing at my kitchen island, ugly crying tears of frustration, so many times. I was starting to question my decision to skip medication, because I still hadn’t gotten off the couch, or removed my face from the piles of candy I was eating.
Eighteen years ago I began an annual Christmas tradition that to this day still means more to me than holiday decorations, cookie parties or Christmas carols. I chose a family, 3 girls all under the age of 5, to provide with Christmas gifts. Puffy pink jackets, purple shoes and dolls were just some of the fun and exciting girl presents I was able to purchase with my own hard earned money for the first time in my life.
These little girls with rhyming names never knew where these things came from, but for once in their young lives they were able to experience the magical moments of a Christmas morning with gifts under the tree.
Hi and welcome to Daily Mom’s brand new, first ever personal column – written by yours truly, Heather. I am beyond excited to share my health and wellness story with you, and you can follow along here on Daily Mom, and on Instagram. I’ve been on an interesting journey this past year, and this column, Wellness Wednesday with Heather, will take you along the journey with me. Overall, this column will be about where I’ve come from, where I’ve gone, and where I’m going – all related to health and wellness, fitness and nutrition.
Health and wellness – more specifically, fitness and nutrition, saved my life. I don’t say that to be dramatic, I say it because it’s true. Never in my life would I have expected to experience the journey I have lived over the past year – or more accurately, the past six years. But before we get into the here and now, we have to go way back six years ago, when my first son, Benjamin, was born.
Reading is a fundamental right to our culture and according to readingisfundamental.org, we as parents should start reading to them when they are young and stick with it. At just a few months of age, our children are able to look at pictures, listen to our voices, and even point at objects. This simple task of reading to my children, I must confess – I don’t do on a daily basis (or even weekly).
Whether you had an “oopsy” or methodically, thought out, well-planned pregnancy, your bundle of joy, snuggled in your womb is just waiting to be born. Your anticipation of the excitement, joys, scary ‘what if’ moments, and the over flowing emotions of love are ready and eager to pour out all over this child. Well… that is until just a few years later as their personality really is developing – it comes out… just like that water balloon that was filled just a wee bit too much. Next thing you know… POP! As clear as day, the voice of your mother fills your ears… just you wait till you have your own! They’ll turn out just like you. And she was right.
It’s 4 a.m. and still dark outside when my mother sneaks into my room and tells me to quickly get dressed…it is the infamous day after Thanksgiving – Black Friday! As the oldest of 5 and only girl, I get the privilege of leaving the house before everyone awakes with my mom to meet my grandmother and aunt at Toys ‘R Us where we will shop for my brothers and cousins. After Toys ‘R Us, we will eat an early breakfast at Cracker Barrel before heading to the mall for the rest of the day. With Christmas right around the corner and my mom not being one to plan ahead for such things, this month will be busy and exciting as we spend weekends and late nights preparing for the holidays. I await this time in anxious anticipation as I love to shop!
As my husband carried our sleeping 5-year-old son up the stairs and into his bedroom from the car late last night, I breathed a motherly sigh of relief. He had just returned home from his first fishing and camping trip with his daddy and his uncles. While I trusted those three men full-heartedly with the safety and well-being of our little boy, I have to admit, I was a nervous wreck all weekend thinking about all of the things that could go wrong in that state park, 4 hours away from home in a remote area with little to no cell phone coverage. But they brought my baby home, safe and sound, freshly bathed and in his footed fleece dinosaur pajamas, surely dreaming of the campfire stories that were told, the marshmallows they roasted and the rainbow trout he caught and reeled in all by himself. I could rest easy that night. My child was back in the safety of his home, his memory bank as full as my jittery heart.
He bounced right out of bed early this morning, eager to tell me stories about his weekend adventures as he got ready for the start of a new week at school. I groggily sat down next to him on the couch, coffee in hand, and turned the TV on to catch bits and pieces of the news through his animated stories.
“Over 50 Dead and 200 Injured In Largest Mass Shooting In US History”
There are things in this world that we moms cling to for our sanity. Each one of us has something different that allows us to escape the realities of poopy diapers, fights over the same Barbie shoe, and children who think sleep is the actual devil. But there are certain things that are universal to all moms, things that we can all relate to, knowingly nodding our heads yes as we remember that time when our child also threw an epic temper tantrum in the pillow aisle of Target. They are things that we see, do, and keep close to ourselves because they are what makes us feel like more than “mom” or simply allow us to let our minds rests for five seconds. And like our real-life BFFs, these non-human BFFs listen to our venting, take our minds off the piles of laundry and dishes, and make us feel like actual people.
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Last September I didn’t even know that this was a “thing.” I didn’t know that there was a whole month dedicated to children who were dealing with the unimaginable pain of treatments for their cancers. I didn’t know there was a time each year where the families affected by pediatric cancers make a push for more awareness, research, and cures for their babies. And how should I know? Last year at this time I had two healthy children- a three year old little boy who loved his baby sister- then only 2 months old- so fiercely that it made my heart skip a beat. Never in a million years did I think that I would be sharing this story; that I would be one of those parents whose child was diagnosed with cancer.