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Update & Pics Galore

by Stepha on September 29, 2014

Oh, hello there! It’s been awhile. I think about blogging often, I swear I do, but get the actual time is something I truly need to work on.

Life is awesome over here. My little Anou-scka is growing fast, has two teeth, is ready to start solids and this close to crawling…eek!

I take it as my official sign to really stop playing games, and up the ante on operation drop this post baby weight. Yes, you read right post baby weight. You know how everyone tells you about how breastfeeding causes you to lose weight? Somehow, no one mentioned that it also makes you crave carbs and hold on to fat stores. Thanks.

Ok, back to happy news. I finally started my certification program to become a life/transformational coach. The program started earlier this month, and is a 1 year commitment. It’s a lot to squeeze into my schedule, but I’ve wanted it for so long, that I finally decided to jump head first. So far it’s been both challenging and exhilarating! I’m looking forward to the changes that the year ahead will bring.

I ‘m working on a blog/vlog schedule, so I can start posting more often, but haven’t quite mastered it. Once I do, I will be back posting regularly. Until then, hope you’re fab and enjoy some pics from the last month-ish.

Trying, oh so hard to crawl

Just happy as can be

I just wanted a picture of the damn tooth, she was NOT having it!

Guru Baby and her silk head wrap

See… she does wear pink

She’s way more interested in the cup than what’s inside (yes, her hair is slightly different)

Brooklyn stink face

Kid knows where the good stuff is

Chicken Bone= Best Teething Toy

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Black Breastfeeding Week

by Stepha on August 29, 2014

August is breastfeeding awareness month, and this week in particular is Black Breastfeeding Week, with events taking place both online via webinars and social media chats, as well as some live events in select cities. This year’s theme is Black Families Rock, and is intended to celebrate their beauty, power and ability to support healthier babies and healthier moms through breastfeeding.

I need to look no further than the mommies I know personally, to see why it is critical to have such a campaign designed to raise awareness.

From in-laws buying formula and pulling husbands aside to warn them about that evil new mom who is about to “starve the baby”, suggestions of adding cereal to a 2 month old’s bottle to “thicken the milk”, to being told that the baby will be “retarded” if breastfed for too long. Sigh, these are all anecdotal accounts of conversations I’ve had with friends regarding some of the obstacles that presented once they made the decision to exclusively breastfeed.

While I haven’t had anything that asinine said to me, subtle shade was thrown my way, on several instances via comments about how long I plan to breastfeed, and “ti lèt dlo saa” which translates to “that little watery milk”, inferring of course that Anou would need much more than that.

For myself and the women I know, we were properly armed with facts and determined not to be swayed by any naysayers. We also had incredible support from our partners, and friends who have been there. But not everyone is so lucky. There is still a huge underlying stigma associated wit breastfeeding, especially in the Black community, and a host of lies and misconceptions follow.

Black Breastfeeding Week is needed because there’s a new mom, attempting to breastfeed with absolutely no support, maybe one who is about to give up after her baby has lost a little weight in the first few days (completely normal) and it is especially needed to open the conversation about baby’s first food, because as you can tell from the stories above; people still say (and believe) sh*t like that!

To learn more about Black Breastfeeding Week and the events happening this weekend check out their official website and Facebook page.

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4 Months!!

by Stepha on August 26, 2014

Anou, will be 5 months at the end of next week, and we just took her 4
Month pic on Sunday. Clearly, we’re totally rocking this parenting thing!

Another month of big changes and constant chaos! Our little bub, is starting to be more active, playing with toys, lifting her head very high, and rolling whenever she gets the chance. She’s also quite the chatter box, telling us stories several times a day :)

She flew on an airplane for the fist time a few weeks back, and took it like a champ! No plane, no fuss, nothing. Just napping and snacking on that booby juice. The way my schedule is looking, she may have 2 more flights before the year is over, so hoping they go that well.

The teething phase has begun, so lots of drooling and she puts EVERYTHING in her mouth. Her current faves; my hair and Mala beads. She sleeps well on most nights and her feedings have decreased to 1-2, so I don’t feel like I’m constantly feeding her.

We’re still searching for a nanny that would be a perfect fit. I’m absolutely loathing the whole process. I think we maybe, just maybe have a good candidate coming up this week, so keeping our fingers crossed.

