Sunday, January 17, 2016

What I Would Say To Her

Death comes to us all I know.  My mom is still here with me so it never crosses my mind that one day I won't be able to call her up and ask "is that regular flour or self-rising flour in this recipe?"  I know so many women younger than me that have been given the death sentence via cancer.  Most of them have very young children/daughters.  All too often lately, I've been driving kids to school or wherever.. and all I can think is... what if that was me?  What would I do?  What would I tell my kids?  What would I wish I could tell them that I haven't?  If I died today, what would I wish I told them?  Mostly things they wouldn't understand yet.  So I'll put them here just in case.

Mati Claire, my 8 year old, tends to ask me the most serious questions and coming-of-age questions on the way to school.  7:15 in the morning and we're discussing birth control (yes! at age 8!) and such things.  When you have 3 younger siblings, its difficult to hide the breastfeeding, the C-section scars, periods, etc.  I didn't necessarily tell her up front about any of it, but I also won't lie to her when she happens across these situations.  I'd rather her hear the information from me instead of some random kid at school.  We haven't had the "birds and the bees" conversation yet, but I know its soon.  I remember being in the 6th grade for my first sex ed class.  If my mom told me about it first, I don't remember.   But I do remember that class.  Mat Claire will be in 4th grade next year, so again, my time is limited before she starts hearing things from her friends.

Yesterday's question in the car was "mom, how do you know you are marrying the right person?"  (after the topic of divorce came on the radio).  I'm given about a 15 minute window before she has to get out in car rider line.  15 minutes to answer what I would call life questions each day.  My mind is blown because I'll be in the middle of discussing tampons and she gets out, slams the car door, and says "bye mom! love you!"  And I'm left wondering if I said it right.  Did I get the message across to her?  Did that conversation go the way I wanted it to go?  Did she understand?  Parenting is tough.

So to answer this question, Mati Claire.  How do you know you are marrying the right person?
Well, I would say to her:
1.  Listen to your inner voice.  I like to think of it as the Holy Spirit guiding you.  Not your conscious.  What does it tell you?
2.  Does this man love Jesus more than you?  He better.  Is he a Christian?  I hope so.  If you put God first, its amazing how everything comes together in God's timing and in God's way.  It doesn't get any better than that. And you'll be so glad you waited for the right person (even if it takes longer than you wish).
3.  Look beyond the looks... is he a good person?  Is he superficial?  Looks can only take a person so far.  Looks go downhill with age... and some of the "best looking kids" in high school didn't age so well and some of the "nerds" in high school turned out to be really hot later in life!  :)
4.  Don't get me wrong... you'll have to look at this person for the rest of your life... as long as he's handsome to you that's all that matters.
5.  What do you not like about him?  Can you live with that forever?  And don't say there's nothing wrong with him, because no one is perfect.  As long as he's perfect for you.  If you can overlook the pet-peeves, then go for it.  If something he does drives you crazy in the beginning... it will probably only get worse in time.
6.  Is he a gentleman?  Does he have manners?  If not, move on.  No excuses.  If he doesn't put you first, then he isn't worth your time. If he doesn't make you feel like a princess, move on.
7.  Does he put forth any effort into grand gestures of love?  Any man who cares what other people think is superficial.  If he truly cares about you, he won't care if everyone around him knows it.  I would need to see a grand gesture of some kind before agreeing to marry him.  Just ask your Daddy about the contacts in the ketchup and then allowing my mom to go with us on our first date!
8.  Does he love his mom?
9.  Are his parents still married?  I would definitely look at this and this should probably be closer to the top of the list.  If so, he has a good example of what marriage should be.  He has seen that it takes work (even if he doesn't realize it).  If his parents are divorced, I'd say he's perhaps more likely to give up as well because he turned out ok, right?  ;) Or maybe he's seen divorce and knows what not to do.  My motherly advice would be to go with the still-married parents.
10.  Does he make you laugh?  Like touch-your-soul make you laugh?  He better.  And not in the mean-make-fun-of-you-put-you-down-funny.  That's not funny.  But life is too short to spend a lifetime with someone who doesn't laugh with you.  Your Daddy makes me laugh when I take things too seriously (which is often).  Laughter can take you far in life.
11.  Don't be afraid to be yourself.  If he tries to change something about you, then he is not the right person for you.  No matter what it is (clothes, hair, who your friends are, what you eat, etc).
12.  Does he have goals?  Ambition?  I won't lie --- if he doesn't have some kind of plan for his life as far as a job goes -- how does he plan to support you?  No goals = bum.  And you are better than that.  You deserve someone who can support you in the way that you want.  Marry for love, but also be realistic and practical. If he hops from job to job faster than you can blink, that doesn't look like a good foundation to me.  If you are happy with whatever income he makes, then that is great! Your Gigi always asked me, "If your husband dies, can you support yourself if you had to?"  So my goal for you is to have the job that will give you the income you desire.  You can not always depend on your husband for money.  Can you support yourself?  God forbid, what if something terrible happens to him and he is disabled?  Both of you need some kind of plan in the beginning.  Because marriage is hard and money usually makes it harder.

