Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end — October 2, 2017

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end

I’ve been breastfeeding my son for 808 days. I’ve breastfed him ever single day that he’s been earth-side. It’s been nearly 27 months.

For me, breastfeeding was never a choice I made. I never considered formula or bottle feeding with breastmilk because I never really knew anyone who did either. My mom breastfed me and then my twin sisters. I remember my aunts nursing my cousins. Then my older cousins breastfed their babies. Breastfeeding is the biological norm and it was the only way I knew.

With that being said, I also didn’t know why women called themselves “lactivists” or joined La Leche League. I definitely didn’t understand when they’d post breastfeeding badges on Facebook. Like what? An award for breastfeeding? Why? That’s just what you’re supposed to do. Lol! I can laugh at all of that now! Now, I GET IT! Breastfeeding is a HUGE commitment. It is time consuming, emotional, selfless, and sometimes- really hard!

The first latch wasn’t awe inspiring. It wasn’t rainbows and unicorns. I didn’t feel an oxytocin rush. Shortly after I had Everette he wanted to nurse. I had what the IBCLC/nurse referred to as shy nipples. She taught me how to use a nipple shield to help him latch. I remember feeling frustrated and disappointed. “This is the natural way to feed my son and I’m failing. I need this shield.” I’d think and say to my husband. I loved the way he put it in perspective. “You need glasses to help you see and you need this nipple shield to help you nurse. Don’t worry about it babe.” He was right. I used the shield for less than a week and then was able to nurse without it. (Many women nurse with them throughout their journeys!)

Breastfeeding HURT! I know now that that’s not totally normal. My son probably had a bad latch. But when he was brand new – I didn’t know that it wasn’t normal to feel pain. I remember my whole body tensing up and my toes literally curling in pain. I’d tell whoever was in the room to stop talking. I’d tell my husband not to touch me. It was a legit pain when my son would latch. It didn’t last the entire nursing session but OMG let down and poor latch = bad combo. (Seriously, if you’re experiencing pain while nursing PLEASE reach out to a IBCLC -international board certified lactation consultant.)

Nursing started to feel more normal. We were both learning how to do it. Our relationship was evolving and it was becoming easier. I remember one of the first days saying “I’ll never leave the house because I am NOT nursing in public!” Hahahaha lesson learned: never say never. When we ventured into the city for my 2 week appointment with the midwives I nervously nursed in the waiting room while wearing a cover. I remember feeling surrounded by love and encouragement there. That’s what’s gave me to nurse with more confidence while out and about (still with my trusted cover, of course!)

Eventually, at church I’d go into a side classroom to nurse *uncovered* during the services. This was my choice – the church didn’t ask me to, etc etc. Everette was at the distracted nursing stage so this worked out perfectly.

Then, I mastered the two shirt method & breastfeeding while babywearing and 💥…

Before I knew it, I was breastfeeding EVERYWHERE. While grocery shopping (thanks babywearing- you da real MVP), in church, at the mall, while at dinner… You name it – we’ve been there, done that. I still laugh at the image of me breastfeeding a toddler while taking communion!

The closer we got to his 1st birthday the more pressure I started to feel to wean. “Just give him a cup” “he’s getting too old for that” “if he can ask for it (sign language) then he’s too old.” None of that set well with me. Give him a cup? Okay, with what in it? Juice? Nope. Cows’ milk? Why? No one could give me a good answer. So wait, when he can ask for an apple I should quit giving him apples? I knew it wasn’t right for us. So we kept on boobing. These pictures were taken at 11 months and I remember being so nervous to share them on Facebook!<<<
und 19 months I thought I'd try to nightwean my little boob monster. I bought a book called "Nursies When the Sunshines." We made it part of our bedtime routine. We discussed it. It seemed to be helping but it didn't totally click.

I breastfed on demand for 22 months straight. In May my mom and I decided to take an impromptu trip to Punta Cana to surprise family at a wedding. We had planned our big family vacation to Italy for June. I kept saying "I bet he weans in Punta Cana! I hope he'll nurse until Italy! It will make the flights so much easier!" Hahaha! Again, I had no idea what was about to come! The minute we left for Punta Cana I swear a switch flipped for Everette. He wanted mommy milk NON-FREAKING-STOP. We were in a new, unfamiliar place, AND he began getting his two year molars. I was SO TOUCHED OUT. He was nursing an immeasurable amount of times a day and all night.

(22.5 months -Venice, Italy)

Wean? How in the HELL does anyone wean? Binkies? Bottles? I’m sure they’re not easy to get rid of, but MY BREASTS AREN’T going ANYWHERE. They’re attached to me, remember? Lol!

I started having really bad nursing aversions. I was resenting the fact that my son wanted to nurse nonstop. It was a really bad feeling. I knew I was doing what was best for him and meeting his need for comfort in the way he needed me too, but it also made my skin crawl. It made me want to scream. He nursed nonstop while we were in Italy (more molars, more unfamiliar places). -side note: I am no longer feeling any aversions, they lasted a few months but it wasn’t every single time I nursed either.

Like I said earlier, nursing is a relationship. All relationships need both parties to be involved. When life returned to normal after our trips I consulted online forums/groups, friends, and my original lactation consultant from the day Everette was born. I did everything the recommended: don’t offer/don’t refuse, redirection, time limits (songs/timer), wear more layers of clothing, keep trying tonight wean, read more books, have more discussions, offer drinks/snacks instead.

After a few months of all of these suggestions and methods I took the plunge. A few weeks after he turned two I was like this is it – we’re night weaning, we’re setting limits. I’d nurse him to sleep and then put on a sweatshirt. He’d wake and ask for mommy milk and I’d offer a water cup and snuggles. It was so hard to not “give in” because he was tired, I was tired, I felt bad, etc. After 3 nights or so of this… BOOM! Something magical happened. My son SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT! Yes, sleep is developmental and YES he was able to meet the milestone. I was so proud. Oh and really kind of sad! What can I say? The hormones are REAL!

Once I realized that the limits and redirections were gentle and he was okay without mommy milk constantly, I changed up our routine so that he ONLY nursed at nap time and at bedtime.

<<<
emotional side of weaning has been hard for me. I wanted this. I wanted to wean. But what I didn't realize is that it would hit me really hard. I don't know the science behind it or anything but since we started weaning my weight has started to creep up and my anxiety has been rising. I will adapt. I will overcome. I wanted to share this because I naively thought weaning from breastfeeding would be easy. No one ever talked about how they stopped weaning or how they felt – they just seemed to stop one day and that was that.

Everette hasn't nursed for a nap in three days. Coincidentally he hasn't napped in three days either. The last two days he hasn't even asked for "mommy milt" at all until bedtime. Last night and tonight he only nursed for 3-5 minutes and the was fast asleep. We're not totally done and that's totally okay. We're going slow and easing both of us into the next chapter!

It really is bittersweet. My boy is growing more independent every day. He's healthy, happy, and thriving. I'm so thankful for the bonds we've created throughout our nursing relationship and I lop forward to seeing how our mommy/son relationship continues to blossom through the next season of life!

PS. I'm still sleeping in a sweatshirt just incase the mayor of boobtown gets any crazy midnight ideas! Hahaha!

