Sleep and weird juju past life shit

After coming clean about just how not-picture-perfect our sleep is, I found myself buttressed on all sides by solidarity from my community. It feels good. Almost even better than the first cup of coffee in the morning: just knowing I’m not alone, this is normal, that Mac will find her way to longer periods of sleep in her own precious time.

I then ran across this article, which only solidified that feeling of being at peace with this current reality:

Ignore the chorus telling you you’re doing it all wrong and you need to wean or leave them to cry or sleep train or give them solids or get a sleep consultant or perform some weird juju past life shit on them because if you don’t you’re not “respecting their need to sleep”.

(Yes, I’ve been told that too – and it’s bullshit).

Ignore it. You’re doing great. This will pass I promise. It’s long and hard and awful (so, so awful) but you’re not alone.

You’re not a martyr – that favourite word to attack sleep deprived mothers with – you’re just trying your best.

I see you trying.

You’ll sleep soon.

So will they.

via The Spinoff

I highly recommend the whole thing. It literally brought me to tears, and I don’t think I can entirely blame the sleep deprivation or my (still elevated?) hormones for the weepiness. Sometimes it just feels so good to be seen and validated.

Speaking of which, here’s another post about baby sleep that might make you feel better if you’re in the thick of it right now. I read this one originally before I became a parent and before I had any awareness of high-stakes arena of the Sleep Training Games, and this paragraph stuck with me:

The thing is: babies aren’t convenient. They don’t fit our adult schedules. They shit and throw food all over. They need a great deal of time and attention and sacrifice and love. But they’re not supposed to be convenient. They’re babies. They’re growing like crazy and their bellies are tiny and they may need to eat more often than every 12 hours. They need to be cuddled and touched and loved. They need to be responded to, cared for, met with tenderness. And I feel certain that one day we will look back at “sleep training” (even that phrase makes me crazy, like you’re training a cat to pee in a litter box or something) as a terrible, psychologically-damaging socio-cultural error.

via Rachel Meyer Yoga

No matter where you or your little ones fall on the sleep question, here’s to finding our way through the long dark nights and the too-bright days.

 

Pump’n’Go: your guide to mobile milk-making

Whenever people (ahem, men) express anxiety about pooping in public or in a new place, I have to admit my sympathy is pretty limited.

Pooping anxiety ain’t got nothing on pumping anxiety.

First of all, everyone accepts that people need a place to go to the bathroom. Dedicated places to pump, on the other hand, are few and far between. With pooping, there’s no lugging equipment around. When you find a spot, it’s pretty much guaranteed to be private; the chance (at least in the developed world) that you’ll have to pull out your goods and sit there basically naked for 20 minutes or more is pretty much nonexistent. The only thing you have to wash afterward is your hands. You don’t have to find a way to store your output and keep it on ice.

As a breastfeeding mama who travels quite a bit, and is a travel nomad — meaning I usually am not visiting an office where I can leave my stuff or hide out in a private room with my pump, I’ve had to get creative about where to take care of business.

My lessons learned are definitely not a complete guide to this inevitably stressful situation, but I hope they’ll help if you’re traveling without your baby and need to pump on the go.

What to bring

  • Your pump. (DUH, I know). But double check that all the pieces are there; I had a pumping emergency when I arrived at our retreat and realized the tubing was missing from my pump. Luckily a fellow mama there let me use hers, and I was able to avoid a true boob emergency.
  • Pump wipes. You won’t always have access to a place to wash your accessories, so I carry these wipes for on-the-go cleaning. I’m pretty sure they’re just repackaged baby wipes, so you could also just snag some from your LO’s diaper bag rather than buying yet another niche product.
  • Milk bags. I love these bags for pumping on the go because they take up so much less space in your bag and then cooler. The Medela ones come with little adapters for your pump so you can pump directly into the bags.
  • Ziplocs: the milk bags are notoriously leak-prone. I seal them inside ziploc bags for safer, drier travel.
  • Lunchbox or other small cooler. True story: my husband used my pumping needs as an excuse to buy a Yeti, but holy hell that thing is a bear to drag around. I carry a lightweight lunch box cooler with me, and try to transfer to the fridge, freezer, or Yeti as soon as possible. I’m constantly asking for ice from Starbucks or other casual food joints. Most of them will just fill up your cooler if you ask, and not charge you the 10 cents or whatever, especially if the barista is a woman.
  • Blanket scarf: something to hide the ladies under. Plus it’s lightweight so easy to pack or wear. God knows you’re already lugging around enough stuff.

What NOT to wear:

  • Dresses that don’t allow you access to the goods without taking them off. See: my first mother’s day experience. Oh wait, I haven’t told anyone about that except my husband. Maybe I’ll share this mother’s day…
  • Tops that will show wetness, or that can be stained by breast milk. Sayonara, silk.
  • Pants that are not forgiving when you sit down. Your midsection is likely to be exposed for at least part of your pumping adventure … so I like to choose pants that, even if they aren’t super flattering on my exposed core, at least don’t exacerbate my mom-pooch and muffin top.  (High-rise FTW).

