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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

Collaboration:

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?”

Life, mamahood, Uncategorized

Let’s stop the ‘shushing’

Last week I wrote about not being able to form, let alone speak in, complete sentences since become a mom. Mainly, my brain is fried from having to keep mental tabs on another human 24 hours a day, and I’m generally pretty exhausted by the emotional and physical labor that goes into motherhood. Most moms can relate. Having a kid that looks and acts like you is (mostly) great, but there’s just something about it that sucks the life out of you and makes you really excited for bedtime, theirs and yours. And, while these topics often come up in conversations with a laugh and a stifled sob amongst moms, we rarely get into the nitty-gritty of how moms’ brains can change and how hard – and scary – those changes can be.

We joke about not having time for our husbands or being touched out after having the baby on top of us all day and night, but rarely ever talk about how painful it is to see our dejected spouse shrink back onto the couch after realizing that we really, like really, can’t stand to be touched. How we want to scream, “I want you too but I don’t have the mental energy and I’ve had a toddler attached to my boob and hip all day and the thought of anything entering my personal space right now infuriates me!” How much we wish we could shake the layers of exhaustion off and be fresh and welcoming for them, but that requires a hot shower and a major offloading of feelings about how the day went, and we still have to do the dishes and put the leftovers away and then before we know it, the baby’s awake again, frantically looking for the boob, banishing you back to the bed with him when all you really wanted was that hot shower…

Another thing that I rarely get out of my mouth before I’m being shushed and told not to think such things are the awful thoughts that pop up randomly throughout the day. If you’re a mom, you know what I mean. Sometimes, when the baby is playing, I imagine him moving the wrong way, and the TV falling on top of him, or his head smashing into the hard tile. I see it in my head; the blood, the bones sticking out, I hear the crying, the gasping for air. I still wake up in the middle of the night, my heart pounding in my ears – if only for a second – and check if he’s breathing, especially when I haven’t been woken up in more than 2 hours. One night – and the only night – when A slept 5 hours, I woke my husband up in a panic and insisted on waking the baby, too, just in case he was breathing but there was something wrong. Sometimes when I leave him with someone else so I can go to the bathroom or if we need to make an emergency shwarma run (yes, there is such a thing!), I imagine the person dropping dead and A crying until we come back, traumatized for life by what his little mind saw. Or what if they hurt him, or kidnap him, or let someone else hurt him?

My body physically reacts when he falls, when he cries, when he’s not feeling well. This is how we were designed, this is what connects us to our babies, even though they can be autocratic jerks most of the time. The thoughts that come and go, the visceral reactions to our baby’s discomfort are uncontrollable, and just because they’re ridiculous doesn’t make them any less scary. The constant stream of what-ifs can really take a toll, and – I should actually consider myself one of the lucky ones. Some mamas who struggle with these thoughts can’t actually see reason and find themselves consumed with horrible images, and unable to function. Their fears of the unreasonable grip them by the throat, leave them crying on the bathroom floor, and make momming even harder than it already is. It can be compounded by pre-existing health conditions, Postpartum Depression or Anxiety, lack of support in their journey through mamahood, or just a Type A personality that is having a hard time adjusting to the chaotic, sleep-deprived nature of being a mom and can’t compare to the perfectly curated shots she sees on her Instagram feed.

I’m not sure why as a society who’s so connected by this thing called motherhood refuses to talk about the ugly sides. I find it comforting to know that another woman is going through the same things I am; it takes the edge of the craziness that I see when I look in the mirror. I also think it’s important for those moms who may not have control over those thoughts to know that they’re not alone!

So next time your mom friend wants to talk about the uncomfortable side of this new life, try comforting her in a different way. Instead of telling her that it will all be OK, and not to think so negatively (I get this one a lot…), tell her that you too have those thoughts, feelings, crazy-lady moments, and thank her for being brave enough to share it with you.

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Thursday Thoughts

So I’m getting more regular with these! Who knows… in a couple of months I may have the brainpower to make them weekly occurrences!