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Our Italian Vaca – Part II — July 20, 2017

Our Italian Vaca – Part II

Family vacation part II
We’ve been home a little over a month and I’ve been processing this leg of our trip ever since. The first few days I could barely talk about it. Typing it even made me feel sick. Within a few weeks I could open up a bit but I still felt that sick feeling in my stomach. I wasn’t trying to be evasive or dramatic and if I came across that way – I truly apologize. The series of events that began in Naples shook me to me core. Here’s our story: 
Leaving Sorrento was a bummer. We loved it there! It was funny because as soon as we got used to a spot (Venice, Sorrento) it was time to move on! We had one last breathtaking breakfast at Hotel Tramantano where Everette called the waitstaff his “friends.” It was adorable. The views were incredible and the food was so good. (Yes, I did take the Nutella packets and stick them in my purse! Don’t judge me! Lol)
The plan was to take the ferry back to Naples and then the high speed train from Naples to Rome. All of this traveling should’ve taken no more than 2 hours, total… 
We boarded our ferry without any problems. Google maps said we could walk from the ferry station to the train station but it was super sketchy. Roads were not clearly marked and there was a lot of traffic and construction. We were gun shy to flag down a taxi because of the shady taxi driver from the Naples airport. We tried to figure out another way to get to the train station since taxis and walking were OUT. The information booth didn’t give us much information so Adam went to find someone else to help. Boogie and I stood with all of our baggage while Adam ran into a small restaurant. A super kind a British man suggested we take the Alibus to the train station. Adam came back to get us and we started trying to find the correct Alibus stop. The sweet British man stopped his brunch to walk us there. He even spoke Italian to the driver to make sure he was steering us in the right direction. He was a God send!
The bus was clean and not very crowded. The city of Naples was just deplorable. There was trash everywhere. The buildings were in terrible shape and the street corners were filled with people. We were a little uneasy on the bus but eh- Naples was only going to be a short tiny blink in our eyes so we didn’t put much focus on it. The bus driver drove up the the train station and then turned around without stopping. We were confused. We thought maybe they had a designated place to stop or something? But the bus rolled on. We proclaimed that we needed that station & a well traveled American man told us NOT to get off at the next stop and walk. He said it was too dangerous, but we were running the risk of missing our train so against his advice we jumped off the bus and started walking towards the train station.
We didn’t speak any English to each other as we walked down the streets so they we wouldn’t be targeted or harassed. The streets were full of shady looking people and trash was literally everywhere. We hauled ass to the train station. (Thank God for babywearing! I don’t know what I would’ve done without my kinderpack on this trip!)
The train station was busy busy busy! We read the boards but couldn’t find our train information. We saw one that said it was going to Rome. It had the same times but the train number didn’t match our tickets. We actually jumped on the train and looked around but it was the regional train – not the high speed “luxury” type train we had paid for so we jumped back off. The regional train in Naples is known for pickpockets. It was really dirty.
I was really surprised that there was NO security in the train station. No one checked your ticket or your bags. It was just a giant free for all. We noticed quite a few people who looked like they were up to no good. No tickets, no bags… two men seemed to be working as a team. One approached Adam behind his left shoulder and the other man came to Adam’s right. He quickly made eye contact and they quickly slipped away.
Our train was initially delayed by 10 minutes. We were fine with that. No biggie. We stood and waited. 10 turned to 30. That was kind of annoying, but hey, what can you do?
Everette was asleep in the kinderpack when I noticed a very odd woman staring at us. I called Adam’s attention to her just so he’d be aware. She had no ticket, no bags, and was carrying a giant rolled up newspaper in her shirt somehow. She was wearing all black and had her hair was wildly tied on top of her head. She reminded me of a Tim Burton character. Her movements were odd. She seemed to be circling us. She was vulgar in the way she flipped her unlit cigarette and flicked her tongue our way. We tried to ignore her. She kept edging her way closer to us. 
Our train was delayed even longer. It went from 30 minutes, to 40, to 50… and eventually up to 120 minutes! There’s no where to sit or anything in the train station so we just stood with our stuff. I held our little umbrella stroller across my body while boogie was sleeping. The woman kept staring and getting closer & it was a mama bear kind of defense thing to hold the stroller like that I guess. Adam was getting increasingly more anxious about her too. 
We noticed an American family so we started conversations with them. They were a sweet family from Colorado –a mom and dad with two younger teenage kids. Everette was still fast asleep. The mom and the teenage daughter both remarked that the woman seemed to be watching me. I tried to blow it off like it was no big deal, but my anxiety was continuing to grow. We figured we had more safety in numbers with these folks. Our train was majorly delayed. We should’ve been in Rome HOURS ago. Everette woke up after 2.5 hours or so but I kept him in the carrier. No potty breaks, no diaper changes… poor buddy.
When he woke up the woman really started acting crazy! She got super close and was trying to kiss him. Her focus completely shifted on our son. I put myself in the middle of our newfound group and she relentlessly tried to get closer. She stared at Everette while furiously jotting something down onto her newspapers. She did his for many minutes. We had no where to go- no train platform was even posted because of the delay. Then suddenly she disappeared. Everyone was freaked out by her behavior by relieved that she was gone. We were shook up but couldn’t get visibly upset because Everette would’ve picked up on it. All of the sudden the woman reappeared and so did our platform number on the screen. We didn’t even say goodbye to our American family friends. We literally RAN to get on the train and hoped the woman did see us or follow us. 
We were out of breath and shaking when we sat down on the train. I kept Everette strapped tightly to me out of fear that the woman would appear on the train. I don’t know what her thoughts or motives were but to us – it felt like a horror movie scenario. It truly 💯 felt like our son was in danger and that the woman wanted to take him. It was a relief to not see her again, but we were very afraid on the train. It was weird. No one checked tickets. Anyone could’ve boarded the train.
We were on the right side of the train in two seats. I sat with Everette by the window and Adam sat by the aisle. Across the aisle was just one single seat. This man kept glancing over. He’d stare and when we’d look back he’d look away. No friendly smile or exchange. It felt like he was watching us. The train ride was supposed to be 1 hour long but… it was nearly 2.5! The train would stop in the middle of the track for “unexpected” traffic while other train zoomed past us. It was very odd and unnerving. Especially because the man kept looking over. I felt like a crazy person. I didn’t even want to speak because I didn’t know if someone was listening. I’d type what I wanted to say to Adam and he would whisper back. We were both very frightened at this point. The wifi wasn’t working and we didn’t purchase an international plan (ummm– if you’re traveling out of the damn country don’t be cheap! Buy a plan! Anyways…) I called our travel agent friend and quickly and quietly told her we were afraid and wanted to get off of the train asap. She seemed afraid too. I told her we could text but I didn’t want to talk. We exchanged texts and the guy kept being creepy. Adam grabbed clothes from our bags. He changed his shirt – I took off my glasses and pulled up my hair. I threw a new shirt on over the carrier. If the woman wrote down what we were wearing then we wanted to look different.
Everette had enough by this point. He wasn’t crying but he wanted to eat snacks & nurse constantly. Even though I was trying not be put out my anxious vibes I know he picked up on them. He had been in the carrier for NINE hours at this point. 9! That was insane. We were deathly afraid of taking him out though. He began pulling my hair and smacking my face really aggressively. I couldn’t be upset with him. This wasn’t typical behavior for him. He was beyond frustrated plus I’m sure he could pick up on our anxieties. 
Abby contacted the train company and explained the situation. She also called our hotel in Rome to arrange for car service, but unfortunately they didn’t have that available. She told us what the cabs looked like and asked for us to be in touch. 
We literally RAN off of the train when we stopped in Rome. I mean HAULED SERIOUS ASS! We ran all the way out of Tremini and wanted to flag down a cab asap! No exaggeration – the taxi cab line was around 200 people deep! We would’ve just waited in the line but the man from the train followed us! There is NO way he could’ve kept up with us by chance. He was following us! We ran to the front of the line and he was STILL following us.
A young couple was third or fourth in line for the next cab. I took a chance and hoped and prayed that they spoke English. “Hi guys! How are you?” I eagerly and excitedly said to the couple. “Hi. We’re well!” Whew! They were more British angels. I looked over my shoulder and the man was still there. With a giant fake smile on my face I gave them a quick rundown and told they we were being followed so they pretended to know us. When the taxi driver pulled up I was afraid to say the name of our hotel aloud. I showed him on my phone and he said “no no, you walk. Only 100 meters.” Adam told him he didn’t care what it cost and to please take us. So he did. We checked into the hotel and locked and barricaded the door behind us. The lock was loose plus we were out of our minds with anxiety at that point. 
Chances are we’d never see the unnerving people again but with our hotel being -that- close to the hotel we didn’t want to make any chances. Thank God for Abby! She booked us flights home for the next morning. Even if we would’ve stayed in Rome we wouldn’t have enjoyed it. Even typing this still makes me feel sick to my stomach. 
We played it off like everything was fine in front of our boogie. We fed him and gave him a tubby. We gave him snacks and let him watch a movie. Adam and I both felt like we were going to throw up. I called my mom. I wanted to stay calm. I didn’t want to scare her, but when I started telling her our whole ordeal I started bawling my eyes out. 
Everette slept just fine but Adam and I were up most of the night. We had to be up early to get to the airport. I was so sick over everything. I couldn’t believe that someone/a group of people may have wanted to rob, hurt, or take our son. It didn’t even make sense. I was sick that we wouldn’t see the Vatican, the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain. I stayed up all night replaying everything and thinking -what if I overreacted!?- I worried about the money lost from the tours and all of the extra money spent to get home 3 days early. Adam was dead serious when he told me that NONE of that mattered. He said we’re all together and we’re all safe and that was all that mattered.
People always say to trust your gut and follow your instinct. Both of our instincts were saying RUN! YOU’RE NOT SAFE! GET OUT OF HERE! So we did. A part of me will always be sad that we missed seeing Rome, but like my hubs said – we’re together, we’re safe, and we’re HOME! Thanks be to God!

