I'll put it out there; I'm really not into the whole gift exchange part of Christmas. My husband tried to play the whole, I'm a grinch card but the thing is, I love the holidays. I love spending time with my family and friends, I love the cheer, the parties and the love but the stress of buying presents? No thanks. A few years ago my Mom had the book, The Five Love Languages, out and we all took the quiz. Not surprisingly, my love language is acts of service (my husband stole the key to my heart when he built me a kitchen during our engagement and solidified it when for our first anniversary redid an entire bathroom #realmenusetools). So, to spend so much time, money and stress on finding gifts that people, most likely, don’t need, seems crazy to me. I’d much rather spend my money on experiences… #rantover. But, since it is the season of giving, I wanted to come up with something meaningful and special for the grandmothers that they could actually use. I scoured the Internet before deciding on what I thought, was the perfect gift. All you need is a cheese plate, acrylic paint, a paint marker and a baby :) Bake the plate at 350 for 30 minutes, let it dry and wallah!
I definitely dragged my feet on starting solids with Kennedy. Breastfeeding had become so easy and efficient and since she was getting all of the nutrients she needed from the breastmilk, I just really didn’t understand the rush. So, at Kennedy’s six month appointment when the doctor asked if we had started solids, I shook my head and she told me it was time. Begrudgingly, I started solids the next day. Fast forward four months and she’s eating pretty much everything… and so is the dog. But unlike breastfeeding which takes under 15 minutes these days (plus no cleanup), feeding her solids takes HOURS (as does the cleanup)… If you try to spoon feed her, she wants to grab the spoon and be in control but if you cut up food for her and let her feed herself (my preferred method) then she eats one piece at a time with breaks to feed the dog. It’s actually pretty adorable except that I just spent half the day cooking that meal and the dog is now throwing up from too much human food #mammaproblems. I never really got into purees so I went from mashing up bananas and butternut squash with my fork to just giving her whatever we were eating. In my opinion, all the gear that comes with purees is a waste especially since it’s such a short phase. I’d rather spend my money on cute outfits.
A huge hit with Kennedy this week was a slow cooker favorite, Coq au Vin. I adapted it from William Sonoma’s recipe to make it easier and only a one pot meal... Enjoy!
Coq au Vin
Throw everything into the crockpot and cook on low for 8 hours. Top with parsley and serve over mashed potatoes.
In honor of Christmas being right around the corner (yikes!), I've compiled a list of Kennedy's favorite toys. Granted, all babies are different but there tends to always be a few that all of our playdates involve and are big hits.
And of course, all babies' favorite toy is what they can't have... but atleast this list will get you a few hours of entertainment!
If you're a Mom and especially a new Mom, you know that breastmilk can only be categorized as liquid gold. First, you agonize over having enough milk to feed your baby then you agonize over having enough milk to leave the house and then finally, you agonize over having enough milk in your freezer to go back to work. It can really drive a girl crazy and that’s putting it lightly. One of my mama friends said if she could add up all the time she spent pumping and get even half that time back she would be relaxing on a beach with a pina colada. And it’s true. Figuring out how to have time to pump when you’re baby always wants to eat can really be a challenge. So, after weeks of trying to keep enough milk in the fridge to be able to go to the gym, when I actually started putting milk in the freezer I felt like a god damn rockstar. By month 3 I had gotten into a groove, I would pump after I fed Kennedy in the morning and then again after I put her to bed at night and so I did… every. single. day. And I built up quite the stash, almost 100 bags to be exact, enough to make me feel okay that I would be away from my baby and know that she would be able to get fed (what I felt) was the best thing for her. Then I somehow talked my husband into letting me start my own business and quit my day job (I know I’m one lucky lady) but I kept that milk in the freezer because I worked and sweated HARD for that milk. Fast forward a few months and we started defrosting the gold… and it smelled HORRIBLE. So I threw out the March bags, it couldn’t all be bad right? And it wasn’t ALL bad but the majority of it was (March, April and even some of the May bags). I don’t know if I had waited too long to put it in the freezer (I had been keeping it in the fridge first) or if my milk wasn’t good frozen but today… after almost 9 months of hoarding that milk I threw out half of it.
And it was hard. And it hurt. And I felt guilty. I felt guilty for throwing out milk when I know that Mom’s work SO hard to keep their production up and they pump in broom closets and bathrooms and carry that liquid gold home in backpacks and suitcases to their babies and here I am just dumping it. But I did, because just like back when my baby was only on milk and that freezer space needed to be used for it now that she’s on solids, this Mama needs to be able to fill that freezer with a new kind of gold, freezer meals.
