I Want to be a Toy Maker When I Grow Up…

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Or, do I really want to grow up?

When I became a mother and as our oldest grew more interactive and playful, I felt so fortunate to find an excusable outlet for my inner child. I love to be silly and horse around. Being a parent gives you an avenue to do that without looking to weird.

I am also learning, that with three boys, I really enjoy creating and making toys for them to play with and use their imaginations. The mass toy market is saturated with plastic, battery-operated, light-up, noisy toys. Everything is also so brightly colored and “attractive”…or perhaps over-stimulating. Even I began to feel overwhelmed by all the brightly colored plastic toys.

Like many other homes, our living room began to look like a toy store instead of a family room. So, I began thinking of alternatives. I didn’t want to just pack everything away. I want our family room to appeal to all of us, including our children.

The product of my imagination became Adventures on the Wall ™ , my original vertical playscape.

14570276_551550921717132_8713510960624530311_nI wanted to design a visually appealing and engaging toy that didn’t have a large footprint. What better way to have a small footprint than a toy that can hang on the wall?!

My first three playscapes included a farm/barnyard, an outdoor camping/mountain landscape and a fairy village. The soft colors on the blonde wood background are pretty for us grownups to enjoy and appealing to our boys.

My next addition to Adventures on the Wall ™ series is one with a chalkboard background so that the boys may draw their own playscape to suit their mood.

Originally, we used our Little People collection to pretend and play with these fun, vertical adventures but I knew I would be making some peg dolls to accompany them. I finally did this weekend! And let me tell you, it was so much fun!

Using watercolor paint, felt and embroidery thread, I made two boy/girl sets of fairies/gnomes as well as a king/queen set. I also found the adorable toadstools and watercolor painted the tops red and added some white spots. They turned out so cute!

The birdhouses are the $1.50 ones you can find at the craft store and I just added a soft toned watercolor wash to the roof and kept the rest raw.

I also painted some rainbow peg dolls to be used in any manner needed for the creative moment.

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Again, using watercolor paint, I “washed” the bodies with the rainbow colors and the result was fantastic!

Watercolor + wood = beauty.

The soft colors that resulted are so pretty and inviting. And by leaving the faces plain, the possibilities are endless!

(Can you see some Waldorf inspiration here?)

 

I also cut a wood block set from pine boards. We have a set of wood blocks that are the really chunky kind, which I adore, but I wanted to add a set of thinner blocks that included some bigger triangles for mountains and volcanoes as well as some house/building shapes. You can also see I ended up with some considerably smaller triangles that make wonderful chimneys or small shrubs. I just love how they turned out!

I considered adding some watercolor to a few of these but abstained for now. I can always do it later if I want to but my goal is to have open-ended toys that can be anything their imaginations desire!

I also witnessed our older son (1st grader) using the shapes to make tangrams. He was piecing them together to make different bigger objects such as a windmill!

My last addition to the handmade pieces in our new Waldorf-Reggio-Montessori play was some simple dolls that we refer to as pillow people.

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My husband was a little skeptical of me making dolls for our boys but I assured him that they would be simple and perfect for playing house or school or doctor or whatever they wanted. Are they the beautiful Waldorf dolls like the ones I covet but cost $100+? No. But are the simple, sweet and snuggly? Yes!

They also make really good “throw pillows”…not the kind you decorate a sofa with. I can see these being used to create some kind of indoor {ball}game as well as a tossing game into the box for points. Its fine with me since they are so lightweight.

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With all these new toys I made, I went through the rest of our toys and packed away all the plastic toys. We have other pieces for the boys to play with besides the one I made including a raw wood, handcrafted barn that folds up into a 10″ x 20” footprint but has gates that pull out to make a paddock; a couple of wood puzzles, a treasure bucket filled with sea shells and other natural and fabric treasures.

I will share another post soon about what our play areas look like now with no plastic toys! I can’t wait to show you!

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Do you like to make toys for your children? What are your child’s favorite things in their play area?

Thank you for stopping by!

◊◊◊ For more information on my Adventures on the Wall™ or to order your very own you can email me at caseyreneeblog@gmail.com or visit my Facebook page, Casey Renee Designs

The Pursuit of Rest

Rest. What is that?

