What breastfeeding should feel like

When Peeper was born, I visited lactation specialists several times a week to try to get breastfeeding to work for us. She was my first baby, so I didn’t really know what breastfeeding should feel like—but I was pretty sure it shouldn’t feel stabby/excrutiating/make-me-cry painful.

When I asked one of the lactation nurses what breastfeeding should feel like, she gently pulled on my thumb. “Like that,” she said. I was bewildered; when Peeper latched, breastfeeding was definitely not that gentle.

Fast forward past many lactation appointments, a belated tongue tie correction, the use of a nipple shield and a lot of persistence, and breastfeeding finally did feel good—I finally got to the point where breastfeeding didn’t hurt.

But that’s not the only part of how breastfeeding actually feels. In short, it can hit a whole bunch of emotions, too. So if you’re wondering what you’re in for when you breastfeed your baby, read on.

What breastfeeding should feel like: Nursing moms may feel these emotional and physical parts of feeding her baby. Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Sometimes motherhood is awesome

If you’ve read this blog often enough, you’ve seen my posts about how hard motherhood can be—like the time one kid trailed poop after her all over the house, or the long length of time breastfeeding was insanely hard, or the roughly 12 months I didn’t sleep more than 3 hours in a row. But sometimes motherhood is awesome.

Take, for instance, the other day. Peeper and I made cookies for absolutely no reason other than the fact that sugar and chocolate chips are delicious. When they were done, the heavenly smell of perfectly browned cookies filled the house.

Shockingly, Kiwi was still asleep—couldn’t she smell the chocolate chip cookies?—so Peeper and I got some more one-on-one time.

I decided to teach her a vital life lesson.

Teaching my kids how to bake and sharing the ritual of cookies and milk—2 ways motherhood is AWESOME! Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Dunking cookies and bonding

Some life lessons are hard to teach—like that friends aren’t always nice to you, or that there are people in the world who value girls less than boys. This was not one of them.

I poured two cups of milk. I placed two chocolate chip cookies on plates. I sat Peeper down at the table.

And I taught her how to dunk a cookie in milk.

Peeper had never dunked a cookie, but the practice combines two of her favorite things—dessert and milk.

She and I ate our milk-softened cookies, still warm from the oven, and giggled. It felt as if we were sharing a beautiful secret. The feeling of doing something special just for us filled the room like the scent of baking chocolate.

Cookies and milk and motherhood

Kiwi woke up a few minutes later. I still try to limit her sugar as much as I can, so before I got her from the crib I cleaned up the evidence of cookies and milk.

When Kiwi and I rejoined Peeper in the living room, Peeper looked up at me and smiled. She had a smear of chocolate on one cheek. As I smiled back at her I thought, Motherhood is awesome.

The toddler no phase: Kiwi is 21 months

At 21 months, Kiwi has developed an ornery, argumentative streak. I know that 2-year-olds love the word “no,” and apparently Kiwi is entering the toddler no phase a few months before she officially enters her terrible twos.

Of course Kiwi isn’t actually terrible, but the no phase is strong with this one. She says “no” more than any other word by far. I knew this was coming—Peeper started her own no phase immediately after her second birthday—but repetition is slightly ridiculous.

If the terrible twos come early, the toddler "no" phase comes with it. Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

How to write a baby shower card: New mom parenting truths

Last year my sister and I threw my younger sister a baby shower, and while it was a lovely afternoon, it also sent me tripping down memory lane to my own showers (like this one and this pirate-themed sprinkle). It also made me think about how to write a baby shower card—and whether I wanted it to be super sweet, slightly snarky, or a combination of both.

At my sister’s baby shower, I couldn’t help but smile at the simultaneously awkward and sweet present-opening tradition, where she sifted through tissue paper-filled gift bags and tried not to cry.

I also remembered reading the touching sentiments people had written me—and the inane platitudes printed on baby shower cards. It’s pretty much guaranteed that if there’s a picture of a stork on the card, the inside message will mention “sweet bundle of joy” or “miracle of birth”—cliches that make me puke a little mimosa in my mouth.

If you’re trying to figure out how to write a baby shower card for the special expecting mama in your life, don’t fall back on some general comment or call it good at “congratulations.” Write out one of these parenting truths—with, of course, the humor and understanding of one mom to another.

How to write a baby shower card: Parenting truths for a new mom. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Parenting truths for a baby shower card

Many parenting truths are not Hallmark material. Here are a few realizations I had to make the hard way.

