Feeling thankful, but also panic.

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Thanksgiving is always a double edged sword for me. I cherish being with the ones I love, and I enjoy cooking with family and being together and present for one another. Thanksgiving also makes me feel overwhelmed.

I feel like I spend the first half of the day in a panic, cooking frantically, forgetting to eat, and practicing poor time management. The first half of the day goes by in a blur where, at times, I want to kill the loved ones who are just trying to help, because in the moment I feel flustered and overly ambitious of my own ability to make 10 things at once, take a shower, get dressed in something without throw up on it, and try to remember to feed my child. Everything happens at once in my head and I freak out.

But then I take a step back and watch my village come together. Suddenly I see and acknowledge my husband trying to console our crying son, my dad trying to prepare a dish he doesn’t understand, and my in-laws taking care of all of the little things I would totally forget. Then I realize, I’m being an asshole, an over reactive and dramatic asshole, and this day is as stressful as I choose to make it.

This is also the first year I have a child of my own, making it completely different from any other year. I have my own little family I am creating memories with, memories I eventually want my children to remember and look back on with love and excitement.

The realization hits me hard and for the second half of the day I stand around my loved ones in awe of what we all achieve together and how we all manage to make each other a priority in the midst of our own selfish and busy lives. I truly do feel thankful by the end of the day and wish it could be like this for more than just the holidays, but I’ll take what I can get. ūüôā

 

Next up…Christmas.

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4 weeks young

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My little love Harland Hawk Blackstock is 4 weeks old today!

Warning: This post contains excessive photos and sappiness.

Today Harland is 4 weeks old, and I feel like the time has flown by. It seems like just yesterday I was gazing into his eyes in awe that I created this special little human. Every day I feel more blessed than the last. It hasn’t been easy, there were many times I’ve felt overwhelmed or second guessed¬†my methods, but in the end I am so proud of my little family for having made it through these weeks with grace and lots of love.

Since this time seems to be passing by faster than I can digest, I figured it might be fun to look back and acknowledge the milestones achieved.

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Oct. 25th 2016 born at 2:46 am

Biggest achievement yet- actually making it through labor, and bringing this sweet boy into the world.

weight: 7lb 11oz

length: 19 in

 

Week one:

img_1775-1Mama’s milk came in after 3 days and we learned how to nurse, slowly and painfully but we did it and now it’s such an amazing and intimate bonding experience.

We started having tummy time and realized Harland has a neck of steel…making head butts a frequent occurrence.

He loves the swaddle, but mom and dad still suck at making him look like a little cozy burrito boy.

We went to our first appt: He was within normal range with a 7% weight loss, which we had no problem making up for in the next few days when the milk came pouring in and nipple leaking became a fashion statement.

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 Week two:

He lost his belly button stem, and we are oh so proud of his dainty little innie!

Took his first bath after being sponged for a week. It’s amazing how quickly babies go from clean to crusty. Good news is he loves the water, so dodged that unpleasantry.

We enjoy lots of skin to skin time, which is so precious and so important.

He makes the cutest gas smiles that I pretend are for me, because he’s obviously mature for his age.

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We noticed he really likes to blow spit bubbles too.

Sometimes he rocks the little mittens because he found his face and likes to slice it (and my neck) with his sharp little fingernails.

Loves being wrapped in the boba, I’m assuming it feels a lot like the coziness of the womb.

We have taken a vote (my immediate family) and determined he has the softest little head.

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He may be tiny and unable to see far or clearly, but when he gazes up it’s like he’s looking into our soul and somehow seems older and wiser than me.

 

 

 

Week Three:img_2012

Had his 3 week checkup!

Weight: 8lbs 15oz (55th percentile)

Height: 21in (90th percentile)

Happy healthy baby

We went to the park for the first time and slept.

Stared using a paci so moms boobs won’t fall off.

Began the tradition of¬†morning walks because that’s the only way he takes a morning nap.

 

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Week four:

He is getting too big for newborn clothes and I can’t handle it!

When he’s screaming he’s soothed by the changing table and makes pensive expressions.

We took him out to dinner for the first time and we survived without a break down or a broken dish!

He’s stared to make little adorable sounds and mimicking our expressions. It makes me want to just smoosh and kiss his little perfect face.

 

 

I can’t believe how big my little guy has gotten, but I couldn’t feel more honored to be his mother and help guide him through this world with love and compassion. I can’t wait to see him evolve each month and for the rest of his life!

And now the many faces of Harland:

slugging back into shape postpartum.

