My Breastfeeding Journey.

I never truly understood the beauty of breastfeeding. Liam never latched and let’s face it—as a first time mom I had no idea what I was doing. We are told breastfeeding is the most natural thing you can do, but in reality it takes a lot of work. A lot of guidance. A lot of patience. And often times, a lot of tears. The second time around I was feeling more confident in myself as a mom and was determined to make it work. To finally understand the magic that everyone made breastfeeding out to be.

When Scarlett was born I tried feeding her within minutes of having her in my arms (the photo above is of this exact moment and will always be one of my most favorite captures). I remember feeling so self conscious about it, thinking there was no way I was doing it right. But the nurses nodded their heads in approval, and Scarlett stopped crying, so I kept on.

During the next 48 hours, Scarlett spent probably 40 of them latched on to me. I laid in the hospital bed that first night exhausted from labor and a day full of visitors, wanting nothing more than to go to sleep. But Scarlett was not happy if she was not latched, and so there I sat as tired as could be all night long.

The next day wasn’t any easier. I had tears running down my face. I was in so much pain from the endless feedings. But the lactation specialist said these first days were crucial to good supply + a successful nursing journey. And so there we sat, tears and all.

We got home and the pain and discomfort did not end. My nipples were bleeding. Everything was raw. Everything hurt. I winced every time she cried for food, knowing the pain that was about to follow. I would clench my fists, squeeze the pillows, anything to make the feedings bearable. But Scarlett was content, she was gaining weight, she was nursing well…and so there I sat.

And then one day, two tubes of Lanolin and four greasy lanolin destroyed nursing bras later (why didn’t anyone warn me!?), the clouds cleared and everything was better. There was no more pain. No more tears. She was nursing happily. I was nursing happily. And so there we sat, snuggled up in each other. And finally, I understood the beauty of breastfeeding.

The months went on and our bond continued to grow with every feeding. She would rub her little hands on me as she fed, thanking me in her own baby way for supplying her with the fuel she needed to grow. I was filled with pride for what my body could do. I made it a goal to nurse her for 6 months. And then 6 months turned into 12, and 12 turned into 18. People would ask “are you done breastfeeding yet? Don’t you think you’ve fed her long enough?”. But I knew that she and I were the only two who would know when the time was right… and so there we sat, letting our breastfeeding journey continue for as long as WE chose.

As the weeks went by and my baby wasn’t so much of a baby anymore, my body stopped producing as much milk. Nursing became about comfort and routine rather than food. I’d been conflicted about stopping for months. Part of me wanted my own body back. I’d been experiencing hormonal imbalances and wanted to focus on resolving that. On taking care of myself first, for the first time since Scarlett had been born.. However the other part of me wanted to stay connected to my baby in a way that only her and I could ever be connected.

I think if I’m being completely honest with myself, my biggest fear has been that we will never again be as close as we were in those 18 months. I know it’s ridiculous and I know the bond we created during that time will not just go away, but in the back of my mind I’m scared. Scared that she will no longer need me now that my body isn’t supplying her with liquid gold.

In the last few weeks she began nursing for shorter and shorter periods of time, and my body continued to produce less and less. Naturally we moved our way to the end of our nursing journey until one night, there we sat…and I just knew in my heart that it was the last feed. I held her a little closer and a little longer, knowing that when I put her to bed that night there would be no more “boobie night nights”. It would just be regular night nights from here on out.

The next day I put her down for nap without offering “boobie”. She went down just fine, and never even asked for it. The same happened at bedtime that night. It has now been 48 hours. 2 days without nursing. And only once very briefly did she try tugging at my shirt to feed. Her total ease with this transition has given me comfort, knowing that it truly was time. For both of us. Even if it feels difficult and emotional right now, it was going to be difficult and emotional no matter when this journey ended.

And so here I sit. Crying as I write this. A ball of sad and happy all in one. My body fed my baby for 18 months. It kept her healthy, it kept her happy.  For that I am forever grateful. 