Nighttime parenting: If you’re not familiar with this term you either, a.) don’t have kids or b.) aren’t familiar with Dr. Sears. He and his philosophies aren’t for everyone, but they work for me and fit nicely in line with how I would like to parent my kids. As with most things in life, you take what you can use and leave the rest. A sleeps in bed with us, which was much more of a survival tactic than conscious parenting choice, but here we are. Most nights I love having him snuggled close. But last night, ya, last night, not so much. Instead of snuggling, think suffocating. He squirmed and screamed and squealed and even woke and sat up a couple of times to have a conversation with me. I turned my back away from him several times trying to compose myself (and close. my. eyes.) but he just kept climbing on me, screaming, squealing, insisting on being latched on the whole. damn. night. So, ya, nighttime parenting isn’t always fun and, although I understand that my child has needs that need to be met during the night too, it’s really hard to reason with myself at 3 am when the boobie barnacle just won’t quit.

Awkward WhatsApp convos: I think there are generally two kinds of people – those who use emojis and those who don’t. You may be thinking, “well, that’s not true because sometimes I don’t use emojis, but sometimes I do,” and to that, I would answer – you’re definitely in the former camp. Why? Well, because you do use emojis, but you just choose not to in some situations, for whatever reason. I’m constantly afraid of being seen as rude (even when I’m totally being rude #hellopassiveagression) so I use emojis fairly regularly. In fact, if you’re having a convo with me and I’m not using emojis, I totally don’t want to be talking to you. Then there are people – usually older generations, like my grandparents – who just don’t use them, EVER. These people you can have lovely convos with because you know even when it sounds like they’re being totally snarky, you assume they don’t have a serious face on and it’s just lost in the land of emotional translation between what’s typed and what’s meant. And talking to those people who I know do use emojis yet they don’t even give me a monkey covering his eyes is just awkward and makes me super uncomfortable. Anyone else?

Social events – We have another one tonight and I’m so looking forward to being in a big enough group of people that I can look scroll my Instagram feed while someone else chases A around. Kidding, kind of…

Have a great weekend, y’all

Life, Uncategorized

Chronicles of a hair-brained mommy brain

I used to think that going out with a 4-month-old was tough, and then my son started walking. While it’s a lot of fun to chase him around restaurants while he squeals and points at other customers and tries to steal everyone’s cell phone off of their tables (read: NOT FUN AT ALL, GUYS!), I also realize that we can’t just stay in the house until he’s learned to behave. So, a couple of times a week, we gather our strength and leave the house. Usually I like to wait until my husband is home so I can zone out with my ice cream cone and just watch him chase A around, but I do have friends and they do invite me out and it’s hard to say no more than 14 times in a row, so eventually I end up going out with A by myself.

Now, I will say that I have amazing friends. They all have – or have been around – kids enough to understand that going out with my will be chaotic. And, really, I don’t deserve such gems of friends because I wasn’t nearly as great as them when I was single and childless. I was kind of an asshole and didn’t want to deal with screaming kids so I always avoided going out with my mom friends (I’m sorry, ladies, please forgive me!!!) But, aside from having great friends, you really need to have a lot of stamina, not just to chase to your screaming child while he makes a beeline for the stairs, leaving a trail of crumbs in his wake, but also to remember what you were saying 3 seconds before you started chasing him.

Seriously, having a continuous stream of conscious thought it hard enough with a toddler, so making sense of those thoughts and translating them into a coherent, grown-up conversation is damn near impossible. I would say I feel dumb most of the time but I don’t even think I get enough time to myself for that thought to cross my mind before I’m off chasing A again.

To top things off, just when he naps and I plan to sit down to do something productive, I have to clean up 37 messes and put away 467 things before I get the chance, by which time the cat or just the sound of oxygen moving around has definitely woken up my child and he’s either, a.) happily awake and ready to make 532 new messes, or b.) he’s screaming for the boob and I’m banished to lie beside him, going over my to-do list so that I won’t forget, ultimately falling asleep from mental exhaustion.

So, my point is that if you ever feel like having 76 incomplete conversations and watching me run around after a little terrorist all morning, apologizing repeatedly for the way he’s thrashing your house, hit me up!