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Guest Post & Giveaway!

Two posts in one day?! Who am I?! Ok so technically I didn’t write this post, I am co-sponsoring a giveaway with a few bloggy friends and Ellie from Creative Geekery is going to tell you all about it:

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Mother's Day Giveaway

Because it is never TOO early to start celebrating the mother of all holidays (pun intended), I have teamed up with a bunch of my favorite bloggers to bring you a very special mother’s day giveaway! When I am not blogging away over at Creative Geekery, I am a graphic designer and one of my favorite things to do is design tee shirts. A few years back I came up with the idea of creating personalized tees for moms, grammies, great-grammies, aunties and great-aunties that incorporates the names of all of the special kiddos in their lives! We will be giving away ONE personalized mom’s day tee with whatever nickname you choose (mom, mommy, mama, yaya, grammie, auntie, ANYTHING!) and the names of all of the kids, nieces, nephews, grand and great-grand babies! Don’t worry if there are a lot of names. I can get creative!

The tee shirts are a relaxed fit standard weight t-shirt for women from Gildan, 100% pre-shrunk cotton (50%cotton/50%polyester for deep heather color). They come in NINE colors and 5 sizes (S-XXL) and you can choose from 14 ink colors including metallic silver and gold (fancy!). We will work out those dets later! Time for the contest!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you just CANNOT wait to order a tee, go ahead an enter the contest anyway. If you win, I will refund the cost of the tee ($25) plus your shipping (standard domestic shipping only)! Plus, if you order your tee before April 29th, you can save 15% with the coupon code HEYMAMA. Please send an email to creativegeekeryblog@gmail.com and I will get the ball rolling on your design! In the meantime, enter to win! XO


Being honest outloud

You may, or may not, have noticed my sporadic posting lately, along with my month long hiatus. I promise it’s not intentional, it’s simply that sometimes, something has to give. This space has always been my little place of honesty, since the first day of sitting down to write 4 years ago. I never felt the need to sugar coat anything here, and people supported me regardless. And at some point recently, I emotionally shut down.

To say that these past 5 months have been difficult is an understatement, however, I was always too scared to be honest here, for many reasons. The biggest being that I know I am so, so lucky and blessed. And I don’t want it to reflect any differently, however whiny this post may unintentionally come across. This is my real life, and this is me sharing my , sometimes not-so-glamorous, journey.

My children are my life, both emotionally and literally. As a stay at home mom, I am here with them all day everyday. It’s an amazing gift to be able to do so, and I am so thankful that it’s always been a priority to my husband to ensure that I am. With that said, sometimes it’s hard, and that “sometimes” has been the past few months for me. William is a difficult baby. Everyone close to me knows that. Heck, people who aren’t close to me probably know that by now too. He has the sweetest heart, and he loves his Mommy so, so much. And I love that. Really I do. But it’s also hard. He despises being put down, leaving me feeling crippled and extremely unproductive many times throughout the day. His nighttime sleeping isn’t stellar, leaving me exhausted to boot. His daytime colicky/reflux behavior and excessive crying is emotionally draining.

There are days that I cannot stand the crying anymore, and strap him in the swing securely and shut the bathroom door and take a long shower, just to drown it out. There are days that I snap at Vivien because I’m exhausted and I feel like I might lose it if I hear another second of a whine or a tantrum. There are days that I pack up the kids and drive around in the car aimlessly while Vivien watches a movie on my kindle because I know that William will fall asleep while I drive and I can count on just a bit of “alone time” for myself. There have been many times that both kids have been crying, and I have joined right in along with them.

All I’ve ever wanted to be is a Mom. My career was great, but I never felt like I was “giving anything up” to become a stay at home mom. (I wrote about it here.) But in my depths of self pity and frustration during these times, I envied my husband for getting to escape the screams by going to work. I was jealous, and I was selfish. I took it out primarily on my husband, unfortunately.

Needless to say, these past 5 months haven’t been full of rainbows and unicorns. My growing relationship with my son has been a difficult adjustment on me. My Mom-guilt has been magnified 1,000 percent as I do see Vivien sometimes getting the brunt end of the deal. She sees me far more exasperated, frustrated, and emotional than she ever has before. I witness her stooping over William’s chair if he’s crying and yelling, “Baby! Be quiet!” Our weekly outings and activities have gone from nearly every day, to maybe 2-3 times a week instead.

