The End of the Journey

I weaned Charlotte off the boob last week. The end.

Ah, if only it was that simple. Breastfeeding hasn’t been an easy journey. You can read about it HERE and HERE. And the decision to stop nursing Charlotte didn’t come lightly, or quickly. Here’s how it all went down…

At around 11 months and some change, Charlotte had her first nursing strike. At that point, she was only nursing twice a day – when she first woke up in the morning and at night before bed. I loved it! It was our cuddle time together and a slow start to the morning and the perfect wind-down to the day. But, out of nowhere, she refused to latch for more than 5 seconds and would even push my breast away and arch her back when I tried to snuggle her in close! I was offended at first, then doubted myself, then sad. I felt like I had failed her in some way and failed as a mom. And I certainly wasn’t ready at that point to let breastfeeding go!

11 months into motherhood, I had a bit of experience under my belt, so I knew that Charlotte’s nursing strike was temporary and that she’d soon be back to her twice a day feeds. And I was right. A few days later, she was back at it, like nothing had happened. Not long after, I noticed her gums were swollen and red. Teething was back with a vengeance…and this time it was the dreaded molars!

So we continued along with our twice-a-day nursing sessions, until about two weeks ago, when she absolutely refused to have anything to do with am/pm cuddles and my boobs. She actually started crying when I tried to put her to the breast. She would flail her little body around, smacking me in the face with her hands and kicking me in the stomach. It was very annoying. And it was precisely because I was so annoyed that I decided to stop nursing her cold turkey.

When we started nursing, I’d “check in” with myself every 3 months for a little status update – was this still working for me? For Charlotte? And as time went by, breastfeeding got easier and easier. We developed a rhythm that structured our day. Truth is, I would have continued for another year if it wasn’t for her strike.

I know for a lot of moms, weaning their child can be an emotional experience. And part of me is sad that my little baby has taken a step away from me and towards independence. But, that also makes me a little happy and a little proud. Charlotte feels confident and secure enough in herself to self-soothe and knows she is getting my love and comfort from other venues than just my breasts.

There are some negatives to weaning… My once-full breasts are now hanging lower and feel like semi-deflated balloons. Also, putting her to sleep for the night has become a bit tougher because she doesn’t have as much wind-down time from bath to bed. And she’s WAY more energetic in the mornings than she used to be, which means mama is doing double-shots of espresso in the AM.

I have been giving her a bottle of breastmilkd before bed of my breastmilk. I have saved up quite the stash when I used to pump before bed and in the middle of the night. And tonight, it’s my last bag of milk. So as I close this chapter of our breastfeeding journey, I start a new one – one that will see Charlotte transition from wide-eyed infant to curious toddler. I’m so exciting to see what’s to come.

P.S. I’m so glad I captured these nursing moments when she was 5 weeks old. The way that I’m looking at her gets me so emotional every time I look at these pictures!

 

 

REAL TALK: When did you wean your little one? Was it emotional? Or was it just the next step? Tell me in the comments below!

#MamaMojo

When I started my blog a little more than a year ago, my intention was to document my life. I shared my pregnancy, work-life, baby pics, what I wore, where I was going and what I was doing. But recently, I’ve had an epiphany…and it started because a stranger reached out to me through my Facebook page to tell me how she found my page “inspirational.” She commended me for being positive and feeling great in my skin. I thanked her, of course, but it started my wheels turning.

Not too long after that, I hosted a Facebook Live for my mommy group about how to dress your postpartum body. And one of the things that kept coming up was the word “flattering” (which I HATE!)  Moms wanted to know what to wear to “flatter” their new body. They asked me where to shop because the stores they used to go felt “too young” now. They told me how they were stuck in a rut, wearing the same black leggings every day. As I spoke to them, the re-occurring theme was how they feel lost and unsure of their new identities as moms. Pregnancy is a whooper on your entire physical and mental state and coming out the other side, it’s difficult to recognize yourself and connect with the “new” you! I’m talking about simple things like dressing your new “mom bod”, skin care, and self-care. As I answered their questions, I emphasized how important it is to find what they love about themselves, as they are now, and celebrate it. I wanted to let each mom know that they are worth investing in!

