Warm and Snuggly with Halo

Before my daughter was born, I did a lot of reading and looked for parenting classes everywhere. Hubby and I wanted to be as prepared as possible before her arrival. (Hah! Like one can be prepared for parenting!) We really loved what we learned from the Happiest Baby book and class and the swaddling turned out to be pure magic in those early months!

As she got closer to the four month mark I started looking for something to replace the swaddling blankets with. I knew that it was too early to place a regular blanket in her bed but I thought she needed a little something besides her nightgown. A friend recommended a HALO SleepSack and I was sold!

They come in a variety of materials for different seasons:

Winter weights too!

And they make a swaddle version if you want to skip the traditional swaddle blankets altogether!

If you don’t do the gender neutral thing, no problem. Each material comes in all kinds of colors and fun patterns:

Now that we’ve learned about and embraced the Montessori, we dropped the swaddle blankets altogether and started baby brother with the wearable blankets since he was born. If you are looking for something to keep your little one comfy while they sleep, a HALO SleepSack is the way to go!

My Milky Moments

I think maternity pictures are a beautiful way to commemorate a wonderful and exciting time for a family. I especially love the in and out photos that juxtapose the pregnant belly and newborn baby. I imagined an image of myself laying nearly naked but realized not only would my belly be emphasized, all my rolls and flaws would be exposed. It just reminded me that I don’t look like the women in those beautiful pictures.

Then I remembered seeing a milk bath photo and thought that would allow me to have a belly shoot without emphasizing the things that I’m self-conscious about. While we were shooting, my daughter asked to nurse. It was the perfect opportunity to take the milk bath photos a step further.

I am extremely passionate about normalizing breastfeeding in general and in the black community specifically. My daughter and I had many difficulties establishing our breastfeeding relationship and were only able to overcome our obstacles because of amazing support. Too many people struggle because they don’t have that support and they don’t see people who look like them breastfeeding. This is why we need to normalize breastfeeding. Part of normalizing breastfeeding is making sure people see breastfeeding.

I get a lot of looks when I am nursing in public. Not only am I feeding my child (or children) but I happen to be a plus size woman of color and I don’t fit the crunchy, peaceful, mother nature look that many people associate with breastfeeding. My breasts are large. Nursing a small child is difficult in the most comfortable setting but manipulating my breast in an unfamiliar place is really tough. I’ve received all kind of looks – annoyed, confused, disgusted – and that made it difficult when my daughter was young. I was not confident in my abilities and I’ve always been self-conscious so people looking at me was something I tried to avoid. After a while though I decided I didn’t care about people’s thoughts on the subject.

My kids need me for food and/or comfort. I am here for them.

I am also my own person and what I need is to not hide out at home for however many months or years my children need me to breastfeed them. My family needs to have nice dinners out and go to the zoo and shop at the mall and do all the things that other families do and we deserve to feel just like everyone else when we do them. Now if I get a look when I am nursing in public I just smile pleasantly in return. They can waste time and energy getting upset. I won’t let them ruin my day. And I won’t let them stop me from setting an example.

This is why I post “brelfies” on Facebook all the time and why I decided to share my nursing milk bath photos publicly. It has been amazingly empowering to see the end result and even more so to see the reaction people are having.

Read about this experience from the photographer’s point of view at jenpritchett.com.

Read about my water birth here.

It’s Not Like Riding A Bike

My daughter was born eight days early so we weren’t taking any chances with my son. Since Thanksgiving was eight days before my due date, we were ready two weeks early. Thanksgiving came and went, a week passed, my due date passed – I was so ready to meet my son! I tried pumping, copious amounts of pineapple, bouncing on the yoga Coxson Waiting Laborball and everything else I could try to kick start labor but for days nothing worked.

When I finally got into labor the numbers were the same as with my daughter: 18 hours after the water broke before I stayed in active labor, three hours of active labor, then super fast pushing. With her I pushed for 20 minutes and with him they said it was barely 5!!! But that’s about all that was the same between my two births.

