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Motherhood

    Pregnancy

    Everything to know about Boobs & Babies (Part 1)


         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. 


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    Breastfeeding 101 

    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 information can be found on the “what to expect” website)


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    Breastfeeding tips

    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 

    1. 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.
    2.  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.
    3.  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
    4. 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.
    5. Haakaa Silicone Breast Pump – This product is used for pumping during nursing, catching milk let down during feeding or a quick go-to pump.
    6. Nursing Pads – Great for wearing under your bra to avoid milk leaking on your shirt.
    7. Nursing Cup – Works in the form of a nursing pad, but it’s actually catching your precious liquid gold.
    8. 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.
    9. Cool Gel Pad’s – Cracked or raw nipples… meet you’re other best friend.
    10. Organic Nursing Pad’s – These are cloth washable pad’s. Easy to wash and be used.

    I hope these tips were helpful, what are some of your breastfeeding faves or tips?

    Part Two: Pumping/ Formula

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    Kids Activites, Motherhood

    Children’s Diversity Books

    This week I found some beautiful diverse children’s books and I thought I should share them with you all. Some of these we own and some are on our “MUST BUY LIST”. 

    1. Remarkable You– Great for empowering Children and highlighting their gifts.
    2. I am Enough– Encouraging and empowering children to see the beauty in themselves and how they look.
    3. Brown Boy Joy– I love this book, it’s hard finding books with characters that look like Calvin. So it’s perfect for any brown little boy.
    4. Skin Like Mine– Great for talking about race, ethnicity, and reminding children that each one of them is unique in their own way.
    5. Island Born– For all my little Island kids, this right here is wonderful.
    6. Shaking Things Up!– If you haven’t introduced Ruby Bridges to your kids, she is a historical advocate in black history.
    7. Festival of Colors – Teaching children about other cultural celebrations invite children into celebrating with others and seeing the importance of other people’s values and beliefs.
    8. Every Little Thing –  Bob Marley is a league for his peaceful and empowering music.
    9. Where are you from?  – This book is a great conversation starter to teach your children about answering the question ” Where are they from?” Take the opportunity to teach them the history of their race and family.

    Books by Black Mama’s 

    Beautiful, Beautiful Me – By: Ashley Sirah Hinton

    How I Wear My Crown – By: Ka’ala Kaio Mahlangeni-Byndon


    Why exposing children to more diverse books matters? It matters because it teaches children about other people’s race, ethnicity, beliefs, and values. It gives them an opportunity to look outside of what they’re surrounded by. It’s also important for black and brown children to see themselves be represented in books they read. Representation matters in books and exposing children to books that can encourage and empower them to change the way they are reading, learning, and empathizing with others.

     

    What are some of your favorite diverse books right now? Share them in the comments!

    Find more diverse books over at my amazon shop

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    Pregnancy

    Pregnancy During A Pandemic

          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)

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         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.

    JournalingI 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.

    ReadingFind something you enjoy reading. If you’re into reading pregnancy books, I recommend you finding one on Amazon (these are a few that are great!) or re-reading your favorite book.

    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-insThese 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!

    Motherly Labor & Delivery Videos

    Pamper Child Birth Classes

    EASTERN IDAHO REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER:

    TUCSON MEDICAL CENTER: Birthing Classes


    Free Breast Pump Via Insurance

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        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.


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         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…

    1. Create your Baby registry. Don’t be afraid to send it to family & friends. They will want to bless you.
    2. Preparing your home for the arrival of your baby. I call this “nesting”. It might be soothing to you during this time.
    3. Did you create a birth/labor plan? Here’s a guide: Birth Plan Outline
    4. Pack your hospital bag. Here’s a guide: Packing for you & baby
    5. Make sure you’re drinking a lot of water and talking to others.

    I hope you guys found these resources helpful, let me know by commenting on this post!

