Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Mammary Hypoplasia: My Milkless Journey of Breastfeeding

I'm sharing this story today because educating women and men about Mammary Hypoplasia; it is something that I've grown passionate about, this condition is not well studied and way too many health providers don't know about it at all. I met a woman this week who was still in tears a year and a half after her baby was born over the shame and embarrassment of not making any milk -- I want to connect with mamas with similar stories so we can share, heal, and empower each other. Mostly I want to educate anyone who works in the health care industry, especially those who work with pregnant women and new mamas about this condition.

Felix with his bottle at...hmm 6 months old? Its hard to tell, they really do grow so fast!

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Every Mom or Mommy-to-Be I've ever met has had the desire to breastfeed. 
Yes, there are the few who are a little weirded out by the thought of breastfeeding -- but I find that that usually changes by the time they actually get pregnant or they are pushed into a breastfeeding class by their OB. 
I don't think I need to touch on the benefits of breastfeeding -- because they are pounded down the throats of society. Not to say that they don't have a good reason to do so, but they pound none-the-less. This results in formula feeding being an unacceptable choice, as if it were poison. And yes, I've actually heard someone call it poison. For a while I actually believed that it were.

When I was pregnant I never once imagined myself not being able to breastfeed. I judged bottle feeding moms because of their feeding choices. I read the books, bought the pillows, bought the accessories, bought the breastfeeding bras and shirts -- because it was all supposed to be so easy. "Every Mom can breastfeed" they say. And if you don't have enough milk they tell you it's an illusion and that you just need to try harder. Drink more beer (or don't depending on who you talk to), eat more lactation cookies, pump every hour, take the herbs, nurse every hour on the hour. Don't you dare go near a bottle, or a pacifier, or FORMULA. Don't even say the F(formula) word. 

When I woke up from my dazed and confused, super traumatic birth, the lactation consultant took one look at my breasts and said "I think we're going to have a problem." After all that I had been through the previous night, being pumped with so much pitocin to control my hemorrhage that my legs swelled and looked like sausages, and now while I was receiving my first blood transfusion, she drops that bomb. Her words stung. What happened to "every mom can breastfeed"? Even though I had read all the books, studied all the positions, and prepared myself as best I could, I didn't read that chapter on "complications with breastfeeding" -- because my 23 year old, healthy body shouldn't have any issues with breastfeeding. That first lactation consultant asked me two very important questions: 
"Did your breasts grow when you were pregnant?"
"Did your breasts grow during puberty?" 
I answered both with a, NO.

My lack of chest has been a source of many laughs over the years. I mean, it really is funny. I wear my Itty-Bitty-Titty-Committee label with pride. There's NOTHING, nothing to even push up with one of those fancy Victoria Secret bras. I had made peace that they were never going to exist many years ago -- and to be honest I think I got the better end of the deal. No sagging, no back pain, no shirt stretching out, no stretch marks, I can run with no trouble (not that I choose to run that often LOL), and I can wear shirt without worrying about cleavage...it's really not that bad. I did look forward to pregnancy boosting them a bit, but that didn't quite happen either! Because of the "every woman can breastfeed" mantra I never thought that it would indicate a problem with nursing. And neither did any of the many OB's and midwives I saw during my pregnancy. In all of the classes we took on parenting, childbirth, and nursing I never ONCE had a warning that this could happen. 

The first few days at home were hard. The first lactation consultant showed me how to latch on and off, she never said anything beyond asking those two questions, so I thought we would be fine. Felix was restless, his weight was dropping and he just didn't seem to be getting anything from me when he nursed. The trauma that I had experienced made them worry my milk would take a while to come in, but not quite this long. I was sent home with a hospital grade pump, and instructed to pump every hour. I started taking Fenugreek and Goats Rue religiously, I drank gallons of water to help clear the pitocin out of my system, I ate oats and all the other lactation foods. Felix was trying so hard to get milk from me that I had bleeding blisters. Nursing was painful, exhausting, and (literally) sucked the life out of me. He continued to drop weight. I still remember the embarrassment when the lactation nurse handed me a bottle of formula to feed Felix, the shame and guilt of my failing breasts. I was to start the SNS nursing system, which would last "only a week" until my milk came in and then we would all get back to our regularly scheduled programming. 