Our Italian Vaca – Part I — July 10, 2017

Our Italian Vaca – Part I

Family vacation 2017! 
Let me just start off by saying – if you ever get a chance to visit Italy… GO! (But avoid Naples at all costs, seriously. More on that later.)
Have you ever had a dream (good or bad) that you know you had, but you can’t seem to recall all of the details? That’s what this trip was like for us. It was an absolute whirlwind! Feels completely surreal! 
This trip was totally different than anything we’d ever done before. It wasn’t an American beach vaca or an island all inclusive. We were on the move… a lot! Here’s a quick rundown of the traveling portion of the trip:

  • Car to Charlie Brown’s
  • Shuttle to airport
  • Tram to plane
  • Plane to Atlanta
  • Plane to Venice
  • Water taxi bus
  • Gondola
  • Private water taxi to airport
  • Jet to Naples
  • Taxi to ferry
  • Ferry to Sorrento
  • Ferry back to Naples
  • Alibus to train station
  • Train to Rome
  • Taxi to hotel
  • Taxi to airport
  • Plane to Detroit
  • Plane to Pittsburgh
  • Shuttle to Charlie Brown’s
  • Car HOME!

I knew that traveling abroad with a toddler was a big deal, but our son is a road dawg! He’s a true traveler! So many people were shocked that we were taking such a big trip with our baby. Um, do you know us? Attachment parenting all the way! We barely go to the grocery store without him! We weren’t going to fly across the ocean without him! The first flight to Atlanta went really well. I was super anxious about the 9.5 hour flight to Venice. Luckily, it was overnight and we were all tired. *PROTIP: have your toddler hand the flight attendants chocolates and a “thank you” card. You’ll get 9.5 hours worth of special treatment! Nursing, baby wearing, little prizes, movies on the iPad, and play doh were all keys to success on our multiple flights, by the way! My husband and I didn’t sleep much but our son did. Almost the entire flight! We were so excited we couldn’t chill out! Oddly we weren’t tired when we arrived! 

