WWWWHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOO….

blowing-dust-off-a-bookOk. Now that we have cleared the dust off of this blog, I hope to be a special guest writer from time to time.
I started writing on this platform while I was pregnant with visions of a sleeping baby and an independently playing toddler, while mommy sits at her desk and formulates perfectly punctuated sentences that stem from clear and rational thinking. Then when the allotted time that I gave myself was up, we would return to story book time and riding our unicorn.

But, as it does, reality came. And the strongest lesson that I have learned from parenting… nothing goes the way you plan… set in and over a whole year goes by.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s been an incredible year. One filled with more personal growth than a single person can muster. Seriously faced with staring down two paths. One that sends me down the rabbit hole of mommy melodrama (I swear I am not trying to be dismissive… this sh*t is hard) or one that pushes, pulls, and stretches at every turn. I chose the latter with binoculars always eyeing the other side.

So here I am. I make no promises with the consistency of my posting, nor with the grammar that may be imposed from mommy-brain. After a bit of soul-searching from that latter path, I know a few things to be true. One of which is that I enjoy writing. I like to put my thoughts to paper and create.

And I do hope to do more of it.

IMG_2418Part of my job is to meet 10 new, extraordinary people everyday. Simple and Awesome. Sometimes I will meet these people through social media, other times while I am working out, and then others while I am just running errands and doing my day. As a new momma, doing my day can sometimes get condensed or cutout. But today, I set out with intention to go run some errands with L. The intention: fabulous. The execution: less than fabulous.

I think the second reason that parenting is one of the most challenging jobs in the world is because you have NO idea what you’re doing. There is no confirmation of what is right or wrong. You consult 15 people and you will get 15 different answers. All you have is your intuition. I’m currently reading the book, Blink, right now and while intuition can be spot on, it can also be questionnable when the only thing to confirm if you’re getting it right or getting it wrong is a happy baby or a crying baby. When you state it that simply, the answer seems clear, but even then, we question ourselves.

I might have the coolest kid on the planet. She’s adorable. Smart. Playful. Funny. She likes social settings and new people. She’s easygoing as long as she doesn’t have crap in her pants or is hungry (are you easygoing with crap in your pants?). Buuuuuuut, at 3 months old, she refuses to sleep if you aren’t near her. I don’t know how she knows, but she does. She can be in the deepest siesta and you will put her down and her eyes will pop open. So, for now, she sleeps with us, and naps are best if she’s held. And if this happens, she’s a dream sleeper! But  sleep being one of the most controversial and opinionated baby topics leaves you open to question, doubt, and criticism… So I question myself constantly, look for other solutions (try them. Fail.). Then if you consult anyone. Oh lord. Just don’t consult anyone. At least not anyone you know. If they don’t have kids, they might think the solution is way easier (I definitely did pre-baby). If they have kids and have an easy sleeper, then you are a failure. Or they don’t have an easy sleeper and you feel somewhat relieved but then they must be doing something wrong. Then there’s the “experts.” And everyone thinks that you are an overprotective parent that just needs to put the kid down.

So today, I did. I went against my gut. Decided to head out during naptime, let her sleep while driving. We don’t really have a hard and fast schedule yet anyway. It’ll be ok. Big Mistake. My sweet little angel was mortified. It was as if I betrayed her and let her sleep outside in the rain, never to return. Tears, wails, and heaving sighs. We didn’t make it out the front door.

And while many will be reading this, judging, thinking that they may know best. They simply don’t. Because in reality, no one understands my baby, knows her cues, can read her emotions, recognize her signs that she is ready for the next big girl step better than I can. According to my daughter, we have an agreement. I nurse her and snuggle her during naptime. I used to snuggle her for all of naptime. These days, she understands that we snuggle most of naptime, but that she can also finish out 30 minutes or so in her rock’n’play. This is what we’ve worked toward and she’s cool with it. And at some point, when she gives me a sign that she is ready for the next step, we will make another agreement. She might get scared. She might feel unsure. But, I will validate her and support her, even challenge her when appropriate.  No sneak attacks. No manipulation. No pulling the wool over her eyes. That’s just not how we do things.

And I will learn to trust my instinct and forget the naysayers.

So for now, I will finish my workday meeting 5 more extraordinary people via social media. Maybe it will be you. Or maybe you might want to introduce me to someone new.

Pregnancy Must Reads

Like I’ve mentioned, I’m an avid reader and researcher. I love finding out as much information on one topic as possible, taking what applies to me to find the best formula. I’ve read, flipped through and scoured books, and searched blogs and reviews.  These were my favorite reads during pregnancy to help me navigate everything from symptoms to moods to baby gear and most important, parenting.

Favorite Blogs and Websites

Baby Center: This was my favorite go-to for the week-by-week fetal growth and progression. There are many but this is the one that I chose. I also found it the most helpful for community questions and reviews. It was just easiest to scroll through and navigate. There are also some decent less biased articles for your basic baby info, like sleeping, nutrition, pregnancy symptoms, etc.

Fit Pregnancy: The meat of this website is less substantial, but I enjoy the health perspective. There are simple exercise routines, easy recipe ideas, and sometimes their product reviews are good. It gave me a framework to go from.

Dear Baby Blog: I didn’t get into this until late in pregnancy but enjoyed this light read. The writer is local, so the Raleigh references are fun. Her writing is very poetic and makes a great read to relax before bed. Her perspective is romantic and whimsical but also centered and grateful for the moment.

