Weaning Wars: The Physical and Mental Struggle of Discontinuing Breastfeeding

Disclaimer: This post is based upon my personal experience with breastfeeding two babies. While I did struggle in ways that will be discussed below, I am not attempting to dismiss the experience of women who could not breastfeed or chose not to for whatever reason. Motherhood is hard no matter how it works out and I truly and wholeheartedly believe that fed it best. Baby is the happiest with a happy mama. Thanks for reading!

jenna-norman-292396-unsplash.jpgI did it. I felt a little wrong as I dumped that glorious milk powder into the tepid water and shook it like a Polaroid picture. I made my daughter a bottle of formula. As I sat feeding her that “freedom powder” I was not prepared for the rush of emotions with which my mind was overtaken.

This is amazing.

This was my first thought. Anyone, anyone can now feed her. I am no longer the sole source for her nutrition. We went through a serious bottle battle with this little nugget. No silicone imposter would satisfy her hunger, only the real deal. Which someone told me I should take as a compliment? I took it as YOU WILL NEVER BE ALONE AGAIN. Once a breastmilk bottle was a tolerable alternative (Praise Jesus!) I started dreaming about being done all together: back to clothing with a variety of necklines and finally destroying my pump, Office Space style. And then, as it always does, the mom guilt set in.

Mom guilt is the worst.

I have had no issues (well, No isn’t true…mastitis, as I have been quoted is the motherhood equivalent to stepping barefoot on a Lego, repeatedly.) But no tongue ties, tearful weight checks, or many of the other trials that color the breastfeeding experiences of many of my dear friends. Why can’t I have the earth mama beautiful bonding experience that all of the crunchy moms describe? Just once I’d like to be nursing my little cherub and be transported to a field of wild lavender with a flower crown, is that too much to ask? Apparently. But I digress.

It comes down to the internal battle a) you are a bad mom if you choose your needs over the needs of your baby b) feed your baby something and stop listening to the judgmental bia that lives in your head. I think I will end up beginning the active weaning process in the not too distant future as I do have a number of times in the coming months where I will be away from my daughter for more extended periods of time. Like more than five hours. (Exclusive pumping moms, you are the true rock stars.) I really am not a lover of the pump, unlike my two year old son who is so sad he cannot make milk from his bellybutton. That being said, there are some things about breastfeeding that I will miss.

  1. Convenience: Being a 24 hour diner has its downsides, but there is something so convenient about having everything you need contained on your person at all times. It is much easier to redirect (i.e. swat at) a toddler while nursing with one arm than bottle feeding with two.
  2. Cost: FREE goes a long way. I love free, who doesn’t love free?
  3. Closeness: I do feel particularly bonded with my babies when I get to retreat to a calm dark space and nurse quietly.

I am not someone who magically bounces back (a term I personally hate, being a person rather than a four square ball) after birth with the aid of only breastfeeding. In actuality it makes me ravenous, and has the somewhat opposite effect. I also, had some serious symptoms that mimicked feelings immediately postpartum upon weaning my son. I am not looking forward to the emotional pendulum of that process again. However, I am looking forward to the freedom of having my body be purely my own again.

I love when people are confident in parenting decisions. Kind of in the way that I love when people can ride a unicycle, its unique and I know I will never be able to do it. It’s a gift to not have a forced timeline in anything, but especially in breastfeeding. I am not sure what my path will be, but I hope those of you who also have a love/hate relationship with milk making can relate to the struggle.

I Am A Crappy Wife Sometimes

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Five years into our marriage, and I can finally admit, I am a crappy wife sometimes. Not all the time. I have my moments: carpet lines and handmade dinners have occurred on the same day, but generally there’s a combination of success and falling short on the daily around my house. I am a stay at home mom, but if you have ever read anything I have written you know that is way too ambiguous a title for such a type A person. I never had aspirations of June Cleaver, but maybe at least Clare Dunfey? I fill my day with a lot of immeasurable tasks, but, truth is, I don’t even always do those. Here are some examples:

My House is a war zone.

