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.

Emoji Feminism

A friend sent me a great article this weekend about feminism and emoticons… you can read it here…

Hey, Unicode, It’s About Damn Time We Had Some Emojis for Professional Women

After reading the article I wanted more.  I quickly dug through my phone and found the following.  According to emoticons…

Men can do the following activities or have the following profession…

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Men’s faces are also represented in the following ways:

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As a contrast women can do the following activities or have the following profession:

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Women’s faces are represented in the following ways:

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In summary men’s professions are diverse and exciting and represented in 17 different emoticons.  In a stark contrast women can be dancers, Playboy bunnies, brides, princesses, or Japanese dolls and are represented in 5 emoticons.  Men’s facial emoticons are represented as speaking out loud or smiling.  Women are represented as asking questions, doing weird hand signals, getting haircuts, showing confusion, showing emotion, and getting head massages… sad and strange…

One final one to leave you with… A woman’s hand and a man’s hand.

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Puzzle Pieces

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Recently my son has gotten in to puzzles. I am amazed at how quickly he is able to figure out where the pieces go and put them in to place.  When he received his 1st puzzle I thought he was too young for something that advanced.  Over a month or so he began to be interested in the pieces and what they could make.  Even though there were 24 pieces in front of him he started to learn how to assemble piece by piece.  Instead of looking at the heap of pieces in front of him, and getting frustrated, he learned to focus on what he knows.  First he finds a part of the puzzle where the boys’ leg goes, then he finds the piece that attaches to the body, then the shoe, then the arm, etc…

As I watch him take on new puzzles and learn new pictures to put together piece by piece, I cannot help but reflect on my own life’s puzzle.  At times I tend to get overwhelmed and look at challenges ahead as impossible.  I tend to take on a lot of stress when I don’t know the solution or feel as if I don’t know what to do.  In watching C put together his puzzle it has caused me to re evaluate my approach to challenges in work or home life.  To look at each situation as a puzzle where I focus on what I know, what I can link and solve, and then grow from there…

New Year Reflections

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We’ve all done it… seen someone walking down the street and thought… “What is he/she wearing?” “Wow she is pretty.” “She/He could stand to lose some weight.” …and perhaps sometimes worse.  More often than not, if we are with someone at the time, we share our criticisms.  In doing so we are reinforcing an appearance standard and a norm of what is socially acceptable.

A few years back I made a resolution to stop commenting on the appearance of others.  I watched a powerful documentary on Netflix called Miss Representation that talks about the portrayal of women in the media.  Throughout the film they interview a series of young girls.  The girls talk throughout the movie about bullying and the power of comments regarding appearance.  At the end of the movie there are suggestions on how to take steps towards ending a cycle of unrealistic and unhealthy standards of beauty.  One of their suggestions is to stop commenting on appearances.  After finishing the film I decided it was time to make a change.

The start of 2016 marks 2 years since I have made a negative comment about someone’s apperance.  When I first decided to stop talking about others, I remember feeling nervous (which is sad) because I had several friendships where that was often the topic of conversation.  I was worried as to how I would redirect conversation without making anyone uncomfortable.  In reality it was easier that I thought.  It took me a couple of weeks (maybe a month) to consciously stop myself from saying something that I was thinking.  I learnt that very quickly my desire to comment about others went away.  I found myself having more meaningful conversations with friends and colleagues and overall feeling more positive.  I also found that eventually I stopped thinking negative things about others.  Finally, I found myself thinking far less negative things about myself and my own apperance.  As someone who has struggled with self esteem and appearance issues off and on throughout life, I cannot tell you how liberating that feels.

Recently someone close to me told me that they made a similar resolution.  I can only hope that my choice inspired them to make that change.  On a larger scale I hope this post might inspire you to do the same.

 

Guilt and Balance

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Sorry I have not posted in awhile!  I have recently started a new job and have found myself, as I expected, working more hours than I have in awhile.  In my new position I have spent time thinking about the differences between men and women, and balance between work and home.  I posted somewhat of a stream of consciousness below, I would love to hear your thoughts!

I am constantly trying to make sure that I am contributing as much as a I should at work while balancing a life with my spouse and son at home.  There are days where I feel like I have figured it out and days that are just plain tough.  It is hard for me to be away from my family as much as I am but I feel genuinely happy about what I do and my career.  I am often tired of hearing about women who are trying to have it all or women who are constantly lamenting their guilt about being a working mom.  While I am all for balance and every mother finding her own way… I have to wonder, do men think about these things as much as we do?

I think that men and women are inantely different in the way we view different components of work and home life however I don’t know why.  I am constantly trying to better understand the variances between how men and women feel about working and being a parent.  The balance of work and home is an ever popular topic and yet one in which there will never be answer.

