Must Have Mom Subscriptions

Must Have Mom Subscriptions

There are so many monthly subscriptions out there, from a personalized selection of clothes picked just for you to fishing supplies, depending on what type of water you fish in. (My husband is all about this by the way.)

This list is in no particular order and consist of things I have personally tried or plan to try in the near future.

  1. Amazon Prime – This first is so obvious but should come with a warning label. I love that I can buy anything on this site I need for my family. My most frequent purchases are diapers and Pediasure Grow and Gain but during the last Prime Day I ended up with a 2-pack of Clarisonic brushes and a shirt. I call that a success. But warning, it’s so easy to add things to your cart, check out and have it delivered in 2 days that you may quickly become a “primanista”. That meaning you’ll have packages arriving every few days. Which, doesn’t sound so bad actually. At around $10 a month its a complete and total NEED for moms, who just can’t go to the store one more time that week.
  2. Shipt – Hallelujah! I wish Shipt had been around when I had a newborn in the middle of the Tampa summer years ago. It’s a freaking life saver. Especially when you’re cooking dinner and need a forgotten ingredient or it’s raining, or you just don’t want to go. This subscription is an upfront annual fee of $99 but often run a $49 special when they add a new store or for special holidays. Current stores include Costco, Publix, Target, GFS, Winn Dixie and ABC Wine & Liquor (ummmmm yes!). If you don’t have it, get it. Now. G
  3. Netflix – This is our  most used subscription in my house. They’re always adding movies – whether they’re good or not is not my place to say. It’s less than $15 a month and you can stream it on 2 devices at one time. Yes, I know this for a fact. It’s usually a fight in my house to see who’s going to stop watching. I lose. Every time. So instead of hauling your kids to the movies to watch the newest Disney release, wait 12 weeks after it’s out of box office and save yourself the hassle and money. Unless its an Avengers movie because who doesn’t want to see Chris Hemsworth on the big screen?
  1. Firstleaf (Wine) – How many times have we had to pick up a bottle for friends on the way to a girls night/playdate – this happened to me 3 times last week. Whether you’re a 3 bottles a week gal or 3 bottles a month this could work for you! Firstleaf offers $20/month subscription which includes 3 bottles. The process is super easy, you take the quiz seeing what you’d like white, red, mix and import preference. The last question asks how many bottles you drink a month. So depending on your answers you’re given a suggestion. The wine is delivered to your door. So, you’re never without wine and wouldn’t that be a shame?
  1. FabKids – similar to clothing subscriptions for moms, it’s for the little’s. This is the way I see it. You’re going to spend money on your kids’ school clothes regularly. You see the cute top at Target, oh but does he have a pair of shorts to match? Can’t remember, may as well grab another pair. You’re doing that once a week while there PLUS the pre planned trips for new shoes they’ve outgrown, picture day..you know the drill. Here’s the fine print. Between the 1st and 5th of the month you’re sent an email for action – to shop or skip. If you do choose to skip your card is debited for $29.95 but you’re given that $29.95 as a credit to be used anytime. You’re charged the $29.95 until you cancel. There’s also perks like free shipping (that always gets me) and a rewards program.

This list was composed with you in mind, a little more added convenience to our lives is the way to go. I dread shopping with my kids, even if its a quick trip so you’ll find that all of these eliminate bringing what I’m sure are you wonderfully behaved children in public.

Disclaimer Alert: I haven’t listed all details for everyone of these subscription suggestions. It’s important to conduct your own research. 

36266338_10213004457965528_2216563528326709248_n Written By: Meghan Goodman

Post Partum Depression + Anxiety. Yup, I have it.

Post partum depression and anxiety. Yup, I have it.

It comes in waves…it was here, and then it’s not. I was fine. And now I’m not.

I denied it when it was brought to my attention that I may have it. Of course, I don’t have it… look at me! I’m not doing anything “crazy”, I’m getting out of bed. I feel “fine”.

To me, in my world, i have the perfect little life, so why do I feel this way? I practice mediation, I am spiritual, i am aware of my energy, thoughts and feelings.

Why is this happening to me??

Well it all started when the last time change happened in November. It got darker earlier. Mike is still working and I’m a FTM, in a new house with lots of windows and doors, all myself.

All of a sudden, every dateline, forensic files, and Law & Order episode would flash through my mind and made me so paranoid that something would happen to me and my new baby and I would be helpless.

My mind would race in protection mode. I was HYPER-VIGILANT.

“Hypervigilance is an enhanced state of sensory sensitivity accompanied by an exaggerated intensity of behaviors whose purpose is to detect activity. Hypervigilance may bring about a state of increased anxiety which can cause exhaustion”

That and I was a bunch of other things cus now I’m a mom. I was getting less than 5 hours of sleep a night for months.

It’s affected my eating, my digestion, my water intake. Everything.

And again, it comes in waves.

It pisses me off more than anything because this is HORMONES. This is not me!!! I can not control this!!!

