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Monday, September 29, 2014

Lessons :: Baby Update / Week 2

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Here's what we learned and loved about our little one this past week...

+ When we first brought Trey home, we realized he had a nocturnal sleeping pattern, just like when I was pregnant. He used to kick all night in my belly, and then after he was born he would be wide awake from about midnight to 4am. Brandon and I have slowly been training him to turn this around, and he is learning quickly. We try to keep him entertained and fed as much as possible during the day so that by the time we put him down at night, he is full and tired. I am also learning to let him "cry it out" which makes me feel bad, but as long as he has been changed and fed, and he is warm and safe, we let him cry for a few minutes until he falls asleep. That way he knows that it's nighttime and not playtime. He still wakes up at night but it's only 2-3 times for food and a fresh diaper. He is already growing and changing fast!

+ Speaking of eating, he is an expert nurser, though the first few days were tough. Right after my c-section I got to try breastfeeding for the first time, and I was so drugged up that I didn't realize he was leaving sores on my areolas. I knew the correct positions for latching after taking Lamaze and a breastfeeding class, and Trey knew exactly where my boob was -- so what was the problem, you ask? Well, we learned over the next few days (after a million nurses tried to help, and a mean pediatrician forced me to give him formula) that I have inverted nipples. I didn't even know that was a thing, but apparently mine don't pop out like they're supposed to, and therefore my poor baby had nothing to latch onto. The hospital's lactation counselor provided me with nipple shields and it's been smooth sailing ever since, though my nips do get a little tender because they're used to being flat. I've been replacing one feeding a day with a bottle of pumped milk to give them a break and allow Brandon some bonding time. Fortunately, Trey will suck on anything and goes back and forth easily.

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+ Brandon also does the bathing each night, which will continue to be a fun ritual especially since he goes back to work this week. Trey hated baths at first and would scream bloody murder but now he actually enjoys them. We take him downstairs to the kitchen sink and use a mesh little bather (like this one). Then we make sure the water is warm enough and we turn on some fun music and go to town. Once Trey is dried, diapered and dressed, we dance around with him in the living room until he gets tired. Brandon's mom usually gets home around this time as well and joins in on the party. B and T are two peas in a pod, by the way -- always playing and napping together. I'm a natural at the nurturing part but Daddy is definitely the fun one. I'm trying to learn more from him about entertaining an infant because even though I used to babysit, it was for kids who knew how to walk and talk.

+ As far as diapering goes, it's probably Trey's least favorite thing. He doesn't like having a dirty diaper, getting the diaper taken off or getting a new one put on. He also doesn't like his clothes being taken off or put on. Brandon and I have already gotten poop on us and B got peed on too (I've somehow managed to dodge it so far). The other day it got so messy that I think we had to change his clothes four times. I can't get mad though, he's way too cute. His lower lip puffs out when he cries and I just want to squeeze him! We use Pampers Swaddlers and Sensitive Wipes (you know, unless something else is on sale). No diaper rashes so far, knock on wood! We also have an awesome Arm & Hammer Diaper Pail.

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+ Everyone thought he was going to be big because my family tends to make 9 and 10 pound babies, so most of the clothing we received as hand-me-downs or baby shower gifts is for 3 months and beyond. We do have a few newborn onesies but when we need to dress him in something a little loose, we don't worry about it. I don't think Trey cares as long as he has clothes on. :) If people want to judge, then whatevs. We are making do with what we have and I am really grateful for it all.

+ Trey's mood is pretty chill. As long as he isn't tired, hungry, bored, or sitting in a poopy diaper, he's happy. He can sleep anywhere and through anything, he lets anyone hold him and feed him, and he even sneaks in a smile once in awhile. I can't wait to hear him laugh and babble, but at the same time I love how little and snuggly he is. I'm already sad about him getting older and he's only two weeks old -- I'm such a sap. Thanks for letting me gush. :)

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Life :: A Promise to New Mothers (Guest Post)

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Our sweet boy CJ was in our minds and hearts for quite a long time before he actually arrived in this world. Papa M and I had been together for four years and the idea of future children was a constant discussion, and later a constant distraction as the months ticked by with no positive pregnancy test in sight. It gave me plenty of time to think about what type of mother I'd be. I envisioned this perfect domestic goddess; making fabulous meals for both us and the baby. I was never going to use a pacifier or let my child watch TV before the age of two. I was going to throw myself whole-heartedly into this motherhood business; I thought that I'd never want to leave my baby's side. I look back on those moments now and laugh.