Candids from this Month:

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Note from a Proud Bed Sharer

by Stepha on July 24, 2014

babymother
I started writing this post earlier this month, but never got to finish and probably would have held of for a bit. Then last week, this gem came out, putting co sleeping back in the media and re-igniting the never ending debate, pinning crib parents over bed sharers all over my social media feeds. So on behalf of my closet bed sharers, who do not dare admit their sins in public, I thought I’d share my experience so far, as well as some resources who go beyond the headlines and discuss how to safely co sleep.

Depending on who you ask it’s either the most dangerous, irresponsible thing you can do or the best thing you can do leading (eventually) to a more secure, independent child. Either way you put it, co sleeping, especially bed sharing is very intense debate.

I was in the fence myself on whether or not we should do it, and what the exact arrangement would be…what co sleeper bed to buy…should I just have her in the bed…will we need an organic mattress…what if I roll over her? A million and one thoughts constantly raced through my head. To my surprise, when the issue came up with friends, it turned out that a vast majority of them bed shared, or co-slept at some point. Funny how nobody mentions these things until you’re about to have a baby.

When Anaïs was born, we started off with the Snuggle Nest, I loved the idea of just placing it between us and it’s portability for travel. We used it for all of 2 days! I was tired, lazy and I wanted to cuddle, so out went the snuggle nest and baby was right on the bed. We kept it around for naps or general use when I needed to put her down and do something.

I was nervous at first, but along with being a light sleeper, my mother bear instincts were at an all time high and I always seemed to be aware of her positioning, when to get up when she was hungry etc. Before long, the 3 of us were sharing the family bed with no problems, and my mind was confidently at ease. Breastfeeding was easier, and since I barely wake up when she feeds, I felt rested in the morning. Now that I’m back at work, I enjoy the extra cuddles and bonding time that we get at night.

Of course, this is not the ideal choice for everyone, and yes if done improperly it can be very dangerous. However, to paint ALL bed sharing as a “dangerous” practice that increases the risk of SIDS is misguided. There are guidelines for safe bed sharing, and those should be shared with families considering it as an option. Instead of constantly stigmatizing co sleeping or sharing horror stories of parents who accidentally rolled over their baby, the media should focus on spreading the word about different co sleeping arrangements, how bed sharing can safely be done, and the circumstances where it is never recommended.

Check out this post for a more in depth look at what that much discussed study, showed and didn’t show. I also came across this leaflet discussing the do’s and don’ts of safe co sleeping.

Happy Sleeping!

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Quarter Birthday!

by Stepha on July 11, 2014

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She Must Be A Boy

by Stepha on July 8, 2014

Anaïs doesn’t wear a lot of pink, nor do we adorn her with over sized, ridiculous looking bows. So naturally people assume she’s a boy, we stopped correcting them a while back. I do find it quite hilarious though, that even when wearing clearly girly outfit, she’s still referred to as a boy, simply because it’s not pink.

Here she is in her fave blue stripes, clearly looking like a boy…

Why would you this color on her if she’s a girl? Yup, some random lady actually asked me that…

Aww, such a cute outfit, I thought it was very feminine, but alas it’s not pink, so she MUST be a boy…

Here she is, hanging with her papa at the park. Again, wearing no pink, how dare we?

Why does that little boy have pink ruffles on his onesie? Weird.

Our little rebel is causing so much hoopla already. I hope she never decides to play with toy cars or trains, that would just be awful!

PS: I love pink! I just don’t happen to think it’s the ONLY color a little girl should wear. She does wear pink, and yellow and red and lots of other colors. I’m even getting fancy and putting more headbands on her, they looked so odd when she was younger, that I would take them off almost as soon as I put them on, but they’re growing on me.

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Dear Summer

by Stepha on July 7, 2014

As a summer baby, I’ve always looked forward to those precious 3 months, of sunshine, beach days and good times with friends and family.

This weekend was one of those perfect summer weekends. We didn’t have anything planned and decided to wing it based on how the weather was. Of as with anytime things are not planned, everything went off without a hitch. We made it to Brooklyn Bridge Park to see the fireworks, with prime seats. Grabbed ice cream at Ample Hills. Dined at my new favorite Mexican Restaurant. Visited the Kara Walker art display at the old Dominos Sugar Refinery and even made it to HU Kitchen for an all Paleo lunch, to repent our previous food sins.

All of it was of course topped with sweet smiles and baby cuddles every step of the way :)

Hope you enjoyed the long weekend. Happy Monday!