As I’ve discussed before, I still struggle to accept my new mom bod. But the one thing I refused to do is to let whatever self-doubt I have, get in the way of enjoying myself. Also, I’ve continued to do the things that I love to do, even with a baby in tow. Why can’t you be a fashion-lover, beauty addict, travel junkie, boss lady AND a Mom? Just because you’ve had a child, it doesn’t mean that you’ve stopped being who you are!

That’s when I came up with #MAMAMOJO. It’s the magical essence that you have as a woman and as a mother. It’s that thing that makes you do a double take in the mirror and give yourself a smile. It’s the power of looking and feeling your best just as you are. As I meet and connect with other moms and women, I want to encourage and support them to feel good about themselves and connect with their mama mojo! I feel so impassioned and motivated by this new motto and hope that it resonates for you too.

And it’s all thanks to you, lovely mommies! Thank you to all the amazing moms who’ve reached out to me to tell me how my voice has encouraged them to take a little more time for themselves…whether that be to put on some lipstick, take a time out to read a new book, buy a pretty new dress, or simply look in the mirror and truly love what you see.

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I found this dress at a street fair last year and every time I wear it, I feel like a boho goddess! Do you have that one piece of clothing that makes you feel amazing every time you wear it? Photo credit: Grey Cat Studio

REAL TALK: How do you find your own #MAMAMOJO?

Reflections on the First Year

Oh hi there! Have you missed me? Sorry I’ve been quiet but I’ve been busy planning the event of the year…Charlotte’s first birthday! I am in awe that my little nugget turns ONE of June 2. If you need a refresher of my birth story…read here.

I have a few outfits planed for various pre-bday celebrations for Charlotte, but this is the one I keep coming back to. I discovered Pink Blush while I was pregnant and absolutely loved the style and fit of their clothes. The maternity clothes showed off my growing bump, were feminine and actually COOL. Many of their pieces can be worn post-baby too, like this gorgeous floral kimono. So far this week, I’ve thrown it on over everything from jeans and a tee, to a sundress. I plan on wearing a printed maxi at Charlotte’s actual birthday tomorrow, so look forward to that post!

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This maternity kimono is so pretty! It’s lightweight, sexy and super feminine. I’m wearing an XL. It’s from my absolutely favorite online shop Pink Blush Maternity.

I never believed when other parents would say “they grow up so fast” but here we are in the blink of an eye. I still remember so vividly the feeling of Charlotte’s little hands grabbing my finger for the first time, then the warmth of her body when they put her on my chest and the smooth, fuzziness of her skin…sorry getting lost in thought (and in tears over here).

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How Charlotte and I spent the first 3 months together

I said to my husband the other day that I wish I could go back and do it all over again, just to be able to spend more time with her as a wee little baby. I tried the best I could to savour each moment with her, to be present in the moment and cement it in my mind. But as she grows and changes, new memories and moments take their place and memories of her lying on my chest, or falling asleep in my arms drift further and further away.

Growing up is bittersweet. Seeing your baby take a first step is momentous and exciting, but it also takes her one step further from being carried everywhere by mommy. Just one of the many opposite thoughts I’ve had as a mommy in the last year.
Speaking of mommies…The other day, in my mommy group, we went around in a circle and each woman shared what motherhood meant to her.

Here’s what I said:

“Motherhood is like a piece of your heart existing outside of your body. You entire happiness is wrapped up in one little person.”
“Motherhood is a secret society that I’ve been initiated into. Our secret handshake are the bags under our eyes and the love in our hearts for our kids.”

And you can definitely quote me on that!

Stay tuned for a post with all the birthday details…gotta go, still lots of decorating to do!

REAL TALK: How do you feel about your kid growing up? Does it make you want to cry? Or, does it make you excited for what’s to come next?

The Reluctant Chef

I hate cooking. I’ve refused, for the last 7 years of my relationship, to step foot in the kitchen to cook anything other than Kraft Dinner, scrambled eggs, or grilled cheese. My mom was much the same way. She claims to have only learned to cook once my brother and I started to eat “real” food. So at least my disdain for the kitchen runs in the family. My husband does most of the cooking, much to his chagrin. We eat a lot of takeout, prepared food (thank for Costco) and often hit up our parents for dinner.

