If Becoming a Parent Was a “Real” Job


Google has a funny idea of what "postpartum" looks like.

Google’s idea of what “postpartum” looks like. Google is sadly mistaken.


You got hired for a new job. Congratulations! You’re told it’s the best, most rewarding job on the planet. You will be paid in things worth more than money, more than gold, things you can’t fully fathom yet. You get instant tenure, and your significant other is your co-worker. Many people want this job, but not everyone gets it. People have paid thousands and thousands of dollars to get this job. Some people spend their whole adult lives hoping for, wishing for this job.

You’re promised 40 weeks of training for this job, though you may wind up with a few more or a few less depending on your boss’ schedule. This training is not easy- it includes many challenges such as fatigue, extreme physical discomfort, financial risk, illness, mood swings, extreme weight gain. Some people enjoy the training, but many more hate it. Even more hate it but never say they do out of fear of judgement because the perceived “norm” is to love every moment of the training. Training includes a few classes, monthly visits with experts, books, literature, panicked late-night Google searches, and peeing your pants when you laugh. As the weeks go by, it becomes more and more clear that soon your training will end and you’ll be out on the floor, finally earning your new job title.

After many months, you’re given your final test, and lucky you: it’s open-book. All your hard work and studying are about to pay off, and you go into the test with a handy cheat sheet of your exact answers to all of the questions you studied.

Unbeknownst to you, some jerk switches the test out last minute for a different test, one longer and harder than you expected. You TOTALLY DIDN’T STUDY FOR THIS. And yet, you pass. You’ve earned your name badge, and the second your test is over, you’re officially employed by a tiny, screaming person that only you and your co-worker can please.

Only, your employer speaks in an ancient, mystical tongue that you can’t understand. You and your coworker proceed to spend every waking moment (and they’re all waking moments, aren’t they?) scrambling to decode this ancient tongue and figure out how to make your boss stop screaming at you. You find yourself exhausted, dehydrated, starving, and mysteriously bleeding heavily for weeks, all while feeling guilty for wondering why you ever wanted this job in the first place. You and your co-worker, who used to get along famously, barely speak for weeks and even months. You both trudge along, taking rides on an emotional roller coaster through moments of pure, unconditional love and pure, crazy-making frustration. The days are long, and to quote Melisandre from Game of Thrones, “The nights are dark and full of terrors.”

 This is the initial postpartum experience for many first-time parents.

One day, you wake up and things are easier. And certain things keep getting easier, while others stay challenging and even increase in difficulty at times. You and your coworker slowly learn how to meet your boss’ needs while juggling your own (and each other’s). Eventually, you start to let go of control and begin the humbling process of admitting you have no idea what you’re doing. You do what works to get the job done, and throw away the rest. You do all the things you said you never would and bite your tongue when cheeky seasoned employees of other tiny bosses call you out on changing your plans. Your new normal is still a challenge, but when the joys start to outnumber the frustrations, your boss becomes the most amazing person on the planet, and obviously a smarter, cuter, better boss than anyone else’s.

And it really does get better, and all the people who you want to smack right now for telling you this with a pitying smile are right. And you will survive this. Ask for help. Demand help. Take breathers. Be patient with yourself. Kiss your partner. Kiss that baby. Drink lots of water. And know you are not alone. Somewhere out there at 3 am, there is a new mom feeding her baby in a dark room, just like you, staring out the window at a big world that she no longer knows how to fit into.


As in labor, in the postpartum there is an important difference between pain and suffering. Please don’t hesitate to use these resources if you need them and talk to your partner and healthcare provider about how you’re feeling. Please.


The Symptoms of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety (in plain mama English)

International Cesarean Awareness Network


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Pregnancy is humbling. Labor is really humbling. Living in the postpartum and looking back on my pregnancy and birth is extraordinarily humbling. Many lessons were learned the hard way, but I think that’s the way many have to be learned and earned. Here are some rambling observations that I’m still dissecting:


  • Babies change everything.
  • Everyone says “You’ll never sleep again!” It’s annoying, but they mean well. They’re also mostly right.
  • Just when I think I’ve got it all figured out, the baby changes it up. Example:

Monday: (bragging) Babby slept for 4 hours straight last night, then was up for a feeding, then asleep for another 4 hours! Life is good.

Tuesday: Babby slept for 5 hours straight last night, then was up for a feeding, then asleep for another 4-5 hours! Life is blissful.

Wednesday: Babby slept for SIX HOURS STRAIGHT LAST NIGHT, then was up for a feeding because I freaked out that she slept so long and then slept for another 4 hours! Life is blissful. Parenting is easy!

Thursday through End of Time or End of Sudden Growth Spurt, Whichever Comes First: Babby eats every 2 hours, day and night. She is also a catnapper during the day, sleeping in no longer than 1 hour increments sporadically throughout the day. Life is tired. Parenting is coffee.