This was my breastfeeding journey, and a beautiful journey it was.

Cheers,

The Whine Connoisseur.

Life Update.

Hello strangers!

It’s been so long that I temporarily forgot how to even create a blog post. Kidding… kind of.

The last we left off, Scarlett was just a little wiggly larva baby, Liam had yet to unleash his teenager-like attitude,  Andre had yet to become obsessed with marathon running, and I had yet to start my photography journey.

Clearly a lot has changed around these parts.

Scarlett is now 18 months old and has blossomed into her own. She is THE most strong willed baby and the word “No” means absolutely nothing to her. She is slowly but surely growing hair and is putting her no hair don’t care days behind her. She loves dogs (pronounced ‘dagas’) and she also loves daddy (pronouned ‘dagas’). Most of all, she loves eating. Cheese, Bananas, and apple sauce all come in close ties for her favorite foods, surpassed only by “boobies”. Because yes, I am still breastfeeding. I always said I would be happy to make it to six months of nursing. Then I said a year. Then I said 18 months. And now here we are, nursing twice a day still and no matter how many people squinch up their faces at me and look at me like I just told them I’m growing my armpit hair out (don’t worry, I’m not), I just can’t bring myself to take away her most favorite thing in the world.  I don’t know when it will come to an end… Probably soon-ish. But I plan on soaking up every sweet moment of it until then.

Liam is my little five-nager these days. I’m “the worst mom ever” at least 7 times a week and I’ve decided that must mean I’m doing something right. He is obsessed with Minecraft and is always ready to tell anyone willing to listen a crazy story about what goes on in the virtual world of Minecraft. Regardless of the major ‘tude he’s been dishing out these days (mostly when we tell him he’s hit his Minecraft time limit), he still enjoys play dough, wearing his batman cape out to the store, and cuddling up with me in bed… so I know my little boy is still in there for at least a little while longer. We’ve been homeschooling him for Kindergarten and if you’re wondering how that’s been going, the answer is that he will be going to a charter school for first grade. It’s been an interesting experience that I was so happy to be able to try out, but I can’t help but to feel like maybe homeschooling just isn’t for us. Not only do I feel like I don’t always have the time in my day to dedicate to teaching him properly, but I also feel like he would learn better from someone who isn’t his parent. I’m sure I’ll regret that decision temporarily as I wipe my tears on the first day of school this fall, but in the long run I think this is the best decision for our family.

Andre has developed a major love for marathon running + obstacle races and while I will never understand why someone would choose to run 26 miles for “fun”, it makes him happy and that’s what matters. Based on the personal records that he beats every single time, it’s lookin like he’s pretty dang good at it too. Running has become his thing he does for himself and it brings him peace (it also brings him like 3-5 days of pain and discomfort post every marathon but hey, to each their own). He continues to work hard for our family constantly and is always looking for ways that he can improve. I still can’t seem to get a good back rub out of him however he is exceptionally awesome at pouring me a glass of wine and doing the dishes without me ever asking so I’ll take what I can get. He’s the best person I know and I’m pretty proud to call him mine. We have our first date night in forever scheduled for next week and excited doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings about it.

While all of that has been happening, I have been busy over here putting together a photography + social media marketing business. I have been doing social media marketing for 6 ish years now but finally decided to turn it into more than just a small side job. After brainstorming business names with some friends during mom’s night out, Cactus and Vine was born and has become my third baby. It is primarily focused on photography however I do offer social media marketing consulting on the side. Creating this business allowed me to combine a skill that I’ve been developing for years (social media marketing) with my love for photography. While its been chaotic and often really overwhelming trying to get a business up and running while still tending to mom + wife duties, it has been a major source of pride for me.

