If you do this ONE thing to your skin!

As an Esthetician, I am constantly searching for new ways to improve my clients’ skin (and my own).

I do all kinds of exfoliating and hydrating treatments to get rid of dead skin cells and help speed up the process of skin renewal. Everything from chemical peels, sloughing (an exfoliating treatment that involves the drying of a mask and removal using a certain hand movements), enzymes, high frequency machines, and so on.

As we all know, our skin becomes less and less hydrated the older we get and along with that comes wrinkles, age spots, fine lines, etc. etc.

I have NEVER come across such an amazing and instantly transforming treatment as I have found in Dermaplaning!

One of my teachers from Esthetics School at Elizabeth Grady in Massachusetts turned me on to it when we last spoke when I was pregnant with my daughter. I was looking for something new, something exciting and something EFFECTIVE.

She instantly talked to me about Dermaplaning and all of the success she had with it and how much her clients loved it. I decided to take the course myself and I am SOOOOOO glad I did!!

This is the real deal. This thing is no joke.

As a busy mom, I have NO time to spend pampering myself and hardly ANY time to spend at a spa. (Try telling my husband “I’ll be back in a couple hours, I’m just going to get a nice long facial, you take care of the babies”, and see what he says). If it’s not Valentine’s Day, Christmas, or my birthday, I don’t think he’d be so thrilled.

But girls, this takes 30 MINUTES! You can do it on your lunch break and no one would know!

Here’s how it works and why you need to get it done!

The blade (don’t let that word scare you) is glided back and forth across your skin strategically at a 45 degree angle removing all dead skin cells AND unwanted facial hair as well. Alllll those little baby fuzzies you have on the sides of your face (and maybe even chin, etc.) are GONE.

Example of what comes off:

During the Dermaplaning process, dead skin cells and hair pile up and are removed. Then you get a second form of exfoliation (like a scrub) to make sure everything is gone. After that, you receive a treatment mask (usually something nice and hydrating) and you’re left with NEW, BABY SKIN!! NO REDNESS, NO PEELING, IMMEDIATE RESULTS! DONE.

Here are a couple After pictures:

Okay, ladies! Go get this done and feel AMAZING about the way you look and feel again.

 

 

I’m Being Tortured By My Baby

I have been held captive for 10 months, 21 days, 11 hours and 26 minutes. My captor’s name is Chase and he tortures me with sleep deprivation. There was a period of about 2 weeks where he let me sleep, uninterrupted, through the night and I thought “Could it be? Am I free?” and then on a warm evening in early September, I was startled awake by the soft cries from the monitor next to my bed. They gradually increased in octave and I just knew….it wasn’t over.

SLEEPING! What’s that? For the first 5 months of Chase’s life, I thought I would be the first person to die from sleep deprivation. You literally feel like you’re losing your mind. At one point I wondered if I was really in a padded room somewhere walking around with a baby doll and too crazy to notice. No sleep does things to you.

I constantly called and texted every new mom I know (I say “new” mom because I felt like anyone with older children might be out of touch and I needed some fresh advice…someone who just got through the battlefield and was eager to show me the ropes) and asked if what I was going through was normal and what worked for them.

There were so many different pieces of advice but no one really gives you verbatim direction on what EXACTLY they did (because, who has the time to explain all that or feels like sending a 3 page text, ESPECIALLY a mom) so I am going to tell you EXACTLY what we did (and are currently doing) because I needed someone to do that for me.

Keep in mind every baby is different, but here is what worked for us:

We kept Chase in a Rock N Play next to my side of the bed from the day we brought him home from the hospital. We were determined not to use the battery-operated swing or vibration, (hahaha!!! you will literally do anything to get a baby to sleep) but that didn’t last long! The self-swing option was a life saver. Also, Chase had reflux as an infant so being in the Rock N Play at an incline made everything much easier for all of us. This is the one we used:

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Because he had reflux, Chase spit up a lot and it would make him cry because it burned, so the pediatrician prescribed Zantac for him. I was reluctant to put my infant on any kind of prescription medicine but let me tell you, if you were in pain every day, you’d take something too. I looked at it like this: My baby is in pain and I have the ability to make him feel better so why wouldn’t I give him something that I know will help?

I was breastfeeding Chase and swaddling him at night. He wouldn’t sleep unless he was swaddled and we continued to do so until he was about 5 months and began to struggle to get out of it, that’s also around the time he started to roll over. He also wouldn’t sleep in anything other than the Rock N Play but it got to the point where his legs were literally dangling off the edge!

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Around 5 1/2 months is when everything changed for us. We were moving into a new house, so we hadn’t set up Chase’s crib yet. We had borrowed a bigger bassinet from a friend, but Chase wouldn’t sleep in it for more than 2 hours (just long enough for me to finally get some sleep and then be awoken by an angry elf). He was also used to being elevated and all nice and snug so laying flat and without some kind of cushioning wasn’t happening.

Then a friend of mine told me about the “Docatot”, which is awesome! (not cheap, but awesome!) It was the perfect transitional tool we needed to get Chase from Rock N Play to crib because it kept him nice and snug and prevented him from rolling over.

