You guys… what a year! And what in the time warp? My daughter, Aria, turned one and I can hardly believe the transformation that she’s made in just that short a time. I know people say time flies but I literally just gave birth to her yesterday. How is she already a year old? Well, over the year, as you know, I’ve given here a different career every month to encourage her to imagine, play and dream big. Here’s that year in review.
Twelve Months Old – Service – Firefighter, Police Officer, Marine
Thank you for watching her journey and encouraging her for greatness. Even though the picture series is over, cultivating her imagination never is. Always tell your kids how great they are and that nothing is impossible.
So I recently had to go away for a work trip and leave my baby with my husband and her grandmother. Now, I’ll tell you, this has absolutely nothing to do with my husband’s ability to care for our child (he did great – a little more about that later) or my mother’s knack for giving her treats that are too advanced for her age – isn’t that what grandma’s do? It totally has to do with me and what I didn’t expect to happen to me – but it did. Dunh dunh dunnnnhhhhh…. separation anxiety.
Y’all. I have a great village. You don’t even understand, an absolutely phenomenal village. A host of family, friends, cousins, play cousins, pretend aunts, best friends and the like, all vying for a chance to take care of Aria. It’s a beautiful thing. There isn’t a moment that I think she won’t be taken care of if I have to go somewhere or, God forbid, the worst happens. The girl is set in terms of love and care. I trust and believe that on my heart and soul.
But, I had to leave her. I was good leading up to the trip, but the closer the trip got, the more I began to dread the inevitable. As I began to pack up her things – three bags to be exact – one for grandma’s house, one for dad when he travels with her to meet me, and one to bring with me on the trip for when she arrives – the anxiety got worse and worse. I kept telling myself to keep it together. Keep it together. The next thing I knew, it was time for me to go. Oh. My. Gosh. What do I do?
Do you see that face? It’s like she knew I was leaving her and couldn’t believe I could be so heartless. I’m smiling on the outside and a complete basket case on the inside. As soon as I put her back in the car seat and stepped away from her, the tears began to flow and the doubts began to flood my mind. Will she still love me just as much as before? Will she remember me? Is she going to be angry at me that I left her? Will they take good care of her? What if something happens and I’m in an entirely different country? How fast can I get home? Will Dad be able to travel well with her? What if she has a meltdown on the airplane? What if she can’t pop her ears? WHAT IF THE PLANE CRASHES????
Can you see the rabbit hole that I was falling into without any sort of safety harness. It was complete madness. Here’s what I did to cope.
1. Just breathe. Stop. Take a step back and relax. It’s going to be OK. It really is. I promise. Aria has a great community surrounding her, as I mentioned before, so I remembered that so many people love her and will gladly throw themselves in moving traffic to protect her. So she’s probably safer with them than I am on the trip. She’s good to go. Realizing that, brought me from a level 30 to a level 25. So if you’re in the same situation, understand that your village has your back – and more importantly – your little’s back.
2. Have plenty of memory material. This was a saving grace. I promise, with no shame whatsoever, that I looked at the same 4 or 5 pictures of Aria at least (and this is no exaggeration) 50 times a day. Put the pictures with the smiles and the videos of the coos and laughs in heavy rotation. Just seeing her face and hearing her voice made me feel closer to her. Level 25 to 15.
3. Stash a toy. I took one of Aria’s toys with me on my trip. Did I want to play with it. Nope. It just smelled like her. Every time I closed my eyes, I would take a deep breath of her in. It was almost like I was nuzzling her. When you need a cuddle of your baby and she’s (or he’s) not there in person, this was the next best thing for me. It really did work wonders. I even slept with it. There’s no shame in my game.
4. FaceTime. However, you need to video chat do that. I have an iPhone so FaceTime works best for me. But if you have a different channel of communication, use whatever gets you in front of your little by live video. They’ll be so happy to see you and vice versa. While I was on with Aria, I told her about my day. I let her know that I missed her and would see her soon. FaceTiming did a couple of things; it gave me an opportunity to see her AND it reinforced the fact that she was being well taken care of by the village.
5. Get busy. Don’t sit around and mope. The saying is true – time flies when you’re having fun. So you may not initially feel like a party, get out there and do something. Whether it’s work or play, if you get immersed in activity, you’ll look up and the day will be over. Now you’re one day closer to getting back to your baby.
6. Anticipate your reunion. The closer it got for us to get back together, the more excited you’re going to be. I promise for me it was like waiting for Christmas. I was like a kid on Christmas morning, the day I was back with her. My husband showed up with her at the hotel and I literally ran through the hotel and out the doors to the shuttle. I was overwhelmed with emotion and was so happy. It was almost like I had just given birth again. The joy. The happiness. The love.
