As I prepare to celebrate Calvin’s 3rd birthday this Wednesday, I can’t help but remember what the days looked like leading up to his birth. Our one-bedroom Bronx apartment was a small and mess, we also had celebrated our baby shower days before giving birth. Everything was everywhere! The crib wasn’t built and whatever vision I had in mind for a nursery quickly faded for two reasons, Calvin was seven weeks early and our apartment was way too small to dream big.
This second time around being blessed with a full-term pregnancy and also spending a lot of time at home, I let my heart guide my creativity. If there’s one thing I’ve been fighting off these last few months, it’s been discouragement of any kind.
After losing one of our best friends, I entered into a place of mourning and I found myself needing an escape. So I began looking for inspiration on nursery’s and a painted sun caught my attention. It warmed my heart and was a sweet reminder of the ray of sunshine our friend Ada was. I haven’t been able to fully connect with our second son and transforming our bedroom gave me a chance to connect with him. The details of this nursery have brought my heart so much joy and hope. I’m sure my son will display it.
Here is the reveal of our small section nursery. Although we live in a two-bedroom, we wanted the baby to stay with us. So we got some paint and divided a small space of it so it’s just for the baby. I also want to encourage any mama that is a one-bedroom apartment. Please don’t let your bedroom discourage you from being creative with your space. I hear so many stories of mamas feeling guilty over not having a “perfect nursery” or a spare room for their baby, I want you to know your baby doesn’t care about that. You are their first home and nursery.
I picked out pieces for the baby that I love. I love taking pictures and Hamilton. My favorite song is ” Dear Theodosia”, I dedicated that song to Calvin before he was born. I had my husband print some of the lyrics on these wooden frames from Society.6, I hope to read them to the boys one day.
I love everything about this section. I wanted the colors to go with the ones we’re using for Calvin’s big boy room. We’re reusing the crib we got for Calvin, it’s really cute and it’s held on for three years. This time around we will be using cube storage bins to store the baby’s clothes. We wanted to save money and we honestly don’t need much storage for the baby. The most expensive piece we got was the rocking chair. I would never pay what I did for this chair, but it’s so comfy and eventually, we want it for our living room.
This other side is our changing area. I just wanted some selves and a poster. I was looking through the society.6 website and I came across this poster of a family of four and bought it right away. I love line art, I actually have a tattoo of Calvin and I, in this style. I’m ready to get another one that represents the bond that I have with this new baby.
This is our latest sonogram, baby boy has chubby cheeks and he’s weighing already 6lb and 10oz. I can’t wait to squeeze him and see if he looks anything like his dad.
These are some shots from our family maternity shoot, I love just how well our photographer captured the room and these moments with Calvin. It’s crazy to think that soon my heart will beat in two little bodies. I’m scared but very excited to live life as a mom of two boys.
I can’t wait to finally take pictures with the baby in his area and enjoy all of him here in our home.
Let me give you some back story to my breastfeeding journey with Calvin. Due to having preterm labor (A labor before 37 weeks), Calvin was premature as a 33 weeker. I gave birth, I got to hold him and the doctors took him away after that to the NICU. The first night my milk barely came in. I think mentally and emotionally I was too exhausted to even try but I did. Through the tears and sadness of not having him bu my side the first night I had to wake up every three hours ( Newborns feeding schedule is usually every 2 – 3 hours) and pump, that was the hardest thing I had to do. I went on to do that for two weeks which was the time he spent in the NICU.
The times that I would visit him we had a lot of skin to skin ( this is great for bonding and also stimulating your boobs to produce milk) and tried to breastfeed but either he was sleeping or couldn’t latch on correctly. Due to that he was fed through a feeding tube and given the formula to supplement what I wasn’t producing. I read articles on breastfeeding, spoke to lactation consultants, bought pills and cookies to increase my supplies, and spent hours pumping to produce in a day maybe 12oz of milk. I think over time Calvin became used to being bottle-fed and it wasn’t until that he had surgery that we found out he was tongue tie. Babies that are tongue or lip tie struggle latching on to your breast since they aren’t able to fully get a grip of your whole areola. It’s very painful for you and also frustrating for them because they’re only getting to latch on to your nipple. Clipping their tie, which is a small surgery allows the baby to freely open their mouth and latch on correctly. It’s easier for them to eat and empty out your breast.