There are two things I've learnt through this whole motherhood business that I really wish I'd known earlier:
  1. Never say never - it will come back to bite you
  2. Becoming a mother doesn't change who you inherently are
Never Say Never

This is such an easy trap to fall into. Right from the very start of your pregnancy, you're asked to make decisions about what kind of mother you are. Are you going to go with a midwife or an obstetrician? Are you planning a home birth, a birthing centre birth or birthing at the local hospital? Will you co-sleep, side-car a cot to the bed, buy the baby a hammock, put them straight in a cot? All decisions you need to make before you've even met this little person.

The funny thing is that even after making all these "decisions", they're still subject to change. The mother planning a home birth ends up in hospital with an induction due to complications. The woman planning a hospital birth with a nice, numbing epidural ends up having her baby in the carpark. Your charming 8-week-old son decides that he only wants to sleep in his mother's arms during the day, rather than his own lovely bed (cough, cough, this may have happened to me).

I was NEVER going to use a pacifier; I ended up having a son with massive feeding issues and the use of a paci was actually encouraged by the birthing centre midwives. I was going to exclusively breastfeed for a year; I managed three months and then feeding and weight gain issues meant that my son is now mixed-fed. I certainly was not going to let my child have any screen time before the age of two. I use a iPhone video of my husband making my son laugh to cheer CJ up when he's lost the plot.

Your decisions might be different than mine. We all choose different battles and you have to think - is this the hill I want to die on? Is letting my child watch a half hour of Friends worth the half-hour it gives me to prep dinner? Rocking your child to sleep working for you? Great. Weaning her off it is tomorrow's problem; you won't still be doing it when she's fourteen, I guarantee you.

You are who you are

Before I was a mother, I was a busy, independent woman with a love of dining out and exploring countries, both foreign and my own. I'm not quite sure why I expected some caterpillar/butterfly metamorphosis into this blissful homebody who could happily while away the day while the baby rested in my arms. The five days that we spent in the birthing unit almost drove me insane; I had cabin fever and honestly was a little resentful of the women with no feeding issues that breezed in and out of the unit in 48 hours. I'd been told that having a baby was the best thing in the world and at that point, I seriously doubted it. Cluster-feeding is no joke, people; I had no idea that I'd be sitting there for hours on end, busting for a bathroom break. Where was my beautiful butterfly-mama moment where I realized that this was the best thing ever?

I loved my son from the start but I definitely had my moments where I wondered what the hell I had done. I'd looked after kids frequently before I had CJ but I had no idea of the sheer energy that goes into raising a child 24/7. I felt like the old me had disappeared and had left this shell of a human being left. I pleaded with my experienced mummy friends to tell me their secrets and they told me that the only real secret is that it does get easier - that you stop caring what other people think, that you find your routine and that you get to understand your little one better. I thought that was a bit of a cop out… and then I noticed it had happened.

I can't tell you when it will get easier for you but I know that it got easier for me when I started doing things that made me feel like the old me again. It started with reading a book; I'm an avid bookworm and yet I hadn't read anything larger than a blog post in weeks. Then as CJ got into a bit of an evening routine with feeding and sleeping, it was some dinner out alone and some late-night shopping while my husband fed the baby pumped milk. Then the firsts started rolling; the first time we took CJ out for lunch, the first time I took him to the mall, each first helping me feel more like myself again.

Talking to my mother friends, I think that the biggest mistake we make is expecting to be someone that we're not, just because we're a mother. If you need "you time" before your baby arrives, you are going to need it after. If you thrive on having a career and professional interaction, it's okay to want that afterwards. If you are a touchy-feely person, it's perfectly fine to baby-wear and co-sleep responsibly - and if you're not, it's fine to not do that too. No one choice is better or worse, it just is. And that's okay.

And I promise that you'll be okay too, new mama.

