The 10 Stages Of Shopping With Kids At Target

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I have four kids under five and I take them to Target on a regular basis. When I say regular basis, I mean at least two or three times a week. Sometimes four. Because let’s face it, taking them along means that I almost never get everything on my list before all hell breaks loose.

During every trip I reach a point when I think to myself, “I’m NEVER bringing them along again.” And then a couple days later, there I am driving into the parking lot with my little angels in tow.

That’s how it always starts out, by the way. My kids acting like little angels because they are SOOOOOOO excited to go to Target.

You see, I’ve come to notice that there are usually 10 distinct stages that happen.

1. We’re EXCITED to shop!

When we drive into the parking lot my kids are screaming, literally SCREAMING for joy. “We’re HEEEERE! We’re HEEERE!” my two-year-old twins yell. This is followed closely by my four year old asking, “Momma, can I get a new toy? Please momma?” Meanwhile my one year old is squealing and kicking with all his might because even at 13 months the excitement for Target is contagious.

I park as close as I can to a cart corral that has a mega cart, grab it, run it back to the car, and start loading kids in. At this point we’re still all generally pretty excited. Except when one of them doesn’t get the seat they want. There’s usually some fighting and repositioning, and then we’re off. The entire way into the store the excitement builds. They see the bullseye, they see the doors, they yell as we make our way through the parking lot and think it’s hilarious that their voices vibrate as we cross the bumpy terrain. We get in the door, and they are conditioned for what’s next.

2. We need to eat. And we need to eat NOW. 

I think my kids view our trip to the store like a four course meal. But they aren’t starting with salad. Nope, the minute we get inside they yell, “COOKIE please!” Honestly, at that point I pay extra attention to the fact that they said please. That’s a win, and I’ll happily oblige so we can make it through a few aisles in peace. We head over to the bakery where they hand out the free cookies. Those ladies know us by name. It’s like visiting old friends.

We get through the produce section with quite a bit of ease, and then we’re off to the rest of the store, which feels incredibly daunting at that point.

3. We’re going to make noise like we own the joint. 

During the middle portion of our trip, just when they finish their cookies, they use the sugar high to let their presence be known to everyone else in the store. They talk to each other, and sing “Let It GO!!!!” whenever they see Frozen anything, which is about every 10 seconds. Did you know they even make canned green beans with Elsa on the label now?! I mean…

At this point though, everyone is still generally happy. I’ll take loud and happy any day!

4. We are going to escape from the cart. 

By the time we hit the laundry detergent aisle, things start to get real. One decides they don’t want to be in the cart anymore. I distract and attempt to keep him contained. “If you want to look at toys, you need to stay in the cart!” I say this in a singsongy voice, trying to keep my cool. “Want some crackers?”

It works!

…For about 30 seconds until not one but two want to get out. After several more stalls and distractions, there is simply NO WAY to keep them all in the cart. One by one, they get out. “I walk! I walk!” I place them on the ground and they act like they got away with something BIG. Because the truth is, they did, and we all know it.

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5. We are going to take everything off the shelves and put it into the cart. 

This happens. All the time. I end up with the most random items in the cart. I’m so busy trying to find the items we actually need, that as long as they aren’t screaming, I sort of let them think they’re winning. They look out of the corner of their eyes to see if I notice them, and with each bag of candy that gets thrown in, they feel victorious.

6. Mom tries to gain back some control. 

At some point, maybe when we have 10 rolls of paper towel in the cart or 5 different kinds of cheese, I realize this is getting out of hand. We’re going downhill FAST. I quickly place everybody back in the cart, bribing them with yogurt pouches from the dairy aisle, and they fall for it. I decide to forget whatever else was on the list except for maybe one or two more necessities, and make a run for it. In an effort to get them to last just a few more minutes, I remind them that if they’re happy, we can stop by the toys.

7. Mom celebrates and lets them run free in the toy section. 

At this point, I let go a big sigh of relief. We made it this far, I think to myself. If we can make it here, we can make it through the rest of the trip. Even though in the back of my mind I know some of the biggest battles are still coming.

Oh well, let’s just enjoy these happy few minutes. They all find toys that are the neatest things EVER. Like EVER. Doc McStuffins was never so cool until they got to see her with light up shoes! And Lightning McQueen can change COLORS now? Yeah, we definitely need that too.

When baby brother starts to get fussy, we know our time is limited. I ask them to say goodbye to their toys. On a good day, they will, and its the sweetest thing. On an attitude filled day? It’s a full on battle. I usually end up leaving one of them behind, pretending we’re going to go home without them. “See ya later, Emmy!” Classic mom move, right?

She finally comes, but still has her toy in hand.

8. We make a pitstop at the One Spot. 

The One Spot is sort of like the conciliation prize. My kids know it, but they are still desperate for taking something home, so they usually go with it. A new coloring book for a dollar? Sure, Mom. You’re the best!

But there’s usually still that one who can’t let go of the toy she found before. I remind her that we’re not getting that today, but she stays strong, and keeps holding it.

A full on party is about to be held in the check-out lane.

9. We limp to the finish line. 

By the time we get to the checkout lane, we’re all toast. I’m usually holding baby brother who is sick of sitting in the cart, while I try to get everything loaded onto the belt. Meanwhile, the older kids have climbed out of the cart and are raiding the candy. Because doesn’t every preschooler deserve a king size Reese’s about now? I sort of win the battle with the one who NEEDED that toy, although she’s in tears. And the candy? Some days I win that battle, and some days I don’t. I finally swipe my card, load the bags in the cart, and we head to the car. This usually requires me holding one or two kids, while pushing the cart, while asking one of them to hold my hand. We literally limp to the finish line.

