Monday, October 28, 2013

Motherhood Mondays~ Letter to My Nursling

Welcome to Motherhood Monday on Outsmarted Mommy. Today Sara of Sober Sara is allowing us to share in her personal account of  her and her son's journey through breastfeeding.  Sara loves babies, cats and The Avengers (not necessarily in that order). She works at home as a personal assistant to her 3 year old son while keeping house and home for her military husband. In her opinion, "Twitter sucks," and she blogs at Sober Sara.

In December 2012, I weaned my son after 27 months of breastfeeding. This is the letter I wrote to commemorate our nursing relationship.

My sweet boy,

You are such a joy to me. We may be nearing the end of our nursing relationship, but that just means we get to embark on a new adventure together! I have such precious memories of the past two years…

When I was pregnant, I knew I would nurse you. I wanted you to have the protection my milk would give you, as well as experience the bonding. I had no idea how much I would enjoy nursing.

The first time we nursed was surreal. I couldn’t believe that just 30 minutes after birth, you were ready to nurse. But you latched on right away, like a champ. I felt so empowered. Even though my baby was outside of the womb, my body could still provide him nourishment.

Our nursing relationship was all roses – thorns and everything!  We both were learning a new skill, so we hit a few bumps along the way. There were times I was afraid to feed because it hurt. Then I felt bad because I knew you needed to eat and how could I not want to feed you! But we got past that. There were times when it seemed like I couldn’t sustain your cluster feeding. Not knowing that this was normal, I thought I was failing and not giving you what you needed. Luckily your Daddy was there to reassure me that I could do it.

From then on, we tackled new challenges. Nursing in public? Started out by hiding in the car, but graduated to nursing in the Abbey Gardens, Newmarket Racecourse, London tube, restaurants, stores, airplanes and as part of the Big Latch On – twice! You’re an American citizen, but you’ve only nursed in Europe – England, Italy and Greece.

Teething? Definitely not my favorite time. You only bit Mommy a few times, but man did it hurt! The last time you bit me, I cried out in pain. You looked at me with the saddest, most apologetic eyes and then started crying, like you felt bad for hurting Mommy! I comforted you (which made me chuckle, since YOU had just bit ME) and you never bit me again.

You made such cute expressions as you nursed! Often you would furrow your brow and look very serious, as though you were concentrating on something very important. You’d get so excited at nursing time, bobbing and lunging and then latching quickly. Sometimes,  you’d treat me to smiles! And when you were older, sometimes you’d laugh while latched (especially if Mommy was tickling you). You and I shared some wonderful belly laughs if you did something funny while nursing.

As you grew more aware of the world, you became quite the wiggler! Your curiosity made it hard for you to focus on feeding. You perfected the art of ‘gymnurstics’ early on. I nursed with a hand on my nose or mouth, a foot on my shoulder, a tush in my face.  My favorite was when you would reach up and play with my hair. Your Grandma told me how your Daddy used to play with her hair while he nursed. Just another way you are so like your Daddy!

When you were about 4 months, I went back to work. I pumped at work until you were 12 months and able to take whole milk, so you never had to have formula. There were times I was scared and didn’t think I’d have enough pumped milk, but with extra pump sessions, lots of bowls of oatmeal, Mother’s Milk tea and the support and advice of several helpful moms, I was able to provide for you. When you were 6 months you started at the base daycare. I was able to nurse you on my lunch break! I loved connecting with you during the workday this way – such a relief from the stress of work.

Nursing you was a great comfort to me. When your Daddy left for Operation Odyssey Dawn on my birthday, nursing you made me feel less sad about him leaving. Our kitty Lola died while Daddy was in Korea. I missed her so much, but nursing you made me feel a little better. There were times when I felt unhappy during the workday and I’d go nurse you at daycare, which always made me feel better.

One of my favorite memories is when you started to ask to nurse. At first, you would sign for it by patting my chest. Later, you would pat my chest and say “Neesh! Neesh!” in a very excited voice. ‘Neesh’ gave way to “Nursh” as you gained better verbal skills. Now, at the end of our nursing relationship, you tell me “I wanna nursh little bit” or “I wanna nursh other side.” The other night, you patted my chest and asked me, “What’s in derr?” When I told you milk was in there, you very confidently told me, “No, no milk in derr. Milk in cup.” The next night, you told me “warm nurse” was in there.

