A True 180°

This morning I walked out onto the back porch & faced the sun beams streaming through the trees. I quieted my heart, asking God what the day might hold. I breathed in the summer air, not yet touched by the humidity promised in the lingering haze. I stretched & smiled because I know each morning, each day is another chance.

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10 Ways To Feel Like Yourself Again After Baby

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When you’re expecting it’s all about the baby! You’ve spent the last 9 months preparing for and thinking about this huge life change. Now that your little one has made the transition to your arms they are your first priority.

Welcoming a new baby changes everything and the first few months can be brutal. Between sleepless nights and painful nursing its easy to fade into the shuffle of meeting your newborn’s needs. But, if you want to care for them well it helps to care for you, too! Here are a few things that can help you feel more like yourself again as you adjust to your new normal.

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Pear Harvest Photos

Hello All,

I wanted to share some photos from harvesting our pear tree in the backyard the other day.

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It was a sunny and humid afternoon which made for hot work but we still had fun!
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My husband has been shooing the kids away from the pear tree all summer so they were happy to finally have the okay to pick the fruit!
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He sat in the shade on his boppy and a blanket most of the time. Next year, buddy!
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The tree had little spiders and bigger daddy long legs in it. One scared little Miss Muffet behind me and she was less interested in picking after that.
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Hope was enjoying the shade of the tree. She loves having the whole family outside at the same time.
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Going up to get the good ones! When a pear is ready to harvest it should come right off the branch without resistance. If it’s not yet mature it will try to hang on.
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After we harvested all of the pears I brought them inside, inspected them and washed and dried the good ones.
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I have bowls full of pears in various sizes in my kitchen now and I’m giving them away in bagfuls!
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Pears don’t ripen on the vine. They need to sit in room temperature for about a week to soften up. If you put them in a paper bag it speeds up this process. My family is planning to use them for pie and other recipes.

Do you have any recipe ideas for my pear crop? Let me know in the comments!

❤ Cait

Postpartum: Why Its More Than Just The First 6 Weeks

We’ve come home, bonded, and established nursing. We’re back to driving, cleaning and errands. When weeks begin to turn to months, especially at the 6 week point, the pressure is on to let go of our birth experiences and move on. We are expected to be completely healed and back to our daily grind full force. We’re cleared to exercise and should be focused on getting back into pre-pregnancy shape. People around us start checking in on us less and we put pressure on ourselves to be back to “normal”. This pressure is only stronger by our society’s obsession with post baby celebrities in their slinky dresses and Instagram models posing with their newborns in body shapers and full glam.

Yet, I don’t feel normal. I had a harder delivery and slower recovery this time and I don’t feel “over it”. I just got to a point where I’m almost totally pain free and besides the occasional stroll I haven’t started working out. The world may have forgotten but my body hasn’t as it continues to feel  the twinges of muscles repairing themselves from surgery, the ache of streams of milk, and my noticeably weaker knees. I’m still sporting my linea nigra , stretch marks and a fresh red scar. I still feel emotional about having a newborn. But I’ve reached the 6 week mark! I’m not “postpartum” anymore. Why don’t I have it back together by now?

When I was pregnant I used a week by week pregnancy tracker, asked my midwife a million questions and googled every little symptom. Yet up until today I had neglected to brush up on anything regarding the post-partum period beyond my c-section recovery.  This was not due to me thinking that I know it all by the third time around. I just got so wrapped up in the baby that I forgot all about checking in with myself.

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So what did I learn on my quest for knowledge? That the postpartum period doesn’t abruptly end at the 6 week mark, but consists of 3 distinct phases:

The Initial or Acute period- This is the first 6-12 hours after your baby is born where you’re potential for complications is higher and you’re monitored closely by the hospital or midwife.

The Sub-acute period- which last 2-6 weeks, when you are more stable but still recovering from delivery. This is what most people think of as “postpartum”.

The Delayed period- According to an article on The Journal of Prenatal Medicine website, this period can last up to 6 months! The article states:

“This is the time of restoration of muscle tone and connective tissue to the prepregnant state. Although change is subtle during this phase, it behooves caregivers to remember that a womanʼs body is nonetheless not fully restored to pre-pregnant physiology until about 6 months post-delivery.”