Is it curled up on the sofa with little warm bodies while you read aloud The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn?

Is it cuddled in bed with the ones you love telling stories of when you were growing up?

Is it quietly coloring and drawing while you listen to music?

Is it a nap on a Sunday afternoon after church?

Is it a ninja/wrestling match with a seven and two year old followed by a dance session with the baby?

Rest is all of this and more! And it. Is. Glorious!

Our family is in the pursuit of rest this year. I have felt like the Lord has been urging me to observe a Sabbath. The holy day of rest that He created for His people in the very beginning of creation.

1Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
2And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
3And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

This is something that I know many others wrestle with, each in their own way.

It is a hard concept to entertain when you have a busy family and are ushering multiple kids to multiple activities each day of the week. But I have felt and feel even more so that it does not have to be that way.

While I agree that varying activities can enrich your child’s life, I feel even more so that not spending intentional time at home, together, communicating and laughing and sharing space together will shortchange our children on a rich and solid foundation of faith and family. By not building time for rest and connectedness into their lives early on we inadvertently teach them that the only way to be anything or anyone is to go, go, go.

I want to raise our boys to work hard those 6 days of the week but with each day to carry the joy and rest and peace they received the Sabbath before and took look forward to the Sabbath to come. I want them to be able to see God in all of the endeavors and the things that they face all week and to meet Him in the quiet of Sabbath to restore and refresh. I want that peace to shine from their hearts and their faces to the people they meet and work alongside in between.

At first when I began praying and reading about practicing a Sabbath I was a little overwhelmed. An orthodox family would observe from sundown on Friday evening until sundown on Saturday evening. But as I explored further it became apparent for our family that our Sabbath would begin on Saturday evening at 7:00 and continue until Sunday evening at 7:00.

Next became deciding what our Sabbath would look like. This part was a little trickier but provided great conversation at the dinner table as we decided together what we would and wouldn’t do on our Sabbath. The “wouldn’t” was easy; we wouldn’t watch television or utilize any devices, we wouldn’t work on any projects, we wouldn’t do any cleaning beyond tidying up after meals and play, and we wouldn’t work (except for my husband for just a short while – the fish need to be fed!), and we wouldn’t shop or cause others to work.

What would we do? This first Sabbath we spent the first night reading aloud and talking. We went to church in the morning and then came back home. While DH went in to take care of the fish the kids and I warmed up lunch and colored some bible coloring pages. Then DH got back and jumped in on the coloring too. I fed the baby and read some of my book while the littles napped. Then we all got in to a game of UNO before dinner and while it warmed in the oven. We capped off the evening with some glow-in-the-dark racetrack fun and more reading aloud. Then, upon irresistible request, the boys talked DH into some hilarious karate and wrestling shenanigans.


As we observe each new Sabbath in our home we will begin introducing more of the traditional aspects into is such as lighting a candle, speaking blessings upon the children and one another, and Sabbath prayers.

I recently read a book called Celebrating Biblical Feasts: In Your Home or Church by Martha Zimmerman. This book was rich with concept for what it could look like to participate in the biblical feasts as a Christian family. I gleaned so much information and affirmation from it that I purchased my own copy so I could have it to reference as we establish these traditions and blessings in our young family.

I look forward to sharing more as our family grows in this obedience out of love for God.

Do you and your family observe Sabbath? Are you more traditional or is your observance modified a little?

 

Tell Me Once Again Who I Am to You…

I was not expecting this morning. And I am not sure what set it off or how it got to where it went. My guess is the enemy was taking a shot at me and wanted to see how far it could go.

I woke up with a happy mood and a giddy in my step. The kids were all still asleep and I got to sit with my cup of coffee and read my bible before everyone was awake. The toddler woke in his happy mood and everyone else seemed to follow suit.

Our weekend had finished with the construction of our raised garden beds (post with tutorial in the works) and the optimism of garden greens and other delicious goodness were on the front of my mind. In discussing my daydreams with my dear husband when the conversation took a stressful turn and hurtful things were said. You know how that can go, right?

Long story short, I walked away before the tears could fall, feeling like a loser.

“I am not a good enough stay-at-home mommy.”

