Saturday, August 23, 2014

#RealMamaTalk: Baby Blues

Hello again to all my Mamas out there! I know I've touched on some things lately that have been borderline soul-bearing, but there's one more thing I want to talk about that...Well, it just doesn't get talked about.

I'm talkin' 'bout those Baby Blues. I'm talking about Post-Partum Depression. I'm talking about what is being called 'Perinatal Mental Health Disorders', or PMADs.
A huge factor in this is Breastfeeding Pressure. This link shares a study on factors for PMADs. I'm seeing a pattern as I dive deeper into this fun world of Breastfeeding Support, and Fearless Feeding Phenomenon: Moms are stressed all to hell. Perfection, the pressure of breastfeeding, and the guilt trips of formula feeding (along with the stigma), and overall lack of sleep makes us Mamas prime targets for our wacky hormones to get even more out of whack.

I'm not talking about this from the other side of the fence, either. It was hard to admit at first, but looking back on things, I realize that I experienced Post-Partum Depression with my first child until she was nearly two years old. One thing stuck with me, when I tried to confide in someone about the hopelessness and the nightmares. They said, "Don't tell anyone! They'll take away your daughter." So I sucked it up, and buried my feelings, and grew even more and more distant from my Beans. I don't think she really noticed; I lived with my mother for most of those two years, and she helped with the comforting parent issues. But when I wasn't with her, I remember things that make me want to smack my past self really hard. Like staring at my baby girl when she fell down for the first time and cried. I didn't know what to do with her; she was too young to understand 'you're ok, keep going'. Then again, it was my first baby, and I had no idea the options that were available to me. No clue. I also felt like a complete failure because my daughter was formula fed, had digestion issues (which supposedly came from my being on an anti-depressant during the first trimester, but nothing could be proven), and I still couldn't see myself as more than just a baby-sitter to her.
After two years, something just clicked with me, and she became my whole world. 

Here I am with my second child, and at seven months old, I've come to see that I've been dancing on that Baby Blues/Post-Partum line.
Was I stressed out and worried that I'd let Bel down because I couldn't breastfeed?
Did I ever feel like I couldn't touch her, or no one else was allowed to touch her?
Not as much.
Detachment issues weren't something that troubled me this time, but exhaustion and the stress to be perfect is! And you know what? I still talk to my husband, and my friends, and my own Mama. I even talk to my Memaw, now that I'm older, and I realize she's got some of that old reliable, soul-soothing wisdom. (Even if I don't always follow it)

I'd like to raise awareness about how the pressures of things like breastfeeding, child-carrying, shorter maternity leaves because you can't afford to be out of work, unsupportive/misunderstanding partners can drive us Mamas over the edge. It's not fair to put us in the ring with our own minds, and leave us to our personal demise. It's not healthy for the baby, it's not healthy for the family, and it's not healthy for YOU!

Just remember, Mamas. There's always someone to talk to.
Talk to a:
Lactation Consultant (because post-partum stress can affect milk supply!)
OB/GYN or Midwife
WIC counselor
Pastor or their spouse, if you're close enough
Best Friend
Family Member you're close to

If you still feel like no one else will listen, start pouring your heart out in a journal, or on a blog. It's better to let it out than keep it bottled up to just eat away at you.
There are people out there who love you, and will listen when you need them to.

Be Strong, Mamas!

Friday, August 15, 2014


Finding the time to read is one of life's simple little pleasures that I truly revel in, should the opportunity arise. And not too long ago, it did! A very sweet member of the Mommy Blogger community had thrown up the option of doing a book review. Well, this Mama definitely wanted to do just that. Without further ado, I give you the very first book review of this blog!

Moms: As Elite as the CIA...Well Almost: Part I written by Andrea Keeney

I want to start off by saying that I absolutely cannot wait to see the next installment of these stories.
Though the characters are fictional, their viewpoint is very real. I feel as if every Mama could identify with the situations, and the 'pick your battles' mentality. I'd say that, if we have survived one of the incidents described (such as a tag-team candy snatch tantrum), then the rest of us Mamas definitely belong in the 'CIA' group. And, let's face it, most of us have.

I think Andrea Keeney has done a fantastic job of putting our lives out there, in a hilarious, poignant, and efficient. I was able to read the first installment between my own kid battles, and could easily pick up where I left off. Any title that can do that deserves five stars in my book! Hats off to you, Andrea!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Mommy Reality Challenge #5

Getting back on track with the Mommy Reality Challenge, we pick up with week #5: THE LAUNDRY ROOM.

I don't have a Laundry Room.

I have a washer and dryer in my basement, but I don't keep anything down there. I used to want a laundry chute built into the floor of my bathroom, but now I realize I would forget the dirty laundry existed if it wasn't in my face all the time.

I manage to do two loads of laundry a week, and I stay on top of it fairly well. This week was truly a challenge for me, so I went with another side of the story.

'What Happens Once The Dryer Is Done?'

So, here we see my two big laundry baskets full of CLEAN, FOLDED CLOTHES. Once they're out of the dryer, it's fair to assume that my clothes, and the baby's clothes, are going to be stuffed into one of these baskets for later use.