After he got his tie clipped I moved on to exclusively pumping till he was six months and supplementing with formula. He got half breastmilk and formula in his bottle. I spent all those months crying and praying that my milk would increase. Some days were great but going back to work made it hard to meet the demand of pumping every three hours. Here’s something I would say if you find yourself in my shoes, your mental health is more important than the guilt of being a “bad mom” because you have to formula feed your child. Not everyone can produce milk, our bodies are imperfect. However long you tried, be proud of it.
My boobs produce MILK? How crazy is that! Being a mom has grown a love in me for my body. I’ve been so amazed at all the things I’ve been capable of doing. Embrace all of it, even the milk stains on your shirts.
Your milk will come in three stages: Colostrum, Traditional milk, & Mature Milk
Colostrum: When you hear in the beginning people talking about the “liquid gold” this is it right here. This yellowish milk is the first milk you will let down for your baby. It’s packed with protein, vitamins, and minerals in order to help your newborn fight against any bacteria or viruses.
Transitional milk: This milk is a mixture of colostrum and mature milk, usually around the third or fourth day.” It contains lower levels of immunoglobulins and protein than colostrum but has more lactose, fat, and calories.
Mature milk: This milk is thin and white, very much like watery skim milk, it’s packed with all the fat and other nutrients that growing babies need. This will be the milk you let down for the rest of your time breastfeeding.
(More informationcan be found on the “what to expect” website)
The beginning is very much trial and error, You’re new at this and so is a baby. If you’ll be delivering at a hospital, don’t be afraid to ask for help. I personally would suggest that if you can have skin to skin contact with your baby right away that you take the time to embrace each other and even attempt to breastfeed. Babies are usually ready to breastfeed right away but if your baby is not or even if you too tired after labor, it’s okay mama.
During your stay at the hospital, they will offer to feed the baby especially if your let down is a little slow if that’s not something you want to do then continue to ask for help in latching on the baby. Be vocal about what you want and what you need. Nursing isn’t easy, but with patience and help from others, you can get things going fast. Hospitals usually provide you with pumps in case you would rather pump milk for baby but if not, make sure to pack your own in your hospital bag.
Talk to a lactation consultant
You can talk to this person as many times you want and when you leave the hospital they will also be available. Hospitals offer lactation classes, however, during the pandemic I’m not sure how that looks like. So make sure to ask for information and even a number to get help from a consultant at home. The lactation consultant gave me a lot of tips and even a booklet to help me at home. She observed the way I would feed Calvin and also step in when I needed help. So take advantage of that. If you’re delivering at home, your midwife will most likely be your key person in the process.
Breastfeeding On Your Own
Create a feeding area: This is the area you want to use when breastfeeding at first. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be breastfeeding anywhere in the house.
Get comfortable: If you can be the couch, your bed, or even rocking chair. If you need pillows or back support use them. The more relaxed your body is the easier it will feel for you and baby.
Water is your BFF: Drink lots and lots of water. It increases your milk and also keeps your hydrated.
Practice: Even if the baby is struggling, don’t give up. Keep trying to catch baby on and take note of things that work or don’t work. Does baby eat better is a certain position? Does one boob feel more full than the other?
Switch sides: It’s important that baby drains (empty’s out) one boob first before switching to the other. The more you drain your boob, the more milk you’ll continue to produce.
The more you feed, the more milk: It’s very important that you consistently breastfeeding or pumping in order to produce more milk. Babies usually eat every 2 – 3 hours average and some will even cluster feed ( feeding more consistently between hours. Although the temptation is to just let baby sleep or wait more than five hours to nurse or pump, try to fight against it. Building up your milk production will continue to increase your supply. If you’re feeding fewer times, your body will think that it’s already meeting the needs of your baby and therefore not produce more then it already is.