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My Sweet, Happy Girl is 2 Months

by Stepha on June 10, 2014

Anaïs turned 2 months over the weekend. She now weighs 11.2lbs and is 23.5 inches long. It’s been so fun watching the developmental milestones the last few weeks;

She’s more alert now when awake, often smiling at us and cooing
She loves to grab (and hold on to) her hair, especially when nursing
She’s a pretty chill baby, doesn’t cry much except for fussy time or when she’s super tired and is fighting sleep
She loves to be outside, when she’s fussy we just bring her out on the stoop and she immediately settles down
She laughed for the first time the other day while in the bath, of course stopped when I went and got the camera

If you notice from the top picture, her one eye is a little funky. The ped said she has a slight crossed eye, but it should resolve on its own by 6 months when the ocular muscles are stronger. I was a bit freaked by it at first, but I stopped worrying. She’s still the most perfect girl that ever existed.

Chillin’ with Papa at the park

Girls wear blue too!

Requesting privacy from camera crazy mama
she needs her privacy, lol

Cuzzie Tilly came for a visit, it was instant love!
She met cuzzie Tilly for the 1st time this weekend. Oh the love!

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Breastfeeding Part I: The Struggle is Real

by Stepha on June 9, 2014

latch2
Breast Milk is one of nature’s best gifts, the perfect food for baby loaded with all the necessary nutrients and antibodies to help your newborn thrive. The first few days breast feeding however will feel anything but natural. Maybe it’s because they are getting sticky colostrum and really have to suck harder, or that many of us have not been exposed to it enough but for what it’s worth in the early days breastfeeding sucks….really really bad. No pun intended.

Even if like myself, you’ve heard first hand accounts from family and friends, and have somehow tried to prepare yourself for the inevitable. You may find yourself looking in the mirror, nipples looking like you’ve been assaulted by Edward Scissorhands and you will just cry, not little cute tears either, I’m talking gut wrenching, deep from your soul sobs. “How long until this stage is over?” “Can I really make it until then…” I thought to myself every time I had to see my sore, cracked, skinned nipples. I cringed with each latch, and repeated the mantra “strong, confident, capable” to remind myself that I could do this, though I had my moments of doubt.

On day 3, when my milk came in and I could immediately notice a difference, my nipples started to heal almost instantly. The initial latch though still a little painful, was slowly getting better. My confidence got a boost when the next day, we went to the pediatrician for a weight follow up (she was on the borderline of losing too much) and Anaïs had gained 8oz in two days, and was almost back to her birth weight.

Of course now 8 weeks later, it’s easy to dismiss those early days when things are going remarkably well. But I’ll tell you one thing, those were some of the most stressful days of my life. When you’re pregnant you hear all the hoopla, about the pain of labor blah blah, but rarely does anyone mention the pain and the anxiety that comes with breastfeeding. There’s of course the anxiety of knowing that this small child depends on you for every meal, and not knowing if you will be able to deliver. I know some of you are currently expecting, so let mama Stepha tell you that the struggle is real!! If I wasn’t dead set on getting things right no matter what and exclusively breastfeeding, I would have totally given up or at least supplemented.

It’s so important to have a breastfeeding support team that will be there in your moments of doubt. Those moments where you may want to reach for that convenient sample of formula that magically appeared at your door out of nowhere, and was probably included in your hospital gift bag. The formula companies know all too well about the struggle, breast is best but…in case you feel completely defeated we have this for you, it’s just a little something to help you along, you’ll see how easy it can be, and inadvertently never get to build up your own milk supply and just get more of our stuff. No big deal, here have some!

I could go on and on, about how formula makers target vulnerable women, but that’s already a given. What I’ll stress instead is reading The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding,the only breastfeeding book you’ll likely need in your arsenal. Establish a strong support team ideally consisting of friends/family who are breastfeeding advocates (have breast fed themselves), a lactation consultant, and your meeting leader from LLL if you have one in your area.

I remember feeling a bit out of place when I went to the first La Leche League (LLL) meeting, at 8 months pregnant, I was the only one there not feeding a baby, just soaking in all of the info I could get. I can’t tell you how happy I was to be able to attend 2 meetings prior to birth and get feedback from other breastfeeding mamas. I would have never known anything about a tongue tie for example and how that can have a negative effect on feeding. Of course, she just happens to have a slight tongue tie, which explained the early painful latch in our case.

Breastfeeding is a journey, with challenges that at first can seem overwhelming, however if you hang in there and able to get the proper help and support, you’ll be on the road to experiencing one of life’s greatest joys. Before you know it, you’ll be looking down and seeing your “milk drunk” babe, smiling back at you, completely satisfied off of the ultimate soul food.

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FAQs About my Homebirth Experience

by Stepha on June 1, 2014

This is 1 of 2 post about homebirth related on questions I’ve received. See the other post here.