No wonder I don’t feel normal again yet, I’m not! The article goes on to say that in some ways we may never be back to our pre-pregnant state and certainly, our lives are changed by our little ones forever. Yet, once the baby comes Earthside we’re encouraged to show as little evidence of carrying a child as we can. We’re told to get back to work, tone up and erase the marks left on our bodies as quickly as possible. As if it’s something shameful.

We shouldn’t be ashamed. We should be proud of all of the ways in which motherhood has changed us, body and soul! Though sometimes I struggle to appreciate my postpartum body, it has done amazing things. These lines and scars are symbols of sacrifice and strength. This vessel has co-created with God. Its loved, housed and grown my family. It continues to nourish myself and flourish my baby. When the temptation to rush back to some false sense of normalcy comes I need to remind myself to take it slow. To be less eager to shed these signs of pregnancy, these physical memories, and to fully appreciate them for the beauty that they represent.

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Did you feel pressure from yourself or others to get back to normal after baby? Share in the comments below!

❤ Cait

Adjusting to Life With a Toddler and a Newborn

While pulling into the parking lot of the pediatrician’s office today I began to strategize. Find a spot close to the entrance, Okay, grab the diaper bag, then take the baby out first since he is in the carrier, then grab Claire and hold on to her squirmy little wrist and when it comes time to open the door to the building? Well…lets just cross that bridge when we get to it!

Adjusting to life with a newborn is a feat in and of itself, and when we threw a toddler into the mix things quickly got complex. Here are a few reasons why.

Naps- 10 minutes after the toddler falls asleep, the baby cries, waking the toddler. So I sit on the floor of the nursery next to her small bed nursing one while patting the back of the other. 40 minutes (if I’m lucky!) later I slink out of the bedroom and carefully close the door only for the squeak of the hinge to wake the newborn, then, repeat.

Too Much Love- If Billy is napping, Claire wants to wake him up to play. She gives his cheek a gingerly pat and says “wake up baby!”. Her love for him is sometimes too strong! She wants to kiss him and hug him and grab his face. We’ve had some fingernail scratches and many reminders to be gentle.

Playtime- My newborn is limited in what he can do physically and my toddler needs me to protect her from herself! One is fragile and still being coddled at the breast in the shade while the other wants to climb, run, jump and play in the sunshine! I’m tethered to one, and chasing the other.

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Tandem Nursing- I thought I made it to easy street only nursing Claire for 5 minutes at nap time and bedtime She was practically weaned! Then the new baby was born and we reversed right back to…difficult street. I don’t know at what time it is that you are reading this but I can bet that it is time to nurse at our house! Baby boy feeds round the clock which makes my toddler interested when she normally wouldn’t be.

I only ever nurse them one at a time and she gets jealous when I tell her no. I am trying to nurse her as little as possible, the goal being to completely wean. Often she cries and I distract her with a snack or ship her off with another family member to do something else. Most of the time it works, other times it doesn’t. Still, I’m beginning to learn how to balance the physical needs of the baby and the emotional needs of my toddler.

Mommy, Mommy!- Both kids still require a lot of my attention and with dad back at work I find myself outnumbered. One is crying in my arms while one is clinging to my leg, or Billy is spitting up while Claire squeezes her juice onto the floor! I try to prioritize by need and not want which means asking a lot of patience from a naturally impatient 2 year old. Claire is used to having all of the focus on her and is still getting used to sharing the spotlight.

Having two babies of different stages and needs can be pretty chaotic at times. Two car seats, a double stroller, another set of those annoying onesie snaps, twice the crying, twice the diapers, twice the coffee! But at the end of the day its worth it because we all get to share twice the love.

What was your greatest challenge when you brought home a new baby? Comment below!

❤ Cait

How I Prepared My Kids for a New Baby (& Family Update)

Hello Friends,

After a short and much needed hiatus I am finally beginning to feel like myself again and this includes getting back to blogging! Here’s a little update on what has been happening the last couple of months.

On May 31st 2018 our youngest daughter turned 2!

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Five days later on June 5th 2018 we welcomed a healthy baby boy!

Yay! Our family is complete!