  • Though my experience as a doula was invaluable before I became pregnant myself, I now can’t imagine hiring a doula who hasn’t experienced birth/motherhood personally. I get it now, on a whoooooooole ‘nother level. Not to say that a doula who isn’t a mother herself isn’t worth her salt, just that going through labor and birth yourself gifts you with a magnitude of empathy, compassion, and first-hand experience that completely alters the way one doula-s.
  • It took a solid 3 months to begin feeling normal again, or at least to feel comfortable in my new normal. I didn’t even fully stop spotting until Week 13. I still sometimes pee my pants. My maternity jeans are too big, my pre-pregnancy ones are too small; yoga pants are the answer.
  • It also took 3 months to remember I have a husband. Our first real conversation happened during Week 12. We now snuggle and laugh and are best friends again… but it took time, and it’s something we actually have to work on and make time for now. It’s harder, but we appreciate each other more now than ever.
  • It took 3 months to love my pets again. Oh, my poor sweet babycats. Thank god Steve is a responsible adult, because I forgot to feed them for at least 2 months. They went from being All Important to Total Annoyances for awhile there. I threw around the term streetcats a few too many times. Luckily they still love me and even love the baby who turned their lives upside down.
  • Increased breastfeeding retention and quality maternity/paternity leave go hand in hand. Period. I do not believe for one second that I would still be breastfeeding if Steve hadn’t been home for almost 2 months. Paternity/maternity leave in this country is shameful and affects every one of us who have been a child or a parent (see: everyone). Leave needs to be long, it needs to be paid, and it needs to be available to every. parent.
  • Now I have All the Motivation, All the Creativity, & All the Great Ideas… and none of the time.
  • Key relationships have evolved. Some for the better and some for the worse. Being judged for my birth story and parenting choices does not sit well with me. ALL births are to be respected, no matter what they look like. Fanatics on both sides of the homebirth/hospital birth spectrum would be wise to lead with compassion and not judgement or pity. (The pity is the worst for me… just because I had an induced hospital birth doesn’t mean I was traumatized or fooled into falsely believing my experience was beautiful and powerful, thanks. I could go on and on here… and I will! In a later post).
  • The bills just keep coming. One perk of this is that I no longer feel anxiety over money, which used to be my biggest anxiety trigger. Acceptance in these matters is vital to my sanity.
  • Breastmilk poop does stink. Maybe not at first, when kiddo is going 3 times a day. But when her Poo Schedule becomes once every couple of days… yeah. It smells. Like cheese. It’s horrible. “Breastmilk poop doesn’t stink” is one of those Whoops! Lies of Ignorance I told when I was doula-ing before becoming a parent myself. Very sorry about this one, guys. Oh, and while I’m at it I need to apologize for “Sleep when the baby sleeps” (really good advice in a perfect world, but not gospel).

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February Used Birth Book Giveaway

Click here to enter the giveaway!

I’ve discovered minimalism and it’s changing my life in the most amazing ways! I’m paring down my library and am offering giveaways during the next few months. Books will be gently used and will center around pregnancy, birth, the postpartum, and parenting. This month I’m giving away:


This giveaway runs until 2/25/14 @ midnight. Please share with any doulas, midwives, libraries, birth centers, clinics, birthworkers, or pregnant women who might be interested! Visit the giveaway here.

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I Also Lived a Day According to Ben Franklin’s Schedule (but with a newborn, and only kind of)

A few days ago I stumbled across the Good Men Project‘s post I Lived a Day According to Ben Franklin’s Schedule and it Changed My LifeI envied the author, Tim Goessling, for getting to live by a schedule- even one from 1791. Dividing my day and living in an organized fashion are ridiculous fantasies for me now that I have a newborn. No two days are alike in this house. One day baby naps and I get things done, and the next there are no naps in sight and I end the day crying. Though I was very intrigued and love a good challenge, I figured there was no way I’d be able to also live a day by Ben Franklin’s schedule, mainly because of the 5am wake up. I sleep when the baby sleeps in the mornings (most of the time) and waking before she did just seemed foolish. I talked to Steve over the weekend about living by this schedule for a day and explained that if I did manage to try it, I wouldn’t let it interfere with his schedule, which, you know, pays the bills around here.

Tuesday morning I awoke at 5:20am very confused. The baby had gone to bed when we did, at 11:30pm. The confusion turned to panic as I ripped myself out of bed and stared wild-eyed into the pack and play 2 feet away from where I sleep. There she was, my little daughter, sleeping as she had slept for the past 6 hours straight, an obvious miracle. She was tossing and turning a bit, her signal to change her diaper. I decided that waking up at 5:20 was just as good as waking up at 5:00 sharp, and knowing that this opportunity might not present itself so nicely again, started my day living (loosely) according to Ben Franklin’s schedule, pictured below.


borrowed from Good Men Project’s “I Lived a Day According to Ben Franklin’s Schedule and it Changed My Life.” (click photo for link to article)


5:20am~ awaken with big open eyes, wonder why baby hasn’t woken up in SIX hours, panic

5:20-5:23am~change diaper in the dark while baby screams

5:23-5:40am~ feed on both breasts, baby falls back asleep

5:40-6:00 pee, confirm menstruation is back a mere 11 weeks after birth (even with EBF, no bottles, and no pacifiers), make coffee, learn that Meadowlands Racetrack has ostrich racing, vow to later Google ostrich racing, fill up Brita tank. I reminded a confused Steve of why I was awake by tiredly mumbling “Benjamin Franklin” with a shrug and assured him it wouldn’t interfere with his getting ready to go to work. Things were going well in the kitchen until I became too efficient and overfilled my coffee mug. I could go on a rant here about the inefficiency of a Keurig which only fills coffee mugs half way, forcing the user to brew twice in a row, but I’ll spare you.

Ben Franklin’s schedule clearly stated that I should rise and wash in the morning. The shower would have been a good time to contrive the day’s business, think on Powerful Goodness, and come up with the day’s resolutions but I chose not to shower in the morning for two reasons: 1) I had just showered last night and postpartum/PMSy hormones were already making my skin incredibly dry and 2) I had promised Steve that my Ben-Franklin-for-a-day stint wouldn’t affect his necessary schedule to, you know, go to work and provide for our family. If the baby woke up while I was in the shower it would throw off his usual morning rhythm and so I chose to forgo it.

I sat in bed with the laptop and contrived my day’s business. What did the day hold? Well, the baby is teething so probably the day was going to hold lots of crying and drooling and general unhappiness. The female cat was going to pee in the kitchen because apparently that’s just what she does now and my efforts of resistance are futile. If this day was like the day prior it would end in tears for me, as long days with a baby sometimes do. A walk outside would do us good, so I checked the weather- forecast was for 20 degrees F, with snow showers at night. At 6:15 it was 14 degrees but felt like FOUR, so yeah, probably no walk for us today. I contrived that the day’s business would just go as it was going to go, and that was that. I had no plans for socialization due to the menstruating. No one tells you the first one after birth can be terrifying… I didn’t want to see or talk to anyone, instead just wanted to curl up in a ball and rock my cramps away.