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Let’s just admit it, trying to get back in shape after months of moving like a sloth is so hard to find motivation to do no matter how athletic you claim to be. Before getting pregnant I was an avid boxer and runner with a pretty disciplined schedule, but as soon as that morning sickness and fatigue kicked in and the nesting and comfort food cravings arrived my exercise routine quickly dwindled. I didn’t beat myself up about it though, after all I was creating a tiny human, which is hard and exhausting work in itself.

Now that I am no longer carrying a large sack of potatoes in front of me and can once again see my toes, I have been trying to find the motivation to get back to working out. However, I do think it’s important for all mama’s (myself included) to remember that you did just pop out a human and it’s completely normal for your body to be exhausted. It’s also ok for it to take a while to get back to a full workout routine, or even have the strength and energy to do so. There are days I get up and don’t even know if I slept…night time is a blur and that morning cup o’ joe is my only true friend I look forward to seeing. So, there should be ZERO expectation for any of us to hit the ground running after waddling around for so many months.

Those celebrities who are¬†running around a week after giving birth and looking like¬†they never even carried a child is not a reality most of us have the luxury of experiencing. Hence, I have decided to block that shit out and start out slow, with small goals to achieve–the first one being to just get my ass on a walk. Not setting any expectation as to how long or far to go, just get out and go, that’s the only expectation.

I figured slowly as time goes on I would walk farther, longer, and more strenuously.

Easy enough.

This week was my first week back at it, and it’s been challenging to say the least. Some mornings the very idea of moving my body makes me want to throw a tantrum, so I stand there staring at the ground trying to convince myself that sitting on the couch breastfeeding all day and watching HGTV burns calories and builds muscle too. Then I realize my lazy attitude could easily become a pattern and a year from now I could still be staring at my feet and having the same daily internal battle–so, I finally get up and put on my running shoes.

So far each day I have walked a little bit farther and longer and have felt great doing it. The routine feels like it is sinking in. So, yesterday morning I decided I would try to run a bit. Once again not setting any expectation, just running as much as I felt comfortable with while pushing a baby in a stroller, it couldn’t be too hard I thought–HA!

Note to any new moms out there with the same naive ambitions as me: running with a jogging stroller is not the same as running by yourself and for me it requires mental and physical strength and determination to get through it without breaking down.

To every mom out there who can jog a stroller up a hill and make it look like it’s a skip in the park, I envy/loath/admire you. I felt like I was DYING. Huffing and puffing, panting and sweating, dodging curbs, cars and obstacles while a senior citizen walked passed me. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into and I quickly retracted my cocky attitude and replaced it with passive defeat…none the less I pushed through and survived, but realized I have some work to do and it is going to take me a while to do it, which secretly sucks.

This morning physically hurt, but the good kind of hurt where you actually consider putting yourself through the pain again. Hopefully the pain will morph into gain and eventually I’ll be one of those cool moms who can effortlessly jog with their baby…or not we’ll see how these next few days ago.

They say it takes 3 months to make a habit a lifestyle..so here’s to a long, painful¬†three months of kicking my ass back into gear.

 

Good luck to all my fellow mama’s out there busting their butts to get back into shape. It is no easy task.

Please feel free to share successes or failures you’ve experienced so that I don’t feel so alone in this transition back to reality. Also if anyone has any tips or suggestions about how to run with a stroller I would love to hear them, because right now it terrifies me.

 

co-sleeping vs. the judgy judgers

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Co-sleeping– This has been a giant debate in the land of parenting.

To co-sleep or not to co-sleep?

Will it make my baby needy?

Will it start a pattern that will be hard to break?

Is it actually safe?

Will people think I’m making unsafe parenting choices?

And the list goes on…

I grew up in the very liberal Bay Area where any parenting style that’s progressive or out of the ordinary is generally supported and celebrated. The place where parent’s have their kids on the paleo diet, or the gluten free craze, which is great, but I also realized it’s a bit of a bubble. Before I moved out of said bubble I never really thought about being judged for the choices I would make as a parent, because I was surrounded by like minded folk. Since leaving the bubble, I have come to realize that there are many different minds, with¬†different parenting styles and lots of opinions.

Before having my son I never really put much thought into the sleeping arrangements. I always just figured I’d dabble with some options¬†and would go with what worked for me. Most of the people I knew in the Bay Area co-slept with their babies, so that was always something I considered,¬†but I didn’t want to rule anything out.

As any soon to be parent does, I had many conversations with friends, family and physicians to gather information and knowledge about how to raise a baby the right way, because I had no idea what I was doing. After hearing many stories, opinions, and perspectives, I realized everyone thinks their way is the right way. I also realized co-sleeping was surprisingly frowned upon outside of my “Bay bubble.”¬†All of these strong opinions I received honestly made me feel conflicted and skewed my perspective, giving me a little more consideration to using a bassinet over co-sleeping.