Let’s start with the most obvious. I love it when my house is clean, but I kind of suck at it. Every closet looks like that secret one Monica has on Friends with crap towers piled as high as the eye can see. I have tried chore charts, apps, everything short of cleaning hypnotherapy. I bleached scratches into our stainless steel cooktop. Apparently, they make stainless steel specific cleaner and contrary to my third-trimester clean-freak pregnant brain, one cannot bleach everything. Thank the good Lord that my husband never complains about the daycare that is our living room or the stacks of $%!t on every flat surface. I am a crappy wife sometimes.

I am appallingly terrible at laundry.

Like really appallingly terrible. Got brand new designer jeans you need shrunk down to fit a toddler? I am your girl. Part of it may come from technique (or lack there of). Literally everything goes in the washer in some random assortment, gets washed, then rewashed with scent booster after sitting there until that awful mildew smell sets in, and finally dried repeatedly for about 24 hours. My super wife stain remover tricks are limited to scrubbing baby poop out of car seats with dish soap and vinegar. Can’t win ‘em all. Oh and I also can never remember to get the dry cleaning. They usually call reminding me of close we’ve had their since March…of 2017. I am a crappy wife sometimes.

I still nap when the baby naps.

I really, really like to sleep. Several days a week instead of oh say, laundry or cleaning (see above) I hunker down in my covers at naptime and get absolutely nothing accomplished. That pretty much leaves post-bedtime to log measurable work done throughout the day, and that is even rarer for me. With two little kids, I know I am likely to be tired for the next several decades, but much of the population seems to do just fine with no nap. This is not to say I am not occasionally productive during naptime, I mean even the Cubs win the World Series every so often. I am a crappy wife sometimes.

I can cook, but I don’t always.

I am actually a decent cook. Sure, I have had my fair share of Pinterest fails like any mere human, but for the most part I can turn out a pretty tasty dinner. I just don’t always do it. I love to go out to dinner. I love Postmates (delivery of local restaurant food as take-out for those of you unaware). I have all the resources at my disposal to cook healthy, nutritious meals 24/7, I just don’t. I am a crappy wife sometimes.

If you were to ask my husband, he would not complain one bit because that’s just the type of gentleman he is. I’m sure he’d appreciate a cleaner house, more home cooked meals, and he’d really appreciate my not destroying his clothes with my atrocious laundress skills. For all of my crappy wife habits, (I didn’t even touch on my mood swings or the fact that I don’t believe in cuddling while sleeping), I do love my little family more than anything in this world. I hope I can show them they are so cherished even if I cannot manage to retain sock marriages or have streak free windows. I am a crappy wife sometimes, but my heart is full.

The Identity Crisis of Motherhood

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I really thought I knew what I was getting myself into with this whole parenting thing. Spoiler alert: I did not. The hardest thing for me, aside from the sleep deprivation and soul crushing mom guilt about literally everything, is the identity crisis of motherhood. Who am I now? Who am I when I am not mommy?

It’s not that all of my aspirations and personality traits vanished when the stick turned pink, they just got put into perspective. I know there are plenty of moms out there who are complete badasses. They literally do it all: careers, parenting, hobbies, volunteering, organic baking. I just have to accept that is not me. I am more the amazon prime loving, store bought cookie mom rolling in wearing yoga pants that have been to a yoga class.

I have tried many things to figure out what type of mom I am. That’s just how a closet type A mind works. I need to put myself in a box. A set of rules for the order of all the things. I still haven’t quite found my niche. The thing that fulfills all of me.

The exercise mom

I will never be a yogi or cross fit guru. I have to let go of the idea of ever being #fitmomgoals. I will say, proudly, that on my journey into this type of mom, I found that exercise can actually be great for ridding oneself of extra anxiety some of us were just lucky enough to be born possessing. And, it makes me feel like a little less of a poser for wearing athleisure wear exclusively. But, it’s not my box.

The direct sales mom

This idea is very intriguing to me. The thought of harnessing the SAHM work force, is a brilliant move by companies. I look around me and see my sister about to graduate from business school, and I have a random thought of, could I do that? I’m sure I could, but what would I have to give up, ask my family to give up to make something like that happen. And do I even want to, or am I just jealous of her passion? I am enjoying my foray into direct sales as It’s pushed me to try new things and reach out to people I don’t know well. I don’t think I have the personality that’s required to turn it into more than a hobby. Not my box either.