I have very mixed feelings as we near the end of nursing. I’m ready to move on to the next stage of our mommy-son relationship, but you don’t seem so ready to stop nursing. It breaks my heart when you ask me to nurse and I say no. Please understand that I love you more than anything, but I want to find other ways to show you love. I’m afraid if I nurse much longer, I may start to have unpleasant feelings and I don’t want that to happen.

I’m so blessed to have you, sweet baby. Thank you for sharing this special relationship with me. I love you.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Moms Club

Welcome to another installment of the Motherhood Mondays series. This week Kathy Glow of Kissing the Frog joins us. She is a beautiful writer and I know you are going to love her as much as I do.
Kathy is the mom of four lively boys and one angel in heaven. When she is not busy wiping boy stuff off walls, she blogs on kissing the frog about what life is really like after all your dreams come true, including infertility, depression, and the loss of a child to cancer. Her writing has been featured on Huffington Post Parents and Mamalode.
You can follow Kathy on Twitter and Facebook and of course read her journey at Kissing the Frog.

The Moms Club
When I became a mom, there were so many “clubs” I was eager to join: the stay-at-home-moms, the Gymboree class moms, the school volunteer moms, the moms-who-lunch.

Being one of the cancer moms was never on my radar.

After all, who expects to hear, “Bad news, it’s a tumor,” from the ER doctor after you’ve taken your five-year-old son to the hospital via ambulance because he’s had a seizure.

Not me. Never.

But I did, and it changed the way I see mom clubs forever. There are still so many ways we moms find to exclude each other these days. Yes, there still are Mommy Wars going on.

But when you’ve held your child as he takes his last breath, none of what moms squabble about seems to matter.

My husband told me once a long time ago when I was talking smack about another mom that “it’s all in what you know.” And I’ve come to find that as true.

When your biggest problem is that your child keeps losing his shoes, you’re going to complain about it.

When your biggest problem is that you’ve lost your child, shoes aren’t really a big deal anymore.

When Joey had cancer, some of my mom friends would complain about certain things to me. And then they would stop suddenly in wide-eyed horror and say, “Oh, but it’s nothing compared to what you’re going through.”

No, generally, it wasn’t. But not everyone loses a child (thank God!). As mothers, we all have our own burdens to bear which are difficult for us in our unique circumstances. None of us can say what is hard for another mother to handle until we have a walked a mile in her running shoes (or wedges or cute fall riding boots).

I have many blessings in my life as a mother. I’ve been able to be a stay-at-home mom and take my kids to Gymboree classes and shop and lunch with my friends. Many moms don’t get that. Instead, they look at me and say, “I could never handle what you have been through.”

I remember once, when my twins were little, I saw a mom with triplets who were about five years older than my sons. I looked at her in amazement and said, “Wow, I don’t know how you do it! I don’t think I could.”

She looked from me to each of my twins to Hubby and back to me and said simply, “Yes, you could, because you are doing it. It’s really no different than what I’m doing.”

And I realized, yes, I was doing it. I am doing it each and every day. We all are. We are all doing our best with the situations we have chosen and been handed.

So when other moms say to me, “I don’t think I could do what you’re doing,” I look at them and say, “Yes, you could.”

Because really, we’re all in the same club, after all: the moms-who-love-their-kids club. And we’re all doing a great job with what we’ve been given.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Late to The Party

I’m always late to the party. It’s gotten even worse since I’ve had kids. You know the drill. Their needs come first so of course getting ready for anything is a project in and of itself, but actually getting anywhere on time is damn near impossible. It’s inevitable if I’m going to a girls night out that everyone else is ready to order their second drink and I am just flying through the door like a wind storm.

I’m constantly underestimating how much time it is actually going to take me to get ready to go somewhere. After all I used to just have to calculate how much time it was going to take me to shower and be presentable but now I have to account for feeding two kids, getting them dressed, breaking up at least two fights, explaining to the sitter what they need before bed and of course kissing them 258 times before I am able to actually get out of the door.

So for someone who can’t even make it to a girls night out on time can you imagine how hard it is for me to keep on top of the holidays? It’s damn near impossible. Retailers have made it impossible for moms like me to participate in the current holiday and it’s time they know it.

