Car Seat Safety: Tips & Guidelines for Keeping Your Kiddos Safe in the Car!

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Okay so I know that I’m a bit extreme when it comes to some things pertaining to M’s safety, but in this day in age what with social media circulating tragic stories, hospitals sending home information with new parents and all the easy access to information on the internet, I feel like people must be living under some sort of rock to not understand car seat safety!!  I mean doesn’t everyone know that babies are safest rear facing and that not only is it the law, but it’s also the safest practice to keep your kids in car seats/buckled up while riding in the car?!  Apparently not!!!  In the past 2 weeks I’ve seen 2 instances where kids were’t safely buckled in: in one situation a mom was holding her child on her lap while driving…and the little girl could have only been about 3 at most!  In the other situation, another little girl, this time probably 5 or 6, was walking back and forth between the middle row of seats and 3rd row in the van in front of me…while they were driving down the road!  And then on a 16 and Pregnant episode one of the girls had her 8 month old baby forward facing in his car seat!!!  What is wrong with people?!

So, I’ve done a little research and put together some information just in case you are looking for guidelines to follow for keeping your little ones safe in the car!

Child safety seats can reduce fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers, ages 1-4.” -National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Car Seat Guidelines Based on Age & Size

It is important to note that car seat laws vary state by state, but in my state the law reads as follows:

-A child under 1 year old who weighs less than 20 lbs. must be secured in a rear-facing child restraint system.
-A child under 6 years old must be secured in a safety seat or booster seat. A seat belt alone is not appropriate.
-Children between 6 years old and 11 years old must be secured in a child restraint system or by a safety belt.
-All children under 18 years old must wear a seat belt.

However, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, parents should “keep their toddlers in rear-facing car seats until age 2, or until they reach the maximum height and weight for their seat. It also advises that most children will need to ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until they have reached 4 feet 9 inches tall and are between 8 and 12 years of age.” – See more at: http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/AAP-Updates-Recommendation-on-Car-Seats.aspx#sthash.LKpy55vI.dpuf

A rear-facing child safety seat does a better job of supporting the head, neck and spine of infants and toddlers in a crash, because it distributes the force of the collision over the entire body.  For larger children, a forward-facing seat with a harness is safer than a booster, and a belt-positioning booster seat provides better protection than a seat belt alone until the seat belt fits correctly.” -Dr. Dennis Durbin, MD, FAAP

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Types of Car Seats 

Rear facing – Birth-2 yrs (or longer) – it is best to keep your child rear facing for as long as possible.  Children should remain rear facing until they outgrow the weight or height restrictions for rear facing in your particular car seat as established by your car seat manufacturer.

Forward facing – 2 yrs (or older)-7 yrs – once your child has outgrown the weight or height restrictions for your rear facing car seat they should be in a forward facing, 5 point harness car seat.  They should remain this way until they reach the weight or height restrictions for your car seat.  At this point they will move into a booster seat.

Booster seat – 5 yrs (or older) – 12 yrs – children should be secured in a booster seat using your car’s seat buckle once they have outgrown the weight or height restrictions for your forward facing car seat.  They should remain this way until they are big enough that your car’s seat belt fits them properly. “For a seat belt to fit properly, the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snugly across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face.” (Parents Central)

Remember: ALL children under the age of 18 should ride in the backseat at all times safely secured by a car seat or seat belt.

New research has found children are safer in rear-facing car seats. A 2007 study in the journal Injury Prevention showed that children under age 2 are 75 percent less likely to die or be severely injured in a crash if they are riding rear-facing. -American Academy of Pediatrics

Tips for Keeping Your Kiddos Safe

  • Have your car seat installed by a professional!  “While 96 percent of parents and caregivers believe their child safety seats are installed correctly, research shows that 7 out of 10 children are improperly restrained.” (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)  Call your local hospital, police station or use Google to find certified car seat installation experts in your area.
  • Make sure your child is secured correctly in their car seat.  Shoulder straps should be over their shoulders starting slightly below the shoulders in the back, chest clips should be level with their armpits and the straps should be tight enough so as to not be able to pinch any material between your fingers.