I want to tell a story, and hopefully it will wrap up this seemingly obnoxious, self indulgent post.

About a month ago, William had a rough day. It was full of sporadic and short naps, and lots of screaming when he was awake. During the day, I made up my mind that I had to bite the bullet and go to the grocery store for non-dairy stuff, because something had to help. Eli walked in the door, and I immediately handed William to him, and I broke down into ugly sobs and tears. It was then that my sweet and sensitive two year old stopped dead in her tracks and looked at me with inquisitive eyes. She then kept repeating out loud, “Oh no. Oh no. Mommy’s crying.” She sweetly climbed into my lap and touched my face and looked into my eyes and said, “It’s okay, Mommy. Don’t cry.” She grabbed my face in her tiny, hands and proceeded to “Shush” me and it almost instantly calmed me down. I realized then that she didn’t need a scheduled activity every single day of the week, or her tiny wardrobe perfectly folded and organized on a regular basis. She just needed her Mommy.

Since that day a month ago, I feel like things have gradually gotten better. Like I mentioned before, I did end up giving up 100% of dairy (even trace amounts) and I really do feel like William has been a different baby since. In fact, I even took him off his reflux medication about two weeks ago, because I didn’t feel like it was necessary and/or made a difference at all in his day to day behavior. I stopped trying to diagnose him or find a solution to his crying, and instead started wearing him in the ergo a lot more throughout the day, and embraced co-sleeping and constant dream-nursing sessions. I gave up the labels, and trying to put him in a certain box. I started just going with it, rather than analyzing it.

  No edited photos, just real life, in the moment snapshots of ergo holding, lap giggles, painting in pajamas, and half smiles.

So this is me stepping outside my comfort zone and being honest with myself outloud. This is me admitting to myself (and my blog) that sometimes, I’m not the best Mom I could be. But this is me vowing to try to always find the good in everything, because my entire family more than deserves it.

 


Wordless Wednesday: Siblings

The love she has for her little brother is insane. 

(This one cracks me up. Favorite ever. Like I want to make a big canvas.)


Easter 2014

  Photo copyright Ashley Henry Photography

 Photo copyright Ashley Henry Photography

The above photos are a couple of my favorite from a recent session that a friend of mine took of the kiddos. I have lots more (including a pretty hysterical Vivien tantrum one) but they will have to wait for another day.

I wish that I had taken some posed photos of their baskets. I am in love with their actual baskets. I had joined a co-op group on facebook a couple months ago, and they recently did a group purchase of handwoven, non-toxic, fairly traded Bolga Baskets from Bolgatanga, Africa. They weren’t nearly as pricey as others I’ve seen *cough*PotteryBarn*cough* and I know that it helped directly support an African woman working and weaving for her family’s livelihood.

Plus, once the kids think they are too cool for Easter baskets, or want some silly character one, I can keep these for myself, because they are stunning. Seriously, I want like 3 more for around the house.

Easter was a busy day, and I am just trying to dump some recent photos without being too wordy. Vivien was all hopped up (See what I did there?) on “Treats” all day, and kept asking to see the bunny that left her these treats. One day you’ll get it, kid.

Her “big” item were these blocks from Melissa & Doug, as well as some candy, and An American Tale movie that mommy, the easter bunny, nabbed at Target for $4.

Will’s bigger item he got was this super cute Fox Stroller Toy from Mud Pie, as well as some new pacifiers, and a couple random teething toys.

He was obviously thrilled.

  Photo on left copyright Ashley Henry Photography, Photo on right copyright Memoirs Photography

You may be able to tell what the recent common Easter theme is: tantrums. Staring :Vivien. It’s rough being 2, sometimes.

I hope you and your loved ones had a wonderful Easter Sunday!


Mother’s Milk Bank in Denver, Colorado.

Last week, I packed up the kiddos and we ventured into Denver to take a tour of the Mother’s Milk Bank. A little backstory that I think I’ve mentioned here before: when I was in the hospital recovering from my c-section after having William, my milk hadn’t come in yet after 24 hours. While that’s not usually something to be concerned about, it was for us because of his rising jaundice numbers. This wasn’t new territory for us; the same thing had happened with Vivien two years prior.

