Tips for New Mamas

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Recently I had the pleasure and joy of welcoming a second sweet child into our family.  The second time around feels so different from the first.  I feel more calm, relaxed and ready to take things as they come.  I also feel much more confident in my abilities to care for this little being, able to listen to myself better, and communicate my needs as I come into my own as a mother of 2.

With my 1st born I was obsessed with Google and taking advice from every mom blog I could find.  I read books about sleeping, parenting, you name it.  I spent so much time worrying if I was doing everything right that I exhausted myself and sometimes forgot to live in the moment and relish the time with my newborn son.  We had a wonderful time and I have very fond memories of my 1st maternity leave; however this time I promised myself would be different.  Besides banning myself from Google and internet advice, I made the commitment to enjoy the moments, to stop and take a breath, and use my maternity leave as time for me to reboot and my son and I to bond and connect.

As I reflect back on both newborn experiences I wanted to put together a list of what I’ve learned for all those new moms out there.  This list is particularly pertinent to the 1st couple of weeks after you get home from the hospital.  I am sure it will continue to evolve and change as you and your baby grow each day.

  1. Have your support person – It is essential, in the beginning, that you have someone there to help you.  For both babies I had both my partner and my mom to help.  Having a person, or a couple of people, is something you need because you simply need help and cannot do it all.  This person should not be someone that expects you to be your normal self or someone that you feel the need to entertain.  This is someone who can see you through highs and lows and you feel comfortable with communicating with easily.
  2. Get off the internet! (and STOP reading books!) – Everyone has an opinion, experience, and different perspective.  No two babies are the same and there is no magic formula.  You can try different techniques with your baby to see what works and do what feels right for you.  There is no magic answer to getting your baby to sleep, eat, etc… so just listen to yourself, watch your baby, and take comfort in knowing every new mom has felt this way.  If you do want to look something up use some of the more reputable, less opinion based sites, http://www.aap.org, www.llli.org, or call your pediatrician for those medical questions.
  3. Go topless – OK you might be wondering, what?! Trust me on this one.  You have likely heard about skin to skin time with your baby.  Skin to skin time is my lifesaver and has been my number one help in combatting baby blues feelings.  Every day I make sure I take off everything on the top half of my body, undress baby down to the diaper, and lay with my him.  I do this at least 2-4 times per day and the feeling is indescribable.  It is the most relaxing, restoring, and happy time for us both.  Both of my sons would melt into my chest, our temperatures adjust to the same level and we both just relax and breathe.  AMAZING!
  4. Ask for help- As someone who has a hard time asking for help this is something I have to force myself to do.  But really, if your partner is there, a support person, family member, etc… don’t be afraid to ask them to do the laundry, cook dinner, put the dishes away.  You should not be doing any of this in the 1st few weeks if you can help it and you need to ask for help. This also goes for any roller coaster emotions you may experience.  Postpartum hormones are no joke and it helps to have someone to talk to and share your feelings with.  Find someone or a network of people that you can call when you want to sing with joy and when you feel like you are about to crack.  It is important that you ride the rollercoaster of emotions with someone next to you who can listen and watch for any signs of concern.
  5. Limit visitors– I know it is so exciting and everyone is Facebook-ing, texting, etc… and they want to see you and the baby.  But it is also exhausting… you are tired, not sure of what you are doing, learning your babies’ cues, and not wanting to expose them to a lot germs and the outside world.  I make the rule that for the 1st two weeks I limit visitors as minimally as possible to allow myself time to rest and not have to worry about anyone other than me and baby.
  6. Take naps– Everyone says to sleep when the baby sleeps… based on my experiences that would be a lot of sleep.  Both of my babies slept A LOT!  However I did find it particularly helpful to reserve a time around the same time everyday to sleep.  Each nap I took helped me to feel more rested, patient, and prepared.
  7. Allow yourself time to heal– It is easy after the 1st week or so to start feeling a little bit better.  When you start feeling better you might get a bit over ambitious and start running errands, filling in your social calendar, etc… The 1st 2 weeks are such a critical time for healing so make sure you are listening to that and taking time time to rest, heal, and limit activity until you are back to normal.  The 1st two weeks I drink A LOT of water, get as much sleep as I can, eat whatever sounds good to me, and pamper my body as much as I can.  You have just been through an extraordinary physical journey and you deserve to treat yourself like a Queen.
  8. Keep somewhat of a schedule– Babies are unpredictable, life is crazy, and sometimes you don’t know how to make sense as to what is going on.  I am a bit of a planner and a tad bit OCD so this might not resonate with all of you.. but… it really helped me to keep somewhat of a daily routine.  For me I am most emotional postpartum in the mornings so it was important for me to communicate with my partner that I needed him to take care of our older son so I could lay in bed, breastfeed, and then take a nice shower before I came out of the bedroom for the day.  It is also helpful for me to make sure that I am doing my hair/makeup and dressing somewhat nicely everyday so I can feel like a real person.  This small morning routine made all the difference in my outlook on the day.
  9. Laundry! – OMG babies are so dirty!  I completely forgot how much laundry you do in the beginning.  The minute you go to change them they pee on their onesie.  If you have a boy they pee out of their diapers a lot… tons of spit up, etc… Just be prepared for a lot of laundry.
  10. One day at a time – Last but certainly not least, take everything one day at a time.  It can become so easy to get sucked into thinking about the future… How will I ever go back to work? Will my body ever get back to normal? When will I feel like this new life is normal? Etc… You just have to focus on each day as it comes.  This is a special time for you as you are becoming a mother.  Allow yourself time to do things you like, sleep when you need, eat what you want, and feel content with just being.  All of the other stuff will work it’s way out you just have to focus on each day and it will get easier and easier as you go.