After contriving business and whatnot, I addressed Powerful Goodness. I sat in bed with my coffee and pledged to just sit and think for a full 5 minutes. I should have relished this time, as during the day before I had exactly zero time to think and ended the day completely fried, but I only lasted 4 minutes. Not knowing exactly what Powerful Goodness is, I reflected on the day before and forgave myself for losing my patience and temper. I resolved to practice Only Love Today and peeked in at the baby sweetly sleeping and felt the warm wave of gratitude wash over me. God, is she ever beautiful. We are so lucky.Then I remembered my husband and had a moment of gratitude for him. This led to wondering what was for dinner, which led to the realization that today he was going to be gone until 10:30pm. The dread set in as I looked at the clock and realized I had 16 more hours until someone else could hold the baby. Putting the dread aside, I decided to make turkey meatballs and roasted brussel sprouts for dinner, should I have the time. If not: leftovers.

Thinking on Powerful Goodness was actually really nice. I still don’t know what it means, but it feels great to do.

Sipping my coffee, it was time for the resolution of the day. Uhh… “Don’t lose my mind?” Does that count? What about “Don’t throw up when changing a poopy diaper.” “Try and eat breakfast before 3pm?” No, those didn’t sound right. I made 3 resolutions, one work-related, one home-related and one sanity-related. I would update a page on my website, fold the (2) hamper laundry in the family room, and start the Orange Rhino Challenge of no yelling. I didn’t expect to accomplish all of these, and placed the Orange Rhino Challenge as my priority.

Prosecute the present study… hmm. I scanned the original Good Men Project article for what the author thought that meant. Oh- “I took “contrive day’s business” to mean I should set out some goals for the day and “prosecute the present study” as me setting up a clear plan on how to accomplish them.” This made me laugh because my clear plan on how to accomplish the day’s goals was just “KEEP IT TOGETHER.” I decided my clear plan would include doing anything and everything in my power to get my infant to nap. With the teething and growth spurts she hasn’t been napping for more than 15 minutes during the day and it’s been very trying. Infant massage has been helping, but getting her back to a 2 or 3 nap routine (which I can tell she needs) has been impossible. So, “Get that baby to nap” became my (vague) clear plan for the day.

Then, breakfast. While the baby was still asleep I washed some blackberries, which I put atop a big bowl of old country muesli. It was heaven. By 7:30am I had eaten, blogged (albeit a very short post), written in a few personal side projects, beaten a level in Candy Crush, read a chapter of a book, taken pictures of the baby and texted them about, and stretched.

While Ben Franklin scheduled his work from 8am-12pm and 2pm to 6pm, my workday lasted for  solid 15 hours. From 7:30am until Steve stepped through the door, my time was spent wiping drool, changing diapers, scrubbing the kitchen floor, freaking out on the cat (totally failed at my Orange Rhino Challenge a few hours in… very un-Ben Franklin-like of me), swaying/rocking/dancing with/singing to the baby, nursing, doing everything in my power to get her to nap, making mental notes, thinking about coffee, organizing individual messes into piles of mess, and cleaning the house. I kept forgetting my goals of the day and had to constantly check my morning’s notes to remind myself to fold the laundry (done at 6:30pm), update my website (fail, but I did some tinkering to my business’ Facebook page), and not yell (complete and utter fail). At around 1 I was able to read a few more chapters of a book, just as Ben Franklin would have done, and even heated some lunch.

Through crazy persistence and some (read: lots of) luck, the time I put into helping my daughter nap worked, and she took a short afternoon and long early evening nap- this meant I had time to make dinner! Roasted brussel sprouts and turkey meatballs: a dream come true. I also had time to get an array of other neat house-stuff done, none of which included doing the dishes or laundry. The actual text from me to my husband stated: Try not to kill me when you get home. There’s stuff everywhere. But I swear I have a plan! 

Ben Franklin ended his work day at 6, at which point he tidied up, ate dinner, relaxed, and reflected on his day. I didn’t get to reflect until I quietly crawled into bed at 11:30 (unlike BF there was no way I was staying up until 1am). I thought about the goals I had set earlier, what I accomplished, what good I had done. I thought fondly of the majority of the day, which was spent cuddling with my baby and providing what I could for my family with what limited time I had. I thought about how to anyone without a child, my day might seem really stupid, lame, boring, or unproductive. Then I thought about how little I care nowadays of the opinions of others, how everything I need I have, and how much better life is with naps.

As I drifted off to sleep, I again addressed Powerful Goodness, something which Ben Franklin only did in the mornings (according to his schedule). My mind swelled and caved around thoughts of the universe, why we’re all here, and what makes me happy. I didn’t come to any huge conclusions or figure out the meaning of life, but I did fall asleep peacefully, and awoke this morning with a strange sense of contentment. As a new mom, I can’t even begin to think about the possibility of considering following Ben Franklin’s daily schedule every day, or any schedule any day for that matter- but I will try to continue to address Powerful Goodness as often as possible to keep me centered, humbled, and thankful.

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I Screamed into a Pillow Yesterday

I don’t really want to think about yesterday. It was hard. And long. In a cruel twist, the universe decided that the baby would start teething and I would start ovulating at the same time (Read: 9 weeks postpartum). This means that yesterday, teething was in full spring as was my period. Even exclusively breastfeeding, with no bottles or pacifiers, and baby not sleeping through the night (though last night she slept for 6 hours straight… go figure). I didn’t realize how terrifying the first one after birth could be. The day ended with Steve coming home from work and taking the baby, and me taking a moment to sit on the couch and cry into my hands for a few minutes, then composing myself and heading into the kitchen to eat my first food in 10 hours.

I’m not going to recap everything. Instead, read this blog entry by PA doula and mother of 2, Brittany, to get an idea of how One of Those Days as a new mom can go. Brittany has a newborn AND a toddler, so, yeah. I can’t even imagine.