So that is my Top 12 answers for that question, Mati Claire.  I could go on and on but I'll stop there.  I would go into lust vs. love, but the question was about I'm assuming its past lust already and hopefully in love.  Don't even get me started on lust...that's a whole different post in itself!

I love you, Mati Claire and Merritt.  I'll have to do a different post for the boys later.  I do hope you find the right person you are meant to marry.  And its ok if you don't.  If he hurts you, you better believe I will haunt him for the rest of his life! ;)  Now that we've been married almost 12 years, I can honestly say its not about the wedding... its about the marriage.  Big wedding, small wedding, elope... it doesn't matter... do whatever makes you happy.

My love is your love!

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Thursday, January 7, 2016


I love breastfeeding.  In March of this year, I will have spent 4+ years having breastfed each baby for one year.  Sorry, but not sorry, this isn't a post to make you judge me or for me to make you feel bad if you didn't.  To each their own.  I know everyone has their own reasons and you do what you have to do to make it work.  I know many people's bodies won't make enough milk and people have to go back to work, mastitis, etc.  However, I personally know too many people who I don't think put forth alot of effort.  Yes, overall I thought it was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life.  After having breastfed 4 kids though, I will admit I have to laugh when I hear some people's excuses on why they didn't though.   I think those people just don't want to breastfeed-- which is fine too but I know that must be hard to admit-- so they give excuses instead.  ok!  this post isn't about that and I'll get off my soapbox.

When I had Mati Claire (my first), it was the worst experience of my life.  I never wanted another baby after that.  I felt like I failed already at being a mom on the first day.  Couldn't even dilate to push her out and (being under general anesthesia) didn't even know she was born.  I felt I missed out on being the first person to see her.  I missed out on the "whole experience".   So I made it my mission to put a real attempt on doing the next step: breastfeeding!  Whoever said that breastfeeding is a natural process is totally 100% WRONG!  It was the most un-natural thing I've ever done.  Mati Claire fought me every single time for MONTHS!  Without going into too much detail, I basically had to "get it/letdown started for her".  She was the definition of the word lazy.  The good part is that my body has no trouble whatsoever making milk.  Call me Daisy the cow.  At one point, I pumped out 12 oz from ONE SIDE.  yep.  it was insane.  I digress.  She wouldn't latch.  She didn't enjoy it.  Which made me hate it.  Every trick or hold in the books wouldn't work.  The boob nazis were relentless.  When my nipples were bleeding and I couldn't even let the water in the shower hit them... I truly thought of quitting.  It wasn't suppose to be like that, right?  Bleeding is normal?  that can't be right.

Everyone kept telling me that after 6 weeks it would be fine.  For me, it was closer 8-10 weeks and I still had to use a few tricks to make her do it.!  I leaked so bad in between I was terrified to go anywhere despite the fact that I was wearing the bra guards (yeah right like those really work). I thought I was prepared by buying my nursing bras ahead of time.  Lesson learned:  don't ever buy nursing bras before your milk comes in.  I went from a C to something larger than an F if I remember correctly. But by the time 8 weeks rolled around, I wasn't about to quit then!  I didn't go through bleeding nipples just to quit!!!