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But going from a family of 4 to a family of 5 is a huge change! Here are some ways that I prepared my kids to welcome the new baby. I hope that you can use some of these ideas if you are adding another monkey to your zoo soon as well (& if so, Congrats!).

For My Toddler:

No Stork Talk-

When I found out I was expecting again I wondered how much of it my toddler would understand. Pregnancy is mind blowing even to those of us who experience it! Nevertheless, I spoke to her about my pregnancy (in an age appropriate way of course) as if she could understand. We told her excitedly that there was a baby in Mama’s belly that would part of our family soon. Even if they don’t grasp the concept of gestation completely they may pick up on more than you think! I’ve learned not to underestimate the comprehension and emotional intelligence our little ones can have.

Songs and Stories-

Songs and stories are a fun way to introduce the concept of a new baby. Reading books and listening to songs with baby themes is a great way for kids to learn through a comfortable medium. Here’s a song that my daughter really liked: Song (via YouTube)

Promote them to “Big”-

I made sure to pump our daughter up for her brand new role as “big sister”. We reminded her often of her upcoming ‘promotion’ and told her what to expect by telling her how much fun she would have playing with her new sibling. We also bought “Big Sister” shirts for the girls to wear to the hospital. A special outfit highlighted how special of a day it was.

Acknowledge Baby’s Personhood-

Show your little one that the new baby is a part of the family by treating them as such even before they’re born. Include the baby as part of your conversations during your daily routine, “The baby likes these waffles, do you?”. Refer to the baby in your tummy often while doing everyday activities, “Baby loves being outside with us in the fresh air!” I encouraged my toddler to kiss and hug and talk to my growing tummy. She learned to pat it and call it baby, and would even play peek-a-boo using my shirt!:)

At Christmastime I hung a tiny stocking for the baby on the mantle with the rest of the family’s (did this with each of my kids). Recognizing personhood of the baby in the pregnancy helps to establish affection early. I truly feel it is so important and helps prepare everyone (including yourself) for the reality to come.

-Hello Dolly

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Children learn so much through play and incorporating a baby doll is a great way to teach kids how babies should be treated. I enjoyed quality time with my kiddo while modeling appropriate behavior. We giggled as we pretended to feed, change, and dress the doll. I made sure to praise her for being nice to the doll and being a great helper!

-Hi Baby!

When you see a baby at the mall or grocery store, point them out! Remind your child that your’s is in your tummy. I liked to say hello to the baby and their caregiver and comment on the cuteness. She so enjoyed greeting all of the babies we saw and eventually she was the one pointing them to me!

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Now that the baby is here she is adapting so well. She loves baby dolls even more now and seeing her mimicking my motherhood is super adorable. Once she met the baby in my arms she never again refered to the baby as being in my stomach. It seems she made the connection of them being one in the same right away (see what I mean about not underestimating?)

There are still jealous times sharing mom but she is loving her brother! She enjoys giving hugs and kisses and is naturally maternal. She fusses over him when he cries, patting him and cooing “It’s okay baby.” in her tiny little voice. I also noticed that she treats other kids that are younger than her more gently and much in the same way she now treats her brother. She’s learning so much from him already!

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For My Preteen:

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My oldest daughter is middle school aged and a seasoned big sister. She understands much more about whats going on than my toddler but I still prepared her by involving her in some baby prep and giving her a few reminders.

What do You Think?-

Invite older kid’s suggestions about things like names and room decor. Kids are creative, you never know what cool ideas they could come up with! For us brainstorming names was a fun way to build some anticipation and involve her in an important aspect of having a new baby.

News Flash-

At 11 you sometimes forget that the world doesn’t revolve around you! I made sure to remind her that things would be different for a while. No friends at the house and not as many activities in the weeks that followed baby’s homecoming. The postpartum period should be about bonding as a family.

Mom Needs Rest-

Families are great for the support we can give to eachother and older kids are a seriously valuable asset! Before my due date I gave my daughter a heads up about increased responsibility around the house. Since I couldn’t do as much during my c-section recovery, her completing her chores and helping with her sister became even more important! She is old enough to complete household tasks of significance and while she is too young to babysit on her own, she is more than capable of playing with our toddler or reading her a book to keep her occupied if Mom’s tied up.

