Breast Milk Storage Guidelines: How to Freeze and Thaw

There’s a reason that breast milk is called “liquid gold”-once you’ve gone to the trouble to pump milk for your little one, you won’t want to make sure you’re saving every last drop properly. Here are the guidelines on refrigerating and freezing pumped milk, as well as thawing and warming once frozen breast milk safely for your baby.

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Breast milk can be stored  both in a refrigerator or freezer, and because  breast milk contains antibacterial properties, it can be left out at room temperature and fed to your baby within a few hours.

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When Silence Becomes an Every Day Reality for Your Child: A Parent’s Heartache

As parents, you want to do everything you can to protect your children. But what if something happens outside of your control? What if your child is born sick? What if after they get better, something else happens? What if you’re told that your six week old who was in NICU fighting through a pneumonia and another infection only weeks prior, was nearly deaf? It’s enough to make you literally sick to your stomach. You question God. You get angry. You’re devastated and heartbroken for your child. You question literally everything. Yet, as a parent, all of that questioning, all of the tears, the anger and devastation cannot bring your little ones hearing back.

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This is my real life nightmare. My son, Beckett, was in NICU for ten days following his battle with pneumonia and an unidentified infection following his birth. At one point he was on 95% oxygen, was eating through a feeding tube, in an incubator and hooked up to multiple wires including an Iv. Once he was released, his father and I thought he was on the mend. We thought this little fighter of ours would now be able to relax and not fight as hard. When we left the hospital, his hearing was in question, but the doctors told us for a little boy who had been so sick and still had fluid in his ears, that this was normal. They reassured us that they thought he’d be just fine.

But he wasn’t. As a mother you start picking up on little warning signs. My son would jump sometimes but not when he really should have jumped. He wasn’t always responding to my voice, and the only way to soothe and calm him was by touch. The day he turned six weeks, we had an appointment with a hearing specialist who confirmed our worst fears.  Our son was nearly deaf. On a level from normal to profound, he was severe to profound hearing loss. He could only hear really loud noises. My heart broke instantly. Hearing this was seriously the most devastating news I’ve ever received. Our little boy hadn’t been able to hear us for 6 weeks. He wouldn’t be able to without the use of hearing aids. I was so incredibly heartbroken for him. My husband didn’t take the news well either and for the majority of the day, we cried. We had this overwhelming sense of sorrow for our son, and with little answers, we didn’t know where to go from there.

For a couple who has gone through so much in the 9.5 years of being together, this was certainly one of the hardest. From the get go our relationship had been tested. There were some who didn’t support our relationship,  we had the death of a parent, a devastating diagnosis of another parent, we were diagnosed with infertility and it took us 5 years, thousands of dollars, heartache, tears and a miscarriage to get pregnant with our two sons. Then, to top it off, our rainbow baby was born sick and now has severe hearing loss. How much can a couple take? How long until one, or both of them, reaches their breaking point?

I’m damn near there. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason but I’m so exhausted from all that our family has gone through. I’m so incredibly angry, and I’d be lying if I wasn’t slightly angry at God. Although I know he doesn’t cause such heartache, I still can’t help but question why it’s all happening to us. This isn’t a post to receive pity, but merely a way to express my heartache. I can’t help but think that, as a mother, I somehow was part of this happening to him. We don’t know what happened for sure, but possible explanations would include his illness and the medications he was on while in NICU. Until we meet with a specialist, it’s all speculation. We’re truly in the dark until Beckett is examined more closely, and that’s a horrible feeling.

How much can one little boy go through so early on in his life? How, as parents, can we not be angry? How can we overcome the immense amount of sadness and guilt we have? How much can only family endure?

I might not have all the answers to these questions, but I know that I will fight for the absolute best treatment for our son. God will equip Beckett’s father, brother and myself with the best tools to help give him a normal life. And our prayers will transform and help restore our faith and our broken hearts.

Beckett is such a blessing to us. We love him more than words can adequately relay. We’ll push through this latest season, and we will preserve.