“I take the fun out of everything when I get in Casey-mode.”

“Maybe I have no business staying home anymore. Maybe everyone would be better if I did go back to work.”

I was a mess, trying to prove my worth by scrubbing our bathroom and the kitchen and trying to tidy up as best as I could. During all of that, my oldest missed his morning bus. It isn’t typically a big deal and doesn’t happen very often so I finished up my current task and got dressed to take him to school.

When he realized he missed the bus, all control of emotions was lost. He slammed his backpack down and declared he was not going to school. I sat on the chair and cried again, feeling more like a failure. Then, I straightened up my mommy hat and followed him into his bedroom. He retreated under his bed. I calmly explained that I would count to 5 for him to come out on his own or I would come under there and get him.

I ended up under the bed to pull him out. Next was getting shoes on and out the door. We made it to the van and were on our way to the school. I knew better than to try to talk to him; when he is feeling this way he is not interested in talking, let alone listening. We drove in silence, both feeling emotional for our own reasons, both upset about how our morning was going.

And then, my child wrecked me…

“I am so stupid.”

“Honey, you are NOT stupid! Why would you say that or feel that way?!”

“I am just stupid.”

“L, baby, you are not and I don’t want you to talk that way. You are smart, funny, talented, kind, and compassionate. I love you and God loves you and he made you perfectly, not stupid. You are not stupid, please do not say that.”

(TEARS ARE COMING BIG TIME NOW)

And then, BAM, God wrecked my heart…

This is exactly how God feels about me. I was playing a slew of self-degrading comments in my head all morning on repeat. He doesn’t want me sitting here talking bad about His creation. I AM a good mommy and God didn’t make a mistake when He made me a mother. He made me fun, loving, nurturing, compassionate, resourceful, driven, creative, and everything that makes me who I am.

Wow, my Father is telling me the exact thing I am trying to tell my baby boy. My child and I are not defined by any word. We are defined by the sacrifice Jesus paid on the cross for him and for me. We are defined by mercy and grace. We are defined by the love our Heavenly Father has for us and that He showed us in Christ Jesus. WE. ARE. LOVED.

God used this moment to teach me and for me to teach my child. And this is a lesson that will be picked back up after school.

Once I started to realize what was happening and how I was doing to me what my child was doing to himself, I prayed. I prayed out loud for God to remove these negative feelings and self-doubt, to replace it with a peaceful heart and turn our day into a good day.

We pulled up to the drop off and he got out without a word. I told him I loved him so much and that I would see him after school.

I also emailed his teacher when I got home to make sure he was able to have a better day. I didn’t want his mood to effect his whole day and hopefully all his friends would cheer him up as well.

The drive home was still a tearful one, but instead of the tears over my own feelings they were for my heart breaking over how L was talking about himself. We are a very warm-and-fuzzy family and do not hold back the I love yous, compliments or positive affirmations.

I am thankful for the teachable moment that came in the midst of our troubled hearts this morning. I am thankful for my God who reaches me and is using my children to teach me lessons on His grace and mercy.

Have you experienced a moment where God used your parenting situation to teach you a lesson as well? Please share!

 

 

 

{Birth Story} Waiting for River

Waiting for River

Estimated Due Date: May 26th, 2014

River in my belly

It is the week before my due date and my mother has come in to stay with me since Dave had been working out of town through the week. It was nice knowing that I wouldn’t be alone if and when labor kicked in and Dave wasn’t here. Mom helped out a lot; we took Landon and his friend to the zoo, to the strawberry patch, the park, we played outside in the sprinkler, we even got a call to show the house. The whole week was coming and going, I felt amazing, and we just kept waiting for something to happen with my labor.

Each time we went out or did something around the house, my mom was hoping something would kick my labor in so she could be here for the birth. If he wasn’t born on or before his due date, she was going to miss it entirely. As the Director of her local adventure camp, she had to be back home by the evening of my due date.

Friday evening I met with Brenda for a check-up. She immediately commented on how good I looked before she asked how I felt. I just had so much energy and felt so chipper. She checked me and I was dilated 1-2 centimeters, 90 percent effaced and he was at a +2 station (very low). Everything was looking really good and while I was excited about my progress, I had to remember that none of it necessarily meant he was coming that night, that it could still be days even.