You’re A Role Model-

I reminded her that these kids will look up to her for more reasons than just their height difference! They will be influenced greatly by her example. She’s my right hand gal and so important to our family!

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The babies keep us busy but I make it a point not to put parenting my older one on autopilot. One on one time and activities for older kids only help her not to feel swept aside. She loves her little brother too! She likes to hold him and give him silly nick names.

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As for Mom and Dad? We’re adjusting to more laundry, diapers, feedings, and less sleep than we remember from the last baby! I was lucky to have my husband take time off of work to be home with me for a while. We feel so blessed and cant wait to see how our children’s relationships continue to grow throughout the years.

How did you prepare your family for a new baby? If you have any tips or fun ideas please share in the comments below!

❤ Cait

Read more about Adjusting to Life with a Toddler and a Newborn here!

Why I’m Not Freaking Out About Turning 30

So there seems to be an expectation, especially for women, to freak out about turning 30. Well I just celebrated my 30th birthday and honestly I feel great!

Why the Neurosis?

In our youth obsessed culture, it’s no wonder people have a negative view of growing older. Youth and beauty are seen as valuable and powerful assets. There are billions of dollars a year made on women trying to preserve their youth and slow the aging process with countless products geared towards health and beauty.

A lot of main stream movies and TV shows focus on the young or coming of age group. Young pop stars and models are just getting younger. Social media is dominated by smooth, filtered faces, posts lamenting reaching 26, and 30 things to do before 30 lists..as if after 30 you simply curl up and die!

News Flash!

Life continues after your 30! You still have so much life ahead of you. You’re still young, hopefully physically able, and vibrant! You can still have dreams, goals, education, families, new careers, new travels and experiences in your 30s and beyond. Lamenting 30 reeks of naiveté. Why focus on the negative when you’ve been gifted with another year of life? Think about it..the alternative is death. How will you deal with all of the years to come and live a joyful life if you attach a negative outlook to its natural progression? How will you react to 40, 50, 60 years? Be thankful! Choose joy!

Here are some examples of inspiring women that realized their dreams after 30:

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Lucille Ball: The beloved sitcom I Love Lucy premiered in 1951 when Ball was 40.

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J.K. Rowling: The first book of the wildly popular Harry Potter Series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published in 1997 when Rowling was 32.

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Oprah Winfrey: Winfrey signed a syndication deal for her hit talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1986 when she was 32.

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Julia Child: Child was originally an aspiring novelist and didn’t learn to cook until she was 36! Her iconic TV cooking show The French Chef premiered in 1963 when she was 40.

These are just a few of many examples and I highly suggest looking into the stories of each of these amazing women. Age gives us time to have a past which makes us all the more fascinating!

Join the Club-

I don’t know if you realize this but most people are over the age of 30! You’re in great company with the majority of the world.

For me personally, I am happy to leave the tumult of my 20s behind. I’ve grown into myself and have shed so much doubt and insecurity. I know who I am, what I believe, I’m healed from my past, I accept myself, flaws and all, I’ve learned from my mistakes, I’m married, I’m settled, I care less what others think, I have the tools to face adversity with strength, and I’m looking forward to moving securely and confidently towards my future.

With Age Comes Wisdom-

I never want to be one of those women who feels like she wants to lie about her age. I want to proclaim it proudly and wear it like a badge of honor. I want to be like the women who proceed me and that I look up to. We’re experienced, knowledgeable, strong, wise. We know that life still holds many lessons and challenges and only when we cease to learn, to laugh, and to grow in spirit do we begin to die.

We All Carve a Unique Life Path-

Did I accomplish everything I possibly could have before age 30? No. I never did finish college or publish a book, I haven’t seen too much of the world through traveling, I haven’t perfected all of my skills or attained many of my dreams. But I did have a career, fall in love, help others, grow a family, and make some great memories. There is no right way or order in which to live your life. Some people wait until 30 or later to settle into a career or marry or start a family so they get their education and travel in then, I did things in a different order that’s all! And that’s okay. The good news is that there is still so much time!

No matter what season of life you find yourself in wear your age with pride, sisters! Smile and live your life to the fullest in each unique and wonderful stage, and know that you have the power to decide that the best is yet to come!