I never thought that I’d actual enjoy cooking either. I rather do 138502 things other than cook. I find it such a giant waste of time – you clean, chop, sautee, bake for hours, and it takes 15 minutes to eat. Also, as a perfectionist/control freak, I find it SO frustrating when the recipe doesn’t turn out exactly like how it looks in the picture, and when it doesn’t taste the way that I want it to. Plus, after cooking for what feels like forever, I’m often too grossed out with the food to even enjoy it. Then the clean-up, the menu prep, the grocery shopping…ugh the whole process is extremely annoying and makes me want to lie down and take a nap until I feel better.

I’ve kept up this spoiled princess mentality for quite some time (hey, I am what I am). But once Charlotte started to eat solids at 6 months, my world changed. Suddenly, I found myself in the kitchen, boiling and blending fruits and veg. It was easy enough and I got into a routine with my Baby Bullet. And then we went away for 2 months to Florida, and I swapped to organic pouches mixed with baby cereal that I’d spoon out to Charlotte. But when we got back, she wanted NOTHING to do with me feeding her. She was becoming an independent little lady at only 8 months old!

Initially I panicked. Shit shit shit, what the hell am I going to give her? But a friend mentioned something called baby-led weaning and away I went. The idea is to offer your baby foods that are soft-cooked and cut or mashed into small easily manageable pieces. You do the cooking, the cutting or mashing and the offering of the foods and your baby does the rest. That way, baby can be in control of what they are eating. I started with foods that were similar to what she enjoyed eating solo – she is obsessed with arrowroot cookies and rice puffs. So I started making baby muffins, cookie-shaped lentil patties, or fruits and vegs that she could easily pinch. You can see some of my fave baby recipes on my Instagram Story Highlights – follow me HERE.

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Christmas 2017 – Charlotte eating her favorite arrowroot cookie. Her little face just makes my heart melt!

This was a gateway for me! I started menu-planning for Charlotte which led to menu-planning for Pat and I. And before I knew it, I was cooking for us 5x a week. It was quite shocking to Pat, and to my family. My brother told me that I was officially an adult since I had a house, a baby and could cook dinner (thanks bro!) I was even a bit shocked by myself. I had defined myself so long in this negative light and created this narrative that I was a horrible cook – like the time I burnt water (I let the pot boil dry). But learning this new skill made me SO PROUD! It made me feel like I had grown up.

My new self confidence doesn’t mean I’ve become a great chef. I’m still unsure in the kitchen and check recipes at least 20 times as I’m cooking. We still order takeout, and buy prepared foods, but more often than not, I cook dinner myself. I love being able to feed my family yummy food that I made. And when Pat doesn’t douse dinner in ketchup and Charlotte gobbles everything down with a loud burp, I feel a sense of accomplishment and a deep satisfaction. A homecooked meal isn’t mutually exclusive to being a good mom, but for me, it’s one of the many tangible changes that I’ve felt as I’ve become a mother.

 

Real talk: Do you love cooking? Hate it? Have you always been good in the kitchen? Or is it a skill that you’ve had to hone? Let me know in the comments below!

Embracing the Mom Bod

My Florida vacation this winter looked idyllic. Sunshine and sand, what more can a girl want? But the truth is, I struggled. I was 6.5 months postpartum and it was the first time that I stopped to think about myself. I hadn’t really thought about my body much since giving birth. During pregnancy, I was both in awe and annoyed with my body. I loved its new shape, the hard round bump, the soft skin, the perky boobs. But the constant aches and pains and the loss of coordination was very annoying for someone who likes to be in control of all things. Then baby comes and your body does amazing things like creating a human and creating sustenance to feed her. I still can’t quite wrap my head around it.