Oh did I cry.  Even though I was nursing her, I still felt like a failure.  I wasn't used to having a baby literally attached to your boobs 24/7.  Mati Claire was a snacker.  She wanted to eat every 2 hours (30 min-90 min during a growth spurt).  It was again, another nightmare.  I couldn't go anywhere -- because I would most definitely have to nurse her at some point -- nurse in public, what???

But stubborn baby met stubborn momma!  Again, I was determined.  So I hung in there.  She eventually quit me around 11 months.  I will never forget it.  She took one sip and un-latched.  She looked up at me, shook her head "no" and sweetly smiled at me.  I couldn't argue with that anymore.  I cried for 2 days.  All that work and it had come to an end... :(

I also learned through her that I DESPISED the breast pump.  I never pumped again until I had to in the NICU with Merritt for 2 weeks.

Then came Mattox.  The piranha.  My poster child for breastfeeding awareness.  He couldn't have been any more opposite of Mati Claire.  He came out (and to my complete shock) grabbed my boob out of thin air and latched on like his life was depending on it (ok it was).  He nursed like he had been doing it in the womb for months before if it was possible.  I was prepared for the struggle and use all the tricks that I was used to with Mati Claire.

Mattox showed me that it WAS completely natural.  And easy.  My boobs never bled.  Sore for a few days maybe.  I think Mati Claire trained them not to leak after a certain time.  So no leaking that time around.  He eventually quit me around 11 months as well.  Gosh he made it easy, I didn't even have to force him to quit. He literally got in, got the job done, and was off.  Never took more than 5 min to nurse that baby!

I definitely lost some modesty during my 4 C-sections.  When too many strangers to count have seen your insides not to mention you naked from the neck down in the operating room-- who cares about seeing some boobs?  Man, I LOVE not having to pack food, heat food up, mix bottles, wash bottles, etc.

Just to give my extended version -- Merritt and Mason were also breastfeeding champions.  Had a hard time weaning Merritt after 15 months but she had good reason with all her physical issues.  She refused to eat for the doctors through a bottle and I was finally allowed to breastfeed after 2 weeks...she was waiting for the real deal and never looked back! And my baby Mason has made it so much fun that I will definitely cry when I wean him in just a few short months.   I'm not one of those people who still breastfeed their toddlers.  I will cut them off around age 1.  I was able to pump extra during those first 2 weeks in the NICU and donated it to the other NICU babies that don't even have mothers there.  Some were orphans.  Some never had their mothers visit them (hard to imagine but true).

As much as I LOVE the time I spent with each one, I am counting down the days till Mason is finished.  I am ready to start back on my diet, I'm ready to wear normal bras again, and I'm ready to sleep on my stomach again.

So yes, I am a pro-breastfeeder.  Each one was different.  Mati Claire fought me and refused to latch, Mattox was my poster child, Merritt truly knew what she wanted and didn't want to let go, and Mason is my funny baby.  He gets so tickled (maybe bc he's so happy?)  that he can't nurse because he's laughing!  Its hilarious.  Sometimes he can't even look at me because he's trying to get back "in the zone" so he'll have to look away to keep from laughing or smiling.  (can't latch well if your'e smiling).  Knowing how happy it makes him, I will have a hard time weaning him as well.  Mati Claire and Mattox both quit me so I didn't have to wean them.

Looking back, the way they breastfed was a huge indicator in how they eat now years later.  Mati Claire is still the pickiest child I have ever seen!  Mattox is my crack addict when it comes to food/sugar.  He still eats like there is no tomorrow.  Merritt still wants the real deal: she wants me to slave over a hot stove with soul food and casseroles. No kid foods for her!  So I'm looking forward to see how this equates to Mason... I'm thinking he will be the one who plays with his food and laughs about it!

This is how you shut down breastfeeding shamers. Read more about Alyssa Milano's activism here: ATTN: on Facebook.
Posted by ATTN: on Wednesday, January 6, 2016