Expectations versus peace of mind

Shakespeare said that expectations are the root of all heartache. I always assumed that people were the root of all heartache, but I guess people are as people do and the true problem lies in what I expect them to do and who I expect them to be.

Motherhood changed my expectations big time, in the weirdest ways; I now get super offended when A smiles at someone and they don’t immediately melt, I can’t for the life of me understand why people don’t take off their shoes when they come into my house (don’t they know that little mouths search EVERYWHERE for teething relief?!), and the cat’s failure to understand that I am touched the eff out and can’t pet her every time I have a 37 second break from rocking a baby or playing cars with a toddler. While I may have upped the bar in some ways, i find myself reacting with much more empathy than before because I totally understand what it’s like to run full speed ahead and still feel like your life is a mess.

I’ve also come to expect more of myself since becoming a mom, which pushes me to be equal parts insane and impressive. Baby M was awake for two hours last night babbling away and I couldn’t forgive myself for sleeping in until 6:30 (instead of my usual 5 am), which 23-year-old me would have laughed at because what the actual hell, who worries about that kind of thing? Apparently this chick right here.

Overall, though, I think motherhood has taught me to really examine my expectations of others and myself and sit in a space of reflection when I feel upset by those expectations not being met. Most of the time, I can see the logic in why people do what they do and even when I can’t, I’ve been around enough to know that I don’t know everyone’s story or intentions and it’s much healthier for me to chill and worry about my own life. Besides, with as crazy as my kids make me day in and day out, I’ll take all the peace of mind I can get.


My accidental-on-purpose homebirth

I wrote this post before I’d delivered my second babe at home. More on how that went to come, but for now…

So, full disclaimer: I haven’t actually given birth yet, so I technically haven’t had my accidental-on-purpose homebirth yet. BUT. My full intention is to give birth to baby number two right here in my mom’s living room. And that’s something I never thought I’d say.

It’s not that I don’t think homebirth is an awesome option for women who have healthy, low-risk pregnancies; I totally do, and statistics support that. It’s just that I never thought I would be having a homebirth. Before arriving in California I’d picked out a beautiful birth center, practiced visualizing what my first visit there would be like, and how warm and welcome I would feel as I delivered my baby there with my family by my side. And then I visited the birth center. No warmth. No welcome. All business. I was petrified.

Chalking it up to nerves about the actual delivery, I convinced myself that I would just make the best of it because the alternative – a hospital birth – wasn’t what I wanted either and I was sure I was overreacting because of my first birth experience and that with time, I would get used to the birth center and its midwife. But I couldn’t bring myself to make a follow-up appointment and the weeks were passing by, with me still having no established care-provider. Because I’d known I was returning home for delivery, I didn’t do too much while I was in Saudi and the anxiety was starting to set in; what if there was something wrong with the baby and I wouldn’t know until it was too late?

Searching for more options online, I came across a local midwife who provided homebirth services and liked what I saw online, but knew that my mom wouldn’t go for it, and – to be honest – wasn’t really sure I would either. Just for the sake of covering all my bases, we made an appointment and trekked to Midtown to meet Maddie the Midwife, and – as they say – the rest is history. From the first meeting, I knew that even if the only place she delivered had been in the middle of the Pacific on a life raft, she was going to be my midwife. It wasn’t just that our personalities clicked, it’s that’s she had something that I hadn’t seen in a care provider in my entire adult life: compassion. She asked questions, she cared about who I was, who Adam was, what we wanted for my birth as a family, and she cared about the baby growing inside of me as an actual human, not as a life-leeching “condition” that was “due” out by August.

After the first meeting, it was a no-brainer. I knew I was going to deliver at home with her as my midwife, and that everything would somehow be alright. Choosing my care provider left space in my mind and heart to start to accept that I was going to have another baby and all the things that meant and how I felt about it.

This post is totally not (OK, well, kinda) about pushing having a midwife over an OB or a homebirth over a hospital or otherwise; this is about letting you know that there are people out there who actually care deeply about your birth outcomes based on your wishes and feelings and not their statistics and liabilities. The last time I felt respected and truly cared about with a doctor was when I still got lollipops for being a good girl, and that’s not OK. Pregnancy is a time of extreme vulnerability and transformation, and everyone deserves to have a compassionate, competent care-provider looking after them and their family.