I so hope this list is helpful to all of you new or expectant mama’s out there.  If you have a baby on the way or are a new mom, congratulations to you!  I have found motherhood to be one of the most fulfilling and rewarding experiences in my life and I hope you do too.

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What to do post March

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If you marched yesterday you are probably feeling like me.  I am coming down from the high of one of my most humbling life experiences.  The Women’s March made my top 10 life moments list by far.  I am left feeling energetic and eager to get my voice heard; however short of running for office I don’t know where to start.

Thanks to the organizers of the Women’s March on Washington, they have put together a 10 Actions / 100 days commitment list (link below). You can sign up for their handy mailing list and they will email them to you… how is easy is that?

The 1st action is to mail a postcard to your Senator.  You simply log on to their webpage… print your postcard, and mail!  They even include a zip code search for ease of searching.  I am taking the 100 day challenge and I hope you join me!

Source: 10 Actions / 100 Days — Women’s March on Washington

On the Eve of the Women’s March

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Over the past several weeks a specific memory has replayed in my head over and over again.  When I am driving to work or decompressing from the day, I keep remembering the moment in which I first recognized my privilege.  I will never forget when I realized that I grew up as a privileged white woman in more ways than one.  And in that moment I felt embarrassed and sick…

At the end of my 1st Semester of college my new best friend and I decided to spend the summer in my hometown.  We were inseparable and couldn’t imagine spending a few months apart.  Since we had met so many miles away from our homes we only understood each other on one level.  We saw each other as equals.  We had shared our 1st drunken night together, attended ballroom dancing classes, and explored our new world as college freshmen.  In school we were equals… we were attending the same University, our dorm rooms looked the same, we ate the same dining hall food and we had the same group of friends.  We were in an Ethnic Learning and Living Community (ELLC) in which we were surrounded by people from all different walks of life.  We learned together to share our stories but also the importance of being quiet and listening to others.  I remember so many moments in which I sat in silence as I listened to my peers opinions of interracial dating, affirmative action, socioeconomic disparities, and so many more.  I always thought I knew my opinion on a sociological issue but as I listened to others around me I found I still had so much to learn.   At that moment my perspective was based on a very narrow scope of life experiences.  I had never felt the oppression or lack of opportunities that others had faced.  I stopped speaking because I didn’t have anything to say.  My world felt so turned upside down that I needed time to put back the pieces I was experiencing in a way that made sense to me. I learned through ELLC that it was my job to listen, to learn, to be a student whose purpose was to understand where others were coming from.

