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The Instant Mama

All Things Motherly

How to Survive Cluster Feeding ❤

SJ is over three months now and still breastfeeding like a champ. Most days are pretty easy with our feeding schedule, but it was not always that way. 

We’ve had a few stumbling blocks occur, but by far the most challenging has been cluster feeding. Around three weeks, SJ started eating ALL DAY…I mean all day. One day he literally ate from 12:30-11:30 PM. If I pulled him off my boob, he would scream and scream until I put him back on. That day was a rarity, but most evenings for the first month he would eat pretty much non-stop from 6:00 PM into the night. For all of the reading and research I did to prepare me for an infant, nothing I read came close to preparing me for that phase. So, I did some research very quickly and asked a few people for guidance. 

Here are a few of the best pieces of advice I received to help me through cluster feeding:

1. Drink A TON of water (literally.) It’s hard to remember to do anything for yourself those first few weeks. This is not only for you, but baby as well. The more hydrated you are the better off your milk supply will be. 

2. Have snacks on hand. You will be starving. Make sure to have healthy snacks that will help boost your milk supply. My go-to is Nature Valley Oat Bars (oats can help increase your supply.)

3. Make your significant other do everything else. Laundry needs washed? You need to make dinner? Carpets need vacuumed? Kids need baths? Make them do all of that. It’s hard enough to help keep a little human alive. You don’t need to feel guilty about neglecting household duties too.

4. Baby is doing this for two reasons – they’re growing and they’re helping to boost your milk supply. A lot of women tend to think that they’re not providing enough milk around this time and start giving formula because they think baby is still hungry. If you do this, you could end up actually hurting your supply! 

5. Remember that this is just a phase. The most important thing to remember. I almost gave up, especially on the day where he ate for 11 hours straight. Luckily, I had women to call who would listen to me cry and give me encouragement. My husband was a big cheerleader during this time too. 

You will make it through, mama. I’m giving you a big virtual hug and a giant thumbs up for your selflessness and love ❤

A picture of my guy. His shirt says it all. 

My Experience With Placenta Encapsulation

There are many societies and cultures throughout the world that have different methods for consuming a woman’s placenta after she gives birth. To me, it’s a very logical thing to do because it essentially contains nine months worth of nutrients. 

Now, I am not all about eating it raw or cooking it to consume, but when I did my research on placenta encapsulation I was really intrigued at the benefits it boasted. 

I found a woman in my town that had great references to complete the process. Once I had my little guy, she was at the hospital within 30 minutes to pick up the placenta (I informed my nurses that I wanted my placenta saved in a cooler.) And she had it returned to me before I even left the hospital. 

She provided me with 110 capsules with instructions on the bottle for proper consumption as well as a tincture bottle to use after the pills were gone. Everyone’s placenta is a different size, so 110 is not a defining number for how many pills you get. 

I don’t have anything prior to base my experience with placenta encapsulation, but for me there were many positives! 

  1.  Good milk supply – I had no issues with supply and my milk came in the night I was home from the hospital. 
  2. No “baby blues” – I can’t say I was without tears the first month, but that was related to SJ crying for hours with reflux. I feel like I’ve had a lot of friends talk about feeling sad or alone, but I never felt that way thankfully! 😊
  3. Helped with postpartum bleeding – Again, I have no comparison but my symptoms were pretty light those first few weeks.
  4. Boosted energy – I think this is the greatest benefit I experienced! I was tired from middle of the night feedings, but once I took my pills for the day I had the energy to keep up with my two older boys and get things done around my house. I forgot to take them a couple days and could notice a definite difference in my energy level.

If you have ever considered this during your current pregnancy or for your next one, please research it! And as always, I can answer questions relating my experience 😁

My Birth Story: Being Flexible With A Birth Plan

Our little man is finally here! Dad, his brothers and I are just SO in love with him. I’ve been a little preoccupied the last few weeks, so my blog posts have been lacking. Nevertheless, I have been planning on writing a post about my birth experience and my first hand account of being flexible with a birth plan. 

I was very adamant that I wanted to have a natural vaginal birth with no medications. Some of my reasoning was a medical issue from a few years ago and the rest of it was from the knowledge I gained reading several birthing books.  I found a doctor that supported my decision and prepared myself the best I could. I ate dates, took primrose oil, and even did perineum preparation.  I talked with moms that had natural births. I wrote a birth plan that matched my desired experience and asked my mom to act as my doula for my labor. 