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This Docatot (picture is not my child, but it sold me!) was so great, I wish I had heard about it sooner (and no, they’re not endorsing me). I put the Docatot in Chase’s Pack N Play and he slept great! (Well, great for Chase at the time). So, apparently the Docatot is meant to be used as a co-sleeping tool, but Chase would NOT sleep with us. We tried. I even kicked my husband out of our bed so Chase could take his spot and he was still up every 2 hours. No thanks.

The other key for us was putting Chase in his own bedroom to sleep!! I didn’t really feel comfortable with the idea (and neither did my husband) but Chase woke up at the drop of a spoon (that happened the other day). Our bed was squeaky, my husband clears his throat and I roll around in my sleep and EVERYTHING woke Chase up. You can imagine my attitude towards my husband any time he coughed! So at about 5 1/2 months, we bit the bullet and set Chase up in his own room and he slept much better.

I always sleep with a fan, so Chase is used to white noise, which I think helped. We also got him a white noise machine and use it (two of them, actually) to this day.

Once we moved into the new house, we set the crib up and put the Docatot in that until Chase started rolling around on his own. He didn’t seem phased when I removed it, I just kept a close eye on him for a little while until I felt comfortable with him sleeping on his stomach. This all happened around 6-6 1/2 months, I’d say.

Because Chase wasn’t the best sleeper, I did a ton of research and asked my tribe of women what worked for them and the thing that stuck out the most for me was starting a “bedtime routine” where we do the same thing every single night so Chase knows it’s time for bed. Our routine consists of “tubby time” where Chase gets a bath in a quiet environment with dim lights. It’s his time to wind down. I have tried keeping the lights bright and having my husband in there with us, but Chase seems to sleep much better when it’s just the 2 of us in there and it’s quiet. (My need for having things done a particular way is hereditary, apparently.)

Then when he gets out of the tub, I lay him on our bed (he bathes in our bathroom) and I get him dressed for bed. He doesn’t like things on his feet, he tries to pull them off (lately) so I either put him in a feet-less pajama suit or a 2 piece, long sleeves and pants and always put him in a sleep sac.

 

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(Again, not my child)

I have a weird OCD thing about temperature and get obsessed with the temp in Chase’s room at night. I am constantly worried that he is either too hot or too cold, so I sneak in there 500 times to make sure it’s just right. I’m convinced the thermometer on his monitor is lying to me. I have found that putting him in cotton pajamas with the lighter sleep sack for warmer nights and the fleece sleep sac when it’s cold works best. I really like them because I feel like he has a blanket wrapped around him all night.

Speaking of blankets, that was another question of mine: When is it ok to give him a blanky?? He sleeps with his lovie (AKA “Moo Cow”) but seeing him all alone in his crib curled up in a ball made me sad so I wanted him to have a blanket. We got the OK from his pediatrician once Chase was rolling all around and at first, the idea scared me so I tried it during nap time so I could watch him with it. I wouldn’t want to sleep without a blanket of some kind! Even just to snuggle it.

During his “tubby time”, Chase’s bottle is being warmed up (I give him a bottle of breast milk that I have pumped because it fills his belly for the night) and his daddy kisses him “Goodnight”. I feed him in his rocking chair in his room with the sound machines on. He also has room-darkening curtains (I highly recommend) so it’s nice and dark in there. After his bottle, he nurse a little (comfort) and usually falls asleep that way and I put him to bed asleep. Sometimes I have to walk him around the room and pat his back (he puts his hand over my mouth if I try to sing to him…if you’ve ever heard me sing, you’d understand..no joke).

I know you’re supposed to put them down “drowsy but awake” to sleep so when they wake in the night they don’t expect to see you there because they understand where they are. BUT…after letting Chase cry it out for nap time (more on that below) he was able to sleep better through the night and was able to soothe himself back to sleep. I have always put him down asleep when it’s his bedtime, I love rocking him to sleep and holding him a little while.

This “bedtime routine” might  a bit excessive but I’m telling you, if you have a baby that doesn’t sleep through the night or doesn’t nap well and you haven’t gotten a break, your eyes look like a raccoon’s and you know your baby isn’t getting the rest he desperately needs, you’ll hag upside down by your toes, if it helps. Trust me.

Nap time has been hell for us. I may have created a monster, but as I have stated before, I had post-partum anxiety and didn’t want to put my baby down very much. I held him a ton as an infant (as I think you should) and let him nap on me all the time. Granted, I didn’t have any other children to take care of so I allowed myself to take advantage of these precious moments and Chase slept on me while I watched t.v. (oh, I miss those days!!) or rocked him in his rocking chair, and sometimes he even slept on me while I wore him in his Baby K’Tan:

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I would actually be a great tour guide after months of driving all around town to get Chase to nap. I can tell you the nicest, most secluded and exclusive areas and the not-so-nice areas to avoid. I can tell you which places have drive-through coffees and which ones to go to if you’re trying to be quiet. Ask for Janet at the mini Starbucks. She makes the best 1/2 decaf skinny vanilla lattes and whispers when she sees you.

As everything else, this came to an end and Chase stopped falling asleep in the car and would only scream his tiny little ass off until we stopped and I took him out.

I’ve never been a fan of the “cry it out” method, but Chase just wouldn’t nap in his crib. I’d get him to sleep and then gently and sloooowwwlllyyyy lay him in his crib and he’d wake right up and scream (or pretend to choke, no lie) until I picked him up. So I was held captive in his room and rocked him to nap every day. It was sweet at first and then he stopped napping that way too! He was getting uncomfortable and wanted to roll around so he’d accidentally wake himself up after about 20-30 minutes.

