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

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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. 

Marriage is Hard – Babies Make it Harder

Until death do us part, right?

My husband and I have always been pretty simple. We like simple things that you find quality in; our wedding was no exception. We had a simple civil ceremony with only his family (mine couldn’t make it as they were 4,000 miles away in the United States), and a deliciously perfect lunch at Ravintola Haikaranpesä, a scenic restaurant located within a water-tower overlooking lush greenery. Nothing too fancy, but exactly what we’d enjoy – low-key, stress-free living.

Things quickly became hectic, as they do when preparing for a baby, but we had time. I was only 10 weeks pregnant on our wedding day, so we had plenty of time to get ready to bring this little bundle home. Of course, looking back, it feels like just yesterday we were excitedly awaiting our wedding day, now here we are with a 2 month old son.

Anyway, life got the best of us and responsibilities took over. Pregnancy was hard for me as I felt as if I was missing out by not being with my family and experiencing the moments you have when you see your parents more often than once a week on Skype. I knew having my son would be bittersweet as they would not be able to come, but that’s a different story for a different post.

In late December of 2018, we welcomed our beautiful baby boy into the world. Labor was hard and long, but we worked our way through it. Together. My husband supported me through every contraction and leaned over the bed, holding my hand and reminding me to breathe almost non-stop. We labored for nearly two days straight without the slightest break and absolutely no sleep. The exhaustion was insurmountable.

I’m going to be honest here, because no one ever is when they talk about the birth of your child. Everyone wants to paint it as rainbows and butterflies, but it’s f*cking hard. Once you’ve made it through the birth, you now have a baby to take care of. Why did I not realize that I wouldn’t get a decent night’s sleep for months or years? I have no idea what I expected, but running on no sleep makes you cranky and postpartum hormones don’t help. We were quickly shifting from a strong unit to two exhausted parents who knew absolutely nothing.

I can’t even explain how many times I cried in those first two days in the hospital. We didn’t know what we were doing and we were constantly at each other’s throats. We spent the next two months snapping at each other constantly. I threatened to go back home countless times until we finally reached our breaking point.

We both knew we couldn’t go on any longer and the constant threat of divorce that laced every argument was too much. It wasn’t until we had gotten into another argument over sleep at 2am that we finally came back together. After hours of sitting in different rooms, we talked and we agreed.

We couldn’t continue carrying on this way. Our constant fighting was making a difficult situation even worse. In the midst of a freezing cold and snowy night, holding onto each other while our son slept peacefully in the middle of our bed, we made a pact.

No more running.

I knew I couldn’t do this whole parenthood thing without him. I knew I loved him more deeply than I could express and that threatening to go to the US (while I really do want to go home) was unfair and made things worse. I couldn’t threaten to take our son over 4000 miles away from my husband just because we were having a bad night. I couldn’t continue to hold grudges and count the hours of sleep he got. I knew that we needed to reset and come at this differently. We needed to heal.

I’d love to pretend that since that argument things have been great. They haven’t. It’s still not easy and we’re still getting very little sleep, but we are better than before. We agreed that we have to make time for each other and actually put our relationship first. We have to communicate. We have to determine what the bare minimum is to function without constant stress and aim to achieve that. For us, that means laundry twice a week, doing the dishes every day, taking out the trash, and passing the vacuum over the rug occasionally. It also means, cuddling when we get the chance and talking as much as we can once our son has gone to sleep. It’s simple, but sometimes things still don’t get checked off the list.

We’re trying and that’s what matters.

Having a child is a major blessing, but it’s so difficult. It’s so hard to remember to brush your hair and days go by when you don’t remember when your last shower was. Add in a marriage that’s quickly disintegrating and you’ll become overwhelmed with stress and emotion at every turn. Days will feel harder and nights will feel more lonely.

If you’re going through a rough patch in your marriage post-baby, I highly suggest having an honest discussion about the bare minimum. It may seem silly or like common knowledge, but it’s worth it. It helps to get on the same page. It helps to make a pact. It helps to know that neither of you wants to walk away. It helps to know that you can heal. That you have each other.

That you always will.

-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

Lazy Sunday Wisdom with Calvin and Hobbes

I’d like to start out by saying that you can expect to see some Calvin and Hobbes Wisdom each Sunday, so keep your eyes peeled!

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Let’s be realistic here; who likes to leave their comfort zone? If you raised your hand, put that bad boy back down because you’re lying;  if you’re not lying please come find me and teach me your ways. Seriously though, how much do you charge?

It’s so much easier to just be comfortable and never put yourself out there, but it is so damn important that we don’t fall into that trap. However, I will say that I’ve been there, done that, and I’ll probably do it all over again (and probably once more, if we’re being honest). That being said, it’s truly no way to live life. So let’s make a pact to set down that tablet, cell phone, or put away that computer, get off of our butts and go explore the world around us.

All too often we are so wrapped up in our technology or other crap that just truly does not matter. We would rather live life vicariously through others than actually live it ourselves. We can’t accept that any longer. I know how hard it is to put yourself out there, especially if you suffer from anxiety or anything of the sort.

But just do it.

Seriously. Just do it. It’s scary, it’s hard, there’s no denying that, so I won’t even try to. But just realize that you can’t live your life hidden in the corner of your apartment. Stop standing by the walls at the party. Don’t sit in the back of the classroom. Go socialize! Go explore! Sit in the front, dammit! Try it. It’s going to seem uncomfortable and weird at first, but once you do it a few times it will  get easier. I promise. It won’t always be scary.

I totally understand that sometimes you just need someone to be the catalyst and get the ball rolling, so grab a friend and hit the streets. The world is your damn oyster (is that cheesy? Yeah, but who doesn’t like some cheese? Sprinkle that shit on everything.).  If someone is pulling your hand and trying to get you to go explore with them, grab a hold and take that first step! Calvin needed his dad to push Hobbes and himself out the door; his father even told him that he would enjoy it, and he was right!

See? As much as we hate to admit it, other people can be right! Especially our parents. Our parents are generally right, if we’re going to be honest. Which we are, because why stop now?

They might share their wisdom in an off-putting way, and because we are obviously so much cooler and hip we choose to ignore it, but give what they have to say a quick listen.

Try to understand the jist of what they’re saying and then apply it to your life in a way that makes sense to you. They truly have your best interest at heart even when it’s hard to see it. I must admit, I used to be pretty damn guilty of pretending that my parents were never right; that they could never have possibly gone through this situation or even have a frame of reference. I think that’s just how it is when you’re a child, regardless of your age.

I’d like to think that I’ve outgrown that phase, to an extent. I’ll admit that I still disagree with my parents, sometimes just because I must know better, right? I mean I am 23 and I’ve basically seen it all (note the sarcastic tone). Let’s be real though, when it comes down to it, our parents are wiser as much as we hate to acknowledge it.  Hopefully one day when I’m old and gray, explaining why my child’s actions are wrong or just plain stupid, they’ll hop onto this little diddy and realize that I too, felt just like them.

Maybe one day.

-LP

P.S. If you’re interested in seeing which book this strip came from, and helping out a starving blogger, follow the link below!