Don’t Feel Guilty, Momma.

There’s no “right” way to be a mother.

I see it a lot and if you’re a mom, I’m almost 100% certain you’ve faced this yourself. Mom Guilt. Regardless of what its trigger was (or is), there’s been at least one time in the duration of your motherhood that you’ve felt guilty. Just last night, I felt guilty because I didn’t give the baby unlimited time at the boob. It was 2am and I was exhausted. I just wanted sleep and I figured he had eaten enough as he was drifting in and out of sleep and thus active and passive nursing. He started to snooze and as I pulled him off of the breast, he tried to start nursing again but instead of letting him continue, I gave him his pacifier instead. As I laid him down in his crib, I felt an instant pang of guilt.

What if he’s still hungry? I thought as I crawled into my bed. I didn’t dare put him back on the boob though. I knew he’d start suckling again and I just needed to sleep. I put myself first and felt terrible about it… but why? I knew he was fed and that he was most likely nursing for comfort at that point. Rationally, I knew he’d be just fine, but I felt so guilty.

Why are we as mothers so willing to put blame on ourselves when we’re trying the best we can? Being a mom – a parent in general, is hard. There’s no need to add to the pressure by making ourselves feel like terrible caregivers or to doubt ourselves.

I see a lot of moms who struggle with doing what feels right to them. You may be one of them. I know I am. Some moms feel terrible about their inability or their lack of desire to nurse their children. They feel wracked with guilt over choosing to pump instead because latching hurts. Some feel horrible about the decision to give formula instead of breastmilk. Some feel attacked for their decisions when it comes to cloth diapering vs. using disposables or following a BLW approach vs. going the traditional route. There’s always something that moms are being attacked for whether by outside forces or themselves.

Social media makes it so much worse. Mothers get ripped to shreds over their stances on things both controversial and not. These moms aren’t facing the opinion of one or two that oppose them either, they’re getting hundreds of replies that make them feel as if their decision is not a valid one. Regardless of whether I agree with your stance or not, I know you’re trying to do what is best for your child. Sometimes we just have differences.

We’re all just doing the best we can. We’re all choosing to care for our little ones in the way that we feel most confident in. We’re trying. 

Cut us some slack.

-LP

Advertisements

Baby Blues that Won’t Leave

When you have a baby, you expect joy.

It feels silly now, when I look back on what I thought motherhood would be like. I suppose my warped sense of reality was aided in further unrealistic expectations thanks to the persona that nearly every mother (at least those on social media) portrays. You know what I mean, the moms who have it all together. They have the perfect milestone pictures, breastfeed their babies while looking like serene life-giving goddesses, and only feed their baby homemade and organic purées if they’re not following a BLW style. These moms have it all together. These moms know what they’re doing. They feel nothing but joy. They are living a picture perfect life in their picture perfect world and I’m left sitting on the outside looking in. I’m left longing to be them. Longing for their joy; even just an ounce.

I am not that mom.

I’m the mom who was hit full force by the baby blues. I mean, at least I thought I was until I started digging deeper; but that wasn’t until I accepted that the feeling of loneliness and unhappiness were not fading, no matter what.

My midwife and I had talked about my increased risk for postpartum depression (PPD), so I knew to be on the lookout. There were symptoms to watch out for and knowing how difficult I found being alone and pregnant in a foreign country, I figured I’d have to be more vigilant once my son was born. Knowing all of this didn’t really help though.

Sure, I’ve gone through depressing episodes in my life, but I had never been diagnosed with actual depression. I had never done much more than a bit of self-care to fix whatever ruts I had found myself in. I was lucky because when depression actually hits, it’s like a train could be barreling down the tracks and you just stand there. You almost want it to hit you because you don’t have the energy to face the task of moving. Add in some postpartum hormones and you have an incredibly dangerous cocktail.

There’s no easy way to “fix” PPD and as much as I’d love to just avoid it and pretend it doesn’t exist in my life, I can’t. It’s so much easier to post pictures of my happy baby and smile and nod when people ask if I love being a mother than it is to tell the truth. It’s so rare for someone to post the nitty-gritty of life without sugarcoating it and yet it’s so easy to look at those around you and feel as if you’re doing something wrong. I’m guilty of only posting the good. I’ve only posted happy pictures of my son and I focus on the good aspects of the day/month/milestone online. Do I share the fact that my child screams randomly for no reason? No. What about the fact that I hadn’t showered in three days? No. I do share my son smiling in his swing or making cute baby sounds. I share the good stuff and I bottle up the bad.