10. Find the nearest Starbucks drive-thru. 

Regardless of the shape we’re in, we made it through another shopping trip. My caffeine tank is running on empty, and since I didn’t get my Starbucks inside the store, you can bet I’m going to go to the nearest drive-thru, which is basically programmed into auto-pilot. I’m pretty sure I’ll be okay getting paid in Starbucks for the rest of the my mom life.

In all seriousness though, these trips can be exhausting. It’s in those moments that I can question who I am as a mom or a parent. It’s in those moments, when the rubber meets the road, when I’m reminded that I can’t do this whole motherhood thing on my own. But it’s also when I’m reminded just how BLESSED I am to be able to make Target runs with my kids. Years from now, when I see a young mom in Target with her little ones, you can bet that tears will form in my eyes because I’ll miss my own little troublemakers. And you can also bet that I’ll bless her with a Starbucks. 🙂

XOXO,

Amber

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook, Instagram, and Periscope. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@ambermkuiper), Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time), and Periscope (@ambermkuiper).

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Being The Mom I Want To Be…Even When It Rains

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It was a long day yesterday. My little one wouldn’t nap. She was over tired and restless. It was also storming all day, so our normal long walk before nap time to get her calmed down was out. We both had a heavy dose of cabin fever and I was counting down the hours until my husband got home.

Well, after what felt like an eternity, he made it home. He has an incredible way of cheering me and our little lady up almost instantly. Immediately my crabby mood was replaced with adoration as I watched my little family play and catch up from their day apart.

We had a nice dinner and the weather looked like it had made its way through. It cooled the air off just enough that we decided to take a walk. I packed a towel and tried to keep my little one covered from the cool air. Then, as I was afraid of, it started to rain. I immediately asked if we could run home.  I complained about my hair that I straightened this morning. I nagged that our baby was going to get cold and cranky. I was put out that my husband simply kept walking and said, “it’s only sprinkling.”

Well, I decided I wasn’t going to leisurely stroll through my neighborhood in the rain. And since my daughter kept kicking the towel off, I grabbed it, covered my hair, and made a break for home.  And in the midst of my hair covering, fast walking, chaotic attempt to get  home quickly, I looked back at my family. My husband was smiling and talking to our little girl through the opening in her stroller. And my baby who was supposed to be chilled and wet?  She giggled as the fat drops landed on her chubby legs. I stopped and immediately felt so small.

I almost missed it. I almost ran home to avoid getting wet and missed this moment.  I almost missed seeing how tickled my daughter got when those cool raindrops hit her skin. I almost missed how calm my husband stayed and how he simply took a different way home to get there sooner. I couldn’t help but feel completely overcome with the perspective this was giving me. It showed me the beauty in my day that I refused to see and the moments I ran away from because they weren’t what I was expecting.

And it’s that simple right? There’s always going to be rainy days. But, a little frizzy hair never hurt anybody.

XOXO,

Ali (Amber’s sister-in-law)

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook and Instagram. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@mommysmetime) and on Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time).

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What A Physical Therapist Recommends For Moms With Diastasis Recti

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Hello! I’m Brooke Foley.

As a physical therapist, I have the privilege of treating women who are pregnant – and these patients have taken a soft spot in my heart since becoming a mom last year. Women frankly talk with me about their growing bellies, aches and pains, and concerns about the loss of their core and a growing separation they begin to see in their abdomen. Amber’s a dear childhood and lifelong friend of mine. When she asked me to share some thoughts about this topic, I jumped at the opportunity. It’s my hope this serves as a tool and resource for you or a friend!

Let’s talk about Diastasis Rectus Abdominus.

First the basics.

  • Think about your core as a canister. The diaphragm is the lid, the pelvic floor the base, and the transversus abdominus (TA) serves as the sides. The TA is the innermost abdominal muscle and wraps around you like a corset attaching to your lower back – making it an important stabilizer during life – both pregnant and non-pregnant life!
  • Your obliques (internal & external) and rectus abdominus (RA) lie on top of the TA and often take the forefront during our exercise – especially the RA as the most superficial and “six-pack muscle”. Unfortunately a strong six-pack says nothing about our core stability. It’s the TA that counts!
  • There are two sides of the RA extending from your pubic crest/symphysis up to ribs five through seven. These two sides meet in the middle via a thick connective tissue called the linea alba.
  • As your uterus expands during pregnancy, the linea alba can stretch and weaken causing a separation (diastasis) between the two sides of your RA. This is common in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters when you are growing most rapidly and is called Diastasis Rectus Abdominus (DRA).

Who is most susceptible?

  • Although this can happen to anyone, pregnant women are most susceptible. Especially those experiencing a 2nd+ pregnancy, multiple gestation, have had a cesarean section or are over 35 years of age.

Can I prevent DRA?

  • Unfortunately, no. This is just a natural part of pregnancy growth in some women. However we know that postural strengthening and staying active are key components to quicker recovery post-partum as well as less pain throughout pregnancy.

Is DRA harmful?

  • Some women with DRA are entirely asymptomatic, and it resolves on its own after giving birth.
  • However it is not uncommon for DRA to be accompanied by lower back/pelvic/hip pain, difficulty breathing (especially exhalation), and pelvic floor dysfunction (incontinence, constipation, pain with intercourse, etc).

What is the role of a physical therapist?

  • We evaluate and treat all of the above! Most insurance companies provide coverage for physical therapy – take advantage. The earlier you intervene, the better. Usually you don’t need a doctor’s referral to see a PT – but with regular trips to your OB, it’s simple to ask for an order too.
  • We can also fit you with an abdominal brace to assist with stability.

Tips & Tricks

  • Stretch your low back and hips.
  • Target your TA during abdominal strengthening – pictured below are my four favorite moves. Pay attention to the coordination of breathing and “turning on” the right muscles – often our butt muscles will kick in when we’re just supposed to contract our pelvic floor (like preventing urination). Gaining control is key – and takes some “retraining”.
  • Avoid over-exerting yourself. Any activity or exercise that causes your tummy to “bulge” through the diastasis should be avoided. As the diastasis slowly begins to close, you can return to your other abdominal exercises.