Feel free to co-opt them when you’re figuring out how to write a baby shower card of your own!

  1. You will be so tired that you will literally hallucinate. In the depths of newborn sleep deprivation, you and your partner will pass a phantom baby back and forth. When you wake up-ish, you will freak out because oh my god what happened to the baby? and of course she will be sound asleep in her bed.
  2. One does not simply put shoes on a baby. Trying to get those adorable Nikes and tiny Toms onto your baby’s itty bitty, squashy, totally uncooperative feet will make you feel like the most incapable person ever to have kids.
  3. Raffi is not all bad. Some of his songs you can actually get behind. And some of it is drivel that makes you want to puncture your eardrums with a teething wafer.
  4. Your wardrobe is no longer your own. Gone are the days you buy clothes because they’re cute and they make you feel good. Now the most important criteria are easy access to the boobs and ability to camouflage avocado puree.
  5. You’ll do everything you said you wouldn’t. You’ll breastfeed your baby to sleep, use all the sleep crutches and hand your phone to a fussy toddler when you’re in the checkout line. And you’ll still be a good mother.
  6. You’ll try to do everything you said you would—then give up. It turns out that cloth diapers actually do require more effort than disposable, pureeing your own baby food is a giant pain in the ass and making all those Pinterest sensory activities doesn’t feel worth it when your baby loses interest after 10 seconds. That’s ok—you probably grew up eating cold hot dogs and wearing clothes washed in regular laundry detergent, and look how great you turned out!
  7. Your baby will pee the second you change him into a dry diaper. Or the second you take off the wet one. (Where’s that peepee teepee?!)
  8. You will do whatever it takes to make your child feel better. Even if that involves sucking the snot out of her nose. With your mouth. Ew.
  9. You will become boring. Other people don’t care that much about how your three-month-old can roll over, or what her third solid food will be, but they will smile and nod. Which is a good thing, since you’ll be so sleep deprived that you’ll cut anyone who doesn’t indulge your mommy ramblings.
  10. You will be hopelessly, mind-bendingly, overwhelmingly in love. Seriously. There is no way to prepare for the monumental changes your heart will undergo. This one just has to be learned firsthand.

Do you have any tips on how to write a baby shower card?

6 ways to avoid body shame in kids: Body positivity for families

“Look at how big my belly is!” Peeper exclaimed. Never has anyone in the history of the planet uttered these words with such joy. As I cheered for her (“Yay, your belly is so big!”), it struck me that her innocent celebration of her body managed to avoid body shame.

I want to protect her body positivity as long as I can. I want to raise both my girls to be confident. I want to continue to avoid body shame in my kids.

How to teach kids to love their bodies, grow a positive self image and avoid body shame. Read more

New moms: Survive your first day on your own with kids

It’s a small mercy that I barely remember my first day on my own with both kids: Predictably, it was a disaster. The day involved a lot of tears, boiling over macaroni, leaking boobs and at least one text informing my husband in no uncertain terms that we were done having kids. But we survived—and you can, too, when it comes time for your first day on your own with kids.

After all, as hard as that first day was, it wasn’t all bad. I managed to put Peeper down for a nap (success!). And as I was rocking both kids in the rocking chair, Peeper kept reaching over and petting her newborn sister’s fuzzy head. It was beautiful. It was tender. It was a moment that kept me from completely giving up.

To get through your first day on your own with kids, New Mom, I’m offering a few tips. Some of these helped me during the early and hard months of having two kids, and some I’ve heard from others.

Until it gets easier—and it will get easier!—here’s how to make it through your first day on your own with kids.

You can survive your first day on your own with kids! Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Kiwi is 20 months old: 10 things I love about my toddler

Kiwi recently turned 20 months old, and I love my curious, spunky, opinionated toddler more each day.

She’s moved past her static cling stage (mostly), though she still loves Mama time. She is growing up fast—but not too fast. And I’m definitely not pushing her to speed up!

At 20 months old, Kiwi is learning something new every day and exploring the world in the way she best knows: through experience. She gets into everything, which is simultaneously infuriating and hilarious, like when she finds the pots and pans then reaches into the utensil drawer for a spatula. Instant drum set!

There are so many things I love about my toddler, but I wrote about just 10. Here’s lookin’ at you, kid.

My toddler at 20 months old: 10 things I love about my daughter / Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more