Sunday morning (25th) came and I woke up in a different kind of mood. I was quiet and reserved and after mom and I talked, she decided to go ahead and go back home so she could spend some time with my dad before her vacation was over. We got up and around and I was hit with a little bit of a nesting bug. I quietly went around cleaning, organizing, going back through our birth equipment and setting up our room just so, washing all the cloth diapers and organizing some other things in the bedrooms. This made my mom sad because she felt something was about to happen and she was going to miss it.

Mom hit the road after a tearful farewell. Dave, Landon and I settled in for a quiet afternoon. I relaxed into the idea of having a little bit of time as just our little family before Dave’s mom arrived; which was going to be Monday (26th). I sat back in the recliner and quietly watched Dave and Landon playing and wrestling; thinking that not much longer would we be a family of three, but soon be a family with two boys! I browsed through Facebook, passing some time, and stumbled on a baby papasan. We decided to purchase it and Dave and Landon headed out to go pick it up.

I took the opportunity of some alone time to turn up some music and take a shower. It was nice to have a little bit of quiet time to myself. I wrapped up in a towel and went back to the recliner (the only place I could ever get “comfortable”). I would wait there until Dave and Landon got home and we could then spend the evening relaxing; I could get away with hardly any clothes!

This apparently wasn’t in the cards. Dave called to let me know that mom (my mother-in-law) was in town and would be here very soon…just in case I was naked. I pretty much was. I immediately couldn’t help but feel upset. Mom had no idea that my mother had already left and she had tried to call while we had taken naps. She wanted to come in and see my mom and she was excited too for labor to start. I got up and dressed and tried to warm up to the idea of more company. Mom came in and gave me a big hug. I felt awful, but I couldn’t feel excited. I had reached a primal feeling of wanting to retreat with my little family and hide. Between all of the well-meaning text messages, Facebook comments and face-to-face, “anything happening yet”,” when is River making his debut” and other comments, I was feeling like I was on a clock. I went back to our bedroom and just cried. Hard. I felt like a zoo animal under observation for having a baby and just wanted to grab my family and retreat to our “cave” and shut the whole world out.

Monday came and went and I began to wonder if all this “attention” was somehow hindering my body. Mom headed back home Tuesday morning and we asked our friends to respect the process by containing their enthusiasm until we were able to actually introduce River to the world. With a quiet house we settled back into the week to wait for River. Each day I would wake up hopeful that it was “the day” and each night I would go to bed hoping I would wake up with contractions. By Thursday, it was getting pretty old. My midwife called Thursday morning to see how I was doing and discuss some options for a game plan. We decided that I would try pumping with my breast pump to get my body to start releasing oxytocin. Then I would come in that afternoon for her to strip my membranes and then pump again later that evening. All of this would hopefully get my body contracting and then, if my body was really ready, it would stimulate labor.

I had begun to feel some contractions with what we had done but they didn’t feel crampy. Instead it was more like someone was putting a weight on the top of my stomach and then my lower abdomen would tighten, sometimes wrapping all the way around my lower back. We timed them, but they never became a pattern or consistent; 45 seconds long, 8 to 12 minutes apart. This continued on all day Thursday and Friday.

Friday overnight, I woke up with some of my contractions. They were feeling different so I tried to time them, but I kept dozing back off on the tail end of the contraction and wouldn’t push the stop button to end the timer. Around 6:30 Saturday morning I woke Dave and asked if he would come out and help me time the contractions. I just wanted to see if there was any pattern to them and what they were doing. Our efforts were futile because I did the same thing to him. I would tell him to start the timer and then I would wake up to, “Casey, are you still having the contraction?” a couple minutes later. I would wave my hand and go back to sleep. A little after 7, Landon woke up so Dave got up and made breakfast while I dozed off and on in the recliner.

We ate and a while later I noticed that I needed to focus a little more on breathing and relaxing during the contractions. Then, I noticed I was beginning to vocalize through them. I decided to try timing them again; they were coming 4 minutes apart and lasting over a minute long. No longer was I comfortable in the recliner as my lower back pain intensified and I needed Dave to dig his fists into my lower back with each contraction. I also noticed that I felt slightly nauseated as the contraction peaked.

