Family

Is it normal? | I want my life back!

It felt like all of a sudden. One moment. It felt like I looked around and realized I had changed. I mean I knew I was changing. I watched my belly grow and I labored for hours. I had been through this once before. I knew my life would never be the same. But I was in it. I was all the feelings. Happy, excited, nervous, and anxious.

Then she was here. She completed our family. So sweet, so squishy and my brain instantly just wanted to care for this new sweet soul. Soon she wasn’t so new. Visitors stopped coming, my husband returned to work. It was just me, this new baby, and my older child. I spent my days trying to meet everyone’s needs. For the most part I loved it! I love being a mom. In the early childhood years it defined me. I was more than happy to let it. They are my world and I was proud to dedicate my time to them.

These little beings who are amazing yet needy also meant going out of the house was work. Trying to get alone time as a couple was hard. I felt like I could never give my first born the attention she needed. Then in one moment seemingly out of the blue….

I wanted my life back.

I thought about what I could be doing if I didn’t have the responsibilities of these kiddos. What could I do on a whim? What new career path could I be down? Where could I be traveling? Who even am I?

It is common and NORMAL to have feelings of returning to a life you once knew. Having a baby is a glorious time, but it is also a huge seismic shift of our daily lives and identities. People feel this shift at different times. It can happen in pregnancy. As your body is changing shape and your daily routines are interfered with. For others, like me, it comes after baby one or two. You feel like you open your eyes and realize motherhood consumed you and you want to feel like yourself again. Your old self.

If you have this moment of “I want my life back” first off know it is OK. Let yourself sit with the feelings. Life is a journey, and on this journey we grow and process feelings. Processing feelings never seems to go away.

Just because you yearn for an older version of yourself doesn’t mean you hate the life you are in. It didn’t for me. I think it can be a way we check in with ourselves. I think it is a normal moment for all of us at different parts of our lives. We are constantly growing and ever changing, in our minds and our bodies.

Here are some ideas to help you through these moments. Don’t shrug them away! They will return. It is good to face your feelings as soon as you are ready to.

-Talk about what you are feeling.

Your partner or a therapist are great people to turn to. Maybe you can talk to your mom or a best friend too.

-Cherish your old moments and old identities and come up with ways to figure out your new version of yourself.

It is good to embrace where you are at and how you can add things in. For example you won’t be a 20 year old staying out late rocking out in mosh pits or dancing til dawn with no care for responsibilities again. Reminisce on that, but then look at where you are at now. Embrace, “I am a mom! I get to snuggle, and get kisses from little ones who think I am the universe. I get to see these little angels grow and discover life.” Man writing that out makes me pumped to be a mom. Anywho you don’t have to shove parenthood away to find new things to add to your sense of self. Bring them together.

-Seek out new activities and goals.

Find something to do just for you. It may mean finding a not so cheap but reliable babysitter. It may mean commitment. Explore new things to add into your life. For me it was yoga and then running. Not only do these things help my brain matter stay sane they are times just for me. Exercise is just one avenue to explore.

-How are you and your partner (if you have one)? Make sure you are checking in with your partner regularly.

Carve out time everyday to have grown-up conversations. After you trade stories about the kids have some real talk. “What was something funny that happened at work?” “What do you want to do this weekend?” “What show should we binge watch on Netflix?” Like all relationships they only grow if we nurture them. We can’t ignore them and just bank on them always being there. Set aside time for one another. Date again! There are great books out there to help get the conversations flowing and the relationships growing. This is one I picked up and love, “8 dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love” by Julie Schwartz Gottman & John Gottman.

-Meditate.

Find that quiet, happy place, and let your mind rest. Stink at meditating? Never tried it? No worries! You can pick up a book or follow some guidance from a video on the internet. Like all things, the more you practice the easier it becomes. It is good if you can incorporate time to clear your head daily, even if just for a few minutes.

-Practice self love.

You gotta love you. You are pretty awesome. I know we may have never met but trust me, I have good instincts and you are super cool. Doing the things above can help you love yourself more. When you can get to a place of loving and accepting yourself fully, you can then tackle most everything big or small.

Want to know the coolest part of finding your next identity and really loving yourself? Your kids will learn from you. They are watching you as you are their ultimate teacher. Seeing someone explore themselves and doing things that make them better humans is inspiring. What a fabulous thing to do as a parent!

So if you are currently in the “I want my life back” head-space, take some deep breaths. This is normal. You are not alone in ever feeling this way. Hopefully the tips above can help you too.

