We all have those days that we are worn thin. We try to do it all and we fall short... on more than one thing. Earlier this week I had one of those days. I had been teaching more than my normal schedule of spin classes plus juggling the business and a teething toddler so when Kennedy wouldn’t nap that morning I was frustrated. I had songs to pick out, a house to clean, cookies to cook (and eat), laundry to do, a blog to write and the list goes on. After an hour of no success, I went upstairs, picked up Kennedy and rocked her to sleep as she snuggled in my arms. After trying to transfer her a second time unsuccessfully I gave up and we went out. We ran errands and played outside until I could tell she needed a solid nap (and so did I). So, I put her down and no more than 30 minutes later she was up crying. I was frustrated and upset but after ten minutes I knew she wasn’t going back down on her own so, I left my unbaked cookies and went upstairs. She was a mess and she needed me so, I picked her up and held her and rocked her back to sleep while she gave me the biggest hug. She wanted to nurse and although I’m trying to wean her during the day, I gave in. In that moment I reminded myself that these years are short, these moments will get fewer and fewer and if she needs me, I’m lucky enough to have the opportunity to be there. A dear friend once told me that once you have a child the days are long and the years are short. So, sometimes the house has to wait as do the cookies because nothing can make my heart fuller than an afternoon snuggle session with a toddler who wants her Mama.
A review of the Lotus Yoga and Pumping Bra by a full-time stay at home Mom, a fellow instructor at Biker Barre (although she's the one that makes us shake instead of sweat), a part-time worker, and my favorite advice consulter. Who says you can't do it all? ;)
It’s absolutely beautiful today, the sky a perfect cerulean blue. White clouds are scattered across the sky, creamy, bold, and a little rugged, like the edges of a freshly torn biscuit. I refuse to drive my car today; it’s too pretty, especially with a snow forecast for the weekend.
I walked to a breakfast date with a friend and decided that later I’m going to unearth my bike from its winter storage to ride it to an appointment in Northwest. On my walk home from Maketto, I stopped at Concetta’s house to try on the new pumping/nursing/sports bra she just got in (it’s a fun and summery blue). I stopped my rigorous schedule of pumping (I struggled with low supply initially) when my daughter was about eight months, after it became clear that I wasn’t going back to work full time and that my supply wouldn’t disappear if I stopped pumping every five minutes.
Somehow, in the short time between when I ceased pumping and starting working on Fridays, my trusty (and battered) pumping bra completely disappeared! (Maybe my husband threw it away, although the resolutely unsexy Target bras should have been the first to go.) Anyways, I found myself with the need to pump again and no pumping bra. The first Friday, I cut two janky holes in a sports bra and tried to make that work because someone told me it worked for them. Nope. Doesn’t work at all. I pumped approximately half an ounce the whole day because it wasn’t tight enough. The next week, I dug out the 75 million plastic pieces that came with my pump that you’re supposed to attach to the pump to make it “hands free.” These pieces get the job done, but they make me hate pumping even more than I already do, and they’re constantly popping off, risking a spill of my liquid gold.
Enter my knowledgeable and conveniently employed friend, Concetta, who recommended just the bra for me. I tried it on and was sold immediately. I wore it out of her house and then pumped, biked to Northwest, biked home, picked up my daughter from childcare, and nursed her, all without changing my clothes! The bra is great for pumping, great for working out, and it’s way more supportive than my other stretched out nursing bras. If you are looking for a bra that does it all, I’d highly recommend trying this one!
I’m excited to introduce you to my friend, Kim Hawkins, with District Birth Services! Kim has lived on the Hill for nine years with her husband and has two children, four and two years old. She left her job working at a non-profit public health think tank in October to start working with pregnant and new moms to help support them, and their partners, during and after their pregnancy.
I'm excited to have Kim share a little about the what, why and how she does what she does!
What are your personal experience with childbirth classes and doulas?
We took the Bradley Method class when we were pregnant with our first child. There was so much more we got out of the class than just talking about what to expect. From my husband’s point of view, he was given tools and the encouragement on how to be an active partner during the pregnancy and labor. Often partners feel like they are on the sidelines and aren’t really sure what type of support to give beyond helping more at home for their pregnant partner. The class walked us through how as a couple he could best support me and that was empowering for him. The class also taught me coping strategies for labor. What most people seem to forget is that they are usually laboring at home for a while until it’s time to go to the hospital. Learning coping techniques will help you manage labor better earlier so when the time comes to go to the hospital you’re able to have energy to finish the job! I had a birth assistant with both of my children and having a person there to help provide answers to our questions and as well as additional comfort measures made a world of difference. As much as you can learn during the pregnancy a lot of those things can go out the window when you’re in labor. Having her there was an immeasurable help!
Why did you decide to start working in the “birth world”?