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Take heart! If you start to notice DRA, don’t be alarmed. This is often a very normal part of pregnancy and won’t begin to resolve until after you’ve delivered your baby. However, taking a proactive approach before and during pregnancy toward better core stability will make your recovery easier and faster – which is quite desirable!

XOXO,

Brooke

A huge thanks for sharing today, Brooke! It is an absolute blessing to learn from a professional about this important topic!

Here’s a little more about my dear friend:

Brooke graduated from Bethel University with a degree in Psychology in 2009 and then Mayo School of Health Sciences in Rochester, MN with a Doctorate in Physical Therapy in 2012. Although she primarily does outpatient neurological rehabilitation, she also sees her fair share of women’s health and enjoys a part time work schedule now that her sweet Caroline is here. She and her husband, Devin, live in Rapid City, SD in the beautiful Black Hills but often miss their Minnesota roots!

As always, please follow Mommy’s Me Time on Facebook and Instagram (@mommysmetime) for daily real life encouragement!

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What I Pray My Daughter Always Remembers

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Most of us don’t have memories from when we were little. I think most of my memories from the time before I was 10 years old are only because of pictures and home videos. There have been times since having my daughter that I’m thankful she won’t remember these first couples weeks, months, years, etc.  Like the time when I spilled one of her bags of breast milk all over the kitchen and cried for a half hour while I cleaned it up (okay, let’s be honest, the dog licked it all up.  Then I wiped down the sticky, dog slobbery floor). Or the time when my pump stopped working half way through a pump session and my milk continued to flow all over me and the floor. And I yelled for my mom. And cried again.

I’m thankful my daughter won’t remember how nervous she made me, how insecure I felt her first couple of weeks of life. I’m glad she won’t recall the nights she would cry and cry as my husband and I tried to figure out what she needed.  But there have also been many moments in these first months together that I desperately wish my sweet baby could hold on to in the years to come.

You see, as a brand new mom, and only having one, my idea of motherhood is so very small. Motherhood is feedings and diaper changes and tummy time and introducing solids. But the day will come, so very soon, when motherhood will include discipline, effective communicating, consistency, and tough choices.  I pray every day that my daughter and I will grow closer and closer as the years go on, but I remember being 13, 16, 20. And there were times when I lost sight of my mother’s love for me. I felt like her decisions about my behavior, my clothing, and my relationships were irrational and ridiculous.

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And it’s in these coming moments that I pray my sweet one will remember all the rocking we did together in that gray chair. I pray she will remember the way we sat and smiled at each other until she drifted off to sleep. I pray she remembers the way her daddy and I ran to her crib, now that she sleeps through the night, and grabbed her as quickly as we could when she fussed so we could have a few more minutes of snuggling. I pray she remembers how many songs I made up just to tell her how much I love her. I pray she remembers the way I cried in miraculous wonder the first time I held her in my arms. I pray she remembers the way we would heat her bottles to just the right temperature to make sure it was just the way she liked it. I pray she remembers the way we cheered and awed at her when she played on her tummy, or the first time she rolled over.

But most of all, I pray I remember to continue to do these things. I pray I never forget that Charlotte is my baby, my little miracle. And as life moves on, and parenting gets more difficult, and she forms her own ideas and opinions, I pray I continue to embrace every piece of who she is. I pray I continue to look at her with amazement and complete adoration, as my beautifully and wonderfully made individual.  I pray I never forget to tell her I love her every day, and to show her that love in a very real, unconditional way.  I pray I continue to get excited with her over the small things. I pray I continue to prioritize time with her, to play, to learn, and simply to be together. I pray I treat her with the same tenderness as I do now, so that she never doubts the blessing she is in my life.  But mostly, I pray I continue to surrender this whole parenting journey to a God who loves Charlotte more than my heart could ever fathom.

And, my friends, I pray the same for you.

XOXO,

Ali (Amber’s sister-in-law)

This post was written by Amber’s sister-in-law, Ali. For more real life moments from Ali, follow her on Instagram: @ali8209.

You can follow Mommy’s Me Time on Instagram (@mommysmetime) and on Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time)

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Celebrating My First Momiversary

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We recently celebrated a big day in our household.  Our baby girl turned one.  I constantly wonder where time has gone.  This feisty, silly, loving little girl has changed my life in ways I never imagined.  This is why I celebrated two milestones that day.

I also celebrated the anniversary of becoming a mother.

I read somewhere that women are essentially “reborn” when they become a mother.  The spiritual and emotional transformation that takes place when a woman gives birth is indescribable.  So, along with my baby’s special day, I quietly celebrated my anniversary of motherhood.

In honor of this anniversary I have chosen to work on letting go.

I will be letting go of guilt.  The working mom guilt that weighs heavy on my heart each morning as I kiss my baby girl goodbye. I will let go of the guilt of knowing that I will never again be able to devote 100% of myself to my career (and the guilt of feeling okay with that).

I will be letting go of comparisons. I will stop comparing my journey with those of other mothers.   I will let go of the anxiety and depression that consumed me during pregnancy and I will stop feeling remorse about choosing to formula feed my baby.

I will be letting go of inadequacy.  I will forget about the housework that I cannot seem to conquer.  I will be letting go of those moments when I feel unattractive in this new “mommy body”.

I will let go of panic.  The panic I feel when I realize how quickly time is passing.  I will let go of the desperation of wanting to cling to every precious moment because it is simply not possible.

I’m letting go, because I’m busy holding on.

I’m holding on to every kiss, every hug, and every cuddle.  I’m savoring smiles, giggles, and baby talk.  I’m relishing in every “mama” that is uttered from her sweet lips.

I will try to replace the guilt on work days with the knowledge that my daughter is well cared for by my mother.  I will focus on the hugs and kisses at the end of the day.