Some days… some days are really challenging. Luckily today is a new day. Fingers crossed, deep breath, here we go.

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9 Ways to Relax a Baby with Infant Massage


After a stint of NO day naps due to teething, my kiddo now gets massaged every day after her morning bath… and we’re rewarded with a nice long afternoon nap. WOOHOO!


Infant massage has numerous benefits, a major one being relaxation for your baby. Research shows that infant massage reduces stress and lowers cortisol levels and improves sleep patterns and can help babies sleep more deeply (and awake well-rested). Many parents ask me to teach them specifically to help with their child’s sleep habits (or non-sleep habits, I should say!) Every baby, including my own, goes through different day & night sleep/awake phases as they grow, develop, and hit new milestones. Some parents sleep-train while others find that baby-led routines work best for them. Infant massage classes can help new parents no matter what style of parenting they choose- parents leave class with a better understanding of infant behavioral states and learn hands-on techniques for relaxation.

Here are some tips to help make the infant massage experience more relaxing and enjoyable for both you and your baby. Try them out and see if they work for you and your family!


  • Use a natural, plant-based oil

We know that using an oil during massage can cuts down on friction and thus makes massage smoother and more flowing, as opposed to jarring. Studies have found that, as compared with infants who received massage without oil, infants who received massage with oil were less active, showed fewer stress behaviors and head averting, and their saliva cortisol levels decreased more.(1) Check out my article at Our Mom Spot to read more about choosing the right oil.


  • Focus the massage on one body part at a time

If you don’t have much time but want to get a massage in (something that occurs in my life quite often), you may want to save time and massage two areas at the same time, as in both arms or both legs simultaneously. One great thing about attending a class and learning all of the techniques properly is that once you’re comfortable with them at home you can adjust the routine as needed. Instead of massaging two areas at once, try spending less time on each area, or only doing certain techniques. Rushing and massaging baby too much at one time could be counterproductive to the relaxing experience you’re hoping to create.


  • Only one parent massages at a time

Having more than one person massage at a time may be overstimulating for the baby. It’s tempting to, for example, have mom massage the left leg followed by dad massaging baby’s right leg, but another option is to have one parent massage in the morning, and the other in the evening (or any other system that you find works for you).


  • Set the mood

This isn’t always possible to do, but it may be worth a try if relaxation or deeper, more restful sleep for your baby is a goal. Think about the type of environment you enjoy when getting a massage- maybe a warm temperature, dim lighting, and soft music, and set a relaxing mood before beginning a massage.


  • Relax yourself before beginning the massage

In class, we always do a relaxation exercise before beginning massage. This is a great habit to get into as your baby can sense your stress and become stressed himself. And consider this: studies have shown that when mothers and babies make eye contact, their hearts beat in sync! Imagine the effect that your actual touch can have on your infant’s systems.


  • Find a comfortable position for both you and baby before beginning

Your baby (though sometimes not at first) may enjoy being massaged for 15 minutes or longer, so it’s important that you are in a comfortable position to start with. Try propping yourself up with a pillow or two to keep your bottom and lower back comfortable, and keep some water next to you.


  • Follow your baby’s cues and don’t force the massage

Infant massage is all about reading your infant’s cues and meeting your baby’s needs. If your child at any point is giving you “no” signs, like fussing, crying, arching the back, or a clue that is unique to your baby, stop the massage and give your baby what she needs. You can always try again later!


  • Use enough pressure to be gentle but effective

Using a pressure that is too light may tickle your baby. Always use your best judgement when applying pressure, be extra gentle around joints and knees, and stay below the ribs during tummy massage.


  • Use “Resting Hands” before each massage

Resting hands is a technique taught in class that is to be used before each part of the massage begins. For example, if you are about to massage your baby’s left leg, heavily rest your hands on top of the leg before going into your strokes. This way, your baby has a moment to understand that that particular body part is going to be massaged. Using Resting Hands will help to not overstimulate or startle your baby. Touch Relaxation is another technique learned in class which over time may help to “wire” your baby for relaxation at your touch.


Infant massage is science and evidence-based, but it’s also an art. Don’t stress over perfecting the techniques- enjoy the one-on-one quality time with your baby! They’re only so little for such a short period of time.


I. Field, T., Schanberg, S., Davalos, M., & Malphurs, J. (1996). Massage with oil has more positive effects on normal infants. Pre and Perinatal Psychology Journal, 11, 75-80.

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16 Products & Services to Make Your Postpartum Easier

This list is not in any particular order nor is it complete. I feel like I should have some sort of disclaimer like “Individual results may vary. You might not like or need or want any of these products or services.” But really, I don’t know what I would do without most of these things:



1. Snuza Hero


This might be one of the most important, beloved gifts we were given during pregnancy. The Snuza clips easily onto both disposable and cloth diapers, as well as little pants. Does the baby sometimes wriggle around enough so that it unclips itself and goes off and gives us a heart attack at 2am? Sure. Are a couple of inconvenient false alarms worth the peace of mind that the Snuza gives us? Absolutely. It’s easy to use and can go anywhere the baby goes, unlike infant monitoring pads that stay in the crib. No matter what room our kiddo finds herself napping in, we can attach the Snuza to her. It’s pricey, but worth every penny for anxious new moms like me.



2. Keurig Coffee Maker and Ekobrew Reusable Filter

I didn’t appreciate our Keurig until our daughter was born. I use an Ekobrew filter so can fill with my favorite regular or decaf coffee (decaf… ha! hahahahAHHAHAHAHAh) and press a button and have a cup of coffee within seconds. The Ekobrew saves us money and doesn’t harm the environment, so everybody wins.



3. Lactation Counselor/Consultant

If you’re even considering breastfeeding for any amount of time, please research and contact a lactation counselor or consultant during your pregnancy. Have their number on your fridge and programmed in your phone. Call them. Have them come over. Pick their brains. Let them direct your hands and watch you attempt to breastfeed and let them work their magic. Our lactation counselor charted the course of our postpartum period, saved our marriage, and changed our life. In like, 2 hours. Please. Please please please have a lactation professional on speed dial; breastfeeding can be challenging BUT IT IS POSSIBLE.