You got this: For some moms, breastfeeding comes very easy and for others, it doesn’t. it can feel emotionally draining and exhausting especially in the middle of the night. You may even feel resentful or lacking the desire to breastfeed your baby. As someone who’s experience wasn’t at all great, reading about the norms of breastfeeding helps me a lot. I felt so horrible at first and cried a lot trying to breastfeed. It was painful for me because of Calvin’s tongue tie. But breastfeeding should not be painful and if it is for you, check for babies latching or ask for support from a lactation consultant.
Here are some breastfeeding Must Have’s
Nipple Cream – This is my favorite nipple cream, it’s organic and very smooth on your breast. Breastfeeding can often leave your breast dry and raw, constantly putting cream on them will help. It’s as safe for babies while feeding.
Breast Therapy Pack – I haven’t used these before but I’ve heard great things about them. They’re great for soothing your breast, helps relieve engorgement. The hot therapy encourages milk let-down and helps relieve plugged ducts & mastitis.
Breastfeeding Pillow – Breastfeeding pillows are meant to support your baby while you nurse. I love the boppy but I will recommend looking for a pillow with a much flatter surface and back support. Here’s One
Nipple Shield – These are often used when a baby is struggling to latch on to your breast correctly. Some mamas use it if they have inverted nipples. Once the baby has a hang on feeding, no need to keep it for a long period of time.
Haakaa Silicone Breast Pump – This product is used for pumping during nursing, catching milk let down during feeding or a quick go-to pump.
Nursing Pads – Great for wearing under your bra to avoid milk leaking on your shirt.
Nursing Cup – Works in the form of a nursing pad, but it’s actually catching your precious liquid gold.
Lactation Massage Roller – Massaging your breast before feeding and during pumping helps with milk let down. The roller serves as a support to get rid of any milk ducts you may have hidden in your breast.
Am I the only one that’s still in disbelief that we’re in a pandemic. How crazy is that? When I found out I was pregnant back in February, I knew about Covid-19 but I didn’t think it would flip the world upside down. This has been one of the weirdest and most uncertain times for all of us. If you live in NYC, your life has probably stopped in so many ways. Being pregnant during this pandemic has been bittersweet for me. Bitter, because I’ve been working from home and that’s been a little hard. Sweet, because I’ve been home with Ruben and Calvin. This is such a perfect time to be with Calvin since it’s the last few months before he becomes a big brother. This is the longest I’ve ever been home with him and I’m grateful for this time. So we’re using it to get him ready and also prepare ourselves for a newborn to enter our home. I’m not ready, but I’ll be soon. Because he’s coming soon. (NERVOUS LAUGH)
I’ve had a lot of moms to be’s ask me about how I’ve been coping through my pregnancy during this season and some resources I’ve been using to keep me busy during this time. If you’re a mom to be, I hope you know you’re not alone in your worries and even emotions. I’ve had so many emotions throughout these last few months. I’ve been scared, sad, anxious, angry, and even grieved. So much of what I was planning on doing during this pregnancy has changed. I haven’t been able to spend time with my family and Ruben can’t attend any of my sonograms. I didn’t get to hug my friends and family at our gender reveal, I won’t have a baby shower and labor & birth will feel a bit lonely without having my whole family waiting for the arrival of my son. (They roll deep guys) It’s okay to feel like you’ve been robbed of so many wonderful things and if it’s your first pregnancy, I’m sorry it’s been this way. But just like I tell myself, find joy in this season. Look at all your blessings despite your losses.
Tips to get you through your Pregnancy
Therapy has been very helpful during this time for me, it’s helped me process things better and also just share some of my thoughts. Having a high-risk pregnancy during this season has been hard because I’m constantly going to the doctors for a check-up and I can’t change my pregnancy plan, a hospital birth it will be. Having someone to talk to about these things has been great for my sanity and emotional health.
Journaling, I love writing and it’s very therapeutic. If you’re having a hard time processing your thoughts, write them down. Make it into a journal for your baby, I’m sure one day they would love to hear your stories during this season. It’s a great way to empty out your thoughts and be honest and real with yourself.
Physical Activity, Take a walk, catching some air will do you well. If you like yoga or exercising, keep doing them. Dancing, dance as much as you want. It’s good for you, your body and baby. Pinterest and Youtube have a bunch of videos to keep active.