It manifests itself in so many ways… OCD… picking things up around the house just putting them in a specific spot or in order but not putting it away, paralyzing thoughts and fears and unable to make decisions, rage “where the fuck are my keys!!!”, am I doing this mom thing ok?, loss of appetite, intense irritability at times, panic attacks, crying for no reason.

It’s the inability to think or make a grocery list or be able to have complete thoughts and not forget things and have it interfere with your life.

I know this sounds crazy, or that I am crazy, but I know I am not. I know this “normal” and this will pass. I know that other moms go through the same thing, but I really, truly, honestly, thought it wouldn’t happen to me because I am so in tune with myself that I would recognize it and stop it.

It’s important for husbands, partners, friends, family, coworkers, and even yourself as mothers going through this, that it is the hormones it is not you. Please give the mother in your life grace, compassion, understanding, support, love, and reassurance.

But here I am 9 months later and another wave is attacking me when everything was just going so good. It sucks.

I will get thru this but I feel the need to share, because I know I am not alone, And I don’t want any of my mom friends to feel alone if you are secretly going through this. I have been feeling like I don’t want to expose but I can’t hide it and feel guilty any more so maybe sharing will help me and you 💜

My gassy, fussy, poopy little guy

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Photo cred Shannon Brie Photography

E is my second child.  He’s 23 months younger than his brother, my first child.  It hadn’t been that long since I’d done the newborn thing.  I thought, “This is my second little guy.  I’ve got this.  I know what to do now.”  But, as second children do, he threw me some curve balls.  The biggest being that he’s allergic to dairy.

Now, before I go on, let me qualify some information for you.  I’m a neonatal nurse practitioner, I have a friend, who used to be our neighbor, who is dairy allergic herself and I happen to have a close friend who has a child, a bit younger than my first, who has a severe dairy allergy that causes GI issues, similar to what E has.  These things helped me arrive at my findings with E.  I am NOT a pediatrician or an allergist.  If you should think some of this info might apply to you or your child, I encourage you to discuss it with your practitioner, as they will be best suited to help you navigate all of this, because they know your histories.

I had E at home.  I put him to breast within minutes after he arrived.  He breastfed like a champ.  Things were great.  He latched and nursed, no issue.  But from almost the moment he arrived, he screamed.  He was either nursing or sleeping or screaming or pooping.  Now, I know newborns sleep and eat and poop, primarily, but this kid didn’t have a happy waking moment.  And it got worse.  He was inconsolable at times.  He also had very runny breastmilk poops.  I remember thinking, in my fuzzy postpartum haze, that his poop was more on the diarrhea side than I remembered his brother having, but brushing it off as just a variation of normal.  It was yellow (bright yellow, but still yellow), soft and didn’t obviously smell.  So we pressed forward.  He was fussy and gassy.  SO gassy!  I remember talking to our pediatric nurse practitioner about it and some ideas being brought up, but he was growing and he was happy-ish (he still cried so. much.) so we just pushed on.  And then…

He was six months old and we started solids.  I do baby led weaning – which is an easy way to say I skip the baby food purees and just started giving him bite sized pieces of easy to swallow foods, that I was eating.  So of course I offered cheese and yogurt because those were staples in my own diet.  That’s when things got worse.  His poop became vivid yellow or fluorescent green, slimy and mucous-y and it smelled bad.  He never had obvious blood in his stool, but I could guess that if we tested it, it was there.  He was also MUCH more fussy and gassy.  He co-sleeps with me.  He would scream out in pain in the middle of the night, move around and let out a lot of gas.  Then he would calm down and go right back to sleep.

Finally, a light bulb went off in my head.  Maybe it’s dairy!  Dairy is the number one food allergen in infants and young children.  “Approximately 2.5 percent of children younger than three years of age are allergic to milk. Nearly all infants who develop an allergy to milk do so in their first year of life. Most children eventually outgrow a milk allergy.” –Food Allergy Resource and Education Dairy allergy reactions come in a range of severity from mild to extremely severe and anaphylactic.  E falls somewhere in the middle.  Fortunately (and I am so very thankful) his allergic reaction does not cause hives or swelling and doesn’t close off his airway, requiring us to carry emergency drugs, that we might have to administer, if he gets an accidental exposure.  His reaction qualifies as FPIES – Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome.  “FPIES is a type of food allergy affecting the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.  Classic symptoms of FPIES include profound vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration. These symptoms can lead to severe lethargy, change in body temperature and blood pressure.” –FPIES Foundation

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Unfortunately, for me, I made this realization right before the holidays.  That’s right everybody, I had to eliminate dairy from our diets before Christmas.  No Christmas cookies, no Christmas dinner, no traditional Christmas breakfast that my mom always makes.  It was a big deal to me.  It was not something I took lightly or enjoyed.  I had played around with the idea of eating cleaner and trying Whole30 before, but had always chickened out when it came to removing dairy.  Well, now my choice was to eliminate dairy from my diet and continue breastfeeding or stop breastfeeding and find a viable formula option for my baby who now, I suspected, can’t have cow’s milk.  For me, the only acceptable answer was to stop eating dairy along with my son.  Unfortunately for people who can’t or don’t want to breastfeed, there aren’t a lot of good dairy free formula options.  It can be very difficult to find a formula that works well and provides good nutrition for dairy allergic babies.