If you're wondering what an SNS looks like, heres an example:
And for the record, Seth and I had it down to a science. My lactation consultant was seriously impressed when she saw how fast we could set it up and get him latched #skills



And even with all of those measures I took, the milk never came. When Felix got his first formula feeding, he slept so soundly that I thought he was dead -- it turns out it was the first actual feeding he had ever had, he was so full and satisfied that he could finally rest.

When I pumped I never got more than an ounce. Babies take between 2-6 ounces for one feeding, and I couldn't even produce a single ounce between both breasts. 

Over the next few weeks Felix became more and more dependent on formula. We pressed on with the nursing, we tried to take out the SNS for one feeding here and there -- but he just screamed until we gave him formula. 

When he was one month old we decided that we had had enough of the heartache of trying to breastfeed. I was still pumping through the night and all day long -- while taking care of a newborn, mixing whatever breastmilk I made with the formula into the syringes. I smelled heavily of maple syrup from all the fenugreek running through my system. I was tired. I was feeling more and more like a failure every day, while Felix was thriving and gaining weight with formula. When I think of those first few weeks in hindsight I was more like superwoman than a failure. 

For those of you wondering if we attempted to get donated milk from a milk bank, we did. My insurance would only cover the cost if our baby was in the NICU, which he wasn't. The cost of milk from the milk bank was $4 an OUNCE. Just let that sink in. If babies eat between 20-35 ounces a day, just do the math! Donated milk was not an option because of the huge financial burden. 

In my spare time I scoured the internet for women who had similar problems. I remembered those two questions the first consultant asked me, and used that to launch my research. Research indicates that there are a few things that lead to lack of milk production, many of them have to do with needing to eat more and drink more. There was some research done on women who had traumatic births and how long it took for their milk to come in, but even at that point 2-3 weeks is a LONG time. Then I came across a complex condition with many names. Most of the time it's called Mammary Hypoplasia, it also known as Insufficient Glandular Tissue IGT, Micromastia, or Primary Lactation Failure. 

The names explain exactly what it is: lack of breast tissue or milk factories (that term makes me LOL). IGT can be deceiving because many women have normal sized breasts, but it turns out that it is primarily fat cells rather than milk producing cells. I just didn't have either so it was easy to recognize. There are a few common characteristics of hypoplastic breasts: widely spaced (more than 1.5 inches apart) this is my most obvious characteristic, asymmetry, stretch marks in absence of growth, tubular shape, and absence of breast changes in pregnancy, postpartum, or puberty. I definitely didn't fit the entire list, but I knew in my heart that this is what it was. At my six week postpartum check, the midwife confirmed that this was indeed what I had. This diagnosis coupled with my severe loss of blood made breastfeeding a pipe dream. 

Many women with IGT choose to get breast implants or augmentations, but that does not solve the lack of actual breast tissue problem. Many women also develop IGT if they have had a breast reduction, it would be interesting to find out if they warn women of that before having a reduction procedure. 

There is a small possibility of me producing more milk with my next child. They say that breast tissue increases with each pregnancy, but I highly doubt it would increase enough to feed a growing baby. There are also drugs I could take before I deliver, and after to help aid the production of milk. I've toyed with the idea of trying those too. Now that I am educated about bottle feeding and have raised one healthy child on formula, I'm just not sure if I want to go through the whole ordeal again. Raising a newborn is hard enough with everything else going on! Formula feeding is a perfectly healthy, acceptable, and good way to feed a baby. No one is ever going to convince me of anything different. I mean, have you seen how awesome Felix turned out?! 

I don't share my story because I want pity, or sympathy, or attention -- I share it because I want to educate people who don't know about IGT, and empower and give a big fat hug to the women who tried so desperately to breastfeed but couldn't. As a mom who formula fed her child, I experienced so much judgement -- and most of it came from health professionals. I was astounded that there are tons of health professionals who deal with new moms and babies that don't know about IGT -- the doctors who primarily know about IGT are plastic surgeons (go figure).  

Every time I'm in the presence of someone who works with breastfeeding moms, or in a hospital setting with new moms, I try to share a piece of my experience. In a perfect world, pregnant women would be encouraged to feed their babies however they see fit -- and if they choose to use bottles and formula they should receive the same amount of encouragement. We should be educating women about the huge hurdles of breastfeeding -- lack of milk isn't the only hurdle. Because, the shaming must stop and the education MUST begin. Sure, breast could be best. In my case, if I would have just continued to nurse Felix and refused to supplement with formula ( like MANY people will suggest), he could have died or gone severely malnourished.