4. Boba wrap

We love this wrap! Our daughter has been enjoying her Boba since she was about 2 weeks old. Some days her being in the wrap on my chest was the only way she would nap or I could get anything done, like dishes or laundry. The wrap has also been great for exercise and cabin fever as it keeps her warm and snug even in the cold winter months and I can get out of the house!



5. Birth Ball (aka Yoga Ball)

Our birth ball was of mega importance during my induction and labor and continued to be a great tool after our daughter was born. Bouncing or swaying on the ball with her in my arms has helped her to calm and sleep when otherwise I would have been required to walk around the house exhausted. Birth balls can be so helpful when both you and your baby are tired but he/she needs movement to drift off to dreamland. The ball was also hugely helpful in alleviating my lower back pain after labor. Bouncing on it was -not- happening in the first 5 weeks when I was still healing, but eventually I was using it all the time.



6. An assortment of nursing pads

So, I didn’t realize in pregnancy that my chest would go through a bunch of crazy size and shape changes after birth. I knew my milk was going to come in and things would change, I just didn’t realize that my breasts could change shape literally from day to day. I also didn’t realize that certain nursing pads would work great with a larger bra needed on days when I was more engorged, and others would work better when I was smaller, pointier… you get the drift. Luckily I have a bunch of different types of pads, both cloth and disposable, that work for different sized bras and boobs.

Bamboobies: great for round/larger days/bra with a tighter fit

NUK cloth pads: great for every day, but not the softest material so can be scratchy

Target brand with adhesive: great for larger bras/smaller or larger chest days

NUK Ultra Thin pads: great for rounder days- no adhesive so if bra doesn’t have a snug fit, can move around or fall out when nursing



7. Coconut oil

Make your life easier by going to Costco and getting a big ole tub of organic coconut oil. We have never used a lotion or cream on our baby- only coconut oil, and she has the softest, smoothest skin. I never have to worry about her ingesting chemicals, especially now that she chews on her hands all day long. She has had only 2 small dots of cradle cap, and that was when she was a week or two old and we weren’t bathing her yet. After every bath, we slather her in coconut oil. It’s compatible with cloth diapers, has gotten rid of diaper rash, has healed cuts on her face from nail scratches, and worked wonders as a nipple cream. We tested a bit out on her ankle where the skin is thin when she was a day or two old, watched for a reaction and we’ve never had a problem with it. It’s also delicious, in case you were wondering.



8. Boppy

I’ve tried a few different types of nursing pillows and now only use our Boppy if I want to use a pillow. In the early days when baby was still so tiny, it provided the perfect amount of height to help with breastfeeding. I also use it now when I’m in bed- I place it atop two pillows (like an upside down horseshoe) and lean back to breastfeed. Sometimes we sit the baby inside of it for a minute. sometimes I rest a plate on it to eat. We use our Boppy ALL the time, and love that the cover comes off easily to throw in the wash. I also love that we bought it gently used for $8 at a baby expo.



9. Fresh Direct (especially Heat and Eats and 4-Minute Meals)

My mother in law gifted us with 2 weeks’ worth of freshly made meals and they were absolutely delicious life savers. We got everything from -the best- chicken tikka masala I’ve ever tasted, to fresh berries, frozen dinner rolls, salads with chicken and toppings, soups, risottos… These meals are a major component to our eventual breastfeeding success, because I was able to keep fed with fresh, delicious hot meals by just popping them in the microwave for 4 minutes and scarfing. My mother in law hand-picked each item we received, and they arrived at our door ready to be put in our refrigerator and freezer. Another great resource to look into is Door to Door Organics to get fresh produce and groceries delivered- just know that you probably will have zero time to cook anything. 



If you currently own a Star Wars bathrobe, please contact me. You may be a person I need to get to know.

10. Bathrobe

Sometimes there’s not a lot of time to find a shirt in the postpartum period. Sometimes you’re tending to a clusterfeeding baby every 20 minutes and shirts are pointless. Sometimes your hormones go berserk and you’re hot and cold and then hot again, and sometimes you just need a warm, snuggly, soft robe on to make you feel human when you’re sleep deprived and wondering what you got yourself into. Oh, and sometimes you fly out of your 3 minute shower to get to your crying baby who just woke up from her catnap and a bathrobe does the dual jobs of drying you and keeping you warm while you console your little one.


11. Brita Ultramax Dispenser

Staying hydrated is such a huge, important factor of the postpartum period. It’s one of those things everybody stresses while you’re pregnant but you’re not really listening or caring because, hello, it’s hydration, not rocket science, and No offense, but I think I’ll be able to handle drinking water after the baby’s born, mmkay? You guys, staying hydrated with a newborn can be insanely challenging! I’m thirsty constantly, especially when nursing the baby 12 times a day and she is literally sucking the hydration out of me. Our Brita water thing makes cool, clean, refreshing water available all of the time without having to deal with water bottles and recycling. It’s one of the best purchases we ever made. I believe we got it on sale online at Target.com for around $15.



12. Wearable blankets

This is one of those items we received at our baby shower that I completely did not understand. It stayed in its package until 2 weeks ago when Steve and I were concerned about the temperature. We live in a multi-family home and while the beginning of the evening starts out at a completely livable temperature, as time goes on it creeps up as we are heated from the family who lives below us. By 3am our bedroom is like a sauna! The wearable blanket is the perfect option for us to keep baby warm the beginning of the night- I just take it off at her mid-night diaper change/feed if it’s gotten warmer in the room and then don’t have to worry about the baby overheating and also didn’t disturb her sleep by having to add or remove layers. Whoever came up with wearable blankets is a genius (and obviously a parent).