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  • Don’t use after market products on your car seat.  This includes head supports, vehicle seat covers, shoulder strap cushions, etc.  These things aren’t crash tested with your particular car seat, therefore your child might not be as safe when they’re being used.
  • Don’t bundle your child when they’re in their car seat!!!  This is a big one, especially here in the Midwest where it gets cold!  Rather than bundling up your babe, you’re better off to warm up the car and dress them in warm, thin clothing covered with blankets.  Or, you can safely buckle your child in and then put their arms through their coat backwards so that it is covering the front of them.  One last idea would be to make (or buy) a blanket poncho that can go over their head but be flipped up in the back so as to not be under the child/straps.  (Side note – this is what I did… it was super easy to make using a blanket that we already had!)  In order to allow your child to fit in their car seat with a big bulky coat on, you’ll have to loosen their straps.  In the event of a car accident, the coat will compress leaving an unsafe amount of space between your baby and the straps of their car seat.

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  • In the event of a car accident, replace your car seat immediately!  Many people don’t realize that even the smallest fender bender can compromise the safety of your child’s car seat.  No matter how big or small of an accident that you get into, it is important to replace the car seat!  If you turn in a claim to your insurance company, most of the time they will cover the cost of the replacement car seat.
  • Check your car seat’s expiration date.  Did you know that your car seat expires??  It is important to pay attention to the expiration of your car seat to ensure your child’s safety.  Expiration dates vary depending on the car seat manufacturer and can typically be found on the car seat itself.  If not, there should be a manufacture date and you can look on your seat’s manufacturer website to determine the length of time before your seat expires.

Resources

For more information on car seat safety, visit the following websites!

American Academy of Pediatrics

Parents Central

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

SeatCheck

The Car Seat Lady

Easy Freezer Meals

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If you’re like me, before you know it dinnertime has rolled around again and you’re left wondering what to make/what you have the ingredients for/what’s quick, because let’s be honest…some days we’re just not in the mood to spend a half hour or better in the kitchen cooking!  Not to mention busy days/nights where you simply just don’t have the time to make something.  That’s when I either make some sort of processed junk that’s quick or invite ourselves to my parents for dinner so that I don’t have to think about it!

In an attempt to solve my little problem of “what to make for dinner” on those nights, I decided to make up some easy freezer meals to have on hand that I can pop into the oven and have a work-free homemade meal!  This week I only made 3 meals, trying to stick with ingredients that I had in the cupboards already.  I ended up with: stuffed shells, 2 pans of lasagna and tater tot casserole.  **Note: my recipes are for 2-3 servings, or to fill an 8×8 pan**

Grocery List (for all 3 meals):

1 package of Lasagna noodles

1 box of jumbo shells

1 large jar of spaghetti sauce, optional: 1 jar of alfredo sauce

1 large container of ricotta cheese

1 package each of shredded mozzarella, parmesan and cheddar cheese

1 1/2 lbs ground beef

1 package of frozen tater tots

1 can of cream of mushroom or celery soup

1 package of frozen peas and corn

Seasonings/spices: I like to use garlic, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, basil, onion powder

 

Stuffed Shells (I made a pan of 10 stuffed shells)

  • Brown 1/2 lb. ground beef and season to liking.  At the same time, cook shells according to packaging
  • Mix together 1 cup of ricotta cheese, 3/4 cup of mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, basil and Italian seasoning
  • Remove cooked ground beef from heat, let cool and mix with room temperature spaghetti sauce (making it as saucy or meaty as you like)
  • Drain and rinse cooked shells in cold water
  • Spread a thin layer of meat sauce mixture or alfredo sauce at the bottom of an 8×8 baking tin
  • Stuff shells with ricotta mixture, place in a single layer in the pan and cover with meat sauce
  • Sprinkle a little parmesan and mozzarella cheese over the top and cover with tin foil and/or lid
  • To cook: remove tin foil and bake in 350 degree oven for 35-45 minutes or until heated thoroughly and cheese is bubbly.