This is where it gets really fun! I put a call into our midwife to let her know what was happening and figured at minimum she could listen to me through a contraction and determine if it was worth getting excited about. It hadn’t settled in to me that this could actually be labor even though I had done this before. I woke up that morning feeling like I was going to be pregnant forever so I didn’t want to get my hopes up.

She was just finishing breakfast so she asked if she could call me right back. I headed to our bedroom where Landon was watching some cartoons and thought I would lean over the bed so Dave could dig into my back easier. I felt I should fill Landon in so I said, “Landon, remember the videos we watched and how we talked about how having babies was hard work, that mommies will sometimes make noise because of the hard work? Well, your brother may be coming today because Mommy’s body is starting to work.” As he was jumping on the bed, he enthusiastically said, “Okay, mom!”

With the next contraction Brenda called back and pretty much instantly said it was go time and she would call Eva, her assistant, and send her on her way. She was an hour closer than her and that way someone would be here soon. I got up to go potty and no sooner was I done when I turned around and threw up with the next contraction. I knew I was in transition at this point. I got up, brushed my teeth and with the next contraction, my water broke! We texted Brenda to let her know and were then instructed to text directions to Eva. Things were moving fast so I sent one more message to our backups for Landon to let them know things were happening but Landon wanted to stay, just to be on standby.

Dave got Landon set up with some coloring pages and brought his tricycle in from outside. With each contraction my voice was getting louder and lower. My body was getting down to business. All the while, Landon is riding his bike around our room, running between my bum and Dave to look out the bathroom window to watch for Eva and Brenda, and sticking his fingers in his ears saying with a big grin on his face, “Mommy is being loud!”

After a while I felt the need to go lie on the bed and labor on my side. I was hoping this would slow things down a little for Eva to get here. It really felt like things were going fast! Soon, Eva arrived and instantly began setting up their supplies. She came over to me at the bed and just smiled, encouraging me through a couple contractions before asking if she could check me and the baby. I was at an 8!

Soon, our dear family friend, Carol called to see if we needed her to come for Landon and we felt at that point it would be a good idea since I needed Dave right there for my back labor. Carol and Brenda arrived at the same time. They came inside and went to their respective charges. I think Landon was glad to have someone to play with even though he was handling his mommy in labor very well.

Brenda came in and joined the excitement of how quick I was progressing and how soon we would meet our little guy. She checked me after a couple of contractions and I was complete with a little bit of cervix that was getting pinched because of my position of choice. She asked if I wanted to move. I said yes, but I didn’t know where I wanted to go.

I ended up standing and eventually leaning over the exercise ball on the bed, Dave still behind me digging his fists into my lower back with each contraction. Once I was vertical, within two contractions, my body was pushing! Wow, we were in the home stretch!! We ended up maneuvering around to the foot of the bed and my legs were shaking enough that I wanted to kneel at the bed. My body’s pushing then became more focused and within 20 minutes, River was here!!

The cord was around his neck twice but came off easily before he was all the way out and he was blue but trying to make his first breath. So, Brenda and Eva gave him some oxygen and he pinked right up and let out a cry! Dave was so excited that he got to watch everything this time. With Landon, he was supporting me on the bed behind my back, this time he was beside me and able to move.

River was then handed to me from under my legs and guided to my chest, still crying and pink as can be. Within seconds, Landon came strolling in with Carol close behind and an instant grin painted his face, “My brother!” He came right over and stroked his head, his smile never wavering, just taking it all in. Carol, smiling from the doorway, said Landon must’ve known his brother was here because he told her, “My mom and dad are inside doing the baby thing. I want to go check it out.”

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We maneuvered up onto the bed so that I could deliver the placenta and be checked over. Dave, Landon, and I just kept smiling and looking at River, listening to his newborn cries and soaking it all in. The rest of my delivery went perfect, only a small tear and my body was doing everything it was supposed to do. Soon we were all situated on the bed so River could nurse and I could be observed a little longer for any excess bleeding and so on. River latched on like a champ. He was tired so he kept popping off and falling asleep but he was catching on quick. I asked Dave to go get Carol; she couldn’t come help with Landon and not get to see River up close!