13. Floating octopus thermometer


I used to use this thing towards the end of my pregnancy when I was concerned with whether or not the showers I was taking were too hot, because I was/am a total worrywart. Now we use this for every bath and thank goodness, because apparently I am terrible at gauging whether or not the bathwater is too hot or cold for the baby.




14. EarthMama AngelBaby Bottom Balm

Yes. This got rid of diaper rash within 24 hours. Also- EMAB Nipple Cream is awesome! 




15. Disposable plates/bowls/cups/flatware

You have lots of options here- paper, plastic, even ones made from sugarcane and plant starch (it’s official, Costco has EVERYTHING). Dishes are going to be the last thing on your mind. You will grow to hate dishes, and will be amazed at how many spoons two people can go through in a single day. Disposable dishes and flatware have been sooo wonderful in reducing mess and stress, and when visitors came in the early days I never had to worry or think about cleaning after everyone went home. 



16. Himalayan salt lamp

My sister gave me this a few years ago and it’s turned out to be the most perfect addition to our bedroom, where our daughter sleeps. It gives just the right amount of soft light for a baby. I have enough light to change a diaper and breastfeed in the middle of the night, and yet I can still fall asleep with it. Though, let’s be honest, I could sleep through a hurricane most nights.

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Yoga after Baby/Postpartum Recovery

I like to say “I’ve done yoga on and off for 5 years.” This is sort of true, though it’s more like 4.5 years and mostly off instead of on. I spent the past 2 years despising yoga for personal reasons. I had always intended to do prenatal yoga, but I didn’t have a regular practice before I got pregnant + first trimester was really rough = by the time I felt good in my pregnancy, I had zero motivation to do any kind of yoga (or exercise in general).

The first few weeks postpartum were very difficult and I was sure breastfeeding was going to be the end of me. I felt surprisingly good physically for someone who had a 2nd degree episiotomy and so was bustling about at home from 24 hours after giving birth. In my first week home I climbed in and out of the backseat of my husband’s 2 door car to sit with the baby on our way to 3 pediatric and 1 midwifery appointment. I squatted, vacuumed with a Shop Vac, and climbed stairs. Battling breastfeeding issues, jaundice, incontinence, major body swelling, sleep deprivation and just total exhaustion from my 2 day induction was so stressful that I felt I had to do ANYTHING to feel normal again… and so I acted normally, without resting or recovering like my body needed.

So now, fast forward to a couple of months postpartum. Jaundice is a thing of the past, and breastfeeding is easy and natural, even though the right breast is still a tricky one sometimes. Due to my overdoing it, my perineum took forever to heal, requiring silver nitrate to speed the healing process. I also got an awesome infection at around 3 weeks which required antibiotics which worried me to no end because I was afraid of getting thrush and adding yet another breastfeeding challenge to the mix. Then, the granulation tissue that just would not (and still won’t) go away.

At around 7ish weeks I began to feel physically normal again. My scar tissue was getting softer every day, my days of dull pain in my perineum that spread out to my thighs came around less and less. My spotting was lessening every few days. Breastfeeding was one of my favorite daily activities. Baby was growing big and strong and I didn’t have the worries about her growth and development that I had in the early days. I was healed downstairs and was cleared for exercise. Emotionally, though, I began to feel a bit off kilter. For the first time in over a year I was getting moody and very cranky. My poor husband received the brunt of “my moods” and I only wanted to be with the baby night and day. I was a little bit depressed about the lack of support I had in my life in different areas, a usual bout of sadness that has come around every few months since I was a girl. (I spoke to my midwife about it right after it started and also my general practitioner- I was taking NO chances with postpartum depression! PPD can begin at any time during the postpartum period, and right out of the blue- learn more here and please speak to your doctor/midwife/partner/ANYONE should you begin to feel “off” after the birth of your baby). I was also struggling with my postpartum body- I gained 46 lbs in pregnancy and had lost 24 within 3 weeks, and then actually started gaining again.

Being winter, daily walks outside with the baby weren’t happening. I could go once my husband gets home from work, but walking in total darkness in my weird town with the threat of icy patches most days isn’t my idea of a good time. I tried using the XBox kinect, figuring I could  work out while playing games but, oh right! I have a newborn! And she doesn’t really like to nap most days. It was clear I was going to have to find something out of the house.

This is when I started looking into yoga again. I wanted something low-impact but effective, and something to help with my mental/emotional state as well as physically. I wanted something that would get me out of my head for a while and that could be done in about an hour. I don’t run, martial arts was appealing but not meditative enough. There’s no tai chi around here. Gyms bore me. So yoga it was. I luckily found a studio pretty local to me that offers night classes AND had a Groupon for super inexpensive unlimited classes for a month. I’ve been going regularly when Steve’s schedule allows, and on days when I don’t go to the studio I –try to- practice at home when the baby actually naps.

Here are some observations from yoga in the postpartum:

  • You can go at your own pace

There’s a range of modifications for every pose, so your practice can grow with you. Also, if you ever get tired during class, you’re free to take child’s pose for however long you want to regroup and rest.

  • More flexibility from pregnancy hormones doesn’t mean you should push your limits

The relaxin hormone (the one that spreads your hips and makes your feet “grow” in pregnancy) can affect the body for five months after birth, meaning I’m slightly more flexible now than I was before I got pregnant. It’s very tempting for me to test my limits but…

  • The first 3 months postpartum should be considered to be The Fourth Trimester

Now is not the time to be pushing myself. As in pregnancy, this is an opportunity to, as my instructor said in class last night, “let go and let be.” Instead of pushing my physical limits, I’m actually enjoying trying new modifications and just ‘being in my body.’ I’m enjoying yoga in a different way now than back in the day simply because I’ve taken off of myself the pressure to perform and am starting to

  • Take the ego out of yoga

I look forward to classes and cherish the hour and a half that I’m out of the house without a tiny furnace clinging to me. I MISS THAT BABY SO MUCH during class, but getting an hour or two to myself a few times a week has been, dare I say, magical. I cherish my limited spare time now instead of wasting it, and so now there’s no time for ego in yoga. I no longer care about what the person in front of me is doing, or worry about how I look to other people. I don’t have time or energy to care about these things anymore, and that has really been a blessing because I feel free to be.