This post is brought to you by Natasha M of Sweet Mama M, the mother of a wee six-month-old boy who blogs about life, motherhood and exploring New Zealand.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Lessons :: Baby Update / Week 1 (The Birth Story)

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Brandon is one of those people who everyone wants to know. Wherever he goes, he receives immediate attention from both male and female parties. When we were first dating, whenever we'd go out, completely heterosexual men would begin talking to him and buying him drinks. He just has this aura, this energy, this thing about him that lights up every room he walks into.

I felt it, too; before I even spoke with him, I heard his laugh and could tell that this was a man of peace and love and joy, a man who wanted to be friends with everyone and influence people and change the world. That's how I knew I would fall for him, because we were alike in all the right ways but so perfectly opposite, and that's how I knew he would be a good father, my partner-in-crime in parenthood and life.

Our son, Trey, was born a week ago on September 15 at 7:19pm. He weighed 7 lbs 13 oz and measured 21 inches long. Here's how he came into this world.

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At my 37 week appointment, my doctor told me that I could choose to be induced at 39 weeks. You may recall that I was diagnosed with hydronephrosis at 34 weeks and was in constant pain for most of my third trimester. Not only that, but I was at risk for kidney infections, stones, or even rupture. The only cure for this condition was to have the baby.

In my mind I was thinking "the sooner, the better" but I was also torn. I didn't want to go against God's timing and after reading this blog post from a mother who had her baby at 42 weeks, I felt guilty. I wasn't sure what to do so I brought Brandon to my 38 week appointment to discuss it further with my doctor and make a decision.

Ultimately, I knew I wanted to do what was best for my body and the doctor assured me that our son would be fully developed and healthy at that point. Brandon reminded me that God wouldn't love me any less if I decided to have the baby a week early. We decided to go for it and as soon as the date was set, I cried with relief. I knew I had done the right thing.

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Our induction was scheduled for midnight on September 15th, a week before my original due date, which was today. (I had seen four different doctors over the course of my pregnancy due to insurance changes, and the date had changed from the 22nd to 20th and back again -- not that two days really matters.) We were told to be there at 11:30 and they were really busy, so there was a lot of waiting around. Seriously, the hallway was full of women in active labor and all of the rooms were full. After two hours, someone who seemed like the head nurse quietly pulled us away and led us to what she said was the best room they had, and she was probably right. It was tucked into a cozy corner and I loved the privacy.

While our funny and awesome night nurse, Jenil, asked questions and got my information, Brandon headed down to the cafeteria to get himself some grub. He had been even more nervous than me on the ride over, but as soon as he heard there was food his spirits lifted. He came back with a plethora of goodies that I, of course, could not partake in. Once you're at the hospital, you can't eat or drink anything until labor's over. I was already hungry and somehow the ice chips I was given seemed to hold me over.

Jenil checked my cervix and it was still closed. To allow it to open up and get contractions started, I needed to be given a little pill... not by mouth, but up my vagina. To be honest, this was the most uncomfortable part of my day. The pill was small, but they really get up there. I was instructed to stay laying down for two hours while the medicine was absorbed, and I should start to feel contractions in an hour. After the two hours, I was given another pill.

During this time, Brandon slept and I tried to. I was much too excited and every time I felt myself drifting off, I would hear a noise and be reminded of where I was and what was happening. The contractions felt like period cramps at first and were pretty manageable, but about six hours in it got to the point where I needed to wake Brandon up and have him hold my hand and help me breathe.

Then my doctor arrived and checked my cervix to see how much I had dilated. Even though my contractions were painful and two minutes apart, I had only dilated one centimeter. I was disappointed but assured that this was normal for an induction and it would be a long process. Around this time my day nurse, Sandra, arrived. She told me that they would be starting the pitocin soon to speed up the labor and I knew from what I'd read that my contractions would become even longer and stronger. I asked her if it was too early to get an epidural and she said no.

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The anesthesiologist was just as gentle and informative as my doctor and nurses. He explained the process to me and then had to send Brandon out of the room because apparently they have had too many dads pass out while watching. I sat at the edge of the bed and clutched a pillow while an area of my back was numbed. This was a little painful and I couldn't help but whimper while Sandra placed a comforting hand on my knee. Then the worst was over and when the anesthesiologist inserted the real thing, I couldn't feel it. Within the next half hour, everything below my ribs tingled and went numb, and I was on cloud nine. Brandon was energized from his nap and for awhile we had fun taking pictures, listening to motown hits and texting our families.