6 Myths about Maternity Leave

Maternity leave is a time to spend nurturing and bonding with your new baby, recovering from childbirth and accomplishing some of those pesty incomplete tasks on your to-do list. For working mothers, their to-do list seems to be never-ending, so maternity leave is a perfect time to tackle some of those items!

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Here are some common myths I’ve come to understand and (partially) accept since being on maternity leave for the second time now.

 

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A Mother’s Unfiltered Thoughts on the Las Vegas Shooting

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I’ve been trying to put into words just how I feel about the Las Vegas mass shooting that occurred only days ago. I’m sad, I’m pissed off, I’m confused, and I’m scared. Watching the news coverage on the shooting and hearing witness reports nearly brings me to tears. It’s hard not to show emotion, am I right?

It’s a crazy world we live in today- filled with violence and full of hate. It’s almost as though you can’t go out in public without fearing for your life.

As a mother of two, I fear for their safety. I fear for their innocence and their lack of understanding the horrible events occurring daily all around us. If I could shield them from the violence within the world forever, I would, but I know that I cannot save them or shield them from all that is happening nor should I. I want them to know that there is love and there are good people within the world, but unfortunately for them to full understand that, they must see the evil.

I want my sons to know that hate does overpower  love. I want them to know that humanity can still be saved, and I want them to know that if we all work together, collectively, then we can end the violence. But until we admit that the real issue has to do with gun control and having stricter gun laws, that violence will continue. I’m all for protecting yourself, and for those who feel like a gun is the best way to do that, I respect that. For those who say regulating gun laws isn’t the answer– you’re not seeing what is going on all around us. How can we justify all of the shootings that have occurred this year?

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 11, 716 gun related deaths this year already.  Of that, 548 were children aged 0-11 and 2,442 were aged 12-17. How do we explain to our children that nearly anyone can own a gun or dozens like the Vegas shooting suspect? How can I explain that living in constant fear is the new norm? How can I, as a mother, confidently put my children on a school bus or send them on a class field trip knowing wholeheartedly that they’ll safely return home?

We can no longer hold onto an unrealistic sense of security when it comes to our safety. We cannot even go to a movie without fear of someone opening fire, and please don’t try to tell me that living in fear is silly, because this is reality! The violence that has occurred this year around the world is enough to make anyone fear for the safety of their family.

For those who say that the real issue isn’t about the easy accessibility of guns, you must be living under a rock. For those who say we have to only fear those who are different than us, you must realize that the offenders vary in backgrounds. We cannot focus on a certain ethnicity, a certain color or a certain gender because terrorists exists in all shapes, sizes and colors.

I wish I had the answers to end the violence. I wish I had the words to calm my anxious heart or confidently soothe my children if and when they ask about all the violence and hate going on around them. How can I tell them that I can keep them safe from the “monsters?” I cannot promise them anything at this point, and that, my friends, is terrifying.

I wish I had the answers.

I wish I could single handily end the violence. I wish I could end the hate. I wish I could end the discrimination and judgement. I wish I could tell my boys that this is only a phase and that world peace is right around the corner. I’d be lying if I said I had all of the answers or even that I was confident when answering then. My heart is heavy, my thoughts and prayers go out to those affected directly by the Vegas shooting and those affected indirectly.  I pray for my boys who I pray will know a world filled with less hate, with less violence and more love.

For now, I’ll hold my loved ones near and pray for peace.

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6 Ways to Induce Labor Naturally

It’s your due date, and you’re beyond ready to have your baby! You’re probably asking yourself, “will I be pregnant forever?”  The waiting game is no joke. Fortunately for me with my first son, I went into labor 16 days early, which I was completely okay with, but I do credit several things for helping move along the process.

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I’ve included some things I tried the night my water broke as well as some additional suggestions that other moms swear by!