I will try to replace comparisons with support.  I will use my pregnancy experience to help other mothers who may be struggling too.  I will remember that my daughter is healthy and happy and all of my decisions have been out of love.

I will try to replace inadequacy with joy.  Instead of focusing on unfinished chores I will focus on what has been accomplished (Even if it is only reading books and singing “Old MacDonald”).  I will try to celebrate my “mommy shape” and remember that my body housed a PERSON for nine months.  That is more amazing than any weight loss!

Lastly, I am going to enjoy these moments instead of focusing on how quickly they pass.  I am going to love my little girl with every fiber of my being; remembering that motherhood is a privilege and it is an honor to watch her grow.

Will this be possible? Maybe not, but I will make an effort.  I encourage all mothers to do the same.  Let go of negativity and hold onto the fact that you are the whole world in the eyes of your little ones; even when you don’t see it.

XOXO,

Meghan

Meghan is a mother to a bubbly toddler girl and a proud member of the early childhood education community.  In her free (haha) time she enjoys writing and anything creative.  Basically just an average girl making her way through this crazy life.  You can find her blogging at https://musingsofmamameg.wordpress.com/

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What I Couldn’t Understand Until I Became A Mom

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I wish someone would have told me that the first time I laid my eyes on you, I wouldn’t able to breathe, or move, or speak, for fear of falling out of the reality that you’re mine.

I wish someone would have told me that the first time my mom held you, with tears rolling down her cheeks, would be an image that becomes engraved on my heart.

I wish someone would have told me that seeing your daddy love you would be the truest most pure form of love I’ll ever know.

I wish someone would have told me that breast feeding, while seemingly natural, can in fact be quite a foreign concept, a messy one even, and that you and I would need some time before we got it figured out.

I wish someone would have told me that your first runny nose would send me into a pediatrician calling, google obsessed, booger examining maniac.

I wish someone would have told me that the first time I drop you off at daycare to go back to work would make me physically ache. And that, even now, it’s not any easier. For you, my love, are the biggest thing that has ever happened to me.

I wish someone would have told me that seeing your smile for the first time audibly told my soul, “You can do this, momma.”

I wish someone would have told me that my life prior to you would disappear, and that life moving forward would have reflections of you written all over it.

I wish someone would have told me that every movement you make, every new thing you do, makes me beam with pride.

I wish someone would have told me that the days do get so much shorter once you show up; not because of exhaustion or chaos, but because the moments I spend with you can never be long enough.

I wish someone would have told me that it would be you, my sweet one, who would teach me courage and compassion and confidence. Having you gives me perspective, for I know now that things aren’t always what they seem.

Or maybe I’m glad that no one warned me. I’m glad no one had a sneak peak into our love story. Each day with you shows me deeper levels of my heart and capacity for love. That’s what you do, baby. You grow the good in me, and you amaze me every day.

And nobody could have prepared me for that.

This post was written by Amber’s sister-in-law, Ali. For more real life moments from Ali, follow her on Instagram: @ali8209.

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When Breast Isn’t Best

 

Today my friend Tina is sharing her experiences with breastfeeding. I’m so excited for you to read her story, as she sheds light on such an important topic. However you choose to feed your baby is YOUR choice, and you can’t make a wrong one.

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Hi, my name is Tina Kroeze. I am most importantly a child of God. I am married to my junior high sweetheart turned CPA husband of 7 years. My highest calling is that of being a momma to two sweet boys, Gavin (almost 4) and Spencer (1.5) I’m also a scrub wearing, shot giving registered nurse at a family practice clinic.

Its taboo, isn’t it? I feel like some type of a rebel typing the words “when breast isn’t best” but I would be lying if I didn’t admit also feeling liberated. Let’s start at the beginning. The breast vs. bottle/formula discussion started for me over 5 years ago in one of my nursing lectures in which I was beat over the head with “breast is best, breast is best” Rinse and repeat.

There were all kinds of scientific data to support just how “perfect” and ideal breastfeeding and breast milk were to moms and babes alike. I jumped so fast onto that bandwagon I thought I would never look back. Obviously breast would be best I mean it’s exactly how God intended things to work. It is one of the most natural things a mother can ever do for her child. I was privileged to help teach brand new moms the art of nursing, working in post partum years before I had ever attempted it myself. So, when I was pregnant with Gavin and asked if I planned to breastfeed the answer was, well YES. Duh! Was it even a question? Did I really have options? Hind sight is 20/20 and looking back now God had some pretty intense life lessons He knew I needed to learn the hard way.

Fast forward to March 5, 2011 4:42pm, I delivered a beautiful healthy pink baby boy who weighed 7lb9oz and was 21 inches long via spontaneous vaginal delivery. We named him Gavin Andrew and he would forever change our lives, for the better. He was the picture of health and although I was somewhat guarded towards this new role as “mom” I was excited to try. Gavin was born at 37 weeks 2 days gestation and my labor itself was quite textbook. I only pushed 12 minutes total. The aftermath of delivery however was not textbook. I had a post partum hemorrhage 5-6hrs after delivery and was given 2 units of blood and stayed an extra day in the hospital. Then came the real beast I fought, a 4 month struggle with post partum depression. People have asked when it started and I can honestly remember the first time feeling completely overwhelmed and utterly hopeless the second night in the hospital and you guessed it, it had to do with nursing. I was exhausted from delivery, and couldn’t be out of bed because I had a catheter and had just bled out hours earlier. I was just about to fall asleep when a nurse came flying in the room taking no precautions to be quiet or gentle while pushing the bassinette with a screaming, ravishingly hungry baby in it. “He’s hungry,” said the nurse who then briskly walked back out the door and shut it loudly.

My mind was spinning.

Can someone dim those lights? Can someone help me get him latched? Wow, he is really screaming. How long has he been screaming? Can we try a pacifier? Okay, I can do this. I have TAUGHT other moms to nurse, this is the most natural thing a woman can do.