As mothers and parents in general, we have to be more honest. We have to stop pretending that life is nothing but a fairytale. We owe it to each other to share our battles along with our triumphs, the good with the bad. Your kid slept through the night? Awesome, share it! Were you unable to put him down for more than 2 hours the night before? Share that, too.

Tell the truth because moms like me need to hear it. I need to know that your perfectly dressed child who smiles in every picture can throw a fit at the drop of a hat, just like mine. I need to know that you have piles of laundry to do and you’re down to your last pair of clean underwear, just like I am. I need to know the bad so I can see the good and know that one day, I’ll be there too. One day these battles will be behind me and I’ll be facing new ones – hopefully with a bit more sleep.

-LP

If you or anyone you know is battling with depression, please seek the help of a medical professional. Additional resources can be found here. 

Breastfeeding is NOT for the Weak – but You Can Do It!

If you’re thinking of giving up, you’ve come to the right place.

grayscale photo of woman carrying a baby

When I got pregnant I knew I would breastfeed my child. Partly because that’s what you’re “supposed to do” and partly because I felt like it was what would be most natural and, let’s be serious – cost effective. I had heard of the discomfort that comes with breastfeeding and how important it would be to stock up on lanolin and nursing pads. I researched breast pumps and feeding positions, bought nursing bras, and picked maternity clothing based if I’d be able to nurse in them. I was ready.

Or so I thought.

The moment my son was placed on my chest, he held is head up and was already rooting. He tried latching and I felt absolutely no pain! We relaxed for an hour with his mouth on my nipple and I figured I had been one of the lucky ones who wasn’t going to have an issue.

Natural. Easy. Exactly as expected.

When we were being transferred out of the delivery ward and to our room, my midwife noted my breasts were leaking through my gown already. Colostrum was in full effect. I was learning how to ensure he was latching properly, and while there was a bit of tenderness, I felt okay overall. I knew he’d have to nurse frequently the first week and especially the first few days, but I completely underestimated what that meant.

It didn’t mean waking my son every 2 hours to make sure he was nursing enough like my friends had done. It meant sitting there with him latched to me for 8 hours straight, switching sides every hour, and literally sobbing from the pain. By the end of the first night, not only was I completely raw, I was also bruised and starting to scab.

Every midwife that came into our room told me it was normal and to keep him latched on as much as he wanted. Every mother I reached out to told me it gets better. Every latch was excruciating and the thought of pulling him off and fixing it when he had latched on incorrectly was terrifying. Luckily, my husband (usually) didn’t let me sit there with him latched on incorrectly, but would help me break the seal and try again. His support and presence while I was nursing our son helped me through every painful moment.

He was constantly filling my water bottle, stroking or kissing the top of my head during painful latches and silent (and not so silent) tears, feeding me when my hands were full and I was starving, and above all – he was there. Partners, take note. I doubt many first time moms would say it, but just having someone to rely on that tells you what a great job you’re doing when you feel like giving up is huge.

I wanted to give up. So. Badly. I thought about it every time I nursed my son. Every time he stirred. Every time I thought about feeding him again. I wanted to quit. Honestly, I probably would have had my husband and I been better off financially, but we really couldn’t afford to have to buy formula when feeding our child didn’t have to cost anything. At the time, I resented it. I resented how strapped for cash we were, our tiny apartment, and the fact that I had to endure, what felt like torture, because we couldn’t afford the alternative. Two months in, I’m grateful.

I’m grateful because had there been an option to quit, I would have taken it. I would have used my son’s lip-tie as an excuse, or maybe the scabbed nipples, the inability to get him to latch, the uncomfortable positions, the constant nursing all through the night… I would have used it all as an excuse to stop. I wouldn’t have pushed through. It would have been easier to quit.

If you’re thinking about quitting, I get it. Hearing that it gets better simply doesn’t help. Those words don’t comfort you as you try over and over to get your baby to latch correctly while gritting your teeth. They don’t help when you’re running on fumes and are at the end of your rope. I honestly understand. I was there.