The crafty mom

Hahahahahaha. I hate senseless messes. I hot glued my finger together trying to make hair bows. I have completed one sensory bin and I spent eight times as long cleaning it up as my toddler did playing with it. DEFINITELY, not my box.

The blogger mom

This has been the best fit for me so far. I can spill my true feelings as a kind of therapeutic exercise without giving up any family time. When someone resonates with something I write the joy in that is inexplicable. I have always enjoyed writing, my challenge comes from the technology side. I can barely check my email without help. This could definitely be a part of my box.

It’s quite the transition.

Going from a career in nursing that I was so passionate about and good at, or so I like to think in my romanticized rear view memory, to a stay at home mom. There’s no rubric for my evaluation. No set of standing orders that tell me what to do in a given situation. That being said, I will not pretend to be unaware of my privilege here. I am extremely fortunate to be able to stay home with my kids, while my husband provides for us financially. I try not to take that for granted, though I am not always fantastic about the expression of that gratitude. Sorry, babe! Motherhood is an amazing journey and while I am incredibly passionate about my sweet little spawn, I often feel like I am not good at motherhood. Raising children is like doing a one million piece jigsaw puzzle over the course of decades. I put A LOT of pieces in the wrong place, maybe even lose a few. The final picture will be beautiful, even if I can’t see it yet. I want to show my children that being a mother is one of the best gifts life can give you, but it will never erase my other gifts. Therefore, I will continue to search for things to fill my box.

Dearest Darlingest Mommy to Be: A No BS Letter on Bringing Your Bundle into the World

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Dearest Darlingest Mommy to Be,

As Ben Franklin famously said, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” Childbirth is proof that God wants to keep us from becoming self-sufficient snarky bitches. I found that a lot of people sugar coated the transition from pregnant to motherhood. I vow to do no such thing.

 

Labor:

It hurts a whole hell of a lot. I don’t care what your pain threshold is. It’s painful. But no matter how you give birth you are a badass. This brings me to the first of many mom life lessons, if you push for 6 minutes or practically sneeze out an 8 pounder with no tearing/meds/while looking like a rock star, keep your mouth shut. No one wants to hear how you rocked the hardest physical experience of most female’s lives. I have no doubt that you will do an amazing job however it goes down. Keep an open mind. If you trust the care providers that are helping you deliver than everything will go great. The best birth plan is a healthy baby.

 

  • You usually cannot eat, so I brought a pack of lifesavers to have something to suck on when I got hungry. I didn’t tell my nurse but the reason you can’t is for anesthesia in case of an emergency c-section so just be prepared to spit out the watermelon flavored candy or risk getting caught.

 

  • It’s really messy. I brought cute nightgowns and ended up wearing the hospital gowns the whole time. Blood and sooooo much amniotic fluid (like for real there’s a lot up there).

 

  • You will be sore. Not just lady parts. Arms, abs, pretty much everything. It feels like you just lost American Ninja Warrior. It’s called “labor” not “vacation”.

 

  • The hospital bathroom will look like a scene from CSI. You will bleed A LOT. It’s normal up to a point. Granny panties for a while. Wear those vagscicle pads. Get some super large night time pads for home as well. I slept on a towel for a week with each kid to protect my sheets, but I may have been a bit of an overachiever in the blood loss department. Le sigh.

 

Postpartum:

Your boobs will be out so just don’t fight it. Between lactation consultants, nurses, and all sorts trying to help your baby figure out her first meal. Its ok for it to hurt, but not so much that you want to cry all the time. If it hurts like that see an LC immediately. It’s not worth losing your breastfeeding relationship by delaying that if it’s something you really want to do.

 

  • Get yourself some Dermoplast. It’s numbing spray that will numb up your postpartum whoha when you have to pee after birth. Because that shit stings. https://www.amazon.com/Dermoplast-Pain-Relieving-Spray-2-75-oz/dp/B0006GWSTO/ref=sr_1_3_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1525141917&sr=8-3&keywords=dermoplast

 

  • Speaking of shit. Take your stool softeners. Everybody poops. Everyone but you if you don’t take them. Also stay hydrated this will help the whole process.