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Lasagna (I made 2 8×8 pans, each pan half meat, half no meat)

  • Brown 1/2 lb. ground beef and season to liking. At the same time, cook lasagna noodles according to packaging
  • Mix together the rest of the container of ricotta cheese, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, basil and Italian seasoning
  • Remove cooked ground beef from heat, let cool and mix with room temperature spaghetti sauce (making it as saucy or meaty as you like)
  • Drain and rinse cooked noodles in cold water
  • Spread a thin layer of meat sauce mixture or alfredo sauce at the bottom of an 8×8 baking tin
  • Layer noodles, ricotta mixture, meat sauce/spaghetti sauce on non-meat half, and a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese.  Repeat
  • Top with another layer of noodles, a little bit of sauce and a good amount of mozzarella/parmesan cheese.  Cover with tin foil and/or lid
  • To cook: remove tin foil and bake in 350 degree oven for 45-55 minutes or until heated thoroughly and cheese is bubbly.
  • **Note: to make the entire pan meaty, increase your ground beef by another 1/2 lb.**

lasagna

Tater Tot Casserole (I made 2 8×8 pans, each pan half meat, half no meat)

  • Brown 1/2 lb. ground beef and season to liking.  Remove from heat and let cool
  • Mix together 1/2 can cream of celery or mushroom soup, cooked meat, salt and pepper and frozen vegetables if desired.  Mix the other half of the can of soup with salt and pepper and frozen vegetables.
  • Spray the bottom of 8×8 pan with cooking spray
  • Spread 1/2 meat mixture on one side, 1/2 vegetable mixture on the other side
  • Cover with a generous amount of shredded cheddar cheese
  • Top with frozen tater tots.  Cover with tin foil and/or lid
  • To cook: remove tin foil and bake in 350 degree oven for 35-45 minutes or until bubbly and tater tots are browned.
  • **Note: to make the entire pan meaty, increase your ground beef by 1/2 lb.**

tater tot casserole

I’m telling you, freezer meals are the way to go!  The next time you’re in the mood to cook, take advantage and stock your freezer.  A few hours of labor and a one time kitchen cleanup will result in several meals ready to pop in the oven whenever you need them!  Check back in a couple weeks… I just might have a few new recipes for you!

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My Summer “On-the-Go” Kit aka “Ouch Pouch”

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School’s officially out and the days are getting longer and warmer, which means more trips to the park, pool, beach and more.  With a toddler around, more time spent playing outside also means more “boom booms” as M calls them!  I decided that with all of our outdoor adventures, it would be a good idea to put together a little on-the-go first aid kit of sorts.  I came across a super cute idea to make an “ouch pouch”, containing everything one needs in case of a “boom boom” and modified the idea a bit to include the things I deemed necessary for a summer on-the-go kit suitable to grab and throw in any bag on the way out the door to our summer activities, regardless of what they are.

Here’s what’s in my “ouch pouch”:

  • chapstick
  • antibacterial hand wipes
  • hand lotion
  • hand sanitizer
  • homemade, natural bug spray (find the recipe here)
  • bandaids (in a variety of sizes)
  • sunscreen
  • Neosporin
  • antiseptic wipes
  • gauze pads
  • Kleenex
  • Earth Mama, Angel Baby Bottom Balm (for rashes, eczema spots, burns, scrapes, bug bites, basically anything and everything!)
  • and last but certainly not least… a sucker (cause they make everything feel better, right?!)

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What else could you include??  Pain reliever, allergy medicine, Epi pen (for kiddos with severe allergies), inhaler, snacks/granola bars, basically anything you think you might need!!  Having it all put together in a portable little pouch makes it super easy for you to grab and go!

Happy Summer! 🙂

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Happy Mother’s Day!!!

Happy Mother’s Day to all you mamas!!!  I hope you had a fabulous day!  As I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed this afternoon I was bombarded with status’ of those reflecting on the day and paying tribute to their own moms.  I came across the following quote and thought it so beautifully spoke to all kinds of mamas out there:

“To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you

To those who have lost a child – we mourn with you

To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you

To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you

To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.

To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you

To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you

To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you

To those who have lost their mothers – we grieve with you

To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience

To those who have lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst

To those who have aborted children – we remember them and you on this day

To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children – we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be

To those who step-parent – we walk with you on these complex paths

To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren – yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you

To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you

To those who placed children up for adoption — we commend you for your selflessness and remember how you hold that child in your heart

And to those who are [adopting and] pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you

This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you.”