A photo journey of costumes

After reading Lin Kramer’s letter to Party City, I had to add images to what she is talking about.  I think it brings her thoughts to a whole different level seeing these images in front of you…

Boys Career Based Costumes

Classic Toddler Section

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Girls Career Based Costumes

Classic Toddler Section

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Halloween Costumes

A sad and interesting observation from a Mama after shopping for a Halloween costume for her 3 year old daughter on Party City’s website:

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“Dear Party City,

Having just finished perusing your website for Halloween costumes for my three-year-old daughter, I am writing in the hopes that you will reconsider some of the content on your website and the antiquated views such content communicates about your company’s beliefs. In order to understand my concerns, please direct your attention to the ‘toddler costumes’ portion of your website. Compare, for instance, the ‘classic’ costumes offered for boys and girls.
As you can see, the classic costumes for boys include 53 assorted options, ranging from traditional vampire attire to a ‘rascal pirate’ to 16 costumes relating to possible occupations. Meanwhile, the classic costumes for girls include 45 options, ranging from a ‘vampire queen’ to a ‘precious pirate’ to three costumes relating to possible occupations. (It is worth noting that I have generously included in this number the ‘cheerleader’ as a possible occupation, despite it being well known that even NFL cheerleaders are not paid well enough for this to be their only source of income, as well as the ‘cowgirl,’ although, unlike the ‘cowboy,’ she is clearly not appropriately dressed to be employed on any sort of working ranch). To be clear, that means 30% of the costumes you market to boys are based on occupations, while just under 7% of the costumes you market to girls are based on occupations.

If the nature of my concern is not already abundantly clear, please now take the opportunity to compare the girl costume representing the occupation of a police officer to the same occupation costumes marketed for boys (see lead image above). Are you beginning to see why this might be concerning to your customers, and, well, society as a whole?

When you look around at the police officers in your city or neighborhood, the uniforms they wear are probably substantially similar to the costumes you have elected to offer for boys. However, the same cannot be said of the costume you market to girls. Generally speaking, real life uniformed female police officers do not wear short skirts and low cut shirts, but instead wear exactly the same slacks and shirts as their male counterparts. Further, while your choice to market these different costumes to different genders is remarkable in and of itself, it is worth noting that this disparate treatment was apparently at least somewhat conscious on the part of your business. I invite you, and anyone else reading this letter, to review the description of the costumes. When describing the girl costume, your marketing team elected to use language like “cute cop” and “sassy and sweet,” while for the boy costume, they chose to note the “realistic scaled-down police shirt” and assert that “this protector of the peace has it all under control!”

I am absolutely appalled that your business reinterprets girls’ innocent and well-intentioned dreams into this costume.

While Halloween costumes are undoubtedly about “make-believe,” it is unfathomable that toddler girls and boys who might be interested in dressing up as police officers are seeking to imagine themselves in the incongruent way your business apparently imagines them. Toddler girls are not imagining and hoping that they will grow up to become a ‘sexy cop’ — which is clearly what your girl costume suggests; rather, young girls, just as young boys, see and admire their family members and neighbors offering service to their communities and delight in the idea of doing the same. I am absolutely appalled that your business reinterprets girls’ innocent and well-intentioned dreams into this costume.

Finally, the thing that I would maybe most like to point out to you is this: Your company could EASILY include many, if not all, of the costumes you have in the boys’ section as options in the girls’ section as well! And in so doing, you would not only improve the message you are sending to society, but you might actually help  your bottom line by selling more costumes (since little girls shopping with their parents would be more likely to see these options)! Even if you insist (and I really hope you don’t) on offering the sexualized version of costumes for little girls, you could *also* offer girls the realistic option of the same costume.

Look at the world around you: In a world where Ronda Rousey and Danica Patrick are excelling, there are certainly girls who would be interested in that Toddler Boys Everlast Boxer Costume or that Turbo Racer Muscle Costume. Perhaps you recently read about Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver, the first female graduates of Ranger School; knowing that these women were once little girls, doesn’t it seem like maybe there are girls out there today who would have some interest in the Combat Soldier Costume or the Flight Suit Costume? And surely, having observed female doctors when walking down the halls of a hospital, or female construction workers when driving down the street, or female postal workers when mailing a letter, it is reasonable to believe – both from a sociological and business perspective – that there are girls who might be interested in such costumes just as there are women who are interested in these professions.

While there is absolutely nothing wrong with little girls who enjoy and want to dress up this Halloween as a ‘Light Up Twinkler Witch,’ or a ‘Doo Wop Darling,’ or an ‘Enchanted Stars Princess,’ there is also absolutely nothing wrong with little girls who might wish to give the ‘UPS Driver’ costume or the ‘Ride in Train’ costume a try! Please, Party City, open up your view of the world and redesign your marketing scheme to let kids be kids, without imposing on them antiquated views of gender roles.

Sincerely,
Lin Kramer”