Adrenaline rushes are real, my friends!
Our friend/travel agent worked out almost all of the details! We didn’t have much to stress over! But even still, traveling is a bit stressful! When we got to the Venetian airport we had to decide how to get to our hotel. You have two choices: water taxi bus or a private boat. It was more cost effective to take the water taxi bus so we did, but in hindsight: spend more, get there quicker! (We definitely paid the extra extra for the private speed boat on our return!) The water taxi bus was pleasant but LONG. We were told it would take an hour, but it took two. We met nice people and saw beautiful parts of the city from the water.
Venice was incredible! There are literally no cars, bikes, scooters, etc! Walking and boating are the only means of transportation! We felt safe at all hours of the night and day. All the food we ate was INCREDIBLE (except the black pasta!) We tried the traditional Venetian dish but couldn’t get into it. It was black pasta made with cuddle fish ink! Eek! Not our favorite! We explored the city’s roads and got completely lost in its charm. We did the touristy Gondola ride and loved every minute of it! Our hotel was absolutely charming! Hotel Monte Carlo was small, quiet, clean, and accommodating. We loved their breakfasts in the morning and Adam was thrilled about their afternoon tea time which included coffees, teas, and sweet treats. Everette loved dancing to the outdoor bands and trying mommy and daddy’s gelato. We searched for cannolis in Venice but couldn’t find them! (I made up for this in Sorrento! Lol!) Venice was picture perfect! We loved every minute of our time there! 
We packed up and left our hotel early to catch a high speed, private water boat to the Venice airport. It was absolutely thrilling! We loved the air going through or hair and watching the sun rise! We got on a jet and headed to Naples. It was another easy flight for our boy! He loved seeing the planes and the “trains” (aka the golf cart things that loaded the luggage!) “CHOO CHOO!” When we arrived at the airport in Naples we went to the information desk to find out the best way to catch our ferry. It was around 10am and our ferry didn’t leave til 3 so we weren’t in a rush. The woman at the desk was very kind. She told us that all airport taxis were a flat rate of 19 euros. Our taxi driver eagerly loaded our bags and impatiently waited for us to install E’s car seat. He picked him up and put him in the van. Yeaaaah, not okay! Everette was a hot mess from a stranger grabbing him but settled down once he saw the trains and cars. When we arrived at the ferry station, I handed the driver 20 euros and he kept saying “no no what is this? No I’m sorry!” So Adam interjected “19 euros flat rate from the airport.” “NO! The driver became more irritated.” He ended up charging us meter + flat rate AND charging us for baggage… whatever. We were super early for the ferry so we thought we’d grab lunch before departing… but Naples is a shithole. #sorrynotsorry (Adam said I shouldn’t write shithole but I can’t think of another word to describe it!) I spoke with the ferry crew and we headed out on the 11am ferry instead! Thank God! Another scam came our way on the ferry. They wanted to charge us for our bags but didn’t have change… so they didn’t ask again. Weird. Seemed like some people in Naples were just trying to make extra $ off of tourists which was unnerving and annoying.
The ferry ride was pleasant. We sailed ride next to Mt Vesuvius! That was exciting! When we arrived in Sorrento the sun was shining and we were ready for the beach! But we had to find our hotel first! Sorrento is where the Italians vacation so we couldn’t ask for much help because we don’t speak much Italian and most people there didn’t seem to speak much English. (Which is not a judgement, of course we didn’t expect anyone to speak English. We were in ITALY!)
We were absolutely blown away by Hotel Tramantano! It’s garden entrance was breathtaking. Everything was perfectly manicured. The lobby was grand and felt like we stepped back into time- but everything was so clean and preserved. It didn’t have the warm feel of Hotel Monte Carlo. It was much more regal. We loved our garden view room. The marble floors were gorgeous but a bit unnerving with a wild thing toddler running around! The staff was incredible – our room was super clean, the waitstaff was attentive. They all really fussed over Everette. Breakfast was probably one of the best things about the hotel! The views were INCREDIBLE! Every table overlooked the water and Mt Vesuvius! We loved the beach, pool, and the city as a whole!
Our Italian beach adventure was amazing but way different than our experiences with American beaches. The beach was private and you had to pay admission to enter. (We didn’t because of our hotel affiliation.) Children played in the sand but no one laid on towels in it like we do here at home. You had to rent chairs, umbrellas, etc which was fine but because we don’t speak Italian it took us a little while to figure out! Adam loved swimming in the gulf, I loved collecting sea glass, and Everette loved digging with his shubby (shovel), playing in the water, & eating pizza on the beach! 
He literally ate pizza and pasta for every meal! He would’ve for breakfast too if they would’ve been available. “PAS-TA peets, mommy! PEETSA, peets, mommy!” 
The streets in Sorrento were not quiet like the ones in Venice! They were narrow like Venice but there were cars, busses, golf carts, and scooters were EVERYWHERE! It was super crazy and cool to see vehicles drive down what we would consider narrow alley ways. We felt super comfortable and safe in Sorrento just like we did in Venice. We shopped around and ate cannolis! Not just any cannolis but the BEST CANNOLIS EVER!! I could’ve eaten 1000000! 
One day after breakfast we went for a walk. We didn’t know where we were going- we just walked. Well, we thought we’d find a farmers market but hahaha we had no clue how to so we just wandered. We saw barbershops and even a wedding! That was fun to run into. We went into a grocery store and decided to pick up things for lunch. Rolls, salami, cheese, fruit… and it was perfect! We sat outside of the grocery store and ate. Felt super authentically Italian for like 20 minutes! We also found a lemon and orange grove. It was beautiful. Everette loved running through it. 
It was an amazing, dream come true kind of trip… until it wasn’t. Part II will be posted later. It still makes my stomach ache – even to type it! Ciao for now!

Punta Cana — May 26, 2017

Punta Cana

Around this time last year my husband and I worked with our amazing travel agent/friend Abby to start planning our dream family vacation to Italy! We selected dates, flights, and even paid for them to lock in the awesome price. Also around this time last year we caught wind of my cousin’s destination wedding in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
We talked about how much fun it would be to get our whole family together for a tropical island vacation! -and then remembered our big, giant, dream vacation to Italy.- The dates were only three weeks apart so I set my eyes on Italy, sent my cousin good thoughts/love, and didn’t think too much about Punta Cana again.
It was a typical Tuesday. My mom was on her way over to my house. (Tuesday’s are our day-shopping, lunch, whatever.) She called and said she had facetimed with my aunt that morning. My aunt (mother of the groom) was all settled in to the resort. She showed mom the gorgeous views but would get choked up because no one from our side of the family was there for the wedding. She understood, but it didn’t make her any less bummed. Then, my mom felt bummed. Half joking (I think?) she said “call your travel agent friend and see how much it would be for me to get down there and stay a few days.” I told her she was nuts. It was Tuesday. The wedding was on Friday. It would be $$$$$ for a last minute flight and accommodations at Now Larimar. Being the good daughter that I am- I called Abby. 
We were shocked to hear the pricing for one person. It was a great last minute deal. Just out of curiosity my mom told me to ask Abby for pricing that included two… IT WAS ONLY A COUPLE HUNDRED DOLLARS FOR AN ADDITIONAL PERSON! Abby screamed “OMG! You HAVE to go!” while mom screamed “we’re f^%}ing going!” 😂
After chatting with our husbands, we decided to go! We paid a whopping $18 for my son to come too! (Lolol a few people said “oh is he staying home with daddy while you go?” Ummm no. My barnacle baby and I don’t separate for more than an hour or so. I would not leave the country without him!)
SPOILER ALERT🚨 Flying with a toddler is not a nightmare! My mom and I had more to carry in the airport, of course, but we had a great experience! (ebag on my back, toddler on my front, car seat in my hands!) Everette actually slept most of the time on the flights! My tips for flying are: snacks, iPad, new toys, babywearing, and nursing! -and for anyone who knows me you know that snacks and iPad are a huge deal! We don’t do snacks or screen time but I bent the rules for the flights and I’ll definitely be bending them again when we fly to Italy!- speaking of our flight to Italy – I’m starting to get really freaking nervous! 


Okay so anyways – flash forward to arriving in the Dominican Republic. The airport was so unique! I’d never been somewhere like this! The airport was all open with a lot of plants and greenery. The roof looked like a straw hut! Customs wasn’t scary like I thought it would be. Everyone was actually really kind. (This would be true for our entire stay on the island!)
I always tease my mom because she literally knows everyone. I say she’s her towns unofficial mayor. She literally knows someone everywhere we go, but this time it was me. Two people ahead of us was a childhood friend/high school graduating classmate. Talk about weird! I hadn’t seen him in 11 years and he was 2 people ahead of me in line!
The bus ride to the resort was wild! Our bus driver bobbed and weaved through traffic before safely delivering us to the resort. 
We were greeted with cool towels that smelled like fresh citrus and cool sweet juice in champagne flutes. Check in seemed to take foreverrrrrr but the front desk graciously located us right next door to my aunt/uncle AND gave us a free upgrade to “preferred” level! The front desk clerk called Chris and Lenora’s room but they weren’t in there. Mom tried to FaceTime them over and over. We didn’t know how to find them or reach them. We were sooo excited to surprise them! We walked all around the resort but couldn’t find them. We grabbed a quick lunch and kept strategizing. Finally, my mom messaged my other cousin’s wife and told her that we sent a gift to the front lobby and to sent my aunt and uncle to pick it up asap. They came – they saw us – the feels! 


Our family was happy that we were there. They quickly made us feel welcome by showing us around, introducing us to everyone, and getting us involved in the prewedding gatherings. The island was beautiful! I was so proud of mom and I for taking a wild leap! We’d never done anything like this before! Everette was his same silly yet shy self (#nonewpeople!) lol! 