My entire career has been public health based in some aspect and after I got pregnant and had children, I started to realize how little help some families had with pregnancy, birth, postpartum and breastfeeding. At first I thought working on the policy side would help but started to realize that while changing policies, such as breastfeeding support and better maternal leave policies, are really important it’s also important to support families individually as well. Washington, DC also has a lot of people who aren’t from the area. Usually families who come into town can’t stay long and often they are leaving right after the “honeymoon” phase of the baby coming home from the hospital and when partners are returning to work, which is right when the most support is needed!
How are you supporting families?
I’ve been trained to teach childbirth education classes as well as provide labor and postpartum support. I take an evidence based and research approach and studies have shown that having childbirth classes and having a doula can have better outcomes for the mother and child. I liked the idea of helping to educate families on the many choices available as well as the various ways they can have more support. By providing an opportunity for childbirth education classes outside of the hospital, they are getting non-judgment support that is informing them of their options and informed consent with the time comes to give birth. I’m will start teaching a childbirth education class at the Hill Center on March 20th and I work with Doulas of Capitol Hill to provide labor and postpartum support.
Thank you so much, Kim, for sharing your experiences with us! We are so excited to have such great options right here on the Hill! Please go check out her website to see all of the exciting things she's doing www.districtbirthservices.com and feel free to shoot her an email with any questions at email@example.com.
On a challenging week full of (many) spouts of vomit, huge poops in the tub (which never gets easier for those of you sans children) and straight up exhaustion one of my Mama friends texted out to our Mom squad, "What is your happiness today?". She went on to say that hers was "having 2.74 minutes to clean up old, splattered milk off of one half of the car's back seat in the Target parking lot." She went on to say that she's been trying to do that FOREVER and that she WILL have a clean car again (hear that, Ryan? all of our cars are a mess... we have CHILDREN :). Another Mom chimed in that hers was eating a piece of cake during the 38 minutes that her child napped. Another said that hers was turning on the stovetop fan so she could eat her first real meal of the day (at 2pm) in peace while standing in her kitchen and trying to drown out her daughter fighting her nap. Another was a nap she shared with her daughter after a hard work out and another was letting her baby go to the nanny so she could have a REAL sick day after throwing up EIGHT times!
It was such a beautiful and enlightening thing hearing about all these small feats of happiness and it really made me think and appreciate all of our blessings. So, I challenge you Mama, what is your happiness today?
I couldn't be more excited to be featured this week over at the Doulas of Capitol Hill. Check out the interview here to find out my favorite bra as well as what it is like to run your own business! As an added bonus, I leave you with this key on how to select the perfect nursing bra for you :)
When people tell me they got a dog to practice for having a baby, it is REALLY hard to not laugh in their face. A dog is pretty much NOTHING like having a baby minus the fact that they are a part of your family and you should feed both of them. In all honesty though, having a dog with a baby is kind of amazing.
First, I never have to clean up after Kennedy eats. Monkey (yes, that is my dog’s name) will go as far as to ignore my husband’s call for her to go on a walk so that she can be front and center during Kennedy’s dinner. There are times that K gets mad that Monkey grabbed food from her hand (after she dangled it in her face) but, for the most part, they have an unspoken agreement where they are both happy and I’m happy to not be worrying about the mess K makes.
Second, Monkey is the first to let me know when K’s diaper is dirty. As gross as it is, as soon as I see the dog sniffing K and being all up in her business I know that Kennedy has a dirty diaps. Now if only I could train Monkey to change Kennedy’s diaper….
Third, Monkey is a step above any toy I could get Kennedy (although I will say I think the cat might be a step above Monkey). Kennedy can be in the worst mood but as soon as you call over Monkey and tell her to sit, K is all smiles and giggles. Put the cat and dog together and you might as well have won the lottery.
So, although having a dog is nothing like having a baby, having a dog and a baby is pure gold.
I swear my daughter has been teething since she was four months old. She had all the symptoms but alas her first tooth didn’t appear until a few weeks before her first birthday. It’s been a rocky road since then with her drooling, constantly putting her fist in her mouth and waking up in the middle of the night (or from naps) screaming. One of my girl friends that has a little girl about 10 months older than Kennedy, had told me that teething was the worst phase. As a Mother of a three month old at the time, I didn’t believe it could be any worse than those sleepless nights (or more sleepless than they currently are) and maybe it isn’t, but damn if I won’t tell you it’s tough. It’s tough because there is not much you can do. I won’t pretend I’m one of those Mom’s that won’t give my kid Tylenol or ibuprofen but you don’t want to over do it and I try REALLY hard to not give her anything during the day. I had heard mixed reviews about teething tablets and already had all the teething toys (ice keys, banana toothbrush, SOPHIE, vibrating strawberry) and had tried the other methods (frozen washcloth, cold foods, etc) to say I was at a loss when Kennedy had a rougher than usual few nights is putting it lightly.