 

  • Night 2. Babies realize that they are no longer ethereal mermaids on day two and that the world is cold, lonely and all around sucks compared to life 20,000 leagues under the sea. It’s completely normal for baby to want only mama and a boob in her mouth at all times during night two. This is particularly hard because you are so exhausted from birth, but thankfully there’s still so much adrenaline.

 

  • New babies have their days and nights mixed up initially. This takes some getting used to. Everyone will tell you to sleep when the baby sleeps. This also means do laundry when the baby does laundry. It’s kind of crap, but try to catch as many winks as you can. It’s so hard with all the emotions, feeds, and adrenaline.

 

  • Day 4/5 Milk comes in (cue your new porn star boobs). But you won’t want anyone, including your baby to touch them. A lot of increased tenderness even a slight fever is normal. Try to avoid over pumping as milk is supply and demand and it will just make the problem worse. hot Hot HOT shower with bikini top on + some Motrin or pain meds if you are taking them postpartum (which I recommend) should help.

 

  • Take it easy. It’s very easy to feel weird surges of energy but try to rest as much as possible.

 

  • Temp changes are normal. Going from freezing to sweating is hormones working themselves out..

 

  • Mood swings like you’ve never had before. Chances are whatever you are feeling, its 100% normal. You can want to protect your baby so fiercely as to never let her experience so much as a paper cut and simultaneously hope someone else will adopt her so you can just get some mother effing sleep. Hormones can make you feel very, very dark and anxious. I suggest talking only to people who have had a baby in the last five years about this because the older moms forget and those who haven’t experienced it just don’t get it.

 

  • Breastfeeding is hard work. You need a ton of water and a ton of calories to make milk. The pain gets better at about week two. Put those Lasinoh soothies in the fridge for extra soothing comfort. Kellymom.com is a great resource. She’s a little crunchy for my taste on parenting in general (ie is pro bed sharing) but has good feeding advice. Particularly for the middle of the night when you don’t necessarily want to call anyone.

 

  • On that note. Please don’t bed share. If you do, don’t tell me about it or I won’t sleep. Most SIDS deaths are actually bed sharing accidents. I really wanted to a few nights because I was just that tired. If you need ideas on how to stay awake for night time feedings, let me know.
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  • You will love your husband so much more. Watching him care for your baby is the sweetest thing in the whole world

 

  • You will hate your husband and his ineffectual stupid nipples.

 

  • Baby poop is freaky. There are sites devoted to the many normal shades of poop.

 

  • You will still look six months pregnant after delivery. This pissed me off to no end when I did the math. Its life. You may live in nursing tanks and sweats for the next few weeks, unless you’re Kate Middleton. And if you are don’t brag, no one likes a superior princess.

 

  • Babies don’t sleep, which is super annoying but also protective. Needing milk every few hours means someone who loves them is giving them the once over every so often and hopefully noticing if anything is wrong. If you have a freak baby that does sleep, again it’s probably not your superior parenting but luck so don’t brag. The kids who sleep early on will probably be on MTV’s Teen Mom later. Parenting is all a karma laden trade off.

 

  • Everything you are feeling is normal. Unless it’s not normal and that’s ok too. Just make sure you talk about it.

 

  • Shower and get out of the house. This can change your whole mindset.

 

  • You are doing an amazing job. Not only did the universe destine this baby for you, but it also destined you to be the one to love and protect this baby. Literally a match made in heaven.

 

  • Call your friends. We love you.

 

I could have gone on and on, but you’ll do great!

 

XOXO,

Me

Married to Medicine: Pride, Jealousy and the Things I Have Learned

I met my husband during his second year of medical school. I’d been a pediatric nurse all of six weeks so together we had a laughably small amount of medical knowledge. I worked pediatric ICU for seven years throughout his medical school and residency training. Now I am entering in my second year as a stay at home mom and my husband is in his third year as an emergency medicine attending at the only level one trauma center in the state.

Things have changed.