He was nursing NONSTOP! To be completely honest it was driving me a bit insane. It seemed almost excessive. I tried to offer drinks, food, toys, etc but he insisted on “MILNT” approximately 1093372736362 times a day. He was nursing like a mad man. I didn’t know if it was because of the new place/people or maybe because he was feeling ill, but I kept on boobing. He nursed in the room, in his carrier, at the pool, on the beach, in restaurants, and anywhere else you could imagine. One person in the party was vocal about how uncomfortable nursing made him and made a few comments. I was mostly unaffected, but slightly annoyed. I’m glad our nursing relationship is so established and that I’m comfortable and confident with it. People who deter nursing mothers because of their own discomfort have a lot of growing to do, in my opinion. Not your boobs, not your body, not your baby. (In hindsight I discovered that Everette popped a two year molar! I am so glad he can find comfort and relief in nursing.)


The wedding was INCREDIBLE. I mean… INCREDIBLE. The venue (The Jellyfish Restaurant) was a two story open building on a seemingly private beach. We were greeted with fruity tropical drinks before the beach wedding began. Every detail was perfectly planned. I can’t even describe the beauty of this place! I cried the ENTIRE wedding because 1. Weddings are beautiful 2. I was reminded of my own beautiful wedding and the real kicker 3. Someday my son will get married. This one got me HARD! Yes, I know he’s not even 2 yet but time really does fly! Watching my aunt watch her son take his vows almost put me over the edge! The bride was absolutely stunning and my cousin, the groom, was choked up while saying his vows… omg you guys! Soooo many beautiful moments!
They had an incredible photography team. There were AT LEAST 4 people shooting the wedding (probably more like 6- I swear they were everywhere!) I can’t wait to see the moments they captured! They even flew drones! Definitely the real deal! 
The reception was gorgeous and the food was incredible. The best man and maid of honor speeches had me in tears again and then the mother/son dance. I seriously COULDN’T EVEN! I held my son so close and imagined dancing with him at his wedding someday. 😭😭😭 hello tears! The reception was full of fun drinks, tasty food, fire dancers, dancers on stilts… it was an epic party.
I admired the way the photography team worked. They were not in the way, but they were everywhere! I can’t imagine the images they captured! One of the photographers snapped a few pictures as I breastfed my toddler. She was so kind to me. She said it was so nice to see a breastfeeding mother/child. I want to say she thanked me too but you know how conversations and memories blur after a while. She also said that she breastfed her first child and she was pregnant with her second. I was shocked and saddened when she said that breastfeeding wasn’t common in the Dominican Republic and that only around 5% of women there breastfed. She and I chatted later in the evening as well. I was at ease when talking to her. She was a calm and gentle spirit. I would’ve loved talking to her about her birth story, her son, breastfeeding… but she had a job to do!
When I spoke with my husband that night I told him all about the beautiful wedding, but I kept coming back to the photographer and her words. He was just as excited as I was. So many times breastfeeding mamas are harassed and talked down to, but I was encouraged! 
When we got back to the states and settled in I was able to find the name of the photography team! Katya Nova and her husband Rob were the talented people who shot the wedding and shared encouraging words with me. Peep their amazing IG accounts and her blog
I know this one was long, but the morals of this story are: take spur of the moment trips and make memories & most importantly – let’s lift each other up and encourage one another! 

Adventures in Potty Training — May 4, 2017

Adventures in Potty Training

First of all- I have no idea what I’m doing! Haha! I have no special training. I haven’t read 1,000 books or blogs. I didn’t even start potty training on purpose! Okay, now that’s out of the way… 

Being a parent is weird. We rejoice bodily fluids and functions. We inspect the shapes, colors, and sizes of poops… lol. if you don’t want to hear potty things then this is your chance to close the tab!

I didn’t in a million years think we’d start potty training at 21 months! One of my sweet friends had given us a hand-me-down Elmo potty (have I ever mentioned that I 💙 hand-me-downs?!) Of course Everette always follows me into the bathroom so around 18 months we grabbed the Elmo potty from the basement and sat it in one of our upstairs bathrooms. He loved flushing it and straddling it. We’d sit him on it occasionally -and read a book or two- or he’d pop right off and we’d wrestle a diaper back onto his little butt.
A few weeks ago on a Saturday afternoon (April 15) my mom, stepdad, and gram came over to visit. Boogie always has so much fun with them & the weather was gorgeous so we snuck off for an hour or so for a “date.” -Dates have really changed since we had our son but that’s totally okay!- We went to a local drive up restaurant and gorged ourselves with fries, burgers, and ranch drenched salad. Then we decided to get some ice cream – as if we didn’t have enough calories in the meal!😂 
We hadn’t been gone long when my phone started dinging and ringing. I answered the FaceTime call to see my son’s excited face. “Tell mommy and daddy what you did!” My mom said excitedly! “PEE! PEEEEEEE!” & then she turned the camera to show a few piddles of pee in his Elmo potty! We were ecstatic, excited, and in a bit of disbelief! He was 2 days shy of 21 months and peeing on the potty? 💥MINDBLOWN💥


I thought we had more time! Lol not that it’s a bad thing – at all! I was (am!) so surprised. Selfishly, I was a little jealous that I wasn’t there to experience his first pee pee on the potty but I really was excited for my family! …And then I was convinced that it was a fluke. 
It definitely wasn’t though. Everette was consistently peeing on the potty and not in his diaper! By day 3, he had even 💩💩💩 on the potty!

 

I kept him in diapers all week and set a timer on my phone for every hour. When it chimed I’d ask him if he wanted to potty. He kept his diapers dry and peed in the potty! He loved cheering and clapping. He felt so proud! I’d open the toilet lid, he’d proudly say “DUMPED!” and then I’d close the lid and he’d flush the big toilet. After 5 days of wearing diapers and rocking potty training I ordered Elmo undies and bit the bullet! He was ready and we were doing this!
We wore a diaper on him when we went into the city for the day. He was dry when we arrived at The Midwife Center’s open house event. At noon we went into the bathroom and he sat on the big toilet but didn’t go. We still celebrated and he flushed. I asked him hourly but he wasn’t interested. I figured he’d pee in his diaper when he had to go. Around 4:30 I checked his diaper and the yellow line was still there! No pee!?!? TMC’s event was over so I couldn’t get him back inside to use the potty. I joked that he should pee on a tree and our friends told us to go for it…. and that day… my son peed on his first tree in the city of Pittsburgh😅😂🤣


The Elmo underwear arrived. Day 1 in underwear was one for the books! 😂 He did amazingly well peeing on the potty but he must’ve had a touch of a stomach bug (or underwear felt weird…) because he pooped in them not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES! Potty training is not for the faint of heart (or the easily grossed out!) At one point he said “DRIPPED!” & he had, indeed, dripped a bit of pee on his underwear. 
I quickly realized that 7 pair of Elmo unders wouldn’t be enough so I hopped online and grabbed 7 pair of Paw Patrol too. *Side note: my son LOVES Elmo and Paw Patrol. It’s cracks me up because we don’t watch tv! Just recently I let him watch the Elmo YouTube video instead of just listen to it while I’m in the shower. He’s not even into watching it – he plays and dances! He knows Paw Patrol from a book he has and from haircuts at Mamaw’s shop.
Anyways – underwear day 1 was sort of rough. To be honest, I understand why people keep their kids in diapers for a while. This is time consuming and MESSY, but my son is ready so I have to be ready too!
By day 3 Everette learned the phrase “dry all day!” Because he had indeed kept his underwear dry all day! The funniest part of all of this to me, is when we pull his unders back on and he waves and says “bye pee pee!” 😂