I requested a meeting with the lactation consultant at the hospital to get a Medela Supplemental Nursing System to hook onto me to give him some milk, while also (hopefully) stimulating my initial milk production. The lactation consultant asked if I preferred formula, or donor breastmilk. Say what? That existed?! I jumped at the chance and chose the latter. The nurse brought in about an ounce of human donor breastmilk, and I put it in the supplemental system. He drank it up (and fell right asleep, praise the heavens!) and within 3 hours, my own milk came in. I didn’t need to use the donor milk anymore, but I was/am so thankful that he was given the opportunity to be exclusively breastfed since day one.

So that’s my own personal story with donor milk, and I was excited to learn more about the process to eventually become a donor myself, once barracuda boy gives me longer breaks from nursing.

The Milk Bank in Denver is celebrating it’s 30th Birthday (I hear that amazing things were birthed in 1984…jus’ sayin’) and I was intrigued to learn that it’s start was truly a grassroots effort of one lady, and her son William, that wanted to use donor milk in Denver, but a milk bank didn’t exist. So she started one. It is part of the Rocky Mountain Children’s Heath Foundation.

Nice photobomb, Vivien

Milk banking has been in existence for as long as blood banking has been. It’s true! The first milk bank was actually on a ship in the Boston Harbor, because no one wanted the milk to be contaminated. They have a much more advanced system in place now though, rest assured. The Denver Mother’s Milk Bank is a non-profit, charity organization (501C-3) . 95% of the milk goes directly to NICU’s across Colorado, as well as 26 other states. The other 5% goes to mothers and babies in need, with a prescription from the baby’s doctor.

Did you know?

  • Human breastmilk contains over 100 ingredients that perfectly sustain babies?
  • Some of those “ingredients” have recently been proven to kill cancer cells? (Source)
  •  1 out of 8 babies born each year are premature and can be born with compromised immune systems, developmental delays, and nutritional deficiencies?
  • One ounce of human breastmilk can feed one infant in the NICU for one day?

Is it safe?

  • “The Mothers’ Milk Bank adheres to the strict guidelines published by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (“Guidelines for the Establishment and Operation of a Donor Human Milk Bank,” reviewed annually) and written input of representatives with the Food and Drug Administration, Center for Disease Control and American Academy of Pediatrics. In addition, the Milk Bank complies with the United States Public Health Service “Guidelines for Prevention of Transmission of HIV Through Transplantation of Human Tissue and Organs.” (Source)
  • “All milk is pasteurized at a minimum of 62.5 degrees C for 30 minutes. Both CMV and HIV viruses are killed by this process, while preserving the unique immune properties. Additional information is available upon request.” (Source)
  • “A post-pasteurization bacterial culture is performed and must comply with our standards of no growth.” (Source)
  • “Milk is analyzed using a near-infrared analyzer which shows protein, calories, and fat.” (Source)

Inbound MilkMilk that is in-bound

The Process:

I was interested to learn that to become a milk donor, all applicants must first go through rigorous blood work testing. After they are approved, they ship their collected milk to the bank in iced fedex boxes, and then the milk goes through various stages. Once the milk arrives to the bank, it is pooled together in sanitized flasks. The reasoning behind this is to make sure that the fat content is evenly distributed to create a base caloric/fat level. Some mothers may pump fattier milk than others, (Heather, I’m looking at you!) so they are all combined and then pasteurized, tested again for bacteria, and a sample is drawn to get an exact caloric level per batch (which is important for the NICU babies.)

It is then separated, and frozen and ready to be distributed across the US. Every hospital in Colorado (sans 2) participates in the donor milk program. In addition to regular breastmilk, they also have colostrum, fat free milk, and dairy free milk (holla!)

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Are you a soon-to-be or currently lactating mother? If you’re interested in learning more on how to become a milk donor, click here to fill out the application. You can help give babies the gift of life through breastmilk. I know I’m signing up ASAP myself, we can trade pumping stories over the water cooler, aka: facebook messenger.

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Disclaimer: I received no compensation for this post. Just love the cause. :) All photos courtesy of Mother’s Milk Bank, Denver.