  • Take what you need and throw away the rest

One of the reasons I stayed away from yoga for so long was because, to be honest, I know a few phony yogis. The overuse of flowery language and phrasings that make no sense (how am I supposed to be breathe into my big toe? I can be aware of my big toe, I can focus on my big toe, but I cannot breathe into it) really irked me. The “always zen” persona also got to me, and because of these things I deemed all of yoga to be a disingenuous waste of time. This was a huge mistake- now when I go to class I still sometimes can’t connect to everything or everyone and hear phrases that I can’t get into, but having a baby forces me to choose my battles wisely now. I take what I need from class and throw away the rest. Practicing yoga regularly also severely chills me out and makes me less anxious and therefore less prone to quick judgement and uptightness. After class I am ZONKED (in a good way) and have nothing but love left in me.

  • You don’t need a lot of time to practice something yoga-ish every day

I’m not attending class tonight and I don’t know if I’ll have time for a full home yoga session, so I’ve been incorporating yoga throughout my morning. While I was waiting for my Keurig to make coffee, I did 2 quick sets of sun salutations in the kitchen. It woke me up and warmed me up so much I had to take off my fuzzy bathrobe. Later on today if I get in some downward dogs or a forward fold or two, I’ll consider today’s yoga-ing a great success.

  • Just as in pregnancy, now is the time to listen to your body and meet its needs as best you can

As a new mom, what do you need? I need sleep, food, and hydration. Twists feel really good to me lately, and my lower back needs gentle massage. I don’t always get sleep (and even when I do, I’m always playing catch up so it’s never truly enough), so I focus on the things I can give myself. Eating, especially eating well, is a major challenge nowadays, so I do the best I can. My breastmilk supply drops immediately when I don’t get enough to eat, so I eat well when I can, and just try and eat something every few hours. Sometimes that means cereal or a granola bar, or leftover chili for breakfast, but whatever. Drinking water is a must, and I’ve started the annoying habit of leaving glasses of water all over the house- one in the kitchen, one next to the bed, one next to the couch, to ensure there’s water wherever I might be and wherever I may find myself breastfeeding. I found through yoga that my lower back is screwed up and very tender, so at least once every day I take (sometimes just a literal minute) time to massage it/release it through seated twists or gently rolling my lower back while lying on the floor. Going to yoga gives me a full HOUR of checking in with my body and finding areas that need extra attention, which is wonderful.


Before I become pregnant again- a time MANY YEARS INTO THE FUTURE- I want to become as healthy as possible. I need to stay energized and healthy for my daughter, and want to do whatever I can to try and avoid being high-risk next time around (though, as we know, there are no guarantees when it comes to pregnancy). I’ve already seen a MARKED improvement with my blood pressure since starting up yoga again, and have begun to lose some of the pregnancy weight. I feel stronger and calmer, and going to class gives Steve some one-on-one time with the baby. I really look forward to practicing every day in some way, and next pregnancy I am DEFINITELY practicing prenatal yoga. I have struggled seriously with incontinence and pelvic floor pain these past couple of months and know that prenatal yoga would have strengthened those muscles I worked the most when carrying and pushing out the little one.

So yeah, I’ve boarded the yoga bus. Namaste, ya’ll!


If you and your care provider feel that yoga is a healthy addition to your pregnancy or postpartum, you may want to check out these online classes/resources:

Do Yoga With Me : FREE streaming online, full-length classes. I love this site!

My Yoga Online : You can pay monthly for online classes, or just use their free resources, like detailed videos and descriptions of most asanas. This is especially useful if you want to learn about poses for specific ailments or issues like lower back pain, sciatica, hip opening, etc.

Article: Yoga for Moms-to-Be by YogaJournal : Learn more about yoga poses for each trimester.

The Yoga Studio in Rancocas Woods : If you’re in the Burlington County, NJ area, you’re going to want to practice yoga with Majah. She’s the real deal, and one of the most compassionate, kind, authentic people I’ve ever met.

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To the Mother on the Cover

To the Mother on the Cover:

Man, did I hate you.

A few weeks ago, I couldn’t even stand to look at you, and kept the book turned face-down at all times. I loathed everything about you; your perfectly coifed hair, fresh face, relaxed posture. You look so at ease with your little baby, gently holding him in cradle position without need of a Boppy. From what I can tell, you’re either gazing down at baby with a very pleased expression, or even WORSE, you’re sleeping, because apparently you’re not only lucky enough to feed your baby easily, you also get to sleep. You’re even wearing real clothes, which upon further inspection, are pressed and… wait, are those some sort of skinny jeans? Effffff yoooouuuu.

You see, you represented breastfeeding success in my eyes, and my experience was anything but successful- my baby had trouble even latching onto a bottle. And despite finally getting a proper breast latch at Day 3 with the help of our lactation counselor, my baby was too exhausted from hunger to try to eat most attempts. Her bilirubin levels were fast approaching “high-risk status”according to the hospital staff and our pediatrician, which meant that we didn’t have the luxury of time for experimenting with positions and techniques- she needed to eat in order to poop out that bilirubin and no longer be neon orange. Finger feeding colostrum and using a syringe were all well and good, but they took too long, and we needed to get as much food into her as possible in our tiny window of time before she passed out again to conserve her energy. We tried everything we had, even basically force feeding her colostrum with a syringe while she was sleeping… the thought of doing this makes my stomach churn even now, weeks later. It seemed like my milk was never going to come in.

We gave her three ounces of Similac in the early morning hours of Day 4. It was the right thing to do, period, and I don’t care who says otherwise- our baby was EATING. The incessant cries of hunger ended. My husband and I breathed shaky sighs of momentary relief, and I collapsed into happy tears. That afternoon, my milk arrived. I thought things would be so much easier once that happened… but things only got more challenging.