The wailing continued as my husband lay sound asleep on a little window cot a few feet from my bed. I tried and I tried to get those precious new little lips to latch to my breast that seemed like a complete misfit. I yearned for him to just latch on and go as I’d seen other babies do so naturally.

Was there something I was doing wrong? Did he not want to nurse? Did he not like me?

After what felt like hours of trying and trying I may have thrown something at my snoring husband and told him to get over here and give me a hand. He tried his best to help and I will never forget the look on his face of utter and complete support. He knew how much this meant to me. I had talked lovingly about and dreamt about being able to nurse our sweet baby boy. If there was any way to help he was going to be all over it.

The lactation consultant did get him to latch properly one time in the hospital, so I was hopeful after that. We tried all the tricks, sugar water dripped on to entice a latch, cradle hold, cross cradle, football hold, side lying. You name it I tried it. I even attempted the “triple feed method” which if anyone has ever successfully done deserves a special spot in heaven in my humble opinion. Here’s what the triple method entailed. Attempt to nurse both sides for at least 10 minutes a side. Then pump for 5-10 minutes right afterward. Syringe feed baby what milk you pumped and compensate with formula to equal a certain amount of ounces. Oh and by the way do this every 2-3 hours. What’s that you say? This process takes almost an hour? Well, welcome to motherhood. I nearly lost my mind trying this “method.” My lactation consultant went above and beyond and even made a home visit to try to help. I was thankful she wanted to exhaust every option to try to help as this was so important to me.

A couple days later on a teary eyed phone call I said to her, “I don’t want to give up because if I don’t nurse then Gavin doesn’t need me any more than he needs anyone else.” Wow. Sucker punch to the gut. How could I have been SO hard on myself? I will never forget the loving response I got. “You are the ONLY mother to your child and whatever way you can feed him best is how you can be the best Mom to him.” We transitioned to bottles and formula that very day and looking at my extremely bright, talkative, spirited 3 year old, you would never know it now.

When Brady and I decided to try for another baby I remember offering up a silent prayer one afternoon to God that “if He saw fit he would allow me to experience nursing a baby.”

Fast forward to June 27, 2013 at 7:22pm. After 6 minutes of pushing I gave birth to (surprise!) another beautiful, healthy, pink baby boy who weighed 7lb 15oz and was 21 inches long. We named him Spencer Declan. He was born at 39 weeks gestation and I was partially induced because of mild gestational diabetes. To date I had at least 5 different types of formula on hand as well as 2 different styles of bottles. I was not going to force something that wasn’t meant to be and while I was even apprehensive to try nursing I thought, “I’ll be a good sport about it and try but it’s going to have to be easy for me to stick with it.”

Ha. Little did I know how God had heard my prayer and decided He did see it fit. Within minutes of birth Spencer latched immediately like he had been nursing his entire life and he nursed 20 minutes on both sides. You can imagine the joy my heart felt that I could experience this. With the help of one of my friends, Lauren, as well as the same lactation consultant I exclusively breastfed until 7 months and was then able to use up my freezer supply of over 500 ounces. My milk supply for whatever reason wasn’t able to keep up despite trying some remedies and I’ve decided that I’m okay with that. I then elected to use Enfamil Gentlease formula and Spencer transitioned beautifully to it. Would I have chosen to be done nursing at 7 months? Absolutely not. Will I be forever grateful for the heaven on earth experience and for the bonding that was able to take place? You bet. I will never forget those middle of the night feedings when I would pick Spencer up and he would be searching all around trying to find anything to latch on to. He got my nose, neck, shoulder and then eventually found the right place. I will also never forget the way he fell asleep at the breast and how contented he was.

So is breast always best? No, I don’t think so. Was one birth story more successful? No, I don’t think so. I guess it depends on how you define success. If I didn’t go through the struggle I went through after having Gavin I would lack this perspective and I wouldn’t know the strength I actually possess. Having him taught me so much about myself that I didn’t already know. I am forever grateful for that and can see that trial as a true success now. If I didn’t have the experience of nursing Spencer I would have missed out on so much joy and happiness. If I was too stubborn to try again for fear of repeating history I would have missed out on God’s provision and that He truly wanted to bless me with this experience. Both stories were both equally successful in completely different ways. God’s provision amazes me.

I would challenge people to be open minded towards this subject and realize that it can be a sensitive topic in which women can be made to feel like “less than” or a “failure” if they don’t nurse and that quite frankly that is a lie straight from the devil. Let’s all take a deep breath, realize there are many ways to be successful and encourage each other in whatever choices are made. You are the Mom to your child because God chose you to be their Mom.

He doesn’t care how you feed them, just that you feed them.

XOXO,

Tina

Thank you for sharing with all of us today, Tina! She also shared this piece about Postpartum Depression a while back. If you’re struggling or know someone who is, it is definitely a must read. Follow Tina on Instagram for more encouragement! (@tinakroeze)

 

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Real Life With Two Under Two

 

 

I get a lot of emails and questions from readers who are about to become a mom to two little ones, oftentimes feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about what to expect as they get ready to welcome their second. My friend Laura just had her second, and I knew she’d be the perfect person to offer some perspective on what it’s REALLY like. Be encouraged, mommas. You can do it, and it will be wonderful.

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Hi Mommy’s Me Time readers! I’m so happy to be sharing here today. My name is Laura and I’ve been blessed with two kiddos under two, Eli and Colette. Colette is pretty fresh (just five weeks old!), so I’ve been doing this mommy-of-two-kiddos gig for just a few weeks now, and I can’t believe what a wild and wonderful ride it’s been so far.