I finally decided something needed to change after we had family and friends visit us and I was stuck in Chase’s room for most of their time here. I had tried letting him cry it out a couple times in the past but I ended up in the bathroom crying, myself. It hurt me to hear him cry and wonder where I was and why I wasn’t coming to get him. So, at about 8 1/2 months, I decided to do it and not look back because I realized he desperately needed to learn how to nap and it was my responsibility to teach him.

I bought books, watched videos, talked to my pediatrician and friends and decided to try letting Chase cry for 5 minutes then go in and console him. I would be putting him down drowsy but awake so he would get himself to sleep and I KNEW he was going to lose it and I KNEW that I needed to be strong because I wasn’t doing this TO him, I was doing it FOR him.

The 5 minute thing didn’t work. Neither did the 10 minute or even the 20. When I would go back in the room to console him, Chase would scream even louder, cry even harder and it would allllll start over again. SO, there were a couple times where he cried for an hour!! I finally would go in and get him, convinced he’d hate me and never trust me again. Thankfully, he didn’t and I kept up with it until probably the 4th day, he rolled over and went to sleep!!!! What the what?? Yeah, it was crazy. I thought: “No way, this is too good to be true” but the little man took a nap!

Now, I’m not trying to sell you anything so I can be honest and tell you this doesn’t always happen!! Sometimes I put him down and he cries and sometimes I just pick him back up or wait just a few minutes and then try again later. Sometimes he naps for 2 hours and sometimes 30 minutes, but at least he’s napping without any crutch.

Also, when I did this, he started sleeping through the night because he understood where he was, that it was sleep time and he probably didn’t feel like screaming for 20 minutes, it would just be easier to roll over, grab his lovie and go back to sleep.

But again, this doesn’t always happen, like I said in the opening statement, there was a period of about 2 blissful weeks where he was sleeping 11 hours straight per night and then BAM, just as soon as you foolishly tell people your child is sleeping through the night does he wake up every night at 2 AM just to spite you.

What can I say, ladies (and gents?)…we can just try our best…I have accepted the fact that I will probably be exhausted for a long time to come and I will never look like I’m 23 again because that bitch was rested!

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800 Miles Away

When I was little, my favorite game to play was “House”. Whether I was with friends, cousins, or playing alone, it was my go-to. I would pretend to be a mom, have a couple children and a husband and I would spend my day going on errands and taking care of the babies. I would feed the babies, put them down for naps, make dinner, go to the bank and the grocery store, etc. (I even had a stash of deposit slips from the bank!)

I’ve always wanted to be a mom and have a family. I just never dreamed that one day I would have those things but my family (my parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins) would be nowhere in sight. When I played “House” my family was always a part of it, or at least it was implied in the subconscious of my game.

I originally moved to North Carolina in 2012 with the intention of coming right back home after I was satisfied with my “break from Boston”. Everyone should explore new territory and live out of the familiar comforts of home, at least for a little while. Whether you go off to college in another state or go abroad one semester or take a leap of faith and try a new city for a couple years, I think it’s important for our personal growth to get away from what we know and explore new places.

That being said, I will also say that growing up in a big, loud, Italian family shaped and molded me into the human being I am today and having that family full of cousins, aunts and uncles contributed to my happiest memories growing up.

Jump to 5 1/2 years after leaving Boston, starting a family away from my family has been extremely difficult. Since I first moved to NC, I have gotten engaged, married, had our first child and bought a house. The cost of living and quality of life is incomparable to that in Boston. The appeal of a nice, beautiful home in a gorgeous neighborhood with bills that we can actually pay each month is quite the comfort.

This has been the happiest and loneliest time of my life. I can’t speak for other mothers but I will say that it is crucial for any new mom to have a good support system around her and there’s just something about having your own mom or favorite aunt by your side to help you through.

As a new mother, you have gone through so much! Pregnancy, crazy hormones, your body changing, feeling fat and ugly and then feeling guilty about not cherishing every second, BIRTH, going through labor and actually birthing a human being!! Having a newborn baby who relies on you 100% for literally everything, and don’t even get me STARTED on sleep deprivation! (The wound is still too fresh to talk about).

Going through the millions of ups, downs, and sideways of being a new mom is no joke and we need the love, understanding, and support of our families and friends. Unfortunately, I didn’t have family around during all of those new life changes and I truly felt the effects. New moms need their closest women who are familiar with such matters to help guide them and shower them with affection. Nothing can measure up to a hug from your mom.

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Someone who raised you can look at you and say “You’re doing a good job!” or “You’re such a good mom!” and if you’re living away from your family and trying to raise a family, I don’t have to tell you how imperative those simple words are to hear but the mere absence of them lingers.

We have neighbors who’s daughter lives about an hour and 1/2 away and just recently had a baby. They are always taking turns visiting their new granddaughter and helping their daughter get through the sleepless nights and giving her a break. I knew it would be hard doing this away from our families but I had no clue how hard. I envy our neighbor’s daughter, whom I have never met. The old adage is true: You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

If you’ve moved away from the comforts and familiarity of a particular landmark such as the mountains, I feel you. In my case, I grew up on the ocean. Our beach was literally at the end of our road and my dad’s house was on a bay leading into the ocean.

