The last couple weeks have been… demanding, to say the least, for Kristin and I. Like many of you out there, August and the first few weeks of September are the busiest work weeks of our calendar year. So I thought this week, the post would highlight some not-so-foreign feelings we working moms have. Holding my shit together during these times has developed a whole new meaning.
Family leave is important!
This past week, General Mills was all over the news in the Twin Cities. Not for a cool new cereal, but because they overhauled their family leave policies to better support their employees. Instead of 3 months maternity and 2 week parental leave, now General Mills employees are eligible for 18-20 weeks of paid maternity leave for a birth mother and 12 weeks paid leave for partners and adoptive parents…how amazing is that?? This news, along with the fact that it’s Labor Day weekend, got us thinking about parental leave policies in general and why they are so important. Continue reading “Family leave is important!”
Moms Like Tech Too!
Isn’t it crazy how quickly technology can change? Kristin found a couple really interesting articles about new tech for breastfeeding and pumping and we thought it would be fun to write about new tech out there and what’s on the horizon. Not going to lie, we’re pretty envious of what is new and coming soon! We do not endorse any of these products and cannot speak to their effectiveness. We just found them interesting and want to share. 🙂
Nausea/morning sickness got you down? Hate the taste of ginger? We’ve been seeing an uptick of these nausea relief bands. I am super curious if they work, because it could make a huge difference for so many pregnant mom’s early (and for some poor souls majority) pregnancies. (Photo from Reliefband’s website)
Ok, this one is lost on me. I’d heard of playing music for baby in-utero… but this just feels too far for me. If anyone has tried this and believes it had a positive impact, I really want to know. All I can think of is the game my siblings and I played as kids, attempting to have a conversation under water while at the pool. Did any of you do this growing up? How well did it work for you? (Photo from BabyBuds’ website)
Nanit Baby Sleep System
This is no regular video baby monitor. Nanit mounts above the crib to show you a bird’s eye view of your lil’ babe. It tracks baby’s movements and gives you insights into theisleep habits, giving your average sleep and wake times and rating how well they are sleeping. This information is then used to give you tips on how to improve their (and your!) sleep for future nights. (Photo from Nanit’s website)
Willow Wearable Breast Pump
Confession: we both are jealous of anyone who owns this. A breast pump that is truly wireless and cordless? Game-changer!! Instead of using bottles, the Willow pumps directly into self-sealing storage bags, so you can just take them out and pop them in the fridge or freezer without having to worry about spilling a drop of that milk you work so hard for. The pump comes with one unit per breast, and you can pump one at a time (how cool if you need/want to pump while baby is nursing on the other side) or simultaneously. PLUS it hooks up to your phone via Bluetooth and will tell you how much you’ve pumped! Seriously amazing. (photo from Willow’s website)
Yoomi Self-warming Bottles
Unless you get a magic baby who will take cold bottles, you’ll probably need to try to figure out how to warm them up when your baby is hungry. Enter Yoomi, who made a self-warming bottle!! The warming part is “charged” in your microwave, then is ready to go whenever you need it, which is perfect for those on-the-go feedings. (Photo from Yoomi’s website)
What amazing tech did we miss? Let us know!
~ Kristin & Karen
Yoga: For Preparation and Recovery
During my pregnancy, I religiously went to yoga every Thursday night. It became such an important part of my routine, that most nights of the week you could find me on my yoga mat before bed. Alright… I know what you’re thinking, “Karen, I had no idea how hippy dippy you are!”. Yeah, I sort of can be. I really stand by the fact that yoga helped my pregnancy, labor, and recovery a ton. Yoga became my routine postpartum as well. My body felt like it went through a woodchipper, as you can relate with if you’ve ever given birth. I’ve mentioned that I had some pretty significant hip pain during my third trimester that continued after giving birth. I am definitely not an expert or a yogi, but I do think it worth it to share some of the information I found most helpful from my prenatal and postpartum yoga classes.
Prenatal yoga just feels good. Your body is tired and sore a lot and the moves prenatal yoga instructors have you do stretch out those sore joints. Most importantly, prenatal yoga has you do a lot of hip exercises. My yoga instructor is also a doula and had a ton of great recommendations for moves during different points of labor. Below are just a few moves I found very helpful during my pregnancy. As with anything, be very careful about your form and consider going to a prenatal yoga class so a trained instructor can assist with appropriate form.