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So I eliminated dairy.  About two weeks in, I started seeing some improvement – not so much diarrhea, less irritable and gassy.  And six weeks later… that’s right… SIX WEEKS later, things were normal.  Why six weeks, you ask? Because it took around 2-3 weeks for the dairy protein to clear my system and another 2-3 to clear E’s.  We are now dairy-free.

So now a conversation, with someone new who finds out about this allergy, generally goes like this.  He’s allergic to dairy. Dairy? Yes dairy.  So like… milk? Yes. And Cheese? Yes. And butter? Uh huh. And eggs? Nope.  Not eggs? No… eggs come from chickens. Milk comes from cows.  You’d be surprised how often people confuse that.  I find it amusing, mostly.

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So what IS a true dairy allergy?  Dairy allergic or sensitive people are allergic to the protein in cow’s milk.  It is NOT the same as lactose intolerance.  “Lactose intolerance is caused by not having enough of the enzyme lactase, which is needed to break down lactose, the sugar found in milk and other dairy products. Milk allergy is a true food allergy caused by an allergic reaction to the protein in milk.” –Everyday Health

Ok, I bet I know what your next questions is… what DO you eat? Isn’t there dairy in EVERYthing?!  There is dairy in a lot of things, but not everything and not even in some things that you’d swear it’s in.  Eating dairy free at home was only a bit challenging in the beginning – once I learned what to look for, and how to read food labels, it became second nature.  Eating dairy free when we are out is still VERY challenging and almost makes it not worth going out to eat, which is hard for me because my family enjoys eating out.

Here’s what I’ve learned about how to look for dairy on labels.  The FDA requires that food allergens be clearly declared on product labeling.  What this means for dairy allergies is that if the word “milk” or “butter” isn’t clearly stated in the ingredients list, they MUST put a statement below the ingredients list that says “CONTAINS milk”.  It is VERY important to read ingredient labels and not just take products at their name because “non-dairy” items, such as non-dairy creamer, can still contain milk.  That’s right.  There’s no regulation on the words companies use on their packaging like “natural” and “non-dairy”.  In fact, the industry now uses “non-dairy” to mean lactose free, often, which is of no help to me because it still contains dairy protein.

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There’s another statement that ends up on a lot of food labels.  The “May Contain” statement.  This statement is something that a company can choose to include, or not, on their labeling as they see fit.  May contain milk basically means that the product is processed on shared equipment with products that do contain milk and could have some cross contamination from it.  This can be a problem for people with life threatening or severe allergies to milk.  More investigation is usually warranted if someone with a severe dairy allergy wants to eat something with a “may contain” statement.  A call or email to the company can help to discuss what their sanitation and testing practices are between share lines.

So, a quick look at processed food labels will generally show me if an item contains milk or not.  I’ve taken the advice of other, more seasoned milk allergy moms and use the triple check method.  I check food when I get it off the shelf at the grocery store – every time, because you never know when the company might decide to change the recipe, then check again as I’m putting the food into our pantry and check it once more before I serve it to myself or E.

Meats are not regulated the same way that other foods are, in the US.  They fall under the jurisdiction of the USDA and have different rules.  Why is this important?  Because a lot of meat has dairy components in it.  That’s right.  Turkeys, hams, sausage, lunch meat, all can contain dairy protein and they don’t have to state it directly on the packaging.  The only way to know if the meat you’ve chosen is dairy free is to have a conversation with the company, via email or phone to be sure, or to use a company that has openly declared that they don’t use dairy products, like Applegate Natural and Organic Meats.

So when we eat at home, we eat mostly meat, fruits, vegetables, pasta and some processed snacks that I’ve found that are safe.  I make more of our food now than ever before, so we are definitely eating healthier, which is an advantage.  When we go out during the day, I’m vigilant to bring our own snacks and lunch so that I won’t get stuck without something for us to eat.

Eating out at restaurants has become more challenging because even when I explain our dairy allergy, some restaurants are just not as careful as others about preparing safe food for us.  We have found several go-tos around town that are willing and happy to help.  Ciccio Cali gets it and makes it easy for me because their menu says right on it what is dairy free and what isn’t.  Tampa Pizza Company offers vegan pizza.  That’s right, I said, err… typed it, VEGAN pizza.  Sounds gross?  It’s not!  They have vegan crust with delicious sauce, mushrooms, roasted garlic and vegan (soy based or non-soy based) cheese.  It’s yummy!  Mellow Mushroom has a vegan pizza too, also delicious.  (Side note, it really blows a server’s mind when you order vegan pizza and add meat to it.)  Boca Brandon is one of our favorite brunch places and they have been good about accommodating us with our allergy.  I love to go on Sundays for brunch and get the steak and eggs.  I can’t get the delightfully creamy grits with it anymore, but they sub potatoes instead and it’s still yummy.  Far and away the place I visit more often now than I ever did before this, is Chipotle Mexican Grill.  EVERYthing on Chipotle’s menu is dairy free except for the obvious items – sour cream and cheese.  It’s so easy!  I just ask that they put on new gloves since their last ones likely handled cheese and they are so kind about it.  The best place I’ve found for food allergies all around – Disney World!  The sit down restaurants at Disney are very allergy conscious and very accommodating.  I can indicate online when I book a reservation that we have a dairy allergy and they flag it from the moment we step into the restaurant.  We’ve had some of the most delicious restaurant meals at Disney since we went dairy free and we don’t feel like we’re missing anything.