In my childbirth education classes, I teach that one of the most important decisions you’ll make regarding your birth is where you’ll give birth. This means that you have to look at yourself as a consumer first and foremost and shop around for the right provider at the right location. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t and you must remember that you have enough options that you can choose to go somewhere else, even if that somewhere else is outside of the country/state/city that you’re in.

If you’re in a position where your only option is to birth in a hospital and you’re worried that they won’t respect your wishes, my suggestion would be to educate yourself and build a team of educated, supportive people who will be there during your labor and delivery. Even if you can’t have every single thing you want, having a great support team around makes all the difference.

Remember that you’re important, too, mamas. Yes, your care provider should be focused on keeping the baby growing inside of you healthy, but even more importantly they should actually care.


Be here now

Children can teach us a lot. Our own children can teach us a lot more. Often times those lessons are painful, but we end up somewhere beautiful once we work through it.

When you have a toddler, for example, you really start to understand how you react when your patience is low, you’re running on little to no sleep, and you feel out of control. It can be ugly. It can be uncomfortable. It can be embarrassing. But it’s a lesson you can get no other way. Think about it – nobody except a sassy 2 year old is going to completely disregard what you’re saying when you ask them not to remove their poopy diaper in the middle of the kitchen, or look you square in the eye while they pour juice on their friend’s mom (no joke, this happened, y’all!) It’s in those moments, when you’re weighing the possibility that nobody will ever want to play with your kid again that you realize you can’t control anything and it’s by the grace of other moms who laugh and say, “been there, done that,” as they’re wringing pineapple juice out of their skirt that you realize your kid probably, most likely, hopefully won’t grow up to be a jerk.

One of the most beautiful lessons that my kids have taught me, though, is how rewarding being fully present is. When I stop what I’m doing on my phone or in the kitchen or on the computer to sit with A and watch what he’s doing, all of his behavior makes sense. He’s living in a world colored with imagination and tempered by instinct (which means he does what he wants when he wants, YOLO!) and it all comes together in this beautiful mishmash of toddler chaos.

M teaches me to be present every day when he refuses to settle while nursing if I’m on my phone. That’s right – the favorite pastime of every nursing mom ever irritates my newborn. Is it because he shares my attention with A all day and values our moments nursing as just ours? I’ll never know. But what I do know is that when I put down the phone and focus on the bond we’re sharing through feeding, he calms down and relaxes, allowing me to do the same.

Being present in all things in life can actually increase productivity and make us feel less stressed, though it’s hard to do when we have a gazillion other things on our mind. Sometimes it takes a loving smile from our newborn (or our toddler smacking the newborn on the top of the head) to drag us back to the present, but whatever it is, let it take you back to what’s most important – the here and now.


6 weeks down

Y’all. I had a baby 6 weeks ago. It was intense, made me go a little bit (a lotta bit?) insane, and ended with me meeting the most incredible little human. As is the case with the last two years, the last 6 weeks have somehow passed all too slowly and in the blink of eye all at once.

The baby is great. Like, really great and super cute and has started smiling flirting and and chit chats with us in between feeding frenzies and naps. The self-doubt and anxiety that consumed me the first few weeks made me worry about every little thing with him – especially when it came to breastfeeding – but because I’ve been lucky enough to learn a lot about lactation I was able balance my irrational worries with what I knew to be true and I’m happy to report we are doing great. I even faced down mastitis and lived to tell about it, thanks to an amazing community of friends and my midwife reminding me that mastitis is not a character flaw.

On that note – if you’re a new mama and worried about anything regarding nursing, please reach out to someone who can help you. I promise it’s probably a lot easier to fix than you think. You don’t need to give up if you don’t want to (and if breastfeeding isn’t your thing just because it’s not, that’s totally cool, too!) La Leche League is a great place to start and you can likely find your local chapter by Googling “la leche league” + your city. If they can’t help you, they’ll be able to refer you to someone who can.

6 weeks postpartum can also be the time when your milk production evens out, causing many mamas to worry that their supply isn’t enough, when in reality it’s just perfect for their little babe. Your breasts may feel softer, less full, your letdown less noticeable, all of which are no indication of whether or not you have enough milk. Watch baby’s diaper output – it should be about 4 to 6 wet/dirty diapers per 24-hour period at this point – and growth to know exactly whether baby is getting enough or not.