Going into having two kids under two, I have to be honest, I was prepared for war. I had heard from a few friends and read a lot online that it can be a difficult transition in going from one two two kids: You can no longer give your undivided attention to one child, you have to split it between the two; you have to choose who’s need to meet first, instead of always being there for your one and only; your first can regress when a new baby brings change to the family; and on, and on, and on the “list of difficulties” went.

And so when I became pregnant with my second, who would arrive only 20 months after my first, I had a lot of fears roll through my mind. How would I split my time between two children? How would I ever choose between the two when both were crying, not wanting to show preference for either one? And would my first, the one I’d already grown to love and adore and know so well, feel displaced or uncertain about his role in my life once the baby came?

And those were just the big fears. I was also scared to face all the little changes I knew would come with adding to our family. Where would both kids sleep? Would the midnight newborn cries wake up my well-sleeping son? How do I juggle “nursing jail” with a high energy toddler? How would I ever cart two kids to and from the car for playdates and outings, let alone days with multiple errand stops?

But time marched on while the fears swirled in my head and I knew I would only find the answers to my questions in the trial-by-fire path that motherhood always brings. Before I knew it, I met my daughter, Colette, on New Year’s Eve and overnight, everything changed – in the best way possible.

First, can I just say, having a second baby is so different from having your first!? When I met my second, there was this familiarity – this comfort – with her that I didn’t have with my first. Part of it may have just been how different my birth experience was, but I think a large part of it was just the fact that I had experienced everything before with Eli. I knew not only how much I loved her in that instant, but also how much I would grow to love her, you know?

The first week home with two were exactly what you’d expect, lots of visitors, lots of sleep deprivation and lots of snuggles – and not at all reality. As my husband went back to work and my mom went back home, I adjusted to an entirely different life and routine then when I was a momma to one.

Overall, I can’t say it has been a cakewalk, but I also can’t say it’s been the all out “war” I imagined either. Maybe it’s because I had such low expectations going into it, but in many ways, transitioning to two has been a bit easier than I expected. On one hand, it has been some of the most stressful and TIRING few weeks of my life, but on the other hand, it’s also been some of the best – being a momma has a way of always giving you both, doesn’t it?

Life with two is a little crazy, but I promise, it’s totally doable! Here are a few things I’ve learned in my short stint thus far to make life with two a bit more manageable.

Do The Next Thing, One Thing At A Time. One of the most difficult things I’ve found as I’ve transitioned to two is time management. When it was just Eli and I, all my focus could be on him, whether it was cooking dinner and involving him in the “stirring,” getting out the door with his hat, boots and coat and mittens on for the Minnesota winters, or just keeping an eye on him at play dates, overall our days were pretty streamlined, and dare I say it, calm. But with two, it feels like it’s two steps forward one step back and always just a bit hectic. I’ll have Eli all outfitted in his winter gear, then go to get Colette ready and before I know it, Eli has peeled off all his clothes down to his shirt and diaper and I have to start all over again. To be honest, it’s really frustrating at times. But I’m learning to slow down and take everything one step at a time. Yes, it often happens that both kids are totally losing it and I don’t know who’s needs to meet first, but I just tell myself to do the next thing, and take it one step at a time. It’s okay if one kid is crying for a bit, that’s just how it is now. I hate hearing them cry, but I can’t be everything all at once for two kids, so they have to learn patience. It’s hard, but if I just remind myself to slow down and remain calm, my attitude and outlook stays so much more positive, instead of becoming frustrated and impatient for the rest of the day.

Take Time Out For Your Oldest. My husband and I didn’t do a whole lot to transition Eli in the process, while a 20 month old understands a lot, I’m pretty sure the concept of “siblings” usually goes right over their heads. We talked a lot about “sister” in momma’s belly (And momma’s belly only!), but besides that we didn’t do much prior to Colette’s arrival. But after she arrived I very quickly realized that I not only wanted to spend one-on-one time with Eli each day, but I needed to. While I don’t think he’s “regressed,” I do find that he acts out more, throwing a tantrum more easily than before or wanting me to hold him or go play with him more often. So I started taking time during Colette’s first nap of the day to give him dedicated play time. We color, read, play with his trucks, look at squirrels in the yard, or whatever he wants to do, and I’ve found that he and I are both happier the rest of the day if we start out this way. And often, if he’s throwing a tantrum in the late afternoon or evening, even giving him 10 minutes of my undivided attention helps him to cheer up and be able to go off and play on his own.

Share the sleep. As a stay-at-home-mom, with my first, I carried the brunt of the load. Particularly at night I did the majority, if not all of the work. But with two under two – one being a toddler that only has one nap, there’s not a lot of time for a momma to catch up on her rest during the day. When Colette was about a week old, we decided we needed to work in shifts – one person sleeps and responds in the rare occurrence Eli woke, and the other takes care of Colette. It’s helped so much in allowing me to get some true rest and be a more cheerful momma during the day. Yes, my husband and I are both tired, but that’s the season we’re in. He can swig a few extra cups of coffee during the day, just like I do!

Give yourself grace. There’s part of me that feels so much more comfortable in taking care of a newborn because I’ve “been there, done that.” But at the same time, I’ve never been a momma to two, and that part is totally new. I’ve found myself leaning on Daniel Tiger much more than I care to admit, particularly for those pesky 45 minute newborn nursing sessions, ordering take out at the last minute because all three of us are falling apart when my husband gets home late from work – and let’s be honest, I just don’t shower as much as I should these days. But it’s okay, eventually I’ll shower more and get back into the swing of cooking, right now I’m just learning to find my new normal and get my legs under me. This is a season, one I won’t get back and I don’t want to waste it being upset with myself for trivial things like dinner. And so each day, I remind myself to go easy and have low expectations. What’s important is that I’m loving on my kids and husband and soaking up these moments that go by so fast.