After I birthed my little one, I started out with him in a bassinet next to our bed, because that is what doctor’s had suggested was the safest, and it had worked during our hospital stay. The first couple of nights he slept in his little bassinet just fine, but I didn’t. I would wake up worrying and panicking that something was wrong because I couldn’t see him. I felt like he was sectioned off in a little baby prison where I wasn’t allowed to touch, look at, hug, kiss, or hold him. I couldn’t feel his presence or warmth and I felt overwhelmingly disconnected, which I realized turned me into a sleep deprived night time worry wart.

After the first few nights my smart baby boy caught on that he was being cheated out of snuggles, which I understood, because I totally felt cheated too. Any time I placed him delicately in the bassinet, his sixth sense would kick into high gear and he would fuss and squirm and scream at any sound or slight change in his environment…sleep wasn’t happening, and both of us were upset. So I decided to try co-sleeping. I knew people who had done it successfully, and with the way I was feeling each time I put him in the bassinet, I wanted to find a better solution.

So the first night of co-sleeping happened, and it was blissful and comforting for everyone. Sleep was still touch and go, because the lil’ dude is only two weeks old and expectations can only be so high, but it FELT right.

I could see him, hear him, cuddle up next to him, he knew I was right there, and I could do my usually, “Is he breathing?!?!” panic as many times as I wanted without it being disruptive. It didn’t hurt that we found an amazing co-sleeper, the¬†snuggle me, that makes my son look like he’s sleeping on an pillowy cloud of comfort and hugs him in all the right places. Everything was working, and I felt good about it, and I still do, but I’ll admit there was a part of me that was worried to tell people we made the choice to co-sleep with our child. I didn’t want to deal with the potential judgement I knew was out there, and I didn’t want to feel like I had to justify my decision.

When I took my son in for his first 2 week check-up we filled out the standard survey the hospital provides and one of the questions was about the sleeping arrangements–they give you two options: does your baby sleep in a crib or bassinet? I wrote in that we co-sleep. ¬†Well surprise surprise our pediatrician questioned us about it with a tone (which if she wasn’t a professional would have been paired with a nice dramatic eye roll) suggesting that co-sleeping is not safe (even though studies have shown that c0-sleeping can actually reduce the risk of SIDS). This brief conversation (and judgy judgement) left me feeling shitty and unsure of my choices as a new parent, plus it ruined my confidence in co-sleeping. I spent a short while feeling butt hurt about the opinion I received. Don’t get me wrong, there is some validity in the skepticism because unless done safely, co-sleeping can be dangerous, but honestly so can leaving your baby in a crib separate from you. There are pro’s and con’s to both, just like with everything in life.

It’s hard not to be sensitive to opinion and judgements, especially as a new parent and in the end, after I got over my own insecurities about it, I realized the lesson learned here is: you have to do what feels right for YOU. So let the judgy judgers quack and cluck all they want about what they think you should do, because at the end of the day, they aren’t you, and they don’t sleep with your baby, you do. If you feel better and safer with your baby sleeping in a bassinet, then by all means go for it, but if you feel uneasy and disconnected from your child, like I did, then find what works for you, because that’s what actually matters. Nothing else.

So let those judgy judgers judge and go about your day feeling confident in the choices you make as a parent.

That’s what I aim to do.

 

learning to breastfeed aka the great tunnel of boob doom.

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So my little bean and I are a little over two weeks in to this whole breastfeeding thing and man has it been a learning process for both of us. A painful, frustrating process with a wonderful reward after a razor sharp tunnel of boob doom. I’m not going to say the beginnings of breastfeeding is as painful as labor, but it does merit some attention.

After making it through these last couple of weeks I now understand and respect the intimate process baby and mama go through in the beginning.

I learned¬†rather quickly that that cute little bundle of joy doesn’t come out magically knowing exactly how to latch, instead they chomp and bite trying to achieve the perfect suckle with serious expectation of a result. Not only is it frustrating, but it hurts like the devil’s branding you on the tit…with sharp little knives, then kick’s you in the crotch (because that still hurts too).–My ONLY relief during this time was soothing gel pads AND this¬†natural nipple butter. It’s amazing, smoothing, natural and smelling great, plus it’s safe for baby to digest! Those two items were my life line and I will forever be grateful.