I think that about wraps our whole life right now up into a few grammatically incorrect paragraphs. It’s taken me five days just to write this much, the entire family has barged in on me as I try to finish this last paragraph, and I’ll probably skip editing it because ain’t nobody got time for that.

Thanks for following along with our crazy fam… It’s good to be back.

Cheers,

The Whine Connoisseur.

The Nursery.

I started planning our growing little one’s nursery long before this babe was even in my belly. I would sit up at night pinning ideas on Pinterest, bookmarking websites that had cute decor inspo, and feeling slightly ridiculous for planning so in depth for a baby that did not yet exist.

Fast forward to finding out I was pregnant. After seeing those two lines on the test and spending my entire morning pacing around the house with an overwhelming feeling of joy, I remember wandering into the room that would soon belong to our baby. As I sat there rearranging the room in my head, I planned the perfect nursery for a little girl. Call it a mother’s intuition or call it wishful thinking… I just knew it would be a girl’s room long before we ever knew the gender.

Now here we are. Just 6 weeks from my due date and all that we need to complete this nursery is our sweet girl. Inspired by wild flowers, I created a girly little space with a boho touch. With the exception of her crib (which will be in our room for the first few months) and changing table/dresser, I utilized furniture that we already had. The leaning shelves were purchased for our first home years ago at The Container Store. The couch is part of a sectional that was in our first home as well. We’d thought about getting rid of it several times but since it was still in great condition we held onto it “just in case” we could find a later use for it…and sure enough we did. What was once the couch we bought for our first home together is now the couch that I will cuddle up and nurse our little girl on. The crib and changing table/dresser are both from IKEA. I’ve found changing table dressers to be so ridiculously over priced and not at all cute enough to justify the high price tags, so thanks to an idea I saw on Pinterest, we bought a basic plain white Ikea dresser and changed out the knobs with little crystals that I found at H&M.  It’s the perfect height to double as a changing table and will still look great once she transitions to a big girl room.

All of my framed prints came from Etsy shops Adoren Studio and Ivie Baby. The frames came from Ikea, Target, and H&M (which surprisingly has a super cute home section on their website). The furry stool is from Target and is probably my favorite piece in the room. The rug, almost all of the shelf décor, hanging flower crown antlers, wall hooks, and the pillows also came from Target because as we all know, Target is just winning in the game of reasonably priced home décor. The tapestry hanging on the wall-also one of my favorite pieces in the room-came from Modern Burlap. After spending so many months hoping and praying for this baby, the verse grabbed my attention the moment I first saw it and I instantly knew that it had to be a center piece of her nursery. Lastly, let’s talk about the giant flower S on the wall (which, for those who have been curious about her name, is totally a hint). I had seen giant floral letters on Pinterest a million times and was set on putting one in my girl’s room. Every internet search led me to Etsy, where the smallest letters were going for over $100. Since I have a million other things that I would rather spend a hundred bucks on, I decided to try to make one myself… and oh my goodness am I glad I did. With the help of a DIY website and some Michael’s coupons, I was able to put together a giant floral letter that matches the room perfectly, is double the size and cost a quarter of the price.

I could not be more proud of the little space that I put together for our girl. As the need to nest grows stronger and stronger I find myself sitting in her room on the couch several times a day, just picturing our sweetest new addition enjoying her space. The clothes and blankets are washed… the drawers are stocked and organized… Everything is in its place.

Now we wait.

Cheers,

The Whine Connoisseur.

Processed with VSCO with a4 presetProcessed with VSCO with a4 presetProcessed with VSCO with a4 presetIMG_6845Processed with VSCO with a4 presetProcessed with VSCO with a4 presetProcessed with VSCO with a4 presetProcessed with VSCO with a4 presetProcessed with VSCO with a4 presetIMG_6866Processed with VSCO with a4 presetProcessed with VSCO with a4 preset

 

 

28 weeks.

B115606E-BEBD-4415-9BE7-B3657264BCA1.jpg

28 weeks of growing this little girl inside of me.