And here we see the collection of 'I need to take these things to the consignment shop' bag, with overflow!...And my orthotic insoles. Hey, there they are!
My clothes are always clean!! They're just usually wrinkled. 
I can live with that. 

This is my infamous Un-mated Socks Basket. While there are a couple pairings in there, they've been lost to the bottom of the basket for so long, we've probably outgrown them! Meanwhile, Baby Girl loves to kick at the side of the basket, or pull out singles and giggle with glee! In the above, she has found one of her newborn sockies that I never found the mate to.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Keyboard Confessional: Feeding My Baby Like You Feed Yours

Now that World Breastfeeding Week is over, I feel like I can talk a little more about something that's been bothering me for a while. It can be summed up easily in one simple question:

Why does it matter how I feed my child?

I see Formula Awareness campaigns, Public Breastfeeding campaigns, and all I can think is, why is there a line in the sand here?
Being a Mommy is hard work, and when you get that new bundle of joy, it doesn't matter if it's your first or your fifth, you're going to run into some snags. Why? Because every baby is different.

Baby Isabel was born during the Polar Vortex week in January. You know, when it was -50 degrees outside, before the wind chill. I wanted to breastfeed, and was adamant about nursing every two hours. So was Isabel. She latched on wonderfully, and painfully, after three attempts. Things went downhill from there.
After coming home from the hospital, and my milk came in, I was so engorged that she wouldn't, and couldn't, nurse. The pain was agonizing, and I spent my first day home going back and forth between bouts of hormonal and anxious sobbing fits, and putting bags of frozen corn on my breasts. Anytime I tried to pump, I got an ounce. That's a good bit! But my boobs were still so sore and aching! My anxiety didn't make for an inviting nursing experience.
First night home from the hospital- champion latcher refused breast; pumping begins, with Daddy feedings.

Two months later: Not gaining enough weight. 1 bottle of formula is supplemented. Sissy bonding time :)

After a month, Breastfeeding got easier. Much easier. On-demand nursing was awesome, and it brought Isabel and I closer together. I spent six weeks on maternity leave, and I felt confident that what I had been pumping between feedings would be enough for the few hours of daycare my Little One needed when I went back to work. Not only was that an underestimation, it was another blow to my Mommy ego. Back at work, my supply dropped significantly. I went back to pumping only an ounce or two during my break. My freezer supply was gone before I knew it, and I had to start supplementing. The truth hit even harder after our two month check up: Isabel wasn't gaining enough weight. She was a petite baby to begin with, compared to the 14 lbs some two-month-olds weighed. But she was healthy. The pediatrician suggested one bottle of formula a day, in addition to the breastmilk. So, after a couple days of trial and error, my childcare provider and I found a formula that Isabel liked, and went with the 'one bottle' rule. I would continue to Exclusively Breastfeed on my days off, otherwise. I knew it was the only way to keep the milk flowing.

To this day, she still takes one bottle of formula at daycare because I do not pump enough to keep up with her feedings.

Seven Months Old: Happiest when she can play with her toes AND breastfeed. 

There is a line drawn in the sand between Formula Feeding Mamas, and Breastfeeding Mamas, and it needs to be wiped out.

We need to be supportive of ALL Mamas out there, regardless of how we each feed our baby. Because every baby is different. Every need is different. And no way is 'more superior' than the other, because the baby's needs are being met.

There isn't a day that goes by that I'm not connected to a pump at some point or another. Even if it means I'm only able to give her a 2 oz snack before dinner.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Random Recipes!

So, in the past week, I started a part-time/flex job, got bumped up to Resident Assistant, and now have a huge mess of a house!
I'm really trying to keep my sanity,  and this recipe is helping at dinner time.  Talk about easy leftovers! !

Bubble Up Enchilada:

You will need-
2 cans biscuits, regular NOT buttermilk
1 lb ground beef or turkey
1 green bell pepper
1 14 oz can Black Beans or Red Kidney Beans,  drained
8oz mozarella cheese,  shredded
Enchilada sauce (I prefer the kind made with a packet,  in which case you will need tomato sauce), packet or 8oz can
Medium bowl
9x13 baking dish

Here's what you gotta do-
*Preheat your oven to 350
*brown your meat,  drain off any fats
*Open your biscuits, and cut them into quarters. Toss these into the bowl.
*Make your enchilada sauce according to the package, and add to bowl of biscuits  OR  open up that can and dump it over the biscuits.
*Add meat to mixture
*Chop up that bell pepper, and add it in there, too
*Empty out the can of beans while you're at it!
*Throw a handful of cheese into mixture
*Mix gently with a spoon, preferably the large plastic kind
*Pour into baking pan; it's up to you if you wanna spray it with non-stick something. Make sure it's relatively even in the pan
*Pull out and add cheese. I usually coat the top with cheese, because my family likes it really cheesy.

Pull out of oven, and you're done.

Here is the end result!! I didn't have my phone on me beforehand to take the 'during cooking' photos. 


