Breastfeeding Month: The Real

So happy breastfeeding to all the mommas who have chosen to embark on the journey. Let me say now that my only major concern for babies is that they are healthy and are fed. I have 3 kids and they all have been breast and formula fed. I’ve never been the type to advocate so much for breastfeeding that I’ve mommy shamed another woman for choosing what works for her. Breastfeeding is not just about getting milk to a baby but it takes a toll on a woman’s body and mind. Do what’s best for you, your baby, and your mental health. Let me break down from my experience the real behind the scene issues:

My eldest baby

My eldest is now 9 and won’t remember if I gave her formula or not but when she was born 6 weeks early I wasn’t sure what method of feeding I would do. I considered formula for the convenience. Soon as she was born I was encouraged to breastfeed to help her get stronger. I wasn’t able to have her latch so I pumped her milk. I was doing well but even with a lot of production she wasn’t gaining a whole lot and I was told to put her on a formula that was specifically for premature babies. If you have ever paid for formula you know that it’s not cheap to begin with. So this new formula was even more expensive.

I didn’t feel a sense of guilt for stopping the breastfeeding journey. The delivery was so traumatic that as long as she was healthy I didn’t care. I didn’t have a lot of folks shaming me and to be honest she was in the NICU and between visits, healing from a c-section, and my emotions all over the place I might have given out a 2 piece to folks. My body was doing the most but I do remember being super engorged, in pain, etc. Getting past the pain and making the choice I did for her worked out for us.

The Middle Child

My son, whew he was the picture perfect pregnancy. He was due September 20th and came September 12. So having gone full term I was just happy. I wanted to breastfeed right off the bat because when I had the eldest the nurses was so good at helping me that I wanted to try again. So I embarked on the journey again. He was 7 pounds 4 ozs. at birth and yet I was told he was too small and I was pretty discouraged to breastfeed from my nurses and told to formula feed him. This was not what I had experienced the first time. I think because I was dealing with serious postpartum depression I didn’t even speak up for what I wanted.

Guilt set in. But the guilt was being hammered by the postpartum and I gave into the formula feeding to be honest. My son went from newborn clothes straight to 3-6 months clothes. He was huge. All of the doctors saying “see what I said.” Let me say what I know now is that I should have asked for a Lactation consultant. I should have trusted my intuition. I could have kept on going but I allowed other voices to be my guide.

My littlest

My younger baby boo and I had a traumatic pregnancy and delivery. From the blood clot in my brain to hemorrhaging and having to be readmitted for internal bleeding I was still determined to breastfeed. The extra week in the hospital I was readmitted the same day I was discharged and that was when my milk came in. The nursing staff actually had to pump me physically. I had too many things going on and was focused on living. Shout out to University of Penn for the amazing nursing staff!

My husband had all three kids and I pumped what I could and supplemented with formula. The week came and went and I was discharged and went home nervous that after a week my newborn wouldn’t latch. She did and that started out our journey!!

However let me highlight a few things that most if not all breastfeeding moms know:

  • My daughter wouldn’t take a bottle. It didn’t matter if the bottle was shaped to be close to an actual breast or not. When I first had her I had her at work with me for 6 months and when I took her to daycare despite having a ready supply of frozen milk she wouldn’t take it. She would literally not eat all day until I picked her up. I took her to a Lactation consultant and her pediatrician and eventually had to stop working to nurse her on demand.
  • Yes I tried the give her a bottle with her dad or another family member, she wouldn’t even take it not even from me.
  • I spent more nights worrying about her intake
  • I was worn out and stressed out
  • I was a human pacifier and bottle
  • The Benefits

    • Not having to worry about making a bottle and always ready
      Weight loss I went down to my pre-pregnancy weight with nursing before my 6 week check up
      Baby was healthy and is my healthiest child now
      Bonding was immeasurable-til this day she’s super close to me

    What folks don’t talk about:

    Nursing is a mental and emotional job! I say job because outside of general care of a baby, there are cluster feeds aka when your baby can and will want to eat more than the 2 hours apart. There are growth spurts. There is mastitis. The pain and agony to get passed that has my breast hurting as I type. Also if you don’t have a lot of encouraging family surrounding you it makes it hard. You have support systems that say mean things like, “you’re not giving them enough.” “That baby would sleep if you gave him/her cereal.” “You’re doing this so nobody else can hold the baby.” “Cover up.” These are the types of reasons why breastfeeding involves more than that just feeding a baby. It is mentally and emotionally demanding.