We’re on week 2 (almost 3!) of potty training. Everette has worn his Elmo or his puppy underwear everywhere! He has peed on the potty at church, at an open house, at Ichiban, Costco… he’s really on a roll! We’re so proud of him! He is bummed when he poops on his puppies or his Elmo’s! He gets a sad face and proclaims “poop” like 30 seconds too late. We plop in into the potty, flush, and get him cleaned up. I tell him it’s okay to have accidents and remind him to keep his puppies and Elmo’s clean. He always says “YEAH!”
The diaper drawer in his room will soon be filled with underwear instead. It’s so bittersweet. Our little tiny baby boy is growing up so beautifully. Everyone tells you that “time flies” but you never know what that means until you experience it.


Now if we could only get him to 💩 on *or should I say IN* the potty consistently! 😂 If you know any tips or tricks please let me know!

Birth of a Lactivist  — May 3, 2017

Birth of a Lactivist 

I recently watched (and reposted) a viral video that got my blood boiling. A nursing mother was harassed and told not to breastfeed her child in the sanctuary at her church. It brought up all kinds of feelings for me. It took me back to when I was publicly harassed at a hockey game in November 2015 for breastfeeding my 4 month old son. This was what I had posted on my Facebook the following day.can you even tell I’m nursing?!

 I debated whether or not I should post this… But maybe it’ll help another nursing mom… 

Dear Consol Energy Center and The Pittsburgh Penguins organization, 

Thank you for a fun and exciting hockey game last night! The facility was beautiful and the team put on a great show! However, the end of the evening was ruined for my family due to one rude, unaccommodating, and aggressive employee. 

Last night was my family’s first hockey game! My four month old had a blast the entire game! Before the game, I looked on Consol’s website to see if guest services offered a nursing room like PNC has, but they did not. During the game, I nursed my baby in my seat without any problem. At the end of the game he needed to eat again before the 40+ minute car ride home.

As I nursed him people were all around the arena – drinking and carrying on in their seats & in the Captain Morgan Club. One employee, Frank, targeted my mother, my nursing baby, and me. 

From a few rows away Frank began clapping his hands and barking orders that we (my mother, baby, and I) leave our seats immediately.

My mom told him that I was feeding my baby and asked that I sit an extra few minutes but instead of listening and letting my son finish Frank forcibly demanded that we leave immediately.

I carried my still nursing baby out of the seats and up into the Captain Morgan Club. I stood and tried to nurse when a kind employee offered that I use the restroom. I politely declined because I will not feed my baby in a restroom. He then offered me a seat in a comfy chair until my son was finished. 

Unfortunately I felt that Frank’s only mission was to get me and my baby out of the arena. He stood and watched as dozens of others drank, talked, and socialized in the club. 

I was completely embarrassed due to the unnecessary harassment. I will think twice before returning to Consol. 

I’d like to see all staff trained on being compassionate to new and nursing mothers. If no facility is designated for breastfeeding then the staff should be aware of laws and rights for breastfeeding mothers. A little sensitivity and compassion can go a long way.

Respectfully,

Lauren Wilson 

#normalizebreastfeeding

#pittsburghpenguins

#breastfeedingwithoutfear

#consolenergycenter

I was so embarrassed and hurt by the situation. I told my husband and he was in disbelief! He had taken his dad/stepmom for a walk around the facility while I nursed the baby one more time – so he wasn’t with us when we were harassed. I could’ve backed down, stayed upset, and stayed quiet – but instead I took action. Breastfeeding again💜with my mom- a fellow badass breastfeeder who nursed me for 14 months and my TWIN sisters for 10!

A friend of mine, Megan, added me to a local breastfeeding group. I shared my post there and mamas were outraged right along with me. From there I spoke with a local La Leche League leader who had connections with The Pittsburgh Penguins and I contacted Best For Babes Foundation via their nursing harassment hotline. 

The ball rolled quickly from there. Within a few days I had spoken with a woman at Consol who apologized and assured me that staff would receive training and that not one but TWO nursing mothers rooms would be added to the facility. The rooms are beautiful, by the way. They have comfy nursing rockers with ottomans, a changing station, a sink, an outlet, and a tv! We checked them out a few months later when we went back for WinterJam (my favorite concert of the year- besides John Mayer, of course!)

 I felt empowered to know that I had a hand in making something like this happen! I was so proud of myself for speaking up and getting it done! A lactivist was born that day! 
I can’t even believe I’m still nursing Everette at 21.5 months old. Initially I’d say a year when I thought about our breastfeeding goals. Is it hard some days? YES! Am I touched out some days? HELL YES! But – my baby doesn’t have a favorite blanket or stuffed animal. He finds love and comfort at my breasts so for as long as he needs them – he’ll get them. (I’ve been working on night weaning and that’s going pretty well. I say now that we will be done by 2 -in July- but realistically – I don’t see that happening, lol).

I often refer mamas to Best for Babes’ Breastfeeding hotline when they’ve encountered a problem. I’m so thankful hey exist! If you are harassed please call them! It is your right and THE LAW for you to breastfeed your child.

Women, whether you breastfeed without a cover, with a cover, pump & bottle feed, rely on donor milk, or use formula — we need to be in this TOGETHER! 💪🏼💕

Shopping for dresses — April 19, 2017

Shopping for dresses

“I have nothing to wear!” Raise your hand if you’ve said this! 🙋🏼

I’ve lost so much weight! None of my dresses/skirts fit! They’re all too big! Such an awesome problem! But seriously – I have nothing to wear!  

Our Italian vacation will be here before we know it and I want to stock up on light summer dresses for our trip!

Now, nursing mamas raise both of your hands if you can’t find ANYTHING to wear in ANY store! 🙆🏼

Seriously!! So frustrating!! My mom, boogie, and I went into a dozen stores today. At first we’d browse and look through everything. Then, I was over it! 

“Hi! Let me know if I can help you with anything.” -saleswoman. YES PLEASE! So I tell the woman at Ann Taylor that I’m looking for lightweight dresses that button, snap, or stretch so that I can breastfeed in them. She is sweet and searches all of the racks to find me a few items. (Side note: two of which were rompers. I found out today I am not a fan of rompers! Haha!) Out of the 6 or so outfits I tried I only like 1. Coincidentally it was a “small” dress that my toddler son grabbed off of the sales rack. I was convinced it wouldn’t fit but… it’s so cute! Thanks baby! You helped mama today!