~ Amy Young, “The Wide Spectrum of Motherhood”

So, can I take a minute to give a shout-out to the best mom I’ve ever known???  As I took some time today to reflect on this role that God so graciously blessed me with, I couldn’t help but feel so grateful for not only my beautiful little girl but also for my own mom who taught me everything I know about what it means to be a mom.  That it is the most rewarding, difficult, best job you can ever have.  My mom is my role model, greatest inspiration and best friend and I only hope that someday M feels the same way about me.  I recently read the following bible verse and immediately thought of my mom: “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness…Her children and her husband praise her saying: ‘Many woman have done excellently, but you surpass them all.’” (Proverbs 31:26-29)  I am so, so thankful for her every single day. ❤

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Happy May {Day}!! Baskets anyone?!

Don’t you just love May?  I mean think about it… May signifies the end of school, warmer weather, (April showers bring…) May flowers!, summer’s just around the corner (finally!), and of course May 1st = May Day Baskets!

M's May Day Baskets!

M’s May Day Baskets!

As a kid I loved this fun little tradition of filling up styrofoam or plastic cups (or even those little green plastic containers strawberries used to come in?!) with candy and popcorn and leaving them on the steps of all your friends around the neighborhood!  It seemed like everyone waited until after school to drop them off because it was especially fun when you’d come home from making your deliveries to find several had been left on your step!  I’ll forever associate stale popcorn with May Day! 🙂  Sometimes we would even make them all crafty and creative with decorations on the cup and of course a pipe cleaner for the handle.  I’m so excited because this is the first year that M is going to leave May Day Baskets on the front steps of her little neighborhood friends (super huge thank you to my mom for the cute idea and all the materials for this year’s baskets!!)!  All this planning for and reminiscing about May Day got me to thinking about how this little tradition came about in the first place… so, I did a little research! 🙂

For hundreds of years, May Day has been celebrated by cultures all over the world as the beginning of summer.  People who are tired and fed up with the cold winter weather would use the day to signify and welcome warmer weather, sunshine, flowers, etc.  In ancient Ireland and Scotland, festivals were held because they were thought to improve crops and livestock reproduction.  In later years, however, people participated in traditions such as crowning a May Queen to lead the day’s celebrations, dancing around the May Pole and gathering flowers and soaking up the sunshine.  May Day Baskets were made by children and filled with flowers and candy and secretly left on the porches of neighbors in the early morning hours.  It was believed that if parents and their children went outside early in the morning of May 1st and covered their face with the morning dew they would be more beautiful and blessed with a healthy, prosperous summer.

Another story about the origin of May Day Baskets comes from Roman, German and Celtic traditions that honored the Goddess of Flowers.  On May 1st, the cultures celebrated the Goddess and the hope for Spring by gathering wildflowers.  Children then filled baskets with these flowers and left them on the door steps of their elderly neighbors to brighten their moods and spirits.

Today, many neighborhoods across the country still honor the tradition of May Day Baskets, filling them with candy and leaving them on the porch of neighborhood children.  No matter the origin of the tradition, how fun to spend the time with your kids decorating and filling baskets, running all around making your deliveries and teaching them the joy of brightening the day of someone else!

Here are some super cute May Basket ideas I found online:

 

Happy May Day!!  I hope you have a fabulous first day of May celebrating warmer weather, sunshine and of course May flowers!  I wish you all nothing but health and prosperity this summer!!

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/kidspost/what-is-may-day-all-about/2014/04/29/e2d6056c-cafc-11e3-95f7-7ecdde72d2ea_story.html

http://www.chicagonow.com/lipstick-lollipops/2014/04/may-day-basket/

Friday Find: Resurrection Eggs

Have you heard of these??  I hadn’t until a few days ago, but what a super cute idea for the kiddos!!!  You can buy ready-made eggs, but they’re also really easy to DIY!  There is a little bit of variation in ideas for what to put in the eggs but for the most part the ones I found were pretty similar.  Check it out:

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Resurrection Eggs can help share the real Easter story, the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus so that each of us can be saved through him,  with your kids.  There are 12 eggs, each containing an object and a bible verse to tell the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Starting 12 days before Easter, have your children open one egg each day and discuss the significance of the item inside, as well as the accompanying bible verse.  Use this time to share the real meaning of Easter and reflect on what Jesus truly did for us on the cross!