Mental Check-ins, These are very important, if you’re OB isn’t asking you how you’re doing emotionally and mentally during your pregnancy… they should be. During pregnancy, you can experience a lot of emotions and during a pandemic, they could increase. Make sure you’re checking in with how you’re feeling on a daily. Are you feeling happy? Sad? Anxious? Overwhelmed? Tell someone about them, they’re completely normal. Here is a free resource for seeking help.
Pregnancy/ Labor Education Classes
Here are a few websites offering Free Pregnancy classes: Take advantage!
If you weren’t aware, through your insurance you can be provided with a free breast pump. The most common pump that is offered to mothers is the “Medala” brand. The pump works like magic, but it’s loud. However, you are given the option to choose which pump you want. I would say picking a pump that suits your lifestyle. If you’re a stay at home mom, you may be comfortable with a plugin pump but if you’re a working mom, you may be looking for something that allows you to be freer to move around. Before choosing your pump you can speak to a lactation consultant or even do some research of your own. The website I provide you with has customer service reps that can help you choose the pump that suits you.
In this season I’ve been so inactive and just feeling really lazy. I want to take walks but I’m afraid of the distance and being around a lot of people. Oh, and my eating habits haven’t been great at all. Despite that, I’ve been trying to find ways to speak positively about my changing body and also embracing it. My belly is growing a lot and my boobs are massive. My armpits are really dark and my nipples don’t look flattering at all, but I’m so beautiful. I hope this season as your body is changing and if you’re like me having a hard time being active, please be kind to yourself. Everyone’s body looks different during pregnancy. Some women get stretch marks and others don’t. Some would say they feel really beautiful and others would say their baby is sucking the life out of them. What you say about yourself in this season of pregnancy and motherhood is so important. Find ways to feel like yourself, do something you enjoy or maybe dress up like you always do. Motherhood doesn’t rob who you already are, you’re still the same just with a plus one or two in my case. As you enter motherhood, it will feel like you’re losing the you that you’ve always been but you’re not, you’re growing and blooming another part of you.
Rock that belly girl, you are bearing life within you.
Things you can be doing as you wait for the arrival of your baby…
Create your Baby registry. Don’t be afraid to send it to family & friends. They will want to bless you.
Preparing your home for the arrival of your baby. I call this “nesting”. It might be soothing to you during this time.
I’ve been a mom a little over a year now, such a long, exhausting, and beautiful year. Calvin is fifteen months and life after birth has been quite interesting. Between the sleepless nights and long playful afternoons, motherhood has definitely gotten the best of me. It’s nothing that I imagined but definitely is not what most people made it out to be “ the end of my life”. I recall this past year being the beginning of my new life. One that I would choose over and over again.
When we brought Calvin home for the first time Ruben and I were scared and we had no idea what life would look like for us now that Calvin was here. We were clueless when it came to baby basics like folding a stroller or the fact that you can simply use the car seat in a cab without carrying the base everywhere. Ha! I still laugh at that. The big and small things about parenting transform you, they lead you to make hard decisions and also many sacrifices.
Entering motherhood has changed the way I see myself and everything around me. It has set my eyes on things more important and has been a breath of fresh air in every way. Children have a way of teaching you to be present no matter how distracted you are, they challenge and grow you in ways that you never saw yourself growing. People ask me all the time ” how has motherhood changed you?” and as I say said goodbye to 2018, I’ve reflected on some things that have grown me and things I’ve learned this past year, these are just a few of them.
Words of Affirmation
I’ve never been someone who felt loved by words, it’s the love language all the way at the bottom of my list. Before being a mom, I was an “acts of service” and “quality time person”, but now words mean so much to me. If you don’t know this already, motherhood comes with lots of insecurities. I think the last time I felt this insecure was when I became a wife. I wasn’t prepared for how emotionally, mentally, and physically being a mom takes a toll on you. It seems like all you ever get is criticism. “You’re not doing this”, “ you look tired all the time”, “ you didn’t breastfeed?”, “wow, he’s in daycare?, I would never leave my kid in daycare”. All of these words have discouraged me, but I’ve also had people encourage me in this season. I realized how grateful I am for words now. They have a way with lifting you up, especially in a season where I have no idea what the hell I’m doing. This is one of the reasons I started blogging, I want to encourage other moms and others that could relate to me in whatever season they are in.