Unfortunately, I soon realized that my left wasn't nearly as numb as my right and eventually I could feel the contractions on that side. At this point I was 6 centimeters dilated and the pain was fierce. I almost broke Brandon's hand clutching it as I breathed and tried to stay strong. Sandra came in and helped position me so that I was laying on my left side and gravity could pull the medicine down. She also showed me a button I could press to release extra medicine. We noticed though that whenever I laid on my left side, the baby's heart rate would bounce up and down. It also fluctuated whenever I got a contraction. Things weren't looking good, but we wanted to wait and see if there would be any changes. The doctor broke my water and inserted a monitor to more accurately measure the heart rate.

I was forced to lay on my right side and fight through the contractions. I kept pressing the magic button, but the medicine would kick in and then eventually fade away from the left side. Brandon's parents arrived and he played funny videos for us on his tablet which helped distract me. I also kept rubbing the fluorite worry stone that my sister had sent, and continued to text my mom.

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My doctor came back in and talked to us about the possibility of a c-section. The baby's heart rate was continuing to drop and then shoot up, from 130 to 200 and back down to 150. We were told that he probably wouldn't be able to handle the stress of a vaginal birth and to continue down that road would result in danger. I knew that Baby Loudmouth's life was at stake and wanted to do what was best for him.

Brandon was resistant because a c-section was obviously not in our plan and he knew it was more of a risk for me. However, I knew that a vaginal birth was more of a risk for our son. I was willing to do anything to keep him safe. The weird thing is that a few months ago, I told my mom I felt like I was going to have him early, and that it would be a c-section. Call it mother's intuition, but maybe because I had predicted it, I was calm about the situation. I knew that God would pull us through and everything would be okay.

I was prepped for surgery and wheeled to the OR where about 25 people saw me naked. A blue sheet was placed in front of my face so that I wouldn't be able to see what was going on, but I still kept my eyes closed the entire time. The anesthesiologist pumped more drugs into my system and I began to get nervous. I kept telling him, "I'm so scared I'm going to feel it! Please give me enough so that I just pass out!" Brandon wasn't in the room yet, so I rubbed the smooth surface of my stone for comfort and prayed.

The doctors pinched different parts of my stomach to see if I could feel anything until I was given enough medicine so that I was completely numb again. Brandon was led into the room in the medical gear he was given and even though he was allowed to watch the surgery, he sat on my side of the curtain and gripped my hand. He didn't want to see me all ripped apart, and I don't blame him.

The procedure didn't take longer than 20 minutes and though it felt weird, I felt no pain. Then I was told there would be some pressure and the baby was coming. They pulled him out of me and as soon as I heard him cry, I started crying too. Brandon cut the cord and watched as they cleaned him up. One of the nurses brought our baby over to me as I still laid there, getting stitched up. She held him in front of my face and I kissed one of his sweet cheeks. He had stopped crying and was completely calm with his eyes closed. Then Brandon and the baby were gone and I was told I'd see them again in the triage area.

I fell asleep and when I woke up they were tearing down the curtains and wheeling me over to see my baby. Even with all of the stress and excitement, the day was not nearly as scary as I thought it would be and I would relive it over again in a heartbeat.

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I was shaking pretty hard from the meds, but I was assured that it wouldn't hurt our son and before I knew it he was placed in my arms. I can't remember exactly what I said to him but it was something along the lines of "I love you." It was truly the best moment of my life. I never wanted to be a mother and now I can't imagine my life any other way. It's the most beautiful feeling and I've never been so happy.

The next few days in the hospital were interesting and I could definitely write a whole series of posts about it. I'm so glad to be home now with my sweet little family. I want to spend every moment with Trey.