Pour about 1/8c of water on it, cover it with foil, and put your leftovers in the oven at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.
The water will keep it from getting too dry, with the foil helping out with the condensation.

This will feed a family of four, with a single serving a piece, for two meals. 
Add whatever you want to it for sides. We usually have salad.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

SUNDAY EDITION: Trouble with the Grocery Store

It's that time of month again.

Grocery time.

Usually, I hate grocery time. I know it has to be done, but I drag my feet the day before, carelessly writing down things on scraps of paper, and forgetting where I placed them. Groceries (and shopping in general) is a huge anxiety pressure point, and it's something I've only just been able to do without a friend or loved one with me.

In the past, when shopping alone, it was a nightmare that lasted for hours. I was anxious on what needed to be in my buggy, despite having a list. (Would it be the right type? What about preservatives? What about GMOs?) I panicked when I saw a buggy full of groceries. I panicked when I got to the checkout line. AND GOD FORBID MY KID STARTS CRYING because they're hungry, or bored, or tired. That would be my breaking point. Many times, I've left whole buggies mid-aisle, bawling as I left the store.

I feel like a failure when I throw junk food in with the 'good' food. The things I've seen on Facebook and Huffpost about how poverty = junk food have just blown my mind, and left me with a burden of guilt that I'll never be able to unyoke. Because I live in poverty.
I've said before that I receive WIC to help out with things like eggs, milk, and baby food (since Isabel turned 6 months old, those vouchers were supplied). But, having the history of sh*t hitting the fan, I also took the plunge, and got Food Stamps. I don't flaunt the little bit that I do get. But it's enough that I, when I first got my card, thought I could handle $120 a month for food.
But then I was ridiculed for having a 12 pack of soda in my cart, or a box of popsicles for Delilah. Even a box of hot pockets was blasphemy! People would sneer or roll their eyes as I put the same food on the conveyor belt as everyone else: frozen dinners, pizzas, bags of chicken nuggets, pop tarts, chips, soda...
It wore me down, and then completely burned me out.
I was desperate to find anything that would get people off my case. And, as the scare tactic reports of GMO foods and childhood obesity spammed my Facebook feed, my anxiety in the grocery store turned into full blown paranoia. I lived this way for months, tiptoeing between dread and utter humiliation every time I pulled out that green card. Why couldn't I go full organic like some moms? This wasn't about price, this was about making that allotment stretch; and most coupons were for items that came prepackaged.

So, Friday Night, I saw the link to an article that took the wind out of my self-deprecating sails. Clean eating is a myth? What? Well, it can be, if taken to extremes. So is any other diet that claims this one or that one is the best for you. It dawned on me that I was trying too hard. Way, way too hard. I had to ask myself these questions:

*Did we have fruits & veggies with every meal? 
-Yes! Yes, we did. Sometimes, it was a glass of orange or cranberry juice with our eggs and toast, but I make sure we have a helping of everything.
*Are you overfilling the plates? Giving out seconds of meat instead of veggies?
-No. Unless we're eating Spaghetti, which has the homemade meat sauce already mixed in. Our plates and bowls aren't made for big portions.
*Are we eating snacks mindlessly? Grazing all day?
-Not to my knowledge. We have snacks, yes, but they're like..handful of pretzles and a spoonful of peanut butter. (Or, as my husband calls it, poor people food. He's the reason I had Doritos and Dr. Pepper in my buggy to begin with)

Hey, guess what? My family eats a healthy diet.


I want to show you a few pictures I have of my August grocery trip. This was done yesterday, and the only thing I had to put back was half of the Dr. Pepper I grabbed. Because my husband refuses to bend on certain things. (Allotment for the month has increased to $200 due to baby's age)

 The above is my first stop: Aldi's. I spend most of my allotment here, because I get the best deals on my food. What do you see?
Canned goods: Veggies, Fruit, Beans. Tortillas. Bottled Water. Things any normal family would get,  right? 
My entire haul: the WalMart bags are barely filled. Just one bag of Doritos for Mister spoiled brat. (Not shown are the cases of Dr. Pepper or sets of baby food)

 My first CNA job here in Wisconsin gave me my first look into reasonable stockpiling. My old boss was a blessing, and in shopping for the house's needs, she taught me how to make a proper grocery list. 

Here is the replenished stockpile, which I usually have to do every 3 or 4 months.

 Here, I separated the $10 worth of hamburger meat into 6 sections, and put them in ziploc sandwich bags.  That's a huge savings,  and space saver for my tiny freezer.

Aforementioned FRESHLY GROUND BEEF 80/20 mix. I can't stand to go lower because of the smell of all the grease as it's cooking.  Can't do it. 

A little something extra that I picked up from Wal-Mart, because I do want to make my own breads and canned goods.

I want to put this out there: 

I may suck at coupons, at menu planning, and even at converting to a strict diet. But you know what I don't stuck at? Feeding my family a wholesome dinner, with all the food groups,  and usually leftovers. We don't have to buy boxed dinners for convenience because a handmade dinner is the same price! Raise a glass of wine and say Amen!

You can let go of the stress, Mamas, because it doesn't have to be perfect. And you know what?