Carol then took Landon to town for lunch and then back to their farm to play with her grandkids and let us get some rest. He ended up having a great time playing hide and seek, marbles, and playing outside. He finished his big day with helping Max, her husband, go on a vet call before coming home later in the evening. Dave went in the kitchen fix me some grub. My post labor choice; a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a big glass of milk! While I ate, we measured and weighed River. We couldn’t believe it…9 pounds, eight ounces and 21 inches long, his head and his chest both measuring 14 inches. He was just a long and lean baby, built like his brother was, just 3 pounds bigger and an inch and three quarters longer!

River

When we were done with River’s measurements, we decided we were all hungry for some real lunch. So, Brenda ran a bath for us and then Dave would grill us up some chicken and green beans. River loved his bath and I really enjoyed a hot shower after that. We settled on the couch to snuggle, eat, and visit with Brenda, going over our postpartum care before Brenda headed home. I couldn’t believe he was finally here! I woke up that morning feeling like I would be pregnant forever and a few short hours later I was holding and nursing the precious little being that I have loved from my inside out.

~This birth is our second home birth. They were so different from each other in so many ways but similar in other ways. Both births have left me feeling empowered, capable, awestruck, and inspired.

Does labor hurt? I think the pain is determined by perspective. Labor is labor, meaning hard work, and when a woman approaches labor with preparation and “training”, much the same as an athlete would train and prepare for a marathon or competition, the experience can be truly rewarding for her. Both require intense physical exertion, both challenge the person in mind, body, and soul, and both can offer an extreme amount of personal satisfaction at the finish line.

A home birth isn’t for every woman, a natural birth isn’t for every woman, and even a vaginal birth may not be for every woman. But every woman can have an educated birth experience, one that can be a positive and empowering experience for her.

Did you ever consider a home birth? Or birth at home? Leave a comment please!

Tips on Breastfeeding

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Breastfeeding to me is such an incredible experience. It is a gift that I give to my children, but at the same time provides a gift for me.

It has also been a completely different experience with each of our three boys and has given me some perspective to how different it is for each mother with each child.

Our oldest nursed from day one but our breastfeeding relationship ended when he was about 13 weeks old. I was a first time mommy that had to return to work after 6 weeks and whose body didn’t respond to pumping very well.

Our middle son was a booby baby through and through. No substitutes, no dummies; only milk straight from the tap. Some of this may have come from my overwhelming desire to make it to a year with breastfeeding so I fiercely protected that relationship.

Our third is 5 months old, drinks only breastmilk but will take it easily from a bottle, has found comfort in both a binky and his thumb, and seems the most laid back of all our boys.

So now I would like to share with you my favorite tips for enjoying your breastfeeding experience. These stem from my personal research and experiences and I hope you find them helpful.

#1. Set Your Goals
As soon as you get a positive pregnancy test your mind starts going with all kinds of thoughts and questions. One of those is whether or not you are going to choose to breastfeed and for how long. At this very beginning, I believe you set the tone for what your breastfeeding experience will ultimately look like. Maybe you want to breastfeed for a few months and then wean to formula when you return to work. Maybe you want to breastfeed for 6 months or until your little one starts cutting teeth. Maybe you want to go a year and then switch to a different milk. Or, maybe you want to go for extended breastfeeding to 2 years and/or beyond. By setting your goals before baby arrives, I feel, you have a better chance to pursue it even when you go through some of the harder days.

#2 The Right Support
Support can come in many forms but I believe you need to have a couple of different kinds depending on where you are at or what your current concerns or challenges are. There are Lactation Consultants and Doulas that can lend some professional and educated support and troubleshooting. They can be invaluable in those early days when you are trying to figure out any latch issues, supply, or other help. Then, your husband or partner is going to be a crucial support person. It is important early on (before baby arrives and while you are setting your goals) to discuss what you want or need from them to be able to encourage and support you. Now, while I realize there may not be a supportive spouse or one at all, having a close person there to encourage you and support you is so helpful. The other support person that I feel is important is a friend or relative that has recently or is well into a successful breastfeeding period. This is who you call when you are exhausted and emotional and needing to hear the perfect “I know what you are feeling and you will be okay” comfort.