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Raising a Toddler while Pregnant: How to Stay Sane

I never realized how difficult it would be to care for a toddler while growing another human being in the womb. I always knew having two children would be more challenging, but I didn’t realize how difficult once some-what simple tasks would become and how my time would suddenly be required to be spent more wisely and managed differently. Making time to work a full-time job, run a business of my own, perform normal house tasks as well as playing with my already demanding three year old has proved to be difficult especially as I attempt to care for the new life growing inside my body.

Why has it been so challenging?

Lets explore a handful of reasons:

  • coping with morning sickness. that fortunately hasn’t been AS bad as it was during my first pregnancy, but nonetheless very much present
  • getting adequate sleep is non-existent when your three old wants to wake up between 5-6 am every morning and you already sleep like garbage because of being pregnant
  • finding time to eat nutritious and balanced meals while incorporating workouts into your routine has become a struggle
  • cooking meals for yourself and your family when you’re trying to do a million other things on top of having weird food aversions during pregnancy
  • performing routine house tasks whilst dealing with morning sickness, body aches, a massive belly and an active three year old has become nearly impossible

Some people have no idea how truly difficult it is to  have a toddler in the midst of the “trying threes” while trying to maintain a healthy pregnancy. It’s HARD. That said, here are a few tips for other moms going through the same thing! Hopefully they help you maintain a level of sanity.

Find your Toddler Activities that will keep them Busy

The more independent your toddler is, the more you’re able to get accomplished throughout your day. Set up activities they are sure to enjoy. For instance, legos keep my son busy for hours. Put the legos on the table and let him go at it.

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Lose the Expectations

Your home will never be clean again. No matter what you tell yourself or how often you clean, you must realize that a messy house is the new norm.You’re busy, so trying to constantly maintain an immaculate home is unrealistic and will only add stress to your day.

Ask for Help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There will be days when you will feel incredibly overwhelmed or tired, and it’s important that you take time for yourself. If you have a day like this, don’t feel bad because it’s completely normal. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a family member or friend. I’m sure they’ll be more than happy to help you out.

Don’t be afraid to a hire a babysitter from time to time so you can go pamper yourself, enjoy a date night with your spouse or enjoy a glass of wine with your girls. It’ll be so worth the extra expense.

Prep the Night Before

This is particularly helpful when you know how busy of a day you’re going to have the next day. Try prepping for the next day the night before. I’ve been doing this for quite a while now, and although one may think it’s silly to set aside your outfit, gym bag and lunch for the next day, tired you will appreciate it the next morning.

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Parenting is no walk in the park, and there aren’t any short cuts to make things easier, but there are small things you can do along the way to better keep yourself sane and allow yourself momentarily laps throughout the day to focus on the things you want to focus on.

Photo Credits: Caleb WoodsRenata Fraga

 

 

To My Firstborn

Dearest Braxton,

In just a few weeks, you will no longer be an only child. It’s sure to be a transition for you, your father and I, so I can’t help but worry a bit. You’ve been the center of our world for the past 3+ years, and you’ll soon have to share mommy and daddy’s attention with your new baby brother. Before that comes, however; I want you to know a few things that I pray will make this transition easier on us all:

We love you more than you’ll ever truly be able to comprehend. We three have a special bond, but the bond you and I share specifically is something I can’t even begin to describe. You dealt with all of my first-time mom nervous tears, frustrations, mistakes and fumblings, yet you opened your heart to a love only mothers could truly understand.

You’re so incredibly special and important to your daddy and I. I want you to understand that just because you will no longer be our only child, it does not mean that you and your needs are any less important to your father and I. You may have to wait a minute longer so I can care for your baby brother, but I pray you understand that it does not mean you come second to him. You’re a lot bigger and know how to do much more than your baby brother who will be pretty dependent on your daddy and I for a while.

I pray that you understand and tolerate me when I’m tired and cranky. I may lose my patience sometimes, but having a newborn requires a lot of work from mommy as well as daddy. I apologize ahead of time for my crankiness, and please understand that it is no way your fault that I’m the way I am during certain moments. If I snap at you or lose my patience with you, know that I’m sorry and don’t take it personally. I just need some sleep, a bubble bath, a massage and a good glass of wine.