Dear Retailers,

I’m a mother of two boys who both ironically enough arrived early. I am notoriously late for everything since their arrival.  So you can imagine my constant frustration with the timing of each season and holiday seemingly arriving earlier and earlier every year. You see I have this thing called a calendar and I still try to stick with it, but it seems we don’t follow the same one.

It’s October and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect to go to a store and stock up on Halloween Decorations. You, however think it’s already time to stock up on CHRISTMAS decorations. So you can see why as a mother who is notoriously late for things this would pose quite the issue. I mean as far as I’m concerned I’m actually on time for this. That’s right ON. TIME.

As I stand in your store looking around in a panic for pumpkins, ghosts and witches I am instead met with Santa Claus, Poinsettias, and Elves. It’s insanity. I am able to finally find my Halloween décor on the clearance rack, and believe me I’m not complaining about the money I’m saving but I am complaining about the panic you cause when I think I am actually LATE for a holiday. Not only have we not even had Halloween yet but last I checked Thanksgiving still comes before Christmas.

As I stood in my kitchen this morning preparing my kids breakfast a commercial came on with Christmas music and I damn near burned the waffles thinking I must have fallen asleep for two straight months. Hahaha retailers you got me again.  Every day as I walk to my mailbox I begin to sweat knowing what is inside of it waiting for me. They started arriving about a week ago and they haven’t stopped. The infamous holiday catalogs are quickly piling up and I haven’t even bought my Halloween candy.  It’s not just holiday décor but clothing as well. You see both my boys need new winter coats this year and I know if I don’t hurry up and get on that in the next three days I will go to your stores and be greeted with displays of shorts and bathing suits. You can see why I would be confused as I stand there in my Uggs and coat.

So I’m asking you this. Please slow down a bit. Let’s keep Fall around for a little longer. Let’s stay focused on Halloween and Thanksgiving before we move onto Christmas and Hanukkah. Perhaps we could focus on Valentine’s Day before moving on to Easter and 4th of July. Although who knows maybe at some point you will start doing things so early that this notoriously late mom will be a full year early for everything.  For now I'm off to the store to stock up on candy, because all my kids care about is that Halloween is right around the corner.
Outsmarted (always late) Mommy

Is anyone else confused?

Monday, October 14, 2013

My Breast Is NOT Best

This is the second installment of the Motherhood Mondays series here on Outsmarted Mommy. Today's post is brought to you by the awesome Jenn of Something Clever 2.0.
Jenn Rose is a staff writer at In The Powder Room, and stay-at-home mother to one boy in Massachusetts. When she's not writing or parenting, she's watching way too much TV and drinking a little too much wine (not chardonnay). She hopes to become a zombie when she dies.
Connect with Jenn on her blog Something Clever 2.0, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

My Breast is NOT Best.
Sorry, Gisele, breast feeding is still not mandatory in the U.S., although so very many people like you wish it was. I'm going to tell you all something that might make you mad. And if it does, you can suck it...

I fed my son formula. And I am not ashamed.

I made the decision to formula feed all on my own. I was not given a free gift bag at the hospital. In fact, the only pressure I received at the hospital was pro breast feeding. Here's my story.

I never planned on breast feeding. To me, it always seemed kind of weird. Wait! Before you scroll down to the comments and vomit a bunch of all-caps on me, hear me out. I don't care if you breast feed. That is your boob, and your kid. If it works for the two of you, I'm happy for you both. But I felt weird doing it. With my boob. Okay?

I had a c-section. After my son was extracted, we were briefly introduced, and then he was spirited away to the nursery for his grooming and distemper shot, or whatever it is that they do in there. My husband went with him. Meanwhile, I was getting reassembled.

They put me back into the labor room (which I guess turned into the recovery room at that point), and the boys showed up a few minutes later. A nurse handed the baby to me without a word, and walked out. My husband sat down in a chair next to my bed. We stared at the baby, then at each other...

Neither of us really had any baby experience. It was only about 9 months prior that we'd even held our first baby. I asked my husband, "What should I do with him?" He didn't know. I wondered if he was hungry. He'd just been through quite an ordeal.