I don’t think that any amount of preparation could have prepared me for the real thing. Which is why it was so important that I remained flexible during my labor.  

My contractions began at midnight on a Wednesday, which meant I ended up getting about 3-4 hours of sleep that night. I went into my doctor on Wednesday around 9:00 AM expecting significant progress considering that my contractions were about 3-4 minutes apart at that point.  I was disappointed to find out I was only 2 cm dilated,  which is what I had been for the last week. My doctor sent me home to keep laboring and boy, did I labor. I walked, danced, climbed stairs, and used my exercise ball to keep things moving. 
By the time J got home from work, I thought surely I had made progress. We went back to my doctor before their office closed for the day to find that I was STILL 2 cm dilated. I chose to go home to keep laboring. My mom got to my house later that evening and we started timing my contractions again. They were two minutes apart. I decided to try to get some sleep since I was running on fumes at this point, but quickly realized my contractions got worse when I laid down. 

I woke up J and my mom at 12:30 AM on Thursday morning,  saying I wanted to go to the hospital. Again, I thought I had to have made progress with how close my contractions had become! When they got me settled at the hospital and checked me,  I had not changed at all. I decided to stay and keep laboring there. 

By about 7:00 that morning I had finally made progress to 4 cm! But it still was very slow moving and at this point I had been in very real labor for over 30 hours with very little sleep. Even though I had been adamant I did not want any drugs I knew that my body needed help to keep labor progressing, mostly because I was so tired! I consented to Pitocin and had my water broke by the medical staff. Even at this point I intended to deliver without an epidural. I made it to 6 cm and kept thinking in my head, “I’m so tired and I still have to push in a few more centimeters!” I decided to get an epidural and I am so glad that I did. 

I was finally able to relax for a few hours and push on my strongest contractions instead of continuously, which I’m sure would have totally drained what little energy I had left. I was still able to have sensations and wasn’t left feeling completely numb. And honestly, the main goal is a healthy baby and mama, which was our outcome!
For any expecting moms out there, my best advice is to know what you want your labor and delivery to look like, but know that nature might throw you a curve ball! Good luck! 😍

Advice to Help You Be A Good Stepmom 

I’ve been officially a stepmom for a year and a half, unofficially for about five years. I am not a stepparent expert, but there are a few things I’ve learned on this journey that have made a huge difference for me and my family.

  1. Learn to forgive yourself. Parenting is hard. Stepparenting is super hard. Women naturally have a tendency to nurture and fix what might be broken. It’s just in our nature. When we are put into situations where we can’t fix things, we tend to look at ourselves as failures. You are not failing. You are doing your best. Just like any parent would. Don’t expect to be perfect in an imperfect situation. You will automatically set yourself up for failure. This has been my biggest challenge to date. I am constantly reminding myself to relax and let the chips fall where they may. 
  2. Focus on your marriage first. It seems simple enough, but when children are involved in the dynamics from day one it can be very easy to put them above all else. When you are the newest member to the tribe and dad’s attention has been solely devoted to his kids, it is easy to fall in line. Just remember that if you have a solid partnership with your spouse it will translate to all other aspects of your life. Happy wife. Happy life. 👍
  3. Take the high road. My parents always told me this as a kid if someone wasn’t playing nicely with me. I didn’t realize how much it would play into my adult life. Stay out of the drama. Don’t get sucked into all the bad parts of being a stepmom. Sometimes smiling and nodding your head will be all you can manage. It’s better to be quiet than say something you’ll regret later. Again, still something I need to remind myself of on a regular basis. 

If you take the time to focus internally and take one day at a time, I promise things will get easier, better and happier. Remember this quote below always ❤

Why Being A #BoyMom Is The Best

Inspiration for writing certainly comes in all forms. I went to a birthday party tonight and had the smallest bit of conversation with someone about both of our boys. I was driving home and thinking about it when I realized that I LOVE being a mom to boys. In all fairness, I really don’t know what I’m missing with girls, but regardless I am incredibly happy having two children that embody everything boy. 

Boys are incredibly full of energy. I really can’t ever keep up with them, but it’s fun to try! As a girl who grew up with three very active brothers, I know how to wrestle, play sports, and rough house with the best of them. I have never seen that behavior as aggressive or confrontational because I know that’s how a lot of young boys communicate and learn social skills with their peers. I catch myself telling them at least once a day to “take it to the basement” because they start trying to wrestle where all my breakables are, ha! I would never discourage them from playing in this fashion though. 