I lost all my baby weight thanks to breastfeeding and new mommy anxiety. Unfortunately, as I’ve weaned Charlotte from 8-10 times a day of nursing to just 3, the weight isn’t melting off like it used to. So I found myself in Florida, in bathing suit weather, dreading exposing my new body. Over the last 32 years, I’ve come to terms with my voluptuous shape…but it’s been tight and firm. Now, after childbirth, my skin doesn’t have the same elasticity as it used to. My tummy hangs lower, my face droops, I have new back rolls and my hips have extra padding. New purple and blue veins have appeared on my thighs and behind my knees. And the stretch marks that I’ve been used to since puberty have become red and angry.

For the first time, in a long time, I found myself feeling extremely uncomfortable in anything other than long sleeves and yoga pants. When did I become that person? I LOVE fashion, I LIVE fashion, I WORK in fashion! I absolutely loved getting dressed up in the latest and greatest…but that was before baby. Now, as I am, I still don’t recognize my body. And putting on a bathing suit in Florida was feeling super traumatic.

But I did it anyways, because I was damned that I was going to miss out on a fun time with my family, just because of a little cellulite and saggy skin. I am more than just my physical appearance, and to those that love me, like my daughter, I am everything. She doesn’t know the difference from before and after. She loves my soft sports, my warm embrace, my strong arms that carry her. So I vowed to focus on her and focus on fun. “I will wear this bathing suit and enjoy myself, dammit!”

I had on one of my fave Addition Elle swimsuits and asked my brother to take a pic because in that moment, I was feeling very Instagram worthy! The rock was calling for a Little Mermaid moment. He took about 20 different version and I hated them all. I couldn’t stop fixating on the double tummy, the back fat and chubby arms. But, even though I was embarrassed, I still wanted to share!

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Wow, your comments blew me away! They say the internet can be a mean, judgemental place…but thankfully (so far) it’s been nothing but supportive and understanding. So many moms reached out to encourage me and share their own body confidence struggles post-baby. I had to follow-up the original post with another.

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Am I 100% OK with all the physical changes since having a baby? Nope, definitely not. I still probably cry once a week thinking I’ll never have the same confidence again. But, it’s a choice to live life and own it, or to let our insecurities hold us back. So, I am embracing the Mom bod and resolving to stay positive about myself, no matter what. What kind of role model would I be for my baby girl if I didn’t practice what I preach?

REAL TALK: How do you feel about your body post-baby? Do you feel confident? Do you love the new you? SHARE below!

#BreastfeedingStruggles

Breastfeeding is hard. You may have read about my struggles early on; Charlotte had a tongue tie and a lip tie and my nipples were ruined. I would bite down on my lip in agony every time she would latch! But since then, Charlotte and I have developed a nice routine. I nurse her three times a day – in the morning when she wakes up, before her lunch and right before bed.

Despite the sense of pride and accomplishment that I feel for having made it to this point, there are so many difficult moments that moms endure during their journey. Even though I may feel like somewhat of an expert, the breastfeeding struggle is still real! Hope that fellow BF moms can related to these funny (and painful!) struggles.

  1. My wardrobe lately is based on whether or not I can pull my boob out of my clothing easily and quickly. Thank god nursing clothes have gotten so much cuter! Enter my sorority sister, Britt. This badass momtrepeneur is the founder of Lark & Lux and the creator of the Melly (aka my new fave dress). It’s perfect for all-sized mamas (from sizes 4-20) as it’s made of super luxe bamboo fabric with incredible stretch and softness. And there’s a built-in bra that keeps the ta-tas contained and comfy. Honestly, this is probably the most versatile piece in my wardrobe. Feeding your baby shouldn’t have to mean sacrificing your personal style and The Melly lets me #feedfearlessly wherever my day takes me. As special treat to you all, Lark & Lux is offering you 15% off your very own Melly dress. At checkout, use code: JUSTJEN15. (Offer valid until May 31, 2018).

