The End.

445 Days. 64 weeks. Just shy of 15 months. And that fails to take into account the 9 months prior.

I have supported life for the past 24 months. It makes me super proud to say that.  I makes me feel extremely lucky that my body was able to sustain another human life for two years. It also makes me extremely sad to say that it is over.

People worried that I was “spoiling” my infant. Feeding her too often. Not setting her down often enough. But thanks to biology, instinct, and fierce love, Hammie and I pushed through.  We pushed through four months of soreness, weaning from a nipple shield, and 445 days of refusing to even discuss taking a bottle. It sucked but, man, it was amazing.

It seems perfect that we are celebrated our first full week without breastfeeding just as the world celebrates “World Breastfeeding Week”.  Because, even though we are done breastfeeding, I am ecstatic – I accomplished my goal. Hammie doesn’t have any idea what formula tastes like, I never spent a penny on cans of formula, and we made it through winter cold season with only one illness.

I feel like a rockstar.  Not because I am any better than any other mother, but because I did something amazing –  I singlehandedly sustained Hammie’s nutritional needs for months, the better part of her first year. I trusted my biology, leaned on a few helpful mamas, and kept my baby close at all times.

People often say that they plan to “try” to breastfeed when their baby arrives.  I can, without a doubt, say that it takes much more than trying to make it work. It takes desire and drive.  It takes selflessness and patience. So many times, it would have been easier to hand a bottle over to Hubs and head out to dinner with friends but that isn’t what having children is about.  It’s about sacrificing for their happiness.  It’s about making sure their needs are met before your own.  It’s about scheduling 8:30 girls’ night dinners so you can put your baby to bed at 8:00.

So as I mourn the loss of my baby and our special time together, I celebrate the new independence and the start of toddlerhood. I celebrate the new closeness we get to experience when we cuddle before bed. And I especially celebrate the new special time Hubs gets to enjoy as he can now participate in bedtime.  He gets to share in the cuddles and bedtime routine.

Happy World Breastfeeding Week – past, present, and future breastfeeding mamas.

Renegades

One

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Dearest Hammie,

You are one. We officially celebrated with yogurt and a picnic and unofficially celebrated with a crap load of people, a tutu, tails, and one gigantic cake of your very own.

I still can’t believe a whole year has passed. Some days I still can’t believe you are all mine forever. I know I have to share you but you will always be mine.

We have survived your first 104+ temperature, countless boo-boos, and thousands of hours spent cuddling and nursing. I know everyone thinks their kid is perfect but you truly were a great baby. Sleeping through the night early – you know your mama doesn’t do well without sleep – and unbelievably happy.

It is so much fun to see your personality beginning to show – although the stubbornness and independence is trying some days. Everyone always comments on how smiley you are – seriously, you make friends with everyone you see and love to smile to make others smile back. You have no problem leaving mom in the dust at “school” because you know I’ll be the first to pick you up when you fall.

Thank you for making this first year amazing. And exhausting. Incredibly fulfilling and highly emotional. Thank you for pushing Daddy and I to grow into new people. Hopefully better people.

I promise to spend the next year continuing to help you grow into even more of an amazing toddler. I also promise to start watching my f*bombs – I know you are listening.

I love you in the morning and in the afternoon. I love you in evening and underneath the moon.

Always my baby.
Momma

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The Year of Me

Well, 2014 was a success.  I fulfilled my New Year’s Resolution of finding “my happy” – of finding my happiness for others.  This resolution made me the most whole. I was able to fully appreciate the happiness of others and truly enjoy it.  I found my happy in Hubs being the first person to hold Hammie’s hand, Cousin IJ losing her 7th tooth, Uncle T finding a love for crossfit and Auntie A starting a new career adventure.  I could feel the joy in Auntie T learning to drive and Auntie R starting life-altering fitness plan. My heart grew as Grandpa and Grannie celebrated 30 years together and Grandpa and Grandma S started running 5Ks.  It amazed me to watch old friends become new moms and buy new houses and when great moms announced they were again growing their families. My pride swelled as Hammie learned to rollover and grew six teeth.  When she discovered how to crawl, sit, and smile.

2014 was great. G-R-E-A-T. 2014 made me a mom.

2013 was amazing. It made me a wife.

The past two years, I have spent learning a new identity.  First how to be a wife and second how to become a mother. It was incredible and challenging. It was invigorating and exhausting.  It made me cry a lot, love a lot, and laugh a lot.