Boys are no (or little) drama. The only times I really ever get tears from my boys is if they are hurt or tired. I have a pretty low tolerance for drama. It’s the product of having three brothers, a low drama dad, and a low drama mother. I appreciate straight forward communication and cannot tolerate passive aggressive behavior. Boys do a much better job of telling it just like it is. 

Boys love very directly and literally. Sort of piggybacking off the last paragraph – you will know exactly how your male child feels about you. If he’s happy with you, he will say it. If he’s feeling mad at you, expect to hear it (and then you can tell him to get over it without any tears 😂) Being female myself, I think girls have a harder time with this approach to their feelings. 

We will have a new bundle of joy in our house in about a month. Whether we have a boy or girl will never change my appreciation of being mom to two wonderfully dirty and tough little boys ❤

I’m a Mean Mom: I Make My Kids Do Chores

I am a mean mom some times. I make my kids do chores with no monetary compensation. 

When my husband and I moved in together, I had been living in my own apartment by myself for about four years. I’m slightly neurotic about cleanliness and all of the sudden, there I was, living with a guy and two children under the age of six. Talk about an adjustment!

At first I ended up cleaning every day. Like, the entire house. Every. Day. But after asking my mom and my grandma how they ever kept their houses clean with so many other humans in it, I came up with a much saner approach. I made my kids do chores. 

I went on Pinterest for some inspiration and made chore charts from baking sheets. I tried (and failed) to make the chore buttons, so I ended up purchasing them from an online Etsy shop. 

My kids are still pretty young, so the “chores” they do each day/week are not difficult. In my personal opinion, they are things that should be done every day regardless of your age. And I’m not going to give them money for making their beds and brushing their teeth. They should just be in a habit of doing those types of things.

But what has helped me tremendously in dealing with my slightly crazy cleaning tendencies is having them help me with the small tasks, like bed making and cleaning up their toys before we leave the house. It also helps foster a sense of responsibility in them which will hopefully carry onto adulthood. 

If you want to know what age appropriate chores are right fot your kids, just Google it, but in the meantime here are the chores completed in our home for an 8 and 6 year old.

  1. Make bed each morning
  2. Brush teeth morning and night 
  3. Pick up bedroom floor (no toys or clothes left)
  4. Put away shoes in cubbies
  5. Pick up play area before leaving the house
  6. Put away clean laundry
  7. Clear table when finished eating
  8. Unload dishwasher (summer chore)
  9. Sweep kitchen floor (summer chore)
  10. Clean windows (summer chore)
  11. Dust bedroom (summer chore)

Tips For A Small Nursery Space

I am officially a nesting freak at 32 weeks. It’s given me all sorts of energy and motivation I did not know could exist simultaneously when you’re dealing with third trimester pains and gains. I’m taking full advantage of this “nesting” stage and getting everything organized for the baby’s nursery.

The biggest struggle I’ve had with the baby’s new space is just that – SPACE! Even though our house has three bedrooms and our boys currently share a bedroom, we have family visit often, so maximizing the space (and number of beds) is needed. I am going to breastfeed, so it makes sense to sleep in the same room with the baby for at least a few months during all those late night feedings. With that being said, I’ve really dug into my creativity to come up with some space saving solutions for the nursery.

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I chose to set up the cradle for a few months before using the crib. It will help the room not feel as cramped for the time being. As you can see, there is a queen size bed in the room. It not only will be great for me to sleep in during the early days of breastfeeding, but any family members visiting will still have space to stay with us.

(I am an incredibly sentimental person and love that almost everything in this room has a story behind it. The cradle was given to my brother as a gift and generously loaned to me. The rocking chair was gifted to me by my grandparents when they learned I was pregnant. It has a lovely story behind how it came to their home over 20 years ago. The pictures on the wall were colored by the boys for the baby.)

I literally do not have enough floor space to have a dresser or changing table in the room, but I did some research and found DIY layout for a wall hanging changing table. J’s grandpa was sweet enough (and talented enough!) to build us this as a gift. I put some small shelves to the side for storage. It is not only an amazing space saver, but it is super cute! If you’re wondering where I put all of the clothes and other baby necessities, they are tucked away in the closet in storage containers that are still easily accessible.

I feel very accomplished with the end product of the nursery because I was forced to think outside the box. Even though it would be great to have more room, I am learning that if you make the best with what you have, the outcome can end up being better than you imagined ♥

Why I’m Not Finding Out Our Baby’s Gender

I’ve always wanted to keep the gender of any future children a surprise. My parents did not find out the sex with any of their four children and since I’m the oldest, I never knew there was any other choice until I was in my teens. I’m lucky that I’m having a baby with someone who thought it was a great idea too! 