Day 1: Donkey or leaf – representing the donkey that Jesus rode into Jerusalem/the palm branches people waved at him – Matthew 21:9

Day 2: Silver coins (quarters) – representing the 30 silver coins that Judas Iscariot received – Matthew 26:14-15

Day 3: Cup (thimble?) – representing the Last Supper – Matthew 26:26-28

Day 4: Praying hands/scroll (rolled up piece of paper) – representing Jesus’ prayers in the garden – Matthew 26:39

Day 5: Piece of leather – representing the whips the soldiers used to beat Jesus – Mark 15:15

Day 6: Crown – representing the Crown of Thorns Jesus was made to wear in mockery – Matthew 27:29

Day 7: Nail – representing the cross and nails that pierced His hands and feet – Matthew 27:31

Day 8: Dice – representing how the soldiers cast lots for Jesus’ belongings – Matthew 27:35

Day 9: Toothpick – representing the spear used to pierce Jesus’ side – John 19:34

Day 10: Piece of material/cloth – representing the linen cloth used to wrap Jesus’ body after he died – Matthew 27:59

Day 11: Rock – representing the stone placed in front of Jesus’ tombed – Matthew 27:56

Day 12 – Easter Morning – Empty egg!!!  – representing the empty tomb and Jesus’ resurrection into Heaven – Matthew 28:25

 

There’s even a story book about Resurrection Eggs that you can read with the kids, too!!

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This Easter I hope that you can take some time to put aside all of the secular Eastery things like bunnies and egg hunts to teach your kids and reflect on the true meaning of the day! ❤

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Image credits: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-mIRILdPiQFU/T2_6s8LLr8I/AAAAAAABGM/SbXEZ1n5AdY/s1600/167.JPG

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Ten Things I Didn’t Know About Having a Baby…Before I Had a Baby!

 

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I think it’s safe to say I thought I was prepared.  Ask my family!  They would tell you that I’ve always been semi obsessed with pregnancy/childbirth/being a mom.  I read books.  I read blogs.  I read magazines and websites.  I talked to my mom.  I talked to other moms.  I went to every class the hospital had to offer.  I was so ready and knew all I needed to know about having a baby….. or not!

Starting the second my midwife laid my sweet baby on my chest, things started happened that I was so not prepared for.  And the kicker???  The list of things I didn’t know has just kept on growing!  So here I am 19 beautiful months later sharing some of those with you… maybe then you’ll be a little more prepared.  Probably not (because honestly who’s really prepared to have a baby!?) but at least a few things won’t be such a surprise!  Hang on tight because it’s going to be a long, sometimes graphic, ride!

1. Labor hurts… A LOT.  Okay so this one seems like DUH, but seriously you guys it’s like nothing you’ve ever experienced before.  I mean think about it.  Your body was designed to push a baby out without you even having to consciously push – there’s bound to be some serious pain involved.  In order for a watermelon to come out of an opening the size of a grape it’s not going to be pretty.  It’s kind of hard to describe how it feels but imagine it like this: you’ve got a 200 lb weight sitting on your stomach while your insides literally feel like they’re being ripped out along with intense pressure similar to feeling like you need to poo… now multiply this pain that you’re imagining by like 50.  Nope, you still don’t have any idea. That’s okay, you will…  But are you ready for the craziest part of all???  5 minutes after it’s over, you’ll be thinking “that wasn’t so bad”, 2 weeks later “I really thought it was going to be worse” and a year later “I think I’ll do it again!”  Isn’t it amazing that God erases the memory of pain almost immediately – it’s so you’ll have more!!!!!  And although at some point you will think to yourself, and possibly even shout it from the top of your lungs, that you can’t do this, can’t go on, have to stop…you can, you will and no you don’t.  It won’t last forever, the pain is temporary and you will get through it.  Isn’t that awesome?!