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Each of these people will be very important to you at one or the entire duration of your journey. Talk to them while you are pregnant, ask them questions, sit with your friend while she feeds her baby. That will be you soon.

#3 Read the Right Stuff…a little bit.
We are in the age where everything is accessible. There is enough information out there available at the click of a button to make your head spin in an instant. While I am a research fanatic when it comes to things like this, moderation is important. I recommend reading 1 or 2 books (like The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding) during your pregnancy and then I found a blog that I became a huge fan of. Her name is Meg Nagle and she is an IBCLC from Australia. Her blog is called The Milk Meg and she is a fantastic resource for breastfeeding mothers. She even provides consultations via Skype. The point is to find a few places for some good knowledge and encouragement but don’t overwhelm yourself.

#4 The Early Weeks
Baby has arrived and you are home settling in. If this is your first baby, your milk will be coming in in another day or so. If it is your second or beyond, your milk has probably arrived. These early days and weeks should just be spent cuddling your baby, drinking water and enjoying tasty food with lots of rest. Your body goes through a lot during pregnancy and then more after you deliver as it tries to balance hormones, blood volume, and heal from birth. Hopefully you have friends and family who offer to come and help take care of things for you so you may recuperate. I know they want to offer to hold the baby for you so you can rest or nap, but if that isn’t what you need from them, don’t be afraid to speak up. When they call, let them know if you are up for a short visit or if you would like to sit and talk and relax together. If they offer to help do anything, LET THEM! Let them do a load of laundry, cook a meal, vacuum your floors, take out trash, whatever will help you not do anything except care for your new baby.

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Lots of skin-to-skin! When people aren’t over helping you out, take that shirt off and cuddle your squishy baby right up on your chest! This is proven to regulate baby’s heartbeat, respiration and temperature, not to mention the amazing hormone release that happens between you and baby. This is also a great way for daddy to bond with baby. Just make sure he leaves the aftershave or cologne off.

“When in doubt, whip it out.” This is one of my favorite Meg quotes! Those early days of breastfeeding can be confusing and overwhelming.

“Is baby crying because he is tired, hungry, or has a dirty diaper? But he just ate?! How could he want to nurse again?”

The beautiful things about breastfeeding is that it isn’t just for food and you can’t over-feed a breastfed baby! If baby is upset and you have tried to swaddle and soothe in other ways, try offering the breast. Baby finds the most comfort close to you where he can smell and feel you. You are familiar and safe, don’t deny baby of that because you have been told you will spoil him. You can’t spoil a baby!

#5 It Doesn’t Have to be All or Nothing
I wish I had known this with my oldest son. I gave up because I thought since I couldn’t sustain a supply through pumping that I had no choice but to wean and feed him formula exclusively. That doesn’t have to be the case at all. If you have exhausted all efforts to sustain your supply to breastfeed exclusively, and believe me there are a lot of different things you can try, you may be able to find a balance of breast and formula feeding. In my case, I could have breastfed while at home and exclusively on the weekends but allowed him to receive formula while at daycare.

This is one of those situations where your Lactation Consultant can help you troubleshoot your supply concerns, chose the best and most practical ways for you to try to boost your supply, and if that doesn’t help she can help you add supplementing to your breastfeeding journey.

If you have your goals set, your support in place, and have tried all that you can, give yourself some grace, take a breath, and enjoy YOUR nursing relationship for what it is. It isn’t going to nor does it have to look like anyone else’s.

That brings me to…

#6 Enjoy it
Breastfeeding truly is a journey, even a marathon. From cluster feeding and tender breasts to growth spurts and beyond there will be some trying days. But there will also be days and moments where when nothing else will console your baby, curling up in your arms and latching at the breast will. There will be moments that are etched into your mind for eternity like baby’s first booby grin or silly faces while trying to eat.

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There is just so much, so much tenderness and nurturing and bonding that happens…to both of you!

Enjoy it all, however long it lasts.

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What questions or concerns do you have about breastfeeding?

What other tips would you add for a new mother? Please leave a comment!