We have officially entered the third trimester and while it feels as though I have been pregnant all year (probably because I literally have), it also feels like the time has absolutely flown by. In just 10-12ish weeks our family will grow by one. This littlest babe will make her debut, and we will finally get to meet the girl behind the kicks.

I definitely feel like I am entering the third trimester. As baby girl gains weight, moving becomes more of a challenge.  My bed time has been 9pm and mid-day naps are almost a necessity. While shaving my legs the other day I came to the realization that I am probably just a few weeks away from needing some assistance. My meals have had to become smaller as eating makes me feel more uncomfortable, but I’m hungry every thirty minutes. The pregnancy leg cramps have been SO real. Sitting upright in a chair for too long is a killer on my back. Working out is now less of a desired activity and more of a forced one. I have become increasingly irritable and my constantly changing roller coaster of emotions can get overwhelming. Basically, I am typical third trimester pregnant lady.

As the days of being “just the three of us” come to and end, I have been feeling all kinds of sentimental. The last four years of our lives, it’s been the Daddy, Mommy, and Liam show. Practically children ourselves when we had him, Liam has grown us up in so many ways and made us the people we are today.  Together, the three of us moved from our first condo to our first house. We have traveled and made memories all over the southwest. We have spent each night cuddling in our too-small-for-the-three-of-us queen sized bed. We got our first family puppy. We have gone through big changes and sleepless nights and laughter filled bacon cooking mornings. Together…just the three of us. As Liam says about ten times a day, we are “besssst friends”.  And now in the blink of an eye, it will be the four of us. The four best friends. This newest addition is already so very loved and I couldn’t be more excited to create new family memories with her, but I will always cherish the last four years of bonding that I’ve had with the sweet little boy who first made me a mama.

I thought that the second time around I would be less nervous. However as the countdown to due date begins, I have realized that I am not less nervous, my nerves simply lie in new places.  While last time my nerves were mostly about the labor/delivery process and the early days of motherhood, this time my nerves are more focused on Liam’s feelings/emotions and what balancing being mama to two will be like. I want to give both of my babies all the attention that they each deserve. I want to make sure that my husband and I get the time that we need together. I want to make sure that in all of that, I don’t forget to also take care of my own well being. My nerves mostly just come down to how I will balance all of that. I love my people… this little squad my husband and I have created. And at the end of the day, I just want to make sure everyone is happy and very well aware of how loved they are.

Despite the inevitable nervous thoughts that come with the unknown, I am filled with a sense of calm. This entire pregnancy I have just had this gut feeling that everything would be ok. And it has been. As I have mentioned in previous posts, my first pregnancy wasn’t the easiest. After almost losing our son at 23 weeks due to an incompetent cervix and being put on very strict bed rest, I went into this pregnancy being automatically classified as “high risk”. While we went into it prepared for the worst, the worst never came. My high risk specialist and I made the decision early on not to operate on my cervix. We decided to wait it out, closely monitor it, and only operate if necessary. With each appointment it became more and more obvious that we made the right decision. As my specialist likes to say, it’s like I went out and bought a new cervix. It has baffled all of us in the best way possible and with each passing day of healthy pregnancy I am reminded of what a blessing it has been.

As I head into the “nesting/I don’t want to do anything other than sit at home and bake a baby” phase of pregnancy, I am filling the next few weeks with as many activities as I can. With my baby shower next week, followed by a week long trip to Phoenix, followed by Liam’s fourth birthday and then our maternity photos… this growing mama will gladly welcome the end of pregnancy slow down once it comes.

28 weeks down, 12 to go. See you soon baby girl.

Cheers,

The Whine Connoisseur.

 

Processed with VSCO with a4 presetProcessed with VSCO with m3 presetProcessed with VSCO with m3 presetProcessed with VSCO with m3 presetProcessed with VSCO with a4 presetProcessed with VSCO with a4 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 preset