    Pumping mothers

    This is just as hard to do as it is to have a child directly breastfeed. Some women are hard pumping at work all day and that is a lot of work! Some women prefer pumping over the traditional breastfeeding. It is not easy. You see pictures of women who have these stashed or milk that look like they could feed an army or babies and then you second guess what you are producing. Some women naturally over produce. Some do not! A women especially if she’s going back into the work force after maternity leave are stressed out trying to prepare as much milk as they can!

    Saying things like eeew that’s gross, just stop! Even if you never had a child learn to mute your words if you can’t find something positive to say! Mommas are our here giving life to our future! Formula or breastfeeding it don’t matter. What you don’t understand don’t always need a clap back! Learn to support one another no matter!

    Would I do it again? Absolutely but luckily I don’t have to!! I enjoyed the time with each child in their journey and it didn’t matter that I had to supplement, pump exclusively, or have that time cut short. I made it through and did what was best for me at the time.

    Grateful for my time!

    I was about to go 2.5 years with my youngest and that is a super power well within itself! All of the crying I did over spilled milk! Yes this is a thing. After I worked hard to get milk together having it spill will evoke real tears! All my breastfeeding mommas know what I mean!!

    So to all moms do not mommy shame someone else for their choices. If you breastfeed you know the mental and emotional anguish you have chosen. As natural of a process its supposed to be, there are women who can’t and women who feel bad for not choosing the option! All women who are taking care of babies could use a little extra love for its not as easy as we mommas make it!

    Recently the law was passed that all mothers in all 50 states can breastfeed in public. Regardless of where you stand on the covering up of a mother or not she has a right to feed her child. I personally never breastfed my child in public without a cover but I’ve seen other moms do it and it doesn’t bother me. I usually give a smile or head nod to let them know that I understand!

    Little side note: most babies burn up under those cute little cover ups and they will pull themselves out of it but still nurse! So sometimes the babies are letting you know let them alone!

    If you have chosen to breastfeed, congrats on your journey!

    Extra Nugget: Let me end by saying to all women or men please mind business when it comes to asking a woman whether she’s having a baby or not. It’s her decision and you don’t get a choice in meddling in someone’s uterus. If you see a woman and she looks like she put on weight, it’s disrespectful to ask are you pregnant? If she wanted you to know she in her time would announce it! It’s actually disrespectful to ask how far along are you?! You don’t know what’s going on with that woman! Let us be our brother and sister’s keeper and be mindful of our words and gestures!

    Happy national breastfeeding month!

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    Ask Toi: How do I deal with my Parents thinking I’m not following old school parenting with my own kids?!

    This is multilayered. This could have come up if you’re making comments about new school parenting is better. It can come up if you do something that an old school parent thinks is too new school. It could come up if you ask for advice from old school parent but then do the opposite.

    Depending on when it comes up is how you proceed. There’s no doubt that old school parents believe and hold to their old school values. That can be from diapering to discipline. So if you are stating how better the new school way is better often times old school parents hear “you think you’re a better parent,” or they hear, “you think my ways are wrong.”

    If the argument of who is better comes up during a time when the new school parent does something in front of an old school parent that could mess with the new school parent and you think you’re not good enough. You may feel pressure for approval and it can mess you up if you aren’t feeling it. If you ever ask an old school parent advice and then don’t take it, it could come off as a “why you ask?!” This is probably the most irritating interactions.

    So here’s the thing:

    1. Parenting is subjective: you won’t ever get to the point where you feel 100% feel that you are quite finding your rhythm and old school parents are super high fiving you! It would be nice but not everyone has that happy mesh.

    2. Old school and new old school ways are within you. You will fuse them but only how much depends on you.

    3. Try not to take everything said to heart. Between your own parents and finding your way and the world with their long laundry list of to dos and not to do it will be hard to find your actual way. It’s okay!

    4. Trust your instinct-this is hard but necessary

    When I had my first child she was born 6 weeks early and had to stay a few days in the NICU. I was fortunate that it wasn’t a longer stay. I relied on my own mother to guide me. She gave me basic parenting skills. However my child had a lot of health issues therefore I had to rely on the doctors for a lot that first couple of years. Probably more than I would have all things considered. A lot of folks was knocking me for it. I trusted my instinct, and did some give and take with those around me. I pushed through! You’re not choosing one side over the over. You’re choosing what you need to feel successful in parenting. Also it’s okay that old school won’t agree. Parenting comes with thick skin. Take things with a grain of salt. No the things that our parents did when we were younger will work now, times have changed but what’s the same is wanting better for your child, keeping them safe and healthy, and working hard to provide. Be gentle with yourself but stand strong in your decisions.