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There are some very interesting things that fall into the no dairy category that I would never have guessed.  Oreos, that’s right – no dairy in them.  Shocking, right? Or maybe not so shocking because I’m pretty sure there isn’t a lot that’s natural in Oreos, ha!  Original Ritz Crackers – butter “flavored” apparently doesn’t actually include butter.  A lot of microwave and movie theater popcorn doesn’t have any dairy.  Just flavored oil – yum!  Even more strange than those items that don’t contain dairy, are the unexpected places I found dairy.  Ready?  Wait for it… wine!  Some wine.  Not all wine.  Let’s not get too crazy here.  Some wine companies use dairy in the “fining” process of making wine.  I’m not sure what exactly that is, but I discovered this little truth after I had gotten dairy out of our systems and E had a reaction to something.  I couldn’t figure out what the problem was until I stumbled across the fact that the new bottle of wine I’d been enjoying that week (ok, ok it was really over two days…) was in fact from a company who uses dairy in their processing.  Barnivore.com keeps a list, that isn’t yet comprehensive, but has a lot of brands on it, in case you’re interested.

In the beginning I thought a dairy allergy was going to be a devastating diagnosis for us.  I was so sure that I would miss cheese, ice cream, butter, and milk shakes, and I do, in theory, but in my every day life I don’t feel like I’m missing out at all.  And ultimately, I’m happy to do what needs to be done to keep my baby feeling happy and healthy.  I did feel like once it all cleared my system, I wasn’t craving it any longer.  I consulted my milk allergy friends a lot through the beginning of this journey and one even added me to Milk Allergy Mommas, a great facebook group for all things milk allergy related.  I learned a lot from just scrolling through the board and reading posts, or searching posts to find answers.  It was this group that helped me find my now favorite dairy free substitutes for so many things including, but not limited to, ice cream, chocolate, and even pudding!  I also use godairyfree.org fairly often if I’m out and about and need to find something to eat.  As far as cooking goes, I have found that almost any recipe can be adapted to be dairy free – even green bean casserole!  Don’t believe me?  I made this recipe hummusapien.com for Easter and my family gobbled it up without complaint.  It’s also easy to search for Paleo or Whole30 recipes for good ideas and helpful substitutes.  I even made pressure cooker butter chicken without butter!  I subbed butter flavored coconut oil, instead of using ghee.

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Going dairy free isn’t easy, but it turns out it’s not all that hard either.  If you find yourself facing a similar challenge, take heart!  Consult your healthcare professionals, talk to others who have walked where you are about to tread, and reach out for help.  Hopefully E will outgrow this allergy, but even if he doesn’t, I now know we can handle it!

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Photo cred Running Circles Photography

A Healthy Body Starts With A Healthy Gut

The idea that bacteria is beneficial for our gut health is not revolutionary. We have all seen the commercials for certain yogurts that claim their product will keep you more regular. We understand that probiotics are necessary for digestion, but probiotics are becoming more and more important for other parts of our body as well.

Woman's Fingers Touching her body parts, heart shaped fingers

It seems that every day research is coming out about the amazing benefits that these “good” bacteria have on our body’s, and more importantly, our children’s body’s.  The gut regulates so many bodily functions that it is now becoming called the body’s “second brain”.  We now know that the majority of our body’s serotonin is actually produced in the digestive tract thanks to these good bacteria. Serotonin is a natural mood stabilizer and low serotinin levels can lead or contribute to depression or anxiety. If you or your family have a history of depression or anxiety, a probiotic may be helpful to help keep your serotonin at a normal level. Not only can these bacteria affect our minds, they also affect our immune system. About 75% of our immune function takes place in our digestive tract. These good bacteria are responsible for creating immune cells to help fight off illness. When the family is sick, make sure they are taking their probiotics. More and more research is coming out about our gut health relating to various pathologies, such as: obesity, Crohn’s disease, Type 1 diabetes (autoimmune disease), Type 2 Diabetes, autism, brain disease and food allergies. It is a really exciting time for researchers to link these different pathologies to various probiotics that can help reverse these conditions.

Our body’s are very good at regulating our gut bacteria, but certain things can alter our composition of bacteria in our gut. These things include: highly processed or unhealthy diets, high fructose corn syrup, overuse of NSAIDs, STRESS, antibiotics, alcohol, Polysorbate 80,  carrageenan, polyglycerols, glyphosate residues and irregular sleep cycles. Early symptoms of poor gut health is bloating after meals, flatulence, reflux, constipation or diarrhea.