After lunching outside at Bravo with mom, baby, and our favorite waitress Katie, we decided to continue the quest for easy to nurse in dresses. We ended up at White House Black Market. Yuck. That store has, IMO, gone down hill. But anyways – Everette was asleep on my chest in his kinderpack. I told the women what I was looking for and one replied “oh wow! He’s as big as you are! How old is he?” “21 months, he’ll be 2 in July.” “And he’ll still be nursing by then?!” She seemed so shocked and surprised. “Yes, if that’s what he wants and needs.” She went on to suggest a few styles but I told her I’d have to pull my whole boob out! 😂 she innocently (?) said I could nurse him in the bathroom if that were the case and I informed her that I’d rather expose my breasts to the world than to feed my son in a bathroom. #neverhave #neverwill I was kind of annoyed by the exchange, but then I realized it wasn’t this woman’s fault that she thought nursing a toddler was odd.

Our society acts like breasts aren’t for babies and that breastmilk expires after a certain age or something. 

I just want the world to know that mothering through breastfeeding is loving, rewarding, NORMAL, and to be honest – sometimes really challenging -but- I know I’m giving my son the security, comfort, and liquid love that he needs. 

I also want to know where in the world I can find dresses! Help a sister out!

Mommy Wars🙄🙄🙄 — March 30, 2017

Mommy Wars🙄🙄🙄

I haven’t blogged in nearly a month! For one, I wasn’t sure what to say. (I’ve thought about blogging about all of the different birth controls I’ve experienced but… meh, idk. I’m not a doctor, lol) My son was sick for a solid week so that drained me! Annnnd let’s be honest I’ve been busy dreaming about vacation, camping, and all things SUMMER! 😬 This has been on my mind though so here I go…!


Attachment parenting. Cosleeping. Bedsharing. Breastfeeding. Babywearing.

These things all attribute to my parenting style. They’re what I do and what I know. They’re what I blog about. I am not disillusioned; however, that these are the only ways to parent.

I know amazing mothers who don’t cosleep/bedshare. I know awesome mamas pump & bottle feed, supplement with formula, or full on formula feed. I know great mommies whose babies sleep in their own cribs/rooms… etc etc etc. These things don’t define you as a woman or a mother. 

The whole “mommy wars” thing is garbage. Motherhood is not a competition. You have to do what works for you and your family. *and you shouldn’t feel guilty for it!*

Drug free, natural, vaginal delivery in a birth center. That’s what I did. That’s what I experienced. That’s not the only way either. There are a million reasons that mamas have different kinds of births. I literally don’t care what kind of birth you had as long as you feel like you knew your options and were respected. I shared this meme on my IG page recently. I didn’t come up with the quote but it is so so so true! This is huge for me as a mama & as a birth doula. I’ve heard people say that they couldn’t have a doula because they wanted epidurals (etc), but that’s not how it works. Lol! Doulas benefit everyone and I’m honored and privileged to attend ALL kinds of births. 


When I say that my son has never had a bottle – I’m not being sancti-mommy. I didn’t pump because I didn’t have to. I was blessed to be a stay at home mom. My son and I never had to be separated. He could drink straight from the tap & on demand. I didn’t leave him (ever, lol) for long periods of time. Not because I’m #1 mama – but because I didn’t want to OR have to. That wasn’t where my comfort level was or what I desired. I have mama friends who need a break right away. They need to participate in self care activities away from their babies. No shame in that. If it’s what you want/need to feel like you – then do it! I have mama friends who had to go back to work and couldn’t exclusively breastfeed because they were gone. Some were super badass and pumped religiously in order to provide breastmilk in bottle for their babies. Some made them self crazy trying to pump and ended up supplementing. Some of these badass working (and SAH) mamas knew that formula feeding their babies would be best for them. So… why is this even a thing? 

Working out of the home, from the home, or being a stay at home mom… seriously. We’re all working our tails off. It might all look differently, but that’s life. We’re not all on the same path/journey so why do we compare?! 


I guess what it all boils down to is that there isn’t a right or wrong way to be a mother. All we can do is strive to know better, do better, and lift each other up! ✌🏼💜 

Breastfeeding Essentials!  — March 3, 2017

Breastfeeding Essentials! 

Breastfeeding: it’s so much more than feeding your baby. It’s a parenting style. It’s nurturing. It’s medicine! It’s an adjustment at first, of course. You’re tired and your brand new baby needs just you. You will overcome. Watch your baby, not the clock, and nurse on demand whenever baby wants. *thats the best advice I have ever received! Ty, Ashley D!* That’s not spoiling them – that’s loving & nurturing them! This helps regulate your milk supply & helps you to slow down and soak up your new baby. Everything else can wait. Seriously, let someone fold your laundry, load your dishwasher, get you a snack… if you don’t have someone to help then consider a postpartum doula or just let it stack up! You’ll never get this time back! Your baby will never be as little ever again. I didn’t keep up with everything. I let my husband do a lot (and thank God for him, he did and still does a ton!) I don’t regret not folding laundry or any of it! I’m so thankful I was able to “Keep calm and nurse on!”
As you know from previous posts, I’m not super into gear, but I’d suggest buying a few breastfeeding items before baby arrives!

🌀Nursing bras and tank tops are LIFE! I still wear the tanks to bed all the time! I honestly only bought 3 and rotated them. Same with bras (except the bed part, haha) The first few weeks postpartum I lived in those suckers! Eventually I just started wearing regular tank tops but having nursing tanks was essential! I still wear nursing bras at 19.5 months PP! No underwires for me anymore! Side note: I did NOT purchase “nursing” clothing. I do the two shirt method. I wear a tank top under everything. When it’s time for baby to nurse I pull the top shirt up and the tank down so only my breast is exposed. Works like a charm and saves lots of $$ 

🌀Gel nipple pads – I got these as a gift at my shower and after the first day or so of nursing I realized how amazing they are! They are reusable gel/cooling pads that you refrigerate. I’m sure there are many brands but the lifesaving okay, nipple saving ones I used were lansinoh brand.

🌀Breastpads – you will more than likely leak! Have these on hand and change them often! (An alternative to these are freemies collection cups which would probably be awesome for a working mama! I haven’t used them but they seem awesome.)

🌀Water water everywhere! Seriously!! We had/have at least 1 case of water in every room in the house! (Okay not every room but kitchen/living room, baby’s nursery, and our bedroom!) Nursing makes you soooo thirsty and being hydrated is imperative! Make it easy on yourself by having drinks available without having to go far. Get a Costco membership!

🌀Snacks – 💯% not kidding! (This is where partner support comes into play too!) Have healthy snacks (and let’s be honest chocolate, lots of chocolate) on hand! Have bananas and apples ready to grab, cut fruits & veggies ready to hummus, cheese sticks, yogurts, protein shakes, all stocked up in the kitchen. Around the house – to accompany your water stations 😂 have protein bars, crackers, nuts and other non perishable snacks ready to grab. You will so thank me for this one when your baby is nonstop nursing! 

🌀Lanolin/coconut oil were LIFESAVERS during the first few weeks of nursing! I slathered that stuff on my sore nips every chance I got! Warning: does stain clothes. Oh well, my nursing tanks & bras don’t have to be beautiful!

🌀Teething necklace -mine is food grade wood/silicone beads from an etsy shop. I’d link it but I honestly can’t remember which! This was essential from like months 5-10 or so! It kept my boogie’s hands from pinching, squeezing, etc me! Mine only had a few beads in the center – someone told me once not the buy the ones that are silicone the whole way around because they’d get stuck in your hair- ouch! No thanks! 