There are many times a day that I think being a Mom isn't glamourous, most of those have to do with when I'm dealing with bodily fluids but Monday, oh Monday takes the cake. Kennedy woke up totally normal, playing and eating breakfast. She went down for her morning nap easy, peasy. It wasn't until she woke up from her nap and I went in her room did I notice she had thrown up in her crib. Gross. So, I took her out changed her, changed the crib sheets and sat down to nurse her when she started projectile vomiting all over me, herself, the glider and everything else within a foot or two. Poor baby. After changing her again and spending the next hour or so cleaning up the glider and her room, I decided to take her downstairs and nurse her. She seemed totally fine, no tears or signs of an upset tummy so I assumed the worst was over and decided we would walk down to the grocery store. We make it to the grocery store and are ALMOST done our shopping when Kennedy turns pale, coughs and projectile vomits in the frozen food aisle. I picked her up and she seemed totally fine so I checked out and we started walking home. About 7 blocks into our walk, it happens AGAIN except this time all over herself and the stroller, the poor girl. Since there was really nothing to be done at this point I sucked it up and walked the 3 blocks home carrying her. At this point, she had literally thrown up on everything and I knew besides needing to do laundry, the child desperately needed bathing. I stripped her down and put her in the tub where she proceeded to happily play for 20-30 minutes as if nothing happened. She went down for her afternoon nap fine and after she woke up, she was playing on her quilt and she threw up once AGAIN. At this point I called the nurse who assured me it was probably just a stomach bug and that Kennedy would be fine. Luckily, the rest of the day went rather smoothly and there was no more vomit in sight. Until, two days later when I started my morning with my head in the toilet. One thing I certainly learned from this experience is that I am not as good at rallying as my 9 month old....
A guest post by my lovely Momma friend, Amy who exclusively pumped for her son's entire first year! Momma's sure are impressive!
After becoming a parent, we acquired new lingo. A whole new vocabulary… swaddle, sleep sack, poop throughs, nose frida, sheet saver, bumbo, etc. But nothing is more odd than all the lingo surrounding pumping breastmilk.
I am an EP (more lingo)- an Exclusive Pumper. Liam is not breastfed (I tried hard for 5 weeks with little success and mounting anxiety). But I found I had plenty of milk, so after a little research, one day I thought ‘I’ll pump four times today and see if I get enough milk for Liam tomorrow.’ And I did. So I did it again the next day. And it worked.
Liam has been solely fed breastmilk out of a bottle for almost 8 months (save 2-3 bottles of formula when I was sick and my supply wavered). It. Is. So. Hard. Tiring. Inconvenient. It’s also unusual to be able to produce enough milk with just 4 pumps a day. So I do it because I can. Many cannot. Most parents pull together a hybrid of any number of feeding choices to help their kids thrive. There’s no right way.
Part of the deal, is figuring out how to live your daily life with at least four 20-25 minute pauses in the middle of the day where you have to stop what you’re doing, grab the pump bag you had to remember to pack correctly with the pump, pump parts, hands free bra, bottles, caps, and a cooler and ice pack- and find a private space to be mostly naked for 20 minutes. Oh and it’s gotta have an outlet to plug the sucker in. (Pun intended 😜)
It can sometimes be impossible. And honestly, sometimes embarrassing. Or maybe it’s just I know other people get embarrassed to talk about it so I feel embarrassed for them.
At any rate, some friends I know have had some horrifically intolerant experiences and it’s unfortunate. What are moms supposed to you? You can’t skip a pump. It’s not just that you’ll be uncomfortable, but more importantly you tell your body that milk isn’t needed and for me, if I miss a pump my supply wanes and I can’t feed my kid.
So, it’s important to me.
I had two experiences in the last two days that were vastly different and it’s incredible how small considerations can mean so much.
1. Intercontinental NYC - very swanky hotel in times sq… I was headed there for a day long meeting and so I didn’t have a guest room. I called ahead to try to arrange a private space for 20 minutes. I was told to use the bathroom. The bathroom. The place where people pee and poop. To make food for a baby. I was stunned and just hung up. Michael was pissed and called to speak to a manager. He got nowhere. Eventually they said the event planner for that meeting would call him back. Nobody did. I pumped milk in a bathroom at one of the nicest and most expensive hotels in one of the biggest cities in the world where an empty space could have been easily identified for a 20 measly minutes.