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    Wearing the Melly Dress in navy & white stripe by Lark & Lux. Available in size small (size 4-6) to extra-large (size 16-20). For all you plus size moms, I’m wearing the XL for a looser fit. P.S. I like the way that Charlotte is coping a feel here. 
  2. I am NOT a punching bag! Does anyone elses’ child smack their boobs when they are hungry? Or, squeeze them while they’re nursing to get the milk out faster? I swear, I have never been as abused as I have been while nursing Charlotte. She scratches my chest, pinches my underboob, pulls my hair and fish-hooks my bottom lip with her finger. She is a beast!
  3. The first time I discovered that OMG this kid bites! As you may know, Charlotte is a super early teether. She had 7 teeth by the time she was 6 months old. As you can imagine, she tested those little chompers out on my nips. Word of advice: if you child tries to bite you, push her head into your breast. You want her to be as uncomfortable as possible (maybe even gasp for breath a little – I know, I know, horrible mom!) But trust me, it will get them to stop nibbling at your bosoms.
  4. Niplash. Enough said.niplash
  5. I’ve learnt that I can perform any task with a baby hanging from my boob. I’ve made coffee while breastfeeding, answered the door, made phonecalls…hell, I’ve even peed while breastfeeding (hey, you gotta go when you gotta go, right mamas?)
  6. I HATE PUMPING! Major props to all the pumpers out there, but I hate that damn machine. The whirling of the motor will haunt my dreams. I tried to avoid it as much as possible, but it did come in handy when I was weaning from 8-10 feeds daily to 6-8, then 4-6, then 4, and now 3. And now I have quite the stash of milk, which is useful. But, there is nothing more unpleasant than pumping before bed and then cleaning the damn tubes and shields.
  7. Do you boobs hang low, do they wobble to-and-fro? Can you tie ’em in a knot, can you tie ’em in a bow? My initially perky nursing boobs have pretty much drooped to my ankles by month 10. On the bright side, I’ll always know which way is South!

Real talk: Got a biter? Are you over nursing bras? Do you hate pumping with a passion? Share your own breastfeeding struggles below!

You Know You’re a Mom When…

I was laughing with some friends the other day as we compared baby notes. We were in hysterics over how we run towards vomit instead of away from it like we used to. It got me to thinking about all the ways you know you’re a mom. So here, presented in good humor, are 25 clear signs you’re a mother…

  1. You’ve been washing the same load of laundry for three days because you forgot to dry it.
  2. It’s not only normal that you pick up another human to smell their butt, it’s a necessity.
  3. You only shower when you know you’ll be leaving your house, or when you’re expecting company.
  4. All of your fantasies involve sleeping uninterrupted.
  5. Going to the grocery store by yourself feels like a vacation.
  6. You have the ability to hear a sneeze through a closed door, down the hall, in the middle of the night, while your hubby snores next to you.
  7. You wish there was drive through EVERYTHING.
  8. When you don’t even flinch after realizing that you’ve gone the whole day with a mystery stain on your shirt that suspiciously looks like poop or puke, or both!
  9. You get excited about picking someone else’s nose and/or sucking their snot.
  10. Whenever you take a shower, you can swear you can hear your child crying, but when you turn off the water, there’s only silence.
  11. Your kids are dressed beautifully and ready to go, and you’re still in pyjamas.
  12. You make the baby an organic meal, and you’re surviving on coffee and cookies.
  13. You realize you’re swaying, without holding your baby!
  14. You will literally strangle whoever rang the doorbell while your child was napping.
  15. You find yourself talking about poop in public, again…
  16. Your idea of working out is lugging the baby carrier, diaper bag and portable activity center in and out of the car.
  17. You cry at every diaper commercial.
  18. You have entire Pinterest boards devoted to crafts and DIYs and you never actually get around to doing them.
  19. You take it personally when a stranger doesn’t wave back to your baby.
  20. Coffee is now one of your love languages.
  21. You find yourself humming “Old McDonald Had A Farm”, or “Twinkle, Twinkle”.
  22. You know all the words from your kids’ talking toys (“Have you met my friend the red fish?” or, “thanks for calling!”)
  23. You deleted apps on your phone so that you can take more pictures of your kid.
  24. Being in the car alone is exciting.
  25. When CEO’s can learn a thing or two about how much you can multi-task.

REAL TALK: Add your own! What are some of the ways that you know you’re a mom? Share below!