Physically, I feel good, but things are definitely different this time around. My body didn’t “bounce back” like it did with Adam and it’s clear that to get things to fall back into place, it’s going to take some work. Aside from the aches and pains from co-sleeping (often times with two little monkeys) and holding a baby and sometimes a toddler all day, the hemorrhoids haven’t been much fun; horizontal rest, chugging water like it’s going out of style, and grated potato (hashbrowns, anyone?) on your bum are great for these, according to my midwife. Making sure to nourish my body and get rest when I can has been paramount in feeling good and not losing my shit by lunch time.

From my Instagram post on @mamafilbirth: 6 weeks postpartum 🌿 It may seem like it passed in the blink of an eye – or maybe dragged on forever – but during this period lots of changes are happening for mama and baby 🌿 Aside from your little babe being bigger physically, he is also mentally more developed as well. You may get smiles or giggles, and he will probably also communicate with you a lot – in his own way, of course. You’ll probably notice yourselves settling into a routine (that baby set, of course!) but don’t get too comfortable – things are likely to change several times in the coming months. Lower your expectations, go with the flow, and just follow baby’s lead 🌿 you’ve already survived his first two growth spurts and he’s headed into another one, which usually means non-stop feeding and some fussy days ahead, which are best spent in mama or another caring person’s arms 🌿 6 weeks is also a lot of time for mama to change, too, physically and mentally 🌿 you’re likely feeling pretty well-heeled, though things may still feel “out of place” or like they’re healing, and that’s ok. If you’ve met with your care-provider, maybe you’ve discussed family planning options – of which there are many! – and being intimate with your partner. While the extra assurance that everything is “good to go” is great, remember that you don’t need to rush into anything and should take it slow and enjoy yourself 🌿 your hormones and emotions may still be all over the place and that’s ok. Carving some self-care time each day and trying to rest and nourish yourself well are essential. If you’re struggling and feel like you need help, reach out to someone and get help! Postpartum mood disorders are common and can be fixed with a variety of treatments and you can – and deserve to – feel better 🌿 what other changes did you notice at 6 weeks postpartum?


Does taking a shower count?

The importance of self-care is well-known. There is absolutely no doubt about the restorative power of putting yourself first for a few hours and focusing on relaxing, reflecting, & appreciating the essence of your badass self. And, in case there was any question, busy bloggers and influencers everywhere tout the power of taking time outs, and share pics of their staycations/flower baths/spa days like it’s going out of style.

But how do you practice self-care when your constant companions are two babies with big needs that literally never end? When your partner works 13 hours a day and comes home full of love but low on energy? When going to the bathroom or taking a shower isn’t even something you can do alone because – hello, you have a toddler! When taking even 5 minutes to yourself gives your toddler just enough time to feed your newborn his banana or cover him with his blanket, like, literally from head to toe?

I’m still trying to figure it out; I haven’t even been able to leave the house without an extra set of hands, and can’t be away from my boobie-barnacle for too long. But the small ways in which I am able to practice it have been monumental. Eating well, even when I don’t feel like it or have the time. Stretching out the co-sleeping kinks from the night before and taking time to breathe. Accepting invitations to see friends, even though I smell like milk, still can’t form full sentences, and putting myself together to look semi-functional is out of the question. But more importantly – and this is a new one for me – I’ve decided to practice self-care by actually caring for myself and watching what I say.

Being a mom to two under two is hard and makes me feel out of sorts and overwhelmed most of the time. I lose my temper with my toddler, wish my newborn was more like his brother at this age, and get annoyed easily while running on little sleep and being on high alert. Instead of being hard on myself at the end of the day and wondering if I’m really cut out for all of this or just the worst mom ever, I’ve decided to be kind to myself and instead say, “you did the best you could at the time, and tomorrow you will do better.”

Try it out, busy mama, and feel good that you’re investing in some major self-care. It may not be instagram-worthy, but it’s definitely the cool thing to do.


Back in the sandbox

So, we’re back. Actually, we’ve been back but have also been trying to catch our breath after our trans-Atlantic nightmare with oir 9-day-old angel and 2-year-old hybrid angel/terrorist (it’s a joke, y’all, and if u have a toddler YOU TOTALLY GET IT!)

Having two kids, however, is no joke. But that’s another blog post (or 50) for another day. Today’s topic is how to speak to a mother who’s just birthed a child within the last year(ish)

Essentially it can be summed up into this: unless you’re asking her what you can do to help, how she takes her coffee, or which flavor ice cream she wants, you should probably just stop talking.