2. At a day-long meeting at the Capitol Hilton in DC, I stole away to the bathroom to pump- feeling defeated from the day before. I was about half way done when I heard a small voice under the stall, “ma’am are you pumping milk?” (I was given away by the major noise pollution the pump gives off). When I replied yes, she tells me to just come to the executive office and they’ll find me a private space. I could have cried. Next time I had to pump I went to the front desk and the manager just let me use his actual office, acting like it was no big deal. I pumped quickly in comfort and walked away so grateful for the modicum of decency that was offered to me.
A few weekends ago, Ryan, my pump and I headed to a wedding in New Hampshire. It was going to be my first time away from Kennedy and a reunion with all of our college friends. We were going to fly up to Boston and drive with friends the hour to Portsmouth. To get decently priced flights, we were going to have to connect in La Guardia, have a thirty minute layover and fly up to Boston. Easy peasy. My Mom dropped us off at the airport and after a tearful goodbye to Kennedy, we were on our way... sort of. We knew there was a hurricane in the mist but when we checked in, the agent assured us we were on time. I was like a ticking time bomb knowing that I would have to pump during our layover but I should have had plenty of time. Until, as we were getting ready to board the plane, they cancelled it #usairwaysfail. Luckily, they rescheduled us for a direct flight a few hours later but that meant I was going to have to pump at the airport. After unsuccessfully finding a family bathroom and rejecting my husband's idea to pump in the terminal, I decided to find a club and see if they would take pity on me. I dragged my pump, luggage and husband upstairs and after some careful negotiation, the agent agreed to let me use a room. And it was lovely, a quiet room off the bathroom with a lounger, pump, mirror and privacy. An even bigger win was that I managed to grab a few pieces of cheese on my way out. #pumpingwin
Fast forward to the day of the wedding which was at 3:30pm on a cold afternoon in New Hampshire. I pumped right before we left but knew that I would to pump ATLEAST one time during the reception to make it through the night. I carefully selected a dress that I would be able to pump in, packed up my pump and hands free pumping bra and brought, what might as well have been, my luggage to the wedding. Once I arrived at the wedding, I quickly realized that most of the events would be held under a tent and that there were only one bathroom for all 150 guests... not exactly the ideal scenario. After a few cocktails (I was pumping and dumping after all) and with no heat in sight on the 40 degree chilly evening, my friends and I decided that we would either head home so I could pump and they could warm up or we would find somewhere on the premise. We had heard rumors of a heated barn but since we had been standing outside under a non heated tent for a few hours, we were skeptical. We hunted around and low and behold, we found the barn and it was, indeed, heated AND with electricity (cue: mecca music). Granted the DJ was there setting up but at that point, it was going to have to do. So, what does a Mamma do? She unzips her dress (in reality she has a friend help her), puts on her pumping bra and pumps away sitting indian style on the dance floor (NOT facing the DJ) while drinking a glass of wine. Not exactly my classiest pumping session (actually maybe it was? I was in a cocktail dress after all) but it got the job done and only with a few drops off spilled milk on the dance floor ;)
A guest post from Kim Hawley, owner of Intuitive Parenting a great resource for pregnant and new Mom's. Kim is also a Certificated Lactation Educator Counselor, soon-to-be certified Our Baby Class instructor, La Leche League Leader, and a mom. Intuitive Parenting holds a wide variety of parenting classes including those on breastfeeding, getting your baby to sleep and making returning to work work.
Preparing to return to work can be an emotional and stressful time for a new breastfeeding mamma. With all the worries about being separated from your baby along with concerns over milk supply and pumping, it’s no wonder moms have a lot of questions about this transition. As a breastfeeding educator, here are 5 of the most common questions I hear from new moms about preparing to go back to work.
How can I keep a good milk supply after returning to work?
The best way to have a good milk supply after returning to work is to establish a good one in the early weeks. Make breastfeeding your focus, and breastfeed early and often.
When should I start pumping?
You really don’t need to start pumping to create a milk stash until a few weeks before you will start work. Pumping too early, unless there is a specific reason, causes stress and can lead to oversupply.
How much breastmilk do I need in the freezer?