Coxson TubThat and the fact that I had an amazing group of people present to help me. In addition to my husband, my daughter, and my mother, I had the support of an amazing midwife named Mary, a calming force in my doula Megan, a birth assistant named Cassie who was on top of everything the entire time, and my dear friend Jen to capture the memories for us to print.

Coxson Labor NursingThe 18 hours that I labored with my son were much harder then those I labored with my daughter. With her it was a lot of waiting for something to happen but with him contractions would come on fast and then disappear entirely. It was very frustrating. Suddenly I was once again pumping, bouncing on the yoga ball, trying anything I could to make progress. Since babies are far more efficient then pumps, I even nursed my daughter on and off throughout the evening.

I labored from afternoon throughout the night and into the morning and laboring through the night is no picnic. When I labored all day long with my daughter, time passed at a normal pace. This time I could swear time was standing still. After 12 hours of working and trying so hard to get into active labor I was exhausted, my husband was exhausted, and my birth team was exhausted. We all decided to rest for a few hours.

Coxson Labor BellyThe biggest difference between the two experiences was the feel of the contractions. With my daughter I felt the early contractions across my midsection and the active contractions across my whole body. With my son I felt the early contractions low down at the bottom of my belly and they stayed there even as they grew in intensity. At the time I didn’t realize that contractions can present so differently. I thought the contractions needed to progress to the point that I would feel them across my entire body. As the hours passed and that feeling never came, a little part of me started to have concerns.

AtCoxson Tree 2am the night of my first labor I was pushing, moments away from meeting my daughter. At 2am the night of my second labor I was nodding off between sporadic contractions, waking each time to my quiet, peaceful house where my loved ones and supportive crew were spread across the floor in front of me. It was serene yet surreal. And then finally the contractions were regular, I was dilated, I was in active labor! and it was time to move to the birthing tub.

Coxson Breathing TubI can’t believe I spent three hours in active labor. Of course it was painful and I wanted it to be over and yet it didn’t feel like three whole hours. I remember the sense of panic when I was approaching transition with my daughter. The contractions were so close together that I didn’t have time together strength enough to speak before the next one came. This time I could talk. And whereas last time my inner monologue was a panic that I couldn’t do it, they had to do something, I wasn’t strong enough, this time I was able to speak between contractions and share my panic.

Coxson LaboringThe pain in the pit of my midsection became harder and harder to bear but it never engulfed my midsection. I thought the contractions had to change, that I had to loose the ability to speak between contractions, before I would even be close to the end of my labor. I was getting exhausted. I was having trouble holding myself above the water and just wanted to sink down and rest. I kept asking them to take out a little more water, and a little more, and a little more until I was able to come as close to laying down as possible in that space. I started to wonder how much worse the pain was going to get before the contractions changed. I thought that I was facing hours and hours of pain and work still to be done.

Coxson HandsI started to tear up. Then I started to cry. I mean ugly cry. Megan, my doula, said this was good. She and my midwife, Mary, said that when it feels like you can’t go on, that means you are just minutes away. With nearly all of my remaining energy I cried “But you can’t know that!” because I truly believed I still had hours to go and I was running out of steam.

Thank goodness they were right and I was wrong.

Just a few minutes later it was time to push. When I realized that I was almost there, well I suppose you could say that I got a rush of energy and raced to the finish line (apparently that’s what it seemed like to everyone else) but really I just felt like I needed to hurry up and push him out before I passed out.

Coxson Birth

My births started with similarities and ended with them as well. When my daughter emerged we found that she had her hand against her head and her umbilical cord wrapped four times around, holding her arm to her neck. The midwife spun my daughter round, still under water, and then everything was fine. My son’s umbilical cord was also wrapped around his neck but only once which is lucky since his hand was not in place to prevent the cord from pulling too tight against his neck. He had a little trouble acclimating to the outside. He was breathing but only making small little noises instead of crying, as if he just wanted to go back to sleep. Mary aspirated him and used a small bag to force air in for him and after a few seconds he finally started crying like a baby, as they say.