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My doctor came to the recovery room to check on us about 24 hours after the birth, once I was no longer high and could pay attention. He informed us of three things that they'd discovered during my c-section: the baby had pooped inside of me (which is really dangerous and could result in poisoning due to the meconium), I had been on the brink of an infection from being in labor for so long, and I have a misshapen uterus -- it's bigger on the right side, which is why my belly had been lopsided, why I only had hydronephrosis in my right kidney, and why the baby's heart rate had been fluctuating. There was no way he could have maneuvered down into position to be born naturally. My body was not made for vaginal birth, but I know that does not make me any less of a woman or mother. I also know that it was a miracle that we came out alive and healthy at the end of the day.

Jacquelyn also came to visit us and bring balloons and hold a baby for the first time. Too sweet.

After being there for most of the week, we left on Thursday and brought our little man home in a cute outfit, naturally. Somehow he slept through the entire bumpy ride. We have found that he can sleep through anything.

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That night I kissed and cuddled him in my bed and of course, took more pictures. I have 172 so far. You might say I'm obsessed or smitten or absolutely in love.

Welcome to the world, Baby Loudmouth. We've been waiting for you.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Life :: DIY Baby Wipes (Guest Post)

OK, so I really want to talk about DIY Baby Wipes because, I mean, I'm kind of an environmentalist at heart. I started an environmental club in high school. I often stand in aisles at various box stores and marvel at ALL THE THINGS. Like, why do we need seven different types of everything? But still, I will admit that I'm not necessarily the best at being fully environmental in my home...and sometimes, I don't even consider changing up something disposable that I have to buy repeatedly, because I just don't even think about it.

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So maybe you haven't considered making your own baby wipes, but let me tell you that you can and it's so easy!

When I was a nanny, I was once caring for three babies ranging who were 2 mos, 18 mos, and 6 mos when I started. Two of the families were into cloth diapers and DIY baby wipes and other new-agey crap (which is exactly how I thought of it at the time). One family was more into the traditional stuff, all disposable. Although, oddly, the disposable family was into DIY baby food and the other families weren't. I was largely indifferent, because it is not my decision, as a nanny, so I just did what I was told. I had no opinion, but then I had a year and a half of working with these children as they grew, and so I could see different options in use on the job, day-to-day.

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One family used really basic baby wipes, and that's the recipe I want to share with you here. Why? Because it's EASY. It took me two minutes to make one day. The mom just asked me real quick, gave me a breakdown, and then I made it and could make it from then on. (I also made her laundry detergent too.) Seriously easy and then just done.

Here's the recipe:
2 cups hot water
2 tablespoons baby wash or shampoo
2 tablespoons baby oil

How to make it?
Boil the water
Pour hot water into container (glass canning jar works great)
Let cool a few minutes
Add other ingredients and mix well
Let cool to appropriate temp
Pour over baby wipes in whatever container you use

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And your wipes should be? Not paper towels. What is the point of making a solution if you pour it over paper? Just cut up some old flannel sheets or shirts. If you don't have them, find them at the thrift store. Use pinking shears so the edges don't fray.

Fast, simple, easy!

There are many more options for various wipes, some dependent on what your baby is experiencing (different types of diaper rash). But remember, most diaper rash can be cleared up with plenty of naked time. Take the baby in the yard and let it be naked! Naked feels good! If you want a bunch of fancy recipes, click here.

Fenna Blue is a NEOhio native. She's an avid geocacher and photographer. Her favorite pastimes are snuggling with her fluffy kitties and cussing like a sailor! She writes for her personal blog, The Honest Badger, and TV review blog, Gotta Watch It.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Lessons :: Pregnancy Update / Week 39

If you are reading this, it means we are at the hospital.

I have been induced and I am currently in labor.

I am nervous and excited, but mostly excited.

Brandon and his mom are here, and my mom will arrive in 10 days.

I'll be back soon to share details, but for now you can follow on Twitter and Instagram.

Thank you for all of your prayers and well wishes!

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Loves :: 5 Pros of Pregnancy

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I promise I don't always look as annoyed as I do above (only like 75% of the time).

I don't wanna be one of THOSE negative people though (insert wink emoji) so today I wanted to talk about the good parts of being preggers. Pregnancy is a huge blessing and an incredible journey and, just in case you forgot, involves a big reward at the end. Overall, baking a baby is pretty miraculous and shouldn't be taken for granted. My girl Bon (I say that like we're friends, but we're not -- I just feel like we are) wrote a similar post a few months back, but my points are a little different...