It’s real, very real and very scary for moms. As your body tries to recover after birth, your mind and emotions also try to do the same. According to doctors, Postpartum Depression happens days or weeks after a mom gives birth. It can be due to the hormonal drop you experience after birth but also due to lack of sleep, worry, anxiety, and even lack of social interaction. I can honestly say that my postpartum depression happened right after giving birth. As I shared before Calvin was premature and therefore I only got a few minutes to hold him before they took him away to the NICU. I spent two days in the hospital trying to pump but had very low supply and I spent two weeks going back and forth to the hospital to see Calvin there since he couldn’t come home with us. I cried a lot, my mood would change often and I was mentally exhausted.
When we finally brought him home I think it hit me harder. I couldn’t handle the lack of sleep, Calvin crying, being alone, and feeling like I was failing as a mom by not breastfeeding. A lot of days I would call Ruben crying to come home from work because I didn’t want to be with Calvin. If he would cry for hours, I would go to my room and also cry. I told a friend months after, that during those months I felt like I understood why very often moms are inclined to hurt their babies and it’s scary. When I felt scared of myself I would cry out to God to help me be calm and give me the wisdom to care for Calvin. I was thankful that my family and friends helped us a lot. My mom would sleepover to help me with him so I could sleep, friends would come over to visit and bring food and Ruben did all the night shifts, I really learned to depend on people in this season but most importantly in God. He really kept me sane and covered my mind and thoughts in days when I felt at my lowest.
The Supermom Mentality
This “supermom mentality” is what I think moms develop after giving birth. It’s the ability to believe that you can conquer anything or smack the hell out of someone who hurts your kid. ( but I got Jesus… so he holds me down) I feel like when you become a mom you feel like you can do anything! It’s like a supernatural strength that you grow and it comes from knowing that you have someone to care for. I don’t have time to complain about what needs to get done, I just have to do it. If I need to go out and have no one to watch Calvin, I still have to go even with the stroller, diaper bag, and a tantrum baby. If you’re a city mom, you know that’s not easy. However, this mentality is why I work full-time, attend grad school, volunteer in ministry with youth, and blog. I feel like I can do it all, but I can’t. I think I’m learning to have balance, it’s great that I’ve developed this sense of strength but it can be difficult trying to do it all. This mentally also means knowing it’s okay if I can’t do everything. I can be a super mom doing what I can and the rest leaving it in God’s hands trusting that He will do what I can’t.
This one has been the hardest one. As someone who was involved in church so much, not being in the community for the first three months after birth really disconnected me from God more than I already was. I was so exhausted and angry that things were so hard at the beginning with Calvin that reading my word and praying was the last thing I wanted to do. I’ve struggled to make time for God and my spiritual growth this past year and this is the most important piece of my life. Having Calvin has shaken the way I see Jesus and his love for me. I understand it more and value His love but I also see the weight of my responsibility as a mom. If I’m not growing in Jesus, I cannot reflect Jesus to my son. Ultimately if I’m not growing I’m dying spiritually, so it’s easier for me to act on my flesh. Which means I’ll be impatient with Calvin or yell at Ruben for failing at something small, which I’ve seen myself do a lot this past year. I need Jesus more than ever now and I desire to grow more in Him more than anything.
I’ve always struggled with my appearance, after giving birth my body started changing. I definitely put on more weight. I’m constantly changing my outfits and I only wear high-waisted jeans to avoid the stomach pouch that I hate so much. A lot of moms struggle with their body after birth. We all echo the same questions, “what will my body look like after?”, “how can I get rid of stretch marks?”, “will my boobs sag? “, ” will my spouse still find me attractive?”. All of these are real questions and insecurities, I feel all of them. I’m learning every day to embrace my body and be proud of it. Some days I can feel really beautiful, other times not so much. This is what encourages me ” I gave birth to a whole baby!” that’s one hell of a power! If you’re reading this and you can relate, I want to challenge you to cover yourself in truth and affirmation. You are beautiful and honorable. Yes, your body will change, it won’t be the same again and that’s okay, embrace it. I want to increase my confidence through self-care and eating better for this new year. What goals do you have for your self-care? Body? Mind?