At the end of our freshmen year my friend and I drove to his hometown first.  He came from a small rural area which was very different from the big city I had grown up in.  He had made jokes about growing up in a trailer or being different than me but when I went to his home, none of that bothered me or surprised me in anyway.  I simply felt honored to learn more about this person that I had come to love as my brother.  It was such an amazing experience to see where he was from and the place in which he grew up.  We continued our drive to Texas staying up late, singing songs, and talking through the long drive.  When we pulled into my neighborhood I will never forget his reaction and the feeling my stomach.  I cannot remember the exact comment he made but I remember feeling embarrassed and ashamed of where I had come from.  It was the first time he saw a different side of me and how I was raised.   I instantly wanted to hide it.  I wanted to take it back, I wanted to transport in time, and distance, back to college where we were both equal and my house was not bigger, my parent’s didn’t make more money, and I was a great college friend and nothing more.  I didn’t want him to know that I grew up with more privilege than him or others in our ELLC group.

It has taken me a few days to really analyze why this moment and why this story is so pertinent to me now.  When I look at all that is happening in our country I have come to realize that my approach hasn’t changed much since my college days.  I still find myself being silent and not speaking up.  I still feel ashamed by my privilege but yet don’t want to be uncomfortable so I say nothing.  When it comes to social issues I am more of a listener than a do-er.  I have many moments in which I hide behind my privilege because I am nervous to speak up or nervous of what people think of me.  But I can be quiet no more… I am no longer a student.  I have learned that with privilege comes responsibility and I do have a voice, a voice that must be heard because I am fortunate enough to have the ability to speak and often be listened to.  While I must continue to listen to those around me, it is also my job to fight, to be an ally and to speak up.  What is happening in our country is not normal, it is not OK, and it is my job to find every way possible to fight back against what is happening.

I will attend the Women’s March tomorrow with so many emotions but most of all pride.  Pride in my ability to stand with my family for what I believe in.  Pride in my ability to be an ally, to be a support.  I will also march with a promise; a promise to stand in solidarity with all people who feel oppressed, attacked and silenced.  A promise to be a voice in the community… and finally a promise to be silent no more…

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WCW: Michelle Obama

 

Michelle Obama
“Michelle Obama is the 44th first lady of the United States and wife of U.S. President Barack Obama. Prior to her role as first lady, she was a lawyer, Chicago city administrator and community-outreach worker.

Synopsis

Michelle Obama was born on January 17, 1964, in Chicago, Illinois. She attended Princeton University, graduating cum laude in 1985, and went on to earn a degree from Harvard Law School in 1988. Following her graduation from Harvard, she worked at a Chicago law firm, where she met her husband, future U.S. president Barack Obama. The couple married on October 3, 1992. As first lady, she has focused her attention on current social issues, such as poverty, healthy living and education.

Background and Early Life

Michelle Obama was born Michelle LaVaughn Robinson on January 17, 1964, in Chicago, Illinois. She would later become a lawyer, Chicago city administrator, community-outreach worker and—as the wife of President Barack Obama—the first African-American first lady of the United States.

Michelle was raised in a small bungalow on Chicago’s South Side. Her father, Fraser Robinson, was a city-pump operator and a Democratic precinct captain. Her mother, Marian, was a secretary at Spiegel’s but later stayed home to raise Michelle and her older brother, Craig. They were a close-knit family, typically sharing meals, reading and playing games together.

Craig and Michelle, 21 months apart in age, were often mistaken for twins. The siblings also shared close quarters, sleeping in the living room with a sheet serving as a makeshift room divider. They were raised with an emphasis on education and had learned to read at home by age four. Both skipped the second grade.

Gifted Student

By the sixth grade, Michelle was taking classes in her school’s gifted program, where she learned French and completed accelerated courses in biology. She went on to attend Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, the city’s first magnet high school for gifted children, where, among other activities, she served as the student government treasurer. In 1981, Michelle graduated from the school as class salutatorian.

Following in her older brother’s footsteps, Michelle then attended Princeton University, graduating cum laude in 1985 with a B.A. in Sociology. She went on to study law at Harvard Law School, where she took part in demonstrations calling for the enrollment and hiring of more minority students and professors. She was awarded her J.D. in 1988.

High-Profile Work in Chicago

In 1991, Michelle decided to leave corporate law and pursue a career in public service, working as an assistant to Mayor Richard Daley and then as the assistant commissioner of planning and development for the City of Chicago.