If you could pick any food to describe how your body felt after having a baby, what would you say? I’d say a big bowl of chocolate pudding. My body pretty much melted into my favorite corner of the couch and I was certain when removed from that spot, I would leave part of my body behind. Needless to say, the last thing I wanted to be doing was yoga and stretches with a bunch of people… outside of my house. A few months postpartum my yoga instructor began a new postpartum class and I hesitantly joined. This, along with rigorous physical therapy, really helped my hip recover. It’s now about 90%, but leaps and bounds from where it was. Here are a few moves to help the postpartum mom’s body that I recommend – in general, not just for hip issues. These moves can help with diastasis recti recovery as well. I had some separation and found these moves to be beneficial.
I hope this post was helpful and interesting to you. I am a big advocate for yoga, but really if you can try to stay active in anyway while pregnant, I am a strong believer it has a positive impact on your labor and recovery.
Special Edition: Our First Guest Post!
Today is a very special day. It’s Kristin’s birthday! To make this day even more special, Kristin’s mom, Maureen, has kindly agreed to write a special guest post for today (I only cried a little bit reading this). Happy Birthday Kristin!
My Baby Has a Baby!
I am blogging today to celebrate Kristin’s first birthday as a Mom! Thirty-three years ago, August 14th Kristin made me a mom, and it changed my life.
Living and working in Manhattan, Don and I got the news that I was pregnant. We were blessed with a “surprise” pregnancy and we needed to nail down the changes that will take place in our lives. We both had demanding jobs and lived in a four-floor walkup, neither conducive to becoming parents. The amount of decisions and commitments needed to consider was daunting. Stay in the city? Daycare? Schools? Yup, schools. Most women I knew enrolled their child in a preschool as soon as they got pregnant. That’s pressure!
Our lease was up in May, three months prior to meeting this new person, and we need to make a change. We decided to move to New Jersey. This was to be a “two-fer”, getting a place closer to my family and my sister was going be her nanny! SCORE!
The day we met Kristin was an amazingly beautiful “beach” day on the Jersey Shore. I was overdue and thought a day at the ocean would do me wonders. I got in my car, stopped at my parents’ home, grab a beach chair, and schlepped all my stuff to the ocean. I parked myself near the lifeguard, just in case. After a while I started to feel a bit crampy, nothing much but I couldn’t get comfortable. I decided to leave the beach to go home and nap. Dropping the beach chair at my Mom’s she said, “How are you?” I said I was good, but I needed to go home and take it easy. She said I looked tired and to let her know when I got home. Don called, from work in Manhattan, around 5p and asked how I felt. I told him I was just fine and not to rush home. Oh, and I added that I was cramping… just a bit. He said he was leaving immediately and by the time he got home 1-1 ½ hours later I was in labor. My Jersey Girl arrived at 8lbs 9 oz, full head of hair and in great health. Let motherhood begin.
I had a three-month maternity leave, Don went back to work in Manhattan, and Kristin and I settled into a new routine. Mostly sleeping when she slept. I was breastfeeding and she was a hungry bugger. I experienced my first obstacle, cracked nipples. Ouch! Never anticipated that! The internet was not around, and all “Mom” information came from books, your mother, or close friends/family. I bought MANY books. One of my favorite authors was by T. Berry Brazelton, kind of the Mr. Rogers of pediatricians, he wrote Infants and Mothers and Touchpoints. (For Kristin’s birthday I’m sending her an electronic copy of Infants and Mothers circa 1983. ☺ )
My biggest fear in becoming a mother was how to communicate with a newborn. Would we bond? How would I be able to understand and anticipate her needs? Would she be able to feel loved and secure? What kind of woman would I become? Could I put her needs ahead of my own and Don’s? What happens when I go back to work? And probably a million more!
These questions seemed to come up and be answered as needed. She felt perfect in my arms. I was fortunate to have the time to bond, understand she was “out of sorts”, become enveloped in her laughter, know the difference between hungry and “hangry”, go through the conflicting feelings of returning to work, and just sink into the new “family”.