In our baby’s, their gut bacteria is first populated by their journey down the birth canal. Mom’s bacteria will populate her baby’s gut as the baby exits the birth canal. If Mom has unhealthy bacteria in her digestive tract, she will pass them on to her baby. In order to ensure that the Mom has a good mixture of bacteria for her baby, I recommend taking a probiotic during her pregnancy and throughout breastfeeding. The probiotic will also help with yeast infections that are very common during pregnancy.

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Now that you know of all the amazing benefits of taking a probiotic, how do you get started? I recommend only taking probiotics that you will find refrigerated. These are live organisms and need to be refrigerated to make sure they don’t die on the store shelves. For infants, drops are best. These drops can be either applied to the nipple or put into the baby’s bottle. For toddlers, there are chewable probiotics. For older kids and adults, you can use powder or capsules. You want to make sure that the probiotic is specific for kids, women or men. Do you need to be on probiotics the rest of your life? The simple answer is yes. I cycle my patient’s on probiotics. I recommend 2 months on and 2 months off for adults. The only exception are for those that are pregnant and/or breastfeeding. Those groups of people will be on probiotics long-term. If your child is constipated or colicky, they may need to be on the probiotics consistently until their stools are regulated or their temperament changes.  When you are taking a probiotic, I always recommend taking it with half a banana or some other type of prebiotic. A prebiotic is “food” for the good bacteria to chew on. This will help the good bacteria thrive and set up shop in your digestive tract. Other types of prebiotic foods are asparagus, garlic, onion and apples. If this is your first round of probiotics, expect some indigestion the first week. Bloating, gas, diarrhea or constipation are all very normal the first week of probiotic use. This is due to the new good bacteria killing off the bad bacteria that have been living in your digestive tract.

Another great way to get more probiotics into your diet is with fermented foods. This includes, but not limited to: kefir (water or dairy), kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, and pickled fruits and vegetables. These types of probiotics may be more difficult for your kids to eat, but you can experiment with the different flavors.

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There are so many wonderful health benefits from healthy gut bacteria. If you are currently not on a probiotic, give it a try! You will not be disappointed.

Yes, I Scheduled a C-Section.

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Like most expectant mothers, when I found out I was pregnant with Cash I was exhilarated and so excited to give birth. I wasn’t afraid of the pain, I wasn’t worried about induction statistics, and I fully trusted my OB. I was looking forward to getting my epidural and pushing a gorgeous baby out of my tiny area. However, like most birth stories go, nothing went according to plan. I was induced at 41 weeks and after 24 hrs of cervadil, 24 hrs of pitocin, and 12 hours of pushing, my baby boy came to us via c-section.

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I felt awful. Why wasn’t I good enough? Couldn’t I have tried harder? Couldn’t I have been more active in facilitating labor so that I wouldn’t have had to be induced in the first place? There had to have been something I COULD have done where the end result didn’t put me on an operating table and rob me of that bloody/gooey, legit fresh-out-the-womb, skin-to-skin interaction with my child. I had failed as a mother in the very first task I was given.

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When I found out I was pregnant this time around, I knew things would be totally different. I stayed on top of my eating habits, exercised daily, and I’ve had a super healthy pregnancy thus far. Around 14 weeks gestation was when my doctor informed me that because the practice recently had a lethal uterine rupture, they no longer offered their services for VBAC. I was so disappointed. I was faced with two options: find a midwife who would work with limited OB doctor oversight to facilitate a natural delivery, or continue with my very trusted, well-known OB and schedule a c-section for this child.

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I weighed my options and I did do my research. Any facts, statistics, etc, that you want to tell me I ALREADY KNOW. Here’s the thing: I’m most comfortable sticking with my doctor. I’m most comfortable not taking the risk of uterine rupture. I know it’s extremely rare, yes. I know it’s highly unlikely, and I know that there is also a risk associated going under the knife. I know that no matter how hard I try no matter what, any decision I make about this pregnancy has the potential for an unsavory outcome, and THIS is what I feel best about.

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Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally disappointed that I will never give birth. I’ll never push a baby through my vaginal opening, and I’ll never know what it’s like to labor and immediately have my child in my arms. That is a very disappointing fact for me and I’ve had to deal with it and process this in my own way. But I’ve made the decision that I feel is best for me and my baby, and I’m so tired of other people weighing in negatively as if I’m taking the easy road and not trying hard enough.

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Just like I wouldn’t say “OH NO! You’re doing a TUB BIRTH? Aren’t you worried about hemorrhaging” “Natural birth with a midwife? Let me just tell you how fabulous my OB & Anesthesiologist are and give you their contact info, just in case you change your mind.” I expect that when I tell people my son will be born on a specific date, they will be respectful of the decision that I made. They will respect that I am doing what’s right for me, my body, and my family. Being pregnant is a crazy emotional time, there are so many things to freak out and stress about, being judged by another mom is not going to be one of them for me this time.