Where to do the deed

Luckily, pumping rooms are becoming more and more frequent, but that doesn’t mean they’re a dime a dozen yet.

  • Nordstrom: their women’s lounges often have Mothers’ Rooms, with everything you need to pump or breastfeed: outlets, comfy chairs, a sink with soap and paper towels, and some semblance of privacy.

This is one of many reasons I will always be a loyal Nordstrom customer. Also, their shoe section.

  • Mamava: these handy little pumping pods are popping up at airports everywhere. I first discovered them in Austin, then also found pods in Oakland, CA, and San Francisco. These no-frills, lockable pods provide seating, outlets, and a mirror to help make sure you’ve rearranged yourself without any wardrobe malfunctions. Their app helps you find not only pods but other, user-submitted pumping-friendly locations.
  • Baby stores: this is a long shot, but if you’re traveling in the burbs, you may have a baby or maternity store nearby, and they often will provide a place for you, suggest other local options, or, at the very least, empathize with your plight. Friendly understanding won’t keep your pressurized boobs from exploding, but it does help lessen your mounting anxiety about said pressure.
  • When in doubt, just ask… I’ve ended up in random places for meetings, like hospitals, big office buildings, and cafes. You’d be surprised how willing people are to help. Some of them will get really uncomfortable, but I think that just encourages them to come up with a solution faster so they can stop talking about YOUR BREASTS. Ha. Some of the random places I’ve pumped are: in the lunchroom in a big office building, a doctor’s office after hours, the manager’s office in a restaurant, and in empty conference rooms.

    Don’t mind me, I’m just awkwardly pumping in this empty lunch room. Also take note of the blanket scarf. My only barrier between my boobs and hordes of hungry office workers.

None of those locations are fun, but they’re doable, and way less gross than a bathroom.

Now, if I could just crack the code of how to travel with a pump and ONLY a carry-on, I would be set. Any tips?

This is not a problem

This week, I posted on Facebook about a miracle: Mac slept for 2.5 hours after going to bed, with nary a squawk or a scream.

I hesitated before hitting publish on that post, because I anticipated that the collective internet would rise up with well-intentioned advice about how to get my 15 month old to sleep through the night. Or, you know, longer than the hour that is her usual cycle.

I’ve asked for sleep advice on Facebook before, and the internet was generous with its response. Mac was 8 months at that point—nearly half a lifetime ago!—and I felt that I had reached the end of my zombie rope. Little did I know I had at least another half lifetime in me of boobin’ all night.

In the last 7 months, we’ve tried all the things.* Our sleep book collection puts the Library of Congress to shame. We’ve cued and we’ve charted and we’ve shuffled. We’ve A/B tested lighting and sound and pajamas and beds and bed company and the number of books we read and the content of meals and the timing of baths.  We’ve done craniosacral therapy and we’ve night weaned and we’ve made her do hill sprints before bed.

And the results of all that study and research?

On an average night, my toddler wakes up 4-5 times before I go to bed.

Sweaty sleep hair is the cutest.

And I mean really wakes up. I’m not talking about little baby noises or the rolling over or the resettling. This count doesn’t include the times she self-settles. This is the number of times she sits and screams and needs some kind of parental intervention before midnight. After midnight, believe it or not, it gets better, or I’m just so zombie-like that I think it’s better. But it’s at least 3-4 more wake ups, usually to nurse, but sometimes just for a snuggle, before she gets up for the day.

Anyway, the point of all this is this: I spent months scouring the internet for proof that what we were experiencing was normal.

What I found were 10 week olds who slept from 8pm-6am. I found parents lamenting that their 3 month old still got up at 3am to feed, sometimes, but that they were solving that problem ASAP. Parents scolded each other for any night nursing, because babies don’t need that after [insert age of choice here].

I’m done wanting to throat punch those people, and more importantly, I’m done feeling inadequate.

I’m done thinking that her sleep is a problem to be fixed. She wakes up a lot and I’m tired a lot and she’s a happy kid and I drink a lot of coffee and this is where we are. If frequent night wakings are our great challenge then I count myself lucky.

My local coffee shop is also reaping the benefits, since I’m singlehandedly keeping them in business.

And the real reason I’m sharing this is because of that Facebook post I mentioned at the beginning. I did not get the advice I was expecting. Instead, I got solidarity, from fellow parents who are also not living up to the insane internet standards of baby sleep. So I’m coming out of the closet as a person who stays up all night with their toddler.

If you’re reading this, and you’re in the same boat, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

* The one thing we haven’t tried is any version of Cry it Out. Friends assure it me works; their lovely children assure me kids come through the other end happy and healthy. It just doesn’t feel like the right course for us. 

Don’t go high and dry

sweat pink essence ph10

#momlife is all about adjusting to the new normal. Every time you think you have something figured out—like how to get some sleep, how to get some exercise, or what makes the baby happy—everything changes.