Than, the other day I was over a client’s house, who also happens to be a dear friend and a Mother to a two and a half year old and one month old and she introduced me to Camilia. She told me her doctor had recommended it and that it had seemed to work with her older daughter and being the SAINT that she is, she gave me a few of the packets. Basically it’s a little liquid packet of homeopathic medicine that you give your baby and I swear within minutes it calmed Kennedy down. Test case 1 I was actually at my friends and I gave it to her, she was being insanely cranky and kept putting her fist in her mouth and by the time I left she had calmed down to the point that I put her in the carseat with a cracker (sorry babe, sometimes it’s what I need to do to not off myself while driving with her) and she fell asleep within minutes still holding the cracker. Test case 2 she went to bed at 7pm and woke up around 10pm clearly in pain. I had already given her ibuprofen so that was off the table (insert four letter word of your choice) but alas I remembered about the Camilia so, I gave it to her and she slept until SIX AM!! I know, some of you Mom’s might think that’s not that great, and it isn’t compared to your twelve hour sleep babies but this Momma? This Momma thinks that is amazing/life changing/I want to invest in stock for Camilia. So, if you’re anything like me, do yourself a favor and Amazon Prime that sh*t (click on the link). You’re welcome :)
I don’t know how it happened but I now officially have a toddler. She is curious and funny, lighthearted and at times, a total handful. I feel like I blinked and there she was giggling and cruising all around the house #timepleaseslowdown. To celebrate 365 days of this beautiful little girl, we threw a first birthday party aka baby mayhem (in the best possible way). DIY is my thing so I did a few crafts and tried to keep it relatively stress free. It was a huge success! I call my theme champagne since I made sure there was enough of it to go around for the parents and I kept with that color theme.
One of my favorite things that you see at a lot of birthdays is the first year chalkboard. I used a chalkboard I had made for my wedding and chalkboard paint markers. I followed a tutorial I found online after my girlfriend and I ghettoly (is that a word?) measured Kennedy on the floor with measuring tape and weighed her by holding her on a scale. It was relatively easy and, I think, it came out cute.
I originally made a photo book of Kenendy's first year but I decided to wait to order it since I wanted her one year pictures to be in! So, instead, I made a sign out of all of Kennedy’s monthly pictures with the adorable quote “You are better than you believe, stronger than you think and loved more than you will ever know”. It came out pretty cute and I used it next to the drinks which had striped pink straws in them (not shown a bazillion champagne glasses). I also made a “ONE” banner for her high chair out of fabric leftover from her nursery and white paint. Super easy, adorable and more durable than a paper sign!
Outside of that, I order a bunch of decorations off of oriental trading… champagne pom poms, pink hanging lanterns, hanging fans, and gold silverware. I layered them over the food table, the children's play area and the stairs (the more the better in these instances). I found adorable napkins and thank you notes at Marshall’s, and ordered durable white plates from Amazon.
I went easy on the food and made mini sandwiches (with the help of my Mom and Mother-in-law) with ham, turkey, meatballs and brisket along with some guacamole, baked brie and cheese and crackers. Both the kids and adults enjoyed the food without needing much silverware. My Mother-in-law made a beautiful and delicious cake and in lieu of a smash cake, I made a cupcake for Kennedy which she was barely interested in #isthatsuccess?.
Kennedy was equally excited and terrified by the attention but I know that when she looks back at pictures she is going to love seeing so many special people that were there to share in her big day. Cheers to making it through this first year and for loving this little girl more than there are stars in the sky!
I never would have dreamed of how different my life would look in less than a year but it does in an amazingly, crazy, exhausting and beautiful way. My days are filled with baby laughter and tears, getting to watch my daughter experience life for the very first time. I wouldn’t give up this once in a lifetime adventure for anything but there are days that stretch you to your limits and make you want to take up a toddler’s bedtime. On those days, it’s so amazingly comforting to know you aren’t alone and that our friends that live just a few blocks away are going through the same thing. It’s crazy to think that just eleven short months ago I didn’t know these ladies. Ladies that I have spent almost everyday with since Kennedy was a couple of months old and who I have learned from, confided in and drank many glasses of wine with. Living in the city meant that we gave up the opportunity of having our family near by but in return, gained the ability to be able to explore the city and build the most amazing network within walking distance. So, cheers to another snow day and to play dates within walking distance because this Mommy would be stir crazy without them!
One day on a walk while I was particularly frustrated with someone close to me, my Mama friend said to me that whenever she thought about someone who had made different life choices than her she would say “You, do you”. As in, you should be proud and happy and SATISFIED with the choices you have made and do what is right for you, whatever that other person did is probably great too but it’s great for THEM.
That phrase has stuck with me and whenever there are times that I am frustrated with my life or jealous of others I always think about that because no matter what you are going through or struggling with or excelling it as long as you’re happy with the decisions that you have made with life than that is all that matters. There is no such thing as having it all because we all have our ups and our downs, our good days and our bad, our really high highs and our really low lows but as long as you’re at peace with your imperfectly perfect life than that is all that matters. So, I challenge you Mama’s, you do YOU and be happy with what you have because you made the right choice (no matter what that was) and tomorrow is another day.
Concetta Aires is mother to two baby girls, Kennedy Rose and Cecilia Grace. She lives on Capitol Hill and spends her days trying to keep her children alive while keeping her sanity.