So what does that mean for 2015?  A month has already passed. Hammie has grown 2 more teeth and cousin IJ lost her 8th. I have turned a year older and celebrated another year as a partner to my Hubs.

2015, I  have decided, is about me.  It is about learning what I need to feel whole and fulfilled. It is taking time to build new friendships and salvage old ones.  It is about letting go of grudges and letting things slide. It is about loving people for who they are and appreciating them for their capabilities. 2015 is about regaining my style, my fitness, my drive.  It is about having more conversations that don’t involve breastfeeding, nap schedules, and diapers. It’s about maintaining my identity outside of my family so I can better enjoy my time with my family.

2015 is the year I learn how to be the best me so I can be a better wife and momma.

Ready or Not

#Thankful

Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday season. It is the approving nod to put up those holiday wreaths, pull out those dusty stockings, and cut down that fresh scented tree. We string hundreds of bulbs of holiday cheer in the form tiny twinkle lights and put on those corny holiday albums. Thanksgiving is the start of it all.  The day we reflect on the amazing lives we have been blessed with, stuff our faces with family bonding (and food), and go around the table stating the one thing we are most grateful for.

Turkey-Day is the only holiday that has only two requirements – food and love.  Seriously, how amazing is that? No fussing with presents and unnecessary décor. Just load up the table with hungry faces and fill the plates with steaming piles of carbohydrates! That’s it.  We get to focus on the real meat – not, just the turkey. We think about the people sharing our table and growing our lives. The ones who make us smile and make the minutes of our lives memories.

This year, my heart is happy. It is full. Hubs and I have survived the first six months of parenthood and are beginning to figure out our path as parents and spouses. Hammie has survived her first six months as our first born and is beginning to figure out how to make our lives more complicated by becoming mobile.

I know we meet the two necessary Thanksgiving requirements. I am beyond lucky to say that my heart is as full today as my plate was at dinner.

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Great

Dearest Hammie,

I am not good at a lot of things – sharing my favorite snacks, asking for help when I desperately need it, saying I’m sorry – but thank you for making me really good at one thing. I am really great at being your momma.

The days in the hospital were rough but, once we got home, things kind of just fit. I learned your different sounds and you learned to navigate my twice-the-size-of-your-head boobs.

Six months ago you made me a momma and everyday I am proud to hold that title. So much has changed in those few months but you and I just seem to work.  You are the white to my rice. My sidekick. I am going to hold on tight to these few days that you think I am the greatest because, I fear, soon you will realize how fab your daddy is. You look just like him and you already have his silly sense of humor.

But ***shhhhhhh*** for the next little while you are still mine. I am going to keep reminding myself that you make me great. You make me really good at one thing…. being your momma.

Love Always!

Your Momma

Breastfeeding Sucks.

All month I have wanted to write a post about breastfeeding and my experience.  It felt right to compose something considering it is Breastfeeding Awareness Month, and all. But I struggled to find something worth writing about. It’s crazy that something I spend a huge amount of time doing would fail to inspire a worthy thought.  But it struck me today, on the last day of August. Breastfeeding sucks.

No one tells you about how painful engorgement feels or how scary it is when the hospital tells you it is necessary to supplement with formula – even though you know in your heart it isn’t needed. No one talks about cracked nipples, sore necks, and endless night feedings.  And don’t even get me started on thrush and mastitis (the word alone sounds terrifying). No one talks about the people who won’t meet your eye contact because they are embarrassed (go on and stare at that three-quarter naked woman on tv though) or asshole hospital lactation consultants with horrible British accents.

I could go on and spout off all the statistics about the physical benefits of breastfeeding for baby- from preventing childhood obesity to increasing IQ- or physical benefits to mama – from preventing reproductive cancers to helping lose that baby weight.  But I won’t do any of that because those articles are easy to find and those statistics are meaningless. And, in reality, I think those benefits only play a tiny role in why most mamas continue to breastfeed despite all the negatives.

It’s the indescribable feeling when your baby looks up from your breast and makes eye contact. It melts all the frustration, all the pain, and all (okay only most) of the exhaustion away. It’s the gooey feeling you get when she suddenly stops sucking and breaks into a huge gummy smile – milk rolling down her chin and all. It’s the soul rocking, heart healing, unbelievable feeling knowing that, not only did your body create and grow this little squish, but continues to grow her on a daily basis.