1) Every moment counts a little more. These are the last months (now, mere days!) that I'll be completely alone while everyone else is at work. This means even the simplest things like a quiet bath and a whole afternoon to write are super special. Of course, after all these "lasts" will come the firsts -- first step, first word, first tooth. It gives me a lot to look forward to while still taking advantage of the present.

2) Eating is for pleasure. Since becoming pregnant, there have been times when I ate a lot, and then weeks where I was so sick I didn't feel like eating at all. Either way, everything I put in my mouth was something I wanted, craved, or simply enjoyed. I didn't count calories, and though I gained a good amount of weight, I've been ignoring the number on the scale. I have the rest of my life to get back in shape; I did it before, and I can do it again. For now, I'm enjoying food without guilt, which is hard for many of us to normally do!

3) Dressing is for comfort. I felt a lot more pressure to look good on a daily basis before I got pregnant. Don't get me wrong, I didn't feel ugly if I left the house in sweatpants and a bare face, but I didn't do it nearly as often as I have lately. I'm pretty sure that pregnant ladies get a pass when it comes to appearance. I just hope that my baby bump and rosy glow are cute enough for the world, and I run my errands per usual. Though I'm excited to wear crop tops, short shorts, and heels again I've been loving my cozy wardrobe.

4) Intimacy has become even more, well, intimate. Without getting too TMI, having a baby together has given us something big and wonderful to bond over. We are truly more in love than ever and I'm sure that closeness will only grow with time. Brandon has never been more attractive to me, and he has said the same. Hormones really don't deserve the bad rap that they get!

5) Parties are plentiful. This year has been full of celebration. I swear, I have never been so spoiled in my life. Our friends and family have been incredibly generous and I am absolutely indebted. I can't thank God enough for the blessings we've received. I never could have even imagined it all.

*Disclaimer: Every post on this blog (minus those by guests) are based on my personal experience, opinion and point of view. Your journey through pregnancy and parenting might be different, which doesn't make either of us wrong. Thank you for reading!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Life :: Depression in Motherhood (Guest Post)

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In regards to all the media and stereotypes of mental illness, I wanted to share my experience of being a new mom and dealing with my chronic moderate depression.

So, I really don’t know where to start. Honestly, I feel like I am in a group counseling class. “My name is Brittanie and I am depressed” (everyone mutters back “hello Brittanie”). Okay then, I have been dealing with depression for 11 years and when a cycle comes (kind of like women’s monthly’s but that doesn’t come as often) my days get unbearable. I am currently on a very slow but steady process of adding balance to my life and getting the old me back but upgraded. Unfortunately this year for me has been full of ups and downs: life-changing events, breakdowns, and family drama.

In January of this year (2014), I got married to the love of my life; 5 days later my daughter, Sofia, arrived. Those two weeks were one of the best times of my life (no, the delivery of my baby was not fun). Prior to my labor, my doctors had warned me that I had a high chance of getting Postpartum Depression (PPD) and had numerously told me to reach out for help when needed. I have been a little skeptical of getting counseling due to meeting horrible psychiatrists who had no sympathy and did not give a rat’s ass if I jumped off the face of the earth. Now looking back, I wish maybe I could have had the strength to call the nursing staff after feeling the symptoms of PPD 5 weeks after giving birth.

I know that my depression has been taking a toll: a toll on my relationships with family and friends, a toll on my work, and a toll on the way I live life. It makes me feel so sick everyday seeing the hurt in my husband’s eyes, having my daughter not getting to be exposed to the real me, but a disgusting negative person. It’s hard to work all these problems on your own especially when you don’t have your friends around, and your mom lives far, plus the in-laws do not speak a word of English. I just tend to keep all my problems to myself which I know is not healthy, so this is why I am going back to basics and pulling out the old notepad and pen (in this case, the Mac) and writing all the emotions from each day.

I may not be saying a lot about my depression but honestly I am very scared of sharing this story and I want to be able to face my fears. I need to embrace that I have depression and I am not going to let it make me a victim.

Dealing with depression and being a parent is really hard. I am not going to lie and say, “Oh, I got my shit together” when I really don’t. I feel more pressure to be a good mom and wife because I feel that I have to prove to people that I may not be 100%; but I will always put my daughter’s and husband’s needs first.