Authored by: Andrea Stainbrook

Simple tips for a successful beach outing

Summer is upon us in Michigan! That means it is time to hit the beach! Beach outings with little ones in tow can sometimes be stressful. So follow these tips to help keep you from being a sweaty, hot, overwhelmed mess.

Tip #1- Gather all your items first

Know you are planning to hit the beach that day? Start collecting your items that you want to bring and place them in one specific spot. This way when it is time to leave you will have everything in one place. If you dig lists make your list and start gathering as soon as the night before. Possible items you may want to remember:

Kid practical items: swim diapers, sunblock, sun-hats, change of clothes, water shoes, sandals, snacks, water bottles

Beach practical items: beach blanket, towels, umbrella, beach chair, sand toys, flotation devices if allowed (check with each beach’s rules)

Tip #2- Plan where to go and for how long

Once you decide which beach you want to visit, maybe Spencer Beach, Kensington Park, or Stony Creek, get an idea of how long is the right amount of time for you. There is no wrong answer here. A short stay is just as fun as a long stay. If your stay is longer make sure you upgrade your snacks and include a meal like sandwiches. The worst is being hungry after a lot of playing and sun! It is also always a good parenting tool to give reminders to your little ones that your leaving in 30 mins, 20 mins, 10 mins etc. in case leaving fun places is hard to do.

Tip #3- Enjoy making memories

Hang out with your kiddos! Make a sand castle with the biggest moat ever! Dip your toes in too! Take pictures! Expect moments of sand in your food, maybe your eye, and a kiddo melting down for a second or two. But also expect your baby or kid to have a great time and make their own memories.

There is something magical about a Michigan summer. We truly know how to soak up the sun after months of cold and snow. Let the sun hit your skin, the smell of the lake air hit your nose, and enjoy playing with your family!

End of the school year feelings

It is that time. The time when months of routine, schedule, and learning come to an end. It is the end of the school year. Whether you are cheering as a parent or anxious at the idea of adjusting to summer, no matter the feelings all of them are valid and its OK. For some the shift brings some stress as it is a new adjustment. For some it is seamless and easy.

For me I am mostly feeling excited.

There will be some challenges to adjust to I am sure. I work from home a lot. Figuring out those hours again that I can focus on work while we are all home together will be an adjustment.

But my kids are still little. They grow so fast and I swear by each day their independence increases with leaps and bounds. I want to enjoy the moments. And for the record I will focus on moments. I know I will hear, “Mom, I am bored.” “Mom can we do this? That? What about this?” I know my patience will shorten and some days I will be irritated. That is life as a parent.

But there will be days of snuggles, and sun, and play.

I will rub sunblock onto their creamy soft skin. I will get to judge them on their underwater handstands. 10’s seem to be the best answer every time! I will cut up fresh fruit to enjoy in the blistering sun. I will ride my bike alongside them setting goals to go on farther, longer, rides this summer. I will wipe dripping melted popsicle off their cheeks. I will veg out with them and watch their favorite shows. I will pop popcorn over the stove for family movie nights. I will sit out back and watch them play with the neighborhood kids. I will roast marshmallows and make smores over the bonfire. Limit 2 kids! OK maybe 3! We will read together, we will draw. We will run through the sprinkler and slide down the slip-n-slide. I will let them stay up late and sleep-in in the morning. I will have mornings of homemade pancake breakfasts, and others of quick cereal.

I want to embrace this summer. We may never get around to making those cute summer bucket lists. We may not spend enough time outside. We may have lazy days. We may have boring days. We may have busy days. But we will do them together.

As the school bus makes its final stop for the year I may cry. Tears of joy that we get a little time more together. Tears of “I can’t believe how much and how fast they are growing.” Then I will offer my hand to my girls, see if I get to hold one of theirs one last time home. Then we will embark on our remarkable summer.

Authored by: Andrea Stainbrook

Newborn Sleep Guidelines

It is always a good idea to stay up to date on current recommendations. The AAP, American Academy of Pediatrics, has specific guidelines for safe sleep practices.

Placing babies (through one year old) on their back to sleep is the most current recommendation for safe sleep. Room sharing is considered ideal for the first six months. This means having your baby on a firm sleep surface, i.e. crib or bassinet, laying on its back somewhere in the room with you the parent. Swaddling your baby is just fine! Keep loose items and bedding away from your baby.

Many babies like to be swaddled.

Sleeping in a Rock n’ Play Sleeper is not safe and the item has been recalled.