Going back to work felt so strange after Calvin. The night before I went back to work I rocked him to sleep and cried. I was worried about leaving him and who would take care of him, I felt guilty about not staying home with him and transitioning back into the real world was difficult. Adjusting was so emotional that two months after going back full time to work, I went part-time. As a first-time mom, I just didn’t know how to be apart from Calvin, all I thought about was him and it was even worse when he was finally at daycare. I think this transition is so hard because so many factors play a role in it. You might have paid maternity leave or you may not and only have a few weeks with your newborn. If you’re nursing, you’ll be pumping at work and also trying to keep up with your workload, which can become exhausting. Maybe you won’t have a family member to watch your newborn and that will make it hard for you to trust someone else.
For me it was both, my family was too far and after a while of pumping at work, I couldn’t keep up with my workload and pumping and my supplies kept dropping which means my milk supply was at its lowest. Being a working mom is bittersweet though. I get to be outside my home and talk to adults ( which is something you get very little of when you’re a stay at home mom in the city during the winter) You also get to miss your kids and spend time with yourself. As a mom you need that often, I think that’s how I survived this first year. Work gave me freedom in some way and it allowed me to care for Calvin in a healthy way that meant I needed to trust God more with my son.
I’ve been really grateful for all the friends I’ve had in this season. I remember moms sharing with me about many of their friends slowly spending less and less time around after they became moms and this can be real for many mothers. Motherhood is lonely sometimes, especially if your closest friends aren’t moms. The truth is life happens and you’re in a different season as them. That’s something we can’t change. In this season, in all honesty, my attitude is this “ if I haven’t seen you in months or heard from you, no hard feelings but I’m not looking for you.” Yup, it sounds salty but I’m just not in a place to seek after friendships that aren’t around. I can’t pick up and go as I please like before, now I have to wait for Ruben to get home or find someone to watch Calvin. Invites to hangouts?, I barely get those, and I’ve come to be okay with it. It’s about being grateful for those that are around and understanding that things change. God has a way of providing people in your life when you need them.
I haven’t lacked friendships nor in people-watching Calvin so I can go to school or go on dates with hubby. He has placed specific people to serve me without feeling like I needed to give something back. I have so much going on that mentally I just don’t have the energy to pursue friendships right now like I once did. Perhaps it’s just a season but I’m learning to value friendships more and desire ones that value my family and build me up.
Loving Your Partner
Keeping up with your marriage is just as important as caring for your children. It needs to be nurtured and loved. Trust me, nothing about doing that is easy with a baby. After Calvin all I wanted to do was rest, bedtime meant time for sleep. For a while, my husband felt like we were co-parenting or just roommates. Yup, that bad. I slowly realized that it was unloving of me to not make time to love and date my husband. Children should not change the way you love your spouse, in fact, it should increase your desire to serve, love and create spaces for you both to spend time together. I can truly say that I have grown a deeper love for my husband after having Calvin. He is one heck of a father and husband, and I’m grateful to have someone who fathers my son so well. Those late nights when Calvin is crying his eyes out, he’s the one getting up just so I can sleep enough to go to work the next day. I have to constantly remind myself that my husband and I are one together and he also desires to be desired and affirmed.
I hope to continue caring for my marriage, going on more dates, affirming my husband with gratitude and of course killing the “ I’m tired “ excuse to avoid sex. Sex is a beautiful thing within marriage, God desired for us to be intimate in this way. I truly believe that it’s important for you both to continue pursuing each other and displaying gratitude for each other. Thanking your husband for waking up earlier to stay with the baby and letting you sleep in is something to acknowledge and be thankful for, not brushed off by saying ” well, you’re just doing what you should be doing because you’re a dad now” (which I’ve thought so many times). We were able to survive this by acknowledging that we both were clueless and we needed each other to survive a lot of the struggles of parenting.
I have so much to say about life after Calvin but I’m thankful I got to grow in each one of these areas and also learn things about myself. I pray that they would speak to you and also prepare you if you’re a mom to be or a new mom. If you’re a new mom, how has that been for you? Leave a comment, I’d love to know.