Have you ever done something that was purely instinctual? Like turning away from a skid instead of into it, or maybe punching a bear? Maybe not. Anyway, I got this weird feeling that maybe I should breast feed him. Like the cro-magnon inside me was telling me, "Baby no eat berry. Give boob." I don't know. So I said to my husband, "Maybe I should breast feed him..."

He was surprised. He knew my plan had always been to formula feed. An aside- yes, I said "he knew my plan," rather than "our plan was." Because although the boy was ours, my cans are mine. He never questioned my choice on that, or on the c-section (yes, it was elective). I hope you all have partners like that. Back to the story. So he knew I was planning to use formula, and he was confused, but supportive. I think he said something to the effect of, "Really? Uh, okay, if you want to."

A nurse came in a few minutes later, and I asked her, "Is he hungry? Should I feed him?" She said "Sure," and in one quick motion, opened my johnny, grabbed his head and my tit, and stuck them together like a couple of Legos. Or, more accurately, like a Lego and a Mega Blok, since they didn't seem quite right together. It felt weird and wrong. Again, I'm not saying that breast feeding in general is weird and wrong, it was just weird and wrong for me. But I thought I might get used to it, so I tried.

I decided that I'd try giving him both breast milk and formula, alternating them at every other feeding. A couple of hours later, when I asked that same nurse for some formula, she gave me guff.
"You're breast feeding."
"I tried breast feeding. I'd like to alternate between that and formula."
"You can't do that."
"I'm pretty sure I can."
"He'll get confused. He won't nurse."
"Then he'll drink formula."

This nurse was a real piece of work, and fought us tooth and nail on everything while we were there. Eventually, my husband had to take her out in the hallway and lambaste her. That was awesome.

The rest of the staff was fine with my plan (this includes actual doctors). I alternated every other feeding in the hospital for three days, and for the next two at home. It started to hurt more and more. Men (or squeamish women) may not want to read the next couple of sentences... My nipples started to crack and bleed. And scab. It was disgusting and ridiculously painful. And then I had to worry about my baby swallowing blood, or a scab.

I used ointments and such, and relied on the formula more often until I was somewhat healed. And then came the straw that broke the camel's back. This part is even grosser than the stuff about scabs... One night, I was half asleep, breast feeding and watching TV, and for a split second- and I mean like one eighth of a second- it felt... Good. Not like some beautiful, magical, bonding type of good. Like, inappropriate good. Ewwwww! Please don't think I'm a creep. It was an involuntary reaction and it was awful. I pulled him off of me right away, and it was formula from there on out.

I do expect to get some flack for this. People are going to comment with 101 reasons why I was "wrong" to give him formula. In anticipation of some of the most common arguments, here are my responses:

"It helps the mother bond with the baby."

That's complete and utter bullshit. Do you think I didn't hold him while I fed him his bottle? Do you think a robot raised him while I was out drinking every night? We're plenty bonded. Just like he bonded with his father, who was, sadly, born without breasts.

"Breastfed babies are less likely to develop diabetes, asthma, SIDS, or allergies."

He's perfectly healthy. Also, he's never had an ear infection, his immune system is the best I've ever seen, and his pediatrician flat-out told us at his one year checkup, "He's an ectomorph, like his parents. You won't ever need to worry about him being overweight."

"Formula-fed babies have lower I.Q.s."

He is very smart. Smarter than a lot of adults I know, in fact.

"It helps you lose the baby weight faster."

I'm not giving any numbers, because I don't want you to hate me, but I did not need any help in that department.

"It's easier and less time consuming than formula. And it's free!"

This argument was made up by someone who has no breasts or children. It was not easier for me at all (maybe for some people it is, but not me). It took about the same amount of time (mixing water and powder is not difficult, and did you know you don't have to heat it up?). And yes, your breasts are free, but then there are the ointments, bras, pads, pillows, pumps, coolers, shawls... I'm not doing the math, but even if formula feeding was more expensive, it was a price we were happy to pay.

I know, I know, there's some magic ingredient in breast milk that makes it superior. That's great. But it's not the end-all, be-all. Sooner or later, a kid will eat other foods. They will live on planet Earth, wearing things, touching things, breathing, and not every circumstance in their life will be of optimum value. Maybe they eat cheeseburgers from McDonald's, maybe there's smog in your city. I don't know. But they'll survive.