I was so proud of myself for getting through my first trip away from my daughter. It made me feel confident that I could do it again – which I will have to do in the near future and will have to go through all these steps again. But I’m prepared. And I’m not ready. LOL. Sigh. Good luck.
My daughter loves to explore everything around her. She is a virtual sponge, even at 4-months old. She is so alert and attentive, I’m always so shocked that her attention span is greater than 30 seconds.
So for our family activity, we decided to go to the Cockrell Butterfly Center in Houston. To let her see the butterflies and see if they might like her enough to try to land on her. If they did, I would hope that she wouldn’t try to eat one. These days everything is hand to mouth. Luckily, they only flew nearby and we never had to have a butterfly emergency. Tiny meltdown, yes. Eaten butterflies, no.
She got all the compliments. There was even another baby there that lost quick interest in the butterflies and only had eyes for her. Step back little Romeo… no boys allowed until she’s 45. Her bow looked like a butterfly and so she fit right in. Join us on our journey.
This is a chronicle of the (mis)adventures and mishaps of my milk making. Blah.
Right now, as I write this blog, I find myself on the floor of my bedroom, in the not quite middle of the night (10 pm), but to my exhausted and beaten body it feels like 3, pumping for my life – or should I say my tiny angel. Breastfeeding moms this one is for you, you’ll definitely feel me.
Now, as I was saying, I’m here in the floor – trying to be as quiet as possible, the entire house is fast asleep – even the two huskies – who snore lazily and look up at me as I reach for the lanolin, take a yawn that eerily sounds like “poor sucker” and go right back to sleep. I’m trying to be incognito because I promise if that baby wakes up, it’s just about enough to send me right over the edge. So shhhhhhhh…. please and thank you. Save your applause ’til the end.
Here’s what I’ve been trying to do. I’ve been trying to get a surplus of milk. And while some of you reading this may have a freezer chock full of Medela storage bags – well that’s not my story. You take your excess 300 ounces and shove ’em. (Do I sound bitter? It’s probably because I am…and jealous. Excuse me, it’s the middle of the night. Be nice to your milk bags. I’m sure they are very nice people.) I barely have 30 extra ounces. And that’s from like 2 weeks of pumping. That’s right, only that much. So moms out there that loooooove to give advice, both solicited and un-, this is your chance. Tell me what to do. Please.
I’ve read all the blogs. Tried all the tricks, looking at her, looking at pictures, holding a blanket to smell (at this point I might as well hold a diaper full of yellow seeds – if you get my drift), feeding her right after pumping, feeding her before pumping and waiting no time, 30 minutes, an hour… still… beans. I’m on the more milk supplements. I’m drinking the lactation tea, and if I see ONE MORE oatmeal cylinder, I’m going to vomit. (I hate oatmeal.) If I drink any more water I’m gonna have to come and pee at your house. It’s not working.
True, every now and again I might get a good haul. Then I think excited, “it’s working.” Then the next time… beans. Giant F word. Back to the drawing board I go. I know, I know. I have to stick with it. But between working for a living (my household is a two-income household), blogging for a living, taking care of the baby before, during (yes, I said during), and after work, trying to pump and get healthy food in me. Forget about it. You want me to shower and comb my hair too??? You’re asking too much. What’s the secret? I really, really need to know. Can I please get invited to the surplus milk supply club? It’s important.
Not for nothing though, there are a couple of things that I have tried that I can appreciate. So even though my supply isn’t where I want it to be, they definitely make the struggle more convenient.
Willow Breast Pump – Shout out to the moms at Willow who knew the importance of being able to be mobile and pump at the same time. I know that there’s that bra that you can wear that lets you be “hands free,” but this little gem let’s me be hands free, plug free and whatever else free that I need to be. Imagine me going to celebrate someone’s birthday and excusing myself to the restroom for a quick install and right back to the group to keep the party going.
Hakaa Silicone Pump – I call it the “Boob Sucker.” This little contraption let’s me pump on one boob while Aria snacks on the other. Never miss a let down. On a good day I can get about 2 ounces on it. Mostly I get about a half ounce. But I’ll take what I can get. Beggars can’t choosers.
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies – Didn’t I say I hate oatmeal. There’s something about the texture that I can’t get with, so these cookies are a lifesaver. To spice it up I add white chocolate chips, cranberries, and toffee bits. I even throw in a little flaxseed meal for good measure… you know to help with the milk. They are soooo good. So if I must eat oatmeal, this is the way.
Fenugreek – These pills definitely help, but aren’t a silver bullet for me. I did take some moringa but those darn things dried me up so I had to kick those to the curb and get back to the ‘greek.
Other than that, I don’t know what else to do. Like I said, I’m soliciting advice. So gimme what ya got. I’ll keep you posted on how things turn out.