Here are some recommended links and articles from the AAP:

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/sleep/Pages/A-Parents-Guide-to-Safe-Sleep.aspx

https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/child_death_review/Pages/Safe-Sleep.aspx

https://safetosleep.nichd.nih.gov/

Our Postpartum & Infant Care Doulas stay current with the recommendations set forth by the AAP and follow their guidelines when caring for your baby. If you have more questions or concerns reach out to your pediatrician.

Dogs and bringing home baby

I remember when we got our oldest dog, George. My husband and I were young and had just moved across the country from Michigan to Arizona. Together we walked through the aisles of the shelter looking in every kennel. From barking faces, jumping paws, and puppy dog eyes we noticed him. Curled up and looking at us like, “I know right? These other dogs are loud!” There was George.

We took him for a walk outside and he was perfect. Chill, medium-sized with a funky tail that looked like it never fully grew. We were smitten and that was it. We took him home.

We quickly added a basset hound, Jerry, to our family as well. He was the sweetest and had the deepest howl.

Years passed and we discovered our first baby was on its way! With these two pups and the new pregnancy also came feelings of, “what will it look like to have a baby and the dogs?” “Will my dogs get along with the baby?” “How will I take care of everyone?”

Having a baby shifts your whole world period. Every aspect of your what you consider part of your daily life before your child arrives is affected. So it is normal to be concerned about your fur-babies as well. It is OK to process your feelings on the changes about to happen. And it is realistic to worry about your pet’s transition and adjustment as well.

So set your dog up for success!

While you are still pregnant you can have some of the baby items out and around. This way they visually start seeing their surroundings change. If you have a dog that doesn’t roll with change much (some dogs will bark at the furniture after you moved it) this may be an important step. Baby gear tends to appear in every room!

You can try to have your dog get familiar with your baby’s smell even before you arrive home. Have a visitor take the newborn hat or receiving blanket that your newborn has been in home to your dogs. Let them smell and inspect it.

Set up positive associations with your baby!

Have treat bowls throughout the house, especially near places where you will be lounging with your baby often. When your dog comes near your baby give them a treat!

BABY = GOOD

Did your baby kick your dog on accident when it stretched out its leg? Doggy gets some cheese! A nice high reward!

Have care in place for your pet.

Once you are home you may want to hire a dog walker, schedule extra doggy day care visits, or take advantage of helpful friends and family to give your dog extra love and exercise. A tired dog is a happy dog. On top of that your attention is now split so they get some extra cuddles in.

Life after baby is an adjustment. This means for the WHOLE family including your dogs. Most dogs are loving, understanding, and adjust just fine. Some even seem to take on a protective role over your baby. It’s beautiful to watch your children grow and become dog lovers themselves. There is something so magical about the relationship we have with our pets, and its awesome to share that with our babies.

Written by Andrea Stainbrook

Are you watching “9 Months That Made You”?

I will admit I watch a lot of TV. I watch it to unwind and relax, but I also use it to learn and discover new things. Recently I stumbled upon a PBS series called “9 Months That Made You.” I am one episode in and hooked!

Now I know by being a doula and childbirth educator that this show is right up my alley. I mean it is kind of like continuing education for my work! But if you are growing a human in your body currently, or did grow one, or know someone who grew one, or if you grew in someone’s body, then this show is a perfect fit!

So in the first episode they break down what it is like for a baby to grow beginning with the moment of conception. It then goes on to describe what happens in hours! And then days and weeks. The detailed things they discuss is amazing. How much of our lives that is determined by the processes in the first few weeks is astonishing!

Within the program different families from around the globe are highlighted to show their genetic differences. These differences are due to developmental things that can happen during the time period of growth that they are focused in on in the episode. The first episode even features a scientist studying living a long life and how it may be determined while you are still in the womb!

So yes I am a geek when it comes to science and babies. I can’t wait to finish the series. It really celebrates the variances in humanity. So if you are looking to add something to your queue and you are into learning check out this PBS series on Netflix. You can find out more about it here:
https://www.pbs.org/show/9-months-made-you/

I can’t wait to see what new information I learn next!

by Andrea Stainbrook

Guest blog: Moving with a growing family

When life changes, most people tend to make a move.  One reason moving occurs is usually because your family is growing.  So whether you are expecting your first child, or your fourth, your needs from a home will change too.   You have to think about what kind of childhood you envision your children to have. Size, budget and location are all important things when thinking about the future of your family.