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My dad always had a boat when I was growing up (as did my step-dad) and when I got a little older, my friends had boats and I’d be out there with them all day. I worked at a sailing camp all summer and lived there during the week. Being on a boat of some kind was pretty normal to me and I was never wealthy. Whether I was fishing, pulling lobster traps or taking advantage of a friend’s invitation for an afternoon outing, I have always loved being out on the water. Taking a morning walk on the beach was always a habit when I lived on Cape Cod. I’d go out there when it was snowing! Something about the waves and the smell of the sea makes me feel like home.

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Whenever we reach the ocean to the point I have it in my vision, I always tell my husband I feel like I can breathe again. I let out a long, deep breath and everything else seems okay. If you grew up on the water, you know what I mean, but this is true for the mountains for some people or even open fields, for others. We have friends here who are from Oklahoma and I know how badly they miss just seeing wide, open land. I can imagine they must feel claustrophobic here.

Some of us just need certain things to feel grounded and for me, that’s the water. I feel like I can’t breathe without it. I tell my husband all the time, “I just need to drive by it! I don’t even need a ‘beach day’ I just want to SEE it when I’m going about my day”.

Things that have helped me deal with not having certain comforts around that might help you are:

-Going online and finding small bodies of water near me. There’s a huge lake about an hour from here, (it doesn’t have much of a beach, but there’s 1 or 2 restaurants on the water to get lunch, which I have), there’s a tiny lake that has a bike path about 7 miles around to go walk, etc. It’s like giving an alcoholic an O’Douls. It’s not going to get you drunk, but it will suffice.

-FaceTime with family members so they can see the baby and posting lots of pictures/videos. They miss us too!

-Planning play groups with other moms who don’t have family around. It’s nice to know you’re not alone!

-Be thankful for all that you have, every single day. I know how blessed I am, beyond measure. Thank God for all that he has given you and all that he has yet to give. Remember this: God did not put something in your heart that you were never meant to have.

Till next time…

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You Win Some, You Lose Some (friends, that is)

You have your best friends and people you think will be in your life forever. Then there’s the people you don’t really talk to very much but know will be there the second you need them, and you’d do the same for them. Your family is your family (for better or worse) and that’s a whole different ball game altogether.

Here’s the thing: Having a baby changes practically everything. And that’s ok. In fact, it’s a good thing, you’re life SHOULD change (somewhat). You now have someone else who should be your #1 priority. The problem is, only other moms really and truly understand this. Hell, I didn’t understand what it meant to have a child until I had one of my own, there’s literally no way of really getting what another mother is going through until you are a mother, yourself.
Yes, we all get it: You’re sleep deprived (which, by the way is a form of torture and now I understand why), you’re cranky, you’re probably dirty, you’re struggling to balance it all. BUT no one can quite grasp what it’s REALLY like unless you’ve been through it, yourself.
You don’t have to tell another mother you’re sorry you haven’t texted her or asked about her high-school boyfriend’s ex girlfriend’s child. She knows you don’t have to explain how exhausted you are or that you’ve cried 3 times already and it’s only 11 AM and now you’re laughing and posting pictures of your baby’s funny faces while he nurses because it’s easier to post a picture than it is to text. She understands because she’s been there. She won’t scoff at your incessant Facebook posts or judge you for being you. She’s a mom, she knows. It’s an unofficial secret society.
No one, and I mean no one knows what it’s like to be a new mother except for a seasoned vet. So, you’re friends might change. Some of them might not understand why you can’t just get lunch on any given afternoon while others, whom you aren’t even really that close to might offer to bring you lunch at home. They might not even know your address.
I have lost friends that I’ve had for years and rekindled lost friendships completely unexpectedly simply because we now have something very powerful in common. Motherhood. It’s like going through a labyrinth or complicated obstacle course. Only those who have gone through it understand and it makes you want to reach your hand out to help the other through.
“Here, read this book, take this supplement, go this way, not that way, here’s what worked for me, borrow this swaddle, use this sound machine, eat these cookies, drink this juice” and so on. Like anything else, the help from those who have gone before you is like none other. We instinctively want to help each other and celebrate each other’s victories.
Unfortunately, this is the exact thing that can actually cause a friendship to end while strengthening or rekindling another. Have you ever had a victory or overcome something incredible? Maybe you’ve gone through a really difficult experience and looked around to see who was there to share in your joy or hold your hand.
It’s funny and sometimes really surprising to see who’s standing there and even more surprising to see who isn’t. You don’ have to be a mother to have experienced something like this.
Like I said before, there are some people who you don’t have to talk to but know would be there in a heartbeat. I have 2 girlfriends from high school who literally drop everything for me and don’t miss any celebration of mine and we hardly ever talk! We don’t need to in order to know we could call and the other would be there.

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I have a friend here in NC whom I had a falling out with and didn’t speak to for about a year. Then I found out that we were pregnant at the same time. I showed up to her baby shower and all was forgotten. We were both going through the same things and understood each others excitement and fear. After I had Chase, she was there for me like none other. She walked in my door one day and I looked at her while holding my newborn and just started sobbing. She said “I know, girl, it’s ok”. She brought me food and made me lactation cookies, she has been such a good friend, I can’t even list everything she’s done for me and my family and if you had told me a year ago that she would be the one keeping me sane during those first few months, (and even now) I wouldn’t have believed you.