Honestly, I’m still learning a lot about what works best in transitioning into a momma of two under two, but overall, it’s been wonderful. In many ways, our family feels so much more complete by adding a second, and there have been many evenings filled with family dance parties (Oh yes, even Colette gets in on the action!) and snuggle sessions that have been some of the best moments of my life so far. Even though the days can be long and tiring, they’re totally worth it.

What advice would you give a momma with two under two?

XOXO,

Laura

Thank you so much for sharing today, Laura! For more of Laura’s writing, be sure to follow her blog, Oakland Avenue! She’s also on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

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Mommy’s First Steps: What I’ve Learned In The Early Months Of Motherhood

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Hello! My name is Ali and I am so happy to be here with you all. I work as a victim advocate at a center for victims of sexual assault and, as of October 2014, became a momma to a sweet, sassy little girl, Charlotte. I am also wife to an incredible and insanely cute guy named, Jason a.k.a Amber’s brother! So I get to be Auntie to the 4 sweeties you see and read about all the time, and yes, they are even cuter in person!

I feel really humbled to get to share with you about my experiences so far as a first time mom. Something I feel very passionate about is having the freedom to have your OWN experience. As many of you already know, there is a significant amount of research, opinions, and theories on how to act, feel, feed, sleep, bathe, diaper, blah, blah, blah… So don’t let what I say be just another voice in your head on how you should or shouldn’t think or feel. Because by far THE most amazing thing about being a mommy is whose mommy you are. And your sweet one will let you know what they need. So, take it all in. All the firsts. They will be amazing, and life changing, and hard, and scary, and beautiful, and everything. And that’s okay.

The most common question I’ve been asked since having Charlotte (other than, “So when is the next one coming?”…. what?!?) is, “So how do you like being a mom?” This, my friends, is a weird question.

In the first 6 weeks, this question made me want to cry, because I didn’t feel like a mommy. I felt like a lost little girl who was desperately trying to sustain a life.

This question from 6 weeks until about 3 months could have gotten a number of responses, seeing as my hormones were the only thing fully functioning at this point. There were days when I felt like she ate regularly, took a solid nap, smiled at me once or twice, and I thought I pretty much had it figured out. Then the next day she cried all day, pooped bright green, and ate every hour and half. So I would fall apart.

Now, getting asked that question makes me sad. I’m back at work and have been for a month. So I constantly feel like I never have enough time or energy for her, or that I should always be holding her or talking to her or playing with her, regardless of dinner, laundry, dishes, or even my husband. But, have I ever felt more fulfilled in my life? Nope! Is starting my day with her and racing home to her every night the best life I’ve ever known? Yep!

So, how do I like being a mom?… Can you see now why I struggle to respond?

Being a mommy for the first time is incredible. But also remember that this is your FIRST. Meaning you’ve never done this before. Let that sink in sweet momma. It’s okay to have questions. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed. It’s okay to worry about, oh I don’t know, EVERYTHING! I want to share a little bit about what I’ve learned so far on this amazing journey. But don’t fear your own experiences. This baby, no matter how it has come to you, is miraculous. And he/she is YOURS. All they need is YOU. Rest in that.

Ali & Lottie

So, on to the juicy stuff 🙂

I knew this baby would change everything. And I knew having a daughter would mean bows and ruffles and mommy daughter date nights. But as far as the in’s and out’s of having a newborn, that I entered into in ignorant bliss. But I do have a couple of things that took me a bit by surprise…

Worry. I can’t describe to you how much I worried. I so vividly remember the way I felt the night she was born and all of our family and friends left us. Alone. With this baby. Even though I was at a hospital with nurses at my beckon call, I was terrified! I worried about her weight, I worried about her jaundice, I worried about her stuffy nose, I worried about her dry skin, I worried about nursing, I worried about the color of her poop. If I heard so much of a sniffle from someone in the room, I was convinced she was going to get terminally ill and I’d lose her. And that was the root of all my worry. This little person who I had spent the last 9 months of my life planning for and dreaming about was now here. And the idea of life moving forward without her was completely unbearable to me. So instead of cherishing the beautiful healthy baby that she was, I worried. And I wished infancy away because, in my mind, the older she got, the safer the world was for her. Worry steals joy. I remember crying to my mom, wishing that I could just enjoy her like everybody else did. Instead she terrified me. I started to understand the trap I fell into with worry.

Thankfully, hormones leveling out (seriously, hormones are no.joke.) and truth spoken to me from my amazing friends and family helped me to see that even though this is all new to me, I’m capable. I’m her momma and her needs are basic. I’m sustaining her life and that is beautiful. So, don’t be taken captive by worry, sweet friends. Know that in the midst of feeling like you have no idea what is happening, YOU are their life source and that’s enough. Choose JOY.

Time. This one was, and still is, a big one for me. Ever since Lottie was born, Jas and I have both said that we desperately wish there were more hours in the day. For the first month or so, Lottie wouldn’t go down until midnight or 1:00am. It was these nights Jas and I wished for more time together; we missed each other, our dates on the coach with take out and a movie, our conversations we’d have in bed until I fell asleep in the middle of a sentence.

Then, I started back to work and Lottie went to daycare (where she prefers to NOT sleep; far too much fun stuff going on). So now, she’s in bed by 7:30-8:00 every night. By the time we are home, that’s 2 hours with her. And we bounce and talk and try so hard to keep her awake. But her sweet eyes get heavy and off she goes to sleep. Then we are left with hours of time together, wishing we had gotten more time during the day with her. So we are intentional with our time. As a working momma, I make sure I take a lunch break as often as I can. I go spend an hour with her, feed her, play with her, let her sleep in my arms. I need it far more than she does, but it helps.

And we bask in our weekends. We can’t put more hours in our lives. So we strive to put more life in our hours.