When thinking about your future home, you have to think about timing. Did you want to move into a home before you have children and grow into it, or did you want to buy a home after you have kids. No answer is right, it depends on your preference.   If you bought a home before kids, you will not have to worry about moving when you’re busy learning how to be parents.    It will give first time parents a sense of security and comfort while learning how to parent their new bundle of joy.

 If you chose to wait till after you have kids to move, you will have a better sense of how you parent and what is important to you as a parent.  Whether you value the school systems, open-concept floor plans to keep an eye on the kiddos or even storage space. You can get to know what your needs and desires are after having children to have a better idea of what your new home has to offer you before you buy.

Here are some important tips to remember when moving with your babies!

Before your make the move:  Stick to a routine. 

Do not let moving and packing get in the way of your regular routines. Create a moving calendar to achieve small goals when packing.  Take it day by day and try to spread out packing over a period of time instead of in a few days.   If you decide you want or have to pack up quickly, use childcare. When boxes and furniture are being carried in and out, keep the kids safe with trusted professionals or family members.

Pack a suitcase that will include your daily needs for at least 3-4 days.  This way you know where to access diapers, pacifiers, toys, clothes, food, and blankets.  It may take you a while to unpack or to find these things in boxes.  Utilize a suitcase to keep these important things in one area that is easily accessible. 

When you’re moving in: Unpack the child’s room first, so they have a safe place to sleep that feels familiar.

You’re going to want to have a safe space for your baby when unpacking is being done.  Small furniture pieces, and other tools will be in use during the first few days.  Parents are going to want to baby proof the home as soon as possible. Parents, learn about your new home as much as possible. Check windows, locks, alarms, secure dangerous things right away when unpacking such as cleaning products, medicines, and tools. You will also want to ensure that the flooring is safe as far as sharp staples or nails coming out of the carpet.

Now that you moved in: Enjoy your new life with your family. 

Get ready to watch your child grow and explore in the life that you envisioned for them.

Guest blog by Ariel Radtke, Real Estate Agent

Ariel is familiar with transitions and the challenges of family life while moving. She has a great energy and will help you along the way. Check out her website to learn more about Ariel and what she has to offer!
https://arielradtke.kw.com/

Let’s let go of mom guilt

by Andrea Stainbrook

Mom guilt. It is real. It exists. And it starts early! From the moment you discover you will be bringing a baby into this world it seems ways to feel guilty start creeping in. As a doula and a mother I hear about it at all different points of parenthood.

Are you eating the right foods? Are you exercising enough? Don’t do this. You should do this. “When I was pregnant I did this.” “You plan on using that?” “I would follow this parenting philosophy!” AAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! Social media, and well intentioned, friends and family can infiltrate your mind and you can begin doubting yourself and your decisions. When you once felt confident about a particular thing, you now wonder if you are messing this whole parenting gig up!

I don’t have a why. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we doubt our abilities to be wonderful loving parents? I do it too!

How can we stop it?

I wish I could shout from the rooftops to make us all believe in the fabulous parents we all really are. Even when we slip up, even when we aren’t the most patient, even when we choose the drive through over home cooked meals, we are excellent parents.

Let’s navigate this together. What are some things we can do to help reduce the guilt when we feel it come on. Here are some things I do.

Stop comparing ourselves to others. You truly need to do you. Most often we feel worse after a round of comparing ourselves to others.
I know I do. We tend to compare ourselves to someone we think has it all together, the images of perfection we see, or the mother we made up as the perfect mother. I will tell you a secret. NO ONE is absolutely perfect.

Focus on the good moments. Look at your day. Think of a moment that you are proud of. It doesn’t have to be an Earth shattering parenting moment. Sure maybe you wish you had a redo of the morning. But let that morning go and work on the moment you are in.

A bad moment doesn’t mean a bad day.

Try to remember ALL that you do day in and day out. Know that it is hard work and you are doing it! It may not be always glamorous but your child loves you for it.

Find your friends or talk to your partner. Reach out to your partner. Tell them how you are feeling. Ideally they will listen and stop the guilt spiral! They should raise you up and remind you of your awesomeness. If you don’t have a close inner circle of friends that lifts you up it’s time to seek them out. Friends that listen and don’t shame. Some have luck finding new friends at local parenting groups. You need someone in your life that you can get vulnerable with and they will simply support you and listen.

Real mom friends don’t let other mom friends stay stuck in a cycle of guilt.

When we catch our friends or family feeling guilt lets pull them up! Listen to them. Let them get it out. Then point out the positives. Remind them of their great qualities and remind them that we all go there sometimes.