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The same goes for one of my favorite cousins. Not that we had a falling out, but we had grown apart since I moved away. She has 2 beautiful little boys and after I had Chase, I relied on her so much for advice on EVERYTHING. I have called and texted her so many thousands of times asking why this was happening when I breast fed, is this normal, what do you dress your baby in at this age so that they’re not too hot or cold, when is it ok to give them a blanky, and so on. She has sent me tons of clothes (from 800 miles away) and has been so thoughtful and always there to help me. There was never a conversation about who had stopped keeping in touch with whom, she just understood me and I FINALLY understood everything she had gone through, what her every day life is like and really how selfish I had been. I hadn’t kept up with her after she had her babies, but now that I have my own, I will always make sure to do so because I just get it. Our hearts are connected again. All of the fears, joy, sadness, and absolute bliss is an unspoken relation.

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One of my best friends since I was 13 and I stopped talking for over 5 years for something so minute. It’s sad, really. We missed out on so many important milestones in each other’s lives over that period of time and truthfully, I didn’t think we’d ever speak again due to stubbornness on both our parts. Then Christmas came, it was Chase’s first, and looking at a picture of my family from that day, I realized my friend hadn’t seen my baby and I hadn’t seen her son in way too long. She had since had 2 more babies and I knew nothing about them and couldn’t believe she had the courage and strength to go through pregnancy, birth, and raising a houseful of beautiful boys. I always loved her (and missed her very much) but suddenly had a newfound respect for her. I understood that the spat we had wasn’t worth missing out on any more of each other’s lives.

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As quickly as some friendships are made and rekindled, others are broken. I guess it’s all a part of life. I don’t know if I’ll ever speak to certain people again or if I’ll ever be able to raise my child around some of my favorite moms but I know this: I will never take for granted a genuine, good friend. Someone you can rely on, someone who honestly cares about you and understands what you’re going through as a mother. The excitement, the absolute pride, the way your heart literally feels like it’s melting and the days when you’re sure you’re doing a terrible job. The days when you can reach out and ask what you can do to help and the days when you ask for it.

Mommies are the toughest people I know. I tip my hat to you, Mama.

 

The Best Thing I’ve Ever Done

People say it all the time. You don’t know love until you have a child. Well, I knew what love was. My parents, my grandparents, my husband, my siblings. But you don’t know pure love, love without consequence or ultimatum. Love without boundaries or limits until you have a child.

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If you told me 10 years ago to just hold on. Just wait. Life will make sense again. Maybe I would have lived a little differently. But I would literally change not one thing up until the moment I conceived Chase. He was always meant to be.

If you have children, I don’t have to explain how this feels. You don’t want to envision a world where they don’t exist. What was I doing before I had him? I was binge-watching Netflix, going to the gym, doing laundry and trying to be skinnier, prettier, happier.

Little did I know how little everything else would matter after I was blessed beyond my wildest dreams. I laugh now (9 1/2 months later) at what was concerning me even up until Chase was born. After 6 weeks I was going to return to the gym. At least 2-3 times a week (hahahahahahaha)!!!!!! I think I’ve been to the gym a total of 3 times in almost 10 months. I’m sorry to anyone who has to look at me in a bathing suit BUT I’d honestly rather play with my son.

I took Chase with me to the gym and attempted to drop him off at the daycare for at least 30 minutes while I did some cardio. He screamed and cried when I handed him over and I kept going back to check on him through the glass wall. He was so unhappy and confused. I took him back and told the nice caretaker that it just wasn’t worth it to me. I didn’t need to work out that badly. She explained that it was totally normal for him to have that reaction but to keep coming back so he could get used to it (I will) but then she leaned in and whispered “I like what you said, though”. “What did I say?” I asked. “That working out isn’t that important”. I grabbed my baby who was now smiling in my arms as I hugged and kissed him and went home to play. The gym will be there tomorrow, but he won’t always be this little

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I am not proud of the person I was for most of my 20’s. I didn’t realize how selfish and self involved I was. I thought mostly only of myself and how things effected me. Was something convenient for me or was something too hard. What was the most fun and lets do that. It wasn’t until I became someone else’s whole world that I grasped how different I would become and how it would just be a natural reaction to motherhood. Selfishness is not in a mother’s vocabulary, at least it shouldn’t be.

I’m not talking about taking time for yourself (which I am only now realizing how important that is) but who you are as a mother. Like my husband says, if you have the best intensions for your child, you’re doing a good job.

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I don’t deserve Chase, I shouldn’t even be alive. Between asthma attacks leaving me intubated or a car accident leaving me without a dear friend and in ICU for weeks, I understand now why God kept me here, I was always meant to be Chase’s mother.

You don’t realize the magnitude of love you feel and how you are completely humbled by God’s grace until you become a parent. That goes for adoptive parents, step-parents, grand-parents, etc. There are always things in life you wish you could change or at least have a crystal ball to see into the future but I seem to forget everything else when I hear my baby laugh or he puts his head on my shoulder.

What would I do without this little angel of mine? Now that I have him, picturing my life without him is crippling. 

As I’ve said in previous posts, I had pretty bad anxiety after he was born, so holding him a lot made me feel calm and that I was keeping him safe and forming a strong bond. 

Everyone has their opinions so I heard a lot of “You need to put that baby down!”