I now get to be part of her beginnings of motherhood. I watch Kristin and Kris navigate parenthood with excitement, enthusiasm, anticipation, dedication, joy and love. I see them create a home and family. I’m excited to watch as they create their own rhythm and schedules and I am touched to think that both the Hummel and Kvam family values and customs will continue on with the next generation. The holidays and traditions she has had over the years will mean even more to her now that she’ll get to share them with her child. I have the joy of getting to know my grandchild, be his Nana and watch him develop into the Finn that he will be.
It was my JOY to have Kristin changed my life, and now I celebrate as Finn changes hers.
Happy Birthday Kristin.
Love and Lollies,
Maureen Kvam, aka: Kristin’s proud Mom.
Our Favorite Parenting TV Shows
Hellllloooooooo! This week we are going to share some of our favorite mom/parenting TV shows (in no certain order). It’s fascinating how relatable fictional TV is to the plight of becoming a new parent. Sometimes the the mental escape from reality is much needed, and the only thing that can fill it is a 30 minute episode of Bob’s Burgers. What are your favorite parenting TV shows? If you say Keeping Up With the Kardashians you should seriously reflect on what constitutes “parenting” – no judging here though (as we discretely throw shade your way). Just kidding… you would be shocked to know the amount of hours spent watching trashy TV at our house. Yikes.
Ever drive your kid around at all hours of the night and finally get baby to fall asleep, only to have some jerk tap on your window? Moms, you’re gonna relate with this show!
Having a particularly crappy parenting day? You will immediately feel better about your parenting skills after watching Frank being Father of the Year.
Need a good laugh? Bob’s Burgers will certainly do that for you. As Bob put it so well, “I love you, but you’re all terrible”.
Life in Pieces
Whether you are a parent of preteens or are brand new to the parenting gig, you will definitely find something to relate with in this show. Jen and Greg highlight the emotional nuances many of us new parents feel.
RuPaul’s Drag Race
Mama Ru will keep you on your toes with every new season as she brings in a new barrage of girls. With each episode, she reminds us that “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you going to love somebody else?”. Could not have said it better Ru.
Big Little Lies
Jane the Virgin
Game of Thrones (I am only mentioning because Zach told me to)
Traveling for Work While Breastfeeding a.k.a. Guess what? You have a bunch more crap to lug around in the airport
A few weeks ago I took my first work trip to attend a conference in Portland, Oregon. I was excited and then instantly anxious. Why? I’m still breastfeeding so I need to pump around every 3 hours when I’m away from my son. PLUS, this would be the first time I would be away from Finn overnight so…anxiety. (Now, of course, he would be with my husband so obviously he would be fine and happy to get solo dad time but it was still weird to think about!) This post is focusing on the logistics of pumping while traveling but we’re writing one addressing being away from baby overnight for the first time later! Continue reading “Traveling for Work While Breastfeeding a.k.a. Guess what? You have a bunch more crap to lug around in the airport”
Childproofing Your Existence
Did you wake up one morning and found that you had a crawler or walker on your hands? In that moment, I bet you cheered your little one on, thinking this kiddo is the cat’s meow. Every new development is such an exciting milestone, it’s no wonder we are thrilled when it happens. But that thrill quickly turns into the familiar ‘oh shit’ ball of worry in your stomach.
My home is barely safe for my husband – I say this in earnest as Zach nearly broke his face after tripping over my weights strewn about the floor the other day (sorry pal, I owe you some Ben & Jerry’s). While we have already done what feels like a ton of childproofing, we are finding something new everyday we need to change or update. Inevitably Ellie finds a new cable to chew on or a ledge to tumble into. I caught this kid actually somersaulting off the couch a few weeks ago. It was quite graceful but not ideal. So, while I am working on getting Ellie down from the ceiling fan… enjoy reading just a few home childproofing recommendations:
- Stairs: If you have them, get a gate up… like yesterday. Babies seem to be attracted to stairs like moths to a bug zapper.
- Outlets: Purchase those cheap plug things and plug any open outlets you have. Ellie loves finding outlets. One day she is going to resemble Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus, red hair and all.
- Cords, cables, and the like: These can be challenging if your living room is set up like a Van Gogh painting and you have to configure your set-up in the most inconvenient way. We’ve taken to using packing tape to hide our cables in plain site. #classy
- Hard edges (fireplace, tables, etc.): There are these great padded furniture edgings that can be cut to fit and stuck to most edges. These have saved Ellie from many bruises and tears.