Introducing formula might sound so good right now and if it does, I don’t blame you. If you do, I don’t blame you. If you don’t, I don’t blame you. If you choose to pump, pump. If you choose to give formula because it’s just too much, give it. But if you want to nurse, if you’ve looked at your baby and known this is what you want to do, don’t give up.

You can push through. I promise.

-LP

(Not) Bonding with Your Baby

Having a baby is hard; feeling like you’re doing it wrong makes it harder.

When I gave birth to my son, I was exhausted.

Yeah, I know what you were expecting. You were expecting me to say I was in love, overjoyed, overcome with emotion… something like that, right? I could say that, but I’d be lying. A more accurate description would be exhausted, relieved, or shocked, but that’s not what you generally hear when a new mom is talking about the birth of her child. You hear nothing but the positives. Nothing but love and joy. Nothing but the good stuff.

I was expecting the good stuff. I was expecting an immediate bond that brought me to tears and made my life feel complete. I was expecting his birth to live up to the images I had swirling around in my head from the moment the test read “pregnant” and when none of that happened, I was confused.

Sure, you can blame it on the 38 hours of labor. You could blame it on the fact that I was giving birth in a foreign country and felt completely out of my element. You could blame it on the fact that my husband an I weren’t in the best place when we were leaving for the hospital, the cold weather, the full moon, hell, blame it on Donald Trump or the bad tacos I must have eaten the day before. Blame it on whatever you want, but I was not bonded with my child and that was terrifying. So, I did what all first time mothers do, I blamed it on myself.

Something had to be wrong with me. I just knew it. How could I not be madly in love with the life I literally grew inside of my body for 42 weeks straight? I was a bad mom and I had only just started.

Things did not get better with breastfeeding… you know, the “natural thing” that all mammals can do. Nursing my child was excruciating and, yet again, exhausting. Spending 8 hours straight with a baby nursing on your raw nipples is awful; a lip-tie doesn’t help and all the nipple cream in the world will never be enough, but that’s for another post. It’s sufficient to say, things just got worse and they kept getting worse.

I was sore, tired, and overwhelmed. Neither my husband nor I had any idea as to what we were doing; baby books didn’t help with this part so we anxiously waited for the bond to form while muddling through postpartum hormones, sleeplessness, and pain.

The pain wasn’t just physical, it was emotional too. We thought we were awful parents. We couldn’t calm our screaming baby down and the moments we did were few and far between. I constantly asked my husband what I was doing wrong. Why wasn’t I able to cherish these moments everyone talks about? What was wrong with me?

We both just needed to know if and when things would get better. After weeks of suffering through and barely surviving, I can say things do get better. They’re still not easy. We’re still struggling every day, but I get it now when people tell you to cherish this time. I get it because I’ve finally started to bond with my son. Seeing his face light up with excitement while my husband taps on his hands, hearing his first happy coos and exclamations, watching him grow… those moments are the ones to cherish but it’s okay if you’re stuck in the thick of it and feel like you’re missing something.

Not everyone bonds with their baby immediately.

I wish someone had warned me and told me that it doesn’t make you a bad parent. The bond will come. Things will get easier. One day, you’ll get a little more sleep. One day, you’ll look at your baby and just feel it. One day, you’ll just know.

Hold on, momma. You’re doing great.

-LP

It’s Been Awhile

I think I owe you an update.

IMG_0507

It’s been a long 8-ish months since I’ve posted anything on LPA and for that I sincerely apologize. Life has gotten incredibly crazy and I feel like I’ve been living in a bit of a blur. Not only did my snazzy Finn and I finally reunite, we’ve received an amazing surprise, but more on that later!

Now there’s a lot that has happened since my last post back in January and I promise to update you all as briefly as possible; buckle up and let’s get to it.

Jan through March: This period of time was full of angsty waiting while working as a leasing consultant back in Michigan and as a digital marketing intern for a company based in Helsinki. The boyf and I were trying to figure out any way for us to reunite in the future and avoid this whole long-distance thing.