I'm not trying to convince anyone not to breast feed. I'm trying to convince everyone to do what's right for you and your kid, and not to feel bad about your choice. I read a quote when I was pregnant that I wanted to share with you. Unfortunately can't remember the exact wording, or where I read it, because I had pregnant-brain at the time. But it goes something like this:

It is better to offer a bottle lovingly, than to offer a breast begrudgingly. 

I wholeheartedly agree with that. I hope you do, too. And if you don't, guess what? I don't care. They're not yours.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Story of Two

The Story of One: The details are clear. It wasn’t yesterday but the details are so very clear. It’s not something you ever forget. Nine long months went by of me eating what I thought was good for you, talking to you, fighting nausea, and extreme exhaustion. Nine months of me dreaming about what your face would look like.  Nine months of me wondering if you were a boy or a girl. Nine months of me wondering a whole lot of things.

Before those nine months ever came true there were years of me knowing I wanted you.  It may sound silly but for years before you were ever even a real idea I knew I wanted you.  A list of wrong guys, broken hearts, and chasing other dreams later I met your father.  I knew by our second date that one day we would welcome you into our lives. I knew.  I knew by the way he looked at me. I knew by the way he made me laugh and made me feel that this was it. I had always heard these crazy stories about people just knowing.  You see not everyone in life will accept you for who you are and make you feel special. When you find that it’s amazing. It’s rare. It’s worth sticking around for. Your father made me feel special. He made me feel loved. He made me feel like I was home.

And so I was…home that is. There was a wedding. It was awesome. We were surrounded by our loved ones and we danced and laughed and danced some more.  It was a perfect way to begin the story. We met, we fell in love and we married. It was a dream come true.

We had a couple years of working on the house, playing around and doing our thing. One day we looked at each other and knew someone was missing from the puzzle we were putting together.  It wasn’t without loss and some heartache that we finally came to the realization that we were in fact expecting you.  We were expecting this person we had yet to know anything about but we knew we were excited.  I spent many days talking to you, feeling your movements and praying you would be okay. You were perfect. From the moment your fingers grasped mine you were perfect, from the moment your eyes met mine you were mine. I will never forget the day I uttered the words: “Hi there.  It’s okay, I’m your mommy and I have been waiting for you.”  I would say it was love at first sight but that would be a lie. It was love from the moment I knew you existed.

A couple of years later I knew I wanted a sibling for you and so did your dad. We were ready. You had made our lives so much better and we were ready for more, but like my grandmother always used to say the best laid plans…well they don’t always work out. Your father needed open heart surgery. It wasn’t something we were prepared for but we got through it. We came out the other side of what looked like an impossible mountain and we were stronger because of it.
The Story of Two: We found out you would be joining our family with utter excitement 7 months after your father's surgery. Just like I had done with your brother; I talked to you every night. I wondered if you were a girl or a boy and I prayed everything would turn out okay. It did. You did. The night you were born I cried with excitement. I stared at you for hours. You were perfect. You were ours and we were yet again blessed.

I love you both with all my heart.



I am a mother.

I am not perfect.

I make mistakes.

I did not breastfeed longer than 4 weeks.
I wished for sleep.

I forget things.
I want time to slow down.
I want to fast forward to bed time.

I yell sometimes. (More often than I should)

I gave up my career.

I sometimes wish I were anywhere BUT here.

I realize HERE is the only place I want to be.

I love my family.

I’m not sure I can balance it all.

I do not have the answers to all the questions.

I suck at laundry.

I am looking for more patience. (No really where are you hiding?)

I'm not sure I have a clue what I am doing.

I sometimes need a break.

I am trying to make my husband a priority.

I am realizing non-kid dates are pretty awesome.

I am doing the best I can.

I love my family.

I love this life.


This has been an introduction to Motherhood Mondays here on Outsmarted Mommy. Every week you will know that you are not alone in this battle we call motherhood.  Every week another amazing writer will be featured with a different story about motherhood. I promise stories that will move you, make you laugh, make you cry, make you think and make you realize you are not alone. You may not always agree with their stance but I ask you to: Respect it because we may have differences but in the end we are all mothers.  We may not have arrived here in the same way but we are here and while we are here it would sure be great to hold each other up, laugh once in a while, cry every now and then and just know that together we can conquer so much more than we can alone. No one tells a story quite like a mother.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Don't Let Fear Take Over

Today’s post is part of The Secret Subject Swap hosted by Karen over at Baking in a Tornado. This week 12 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.  My subject is:  What is the thing you are most afraid of? It was submitted to me by the lovely host Karen of Baking in a Tornado.