- Vacuum: The most random things can fall on the floor which are prime pickings for little curious hands (and mouths). A word to the wise, if you have guests over, make sure to vacuum and pick up after they leave. People often forget that there is a baby around that likes to eat everything. Also, maybe they left some change or valuable jewelry between your couch cushions – no one said daycare was cheap.
- Pets: We have two decent size dogs we watch like hawks. Our dogs are pretty good with Ellie, but you never know if some new things she’s doing (like running across the room screaming “puppy, puppy, PUPPPPPPPYYYYY” and throwing herself on them) will bother them. We fortunately have never had an incident but it doesn’t mean it can’t happen.
While there are about a million and a half other things that could be done, I believe this is a good start. Just remember, while we can only do so much to keep our kids safe, sometimes they are their own worst enemy.
Feel free to let us know what your tips are! Happy chasing!
Winning at Weaning
The time has come. Every breastfeeding mother arrives at this point sooner or later. I am talking about weaning. Initially, Kristin and I discussed my writing this post about a month or so ago as my intention was to wean Ellie on or soon after her first birthday. I’ve mentioned before, I am a planner. I like to have things in order and to be able to plan out, at nauseum, how things will play out. What is it they say, the best-laid plans often go awry? That seems to be a quote that many parents can live by. Sort of a delightful take on Murphy’s Law for parents. Regardless, I find that with most mom things, life works itself out in its own way. Often not how you planned.
When Kristin and I discussed this post and I began writing, I quickly realized that I wasn’t mentally ready to share my weaning process. It took an emotionally toll on me I wasn’t ready for. Ironically, I can relate some of my feelings surrounding weaning to learning to breastfeed. Frustration. Exhaustion. Struggling to understand my kid in a whole new way. Crap. Maybe I actually have a pre-teen on my hands.
There are plenty of ways to wean, some people do the cold turkey method and others come up with some master variation of gradually reducing their feedings. I chose the latter. Mostly because I try to avoid pain and the possibility of getting mastitis at all cost. Plus I wasn’t in a rush.
My pump/nurse schedule on a typical (pre-weaning) day looked something like this:
6am – nurse on one side and pump on the other
9:30/10am – pump
1pm – pump
4pm – pump
7pm – nurse
10/11pm – pump
I was provided a lot of advice and did a fair amount (hours, let’s be real) of research. What I ended up doing is slowly cutting out the pumping at work. For the first couple weeks, I went down to two pumping sessions a day at work. Then the following week I pumped once a day at work. Then I stopped pumping all together at work and only pumped/nursed twice a day – and how glorious it was to no longer have to drag around that cumbersome pump. Initially, I then planned to cut the evening nursing, and finally, the morning feeding. Most people recommend cutting out the night nursing session last, because that’s the most challenging one to wean baby from. Zach puts Ellie to bed at night, so it’s actually the morning nursing session that will be hardest to wean for me and the one I intend to wean last.
Daycare has been great about transitioning Ellie to whole milk, she actually is just taking sippy cups there now. This is amazing for me because I no longer need to prep bottles in the morning.
As a final note, weaning is something that is specific to baby and mom. No one can or should tell a breastfeeding mom how and when they should wean. I was taking in a lot of this static noise and putting unnecessary pressure on myself. Interestingly enough, not one single mother who is or has breastfed gave me their opinion on when a nursing mom should wean. I only got this unsolicited advice from mothers who never nursed or people who do not have children, yep, because their the experts (insert eye roll here). It wasn’t until I allowed myself a little grace that I was in a way better place mentally to accomplish this. In the end, Ellie and I will continue nursing twice a day until we decide we’re done. And I’m happy with that.
What should I pack in my hospital bag?!
At some point during your pregnancy, this becomes a frantic thought that spins around and around in your head. If you’re anything like Karen, you may be anticipating being in the hospital for the next several months and pack your entire house. Ok, so that was a little tongue-in-cheek (not really, just ask Zach), Karen really did pack far too much. Kristin was much more mindful of what was necessary while in the hospital, mostly because she obsessively read recommendations on what to bring.
Read on for our own recommendations – and let us know if we forgot anything you think is essential!