First-Person Friday

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First-Person Friday is a new beat in which I will showcase writings from #HoCoMd parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, you name it, on the joys, challenges, and experiences of parenthood and family life. Please contact me with questions and your submission.

11 Expert Tips from an Experienced Mama
(Sike, I’ve only been doing this for three months!)
submitted by KellyDS
  1. Be proud of your birth story. Even if it was the pits or if it was a breeze, you created a life and that is worth celebrating.
  2. Crying is OK. You could say I’m an emotional sap but from pre-pregnancy to pregnancy to baby, I’ve got a lot of emotions to deal with and no one likes to be emotionally constipated – let it out. You’ll feel better afterwards good or bad.
  3. Never judge. Everyone has a different outlook on life and how to live it. Whether it be natural birthing, bottle feeding, co-sleeping, or any other life choice or need along your journey, respect everyone’s decision and learn from them. You’d be surprised the facts that are out there vs what you assume.
  4. Fool yourself. What? You heard me… Pretend like you know what you’re doing and people will be none the wiser. I had a family member tell me how calm and collected and motherly I looked the other day (while I was in the middle of trying to calm my terribly upset 3 month old). Ha! Fooled you… or did I fool myself? It’s all a mind game and the more calm you try to be the more calm you somehow seem. Science! (Note: this has no scientific backing of any kind whatsoever… Or does it??)
  5. Embrace your new body. Go ahead, rock those mom jeans. Enjoy every new curve you’ve got. Do you know why it’s there? Cuz you rocked at growing a human inside of you. Yes, back boobs suck. Yes, you may still look 3 months preggo. Yes people may still ask when you’re due. Yes other moms may be able to shed the weight. But the more you try to understand that your body will never be exactly the same, the better you will feel. Once you start a new routine with your child (ha! Like they’ll ever give you the same schedule twice) you may even find some time to get back into working out and eating smart… One day. One day.
  6. Share. There’s no such thing as TMI. Especially with other parents. Let the drama of the terrible sleeper the night before vent out to anyone with ears. Sympathy is always appreciated and getting that off your chest instead of bottling it in is gonna be a lifesaver for your mental health. It’s a good thing I have a group of badass mamas to reach out to whenever I need to vent on an issue, big or small. So make sure you can share your drama with people who will support you or someone who’s just a good listener.
  7. Don’t be a people pleaser. Once you have a child, that mentality is only going to stress you out. You HAVE to be selfish. Because let’s be honest, anything you do for yourself is going to do wonders for your state of mind which in turn will help your baby too! Win/win! Although it always sucks to have to cancel plans last minute or leave an event early, just know that as much as it may hurt someone else, they’ll get over it.
  8. Take a breather. These little ones are frustrating! Why won’t you just tell me what you need?!? Oh. Right…. I’ve had many a moment where no amount of soothing and feeding and changing can stop my little guy’s wails. If the hubs is around I will do a hand off and take a moment to collect myself. The worst is when he stops crying when I hand him off. WTF mate? I’ll need to take a breather just to handle that! P.S., I love my child and don’t want you to think he’s some demon baby but hopefully you catch my drift.
  9. Communicate. There’s nothing worse than thinking someone understands that while they hold this fussy baby, I’ll clean the horrendous kitchen, only to find out that they think you’re being an a-hole for just “doing my own thing” while they deal with Mr. Meltdown. You gotta be specific. It’ll do wonders for everyone. Say exactly what you’re thinking.
  10. Stay connected. There are so many social media sites and community groups that are out there and they’re literally right at our finger tips. It helps me so much to know that there are people out there with similar questions and concerns as me. Or even that I can keep in touch with friends and family after a 2am feeding and I can’t fall back asleep. Granted I find it hard to put this darn phone down sometimes so maybe I should note that while staying connected through social media is great – make sure you set aside time for it and make sure you have undivided attention to your cutie-patootie.
  11. Love unconditionally. That one’s pretty easy huh. But gotta save the best for last. This new kind of love that you’ll have for a child is like no other love you’ve had before. Did you ever think something this tiny would be completely and utterly (ha utters…) dependent on you?? You’re a mother now and that is a major life changer. One that may wear you out and bring you to the brink of exhaustion but man… once those smiles start showing, everything else just melts away. Worth it.

KellyDS is a new mama living in Columbia, MD who loves singing (especially harmony), animation, and anything cinnamon.

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Feed the Baby and Nod YES in Celebration of National Physical Therapy Month

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As a new mommy, feeding my little H can sometimes be a pain in the neck; in the physical sense of course. Have you experienced pain with feeding? Whether you are breastfeeding or using a bottle (dads, grandparents, friends, sisters, brothers, and daycare providers might be helping with the bottle), the feeding process can bring about pain.

October is National Physical Therapy Month. In celebration of the month, I turned to Leigh A. Roberts, DPT, OCS, a Doctor of Physical Therapy, Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist, and a Polestar Certified Rehabilitation Pilates Practitioner right here in Columbia, MD for some tips on how to manage pain during feedings. Below is an excerpt of our conversation.