Contrary to what the internet and some friends might suggest, you don’t actually need months of breastmilk stored up before returning to work. At a minimum, you need milk for the first day you will be separated from your baby. After that, you will have the pumped breastmilk from the day before to give. Most moms, however, will feel better with a few days to a week of milk on hand to pad a busy or stressful week or for the occasional date night :)
How much milk will my baby need during the day?
The average is one ounce per hour. Obviously, some babies will drink more and some less, but this is a good starting point. Note, it is really easy to overfeed from a bottle. So, if your childcare provider starts asking for more and more milk, have a conversation with them about paced bottle feeding.
How much should I pump?
Ideally, you should pump as often as your baby would breastfeed. How old your baby is when you return to work, and their individual feeding pattern, will influence how often you pump. Most moms find that pumping 3 times in a typical work day works well. Feeding your baby as close to drop off and pick up as possible is also helpful in lessening the amount of pumped milk they need.
If you’d like more tips on a smooth transition back to work, check out my class on Making Returning to Work Work!
Let's talk about hair appointments and how they have evolved since having a baby. Pre baby, they were one of the most pampered experiences. After a long day at the office, I would walk in and be pampered for an hour and a half, walking out feeling relaxed and rejuvenated with a great, blow dried head of freshly colored and cut, blonde hair.
Fast forward to my first (desperately needed) hair appointment post baby. My Mom was coming down so I thought I would treat myself to a couple of hours of pampering. Kennedy was almost two months old and my hair was about a month overdue for some serious work. My Mom was supposed to meet me at my appointment and grab her but traffic happened and I ended up with a sleeping baby for the entire two hours. I was a little stressed since we all know that the other ladies at my Georgetown salon wouldn't appreciate a crying baby but, we walked out unharmed and Kennedy was a champ.
Fast forward three months and I was desperately in need of another hair appointment but with no family in town, I decided to brave a salon closer to home. So, I walked my (almost) five month old to the salon where she fell asleep and slept the entire time my hair was being highlighted. Of course, all good things have to come to an end so, she did wake up while I was waiting for my highlight to come up but I nursed her and she was relatively happy. Luckily the lady next to me was a genuine saint and during my wash, she offered/insisted on holding her so minus a rushed hair cut, the hair appointment was as much of a success as one can get one a four and a half month old.
Fast forward three more months and again, I'm long overdue but since I now have an almost eight month old I decided to try for a weekend appointment sans baby. The appointment was at 3pm on a Sunday and I had a training ending at 3pm but I thought I could make it there on time. I'm parking the car at 3:10 and the salon calls me to reschedule since I am late. Ugh, sigh. They reschedule me for Wednesday at 12:15pm, okay fine, we can do this. Wednesday rolls around and I make sure Kennedy and I are on our way to make this appointment on time. We get to the door RIGHT on time and I remember there's a flight of stairs to get to the salon. I pick Kennedy up ready to wear her and walk up the stairs when I realize she is SOAKING wet. Like the stroller has a puddle in the seat. I curse my cloth diapers and walk up the stairs to the receptionist. Frazzled I tell her that my stroller needs to come up, I need to change my baby and I'm here... on time. I'm pretty sure she probably thought about canceling me right there and then but, lucky for me, she didn't and instead went to grab my stroller. I go to change Kennedy in the bathroom and realize it's going to have to be a floor change and that it's my last diaper. We get through the change and head out to the waiting room where Kennedy and I hang until we are called. We get called and the hair stylist does not look pleased when he's asking me about what I want done and I have Kennedy on my lap. We brush through how I want highlights that blend in and he goes to mix my color. At this point I know I have to keep Kennedy quiet so I put her in the (wet) stroller (only then do I realize it was her sippy cup that caused the puddle) and give her some toys hoping they will occupy her... and they do, for my "highlights" atleast. Towards the end of my color, Kennedy starts getting fussy so I take her out of the stroller and we hang. She manages to keep it together during my wash but after that she is done with a capital D. As I try to get her to keep it together, my hair stylist is clearly getting antsy to get this over with so, a saint of a shampooist comes over and offers to hold Kennedy. By some miracle, she manages to keep Kennedy quiet while the hair stylist quickly (and I mean quickly) cuts my hair. By the time he's done and asks if I want it blown dry, I am just ready to get out of there so I politely decline. I leave the hair stylist looking like a wet dog and only when I get outside in the rain do I realize I have brown hair. Sigh. Oh, how times have changed...
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.