2. While we’re on the topic of labor – let’s talk about your hubby!  All along I assumed he’d be Mr. Tough Guy while I’m doing the hardest work of my life to pop his kid out, right?  Not so much… Okay actually I was pretty lucky – my husband has always been super supportive of me, especially my wishes during pregnancy and labor (ahem all natural, tell me I can do it, don’t offer the drugs, you get the idea).  However his first mistake was not going to bed at a decent time so he’d be well rested.  I mean here we were 6 days past my due date and when I told him at 8:30pm that I was going to take a shower and go to bed because I was having contractions and wanted to see if resting would make them stop, you would think he would’ve gone to bed too, right?  Wrong!  When I woke up at 12:30am and my water started to break… guess where he was.  Downstairs.  Still awake.  No sleep for him… Second mistake: not eating.  By 7am not only had he not slept since the night before – so well over 24 hours at that point, but he also hadn’t eaten since dinner the night before.  Not a good combo.  We’re talking dizzy, feeling like he’s going to pass out, needed to sit down right as I’m going through the hardest part of labor!!!  Thank goodness for my mom who not only took care of me, but him as well! 🙂 Lesson learned: make sure the hubby is well rested, FED!, and has additional snacks/things to drink during the process.  That way you don’t have to add being worried your husband’s going to pass out before the kid is even born to your plate during labor.  All jokes aside – my husband was right there by my side the entire time (with the exception of the few times he had to sit down and take a breather!) and was a great source of support and encouragement! 

3.  Breastfeeding is not easy.  At all.  As in it’s actually really hard, doesn’t seem at all natural at first and is something that you have to work at.  Who knew, right??  I mean I had this idea that I would breastfeed because it’s what my body was made to do and that I would produce enough milk and it would all be a piece of cake.  HA HA!  First of all, it’s really awkward at first!  I mean here you are having just had a baby and all the sudden you’re supposed to just “know” how to nurse her.  And if you don’t, well that’s okay because the nurse or lactation consultant will come in, whip your shirt up and be all up in your business making sure the baby is latching correctly and everything looks right!  Luckily for me, M took right to it and it wasn’t so bad.  However, no one warns you about the pain!  By the 2nd or 3rd day in, we’re talking major pain the first couple of sucks… of every feeding!!!  That Lanolin cream works wonders, but it still doesn’t completely alleviate the pain of your bra rubbing, the water from the shower or baby’s hungry mouth.  All you can hope for is for those babies to callus quickly!!  I have heard however that you can help prevent the pain by “toughening” your nipples ahead of time.  This was something I found out much later after having nursed M so I can’t speak to this – but it’s worth a shot!!  In addition to how painful it can be, milk production is a very sensitive process.  For example, you aren’t drinking enough water?  Your production will go down.  Baby isn’t nursing as much one particular day?  Your production will go down.  You aren’t taking in enough calories?  Your production will go down.  Do you catch my drift?  Here’s my best piece of advice: breastfeeding is hard work.  Get all the assistance and help from lactation consultants that you can, go into it trying your best, but realize that it’s not for everyone and if you aren’t able to continue… you haven’t failed!  I lasted 3 months, but I gave it my best and am proud to have lasted as long as I did.

4.  This one might be my number one thing that no one EVER told me, so listen up.  You think labor is painful?!  Postpartum is wayyy worse!  Everyone knows labor isn’t going to be a walk in the park, but I had no idea how much worse it would be afterwards!  Yeah I had my baby and everything was great, but talk about discomfort and pain!  While the magnitude of labor pain is much worse, postpartum pain goes on and on for days… sometimes weeks.  That is just not a good time!  You’re swollen, bleeding, there’s a pretty good chance you’re stitched up from having been nearly torn in half (okay that might be an exaggeration but it sure feels like it!)  It hurts to sit, there’s pressure when you stand and don’t even get me started on going to the bathroom.  Peeing is bad enough… it burns, but luckily if your hospital is like mine, they give you this fabulous numbing spray, a squirt bottle to keep everything clean and witch hazel pads to ease some of the discomfort.  Combine that will this most amazing cream by Earth Mama Angel Baby called “Mama Bottom Balm” and you’ll be good to go for the most part.  However, poo-ing is a completely different story.  I think I was more afraid to go number 2 after labor that I was to push M out!  I cried.  I’m not kidding.  The thought of sitting on the toilet, pushing it out when I was still trying to recover from first pushing experience (when she was born) was enough to make me lose it!  No one tells you about that!  The terror, anxiety, desperation you will feel!  It’s not fun.. all I can offer you is good luck, but just know that it’s coming.