Here are some answers to the questions I’ve heard the most since sharing my birth story, I did them in an easy Who, what,when…format. I’m glad to answer any questions you might have, leave a comment below.

Who

…actually is your healthcare provider?

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about whether I had to go to the hospital or see the doctor afterwards or people assuming that the doula was the one in charge. No, no and no.

A certified nurse midwife is specifically trained in giving birth, and is qualified to give a woman all of her prenatal and postpartum care, so long as there are no complications. In many countries around the world, midwifes are the primary care giver of pregnant women. Most midwifes have a back up OB and hospital the work with, should complications arise.

Starting at about 14wks, I received all of my prenatal care from my midwife at her office. After 37wks, the weekly visits were at home, so she could get a bit familiar with our surroundings. She also did follow up home visits the day after and three days post birth.

A doula is a labor coach, think of them as your BFF during labor. Doulas are not qualified to provide medical care or advice.

What

…do you exactly have to have on hand for the birth?

You are assigned with ordering your birth kit from a website that will be specified by the midwife. Kits vary but contain items like chux pads, varying sizes of gauze, mattress liner, floor liner, gloves, antibiotic ointment, cord clamp, peri bottles and garbage bags for clean up afterwards.

In the pic below, you’ll see all of my supplied were laid out in the pack and play on the right:

You’re also going to need some miscellaneous household items, like towels, wash cloths, bowls etc. all will be in a list given to you by your provider. Of course, there will be things that you may want there candles, essentials oils and such. I would suggest you get those things well in advance and let whoever will be laboring with you know where they are and how you want to incorporate them.For me, a couple of things were completely forgotten about because it just wasn’t top of mind in the crux of labor.

…if you need to be transferred?

Birth is unpredictable no matter where it takes place. While it’s not good to focus on the possibility of something going wrong, it’s good to have a well laid out back up plan.

Very early on, my midwife had me fill out specific instructions of what to do in case of emergency transfer, which included exact directions to hospital, location of insurance cards and who I want to be ambulance of one was needed. I went a step further and had a hospital bag packed at 39 wks, just in case.

When

…does the midwife actually come?

Just as you would do with a doctor, you will call when you think it’s time. Based on your symptoms, they may head over right away or have you wait a bit and see how things progress. If you have a doula, the beginning of your labor would be the ideal time to call them, and they can come and be with you during labor. Though a midwife will spend more time with you than a doctor, they usually don’t come until birth is eminent.

The midwife stays until they are sure all is good with mom and baby. She cleans up everything, and also gives baby her first bath.

Where

…does it all happen?

We decided to set up shop in the living room because it’s an open space, has a lot of natural light and is at the back of the house so we were less likely to have someone randomly call the cops because of screams.

Soon after birth, I left the tub and went back to the room to lay down and delivered the placenta there.

Where you give birth and in what position is completely up to you. I labored mostly kneeling, and pushed in a low squat position.

…do you get the tub?

Since we have a tiny bathroom and tub, it was best to either purchase or rent a birth tub. I chose to rent the tub (this exact one) from a someone who rents them out locally. Who knew there was a market for that?! As the meme at the top suggests, we definitely took some time do to a dry run to gauge how long set up would take and even almost had a break down when 3 days before I gave birth, we realized the attachments weren’t working in the kitchen where we planned to hook up the hose. Thankfully, someone mentioned trying the shower and that worked fabulously!

Why

…did I decide to have a homebirth?

If you read this blog, you know I’m all about doing and experiencing things in the most natural way possible. I initially wanted to go the birth center route, but was turned down by the birth center because of my “medical condition”. You can read about it here. I was so angry when it happened but it turned out to be the best “no” I ever received and for that I’m grateful.

Did you scream?

This was a question I got from a lot of people, usually accompanied by did it hurt? and did the neighbors know? Especially, living in very close quarters.

Yes it hurt, and yes I screamed though it was more like a deep (and very loud), primal roar. The pain actually seemed bearable. Maybe due to the fact that it was expected or that I knew it was a means to an end and was being cheered on by some awesome supporters. It really is true that you completely forget about it once you see your baby, for me it wasn’t until 2 days later, walking a few blocks to the pediatrician office that I really felt ALL of it.

Would you do it again?

Absolutely!! I gave birth and an hour later was in my bed eating tostones with rotisserie chicken from my favorite place, showered right away, and was able to relax without unnecessary interruptions. Of course, there’s no guarantee that my next pregnancy and birth will be similar, but it will definitely be my first choice.

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