Your daddy and I are so excited to watch you become a big brother. Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely nervous about being a momma to two boys, I’m even more excited to see you and your baby brother become the best of friends. You truly are the sweetest little boy, and there is no doubt in my mind that you will love and protect your little brother with all that you are. You undoubtedly will teach him how to be rebellious, fearless and a bit of a trouble-maker, but we’re ok with that just as long as you love him.

Although this transition is sure to be scary for all three of us, I can’t wait to witness firsthand the amount of happiness your baby brother will bring to us all. Until he arrives, you better believe we will make the most of the time we have left as a family of three. You’re forever my miracle baby, and I loved you first.

 

Love always, your momma

 

31 Things to do this Year

I recently celebrated my 31st birthday, and it was truly an incredible year!  I’m looking forward to this next year, so much so that I have compiled a list of things I want to do! 31 things to be exact!  When I was putting together my list of things I wanted to accomplish within the next year, I took into consideration my family. I already have a a three year old son and we’ll be welcoming our second son in a few weeks, so I wanted to be able to do some things with them as well as with my husband.  That said, here is my list of 31 things I’d like to achieve this year!

  1. Best shape of my life-competition
  2. Watch top 10 movies of all time
  3. Sleep under the stars
  4. Brew my own beer
  5. Go to the Opera
  6. Go Camping
  7. Go to a drive-in movie theater
  8. Ride a horse
  9. Travel by a train
  10. Experience a Christmas tree lighting
  11. Make hot cocoa from scratch
  12. Join Oprah’s book club
  13. Add 5 new clients to BMM
  14. Visit Pictured Rocks
  15. Save $10k
  16. Make bread with my bare hands
  17. Become a couponer
  18. Write down fears-tackle them all
  19. Run ½ marathon
  20. Learn to forgive and let go-practice this daily
  21. Take a picture every day-I’m a few days behind! 🙂
  22. Meditate
  23. Ride in a hot air balloon
  24. Read top 5 novels of all time
  25. Shoot a gun
  26. See the Northern Lights
  27. Bake a pie from scratch
  28. Publish another novel
  29. Publish a second children’s book
  30. Find a mentor
  31. Do something outside my comfort zone

Have you created a list of things you’d like to do this year?

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Happy Father’s Day to the BEST Father Out There!

Early on in our relationship, I remember how much you wanted to be a dad. You could barely wait to become a father, and that  desire is one of the many reasons why I fell so madly in love with you.

We started trying for a family shortly after we got married, yet month after month for two years, I was unable to grant you fatherhood. Your journey to fatherhood would prove to be full of grief, pain, confusion and loss, yet you kept such a positive outlook on life. It took us two years to conceive Braxton, but when that happened, I can’t even begin to express the amount of love and admiration I had for you. Obviously, I already loved you and admired you in ways I couldn’t quite explain, but there is something about seeing the man you love become a father, that you can’t even begin to put into words.

After our son was about 6 months old, we immediately started trying for baby #2. This part of our infertility journey was the hardest, because we experienced a lot of loss, heartache, pain and grief in just  a few months time. After our miscarriage in November, last year, we had pretty much decided to stop trying for children. We were tired of fertility treatment and procedures. We just wanted to live and enjoy life with our toddler.

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I still remember that chilly, yet sunny, January morning when I called you in a slight panic. I had taken a pregnancy test, and it was positive. You were shocked as was I. Blood work and an ultrasound later that day would prove we were expecting our second miracle baby. In only a few short months, we will be welcoming our second son, and I cannot wait to see you with both of our boys.

I’m thankful each and every day that our sons are being raised by a man of integrity, faith, compassion, respect and love. I am confidant that our sons will grow to be kind and loving spouses and fathers like you.

Thank you for all of the hours you put in at work in order to provide for our family. Thank you for getting up at 5:30 a.m. to get ready for your 7 a.m. shift and for working nearly 7 days a week each week. Thank you for spending hours a week fixing up our forever home and working outside in our yard. Thank you for playing, supporting, loving and teaching our son so many things. And lastly, thank you for being an amazing husband.

