Monday, August 29, 2016

Mom Must-Haves: 10 things I couldn't live without

Being a mom is challenging enough and then tack on all the "stuff" that comes along with it! As a first time mom-to-be, I was overwhelmed with suggestions, Amazon reviews and baby registries. After lots of online research and consulting with veteran moms on the basics, I decided on Graco for my car seat, Pack n’play & highchair; the Ergobaby 360 carrier, Dr. Brown's bottles, and I rely on Pampers to keep my baby's bottom dry. But as for the I-couldn't-survive-without items, here are my top 10 must-haves:
Feeding:
1.  Medela Nipple Shield– (to preface: breastfeeding is hard even when everything is going right. For a lot of moms, they either aren’t able to or it’s just too painful to continue trying, and THAT’S OKAY. If this is your experience, stop beating yourself up; you’re not alone and you’re not a failure.) I was fortunate my baby latched right away and my milk came in early, however it was still difficult and painful! These were a life saver until breastfeeding stopped hurting, and I promise eventually it will. 
2.  Mixie Baby Bottle– This may be one of the most genius inventions ever. Perfect for meals on-the-go, traveling, flights and midnight feedings. Fill it up and leave it on the counter, when you’re ready to mix you’ll have a comfortable room temp bottle in a jiffy!
Sleeping:
3.  Fisher-Price Auto Rock 'n Play Sleeper– Okay, this might be my biggest life saver. My child WOULD NOT sleep in a crib or anywhere other than with me in bed until I discovered this. Life changing. It rocks on its own! 
4.  Terry Zip-Up PJ’s from Carters– Zippers will be your best friend for squirmy babies and the multiple night changes. I find the terry cloth material doesn’t shrink in the wash. 
5.  Summer Infant SwaddlePod– For the swaddling impaired and the baby who can always ninja their way out. My daughter really seemed comfortable and secure while sleeping in this and I found it so much easier! I wish I had discovered these sooner.
General:
6.  Infant Optics DXR-5 Baby Monitor– It may look like a Fisher-Price walkie-talkie but don’t let that fool you, this thing has navy seal night vision! 
7.  Safety 1st Sleepy Baby Nail Clipper– Has a built in light. My child is 11 months old and I’ve never accidentally clipped her skin. 
8.  Handsocks– And I'm not just saying this because I work with them! We spent Thanksgiving at Tahoe in the snow and I'm so glad I packed a pair. They provided extra warmth and stayed put under my baby's snowsuit. My best friend's little boy was in the NICU after he was born; he had multiple scratches on his face from the IV ports and tubes. They used Handsocks to cover up his arms to keep the cords in place and protect his delicate skin. 
9.  Cetaphil *Cream*– I highlight "cream" because it's different than lotion. Lotions are mostly water which is not well absorbed into the skin and quickly evaporates, but the richer-oil content in cream creates a layer on the skin that locks in moisture. Long story short, creams are better for preventing and healing dry skin. My baby has eczema so we apply this often and regularly. It was recommended by our pediatrician and really does help! 
Gear:
10.  Baby Jogger City Mini stroller– You can truly pull a strap and it will fold down in an instant with one hand, brilliant! We actually bought ours used for $75, a total steal so check out craigslist. The fabric can be detached and washed in the washing machine AND it fits through the security x-ray machine at the airport! (I used this Baby Jogger Car Seat Adapter until my little one was big enough to sit facing out in the seat)
There you have it! You’re welcome for the unsolicited advice as I’m sure you’re getting plenty already :P But if you’re like me, I find it super helpful when someone else has done the research for me. If you have any must-haves you'd recommend, share them in the comments!
Love, Allison

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Suffering in Silence: Family shares story to help others with postpartum depression

Today during lunch with my 10 month old, she stretched out her arm and offered me a soggy Cheerio. I delightfully accepted her gift and pretended it was the best thing I’ve ever tasted! Pleased with my reaction, she giggled, revealing two little front teeth. My eyes welled up. It’s gut-wrenching to imagine I could have missed this moment.
We have the same name, we grew up in Virginia just an hour apart, were pregnant at the same age, and both first time moms to baby girls. On the outside we look very similar, in fact there’s an eerie resemblance. There’s actually no major difference between the two of us except one significant thing, I’m alive and she isn’t. Allison Goldstein, after silently suffering from postpartum depression, took her own life on June 28, 2016. Suffering in silence: family shares story to help others with postpartum depression
I have felt her pain, her shame and hopelessness. I don't know why I escaped from the hell we were both living in and she didn’t. One sleepless night when my daughter was 4 months old—the age Allison’s daughter, Ainsley was—I googled “new mom depression”. I believe this article saved my life: The Symptoms of Postpartum Depression & Anxiety. I learned I wasn’t different, that there was a clinical name for what I was feeling, and most importantly I wasn’t alone. The next day I was honest with my husband and began my path toward recovery.
If you’re suffering, I promise whatever you're feeling or thinking—no matter how twisted and crazy—is not only common, it's normal and completely treatable. The reason you don't feel like yourself is because you're not. You are not alone in this. This world is a better place with you in it, your baby needs you. If you're scared to talk to your family or doctor, then email me. I survived it and I'm here for you.
Postpartum depression affects 1 in 5 women during pregnancy or in the first year after giving birth. This cunning and scary illness tells a new mom terrible lies about herself and her life—that it will always be this way, and that there’s no way out; that her family is better off without her. Mothers of sweet babies are suffering and dying in silence. We have to start talking about this and de-stigmatize the shame that seems to be attached to the diagnosis. Postpartum depression has no red flags, hiding it is part of the disease. If you think you don't know anyone suffering, you're wrong. Share this with every new mom you know, even if you don't think you need to.  
Love, Allison (mamaallisonsf@gmail.com)