Why? Why do I need to put him down? I don’t have any other children to take care of, the house is a mess, but I have a feeling that isn’t going to change any time soon, should I be worried he won’t go off to college some day because I held him too much as a baby? 

My cousin sent me a quote a couple months back that read:

“‘I wish I had held my baby less’ – Said no mother, ever”. 

Did I have a hard time with napping because I held Chase while he slept for most of his infancy? Yes. Do I regret it? Hell, no. Your baby will only be tiny for such a short time. 

I remember posting a picture like this and someone commented “Oh, I miss my son letting me snuggle him like that!” And I thought to myself: Her son is still a baby! But it’s true, they don’t stay that little for very long and before you know it, they won’t want you to hold them and rock them. You’ll have to chase them to try and steal a quick hug. 

These moments are so precious and sometimes I have had to pee so badly I didn’t make it to the bathroom in time! (I told you I’d be honest) but when my baby needs to be soothed, he looks to me for comfort. When he gets hurt or if he’s tired or hungry, he looks for me and knows I’m there to take his worries away. What a gift. 




There truly is no greater love.

Post Partum Anxiety (AKA Depression’s bitchy twin)

Thankfully, people are finally talking about post partum depression and sharing their personal stories. More and more celebrities are starting to come out in the open and proclaim their journey’s of PPD and express their feelings, which is such a huge step because PPD isn’t anything new!

That being said, I hadn’t heard of Post Partum Anxiety. Of course, we know anxiety and depression go hand in hand but I feel like I was left in the dark about something I probably should have been warned about. A heads up. So here is mine to you, a cautionary tale, if you will:

After our traumatic experience with Chase in the children’s hospital, I was feeling really anxious. As I have said previously, I have always suffered from anxiety, but those 48 hours really sent me over the edge (my hormones, just after giving birth, didn’t make matters any easier. Let me tell you, even the coolest cucumber will be on an emotional rollercoaster after having a baby. If you haven’t had a baby already, get ready, this is no joke. And if you’re a mom, I need say no more. But read on, nonetheless).

When we got home, I had this overwhelming fear that my son was somehow going to die. Every second of the day, my mind raced, thinking and worrying about all of the possible ways he could get hurt or die and I felt it so strongly that I would get anxiety and panic attacks. I would hide in another room (usually the bathroom), and shake and cry but didn’t want anyone to think I was crazy. I literally felt crazy. I had these thoughts and unrealistic fears so frequently that I started to wonder if I, myself, was going to somehow hurt him when all other irrational fears passed (and I think THIS is why we don’t talk about these things).

For instance, I was afraid to give my baby a bath alone because what if he drowned? My mind went like this: “I would never let him drown, so I can put that fear aside, so what else could possibly go wrong? What if I let him fall in the tub?” Knowing I would NEVER do that, I would then get mad at myself, ashamed and embarrassed for having such a thought and I would wait until my husband got home to give him a bath so I wouldn’t be so anxious. I don’t know how much newborns retain, but I didn’t want Chase’s first memories to be of his mother sobbing and shaking and checking the temperature of the tub 800 times or come up with some OCD way of wrapping him in a towel afterwards or something.

I was afraid to iron a shirt in the same room as the baby because I was afraid he would somehow get burned, but again, I realized that was irrational. If he was alllll the way over there, HOW could he possibly get burned? So then I thought “would I purposefully burn him??” Of course not, so why would I have that thought in the first place. “I must be going crazy”. Needless to say, we had a pile of my husband’s wrinkled work shirts, which all ended up at the dry cleaners.

I was so ashamed and confused. I didn’t want to share these feelings that I had all the time because even though you hear of people talk about overwhelming thoughts, feelings, and emotions, you think there’s no way anyone else is having thoughts like these and surely they’ll take my child away if I share them. A crazy lady who’s afraid she’s going to harm her newborn but also won’t let anyone else hold him? Lock her up!

Right after we got out of the children’s hospital, we had an appointment with Chase’s pediatrician. As stated in my previous blog post, Chase was slightly jaundice (in case you don’t know, some babies are born “jaundice” meaning your baby has more bilirubin than it can get rid of. Bilirubin is a yellow substance that’s made when the body breaks down old red blood cells. It leaves the baby’s body through urine and stool but some cases are worse than others. It gives your baby that “yellowish” look. Sometimes they need special lights, almost like a tanning bed, and others cases clear up on their own). Knowing some babies need the light therapy, I asked our pediatrician if putting Chase in the sunlight would help move things along for him. He said yes, that can certainly help, so I took his words quite literally, went home and sat outside in the sun with Chase for about 15 minutes. Keep in mind, it was early November in North Carolina and he was in pants and a onesie, perfect for that day. After that time, we went inside and slowly but surely, Chase started getting red.

Panicked, I called a client of mine who is a PA (I called her 523 times over the first few months) and asked her what this could be. She informed me that yes, putting baby in the sunlight would help, but not directly in the sun like I did. “The pediatrician told me to!” I cried, “But he meant to put Chase by a window for a little while, not outside in the direct sunlight, he’s too little and his skin is too sensitive”. I started shaking and crying and knowing I had just caused my baby harm I asked her if I had hurt him: “Did he get burned, did I make it worse, will he get a fever and die???” Will he be ok??” She told me to calm down, “You thought you were doing the right thing.” But that didn’t make me feel any better. I proceeded to call another pediatrician’s cell phone who discharged Chase from the hospital (she has probably since changed her number…or blocked mine), interrupted her family dinner and left a panicked voicemail about how I left Chase in the sun and I think he’s going to die. She called me back right away, mid chomp of her chicken salad, and asked how long I had left him in the car alone. “Noooo, I cried”, and explained the story and she said “I thought by your voicemail that you had left him in the car! He’s going to be fine.”