It was a long night. An exhausting, exhilarating, emotional, long night and I wouldn’t change one minute.

Photo credit: Jen Pritchett Photography

Keeping Count with a Silhouette

MoCo_Baby-Boy-at-2-WeeksWhen my daughter was an infant, I didn’t even know taking weekly photos was a thing. I wanted to do it this time but never got around to finding my weekly signs. I forgot to take a 1 week pic but his newborn shoot was at 6 days so I’ll use that photo. I remembered late Sunday night that I needed to get his 2 week pic. Well I had just been playing with my new Silhouette Cameo Electronic Cutting Machine so I grabbed this counting game design I sell on my business website and decided that would be my first Silhouette project! Not the worlds most complicated or perfect Silhouette project but I think it works in a pinch.

You may remember this design from my post about learning numbers. This counting game design includes a printable PDF for those without cutting machines!

Happy New Year, Happy New Baby!

Announcement

Same as my first labor, it was 18 hours after the water broke before I stayed in active labor, three hours of active labor, then super fast pushing. With my daughter I pushed for 20 minutes. This time it was barely 5!!! It was a very, very long night but my son was born as planned, at home and in the water, and both of us are now happy and healthy.

Coxson SisterBig sister was there for almost the entire time. I spent a great deal of time pumping to try to bring on contractions and, let me tell you, that is no fun. Every so often she came in to nurse for a while and that was actually a great help in bringing on the contractions.

Coxson TubNever ending thanks to our amazing birth team: Midwife Mary, doula Megan, assistant Cassie, photographer Jen, and kid wranglers Sheila and Deborah. They provided the support that husband and I needed so he could be focused entirely on me.

Coxson Family

Big sister was immediately in love! She did leave shortly after this photo was taken though. She wants to nurse whenever baby brother nurses. I couldn’t do this immediately because the after pains triggered by nursing were almost unbearable. (More on both after pains and tandem nursing later.)

Baby brother was just perfect from the moment we met him. We’re all so excited and happy.

Read my full birth story here.

Milky Mama

Once upon a time, I thought our nursing relationship wouldn’t last more than a few weeks. Somehow though, it’s lasted through baby’s tiny mouth, bad latch, and jaundice, then major surgery for me followed by a struggle to maintain my supply… Now here I am, 2.5 years later, preparing to tandem nurse!

It’s been quite the journey. Nursing a toddler is an entirely different experience then nursing a baby and my daughter’s latch still isn’t great. I’ve heard so many people say that breastfeeding is the most natural thing you will ever do. That’s hogwash. Sure, I’ve met a few people that nursed without any difficulty but the majority of the moms I talk with had to do a great deal of work to establish their breastfeeding relationship. Don’t get me wrong, I rarely meet a mom that thinks it wasn’t worth it. I’m just saying, let’s be real, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns.

There’s just no way that we would be here now if not for my support circle. The most important thing I’ve learned about breastfeeding is that support is the key to success. There’s a lot of misinformation about breastfeeding out there, some of it coming from the physicians we trust to guide us. I visited three different IBCLCs (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) before my daughter and I were comfortable nursing. I spent countless hours at the birth center where the midwives and various assistants observed and made recommendations and assisted me with weighed feedings so we could be sure my daughter was transferring enough milk, not to mention the new mommy support group there where we shared our experiences and helped each other maintain some level of sanity. I found amazing support on the internet in peer groups where mothers shared their experience and tips for success. Then there’s my husband. He was up for every night time feeding, changing diapers, refilling my water bottle, and getting me snacks. There’s just no way I could have done it without him.

It took months before breastfeeding was just a normal part of my life and not an all encompassing battle. Once we overcame all our obstacles, breastfeeding was normal. It was, and still is, a very natural thing. But it took so very much for us to get to this point and I think it’s important that people share these stories as well as all the rainbows and unicorns.