After the birth of our second Baby Elephant, it was a mad dash to get things ready to come back home to KSA. Because hubby had only a limited amount of time before returning to work, we had to change tickets and get everything in order within a matter of days, not to mention travel halfway around the world with two kids while still nursing myself back to health from, you know, birthing a human. It wasn’t ideal but – here’s the thing – we had no other choice. The alternatives weren’t plausible so we had to make it happen, no matter what. And we did.

Somehow our choice bothered a lot of people; the look of horror that followed after asking in their sing-song voice, “how old is he?” killed me. Halfway through our journey my husband started answering for me and said 2 weeks instead of 9 days to soften the blow for people, since apparently it was really hard for them to accept. I found myself meekly explaining to complete strangers that we had to travel all together and this was the only way, but many seemed lost in their own thoughts of what I could only imagine were about what a careless mother I was.

Where the mom who runs a marathon 4 days postpartum is celebrated in our culture, here I was being shamed for lugging my newborn through airport after airport in an effort to keep my family together.

The comments got easier to swallow and the looks easier to ignore, and by the time we were boarding our final flight for Bahrain, my anxiety started to melt away a bit. You see, I wasn’t a careless mother who didn’t understand the risks of whisking a new baby through germ-infested travel hubs around the world. I got it. I really did. I shuddered at every sneeze or cough within a ten-mile radius, cringed every time we had to take him out of the carrier to change his diaper or go through security, and hated the lady who kindly asked if I wanted her to hold him while I arranged a sleeping toddler on my lap. I was wracked with guilt and anxiety the entire time we were out of the house, knowing that my baby wasn’t getting the uninterrupted skin-to-skin or nursing sessions he deserved, and knowing that I wasn’t respecting the huge undertaking my body had just endured by forcing myself to walk through 4 airports in less than 2 days. I understood why people were so bothered by my choice to travel so soon because I was bothered by my choice to travel so soon, but that still doesn’t give anyone the right to comment or scoff about said choices.

The postpartum period is a sacred one that should be filled with rest, nourishment, love, and a safe space to get to know the new addition to your family. Not people’s judgments about how you should and shouldn’t be doing things. Now that we’re home I get to have all of that. It may not have been within the time frame I wanted, but here we are relishing in our time together. And, hey, if running marathons in the early postpartum period is your thing, more power to you, mama. Just don’t mind me while I cheer you on from my couch.


You can go and love yourself

Today’s daily affirmation was, “I love and respect myself.” Though I have no idea how I got daily affirmation alerts on my phone, I’m glad I did. It’s actually inspired a few days of reflection, today being no exception. As I repeated that phrase to myself, it wasn’t because I’m going through a period of self-loathing, but rather because I was trying to figure out what that meant. How can I love and respect myself? What does that look like?

If you’re a gal with some extra time on your hands or someone to watch your life-barnacles, the first thing that pops into your mind would undoubtedly be self-care, pampering, shopping. But, I don’t have that much free time, and I’m trying to be a bit more conscious of how and where I spend my money since we’re in the US for an extended time and expecting another baby, so my options when it comes to indulgent self-care are a bit limited, thus forcing me to really think about how – right here, right now – I can love and respect myself.

Here’s what I came up with today: I loved myself by grocery shopping for the week so I don’t get take-out and feel like a bad mom with indigestion. I respected myself by taking some time this morning before the house woke up and doing some reflection on how I wanted the day to look, as well some time to meditate on what the month of Ramadan means to me and how I want to celebrate and honor it, for both me and Adam. I loved myself by getting enough protein, drinking enough water, nourishing my body – and the baby that it’s growing – ensuring that even after a day spent chasing a toddler, I feel great. On the other hand, I respected myself by laying down with Adam while he napped and basked in his sweetly sour “boy” smell while I drifted off to sleep for 20 minutes.

I realized that sometimes loving and respecting ourselves looks like getting adult things done in a timely fashion, or making and keeping appointments that we’d rather not, or holding down a full-time job that we are less-than-enthusiastic about to make sure our families are fed and well-taken care of.

I’m not sure if loving and respecting myself will look the same tomorrow; I have big-girl errands to run that involve government offices with the monkey (pray for me!), but I do know that whatever I do will be done with the same intention and presence that I had today.