    My Mother’s Day hope for my children

    I absolutely love being a mom. I get so much flak about what I do but honestly I love the tight schedules, the prep, and the joy from being on point with them. I’ve learned from trial and error that there is no perfect Mom. So there are many more times now where I can look at my to do list and roll my eyes and get it done at a later time. That’s major for me! I do a lot of self care to get through! However with my children when I look back at the memories we have created it makes me have some reference in the art of being a mom. Here is what I want for them:

    1. To be dope and know it: this means that they understand what they bring to any table, own a room and never compromise themselves for anyone!
    2. To be respectful but stern: I want them to give respect and command it but handle habitual line steppers! There is no settling for bad behavior for any reason not even from me! Gasp! How can I teach them if I’m dishing it and hiding behind “I’m your mom so I can mentality?”
    3. To be what they want! This is such a large statement and I pray daily to enlarge my love even in the areas of disappointment. I know it’s coming and I would hate to be the type of mom who turned their back on their kids when they needed me most!
    4. To love themselves! This is a daily thing! I want them to show themselves they are worthy so anyone friend or foe will know how to treat them!
    5. To make a stand! I’ve always been one to go against the grain and I can stand even alone! I need to be passionate about what they believe in!
    6. For long lives- I pray that they can live out their dreams and that this world doesn’t kill their spirit with all the negativity and foolery that is around

    Of course there’s more for them I desire! But if I can raise them to love God, love themselves, and show love towards others while commanding respect and not taking a bunch of crap along the way, I’ve done my job! I’m not the usual mom! I’m okay with that! My husband and I’s job isn’t to have a bunch of folks stand in agreement with us. It’s our job to create a home full of love, acceptance, guidance and a few side eyes along the way!

    No one laughs harder than our home and we will do what we can to keep it that way! I love my children and grateful I was chosen to be their mom!!

    Happy Mother’s Day to all moms near and far!!

    Not So Motherly Mother

    So we are definitely in Mother’s Day official weekend. This means that restaurants are about to make a killing along with flower shops and stores in general. There is a small amount of people who dread this weekend and it’s those who have raggedy no account moms. Oops! Yes there are some out there. The ones who left kids. The ones who keep up so much drama nobody wants to be around. The ones who have even taken their kids lives, or harmed them in some deep way.

    We give people a hard time for their experiences with their mom. I was always taught to respect a parent regardless of their lack of parenting. I think this is true. I do think you can have a mom who is no account and say thanks for getting me here and leave it at that. The amount of folks that do not talk to their mom has increased as more people realize that the title of Mom doesn’t exclude them from the demons they have left in their name. Some do not associate with their mom. All of the ones with good moms look down on them but I would like to present a different side to the situation.

    You can say thanks to your mom and not have a relationship if the situation warrants it. Not speaking could come from a number of things. It could be from misunderstanding or it could be from trying over and over again to make things right only to have things be wrong. A moms love should be unconditional but some have never felt that from their mom so it’s hard to understand the notion. When a person who has a mom who simply does things that they don’t like, they can work through it easier than someone who has never experienced the sacrifice and love that a mom shows.

    If you and your mom are able to make it work than you should attempt. However there comes a point when a mom isn’t motherly and you have decided that doing little as possible so that you don’t further go into conflict is what’s best for you. If that is the case then you should do what works for you. Everyone doesn’t have loving mothers. We have to stop acting as if that is the case all the time. It is not! Not everyone can get along with their mothers! You can give respect and leave some distance if that is what you need.

    If you are experiencing these issues with your mom I really do hope you are getting some form of help from a licensed professional. They can help you heal without apology. Sometimes we look for or need one and if you’re dealing with someone mother or no who is no account you may not get one. You also need not spew your issues on other. This could mean siblings or outsiders who don’t have the same issues that you do or even siblings who do have the same issues. You don’t need others to understand why you feel the way you do. This generation always needs validation but honestly how can someone high-five your pain?! They can’t.

    They don’t know what’s it like to feel frustrated with no one to vent to. They don’t know the anger thee creeps in when you feel like you have to be the bigger person to a mother who should know better and act better. They don’t know what it’s like to wish you had a different mom but also want the mom you have but she won’t align herself in a better way! They don’t understand being grown but feeling like a helpless child where your mom plays the victim and you need answers!

    For the ones who are hurting more as you see others love on their mothers and you feel the pain of emptiness please know that I get that it’s real! Please do not feel like you have to spend the weekend justifying yourself. My prayer is that even if you can’t get to a place where you and your mom can work through the issues together than at least you can be grateful for her giving you life. I would hope one day things can be worked on but what folks don’t get is that it takes two people to make that happen! One person doing the work only helps one person. Grace won’t cover what you won’t reveal!