I recently met this amazing photographer, Jen Pritchett, and she’s going to be taking all our family photos from now on. We saw a photo of a milk bath a few months ago and thought it would be fun to try. I’m so pleased with the way this turned out.

Milk BathThis photo is everything to me. It represents all the hard work, all the love, all the reward that has gone into and come out of our nursing relationship. It’s also representational of what’s to come. In just a few short weeks I will give birth to my son and begin the next chapter in our breastfeeding relationship as I learn to tandem nurse.

I’m not expecting that to be easy either. Heck, after what I went through with my daughter, I’m expecting it to be difficult as hell. But I know we will be successful. Not only because I’ve done this before but, more importantly, because I have the support I need.

Did you attempt to breastfeed? What was your experience like? Share your thoughts below!

Read more about our breastfeeding journey here: http://motherhoodcommunity.com/tag/lactivism/

Mummy Dogs – A Quick and Easy Spooky Halloween Snack!

With a toddler in her first year of preschool, October is now one of our busiest months. We’ve been to more parties this month then the entire winter holiday season last year! Since a lot of them are pot luck, we needed a quick, but spooooky, and tasty treat. Whether you’re looking for something to keep the kids at the table or a great themed holiday dish, this #mummydog recipe is a winner every time!

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Everyone loves hot dogs and what better way to get them into the Halloween spirit than to give those dogs their own tasty costume! One of the easiest, fastest, and tastiest ways to do this is to use Pillsbury Crescent dough to dress your hotdogs up as mummies.

Here’s what you need:

  • Hot dogs (any variety is fine–be adventurous!)
  • Pillsbury Crescent Roll dough
  • Cheese, cut into small ribbons (optional, but delicious)

Here’s how to make them:

  1. Set the oven to 375F degrees.
  2. Cut the hotdogs in half. Dividing the hotdogs allows more people to get one and makes the food easier to handle, especially for little hands.
    • (Optional) Cut a small slice down the center of the hotdog pieces and fit a bit of cheese into each one.
  3. Lay out the Pillsbury Crescent Roll dough and lightly flatten using a rolling pin. Using a dull knife slice the dough into thin strips.
  4. Wrap each hotdog piece with one or two strips of dough, moving the position up and down so it appears like a loose bandage. Some of the hot dog should still be visible.
  5. Place each Mummy Dog onto a silicon baking sheet or lightly greased baking tray.
  6. Cook in the oven for 7-10 minutes, until dough has risen and is golden brown.
  7. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 2-3 minutes.
  8. Serve on a tray with ketchup and mustard for dipping.
  9. Enjoy!

Exclusive savings at Publix help with all the ingredients you need to make your own Mummy Dogs! Right now Publix has a great in-store deal: 3 Pillsbury Crescents for just $6! Plus, now through October 30th, you can redeem this coupon for $1.00 off of 2 Pillsbury Refrigerated Baked Goods Products!

Here’s an extra treat. I’m giving one lucky winner $10 (via PayPal) to try Pillsbury Refrigerated Baked Goods! Good luck!

Easy Options While on the Move!

We just moved into our forever home last week and it was quite a production. The last thing I did before we said goodbye to our old home was pack up a few overnight bags for the family. We were planning to spend one night in a hotel (which turned into two!) but this bag (or bags) also comes in handy the first couple of days at a new house. I included all the staples you want to have when traveling:

  • toothbrush
  • toothpaste
  • deodorant
  • travel size shampoo & conditioner
  • bar soap or body wash
  • hair brush/comb
  • hair products if you use them
  • make up if you use it
  • two to three changes of clothes
  • chargers (cell phone and anything else you rely on)
  • prescriptions and vitamins
  • pain reliever & allergy medicine just in case, especially if you have little ones

IMG_2735Those are the things I would normally include in a go bag. One thing I added specifically to plan ahead for the first few days in the new house was a healthy and easy breakfast solution. I absolutely love the new Nature Valley Bistro Cups. They really are the perfect breakfast.