I am no longer a source of income, let alone the source of income. There’s a lot of mixed emotions in being a stay at home mom. Look to the social media account of any thirty something woman you know and you will see article upon article about how hard it is for women to work with kids, how hard it is to stay home, just how hard it is. Please don’t misunderstand me. I am beyond grateful of my ability to stay home financially and emotionally. My husband’s income, despite six figure med school debt, house payments, car payments, etc. provides us with a beautiful life. I will never be able to thank him enough for solely shouldering the burden of financially supporting us. But I would be lying if I said there isn’t a part of me that misses giving our family a meaningful financial contribution.

I don’t regret being present for every milestone, many of which he experiences via video. I don’t take lightly the weight of being there to mold our little people each and every day. I am additionally so glad that my kids have their father to look to as an example of tireless work ethic. He never ceases to amaze me by attempting to balance his life despite his insane hours.

Oh those insane hours.

I write this on a Saturday during naptime. Everyone including my husband is asleep. He is on his third out of five night shifts in a row. He is currently working as many if not more hours as he did during his residency. There are no weekends or holidays in medicine. A fact I thought I fully understood having a nursing background. It’s a bit of a different lens to be the one at home waiting to celebrate Christmas on the 26th of December. Or knowing Saturdays and Mondays might be exactly the same. I have to check my jealousy sometimes when I see families out together on weekends knowing they get that time consistently every week. If it feels this way for me, I can’t imagine how it feels for him.

Here are some things that I have learned on this journey:

  1.  I have learned that it’s the quality of time spent together not the calendar that defines a holiday.
  2. I have learned that #itgetsbetter used to describe life once medical school, residency and other training are complete isn’t always true. You are still married to the same person and married people sometimes have issues. That’s life whether you can afford McDonalds or Mortons.
  3. When I have a hard day, he often had a harder one. This is not to pit us in some sort of competition, but to recognize the love that must be present if he can come home from a shift with someone else’s literal blood, sweat and tears on his clothing only to listen to me talk about block towers and sanctimommy drama.
  4. His family comes first emotionally and as the most important factor in decision making, but cannot always come first in the traditional sense. During the final weeks of both of my pregnancies we had to have contingency plans for our contingency plans in the hopes that he would not have to miss the birth of his own children while caring for strangers.
  5. This is not a career path for the faint of heart. The training process alone adds 5 to infinite years post college graduation. The debt accumulation for medical education is insane. The mental exhaustion is astronomical. You better love it.Image-1

I am so proud of how far we have come. From study groups to moving across the country for residency, jumping through hoop after graduate medical education hoop, and finally landing back in Oklahoma his drive has not let up. I am in awe of the difference he makes every time he goes to the hospital. He works with some amazing colleagues that challenge and teach him constantly. The emergency department is no picnic. He is often facing ungrateful and difficult people for ten hours at a time. And yet, he still loves it. Switching schedules, coding patients, and saving lives.

 

Special Thanks to Mary Cramer Photography for capturing my family! Marycramerphotography.com

Two Under Two: Tales from The Fourth Trimester

I have officially been a mom of two under two for about eight weeks now. Both of my little angels are currently sleeping in their respective cribs for afternoon nap. I would approximate that this mutual nap time will last about six minutes. It’s been a bit of a wild ride so far. For those of you with more than two children, mom’s with deployed spouses or single moms, you are literally my heroes. I don’t know how you do it. But like really…how do you do it?

Here are some things I have learned in the last eight weeks:

My first baby seems so big, even though he is still very little.

This has been a big struggle for me. The moment we walked through the door with our daughter, in my head my son aged so much. All of the talk (errr bribery) about big boy this and big boy that often makes me forget that he is still not even two years old. A baby himself by some standards. His whole world just got rocked. And even though he loves his “sissy” it’s a big change that requires some growing pains for everyone.

Someone always needs me. And there’s guilt about that.

Sometimes the stars align and we have blissful moments of happiness for all involved but usually someone needs something that my two hands can’t get fast enough. I am so glad my uptight first time mom personality has softened some. That mom guilt though. My toddler is getting lots of screen time and my daughter is getting lots of swing time. I keep trying to tell myself it’s a season. Triage and tend to the biggest need first.

One was so busy until I had two.

I have a very active toddler. He’s into everything, plays tough, but is oh so sweet. He hates being cooped up in the house for too long which is a bit of an inevitability when a new babe arrives just in time for the holidays/flu season. With my husband’s shift work, I am gaining confidence venturing out with the two of them alone. But I still much prefer man on man coverage to zone. Thank God for grocery pick up!