Amazon: I was never an amazon junkie before getting pregnant but since fell in love. You can’t beat the prices or selection. The reviews are abundant (and usually pretty inline with the rest of the reviews out there when you cross compare), and for a busy mom-to-be like me, I simply didn’t have time to drive all over town to research products and selection (which seems pretty poor where I live) and I refuse to settle on quality, especially when it comes to products made with harsh or dangerous ingredients. My registry was held exclusively on Amazon.

Favorite Books

Magical Beginnings, Enchanted Lives: This book by Chopra was much more my “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” It’s a holistic guide to pregnancy with a very non-scary, non-threatening, and non-judgmental voice. It has practical advice for yoga postures and exercising, as well as communication with your partner, and preparing for birth. The only portion that I didn’t completely connect with was the nutrition, but even that section was wonderful at illustrating, eat a variety of whole, nutritious foods and if you have the occasional craving, satisfy it. Zero guilt. Loved it. Probably the best part of the book was about centering yourself body, mind, and soul and visualizing your pregnancy, birth, and beyond. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in pinterest, comparisons, and worries. This book helps to keep your grounded.

Understanding Your Moods When You’re Expecting: I referenced this book in an earlier post and just really appreciated it. I know that I am not the only mom that was impacted emotionally by all of the physical changes in my body- lack of sleep, inability to complete daily tasks like I once could, having to cut back on work, and the stinkin preggo brain that just makes me feel like I am losing my mind, not to mention the cluster of hormones. All of the symptoms really made me feel less empowered, not more. This book was just a fantastic reminder of validating what’s “normal” and what might constitute the need for a little more help. The encouragement of seeking support and the guidance to create a post-natal plan (genius) were immensely helpful at calming my mind and relinquishing control.

Bringing Up Bebe: I loved this alternative perspective by Pamela Druckerman. This book was a comparison between the American and Parisian cultures on raising newborns. Now, while this book was completely generalizing the two cultures and looking at the masses, not breaking down different parenting styles, it was a general overview, which I preferred. I am not a one-size fits all, follow this manual step-by-step, subscribe to this parenting style completely, kinda woman. I never have been. So similarly, I didn’t subscribe to everything in this book (i.e breastfeeding, or lack thereof), but what I did like was her take on learning how to become in tune with your baby so that you aren’t looking to a book to read his/her emotions, and being fully attentive to your child, when appropriate. I am a big believer that this is how to get your baby to sleep and behave through toddler years, which this book is advocating. Now, I am still a naive pregnant person, so we may revise this after Baby L gets here.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting: I know, I know. I just about lost ALL credibility by listing this one. And for the most part, I hated it (to be totally honest, I didn’t even finish it), but the only section that I really liked was the nutrition. For a junkie like me, it was great to see which essential vitamins you need to bump up in your diet. I hear there is just a nutrition version, which may be more beneficial to check out. But I cannot stress the importance of good nutrition while you’re expecting. I completely give all credit to my nutrition and health (before and during pregnancy) for the abundance of sweet compliments I have received.

The Book of Nurturing: This book isn’t a pregnancy book per se, but much more of a personal development read in regards to family and parenting. Again, this helps to keep life into perspective beyond sore nipples and exhaustion from sleep schedules. It helps you to be in tune with your family, keep communication open, love, protect, and nurture, but know when to let go and let growth happen. I think these principles are so key for new parents to remember so your start good habits early.

Other Good Reads

SleepI read a number of books on sleep including Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, The No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley and The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karpp. The most humorous part about all three of these reads were how redundant they were. They were definitely written with sleep-deprived parents in mind reiterating the same principles. I initially found it annoying but could appreciate the tactics and began to skim through them. The techniques in Happiest Baby were helpful and I appreciated the principles in No-Cry Sleep Solution. Having a toolbox of tricks is essential, but I am a big believer of going into this with a rough draft and a lot of room to edit your plan.

Breastfeeding: I really enjoyed So That’s What They’re For, by Janet Tamaro. It was well-writtten and very funny (but not in the brash humor that so many pregnancy and parenting books are written in these days). This book would have made my Top Reads list until I went to my breastfeeding class and realized how much this book frightened me with the long list of what-could-go-wrongs.  My class seemed to simplify things more and return the confidence that I think you need to get the job done. However, still highly recommended for any mom that is wavering a bit about breastfeeding, or with no breastfeeding mentor (my mom didn’t breastfeed), simply to strengthen your conviction in the health benefits for your child.

Vaccines:  Touchy subject, I know. But with all of the hype out there, you owe it to yourself to be equipped. I thought my opinion on this topic was one way, went through it very confused, and came out with a better, more confident decision. An unbiased book that just gives you the facts is The Vaccine Book by Robert Sears. I often found myself just wanting the author to tell me what to do but after careful reading, note-taking, and conversations with my husband, we are on the same page. It might be more homework than you want to do, but again, with the controversy, you might just want to feel as educated as you can so if anything arises, you felt you made the best decision possible.

At the end of the day, or your pregnancy, you may not be a big reader. That may work for you. But I think the goal of every parent is to become better everyday. Work on yourself, your relationships, communication, and your ability to be open and learn along the way. Maybe that’s through books for some and mentors for others. But knowing that we are all going to make mistakes and learn from each one of them will make us all a little bit better and hopefully let go of some of this infamous parent guilt.