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Everyone has a different birth story and no one’s birth is “more brave” or “more meaningful” than another’s because at the end of the day every Mama did just what she knew was right for her and her baby. Every Mama has sacrificed her body for a period of time, lost sleep, been miserably uncomfortable, and has been scared out of her mind that something was going to go wrong at some point. We’re all doing exactly what we’re supposed to for OUR OWN families, and I think it’s high time we start respecting our differences as opposed to forcing our opinions of what’s right on each other.

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I’m having a c-section. I’ll never give birth. And after countless hours of Google searches, baby boards, videos, and blog reading, I’m confident in my choice. I’m not only okay with it, but I’m now actually excited about getting to know the date ahead of time. I’m excited I don’t have to wait for labor. I’m excited that I’ll get to check in to the hospital and have a baby in my arms in just a couple hours, as opposed to having to send out mass updates every few hours. I refuse to feel bad any longer, be judged as if I’m taking the “easy way out”, or live with any remnants of guilt. This is my decision and I’m happy with it.

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Respect,

B

How Safe is Your Sunscreen?

By: Sharon Letsinger

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Summer is quickly approaching, as we can all tell here in Florida.  The weather is warming up rapidly and outdoor activities are planned around avoiding the hottest part of the day, hugging the shade or finding refuge at pools and splash pads.  With the heat, comes the need to consider what types of products to use to prevent sunburn.

Every Florida parent knows the fun of trying to choose sun protection that is safe, non-toxic, easy to apply and actually works.

Do we get enough sun?

The overzealous use of sunscreen on kids has resulted in widespread vitamin D deficiencies, which are linked to cancer, depression, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, and obesity. Recent studies have estimated around 70% of US children are deficient in vitamin D.

Are we really being protected?

Most sunscreens on the market contain chemicals that are known carcinogens, such as parabens and endocrine disrupters like oxybenzone, which when exposed to UV light, may produce free radicals.  These risks, coupled with the risks from vitamin D deficiency, should give us pause in deciding whether to use conventional sunscreen.

What’s safe?

Zinc oxide is a good barrier ingredient that has long been touted as a natural alternative to conventional sunscreen, however, it’s important to distinguish between particle size when selecting sunscreen to use on your family.  Nanoparticles of zinc oxide have been shown to generate free radicals and are small enough to penetrate cell membranes.

Sensible sunburn protection

Given all the confusing information on sun safety as well as sunscreen safety, the ideal scenario would be to take your child outside each day for ten or fifteen minutes, and then seek shade, thus preventing vitamin D deficiencies as well as sunburn. Obviously, this isn’t always possible, and fortunately there is a brand of sunscreen that you can feel good about using.  We selected Butterbean Organics sunscreen for our kids and to sell in our natural parenting shop.  It provides spf 30 protection with large particle zinc oxide and all organic ingredients.  It’s also convenient to use in the pump applicator and spreads easily.

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Bottom line

My super pale boys are out in the sun daily and I don’t regularly use sunscreen on them unless we will be out all day at the beach or zoo and they don’t burn.  I sell safe sunscreen and use it sparingly on my own family, but because of my own research, I think it’s important to allow for daily sun exposure.  Of course, I’m not your healthcare professional, and you should always consult with your own pediatrician for advise.

Here’s to fun in the sun this year!

 

IMG_4421 Sharon is an owner of wrapped up, a natural parenting and babywearing boutique. She has two boys that keep her hands and heart full. http://www.WrappedUpTampa.com

Are you putting your mask on?

By: Michelle Hudock

You are sitting on the airplane, about to take off and they are going over the safety instructions. They talk about the oxygen masks and tell you “Put your mask on first before assisting others.” Your small child is sitting next to you. If you had to make that decision, would you listen? Would you put your mask on first or put their mask on first?

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I know when I sat and listened to them say that I would think to myself “No way! I am putting my child’s mask on first. It is my job to take care of them and put their needs before mine.” This was my way of thinking in several areas of my life. But now I know I do need to put my mask on first.

After our second child was born I was constantly exhausted. He wasn’t the best sleeper and was still up every couple hours way past the time he was “supposed” to be sleeping through the night. I had daily headaches and took Aleve each day like it was a daily vitamin. I would skip meals or wait too long to eat because I was busy taking care of his needs and he had to eat first. But then I found myself even more drained. I would stay in my pajamas all day, skip taking a shower, some days not even look in the mirror to see the hot mess I was. Not only was I taking care of a baby, but I had a Kindergartner at the time who needed me. I had to get her breakfast in the morning and feed the baby, which meant there was no time for me to eat. Then I had to drive her to school that wasn’t close. By the time I got home it was time for the baby to eat again, so that meant I had to wait even longer to eat. This is how my day went. The baby needs his diaper changed, I have to change it. The baby needs to eat, I need to feed him. I have to get our daughter breakfast, take her to school, pick her up from school, get her a snack. It was always something and it meant that my needs got pushed back. I was always putting myself on the back burner. But what did that get me? I was tired, had headaches, I was stressed, moody, and just going through the motions. My husband and I would sit on the couch watching TV each night while we would watch our kids play and entertain themselves nearby. We would doze off most nights. We hardly ever made dinner and mostly ordered pizza, Chinese delivery, picked up Carside to go, or went through a fast food drive thru.