    Please invest in a journal or something where you can write down these feelings. Also if you have a mother figure that you look up to, then see if you can spend that time with them. Another suggestion would be to find a happy place and go there. It could be a favorite coffee shop, the beach, a bookstore, just get there! Find ways to practice self-care daily and increase it this weekend!

    To the hurting! I pray personal peace and a lot of self-care this weekend to get you through not just this holiday but through life!

    To my readers who are experiencing this pain I pray peace and love!!

    Motherhood the No Manual Life

    So Mother’s Day is coming up and we as moms will be thanked for all the things that we do. But I need to take a pause on the things that we as mom get, the no manual life.

    There is no manual yet a thousand fingers point in telling you how it should be done. They tell you what’s acceptable and what’s not. Outside of neglect and abuse these fingers that point don’t get how much all the criticism breaks you down.

    When I first became a mom my daughter was sick due to being born 6 weeks early. All of a sudden I had a thousand folks telling me how to dress her, how to stay home and never go out, how I was doing it wrong and I was gonna mess around and make her worse. The crazy part is that due to her health I had to rely on my doctor and even with following every protocol, guess what? She was hospitalized too many times to count. I sat in the hospital with great support BUT the ones pointing their fingers wasn’t visiting or calling to check on the baby. The same ones wasn’t lifting a finger. My second hospital visit I made up my mind to trust my instincts and that I wasn’t allowing folks to tell me what to do with my baby.

    Now don’t get it twisted that didn’t mean I wasn’t listening to sound advice. It simply meant I wasn’t allowing folks to stress me with their bad advice who wasn’t going through what I went through nor had they been around a preemie who had asthma and all that it entails. It meant walking away mid sentence when people crossed the line. It meant shaking my head and disregarded 80% of folks. It meant not even giving information to people who too many times would only want to know so I could hear later down the line “you know she messing that baby up.”

    Guess what?! As I ignored the negativity, my confidence spiked. I was able to let my guard down and enjoy motherhood. I was able to develop my own protocols. My daughter and I became closer. We were a pair and we were happy and eventually healthy. She will be 9 this month and my support system has changed but not by much. The reason is simple, smaller tighter circles is how I roll. Simple parenting works for me. No more high stress. And now with 2 more kids since my first one, we are doing quite well.

    Every first time mom I encourage them to trust themselves. To get around like-minded parents or those with sound advice that works for them. To worry less about trying to please everyone! There is no manual but you can get through those first years weeding out the bad or outdated information. You can mix some old school with new! You can trust yourself!

    Daily Women Crushers

    As we continue to celebrate women’s history month, I want to shout out all women who are crushing their dreams.  Wednesdays are designated as #WCW or women crush Wednesday.  However daily women are failing, dusting themselves off and getting back out there and making it all happen.

    Single women who are lonely and longing for relationship and finding ways to enjoy their single days and taking trips, starting businesses, becoming sound individuals without someone in their company. Those are daily women crushers.  They want to be with someone but aren’t allowing the lack thereof to stop them.  Until love finds them, they are out here making life happen for them under their own guidance, salute.

    To the married woman who gives daily to her husband and attempting to be united, you are a daily woman crusher.  People think that marriage is a cure-all but it’s not.  It’s hard work to put someone else above your own.  It’s a union that actually makes you confront a lot of who you are or who you think you are.  Marriage is being there for someone and trying to keep the spark going regardless if that woman is tired or not, salute.  FYI the same should be done from her husband towards her.  If you find you are in a one way marriage, there are a few talks you and your husband need to have.

    To the mother who is tired and feeling overwhelmed and still continues to get up before her house, getting things in order, and making it look effortless, you are a daily woman crusher.  To the days when those around you takes you for granted, and forget to say sorry or appreciate what you done, salute to you.  Salute to you when you lose yourself and literally have to pick yourself up before you can give again, salute to you.  Salute to you as you endure your body going through hell and back to deliver, salute to you.  Salute to you as you almost sometimes die on those tables waiting to hear that first cry, salute to you.  Salute to the women who have lost life many times and feel like their worth is tied to being a mother and can’t.  We salute you.  Just know that is a real pain. A real fear.  A real cry.  A real emptiness and I stand behind you and with you.

    To the business woman who has to have her work checked twice just because she doesn’t have the same “member” as those on her team, salute to you.  Salute to the woman who is making moves after she was denied financing, salute to you.  Salute to the woman whose ideas failed many times before it took off, salute.  Salute to the woman who while accomplishing her goals, had the very folks who now want to stand with her after the fact and those same ones laughed, talked about, and ridiculed for that venture to pop, salute!