🌀your phone, tablet, netflix – seriously. Bonding with your baby and making eye contact is ammmmazing. Nothing will ever replace those moments! But for real – clusterfeeding is REAL and you may be up at weird hours nursing for marathon stretches of time. I’d be lying if I said I stared at my baby the whole times! I always had my phone/iPad nearby. Sometimes when my son was tiny little I’d camp out on the couch for evvvvver binging Friends on Netflix. (How cool would that be as a shower gift, by the way?! A Netflix subscription would be legit!) Find a local (no to low drama) mama group. I looooove my Badass Breastfeeders group. An online village is legit because at any given time SOME MAMA is up nursing her baby too! Use your phone! Reach out, text, call someone! No mama is an island! 🌴 la leche league meetings can definitely help you with your breastfeeding journey and could even help you grow your village!


Another HUGE factor in successful breastfeeding is support and most importantly, knowledge. For me, breastfeeding wasn’t a choice. I always knew I would because my mom did, my aunts did, my older cousin did. Formula feeding never crossed my mind. I thought maybe I’d pump and bottle feed but that didn’t end up being our journey. (I never even tried to intro a bottle.) My husband and mom were my number 1 supporters. They encouraged me and supported me. They were always available to chat, grab me a drink, run to the store, etc! Seriously amazing support. My other family members were equally supportive. When I was at a cookout when E was like 3 weeks old my younger cousin sat on the bed when I was nursing my newborn. No one made me feel uncomfortable! Having love and support at home affirmed my “decision” to breastfeed and ultimately made me comfortably to nurse in public. KNOWLEDGE gave me the most power. I knew that breastmilk was the best possible thing for my baby so I persevered. Breastfeeding classes helped a lot and so did reading in books and on the internet. My son and I mutually benefit from breastfeeding. He received the best nutrition, mama’s loving arms and comfort and I benefit from the feels! #oxytocinrushanyone?!


I’m probably forgetting some other cool tips/tricks/things! Let me know what you had to have while nursing your baby!

Life changing doula training  — February 25, 2017

Life changing doula training 

I knew I was called to be a doula but I wasn’t sure how I’d pull it off. I had talked to my husband, my mom, a few very close friends, & a few doula mamas online – they literally ALL encouraged me to go for it. #ittakesavillage
A local training was suggested and I began to look into it. I emailed back and forth with the legendary Kathy McGrath about the details logistics of the training. Training was 3 days long from 9am-5pm. Everette and I have only been away from each other for 2-3 hours MAX and only a few times. He still nurses frequently and we’re very attached so the thought of being away from him for that long was anxiety inducing. Kathy, the trainer & literally one of the first doulas!, was very understanding. She told me the times of the breaks and lunch and encouraged me to have my son and husband join us! What a relief! I felt even more encouraged to do the training after our email exchanges.
Even though we only live 40 minutes away, we booked a nearby hotel for the weekend so that the guys would be close by. This also made me feel more at ease. 
I finally committed! I sent my check and registration form off in the mail and then the real anxiety began… blah! I knew I wanted to become a trained doula but I felt mom guilt for being away from my boogie for that long. I was nervous to be away from him and then self doubt started to creep in. Would I even be good at this!? I felt guilty that I have a BS in Early Childhood Education and that I am licensed to teach in 3 states. I felt guilty about spending the money (training, hotel, eating out, travel, etc.)


I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming anxiety and nervousness for days (and seriously weeks) leading up to the training. I spent time in prayer and asking friends to keep me close in theirs.
I made a list of everything we needed to pack and started gathering things all week. Then, Thursday night (the night before the training) I felt like nothing was ready! I went to a meeting at church and then left feeling even MORE guilt that I wasn’t ready for the training yet! We stayed up way too late packing the car and double checking everything. (So thankful for my husband when I get all nutty! He is calm and relaxed!) 
We left EARLY Friday morning and got to the training an hour early. Whoops! Haha we were glad to be early instead of late though! We went inside where we met Kathy, Ngozi, Jami, & Amber. They were all four buzzing around like busy bees making sure everything was perfect for our training (and it was!) They went out of their way to make sure the three of us felt welcomed. I nursed boogie and we got him dressed. He ate breakfast and then went off to be with daddy for a few hours until lunch time!


The room filled with 20 amazing women. They were all there to be DONA trained doulas! Everyone was unique in their personalities, appearances, and life experiences- but we all had one desire: to support and empower laboring mamas! It’s okay to get chills! This many badass women in one spot will do that to you!
We started with intros and quickly escalated into opening our hearts and minds up to each other. We cried over the opening video. We learned ways to physically and emotionally support a laboring mama and her partner. We practiced with partners. We role played. We literally shared some of our most intimate moments and then seconds later would be laughing together. We learned the ins and outs of running our own or working for a doula business. We learned that pillows are essential to getting laboring mamas comfy! 
Most of my anxiety was washed away when we were submerged into the birth world. I knew Everette was happy with daddy and that daddy was holding it down! It was amazing to do something for myself and still get to see my best guys in between!
The entire training was amazing. There were a few moments I liked the most. Kathy, a trained therapist who specializes in traumatic birth, spoke often about women who have experienced trauma and how that affects them in birth. Even though it was heartbreaking to imagine some of the scenarios I was so thankful for her expertise on the subject. Hearing her perspective opened my eyes to ways I could help women who’ve experienced less than ideal circumstances. I loved Ngozi especially. Any time she spoke was just about my favorite time! She spoke about cultural humility and serving women who are different from us. This was a beautiful conversation within the group and another eye opener for me. I could literally feel myself growing! On day one Kathy passed our pieces of paper with another doula-in-training’s name on it. She encouraged us to watch them and listen to them and on day 3 we wrote a handwritten note to our person. It was a secret. You didn’t know who was watching you. I loved writing a letter to a special doula mama and I loved even more receiving mine. The woman who wrote to me is so knowledgeable and so strong. A true survivor, fighter, and champion for women. Her words were so profound! Lastly, maybe my most favorite part of the training was when Kathy modeled her “mothering” comfort measure routine. She had one of our doulas in training act as the laboring mother. She sat on a ball facing her partner. She bounced and moaned through a fake “contraction” while her partner supported her through it. Kathy sat behind the mother in a chair. When the contraction ended Kathy took the mother against her chest. She held her body against her and held her head with the palm of her hand. She held her in the dark dim room while Canon in D played softly in the background. We all watched in amazement. It was truly a moment. The woman who was acting at the laboring mama was actually pregnant which made it all so real. 


My son wasn’t feeling well a few days ago and I found myself holding him in the mothering position. Not because I learned it from the training but because that’s how he felt comforted. Wow. It was so profound to me!

I feel empowered by my training experience. I know now that I can do this. I have the power to empower other mamas annnnnnd my son will have our village surrounding him while I’m gone at a birth. 

My number one take away from this experience is that as a doula I am to support and serve ALL women during their birth. It 100% is not about me. It’s not about my pregnancy, my birth story, my labor, or my baby. Not everyone will have a supportive husband/partner/family. Not everyone will want a drug free birth. Some women will want to birth at home, a center, or a hospital. I want to support a laboring mama in the way she wants and needs to be supported. I can’t wait for the honor and privilege of attending my first birth!