In October 2014, something changed. One day I decided I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I was tired of the same old, same old. I was tired of the headaches, the stress, being moody, and just being a Mombie. (Mom Zombie) I was tired of my pre-pregnancy clothes not fitting right STILL, not feeling confident about myself, not looking forward to date night with my husband and making excuses to get out of it because I didn’t have anything to wear and didn’t like how things looked on me, I was tired of just not feeling good. My husband had some pregnancy sympathy weight to lose too. We both decided we needed to make a change. We started working out in our family room as soon as we put the kids to bed. We made it like an appointment we had to be on time for and “met” each other there. It became our time together and like a hobby which we never really had together. We started making healthier food choices and did meal prepping and planning together. It wasn’t easy in the beginning, but we started seeing changes so we kept going. Not just on the outside of losing weight and inches but on the inside too. We started having more energy, I had less headaches, I was able to deal with the stress better by letting it out in my workouts, my moods were better, and I was feeling like a better Mom and Wife. I realized I needed to eat too. I realized in order to feed my baby well, I needed to feed myself well. I started eating 5-6 meals and snacks a day, every 2-3 hours. I thought of it like this- if my baby was hungry and crying to eat, would I make him wait? Would I tell him “Sorry, I don’t have time. You’ll have to wait to eat.” No! And I shouldn’t tell myself that either. We had to make some changes and adjustments and although it took time, it was so worth it. We were making healthy dinners at home together. We were going on walks and bike rides around our neighborhood together. We were playing WITH our kids and not just watching them play. We were setting a good example for them to be active and healthy.  We started seeing more and more positive changes and it became so rewarding! It let us know we were making the right steps towards better health which effected so much on a daily basis. When you feel better, you do better. When you feel better, you are better. Whether your job is at home as a stay at home Mom, you work from home, you work outside of the house. You are a better Wife, a better Mom, a better employee.

 

If you want to see change, YOU have to change.

For things to get better, YOU have to get better.

For things to improve, YOU have to improve.

When YOU grow, EVERYTHING in your life grows with you.

So whenever you start feeling run down and worn out ask yourself “Am I putting my mask on?” You MUST put your mask on first before assisting others!

 

 

10897977_10206241527816591_3774314369757525231_n My name is Michelle Hudock and my husband and I have two kids. Kyla is 10 years old and Kellen is 4 years old. I work from home as a health and fitness coach helping people with their health and fitness goals. I have always wanted to “help people” and I feel like each day I get to do just that! It also allows me to stay home with our two young kids and have the freedom to volunteer at their schools or go to class parties, go with my husband when he travels for work, and to truly enjoy Spring Breaks and Summers while the kids are off school. I love trying new recipes to cook for my family, going to playdates and meeting new Moms just like me, and just being an “Everyday Mom!”

 

 

My Breastfeeding Journey…

 By Jennifer Stroble

At some point in raising their child, every parent has wished they came with a manual. Don’t try to deny it. The next best thing to a manual is a tribe or support system. The kind of people that won’t judge you for wanting wine at 10:00 am, because your child cried for two hours after you gave him the wrong colored cup at lunch time. These type of people are there to lift your spirits during troubling times, and generally make your life more enjoyable.

I found my tribe, also known as my mom’s group; when my oldest son, Keagan, was just shy of a year old. They have since kept me sane in times I thought I needed to go to a loony bin. I needed them most when Oliver, my last baby was born in September. That’s when all hell broke loose in my life.

Seven months ago, I had no idea what  was in store for my son and I. We endured a whirlwind of ups and downs. We’ve overcome jaundice, torticollis, and hospitalization for bronchiolitis. Although, nothing will compare to my current struggle: breastfeeding.

Throughout my entire pregnancy I told myself, and anyone who’d listen, that I’d breastfeed exclusively for a minimum of one year. My breastfeeding journey with his older brother came to a halt after three weeks due to illness and a less than ideal support system. I was determined to have better success this time around at providing my son’s nutrition, and having those special bonding moments with him.

My inner circle of friends tried to prepare me for my journey ahead. They tried to teach me that there would be many struggles, and that breastfeeding wasn’t going to be easy. It’s something you have to constantly work towards, but in the end would be worth every frustration. Some mothers have struggles latching or dealing with reflux, forceful letdowns, clogged milk ducts, and more. Not to mention, the sleepless nights and insatiable hunger.

However, none of them could prepare me for what I was about to withstand.

Oliver was born September 17th, 2015. Those first few moments were a blur. I remember crying from overwhelming amount of joy that he was here, and being in pure bliss with my baby boy. By the time I was discharged from the hospital 36 hours later, those tears had turned dark. I was beyond sleep deprived because my sleep cycle only occurred once every 30 minutes, if I was lucky. Trying to feed my child was becoming a nightmare the more I tried.