A lot of the advice I got about having a child involved concrete skills: breastfeeding advice. Sleep-through-the-night tactics (hah). Babywearing and naptime scheduling. I’m working on all those skills, but above all, being prepared for and adaptable to whatever’s presenting itself RIGHT NOW is the most significant skill I’ve been honing over the last 13 months.

On our ski getaway weekend, I was super proud of myself for preparing for… and then actually hydrating like a boss. Going up to high altitude always leaves me really dehydrated, to the point where my dry mouth wakes me up at night. I took along my Essence pH10 water (and yes, my checked bag definitely got extra security screened as a result) and kept up a rigorous hydration regime. It was the only thing I could control, y’all.

Essence pH10: the freshest, cleanest water you’ve ever tasted. Pure as the driven snow.

To be honest, I had no idea what alkaline water was when I first met the team at Essence pH10. So, in a nutshell, here ya go:

“Influences such as environmental stresses, medications, processed foods, disease states, conditions of exhaustion, acidic drinks, for example, can weaken the bodies’ homeostatic mechanisms that work to maintain our body’s pH level. An Alkaline environment helps promote optimum health and may help to support a cancer-free life. “

I can get down with that.

sweat pink essence ph10

Another win from that weekend: Mac got to play in the snow, reducing the cost per wear of her snowsuit by 50%. With special-use baby clothes, that is a BIG DEAL.

Yeah, she was way more interested in this weird patch of snow by the wall than in actual pretty fields of snow. Doesn’t she know I need to take pictures??

Even though we don’t have boots or any kind of snow-appropriate footwear, her feet stayed miraculously dry. Bobux shoes FTW.

Now we’re back at home, back in the warm Austin ‘winter,’ and Mac and I are spending lots of time tooling around town on my bike. And guess what? I’m still hydrating like a boss.

Fun fact: my diaper bag bottle pockets fit (a) baby bottles, (b) wine bottles (c) water bottles and (d) all of the above. #preparedforanything

All this hydration has me feeling seriously like I can do anything. And it’s good for Mac, too: since I’m still breastfeeding, I like to think I’m passing on that good health and hydration to her as well.

This post was sponsored by Essence pH10. Opinions are, as always, mine and mine alone. Thank you for supporting the brands who support the sweat pink community!

You know what you need?

You know what hasn’t changed since Mac has been born? The things that make me happy.

If you’re surfing (drowning in?) the postpartum emotional riptide, you know what you need?*

The same stuff you always need.

If bliss to you is a bubble bath, take as many bubble baths as your pruny toes can handle. Binge reading YA lit? Find a way to escape into a fantasy land made for 12 year olds.

For me, the things that reliably turn my frown upside down are exercise and time with my oldest and dearest friends. The ones who always lift you up and give you energy, even if you’re an introvert and generally have diminished capacities for social interactions.

I got a LOT of that over a visit to Tahoe for my aunt’s milestone birthday and some quality Jamie time.

We spent time outside playing in the snow with the Surge and the Kamagon: two pieces of equipment that customize the weight on by filling with water. The water sloshing around inside means you get a lot of stability work, too. Between the snow and the lake and the water sloshing around in our equipment, there was water, water everywhere!

Jamie always makes me work out, but she is nice about it: for example, her Kamagon ball is WAY heavier than mine. Mine was practically empty. That’s one of the things I think are so great about water-based equipment: if you’re shy about how much weight you’re working with, nobody will know how full or empty your Surge or Kamagon are.

The equipment meets you where you are, and you can be all stealth about how hardcore (or not) you are.

prAna hoodie, #sweatpink laces, pink Kamagon.

The difference in our resistance reminds me of a time that we took a HIIT class while traveling in New York. I forget where the class was, but I DO remember it started at 6am and we’d been out til 3am the night before.

It was a ROUGH class. I could smell the adventures from the night before coming out of my pores and the room seemed to spin on its axis every time I stood up from a squat or a plank. Burpees were a sick, sick joke.

The best part about it, though, was that the instructor switched our names. So when I was dropping to my knees for pushups or dragging myself too slowly from one exercise to the next, he was yelling at “Jamie” to pick up those knees or hustle. The real Jamie, of course, was doing everything perfectly, while I snickered secretly at his mistake and tried not to throw up.

Anyway, I was in much better shape for this workout with the Surge and the Kamagon while my awesome dad braved the cold and the wind to take pictures.

HOORAY FOR FAMILY.

prAna hoodie, pink Kamagon, Canada mittens from Susie!

And hooray for exercise. The time when you don’t want to do it is the best time to actually make it happen.

And then we took Mac snowshoeing for the very first time. She loved it.

Also, I love babies in snowsuits. SO MUCH.

And the thing that makes me happiest, hands down?  Snuggle time with furry friends. <3 you, Abbie.

Stay sweaty, stay happy, my friends.

*I don’t actually know what you need. I’m not a professional. This is just a guess.