Together, I believe we can all work hard on letting go of the mom guilt! Believe in yourself and your abilities, accept that you will make mistakes, and know you have support to remind you of how magical you really are!

The benefits of a pacifier

by Andrea Stainbrook

There are so many decisions to make regarding caring for your baby. You as the parent truly know what makes the most sense to you and what you are comfortable with. One tool getting a bad rap lately are pacifiers. When parents find themselves using them some don’t want to admit it even! While yes everything has benefits and risks, it seems the benefits of pacifiers aren’t really be talked about anymore. So let’s dive in!

Let’s start out by talking the real negatives of pacifier use. It seems a common belief with those trying to nurse is that you should not introduce a pacifier. Have you heard of “nipple confusion?” Did you know this doesn’t exist?! Babies can develop flow preferences (milk that comes out easily of a bottle nipple but the baby has to work hard at the mother’s breast), but they aren’t confused. In regards to breastfeeding, pacifiers may damage a nursing relationship in instances where the pacifier is being used to replace a feeding or to delay feedings. In these cases you may cause a reduction in the amount of milk being produced because the baby isn’t stimulating the breasts.

Other negatives of pacifier use can include an increased risk of ear infections in babies older than 6 months, and/or orthodontic problems with babies 18 months and older who suck for more than 4-6 hours daily.

So those are the risks. Why would you use a pacifier? Some babies simply have an insatiable need to suck. Many babies want to suck for non-nutritive reasons. It can be soothing to them. But did you ever think about the benefits? That’s right, pacifiers can be good!

The benefits of pacifier use:

Reduced risk of SIDS up to one year of age.

Calms the baby

In premature babies comfort sucking has been linked to shorter NICU stays

Baby’s pulse slows

Strengthens the baby’s sucking ability

Reduces crying

Many parents want all the tools to help them soothe their babies. Pacifiers are simply one tool.

Pro-tip:

Introduce the pacifier during a time when the baby is content. Most of us try to offer the pacifier to our babies when they are upset and inconsolable. If you were upset and someone kept shoving this rubber thing in your mouth you would be like, “what are you doing? Get that away!!!” What if every time you were were upset someone shoved that rubber thing in your mouth? You would associate that rubber object with your frustration.

Instead when your baby seems happy gently introduce the pacifier. First stroke your baby’s cheek with it. Then try rubbing it along its lips. You can even talk upbeat to your baby while you do this. While your baby is still happy barely insert the pacifier into your baby’s mouth. If your baby is in the mood to suck she will likely suck it right into her mouth and give it a go! Keep introducing the pacifier during these content times to get your baby used to it as a tool. The next time she is upset and you offer the pacifier after these introductions, she will likely be happy to use this tool to settle her need to suck!

All tools and items we use to care for our little ones come with pros and cons. Pacifiers can be good and have their own set of benefits.

Metro Detroit Doula Services

Contact us to learn more!

(Resource 1, Resource 2)

It’s their birthday and I’ll cry if I want to

by Andrea Stainbrook

1 year. When your baby turns one there is a roller coaster of emotions. Often we feel happy. What a thing to celebrate! One orbit around the sun completed! But sometimes it feels bittersweet and brings you to tears.

Babies do so many milestones in that first year. Sitting up. Crawling. Eating. Some may walk. First smile. First laugh. First poopy blow out. So many moments to cherish!

The first year is also has its hard moments. Take time to congratulate yourself on getting through the more difficult parts. Some nights your were surely more awake than blissfully asleep dreaming. Sometimes your baby cried. Just cried. And all you could do was hold her close and let your warmth hopefully calm her. You put baby first and yourself second often. Normal, and totally ok. But that means you likely spent some days in pajamas…the same pajamas you wore yesterday.

The first year means you became a parent.

You know what it is like to be able to burst into tears just thinking about the love for your baby. You know what it is like to be selfless and altruistic. You know what is it like to see hope and joy for new life. You know so many more children songs than ever before. Those suckers get stuck in repeat in your brain, don’t they? “Baby shark do do do do do do!” You understand your kiddo so much more than anyone else. You hear their language and understand their needs. You are a superhero. And your baby loves you more than anything. You are your baby’s world.

The days are long but the years are short. This sentence likely speaks volumes to you. So as you celebrate one marvelous year of life with your favorite little human, let yourself feel. Feel the happiness, or cry if you want to. No matter what you’re feeling it can be fun to dream up a fantastic celebration or maybe simply snuggle close as a family. Happy birthday to your baby! Now go embrace that sweetie pie and dream of the next year ahead!