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Oliver was miserable. He’d cry nonstop, nothing would calm him.  I was told by the doctor that he may have a tongue tie and to get it evaluated. I found myself at Dr. Sierra’s office, in Tampa,  the following day for a free consultation. As it would turn out, he had the “most obvious” lip AND tongue tie that Dr. Sierra had ever seen. He encouraged me to feed him right after the lip and tongue tie revision, to help comfort him. I noticed a difference almost immediately. It no longer hurt as badly to feed him, and a weight had been lifted.

I battled with everything my friends warned me about: the sleepless nights, the hunger, the never ending nursing sessions and more. One thing nobody had warned me about though, was food intolerance and other food sensitivities while breastfeeding. If I ate something that the baby didn’t digest well, how would I know? Would he grow horns? Cry like he’s dying? Would he bleed? Get rashes? I had no clue. I had limited knowledge with food intolerance.

At six weeks old, I was proud to have made it that long, still being his source of nutrition. After all, it was an important milestone. Most mothers give up within the first six weeks. In that time though, Oliver had always had diarrhea, and it was almost always green. It would range from neon, to ninja turtle green. He was severely moody, spitting up, gassy, and just over all unpleasant. The doctors suggested I go dairy free.

Goodbye, ice cream. Farewell, cheese. See you later, yogurt. Smell you later, baked goods.

I found myself crying during most feeding sessions. After all, it was my milk that made his tummy so upset. I was doing my best, but it just didn’t feel good enough at that moment. His pediatrician and the lactation consultants at Baby Café, said it could take upwards of another six weeks before I saw a drastic improvement in his stools and overall attitude.

As time went by, I was second guessing myself more, and more. I’d think to myself, am I eating the wrong stuff? Am I over-thinking his poop? Could there be another cause? I was feeling so out of my element. At his three month check-up, they still found microscopic traces of blood in his diarrhea. I was told to eliminate soy as well as dairy. The world of processed foods had instantly vanished. No more late night munchies of Oreos and milk, or quick take out from our favorite fast food joint. Convenience was a luxury, and I no longer had it.

I went another six weeks of trial and error. At this point, Ollie is now 4½ months old. I had become what I would consider a master at examining infant poop. This is not a title I’d want on my resume. My silver lining was that he was noticeably happier on a day to day basis. Other than his runny number twos, he was a perfectly happy and healthy baby. He was gaining a slow but steady amount of weight, which was the only thing keeping the doctors (and myself) happy.

I hit a rock wall, as I knew there was still something wrong with my baby.  I was begging and pleading for answers. No one could tell me why he had diarrhea. I was fed up with his pediatrician. They told me to start solids and/or formula, even though I told them I want to exclusively feed him myself, and those were not currently an option for me. I begged for a GI specialist referral. I was referred to Dr. Izizarry in Brandon. She gave me three options: start solids, start a total elimination diet, or give formula.

Friends and family thought I was nuts. Who in their right mind would give up everything just to breastfeed their child? They tried to comfort me, and continue to support my decisions regardless of what I chose. After crying for what felt like forever, I went home and did my research on what foods I could do during a total elimination diet. I was determined to reach my goal, and to never give up. In the end, I felt that if I couldn’t make things right within my diet, how was a container of formula supposed to help? My milk was made especially for him.

I went approximately another six weeks slowly introducing one thing after another back into his diet. I hit numerous stand still periods, but continued forward. I brought back eggs, nuts, and wheat into my diet aside from my “safe” proteins and produce.

I saw only one improvement. He went from 10+ poops a day, to 3-5 a day.

I cried. I felt lost. I had given up everything, living off of lamb and veggies. Everyone around me could tell I was unraveling and continued to push formula on me. I knew they all had very good intentions, but I still resisted.

Last month, it came back that his older brother Keagan had mild allergies to cow’s milk, peanuts, eggs, and wheat. I decided that since we were still struggling to find the culprit for his digestion issues, that we’d resume a normal diet and only avoid his brother’s allergies, with the exception of soy.

I’m happy to announce, that even though I’m still clueless as to what has been causing mayhem on my baby’s belly, he’s doing much better. He’s gone roughly a month free of wheat, peanuts, eggs, dairy and soy. He has had normal bowel movements in this time frame, as well.

Due to my determination, and overly supportive group of friends, I’ve managed to stay on track. There’s now a light at the end of my tunnel, and I hope to make my goal of one year.
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If I had struggled in silence, I likely wouldn’t have made it to my first six week milestone, let alone my six month milestone. Take it from me, find your support system to carry you through your struggles and keep you sane. I’ve had a large network of like-minded mothers to guide me through my journey thus far, and family to comfort me in moments I wanted to give up. Every hard decision I’ve made in the last six months, has been entirely worth it.

 

Jennifer Stroble.jpg I’m Jennifer, a 25 year old mother of two amazing boys. Keagan is four years old, and Oliver will be one in September. I’ve been married five years now, and have grown up in the Brandon area. I am a sarcastic, laid back stay-at-home parent with a hectic lifestyle catering to my children and two rambunctious dogs. Each day I’m simply trying to survive the never-ending ride that is parenthood.