The only thing better than having you as my husband is our sons having you as their father. We are so blessed to have you!

Happy Father’s Day! We ALL love you!

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20 Things You Actually Need in Your Hospital Bag

As a momma to one (and another one the way) it’s no surprise that when I was preparing my hospital bag for our first, I did a lot of research and asked a lot of questions from those who had previously given birth. So, what do you pack in a hospital bag? There are wants and needs, but there are also necessities-items you will most certainly need and use during your hospital stay.

Here are some things the hospital provides during your hospital stay. Confirm with your hospital just in case.

  • Mesh underwear– They’re pretty fantastic, considering, so snag a few if you can before you leave.
  • Diapers and wipes– There will be some in your hospital room, but it’s important to pack your own as well.
  • Ice Pack Pads– Your lady parts will be sore, and these bad boys will help soothe them.
  • Spray Bottle– This was a must have for me when I went to the restroom following giving birth. The water helped to dilate the urine and provided some relief from burning.
  • Pacifier: My son LOVED the hospital pacifier, but you might want to bring an extra just in case.

Here are 16 things you’ll want to bring in your hospital bag:

  • Breast Pump– You might not need this right away as a woman’s milk supply can come in at different times, but bring it just in case.
  • Socks– My hospital room was cold, so I was happy to have packed some socks.
  • Phone charger– This is important especially if you plan on keeping your family and friends updated and plan on taking pictures.
  • Loose/Comfy Pants– Make sure you have some comfy pants to wear during your hospital stay. You’ll want to wear some pants with an elastic band that aren’t super tight around your mid section.
  • Nursing/Comfy Shirts & bras– You’re going to be laying/sitting quite a bit, so make sure you have some comfy shirts packed. Having ones that are convenient for nursing are a bonus.
  • Underwear– Grab yourself a few comfy pairs of underwear. Bring some that you’re able to wear a pantyliner with. Grab those pantyliner also! Make sure they’re not super tight, either.
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste– Keep those teeth clean!
  • Clothes for Your Spouse– If your spouse is planning on spending the few days with you in the hospital, make sure to grab him some clothes including pants, shirts, boxers/briefs, PJ’s and socks. My husband did go home the second night to care for our pups and shower, so we only needed a few clothing items for him.
  • Blanket and Clothes for your Newborn– The hospital will provide a sleeper for your baby, but bring some newborn clothes, blanket and some socks for your new addition.
  • Glasses/Contacts– If you wear contacts and/or glasses, make sure you bring them both along with their storage containers and cleaning supplies.
  • Pre-Installed Car Seat– Make sure your car seat has been safely secured BEFORE going to the hospital to make sure it’s in correctly.
  • Reading Material– Like I mentioned earlier, you’ll be sitting/lying during most of your visit, so bring a good book or a few magazines for you and your spouse.
  • Healthy Snacks– You’ll get meals during your stay, but bring some snacks to enjoy for you and your spouse!
  • Boppy– I was so happy I brought our boppy. It made lounging and nursing way more comfortable and convenient.
  • Pantyliner’s– Trust me, just bring some.
  • Deodorant- You don’t want to smell, do you?

Here are some optional items to consider:

  • Make-up– I brought make-up, but some people prefer not to. It’s your choice.
  • Hair Dryer/Brush– These are not provided in your hospital room, so if you want your hair looking nice, consider bringing these items.
  • Bathrobe– Depending on the time of year, you might want to consider bringing your bathrobe. My first son was born in March-the night of a snowstorm- so having one was perfect, but our next son is due in September, so I doubt I’ll bring it this time around.
  • Camera– You can certainly use your smart phone for taking photos, but you might want to consider bringing your main camera as well.

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Have your bags packed a few weeks prior to your due date. Our son was over two weeks early, so we were glad to have had our bags packed and ready to go!

Have you given birth before? What did you have in your hospital bag?