My number one reason for this is delayed gratification. How much more exciting can it be to wait for the ultimate surprise for NINE months? There is a lot of instant gratification in the world these days and Lord knows I need more patience. 

Even though we have two boys at home, we have virtually no baby items. I know that if we knew the sex people would buy us a lot of baby clothes. Not that I don’t need clothes, but diapers, a car seat, and crib are much higher on my list of needs. I’m definitely not above buying used clothes, especially when you know they’re going to be spit up on and peed through 😂

It has been really fun reading the Old Wives’ Tales and taking gender quizzes with my friends. I think it’s been fun for our families to guess the gender too. I think I’m also paying very close attention to my body just to see if I can guess the gender. And I love getting to pick a boy and girl name to take with us on the day of delivery. 

There is no disappointment factor involved. I’ve seen friends and acquaintances grimace when they say the gender of their baby, because they were hopeful for something different. I’m speaking in the future when I say that I know I will just be excited that the baby is here and breathing! The gender will not matter in those first moments. 

Speaking of the baby getting here – I know myself well enough to know I will be WAY more motivated during labor if I don’t know the sex. Again, it’s my usual lack of patience, haha! 

I think that finding or not finding out the gender is completely personal preference. I wanted to share my reasons for keeping it a surprise if you might be a little on the fence or you and your partner can’t agree on which way to go. Good luck on your pregnancy journey!

Loving Your Spouse During Home Renovations: A Survival Guide

If you want to test the strength of your relationship with your spouse, have kids or do a major home renovation project, ha! But in all seriousness – tackling bathroom, kitchen, or additions to a home can put stressors on a marriage. Your house will be messy, haphazard, and you will not agree how to get the project completed (two great minds do not always think alike.)

Survival Guide Tip #1

Talk about the totality of the project before you pick up a hammer. When my husband and I agreed to renovate our main bathroom, we jumped in with both feet and started hacking away at our ugly floors, tile, and vanity without really discussing the extent of the project. I naively thought that the whole thing would take a weekend. Boy was I so very, very wrong. The project took two months start to finish. If I would have bothered to ask questions first, I would have understood how much work we really needed to accomplish. I was mad at my husband for how long things took because we didn’t communicate before starting our renovation (definitely my fault, haha.) I’ve learned with time and more projects that if I understand the timeline and what it will take to finish everything that both of us are much happier people during the process.

(Photo 1 – Our new bathroom floor in progress! My husband and I have similar taste, so we can usually agree on tile, paint, etc.)

(Photo 2 – The before and after photos! J and his dad worked so hard on the tile job and it turned out AMAZING. No more 80s bathroom!)

Survival Guide Tip #2

Learn to forgive your spouse (and yourself) for imperfections. DIY projects don’t always go exactly like the picture you pinned while scrolling through Pinterest. What matters in the end is that you’re saving money and learning new things along the way. I was super critical of my painting skills when we first started painting trim, doors and walls, but J reminded me that most people aren’t going to notice small imperfections. He is equally critical on himself and I remind him of the same thing. I am somewhat of a perfectionist so whenever we’ve had to take a project in a different direction I had to remember that it’s not my husband’s fault. Some projects are just easier to envision than recreate in real life!

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(Our master bedroom before and afters! I’ve since decorated the walls. I was super proud of myself for not giving up on this project. It took three coats of primer and two coats of paint to cover up that horrible maroon color.)

Survival Tip #3

Compromise is a beautiful thing. Just like any other obstacle in your relationship, you must learn to compromise when tackling home improvement projects. And listen to your spouse’s ideas! Along with being a perfectionist, I can have tunnel vision when I have a goal in mind (it’s a miracle my husband puts up with me sometimes.) The best thing I did while tackling our many projects was to let my husband take the reigns on our fireplace reno. I gave him a few small ideas on what I had in mind and let him run with it. His creativity really grabbed him and our fireplace is now my favorite thing in our house. If I would have micromanaged the project it might not have turned out as great as it did.

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(The finished fireplace project! No more ugly 80s blue tile! My husband found those boards from an old fence and the tile all by himself. We have since replaced the carpet too, so the whole area looks even better.)

Remember that it’s just flooring or carpet or paint colors, nothing life altering. If you can apply basic relationship skills to your home renovation projects, you’ll make it, I promise.

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