    Pregnancy

    Baby Number Two

     


            Well, the secret is out… we’re having another baby! I still can’t believe it. I’ve been dying to spill the beans but we’ve been focusing on taking care of each other and also this baby. After my pregnancy with Calvin I knew that moving forward my pregnancies would be high risk. During my first pregnancy I was told that my cervix was short and therefore my chances of carrying a baby full term were low. It’s the very reason why Calvin was premature (born at 33 weeks) but I’m thankful it wasn’t earlier. After our experience with Calvin in the NICU and everything that came after that we had a lot of fears. Would this baby come early? What if we couldn’t bring him or her home? Leaving the hospital without Calvin was one of the hardest things we had to do but we’re believing that God is in control of this pregnancy and it will finish however He sees fit. I’m so ready to smell tiny toes and wake up to cooing noises in the middle of the night. Haven’t had that in a while, so I’m excited. 


    Pregnancy During Quarantine 

        It’s been bitter sweet, sweet because I’ve been able to spend a lot of time with Calvin and Ruben. We’ve had some really good times. Bitter because my anxiety has been all over the place. Being home has been hard mentally. I’ve been resting a lot and taking small walks in order to keep myself active. My energy has picked up during this 2nd trimester. The 1st trimester was the hardest. I was nauseous, tired, I barely ate anything and physically my body just felt hit. I was worried about telling people or even getting excited without knowing if things would go smoothly. Overall, I think this quarantine has been a blessing. I get to be home with Calvin and prepare him to be a big brother, I’m nesting like a mad woman and throwing everything out but mostly I get to spend time with Ruben. 

         Entering the 2nd trimester I’ve been more joyful and mentally I’m doing better. I’m much bigger than I was with during my first pregnancy but I heard that happens. I feel beautiful just like I did with Calvin and I’m mostly all stomach. I’ve been on progesterone injections which help strengthen my cervix so I don’t go into early labor and I’ve been getting sonograms every two weeks. The injections hurt like hell, but hubby is killing it at playing doctor ( He’s the one giving me the shots)  and despite having to go to the hospital so often, I’m pretty happy I get to see the baby grow. I’ve had some days of discouragement and sadness, I don’t have much control over my labor plan. At risk pregnancy have to labor in hospitals due to complications or any other emergency’s that may arrive during labor. I’m just hoping for a healthy baby and to have Ruben by my side, I’ll be one happy mama.

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    Big Brother Calvin

          I’m not sure that Calvin fully understands that he’s gonna be a big brother but he knows something’s up. He’s been really attached and his mood changes a lot. It’s been hard having him home while working also, he needs a lot of attention like most toddlers. He’s been asking to go for walks and being a bit aggressive, he has an arm I tell you. We’re excited to see him transition to being an only child to a brother. Calvin is a sweet and loving kid, I’m sure he will love his sibling more than anything. He says “he is strong and brave” all the time. It’s the cutest thing ever. He randomly kisses my stomach and points at his own stomach and says “baby”? We’ve been trying to prepare him by helping him grow independence. Potty training was first on our list and now transitioning him to a big boy bed. We want to make things easier for him and us as we balance caring for both kids. For the rest of the time we just want to soak in all our time with him. It’s the last time it will be just us three. 


    acs_0214I’ll be sharing more on our journey here on the blog, so stick around. In the meantime, here is our “The Office” theme announcement. We really love this show and couldn’t think of any better way than to tell everyone like this. Like how cute is Calvin dressed up as Dwight!


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    Pregnancy Fun Facts

    I’m officially 20 weeks

    Due date is September 30th ( Maybe Calvin and baby will share birthday months)

    Cravings: Mangu, Ice cream, Chips

    Baby is weighing bigger than expected… I’m not scared at all. Ha!

    I’ve been sleeping like a baby.

    Lots of nose bleeds, Any mama experience that?

    My sense of smell is on point, I can smell everything.

    Stomach is pretty tight and no stretch-marks.

    I bought a sling as a welcoming baby gift to myself.

    Baby registry got done back in February, it was a piece of cake this time around.