Because we are creatures of comfort, we packed the things we couldn’t risk losing into our car and let the movers worry about the rest. So, in addition to our go bags, our computers, our daughter’s favorite toys, husband’s gaming miniatures, and my sewing machines, we also packed our brewing machine. (Can NOT live without that!) My daughter was so excited that first morning to push the button. We asked, “Do you want to #BrewYourBreakfast? and she jumped up and down with glee!

We asked if she wanted Apple Cinnamon Almond or Brown Sugar Pecan and she couldn’t decide. We brewed one of each and she ended up mixing them together! 😀 Now through October 9 you can get $3 off to try for yourself!

Make sure to head to Publix for exclusive in-store savings now through October 9, 2015! Exclusive savings at Publix help you stock up on Nature Valley Bistro Cups for your new go-to breakfast.

Don’t forget to print the coupon and check out the product website for more recipes!

One last thing, I’m hosting a giveaway for $10 (via PayPal) so you can try Nature Valley Bistro Cups!

Good luck!

Recycle Your Period Pads with Poise!

Thank you to Poise for sponsoring today’s post and inspiring me to try recycling my unused period pads!

Now that I am pregnant again (wooo!) I am finding myself sneeing, or peezing, or whatever you want to call it when you sneeze and a little pee comes out. Girl, it is not fun but it’s something I’ve gotten used too. Now every time I sneeze, husband and kiddo look at me and I say “I peed.”

One in three women experience Light Bladder Leakage (LBL) – little leaks that can be triggered by everyday occurrences like coughing, sneezing, laughing and exercise. This is, unfortunately, something I occasionally experienced well before my first pregnancy. Different women experience LBL for different reasons. As it happens, I was overweight for years before I became pregnant and that caused the occasional little *surprise* with a particularly rough sneeze. But for many women, it’s not just occasional. Just about every time I sneeze during my pregnancies I feel a little leak. Weak pelvic floor muscles, pregnancy, childbirth and weight gain and complications from surgery, stroke, or chronic diseases like diabetes, multiple sclerosis (MS) or Parkinson’s disease are just a few LBL contributors. If you’ve had several bladder or urinary tract infections or if you find certain foods and beverages are more likely to irritate your bladder, you may be more likely to experience light bladder leakage along with approximately 1 in 3 women.

I will admit that I have usually used a period pad during times I was particularly concerned about LBL. A pad’s a pad, right? Wrong! Poise Thin-Shape Pads are designed to move with your body and feature Super Absorbent Material (SAM) along with a Thin-Flex design for extraordinary protection. And even with all that protection thrown in there, Poise Thin-Shape Pads are still 3x drier than period pads*† to help you take care of leaks with confidence.

*vs. leading regular size period products, where most needed

IMG_2201The decision is clear for me. Poise Thin-Shape Pads are a more comfortable and protective choice for my light bladder leakage but that left me with one problem – what to do with all these old period pads that I will have no use for between now and whenever my period comes back. (With my daughter it didn’t return until I was 16 months postpartum!) I decided to have some fun along with lots of other ladies in the #RecycleYourPeriodPad campaign.

We are huge fans of games in my household so I decided to recycle my period pads into something more useful like a deck of cards!

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Even my daughter got a kick out of my little craft activity.

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Right now Poise is offering free samples of their Thin-Shape Pads so what are you waiting for? Get LBL coverage and then #RecycleYourPeriodPad too!

Back With a New Baby!

It’s been many months since I published anything really personal here. In October of 2014 I had a miscarriage and that left me emotionally devastated. I still had a toddler to care for and a business to run so I decided that the blog would have to go on the back burner. I am thrilled, however, to report that we are expecting again!

Gender Reveal

Baby brother will be making his debut at the end of the year. Currently, my daughter is just over two years old and still nursing. At one point it seemed like she was self-weaning and I thought my milk had dried up but she recently started nursing a lot more. Right now it’s a little painful but not overwhelmingly so. I hope we make it through the pregnancy as I would love the opportunity to tandem nurse.