The newborn is the easy one.

All those things I thought made newborns so challenging are still present. The night feeds. The unpredictable schedule. Maybe they just don’t bother me as much this time because I have seen the other side. The newborn period is racked with emotion and little sleep but it’s so fleeting. Newborns usually only want one of a handful of things. Unlike toddlers who often want things like THOSE fruit snacks on THAT plate in THAT chair NOW! Which is harder to guess than boob or bum wipe?

Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly tough moments. It’s also 100% possible that she is simply an easier baby, but I think a lot of it comes down to my being calmer. My middle of the night googling has gone down 300 fold.

The sibling moments melt your heart.

Watching the way my son gets up from a nap and has to find sissy to say hi or give her a sloppy kiss makes the chaos seem insignificant.

We are figuring out our new family dynamic day by day. My husband is an amazing father, a blessing that cannot be put into words. My daughter sleeps much better than her brother did at this age, which as we all know in the newborn period sleep is life. We read “Hands are not for Hitting” twelve times a day, but the jealousy is turning into a deep sibling bond that I cannot wait to watch bloom throughout their childhoods. Two under two. I wouldn’t have it any other way.julie-johnson-514136 (1)

The Gratitude Attitude: Shifting Perspectives of Stay-At-Home Mommin’

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I love being a stay at home mom. That does not mean I love everything about it. Especially recently, as I await the birth of my second child, I have been struggling with who I am outside of the definition of mom. I am a wife too. But what else? Where are the qualities that are uniquely me? These kind of questions are so important to ask, but the guilt and feelings of selfishness that come along with them are not easy. In a conversation with my sweet husband a while back, he asked if I would rather go back to work. A simple question that should have made me feel like the possibilities for our current arrangement could shift if that would make us happier as a family. Namely, my sweet hubby, was asking what can we do to make you happier? I should have been over joyed and called some sort of awards sales place to get his name etched on a Husband of the Year trophy. Instead, I got upset and offended. Am I doing a terrible job staying home? Is that why he wants me to go back to work? I could have an Olympic medal in reading into statements incorrectly. After some calming down and clarification. Ahhh clarification, the WD40 of relationships. I complained that while I loved being home for each of the milestones of our son, sometimes I felt like I wasn’t using my brain and didn’t feel as fulfilled as I thought I would being a stay at home mom. My husband in all of his brilliance asked, “Did you really expect to be fulfilled by dishes?? They call staying home a job because its work.”

Guys, I am calling the trophy dealer. He may just be a genius. I keep coming back to this statement of brilliance when I am having a particularly rough day. It’s work. But good news is, there is joy in work! A sense of accomplishment. Getting sloppy kisses from my son is a gift. That is not work and I don’t intend to take the flexibility of our situation for granted. It is truly a huge blessing that we can make my staying home work for our family. My challenge is the gratitude attitude. I don’t have to enjoy each toilet ring to enjoy being a stay at home mom. My goal this Thanksgiving season is to find an attitude shift in my top 5 least favorite household and mothering tasks. So here it goes:

  • Waking up Early: I was a night shift nurse for almost a decade. I loveeee to sleep in. That genetic predisposition was not inherited by my offspring. 6:30am is a late check out at Hotel Redmon. Attitude shift: My son is always so happy to see me. I am very lucky to generally get to be the first person to hug him each morning. Bring on the end of Day Light Savings!
  • Toddler Tantrums: This is a new phase for us. I think a lot of my frustration here comes from the fact that sometimes I also want to lay on the floor of Target and scream. I, however, have language skills. I am thankful that I can communicate my feelings (usually) in order to have my needs met.
  • Laundry: Laundry is super gratifying once it’s all folded and put away. I have one (ONE) disciplined chore that I do on the same day every week like my grandmother (mother of eight!). I change my sheets on Tuesdays. I love Tuesdays. I feel accomplished even if all I do around the house is make the bed, I know I will sleep better.
  • Changing Dirty Diapers: A regular child is a happy child. No one likes to be backed up. I will attempt to laugh to myself and think of the book “Everybody Poops”.
  • Toddler Meals Spilled Purposefully onto a Freshly Cleaned Floor: This one is really hard for me. Thank goodness we have a dog without a discerning palate. The issue is several fold for me. I cooked the food and now you destroyed it, made a mess and are likely still hungry. Especially as the months get colder, I will remind myself to be thankful that I have a home to clean up and enough food to make another PBJ. He is only little for just a little while.