Love. Okay, before you roll your eyes, hear me out on this. My sweet baby girl has taught me SO much about love. For some reason, this tiny human has the capacity to open your heart in a way that you’ve never known. Now, when I see a child throw themselves down on the floor in IKEA, I feel for that mom and that little one. It’s not like I’ve been there. My three month old doesn’t exactly throw fits. But I do know how nerve wracking it is to leave the house and wonder if I’ll have to run out of the grocery store, leaving my full cart behind, with an infant wailing in her car seat. I do know how much my heart hurts when I hear my baby cry, and that probably won’t change even when she’s 4 and naughty. I see the dependency and vulnerability in my baby girl and it reminds me to choose love. So far, my daughter only knows this world as a place that is good. The people she has encountered so far treat her with gentleness and kindness. This idea makes me so desperately want to make that a reality for her forever. And for every person. Incredibly, seeing my innocent baby, with such basic needs, makes me see a bit of “baby” in everyone. Individuals who just want to be seen and heard and loved.

Pace. I used to work at a center for kiddos with developmental delays. In my time there I saw the beauty of pace and letting a child learn as they discovered. I remember going home and telling my husband, “I never want to rush my child through life.” I just knew I’d be the kind of mom who would wait patiently at the car door while she figures out to unbuckle herself and climb out, I’d love every minute of walking through daily tasks with her and explaining how things work and letting her look and feel and explore. News flash: my kid is 3 months old and I’ve already noticed myself watching the clock during her feedings, thinking we only have 15 more minutes until Jas gets home and I want to get that chicken in the oven.

Then, out of nowhere, my baby puts her tiny hands up on her bottle. It hit me like a ton of bricks. One day, all too soon, she will hold that bottle herself, and she won’t need me to feed her anymore. So I’ve worked really hard at slowing down. It’s okay if I don’t make it to Sunday School on time. It’s okay if my husband would rather coo at her for 5 minutes before changing her, they haven’t gotten to chat all day. And it’s okay that I get nothing done until my sweet one is fed, changed, and sound asleep in her bed. Learning to prioritize and slow our life down has been an adjustment, but also so very freeing.

So, for those of you about to be a momma for the first time, hold on to your hearts. This baby will, in fact, change everything. But don’t misunderstand that. I don’t see it as my life being completely flipped upside down, I see it as my life being completely enhanced. You get to add a new dimension to your world that is full of mystery and giggles and tiny toes and the most immense love you will ever know. So, don’t be scared momma. You’re going to be so great at this. And when you doubt yourself, go into the nursery and scoop that baby up. Look into the eyes of your sweet one and remember that you are exactly what they need. You do enough, you know enough, you are enough.

XOXO,

Ali

Thank you so much for sharing, Ali! For more writing by Ali, follow the Mommy’s Me Time Facebook page, where she’s been sharing this week and will continue to share in the future! She’s also on Instagram: (@ali8209)

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Honest Thoughts On Becoming A First Time Mom

While we’re in Hawaii this week, I have a number of people close to my heart who will be filling in for me! To start it off, my sister-in-law, Madison, who’s about to become a mom any day now has generously offered to share her honest thoughts as she prepares to welcome her sweet little one. LOVE her thoughts, as I think so many of us can relate to her heart!

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{Photos courtesy of Gina Zeidler}

Hello, Mommy’s Me Time readers! My name is Madison and I am Amber’s sister-in-law; I’m married to her brother, Joe, and we live in Minneapolis with our two dogs, Nutmeg and Pippa and are expecting our first baby in just a few short weeks!

Our journey to baby has been a longer, rockier road than I ever expected it to be. Over the past two years we experienced two heartbreaking miscarriages that left us with more questions than answers. After a lot of waiting and praying, the Lord blessed us with this little miracle baby, who has quite a remarkable story. You can read more about our journey here and here.

Now that we’ve reached the final month of pregnancy and could meet our little one at any time, I’ve been thinking a lot more about actually becoming a mom and welcoming our baby into the world. Although I’ve read countless books, attended pregnancy and childbirth classes and toured our birth center, I’ve got to admit that I still feel completely clueless about what’s to come next.

My primary emotion as I get ready for this next stage in life is pure excitement, followed closely by anticipation and fear. Since it took us longer than most to get and stay pregnant, my husband and I have had plenty of time to think about having a baby. It’s developed in our hearts such a deep desire to be parents much greater than if we hadn’t been down this rocky road.

Sometimes I worry our expectations are too high because of our journey and that there is no way this little baby can live up to the huge expectations and hopes we’ve attached to them. I dream about what our little one will look like, how they’ll smell and act. Whether or not our baby will have my husband’s full lips and high cheekbones (fingers crossed!) and what color hair he/she will have.

My excitement is metered ever so slightly by fear, as I’m sure is normal. We’ve had over 12 ultrasounds throughout this pregnancy, giving us plenty of opportunities to peek in and see our little one, yet I still find myself worrying about the health of our baby. I’m also quite nervous about sleep! My husband and I don’t do too well without sleep, so we’ve spent plenty of time around our baby’s crib, praying that this baby likes to sleep as much as his/her parents.

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Other thoughts running through my head include:
How will labor and delivery go?
 Will I be able to breastfeed? 
Will I ever get my post-baby body back? 
What will my post-baby body look like?
 Have I read and prepared enough? 
Do we have everything we need for baby’s arrival? 
How will our dogs do with the addition of a new family member?

Despite the fears, uncertainties and large number of unknowns I’m just ready to get this show on the road and start life with our newest family member! I’ve been working hard to balance my excitement with realistic expectations of what the first few months will look like, and I’m hoping by doing so that we’ll be able to find our groove as a family with as little difficulty as possible. I think our difficult pregnancy journey has taught me to expect the unexpected, be flexible and don’t get too tied to any one idea of how things are going to go.

Come any time now, sweet little one. We’re so excited to meet you!

XOXO,

Madison

Thank you so much for sharing today, Madison! To follow Madison’s journey into parenthood, be sure to check out her amazing food, lifestyle, and fashion blog, Espresso & Cream! She’s also on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

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