    To the woman who has or is facing many demons and finding herself alone as she pushes towards getting her life together.  The ones that seem and feel like constant failures while others around her is flourishing.  The ones who say why not me too but they seem to be saying this only to themselves and there is no one around who understands you.  We salute you.  We get it.  We understand because as a woman regardless of what we have all accomplished we have all been public goals and secret failures.  Trust the process, understand that it will work out. Even in the dark, there will be light.  At the second you go to fail, you find a solution. At the moment you decide today is the day you will give up, light shines.  You are purpose and you were created for purpose.  The world has something that you have inside of you.  We salute the process of growing in the dark with limited water and resources.  The best flowers sometimes have thorns but are the prettiest in the end.  Don’t give up!

    Teach the Babies-You’re Not Everyone’s Cup of Tea

    So this week the recurring theme has been forgiveness.  This is a tough lesson for many adults let alone my own son. This week for both of my older kids the trying to teach them to understand that its okay to have a disagreement with a person, work things out or decide to work things out but be cordial and not be friends.

    My son who is 6 is having the hardest time which is to be expected.  I do not expect him to understand adult like themes and to me forgiveness will come to him as he grows and matures.  So the issue is allowing my kids to find out whom feels safe to them.  I even teach my kids even those closest to them can give bad vibes, you have the right to retreat.  I do not make them give hugs or be around ANYONE who makes them uncomfortable.  This means that if you come to my child and my child rejects you for whatever reason, there’s no make them give into your insecurity of showing you love they don’t feel is genuine to give. We stress to kids to be aware but then judge them for feeling ill feelings.  My husband and I don’t.  We try to help them work through these feelings.

    Image result for safety with kids

    For my daughter she has been going to the same school for years and most of the kids she has known since Kindergarten.  At this point she is well aware of certain people’s triggers, how they act, and what they do when the teachers and principals aren’t watching.  I am not one  of those parents that push my kids into certain friendships.  If there are mean girls in her school and she identifies that is who they are, I trust that I have raised her well to this point to know who they are and if she chooses not to embrace them outside of a school setting that is fine. We really can’t push the all the kids are angels routine.  I am all for her or my son working it out but its one thing to work it out and it’s another thing to have a blind eye to a problematic child and act as if that child isn’t an issue.

    So this week my son has been having an issue with one child in particular.  He has tried being nice.  He has tried having meetings with the kid etc. However to no avail.  This kid is problematic.  My advice to my son was be cordial.  Work together when you have to in the classroom because in life you can’t always disengage with someone just because you don’t care for them.  However at recess is your time to play.  You shouldn’t have to spend your time in recess trying to push back negativity from one child.  Some days he gets the message other days he doesn’t.  The days he doesn’t its a hard conversation to have.

    Yes we are all for kids getting along.  Yes we are well aware that at this age kids go back and forth and are learning how to socialize. The same rules that apply to me with other adults do NOT work for kids.  However let’s also keep it real and stop acting like some of these kids already come in the door with whatever they have at home and spew the most hate, the most vile words on other kids and in the name of letting kids be kids we give these kids many chances in hopes they will fare better.  They don’t always fair well.  So we can’t just act like it’s not the case.  As a parent I would love to tell my kids that the world is awesome all the time and that they won’t have issues with other kids or other people but that is not the case.

    Image result for safety with kids

    My conversation with my son is about helping him weed out those he thinks are bad news for him and show him how to make healthy relationships with those who want the same in return.  He needs to be cordial meaning just because there is friction, school work still needs to be done.  If his teacher assigns him to the student that he is having issues with then he needs to buckle down and get things done.

    Parenting is hard and I am sure there will be someone who disagrees with my conversation but the beautiful thing about parenting is that it is an individual pathway per parent and its a collective pathways for the parents involved.  My only hope is that my kids get to the point where they don’t waste energy on those who don’t mean them well.  They learn to keep their peace with them and not get entangled with those kids who have ill intentions.  That’s my hope for adults too.  Stop giving your energy to the bad person in your life regardless of relationship.  If it doesn’t serve you, leaves you feeling less about yourself, etc then the point is moot, leave them alone and allow the right folks to come in your life. These are life lessons.  They should be taught early.  I want my kids to grow into confident human beings that know what they want, who they want, and to go where they are celebrated not where they are tolerated.  These lessons aren’t to wait to be learned.  These lessons are taught early on.