I cannot even begin to explain how overwhelming it was to weed our way through several options, eventually land on one, and then attempt to get it all sorted as quickly as possible. Not only were we moving me to Finland, but also two of my cats (one is currently living with my dad in Michigan and is his little buddy!), and timing it perfectly to allow me to return to Helsinki in time to finish my last month of my internship in person while first allowing the boyf to come and meet my family. It was hectic to say the least.

But alas, he made it to Michigan and met my family. We traveled around Michigan IMG_3551sightseeing and we got engaged! He proposed at Port Huron; it was a truly perfect day as we were driving around the thumb of Michigan, stopping at different little spots along the way, and we even made a pitstop at Wilson’s Cheese Shoppe to grab some amazing cheese curds, dip, and sausage for snacks. We chowed down the entire drive home, haha.

Interested in reading about the immigration process in Finland? Check out our next post!


April: We left for Finland on April 6th. In all honesty, we probably should have postponed my coming to Finland because not only was no one in the office for all of April, but staying home to save up money would have been a smarter decision. Oh well, hindsight is always 20/20 and I’m truly grateful to have been able to spend so much time with my man. Anyway, April 6th was a day full of emotions. I was incredibly stressed out over moving to Finland, getting the cats situated with their flights, and we received a major surprise that day.

About 2 hours before we were to leave for the airport, I was standing in my mother’s bathroom staring at a big + sign in utter disbelief. I stuffed the test into my pocket and placed it in the center console of my car so I could tell my guy privately. We ended up IMG_3728taking a quick trip to the bank and I asked him to check the console. He opened it up, looked inside and goes “there’s a pregnancy test and your wallet” and then closes it, not even looking at the test! I laughed and said, “did you even look at it?!” which causes him to reopen the console, look at it, and then at me. His expression was complete shock and pretty much captured the mood of the rest of the entire day.

Our flight to Finland was filled with us, holding hands, watching movies, and occasionally looking at each other and saying “oh, shit…” while laughing. It was definitely what you’d imagine seeing in a movie!

By the end of the month we had visited a maternity clinic here in Helsinki and heard our little baby’s heartbeat. Life truly hasn’t been the same since.


May: In May, I began renegotiating a contract with the company I worked at as an intern for in Helsinki, just to come to an agreement that was revoked after they were bought out by a larger company. Literally the next day. I was devastated, because not only did I love what I was working on, but because I knew I needed some form of income while in Finland an awaiting my residence permit.

By the end of May, boyf morphed into my husband and we traveled to Estonia on our IMG_4698short but absolutely perfect honeymoon. We spent about 4 days in Old Towne walking up and down cobblestone streets and eating delicious food. We made a special trip to St. Olav’s Church and climbed to the top of the church tower to appreciate the gorgeous views.

Note: This tourist spot is not handicap-friendly and while I saw a little girl climbing the stairs to the top, I would definitely not say that it is kid-friendly either. The staircase is insanely narrow and the steps are no more than 4 inches deep. It’s a bit disorienting because it’s such a twisty staircase and there’s only a rope to hold onto, plus some people are walking up while others are walking down and each step is probably only two feet wide. After climbing to the top, I really dreaded going back down. Luckily we were one of the first few people to go up, so it wasn’t super busy until we made our way back down .

Stay tuned for my next post that ventures deeper into our honeymoon in Estonia!


June through September: Okay, so I know this is a really large lump, but there’s mostly just been routine and not much to note in these last few months. After everything with my internship ended, I focused mostly on just finishing my degree (which was conferred in August, whoop!) and taking care of this little bun in the oven.

August 1st we found out we’re expecting a baby boy and we couldn’t be more excited.IMG_5145
We’ve decided to name him after both of our grandfathers and with a name that works in both English and Finnish. Let me tell ya, figuring out a name in both languages for a girl was such a pain in the butt and we weren’t in love with our decision, so having a boy was the perfect solution! Our little man has been steadily growing and I’m nesting little by little. My parents are sending us a package of baby items in the mail because clothing and everything we need is so expensive here. We’ve been fortunate enough to have generous parents and people in our lives. Hubs’ parents built baby’s beautiful crib by hand and we finally have it situated in our bedroom.

Interested in seeing a completed nursery/master bedroom tour? Stay tuned!


So now we’re here, in modern day, enjoying the last few months as a family of two – four if you count the cats! Life has been an incredible adventure and it’s only just begun.

xo,

LP