So I am not fulfilled by dishes? Oh well. I am still a good mother. As long as I try to shift my attitude to gratitude I bet I find more fulfillment than I thought possible in this work.

BBQ Chicken Baked Potatoes

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BBQ Chicken Potatoes

4-6 Baking Potatoes scrubbed clean

Salt and Olive Oil for Roasting

1 lb Chicken Tenders/ Sliced Breasts

1 cup Shredded Cheddar

1 bottle BBQ Sauce

Ranch to taste

1/2 cup Apple Sauce

1/2 tsp Chili Powder

1/2 tsp Black Pepper

2 Tbsp Brown Sugar

Bake salted/oiled potatoes in 400 degree oven until tender (about one hour). Slice open once cooled and top with 1/3 cup BBQ chicken mixture and cheddar. Return to oven for 10 minutes or until cheese has bubbled. Top with drizzle of ranch and BBQ sauce. Serve with a side of steamed broccoli.

For BBQ Chicken: Add 1 lb raw chicken sliced into tenders to slow cooker with 1 cup BBQ sauce, 1/2 cup apple sauce, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp chili powder, and 2 Tbsp brown sugar. Cook on low for 4-6 hours until meat shreds easily with two forks. Shred and reserve for potatoes.

Image courtesy of: http://asunshinyday.com/shredded-chicken-bbq-baked-potato/

I’m Just Hormonal

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“I am just hormonal.” I have said this more times in my life than I can remember. At least once a month since age thirteen and about 30 times a day during my pregnancies, breastfeeding, Tuesdays, etc. Per Merriam Webster

A hormone is a natural substance that is produced in the body and that influences the way the body grows or develop.

Let the weight of that sink in for a second. Hormones control everything from hunger to physical attraction. They are medically for lack of a better word, legit. So why do we (especially as women) use the term to explain away true feelings, both physical and emotional?  Its as if the feeling is less reasonable if there is a potential hormonal component, when in fact the opposite may be true. Being pregnant my emotions are running higher than usual. Not to say I am the most even keeled person the rest of the time, but currently my toddler and I are vying for most emotionally stable. Spoiler alert, he’s winning.

In my experience the hardest part of this is the anxiety/snap/guilt cycle as I like to call it. I am worried about _______ which could be anything from “I wonder if my son does have an ear infection?” to “In the event of zombie apocalypse, what could I do to help with survival?” Next something somewhat irritating happens: an entire meal thrown on the floor by my toddler or an empty gas tank when I am running late (I hate being late!) The inevitable annoying parts of life that just sort of happen. And I snap with a wayyyy bigger reaction that probably is appropriate. Then the guilt sinks in. Guilt is actually the worst. Anxiety feeds off of guilt. “I am such a terrible mother. Why don’t I have more patience?” “If I were more organized, I would never run out of gas.” To make myself feel better, I will make an excuse like “Ugh, I am just so hormonal.” Why yes I am. I am growing a human. Is that an excuse to lose my cool constantly? Of course not, but it does not mean my feelings silly or unfounded.

I fully believe that feeling like hormonal complaints are invalid is a core reason anxiety, depression, post-partum anxiety/depression, breastfeeding related hormonal disorders, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, thyroid conditions, the list goes on are under diagnosed/treated in women. We, especially mothers, think we should just handle it. I am in full support of pharmacological treatment for true disorders, especially in combination with therapy. I do believe however, that we could do a lot of good simply by admitting that our physical feelings of yuck and our emotions that we often blow off are valid. That its ok to have a hard time. Its ok to need help. Take Type One Diabetes for example. No one would say “I’m sorry your pancreas doesn’t produce insulin (a hormone), but you really should suck it up and stop being so hormonal.”

Step one is admitting, right?