I wasn’t buying it. I went up to my husband in the kitchen (it was his birthday, by the way) and as I shook, told him I thought I was losing it and I didn’t want to feel this way anymore. I knew that what I was feeling all day long was probably not normal. I said “I’m not ok” and he just hugged me. He told me everything was going to be fine, the baby was happy and “look, he’s not even red anymore!” I guess he was just hot from the sun he had never seen before. Poor kid.

I even called the pediatrician’s office one day in tears, asked for a specific nurse who I really liked (and asked for, personally, during appointments) and told her I thought I was losing it and needed an appointment. She very kindly explained that Chase’s pediatrician could not prescribe me Xanax and that I should call my own primary caredoctor. Thanks a lot, Lindsay.

For the longest time I felt this anxious or worse. I WAS prescribed Paxil but was too anxious to take it! I was afraid I would sleep too well and not hear the baby cry or that my milk supply would dwindle, even though they say otherwise.

I would get panic attacks when people would come over or try to hold Chase. I made everyone wash their hands (everyone should with a newborn), use purell, take their shoes off (still do), ask if anyone had been around anyone else sick, did they have all their shots, and I rarely left the house. Granted, it was wintertime and flu season and even the pediatrician told me not to take Chase into the grocery stores until he was a little older.

I know being cooped up in the house all the time didn’t help. Sometimes getting out makes a WORLD of difference. Even just driving to get a cup of coffee in the drive-through with the baby while he slept gave me a little perspective. (Chase LOVES being out and about now. I think he was relieved to discover the world consisted of more than 2 faces and 6 rooms).

The truth is, once I cried and told a girlfriend about the way I had been feeling and my worries and scary thoughts, she immediately shared similarly embarrassing (to her) thoughts and anxieties. Not everyone feels this way, but it’s important to know that you are not alone! I think the thought of isolation is almost as bad as the feeling of anxiety. We have to know there are other people out there who feel, or have felt, the same way. Our bodies go through hell and back from pregnancy to birth and the aftermath. Our hormones are sky high and then hit a brick wall. There’s no way you can keep a level head after that. Granted, some of us cope better than others, while some of us go whackadoodle! Up, down, left right and there’s no telling how you’ll feel or what crazy scenario you’ll come up with.

To give you some hope, (if you are currently going through anything similar) it took about 2 weeks for these irrational thoughts to start to subside. It did take months for me to start to back off a little with the baby and feel ok about others holding him. Some would argue that I’m still crazy and overprotective but I don’t care! He’s my son. I AM protective and don’t really care if I offend anyone when it comes to him. I’m not a bitch, I’m a mommy.

 

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The Worst 48 Hours of My Life

So my mom came and surprised us in the hospital after Chase was born. She flew to North Carolina from Boston to surprise us and it was so sweet and very emotional to have her walk into our hospital room. We were able to let Nick (my husband) go home for a night and get some sleep while my mom took over as secondary care giver.

The next day the 3 of us took the long (2 blocks) haul to our home with our new baby in tow. We spent our first day and evening with our son in his very first home and my mom flew back home to Boston the next day. I was nursing Chase and trying to get the hang of it, (which is no easy feat), while spending our 2nd day home when I noticed he was falling asleep right after starting to feed. Now, he had only been alive for a total of 3 days, so it’s not as though anything was common or uncommon for him at that point but I felt like something was off. I’m a worrier by nature, so Nick thought nothing of it. He was probably just tired, we decided. However, when he WOULDN’T wake up to nurse, I began to panic.

I tried everything I could to get him to wake up but he just wouldn’t. I finally handed him over to Nick and he tried all that he could think of: undressing him to get him cold and mad, tickling him, turning all the lights on to wake him, but nothing. I called the pediatrician and after hearing his state (plus, he was slightly jaundice) she suggested we take him to the children’s hospital. We couldn’t be too careful with a newborn.

Now, I remember taking our time because the pediatrician didn’t seem alarmed, and Chase was really just sleepy, as it seemed, but I’ll never forget when Nick put him in his car seat carrier and Chase didn’t move an inch that he looked at me and said “Get in the car. Now.” I knew we were in trouble.

The children’s hospital was really close by as well, thank God, but it was a long ride to say the least. I tried waking Chase up the whole car ride there and he wouldn’t even lift an eyelid. I was obviously already crying when we pulled up to the emergency entrance and when we got inside, they took us in right away.

As the first nurse checked us in and began asking questions, I could barely get the answers out. I was in complete panic. Something was wrong with my baby and he was only 3 days old. My mind started racing and all I could think of was “Please, God. Don’t take him from me.”