“New parents spend many hours nursing their little ones. Therefore, we also spend many hours looking down. When baby is newborn, it is important to be sure baby is latched correctly, whether on the breast or bottle; however, once baby becomes good at latching we continue this habit. Why do we continue to do this?

The answer is simple – our little ones make the cutest faces so we don’t want to miss any of their precious expressions. However, all of that looking down can cause neck pain and put stress on your upper back.

As a physical therapist and mom of three children, I can relate to you on a personal and professional level. If you are craning your head down every time you feed, you are setting yourself up for muscle soreness and pain.

  1. Hopefully, you have mastered good positioning for feeding your baby so you already are sitting in a good chair with pillows to support under your arms. Now you must think about your posture and neck position! You are going to learn to NOD your head instead of bending from your neck.
  2. Once you have baby latched, lean back against the chair to support for your upper back and neck. You should never lean forward toward baby to feed him / her, you should always pull baby to you.
  3. Next, tuck your chin in like you are making a double chin (it’s okay – baby won’t mind) and lengthen the back of your neck.
  4. Now, think of a bobblehead doll; this image is actually quite accurate anatomically. Our head sit on top of our spine and can nod up and down like a bobblehead. You can look down at your baby by nodding your head and then gaze down with your eyes.

Doesn’t that feel better already? Remember to also relax your shoulders in this position. Use the time you are feeding your baby as a chance to give your body and neck a break. Remember to support your back, nod your head, and gaze at that amazing child.”

For additional resources, be sure to watch Dr. Roberts’ video on neck pain and poor posture. To learn more about Dr. Roberts and her practice, L A R Physical Therapy, visit her website. You can also find her on Facebook. If you make an appointment, be sure to mention you learned about L A R Physical Therapy through Babies & Banana Bread.

Happy National Physical Therapy Month!

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Photos courtesy of Dr. Leigh A. Roberts (L A R Physical Therapy).

Tip Tuesday: The One-Armed Swaddle

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For one reason or another, I decided to stop swaddling little H at about 2 months. The hubby liked the swaddle and wanted to continue using the technique. I was worried swaddling was habit forming. H was sleeping OK without one so I figured why continue swaddling if he doesn’t need it. I stopped swaddling cold turkey. H was sleeping without the swaddle but his flailing arms and legs would wake him up every 2 to 3 hours. We assumed he was hungry so I would feed him. Nights kept progressively getting worse when they should have been getting better. He had found his thumb but still wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. And, his arms and hands were scaring him as he was just discovering them. Continue reading

NEWSFLASH! Mean Girls and Nice Girls Unite as Mommies

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It starts young. We can all remember the group of girls that were mean. They would look you up and down, exclude you from the lunch table, and whisper behind your back. Sometimes they would even pretend to be your friend just to get your help on school work. I am not bitter or anything. It is funny, because we strive for more gender equality between men and women. But, ladies, shouldn’t we stick together and practice what we preach? How can women demand equality with men if we are not even playing on the same team?

Just think if we were more united as a gender, perhaps we could have already experienced seeing the first woman U.S. president shatter the glass ceiling into millions of pieces. Yet the Huffington Post‘s Juilette Frette explains women are quick to judge and compete with other women. Women are mean to other women. Many seem to think they have another woman’s whole story figured out just by her looks, her appearance, or her body type.

I should mention not all women are mean. But, sadly all too often women are mean to women. I have found motherhood seems to change all of this.

Outside of my amazing husband, I owe much of where I am today as a new mother to the women I have met and reconnected with along the way. Continue reading

There is No Single App for That?!

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These days there seems to be an app for everything. But, when it comes to parenting, there is no one, all-inclusive parenting app.

As soon as I found out we were expecting. I instantly inherited parenting books from family and friends. Immediately after skimming  the books, I realized  reading before the baby had even arrived was going to be information overload and create anxiety. I could have developed the best, most detailed plan, but I did not know my baby yet. What kind of personality does he have? Does he have colic or is he laid back? What if he is born with a concerning health condition?  I have continued to avoid reading books. Instead I prefer talking to real moms going through the same challenges and successes I am. I am so lucky to have built a support network with other local new moms through the new moms support group hosted by Healthy Families and the Howard County General Hospital.

Earlier this week, a new local mommy and I chatted about her bottle challenges. It was an awesome feeling to know she trusted me and wanted to use me as sounding board.  At the same time, I had some concerns about leaving my little guy in a few weeks to go back to work. She had some great advice for me. Later that same day I joined a Facebook discussion in reaction to the TODAY anchor, Savannah Guthrie, still putting mittens on her 7-week old little, adorable girl. It turned out Savannah was extremely fearful of clipping her baby’s nails and felt that was the only solution. I had offered some advice – use a nail file.  A few hours later TODAY mentioned me by name and referenced my advice in an online story.

OK, wait, what? Continue reading