Fear is an odd emotion. You never quite know what is going to bring it on and the reasons may not always make sense. Let’s be honest there isn’t a human on this planet that doesn’t have a fear of something.  Some fears will take you by surprise, like my 6ft 2" husband’s fear of ponies. Yes that’s right a grown man afraid of a pony. It makes me laugh too. I have a fear of spiders and heights. Put me on a high dive with a daddy long leg and you will be able to hear me scream for miles.  (I will also never speak to you again just so we’re clear.) There was a time in my life when I would have answered Karen’s question by telling her without any doubt that my greatest fear was heights, but I have children now. Having children is a game changer. Suddenly all the things you thought you feared and thought you knew are turned completely upside down.

My children are young, five and two to be exact. We are in the throes of the terrible 2’s as well as the “I know everything already 5’s”. We are also however still in the stages of cuddling, playing together, talking about everything together and being one as a family unit. Our weekends consist of the four of us together, always.  I look at my boys and think to myself where is the time going? After all it feels like just yesterday I was coming home with my oldest as a newborn and today he is in Kindergarten.  I feel like I am going to blink and he will be in high school.  

That being said young kids are no walk in the park. After all it’s what we do now that will affect them later in life right? Ahhhhhhhh wait if I read that out loud I may in fact have a panic attack. Let me say that one more time. What we do now is what will affect them later in life.  In other words don’t mess up MOM!  I can tell you I am far from perfect. In fact there are nights I tuck the boys in and finish cleaning up only to get in bed and feel like one big giant failure. Maybe I lost my patience one too many times that day. Maybe I told the 5yo I didn’t have time to read him a second story. Maybe I chose cleaning the house over getting on the floor with the 2yo to do 6 puzzles that day.  Maybe just maybe I secretly wished to be anywhere but here that particular day.  The guilt we put on ourselves as moms to be on 100% of the time is a real killer.   After all there are plenty of days I read that second story, do those 6 puzzles and wouldn’t dream of being anywhere BUT here.  I can’t help however being afraid that I am not doing it right, this parenting thing. That one little thing could forever alter the outcome of my children and our relationship in the future.

When it comes down to it my biggest fear is that I am not a perfect parent and that I will somehow permanently damage my children because of it. After all you don’t get a do over. This isn’t a sport. This is life and it’s happening whether I’m prepared for it or not. When you bring a baby home life is all about feeding, cuddling, changing and playing but as they grow you begin to realize that there is so much more to this than you could have ever imagined.  

Sometimes I find myself thinking way too far ahead.  What if they don’t make any long lasting friends? What if one of them gets bullied? What if one of them IS a bully? What if they come home with questions I’m not prepared to answer? How will I talk to them about drugs? What will I say about sex? What if someone hurts them? What if, what if, what if????

Then I take a deep breath and realize the only way to deal with fear is to deal with it head on. So I am going to climb to the top of the high dive and look that Daddy Long Legs in the eyes and get over it already. Or I am going to just take this parenting thing one day at a time. I know not all of our days will be great ones, but some of them sure will. I know that I am doing the best I can. I know the boys feel loved and are happy. I know how they treat people now and I will do my best to make sure it remains that way. I will make sure they know how to stick up for themselves and when it comes to the really big things in life well we will have to tackle them like we do our weekends, all together.
You see fear can only take over if you let it and when I look at my two boys I can’t help but think how on earth can I possibly be scared. I’ve got this. We’ve got this.

This has been a Secret Subject post. I hope you enjoyed it. Grab a cup of coffee or your favorite cocktail and go read what the amazing other bloggers had to write.                               Baking In A Tornado                                   The Momisodes                           Just A Little Nutty       Moore Organized Mayhem                                    Crazy As Normal                  Searching for Sanity                        Home on Deranged                       Dawn’s Disaster                  The Insomniac’s Dream                 Black Sheep Mom                  Writer B is Me