Mother on the Cover, there are a thousand comparisons I could draw between our early breastfeeding experience and the one I’ve created for you in my mind. The biggest could be the difference in how I felt during a feeding, and how I imagine you felt while being photographed… you appear content, peaceful, rested. I felt miserable. I dreaded every feeding. I cried, a lot. I freaked my husband out by being dismissive and angry towards the baby when she needed to cluster feed and my nipples couldn’t take anymore. “I can’t do this.” “She hates me.” “I don’t want this.” “Bad mommy.”

All latches hurt. My nipples cracked and bled. I suffered through every feeding for fear that if I broke a latch, she’d never latch again. Every feeding, every latch, was precious. And painful. But we kept trying, and trying, and trying. Some days were easier, some more difficult. All were challenging, either physically or emotionally or both. If not for my husband being home with me, I would have starved and my milk production would have plummeted- he kept me fed and hydrated as I dealt solely with feeding our little one. A good friend told me that it takes one month to start to figure things out, but with each day dragging, one month seemed an eternity away. I pleaded with my daughter to latch, please, even one that hurt. “Please eat, baby. Mama wants to feed you, but she doesn’t know how, I guess.” Oh, how I hated myself, hated breastfeeding, hated how much I craved, needed to breastfeed to soothe my pain and fill the emptiness from the nonexistent relationship with my own mother.

And then, time slowly shifted from burden to blessing. A month passed, and I was healing from birth and eating more, taking better care of myself. Jaundice was no longer an issue and sometimes baby let me try different positions. Sometimes cradle or cross cradle worked, and sometimes laid back breastfeeding, and sometimes even side-lying (we still haven’t been able to make football hold work). We had more tiny victories than I ever thought possible, and though breastfeeding wasn’t “easy” still, it was doable. Some latches hurt, and others were just”okay”, but when I gently unlatched my daughter, I trusted that eventually we’d have a more comfortable (even if not “perfect”) latch. I trusted myself more, I gained patience. And Mother on the Cover, I loathed you less and less.

Today, I realized that instead of hating you for your success, I needed to realize my own. All mothers who feed their babies in any way are successful, even if their methods vary from what they originally intended. You are nourishing your baby, period- how can I hate you for that? And who is to say you never struggled with breastfeeding, or pregnancy, or labor, or motherhood? No one can be sure of what your breastfeeding experience looked like in the days and weeks before your cover photo was taken. Maybe you had long days and even longer nights. Maybe you cried, or felt helpless, or hopeless. Maybe you would have to put the baby down and walk away, give yourself a few minutes to compose yourself. Maybe your postpartum didn’t wind up looking how you always thought it would. Though on the cover you make motherhood look easy, it is only a moment in time, and no one knows your personal journey.

I originally thought that you were the goal, that breastfeeding success would look controlled, and postured, and clean and neat. But so far, for us, it looks more like this:

 and (deep breath)… this:

…completely exhausted, with a body I no longer recognize that’s 30 pounds heavier than I’m used to, with more joy, pride, and peace than I’ve ever known. And of course, frustration. Baby girl and I are only human, after all.

To the Mother on the Cover: You’re doing the best you can, and I support you.


This New Mom

To stay abreast (see what I did there?) of the happenings with our new little family, follow me on Bloglovin’!


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Had Baby, Life Exploded: An Update

To sum up the past many weeks of my writing hiatus:

  • We had a baby. She’s AMAZING.
  • Remember my dreamy planned home waterbirth? Well… after becoming high-risk basically overnight at 37 weeks due to Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension, I was medically induced in the hospital at just shy of 39 weeks. 12 hours of Cervidil, 15 hours of Pitocin, and a 2nd degree episiotomy later, baby girl was born! Labor was FIERCE, ya’ll, and I was able to kick its ass all over the place without an epidural or any medical pain management (which was a huge goal for me) and deliver vaginally (the other huge goal) solely because of the incredible support of our doula and excellent midwifery team/labor&delivery staff (and a bit of luck, who am I kidding?). I am living proof that inductions and hospital births do not have to be traumatic experiences that happen TO us, but rather empowering, positive triumphs that WE, the family, can create. I would not change a thing about our birth and am SO EXCITED to soon be jumping back into birth work. Birth story to come soon… you know, in my spare time (and there will be pictures because we had an awesome photographer!)
  • The postpartum period is no joke.
  • We experienced major breastfeeding challenges but overcame with the help of the most compassionate and kind lactation counselor on the planet. Her support was, in fact, SUCH a game changer for us, and SO powerful for us as a family that it has seriously impacted my focus academically and professionally- I’m now in the very initial stages of becoming an IBCLC and earning my degree in Maternal Child Health with a concentration in Lactation Consulting. I had never even considered the possibility of my life taking this direction before The Bean was born, but her birth and our story has really made my purpose and direction very clear. What could of been a very scary, mental-breakdown-inducing (I was but a step away from this in the first few days… more on this later) time turned into a challenging but doable, even joyous period and I can never, ever repay or thank our LC enough. She changed our lives completely.
  • I had no idea what I was getting myself into having this baby. Did I mention the postpartum period is insane? I actually thought I’d have time to write … excuse me while I laugh hysterically! (silently, of course, as to not wake the sleeping babe permanently attached to my chest). Abandon all hope, all ye who think they’re going to get anything done with a newborn in tow. Please do yourself a favor and just relax and love on that baby of yours and savor every calm moment, as this precious (and stressful) time is fleeting. Oh, and read this post from MamaSeeds: New mamas get nothing done (and other untruths).
  • I cannot even begin to describe how special and gratifying it is to be a mother. My little MilkFace has consumed and brightened my life in ways I never imagined possible! Getting misty-eyed, brb.


my buddy and me

New Mom Author’s Note: this post took me 6 days to write.


Filed under Postpartum, Pregnancy