Now that I’m pretty much through the tunnel and see that glowing¬†light getting closer and brighter, I look back to the first week or so and I have to say the most frustrating part during the learning period was my fear of nursing because I was scared of the pain. Nursing is supposed to be a magical bonding time, but every time Harland would wake up out of his peaceful slumber and demand the boob, it was like having my nipples tattooed. It sucked, because I wanted to be excited about nursing and happy to feed him, instead I wanted to flee the scene and cry in a closet with a giant bottle of wine while I iced my boobs.

It does get better though, slowly and day by day and that’s what I’m focusing on. I also realize that there are so many other women out there who have it much much harder than me. Some women endure months of struggling to¬†breast feed and provide enough nutrients for their little ones. I can only imagine how it must feel for all of those mama’s, and I feel lucky that the worst thing for me was getting used to the physical adjustment my body had to naturally go through in order to feed my son.

None the less, those first weeks sucked…and I’m so glad they are nearly behind me.

In the end and after this experience I am left¬†with an overwhelming sense of accomplishment for pushing through because it would have been so easy to give up and put my baby on a bottle, but that wouldn’t have been fair to me or my little bundle of love. Nursing is such an amazing and special bond between a mother and her baby and I feel so lucky to be able to experience¬†the magic, because not every mother can or even has the choice. So, with that in mind, I will remember to be appreciative and cherish this phase forever, because I know one day I’ll think back and miss it.

 

 

Oh, America. I’m trying not to judge you.

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As I sit here in the park holding my peacefully sleeping son I feel so many emotions…fear, sadness, disappointment, anger, but somehow also hope. Hope for America’s future after all of this. I’m lost for words on how such a person could be seen as fit to run this country and be a role model for our children. But as I sit here and look at my beautiful child I hope that this event will unite Americans and bring us together to create a better future for our children and loved ones. I hope we use this as a lesson learned and not to be repeated.

I want my child to grow up in a world were differences are celebrated, where people really are created equal, where we can all love one another despite opinion. This Utopian world has always been a dream, but at least we were closer to it before the events of last night. Trump becoming president will have a negative impact on so many lives that have worked hard and built this country.

I just hope as time moves on we will heal from this and try to remember WE are America, he is but one person and even though he has a large army behind him, the American people have an even bigger army if we all pull together.¬†He has insulted too many of us to get away with it. Let’s give him hell these next 4 years and hope they go by fast.

I don’t want to get into the politics of it all, because it’s pointless. What’s done is done, but I do want to urge all of us to try to look forward and hope for a better future, one without a sexist, racist, ignorant, rich boy bully of a human running our country.

DONE.

the beautiful journey of child birth

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Every mama’s birth story is different.

Some women have natural births from start to finish, others plan for natural but don’t have much of a choice in the matter, while there are some that fully embrace what the hospital has to offer…or opt out of a hospital all together. One thing is constant though, no matter how a woman ends up giving birth, each one is beautiful and valiant and should receive no judgements.

While pregnant I loved hearing different women’s birth stories and the amazing support that went along with the reenactment. No matter what their story was, painless or dreadful, the conclusion was always the same, “You’ll do amazing, and in the end you’ll be holding that miracle you created.” Hearing all of these beautiful stories and strong women pull through one of the hardest things imaginable gave me confidence and hope for when my time would arrive.

Like I said, every birth is different, because every body is different, and every mind is different, and what I have learned out of all of this is you can’t plan for anything except for a safe delivery and a healthy baby. That’s it.

I hadn’t planned much in terms of the birth, I was keeping my mind open to all possibilities, because I knew that there was a chance, well actually FACT, that the whole labor and birth process was not going to go how I imagined it in my little fairy tale brain. I thought I would go into labor, spend a few hours at home timing my contractions, then walk into the labor and delivery dilating every hour and the whole shebang would all be done within 20 hours.

I could not have been more wrong.

My journey started on Saturday (10.22.16) at 6:30pm when I went in to have my swelling and blood pressure checked since my feet were giant sausages and it was getting a little out of control. While there I began my first dainty little contractions and I thought, psh…I got this. I was 2 cm dilated and they decided to admit me after I walked around for a bit and cruised through another cm. Sure it was a bit early, but the doctor assumed I was going to continue my forward movement (as most would) and I was ok with her decision because my OB/GYN was on call in delivery that night. Those dainty contractions continued until about 3 in the morning, when they decided to almost entirely stop all together. That’s right… hours go by and my contractions decided to play hide and seek. They checked my dilation…I was still only 3cm, I hadn’t made any progress since I first arrived. So naturally I was sent home Sunday morning around 6:30am, without a baby and feeling dreadful.