Yes, breastfeeding sucks. It will probably make my boobs sag lower than my belly button and nipples turn into permanent thimbles but I will never look back and regret how satisfied my heart feels.  I will always cherish the time we were able to spend, just the two of us. (I will also never take for granted that it is quickest, most effective way to quiet a screaming monster.)

Some may say she is a momma’s baby – and she is – but every part of me knows that I am creating an independent, well-adjusted kid.

So, I repeat: Breastfeeding sucks. But to all the mommas – Rock on with your bad self.

 

 

Our Force Field

Last night I lay in bed looking at the little bassinette and listening to tiny snores.  I thought about when it would be time for Hammie to move into her own room.  The more I thought about it, the more anxious I became. Our room is like a safety force field. It sounds totally silly but I feel like a child – as long as I hide under the covers, monsters can’t find me.  As long as all four of us (can’t leave out pup) are in our bedroom, we are all safe.

I just can’t picture her laying in that huge crib and the bedroom seems so far away.  I know it’s irrational since Hammie’s nursery shares a wall with our bedroom but it feels like a country away. How can I expect my tiny, still too small for 3-6 month clothes, baby to survive so far away from me?

How can I survive with her so far away from me?

In the morning I woke up to my little heatbox smooshed up against my armpit. We had fallen asleep nursing, like we do most early mornings. She is always very warm but, the more I move away, the closer she creeps. She is such a snuggle bug. It is obvious that I do not sleep as well with her in bed but it feels so good. Some mornings she slowly stirs and wakes me from my light sleep.  I look down at that squishy face and she breaks into a huge smile. She is such a morning person. How can anyone wake up unhappy when that face is there to great you? How can I move that face to her own room?

As she begins to sleep through the night, I am starting to feel as though having her in our room is more of a security blanket for me… rather than her. Only big girls sleep in their own rooms. Not babies.  Not my tiny, itsy, bitsy baby.

*Sigh* I know, I know… she isn’t as itsy bitsy as I think. Soon she will be sitting on her own and moving on her own. I am just not ready for her to be doing all this on her own. I want to forever keep her safe and within our “safety force field“.  I want to protect her from bumping her head, falling off her bike, and the scary boogy monsters in her far away bedroom. I know I can’t. And I know I shouldn’t. We want her to be independent and strong and not a “tit baby” (Hubs’ words not mine).

For a little longer, I will hold on to the idea that Hammie is safe and sound – protected in our bedroom force field. But eventually, I will have to come to terms with the fact that my force field will always surround her. It just can’t protect her from life.  It can, however, protect her from ever feeling alone or unloved. It will always be the warm arms that pick her up when she falls.

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

The Past 8 Weeks

The past eight weeks have flown by faster than I could have ever imagined.  My little Hammie has managed to pack on over five pounds, grow the most adorable rolls, and burrow her way into places in my heart I didn’t know existed. It sounds crazy but I have to remind myself that she is mine – forever. Like forever-ever.

As quickly as the time passes, I need to keep reminding myself of things I never want to forget.  I know that I will remember the sleepless (feeling) nights, the hormonal tears, the never ending stream of dirty diapers, and the nights it took two plus hours to get her to sleep.  But I really don’t want to forget the amazing parts – like the overwhelming love I felt when they placed her on my chest.

So here is my list of amazing things that I want to photograph with my mind:

– The raised eyebrows and “O” mouth she made when we first turned on the vibration in her Rock’n’Play

– How much she loved baths in the sink and would kick around

– The nights she refused to sleep but would tip her head back and stare at me. It felt like she was studying my face so she would never forget her momma

– The faces she makes in her sleep

– Her feet tucked up under her butt as she slept on my chest – just the tiniest ball of love

– The first time I heard her giggle (she was sleeping but it was amazing)

– Falling asleep with her arms bear hugging me

– Crazy cute wrinkles on her forehead

– Her intense eye contact and milk drunk smiles while eating

– The sweet smell of her breath when she finishes eating

– Her little eyes that could find me in the room full of people when she heard my voice

It amazes me that it only took a few short hours and one teeny tiny human to so drastically change my life. I no longer suffer from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) because I would rather spend hours holding my baby than do anything else in the world. I only get to do this a few times (God willing) and this will be the ONLY time I get to do this with Hammie.  So I plan to enjoy every moment of it because I have a lifetime to catch up on all the things I missed out on but I will never get these newborn cuddles back.

Glitter in the Air