5.  While we’re on the lovely topic of poo, let me tell you something else disturbing.  There’s a chance, okay a really good chance, you’ll poo during labor.  Here you are bare for the world to see and you just might lose control of your bodily functions.  Lovely, huh?  Luckily those labor nurses?  They’re amazing.  They will have just finished cleaning up vomit (oh yeah, did I mention you might puke, too??) when they’ll have to switch gears to clean up another sort of *ahem* mess.  See why they’re so great? (okay seriously pregnant mamas, how excited are you for labor right about now?!)

6.  You will absolutely, most certainly, no doubt about it need help.  When someone offers it, take them up on their offer!!!  Even if it’s just half an hour to take a nap!  We were so, so lucky when it came to this.  Not only did my mom (who only lives about 5 miles away) stay with us the few couple nights home from the hospital to assist with nighttime feedings, but she also came over and made/dropped off dinner for like 2+ weeks after we came home from the hospital.  Oh, and she cleaned my house, did the dishes and did the laundry that whole time, too.  See, I told you we were lucky!  The moral of the story here: take whatever help, as much help, as you can.  You’ll be glad you said yes.  Side note – let’s say no one offers, you have no family near by, etc…. forget about your house, the dishes, the laundry and sleep when the baby sleeps!!  I know everyone says that, but trust me… DO IT!

7.  Your body will never be the same.  Ever again.  And that’s okay.  There’s something awesome that happens when you have a baby.  Your body changes.  There’ll be stretch marks, perhaps a scar, spider veins, tummy pouches.  And guess what?  They might not ever go away again.  But that’s okay because when you look in the mirror and see every one of those marks remind yourself that it’s like you’ve been branded forever.  A mommy.  And that little girl/boy standing next to you?  They’re your prize for having that body.  And they’re so worth every single blemish.

8.  No one tells you that you’ll never get sleep again.  I mean you expect it’s going to be rough in the beginning, right?  You have a newborn, newborns wake up to eat every couple hours, yeah yeah you get it.  But you don’t.  Here I am, going on 2 years later and guess what.. my baby bear doesn’t sleep all night most nights.  According to a recent sleep study, over 30% of children ages 2-7 wake up at least once a night, and almost every child studied has at least one night a week where they wake up.  So the whole idea that when they move past that newborn stage they’ll sleep through the night is a myth.  Sorry to break it to you.  And if your friends tell you otherwise, there’s a chance they’re lying.  Sorry again.  The bottom line: sometime near the middle of your pregnancy you’ll stop sleeping all night without waking up.. and this will probably continue until your child is in elementary school.  Although then you’ll be listening for them to get up sick or from a nightmare… so maybe it’ll continue until they’re teens.  Then again, by then they’ll be driving, sneaking out and just overall causing you all sorts of anxiety so you probably won’t sleep then either.  Maybe when they move out… but then you’ll be worried about if they’re okay, safe, etc.  Yep, it’s official.  You’ll never sleep all night again! 🙂

9.  You will never have “me time” again.  For the next several years you will always have a shadow, someone watching you, looking up to you, depending on you.  They’re always right there and you’re never alone.  It’s actually kind of fun!  However, you better enjoy always having an audience no matter what you’re doing.  Changing clothes?  Yep, they’ll be watching.  Going to the bathroom?  There too… even if the door is shut, M always ends up sticking her little hands under the door.  Taking a shower?  If they’re not in the shower with you, they’re probably still in the bathroom.  Are you catching on yet?  And even in those few and far in between times that you and the hubby might have a date night or you might get to run to the store alone, it’s like they’re there because chances are they’re all you’ll think about and talk about the whole time you’re away from them.  Your life isn’t so much about you anymore as it is them.  And that’s okay because that’s exactly the way it should be!

10.  And the final thing that although people tried to tell me, I really had no idea about before I had her was the love and joy she would bring into my life.  You think you know love.  That all consuming, lay your life on the line feeling, but let me tell you my friend, you have absolutely no idea.  There’s nothing like it.  It’s the best feeling in the world.  When that little baby, toddler, preschooler, child, teen, adult looks up at you and you’re all they see in the world.  It’s simply amazing.  No one will make your baby’s eyes light up like you.  No one will calm her fears like you.  Sometimes no one will matter but you.  And what a feeling that is.  To know that you love and are so loved, that you are literally the very being responsible for their life (other than God of course), the one they solely rely and depend on.  There is no way to describe the love that your child will bless you with.  And that’s all that matters and what makes it all so worth it.