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

What I Do All Day When I'm Home With The Baby

The clock strikes 8:45 AM and the 10 hour countdown begins! Desperate, I Google: "what to do with 10 month old baby all day?" and come across this fellow momma's hilarious blog. I had to laugh out loud and immediately felt better as I read the story of my life, especially between 11:01-11:06. I mean I guess it's good to have goals? Oh man, the struggle is real lol.
4:35 Baby hits daily witching hour.
4:36 Put on Bee Movie, immediately feel guilty that I've resorted to Jerry Seinfeld as an animated bee for relief (again) and worry I'm giving my child ADD.
5:37 Text husband, "How's it goin?" aka "when are you coming home please help me".
6:18 Stare out bedroom window with baby on hip counting cars driving by, anxiously waiting for husband to come home, debating whether I should change my clothes.
6:42 Husband arrives home to find me in the same clothes he left me in.
Some days you just can't win'em all! 
Love, Allison

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Postpartum Depression: Why I have to Fight

My blissful pregnancy set the stage for happily-ever-after and then Postpartum Depression hit me like a bat into a million fragments (My Secret: Surviving Postpartum Depression). Some days I feel like a pile on the floor and broken. In my darkest hour I believe: I’m certainly going to feel like this forever; it’s just too hard. How I can continue living like this? My daughter will wonder why mommy’s lying in a dark room by herself. My husband can’t be happy, this isn’t what he signed up for. My family deserves better… And then, the clouds part and the moment of despair passes. I pull the covers off, I put my feet on the floor. The hopeless feelings lift and I’m okay. My Postpartum Depression comes in waves; I sometimes feel like I’m riding a rollercoaster blindfolded.
After my daughter was born, it annoyed me when people would recommend doing anything to care for myself. Did they actually think I was that selfish? And why isn’t anyone as concerned about my baby’s wellbeing as I am?! I didn’t sleep when my daughter slept. My breastmilk dried up after 4 months because I wasn’t consuming enough calories to keep me alive and her fed. Putting any basic needs of my own before my child felt so counterintuitive when my instincts told me to protect her with my life.
My daughter without fail smiles every time she sees her reflection, most of the time she flaps her arms like a little turkey with glee. I can’t remember the last time I looked in the mirror and thought, “Oh Yippee, it’s you again! I love you!”. She doesn’t judge herself. I will be my daughter’s very first role-model; she’s going to mimic me and learn from what I do. I want her to love herself and feel worthy of caring for. The only chance she has to learn these things is if I show her.
I reluctantly admit I’ve never felt worse after taking time for myself, having a night out with girlfriends, a date with my husband, or indulging in a massage; in fact it unexpectedly builds my confidence as a mother. When I practice taking care of me, the better I feel and the better mom and partner I am. While it feels selfish to think of myself at all, I’ve discovered an ironic twist: how much thinking about myself it requires to obsessively feel guilty and like a failure as a mother. When I do feel disheartened, I try to take a quick mental inventory of what I’ve done well. One thing I can say with certainty is my baby girl is happy. She smiles so hard sometimes I can’t even see her eyes because her little chubby cheeks are pushed up so high; I must be doing something right.
I admit I still sometimes lose track of days between showers or forget to eat. I stay up for hours after she’s gone to sleep and too drained some days to leave the house. I compare myself to what other moms are able to accomplish in a day (I’ll save my thoughts on the dangers of comparing for another time). Sometimes I just feel like an antisocial, exhausted, ravenous, stinky mom that desperately needs a pedicure. And then I remember, I’m teaching my daughter self-love and compassion.
During an especially hard morning, I lay crying in bed feeling discouraged and defeated questioning whether I had the strength to continue fighting. My husband looked at me and said, “You have to fight”. He’s right, but I certainly can’t lie in bed and think my way out of feeling hopeless. I have to get up even if I don't want to. Since sharing my struggle with PPD and receiving help, it has gotten better for me; not over night but with time and faith. The episodes have gotten further apart, my appetite has returned, and I actually end some days feeling like I was a really great mom!
If you feel like you want to stay in bed forever and can’t imagine ever feeling better, I’ve felt that way too. My suggestion: Get up, even if you don't want to. Take a shower and as you pass by the mirror consider saying to yourself, “Oh Yippee, it’s you again! I love you!” (even if you don't mean it). You just have to fight.
Love, Allison