When we got into the ER to be examined, they took Chase’s blood and that, at least, got him crying but he was still extremely lethargic. They found that his blood sugar had dropped dramatically from what it is supposed to be. They tried giving him formula (I was breastfeeding but was willing to do whatever they told us) to get his blood sugar up, but he spit it all up. After a couple more routine tests, they sat us down and the ER doctors explained that they needed to admit Chase and he was going to need to have a full infection testing done. They explained that they needed to check his urine (this meant a catheter was required), his spinal fluid (a spinal tab would be required), and X Rays (his arms would be pinned above his head), and we would need to leave him for the spinal tap because they would need a sterile environment.

The doctor (who was extremely kind) explained that the spinal tap would be much like the epidural I got while giving birth to Chase. This broke me down. Not only was I not allowed to be there and hold him, but they were going to invasively stick a tiny tube into my son’s spine to extract fluid to see if he had some kind of infection.

I’ll never forget sitting in that waiting room while they did the spinal tap. Your mind takes you to some pretty dark places when you have nothing to do but think and wait. You learn a lot about yourself and your spouse in a moment like that.

After watching them put a catheter in my newborn’s newly circumcised penis and watching him scream in pain, I decided I couldn’t watch them pin his arms above his head to take his X Rays. I sent Nick in with him because I couldn’t take any more. I felt so helpless and completely alone. There’s no comfort you can give or receive when you’re watching your child in pain.

After every test, I grabbed Chase and held him and cried with him. I wanted to make the medical staff just do the tests on me instead. He was too little, too small, too new for all of this. Too innocent.

We were finally admitted upstairs where we would spend the next 48 hours waiting on test results, wondering if our new baby had meningitis, or worse. They would be pumping him with antibiotics (just in case he did have some kind of infection) through an IV in his tiny hand, which would be wrapped up in a cast made of a heavy stint and a diaper. This was awful because his tiny arm couldn’t hold the weight of the cast and he kept hitting himself in the head and face with it while trying to sleep.

They had an old, squeaky, reclining chair, a “couch”, and a little crib that looked more like a cage for a small animal. They us a few thin blankets and pillows. I couldn’t sleep and neither could Nick so we just took turns watching Chase while the other shut their eyes (eventually I just climbed into the crib with Chase to try to sleep, at least I could be near him). I was breastfeeding him every 2-3 hours and the nurses kept coming in throughout the night and day to check his vitals and push more fluids and antibiotics.

At one point, I sent Nick home to sleep because all we were doing was waiting. We also didn’t have anything with us as far as clothes or toiletries so I sent him home for a little while to try and sleep (which he didn’t) and gather some things.

The worst part was not knowing and just praying that Chase was ok. I had a lump in the back of my throat that was just waiting to break free with the sound of anyone familiar and close. It is extremely isolating, being in a situation like that without any family or childhood friends around. I felt really alone. There’s something about the way people who have known and loved you your whole life can make you feel safe. Even just safe enough to break down because I was trying so hard to keep it together and as parents, Nick and I were just trying to be strong. But as a daughter, I needed my own parents at that moment and I couldn’t have them, which was really hard.

After 48 hours of being stuck in that room, holding my little baby, watching him get poked, prodded, and examined, we were finally met with the team of doctors, PA’s, medical students, and residents who explained that all of Chase’s tests had come back negative. THANK GOD. They came to the not so clear conclusion that the combination of Chase being jaundice and not getting as much milk as we thought contributed to his drop in blood sugar. We had a lactation consultant come to the room and help me.

I HIGHLY recommend seeing a lactation consultant if you are a new nursing mom. They have all been such a huge help to me and were completely covered by our insurance. If it weren’t for them, I probably wouldn’t have continued to nurse because I was paranoid that Chase wasn’t getting enough milk and that this would happen again. These women were truly a huge blessing! The lactation consultant in the children’s hospital was like an angel. She was so kind and helpful. I ended up using a nipple shield for Chase because he was having trouble latching and my nipples were raw and chapped. She saved me. She was like having my mom there. she was so gentle, empathetic and kind. Sometimes all you need is another kind woman around to make you feel ok.

We were finally discharged after 2 days and we got to pack up and take our healthy baby home, which was such a blessing and huge relief. On our way out of the hospital, I looked around for the first time and realized I hadn’t left that room once. As we walked down the hall towards the elevator I began to feel really guilty. Room after room of sick children, some of whom won’t get to go home. Their parents are in there just trying to make their child happy and comfortable enough to put their little minds at ease and not think about their illnesses and pains.

I had been thinking about how long 48 hours felt. How uncomfortable I was and how I just wanted to take our new baby back to our house, to all of the comforts of home. Meanwhile, some of these people are just praying to stay there longer because that means their child is still here. How seldom we realize just how lucky and blessed we are.

As I said before, I am an anxious person by nature, I always have been. But after this stay in the hospital, I was about to find out what it really means to be anxious. If I thought I knew about anxiety before, I was about to have an awakening like a sledge hammer to the head.  If I thought I knew what it was like to worry before, I was about to find out what it’s like to have your heart racing out of your chest while you shake and sob alone in the bathroom so no one can hear or see you lose your mind because you’re certain your child is going to die.

Enter in: Post Partum Anxiety…..

(This picture was taken early in the day before we called the pediatrician. Chase looks so tiny, only 3 days old!)

 

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(This was in the hospital. One of the items I asked Nick to bring from home was Chase’s Rock N Play so he could be more comfortable and I could watch him sleep better from the couch. His cast was so big and this was the only way he could sleep.)