Now this whole concept is a work in progress. Just ask my husband (Sorry, honey) But I think that if I can legitimize the reason behind my anxiety and guilt, I may actually gain more control and become a little more rational. I mean not completely rational. I am not expecting a personality transplant or anything.  Would I ever tell someone else that their feelings were invalid even if I didn’t understand them? Of course not. We do it to ourselves constantly. My challenge to myself and to you is to give credence to how you are feeling. I am more than just hormonal.

How do hormones impact you? What can you do to legitimize your feelings?

Family Dinner: Authenticity is So Important

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Tonight for dinner, I was so pleased to be able to use the organically grown squash my son and I picked up at the local farm. I find that watching me shave pieces of nature into noodles helps my son develop his fine motor skills. I always strive to live a more organic, kinesthetic philosophy of parenting . After all children are our future. #greenparenting

We’ve all seen this Facebook update. I mean, I’m guilty of trying to make myself look more Pinteresty, more desirable. It is in fact ruining us all. I have mountains of anxiety about precisely this issue, so why would I ever play into it further? Because its what you do. A few friends of mine have recently inspired me to try to be more authentic so here it goes.

We did go to an adorable organic farm this week, Providence Farms in Edmond. We did not go because I am trying to save the planet one organically grown zucchini at a time. We went because they open at 8am and Ben woke up at 5:45. I made a casserole with it because we live in Oklahoma and vegetables are so much better with cheese. Utilizing this as a base recipe:

Grilled Zucchini Double Cheese Tuna Bake a delicious healthy, cheesy and creamy bake, the perfect family dinner summer casserole. A new favorite/anitalianinmykitchen.com

Photo and recipe credit: https://anitalianinmykitchen.com/grilled-zucchini-double-cheese-tuna-bake/

Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Servings6 servings
Calories382 kcal
AuthorRosemary
Ingredients
  • 3 medium zucchini sliced (not too thin) lengthwise and grilled
  • 6 ounces tuna 140 grams
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons bread crumbs 10 grams
  • 1 cup shredded firm mozzarella 100 grams
  • 1 egg slightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese + extra for sprinkling 25 grams
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 15 grams
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 2.6 grams
  • 1/2 teaspoon parsley .3 grams
  • 1/2 cup white sauce homemade or storebought 120 grams
  • HOMEMADE WHITE SAUCE**
  • 1 tablespoons butter 15 grams
  • 1 tablespoon flour 13 grams
  • 1/2 pinch salt
  • 1 1/4 cups milk 280 grams
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350° (180° celsius), lightly grease a deep (8×6 inch / 20×15 centimeter) baking dish
  2. In a medium bowl mix together, tuna, bread crumbs, mozzarella, egg, Parmesan, olive oil, salt and parsley.
  3. Line the baking dish to cover the bottom with grilled zucchini top with 1/3 tuna mixture and pour half the white sauce on top, cover with another layer of grilled zucchini, 1/3 tuna mixture and remaining half of the white sauce, cover with remaining grilled zucchini, tuna mixture and sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan (how much you want), bake for approximately 20-25 minutes, let sit 5 minutes and serve. Enjoy!
  4. **Homemade White Sauce: In a small pot on medium heat add the butter until melted, add flour and salt and whisk to combine, add milk and continue whisking until thickened. Remove from heat.

I bet it would have been delicious. Problem was I had no bread crumbs, Parmesan, or patience.

My version involved swapping breadcrumbs for StoveTop Stuffing. Obviously, you have this on hand after an August trip to Target while hungry and pregnant. I prepared the stuffing and used it as a layer. There was additionally no grilling of zucchini. Whatever random squash I bought was shaved thin and used as noodles without the benefit of aesthetically pleasing grill marks. Layer mystery squash, tuna/Stovetop mixture, and white sauce in lasagna fashion. Be sure to eat a handful of shredded mozzarella. Top with extra cheese and some crushed up potato chips because 1) My MIL always used potato chips in her tuna noodle casserole and I didn’t one time and it was “fine” but not the same 2)  This is America. 3) If my husband errr…toddler is eating squash instead of real noodles I am thrilled enough and will entice with whatever necessary. 350 for 50 min. Pairs well with Chardonnay and zero ounces of motherhood guilt.

Authors note: I wish I could really have had it with chardonnay. #pregnant