Dirty ears, happy heart

It’s been a whirlwind of a time here in the States. So much so that the two months we’ve been here have practically flown by (unless I’m sitting thinking of how much I miss hubby and our home, and then the time crawls excruciatingly slow…). A is enjoying his time playing outside in the dirt, and I’m enjoying watching him, and rinsing it off at the end of the night and inhaling his sweet, fresh smell as we jump into bed.

Letting go and letting him run wild is a good reminder for many things in life; sh*t happens but most everything can be managed, either through re-planning, meditating, prayer – whatever you’re into – as long as you have someone in your corner to cheer you on and hold you up when it gets a bit too overwhelming. Everything can be washed off at the end of the day, and while the dirt, sweat, and ickies swirl down the drain, the memories and happiness remain in our hearts, remind us we’re alive, and what’s important in this life.


To medicate or not?

When planning for the future, we weigh the pros and cons carefully, as objectively as possible, while paying great attention to all the possibilities. Some of us are naturally optimistic, while others tend to see things more on the negative side, coloring things in one way or another each step we take. With birth, however, I’d be willing to bet that many women are pretty pessimistic right off the bat.

From the way that the media portrays birth to the horror stories our friends and family share, it’s not hard to see why most women are petrified of what labor and delivery will bring and why they choose to plan every last detail before and after baby’s arrival, glossing right over what will happen during those crucial hours when baby is actually working his or her way out into the big, bright world. I was one of those moms, and let me be the first to tell you – that ain’t a good strategy, mama, because ready or not, labor is coming and you NEED to be ready.

Arming yourself with information while remaining flexible is essential when considering your birth preferences. Note that I don’t use the term birth plan because I don’t believe you can plan your birth, nor can you expect everything to go as planned. Through this series of posts, I hope to shed some light on the most common issues and decisions that will pop up during labor and delivery, while pointing you in the right direction informationally. Remember, mama, if you don’t know your options, you don’t have any.

Today’s topic is whether or not you’d like to medicate during labor. Since I’m a bit late in posting (the link was supposed to be live at the same time as my insta post over at http://www.instagram.com/mamafilbirth), I’ll just post the links below for you to browse, which you most definitely should!

ACOG’s info on pain-relief during labor and a breakdown of the kinds of drugs available

NPR’s awesome and simple breakdown of Pitocin and epidurals and why you may – or may not – want them


Thursday Thoughts

I know, I know. I’m inconsistent with Thursday’s thoughts and should just stop the whole thing altogether. But I can’t. I really love the idea and have so many thoughts throughout the week that could never actually form their own blog post, so this is the perfect way to share them. Thanks for bearing with me!

Nursery rhymes:

I’m not sure how many of my readers have or have had small children that listen to nursery rhymes, but after the last 12 months of frequently visiting the Little Baby Bum YouTube channel, I’ve got some concerns. First, is the old man OK? He bumped his head last night and no one is concerned that he has a concussion and needs to be seen by a medical professional, especially given his age? I think his subsequent lack of control in eating until his clothes don’t fit and PROVOKING BEES should also be taken into account (though, I totally feel him on the eating thing, tbh).

Also, why has this mom not been reported to a government agency for neglect? Like, I totally understand that shit happens, but after the 2nd monkey falling off the bed because they were recklessly jumping, it makes me wonder if Mama is watching them at all or just doing her own thing.


This is by far the quickest and most organic way to expand your client base and social media reach. But, are people really all they’re cracked up to be? I’ve seen a lot of collabs lately where the narcissism is just dripping off of every word they say, especially the ‘thank yous’ they give for how others have helped them. Times are tough, Y’all, I get that. We’re all trying to make it, we’re all trying to get our hustle in and make it work. But I can’t help but feel… slimy when it sounds like I’m promoting myself a little too much. And, hey, that may be my problem! Maybe shameless self-promotion is what works in today’s society. I do think it’s a bit gross when people are so interested in showing others what they can do – or even funnier what they want to do, “I’ll start starting to start doing this soon…” – than what they have to offer others.

What’s your take on this?

Netflix must-see:

We just finished the limited series “Godless” and oooooooomahgoodness it was amazing. Lady Mary was a heartless, man-eating goddess just like in Downton, but she really needs to work on adding some inflection to her American accent.

Samsung’s Multi-tab function:

This feature was definitely created by a parent who was bored to death of having to watch another episode on the Little Baby Bum channel and thought, “hm, wouldn’t it be cool if the baby could watch this and I could do something productive like scroll mindlessly through Facebook?”