She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future ~Proverbs 31:25

How do you handle big birthdays and milestone moments of life? What advice would you give to your younger self or the women who follow you about embracing change and enjoying the journey?

❤ Cait

Faith Like a Child

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven -Matthew 18:1-4

Oh, to have faith and trust in the Lord like my child trusts in me. When my 1 year old stumbles and falls she doesn’t hesitate to get up and run to me.

When she is weary she seeks me for comfort, knowing I will take her into my arms to rock her to sleep.

When she looks up at me, her stubby hand out and says “Cracker?” she doesn’t doubt that I will feed her.

She doesn’t question where it will come from but instead waits expectantly, her doe eyes fixed on me in joyful anticipation.

She never questions if I love her, she just runs to me, climbing me like a tree to wrap her little arms around my neck and kiss my cheek.

She doesn’t question if she’s safe because she knows I faithfully care for her each day. She doesn’t wonder if I will be with her because I watch over her, constant as the sky.

She can’t speak to me with eloquence but, I know she adores me with barely a word.

And all I am is an imperfect mother how much more than does our perfect Father in Heaven deserve our trust and confidence in him?

My Love-Hate Relationship With Extended Breastfeeding

Anyone who has breastfed knows that it is not always quite as easy or tranquil as it is oftentimes portrayed. I had breastfed my older daughter but like everything else 10 years later it felt like starting over. Similar to how we forget about our labor pains when we have our newborns in our arms, my memories of breastfeeding were blurred by time and nostalgia.

I was surprised with how difficult it was to begin the journey with my new daughter.  I mean, ouch! I lived off Lanolin cream and didn’t wear a top for at least 2 weeks! Though feeding an infant on demand was still a lot of work those tender moments passed and things became more comfortable for both of us. We got into a groove and have been doing well ever since.

The thing they forget to mention about exclusively nursing your baby is that it never really seems to slow down until they are eating solid food. As the baby grows and sleeps less they still require more and more milk to fill their expanding tummies. Even when they are gobbling up peas and sweet potatoes the demand can still be grueling.

Then there comes the unsolicited opinions. Around the time my baby girl approached the milestone of her first birthday the pressure from others to wean her was on. I would get comments from people around me like “You’re still nursing her?” , “Wow isn’t she getting a little old for that?”, “All my babies were weaned by 6 weeks!”, “Does she really need that still?”

To answer some of those questions; Yes, breast milk is still beneficial to baby even after they turn a year old. It still has the same magical abilities of supporting their immune systems, and changing  with their nutritional needs. Not to mention the psychological benefits of comfort, trust and love that all children need. My baby is only 20 months and I don’t feel that it is unreasonable to want that type of comfort!

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No, she is not “too old” to breastfeed. She is no less independent for our decision to continue breastfeeding. We never need to nurse in public anymore as she usually only does it before nap and bed time now. She eats table foods with a fork and spoon, she is transitioning to a toddler bed in her own bedroom, she uses sippy cups with whole milk or diluted juice in it, she recognizes and names her letters and is starting to count and she plays independently and with other kids well. In our culture we tend to wean early but the rest of the world in general weans at much older ages.

I wasn’t too strict on weaning until I desired to become pregnant again. After a year I hadn’t yet resumed my cycle and was still nursing quite a bit. I wanted to at least reduce since I didn’t know whether my fertility had returned. Not having your monthly can be a huge benefit. One less inconvenience postpartum. I don’t use contraception and only natural family planning but, be warned- Just because you aren’t menstruating does not mean you aren’t ovulating. I did get pregnant before my cycle returned. What I thought was my period was actually implantation.

While attempting to wean we had some set backs. Each time a new tooth sprouted, when we moved, or if she wasn’t feeling well, she would regress and return to nursing more. At the time I would be frustrated. It felt like losing progress but, she would always go back to nursing less often once things got back to normal.

As you can see, most of my experience with extended breastfeeding has been pretty positive. Where the hate part of it really comes in for me is for myself! Nursing a small, still infant is much different than a heavy, mobile, squirming, pinching, squeezing toddler! And since I’ve gotten pregnant things have become tender and at times caused nursing to become uncomfortable again. As I said in my previous post Pregzilla  pregnancy and breastfeeding can be quite taxing at times.