Brittanie Renoj is a photographer and blogger based in Los Angeles. She has done photography for indie musicians, fashion designers, and has had her work sold in local art shows. She is the editor/photographer of lifestyle/portfolio blog LA ||| Fotografa. She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband and their daughter, Sofia.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Lessons :: Pregnancy Update / Week 37

DUE DATE: September 22, 2014

TIME LEFT: 2.5 weeks

GENDER: Boy

WEIGHT: 200+ lbs

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I am so ready to feel like myself again instead of a beached whale that swallowed a bowling ball (note the censored cellulite), but I must say that swimming helps and I wish I would've started using the pool sooner! It makes me feel so light on my feet and it totally takes away aches and pains for awhile. I'm seriously thinking of a water birth next time... but we'll see if I can get through this labor first. I have an appointment this afternoon and I hope to return with good news about my progression!

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We're putting the final touches on Baby L's nursery. Decorating is one of my favorite hobbies, I just wish I could do more. Brandon was super sweet and helpful in putting together the crib and rocking chair. I obviously wouldn't have been able to myself. I'm also hoping to fill some of the empty walls with maternity photos (and, later, photos of our guy). Here are the ones I want to include in a gallery above the crib.

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Might be slightly selfish to hang pictures of myself in the baby's room, but he's kinda in them too... right?

See you next week!

*Maternity photo credits: Photo 1 shot by Angela Felder. Photos 2-4 shot by Liz Shar. Photos 5-8 shot and edited by Megan Burke. Photos 9-12 shot by Michael Almeida. Photos 1-4 and 9-12 edited by me.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Life :: Gentle Exercising During Pregnancy (Guest Post)

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The NHS actively encourages mothers-to-be to exercise; there are loads of health and mood-boosting benefits and exercising may even help prevent complications like pre-eclampsia. It’ll also help you get into shape for labour and birth (and anything that helps with that gets a gold star in our book!).

If you weren’t very active pre-pregnancy, it’s not advisable to start strenuous exercise during it – stick to gentler activities like walking and swimming.

Aquanatal Classes

With a holistic approach to exercise, aquanatal classes are led by qualified teachers who guide the class through movements and stretches in the pool. It’s a great stress-buster and perfect for pregnant women from the 14-16 week mark.

Many mothers believe that swimming while pregnant benefits the baby before they are born and helps them adjust to water after birth (something we’ll cover later). The UK Aquanatal Register can help you find your local class.

Stationary Cycling

Cycling can help manage weight and prepare muscles for labour and birth, but taking a bike on the roads comes with certain risks. If you didn’t cycle regularly before you got pregnant, play it safe and cycle at home or the gym. Cycling is less impactful upon the lower joints such as ankles, which is beneficial throughout pregnancy as the extremities are already exposed to additional pressure.

Pregnancy Yoga

We all know that yoga is great for increased flexibility, but as it also places focus on breathing and body alignment, it has long-lasting benefits beyond the weekly class. Classes generally run from week 14 onwards.

Yoga has the added benefit of being a great exercise to do from home – you can find YouTube tutorials (like this series) that are tailored to pregnant mums-to-be.

Regular Walking

This could be as simple as walking home from work a couple of times a week or walking to a friend’s house for a cup of tea. Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days. Even everyday tasks such as walking to the local shop or housework can count towards your daily exercise goal.

…and After Baby is Born?

If you worked out throughout your pregnancy and had a straightforward, natural birth, you should be able to start gentle exercise pretty soon after the birth. Do ask your GP for advice if you’re not sure.

Swimming together is a brilliant bonding activity, though you’ll have to wait until you’ve had your postnatal check and have been seven days without any postnatal bleeding. You can take babies swimming from an early age; if you’re worried about them feeling nervous in the pool, why not get them used to it using a paddling pool – All Round Fun has a good selection here.

Gentle walking with a pushchair is another great way to start introducing exercise back into your routine. There are also dedicated postnatal exercise classes, which have the added benefit of helping you meet other new mums.

Above all, remember to listen to your body. This is supposed to be fun as well as beneficial, after all!

*Photo found here. This post was published in association with All Round Fun.
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