Sunday was a GREAT day, because as soon as I left the hospital my little cute contractions came back, but with a little bit more of a pow. All I could hear was my OB in my head saying, “Wait until they get 3-5min apart, last more than a min for 2 hours, and when you think it’s time to come in, watch a movie.” This was her way of making sure I wouldn’t end up in the same situation. I contracted all Sunday, and by the evening I couldn’t eat or concentrate on anything because the pain had grown and was radiating from my back to my front. When my contractions became 3-5 min apart and lasted longer than a min for several hours I told my husband I wanted to go back in, because this felt HORRIBLE, and I was sure it was my bodies way of telling me I had made some progress.

We arrive at the hospital again Sunday night(10.23.16)…still only 3cm…maybe 3 1/2 (but I think the midwife was trying to be kind). Shoot me. I thought for sure since I had been experiencing those delightful bone breaking, suicide worthy contractions I was at least entering active labor, but no. So we go home AGAIN. I lay in bed unable to sleep, eat, move, breathe, laugh, cry, or talk. I felt like jumping out of a window and just giving up, at least I would have had some relief.

Monday (10.24.16) morning rolls around and I hadn’t had a wink of sleep in the past 48 hours. Since Saturday my body was in survival mode and I couldn’t deal. I tried taking a bath, which helped until it didn’t. I tried meditating, which was easy to achieve when I couldn’t even focus on breathing, ha. I tried going on a walk, but couldn’t make it around the block without convulsing into a ball and driving my nails into my husbands arms. Finally Monday afternoon my contractions went from being 3-4 min apart lasting over a min into rolling contractions greeting me every 1-2 min, some without breaks. I couldn’t even walk to the car once we realized I was in labor, but I had wanted to wait long enough to know it was the real deal because I was so scared of being sent home again.

Back to the hospital we go! It was the 3rd day in a row that we had shown up in labor and delivery, and I swear the nurses were all talking about me. I wait for the doctor to see me while my contractions continue to roll into one another. The doctor checks my dilation and finally I hear those beautiful words, ” You’re in active labor…let’s get you a room.” YES. FINALLY. The very first thing I said after that was, “Give me the epidural…when can I have the drugs?” I was exhausted and in pain and honestly would have loved to go all natural, but my body and mind were not on the same page.

Within 20 min I felt the sweet relief of that beautiful drug. Now, I had always been one of those people who had a negative opinion about taking drugs during labor, because after all women have been pushing out babies in fields since forever, and they could do it without drugs, so why couldn’t I? Because I had endured days of labor, no sleep, and I was about to crack…that’s why. And I was totally ok with it, and judge no one making the same choice, or opposite for that matter…whatever works for YOU.

My water broke during the epidural procedure and unpredictably the babies heart rate was dropping, sometimes as low as 60 bpm, during each contraction. The nurses tried not to look concerned, but I could tell. The midwife came in and inserted fluid back in to my uterus hoping that would alleviate the pressure causing the heart rate to drop. They told me the strain was most likely the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, no big deal. No need to panic. Sure. I was also placed on oxygen for the remainder of my labor which was fun. Best part is, I couldn’t lay on my back or my left side, because whenever I did…the babies bpm dropped again, so I was stuck on my right side with a ball between my legs until I pushed the little dude out.

At the wee morning hours of Tuesday (10.25.16) the midwife came in with some more glorious news, she wanted to start me on pitocin (another drug I was not a fan of) because my contractions were slowing down again and they also didn’t want to wait too long with the strain on the baby, so more drugs it was.

No plan, just a safe delivery is all I was thinking.

Luckily the pitocin worked like a charm and I was pushing within the hour. This was the easiest part of the whole labor. Pushing. I didn’t think that would be the case, but I had two awesome nurses, a great doctor and my rockstar husband all rooting and shouting motivational phrases at me. Since the babies umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck I had to push while on my side as to not strangle my child, which was interesting. But even with some minor hiccups everything worked out in the end, and after a handful of pushes I was holding my brand new little baby boy early Tuesday morning. None of the pain or issues during labor mattered anymore. Seeing his face was the most rewarding moment of my life, and I will never forget it.

Birth is a beautiful thing, and after going though it, I have so much respect for all mama’s out there. Every woman, her body, and her story is different and overwhelmingly personal and I’ve realized sharing those moments is a wonderful way to bond with other warrior women. Each story is strong, brave, scary, and unpredictable, but that’s what makes each one so incredibly and amazingly beautiful.

So all you mama’s out there rookies or veterans you have my full support and respect, and I urge you to share your story too because it really does take a village of love.

Also, remember that labor bag I spent so long trying to pack perfectly? Yeah, it meant nothing. Didn’t open it once.

Oh and this post took me about 5 days to write, because newborn. Hopefully it’s coherent enough to follow.

Cheers.