The truth is the decision to breastfeed your baby or not and when to wean them are personal decisions and though there are many opinions there is no one right answer! You just need to do whats best for you and your baby! It would be great if she were fully weaned before June when the new baby arrives but, if not that’s okay too. I can totally picture myself being a bad-ass tandem nursing mama! I feel lucky to be able to take this journey with her as it comes and I know that one day she will stop completely and the difficulties will be blurred by time and nostalgia again.

What have your breastfeeding experiences been like? Share about your journey in the comments!

❤ Cait

Pregzilla

I have a confession, my “Prayers Over the Kitchen Sink” aren’t always deep and full of gratitude. Sometimes they sound something like, “Just let me get through this day!” and “God help me!” and, “Seriously?..Give me strength!” Sometimes I’m a stomping, growling, ferocious Pregzilla!

I have been feeling okay so far in this pregnancy but last week (week 21) I completely hit a wall. After the initial morning sickness passed I got the color back in my cheeks, felt productive, and enjoyed a period of energy as close to pregnant bliss as someone like me (who doesn’t totally love gestation) can get. As soon as it came it was gone and replaced with fatigue and nausea as heartburn began to rear it’s ugly head.

I felt so drained and crabby that it made the things I normally do each day exceedingly difficult. When my older daughter copped an attitude because she decided she didn’t like ravioli that day instead of offering her a lecture and an alternative dinner I barked, “Then don’t eat it, I don’t care!” When my husband texted asking me to go to the bank while he was working I grumbled and chucked my phone as if the branch was located on the other side of the country instead of the other side of town. I had no patience whatsoever! I found it very taxing to care for my toddler who is at an age where she is clingy yet, mischievous and uncooperative. My little angel felt more like a little thorn!

Naturally, she requires the most attention and in this phase she resists much of the normal day to day care I have no choice but to give her! I end up wrestling her to sleep, forcing her mouth open to brush her teeth, restraining her to cut her nails, struggling to put her hair in a bow (which she just pulls out anyway!), to clean her ears, to change her diaper..she just doesn’t want to stop even for a minute!

It took all I have in me not to completely lose it at things that a toddler mom normally wouldn’t think twice about. She’s crawling all over me, throwing her snacks, climbing on my belly, pulling down my shirt, poking me in the face and pinching my breast while she nurses. (Yes still at 20 months! Read about my Love-Hate Relationship with Extended Breastfeeding here) Not to mention her climbing the furniture and getting into absolutely everything!

 

It grated my nerves and left me with a very hard and sharp edge. One that I would normally soften with several glasses of wine or a super hard workout if I wasn’t expecting but, alas I am! I have been consecutively growing a baby or breastfeeding for about 2 and a half years already with no end in sight as I’m not due till early June and plan to nurse our new bundle as well.

I know that pregnancy is a temporary condition, but knowing that doesn’t always make the tough times easier when I’m living them. Sometimes I want a cocktail, I want some sushi, I want to put on my old jeans, I want to go out with my friends without having to run to the bathroom ’cause I’m getting kicked in the bladder. Of course I love my kiddos but this motherhood thing can be tough!

Just because we appreciate it for the gift it is doesn’t mean it isn’t hard and that we don’t have the right to express our frustrations honestly. I don’t have anything else to tie all of these gripes up in a nice eloquent bow but to say, it’s okay! Whether we have 1 child or 10 these feelings are normal! We all struggle in our own way. We aren’t maternal robots or Stepford wives with no limit or needs of our own.

The only advice I can give is to retract your claws and ask for help! Make dad or the older one sit with the little one for a while so you can take a bath or read your book. Call your BFF to come over or to vent. Say no to the things that aren’t urgent. Let the dishes sit in the sink so you can really sleep when the baby sleeps for once. Leave the kids at home and go out even if it’s just to run errands so you can be alone and clear your head.

Don’t expect so much of yourself that you stretch too thin because eventually you are going to snap! Try not to focus so much on taking care of everyone and everything else that you forget to take care of yourself. Believe me, your family would much rather help than to have to endure the wrath of a nauseated Pregzilla!

Have you had any “Pregzilla” moments? What did you do to pull yourself out of it?

❤ Cait