In 1993, she became executive director for the Chicago office of Public Allies, a nonprofit leadership-training program that helped young adults develop skills for future careers in the public sector.

In 1996, Michelle joined the University of Chicago as associate dean of student services, developing the school’s first community-service program. Beginning in 2002, she worked for the University of Chicago Hospitals, as executive director of community relations and external affairs.

In May 2005, Michelle was appointed vice president for community and external affairs at the University of Chicago Medical Center, where she continued to work part-time until shortly before her husband’s inauguration as president. She also served as a board member for the prestigious Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

On the Campaign Trail

Michelle Obama first caught the eye of a national audience while at her husband’s side when he delivered a high-profile speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. Barack Obama was elected as U.S. Senator from Illinois that November.

In 2007, Michelle scaled back her own professional work to attend to family and campaign obligations during Barack’s run for the Democratic presidential nomination. When they were out on the trail, they would leave their daughters with their grandmother Marian, Michelle’s mother. Barack Obama eventually won the nomination and was elected the 44th President of the United States. He was sworn in on January 20, 2009.

When her husband sought reelection in 2012, facing a challenging race against Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, Michelle Obama diligently campaigned on his behalf. She traveled the country, giving talks and making public appearances.

In September of that year, Michelle delivered a noteworthy speech at the Democratic National Convention. “Every day, the people I meet inspire me, every day they make me proud, every day they remind me how blessed we are to live in the greatest nation on earth,” she said. “Serving as your first lady is an honor and a privilege.” She went on to praise the Latino community for supporting President Obama, and stated that her husband—”the same man [she] fell in love with all those years ago”—understands the American Dream, as well as the everyday struggles of American families, and cares deeply about making a difference in people’s lives. Michelle won both public and critical praise for her narrative, called a “shining moment” by The Washington Post.

On November 6, 2012, Barack Obama was reelected for a second term as U.S. president. After Mitt Romney conceded defeat, Michelle Obama accompanied her husband with their two daughters, Malia and Sasha, onto the stage at McCormick Place in Chicago, where President Obama delivered his victory speech.

Issues and Causes

As the 44th first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama has focused her attention on issues such as the support of military families, helping working women balance career and family and encouraging national service. During the first year of the Obama presidency, Michelle and her husband volunteered at homeless shelters and soup kitchens in the Washington D.C. area. Michelle also has made appearances at public schools, stressing the importance of education and volunteer work.

Ever conscious of her family’s diet and health, Michelle has supported the organic-food movement, instructing the White House kitchens to prepare organic food for guests and her family. In March 2009, Michelle worked with 23 fifth graders from a local school in Washington D.C. to plant an 1,100-square-foot garden of fresh vegetables and install beehives on the South Lawn of the White House. Since 2010, Michelle has put efforts to fight childhood obesity near the top of her agenda.

Michelle Obama remains committed to her health-and-wellness causes. In 2012, she announced a new fitness program for kids as part of her Let’s Move initiative. Along with the U.S. Olympic team and other sports organizations, she has worked to get young people to try out a new sport or activity. “This year, 1.7 million young people will be participating in Olympic and Paralympic sports in their communities—many of them for the very first time. And that is so important, because sometimes all it takes is that first lesson, or clinic, or class to get a child excited about a new sport,” she said in a statement.

Putting her message in print, Michelle released a book as part of her mission to promote healthy eating. American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America (2012) explores her own experience creating a vegetable garden as well as the work of community gardens elsewhere. She told Reuters that sees the book as an opportunity to help readers understand “where their food was coming from” and “to talk about the work that we’re doing with childhood obesity and childhood health.”

 

First Family

Both Michelle and Barack Obama have stated that their personal priority is their two daughters, Malia and Sasha. The parents realized that the move from Chicago to Washington D.C. would be a major adjustment for any family. Residing in the White House, having Secret Service protection and always being in the wake of their parents’ public obligations has dramatically transformed their lives. Both parents try to make their daughters’ world as “normal” as possible, with set times for studying, going to bed and getting up. “My first priority will always be to make sure that our girls are healthy and grounded,” Michelle said. “Then I want to help other families get the support they need, not just to survive, but to thrive.””

 

http://www.biography.com/people/michelle-obama-307592