I'll never forget calling a nurse line for help with Felix's reflux and I was told by a nurse, "Well if you just would breastfeed your baby you wouldn't have this issue." 
No one should ever say that to a new mom. No new mom should ever have to hear that. 

A lot of people will have a different experience with the formula vs. breastfeeding debate, and I honestly think it has so much to do with region and culture. Some people don't have to deal with the rude comments over their choice to bottle feed, but in both California and Oregon I have experienced the same culture that heavily judges moms who feed their babies formula. Some women also have the magical ability to stay unaffected by the negative commentary -- I am not one of those people, and I know for a fact that most new moms aren't either. 

Mamas, keep on feeding your babies. Dad's, support your wife in however she chooses to feed that precious little nugget. Mama's struggling to breastfeed, SHARE YOUR STORY. If you think you might have IGT ask your practitioner, and if they haven't heard of it, have them ask around so you can find a doctor that knows about it and can diagnose it. Getting the diagnosis lifted a huge weight off of my shoulders. Healthcare professionals, stop telling us that "every mom can breastfeed". It's a lie that produces so much shame for the women who can't, and it makes it all sound so easy. We should NEVER feel shame for feeding our children. 

To the Mama who's reading this after tirelessly searching Dr. Google for answers about her hungry baby and her empty breasts, I hope you know that you are not alone in your struggle. There is no reason to feel ashamed about your choice to formula feed your baby. Try for as long as you have the energy and heart for -- but at the end of the day if your baby is FED, you should be patting yourself on the back. 

Formula feeding was a godsend for more than just the reason of nourishing my child. Seth and I were able to enjoy date nights because caregivers could feed him while we were away. Bottles allowed for Seth being able to take some feedings at night or when I needed to run errands. We were also able to feed him while driving (hard to breastfeed a baby in a carseat), and in other places where breastfeeding isn't exactly convenient. And Felix slept through the night at an early age, which many people attribute to formula because it keeps their bellies full longer. I don't know about you, but I'm a big fan of sleeping. 

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 Thanks for sticking through this entire post. I hope in the future that we can end the debate on how we feed our babies. Us mamas need each other, there is no reason to create a separation because of how we choose to nourish our children. Feel free to share this post with a mama who is struggling with breastfeeding or just to educate others on a condition that isn't talked enough about. 

Let us all be kind to each other on this adventure of motherhood!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Last Three Months

HI. 
I hate that this little blog of mine is so neglected. 
But if lists could have a negative number on the scale, my blog would be that far down. 

Since moving to Oregon at the end of December, our lives have changed so much! 
Felix obviously started walking, which means we entered into a whole new world of mischief and adventure. I basically run after him all day long. He takes one short nap a day, and while he does that I try to get a shower, eat lunch, or sew. 


Speaking of sewing, my shop has absolutely exploded since we moved here. I have now done TWICE what I did in all of last YEAR. I can't even wrap my head around that. It's exciting, and also daunting because it is so much more work for me. It also means my mind is buzzing with creative ideas. Every night after Felix goes to bed I start sewing. I barely have time to cook. I never have time to clean.  There are definitely some things that need changing, I need to extend my production times on orders, and I need to take less custom orders. I hate to have to do both of those things but unless I want to go completely insane I have to scale back a bit. 

Seth has been working overtime 4 days a week pretty much since he started. His endurance amazes me. When he's not working, we're exploring Portland as much as we can. We did finally find a church which is a big relief!

A couple of months ago I posted about what we loved about living here, and the list continues to grow. We still love the beer (obviously). We love that there's no tax. We love the weather, mostly because we don't have to hear about the draught every day on the news. We love being close to the city. And we LOVE the cost of living. There are so many opportunities for us here that just wouldn't be possible if we were still in the Bay Area. 



Felix turns 16 months tomorrow. He is growing and changing so much! He has so much personality and it is so fun to see him grow. 

Let's start with his love of vehicles. 
Trains. Aka choo choo's. 
Trucks. 
Motorcycles. 
Tractors.
Diggers.
Airplanes
Basically anything with a motor.
He lives for them. 
He can spot them anywhere. He loves listening for airplanes. He can always spot a choo choo -- or anything that possibly resembles a choo choo. Today for instance, he found a watchface that he thought looked like a steam train with a round face. He was totally convinced it was a train!


This is his favorite shirt. He goes BANANAS when he sees it. 
Speaking of bananas, he loves those too. In our local market he always makes a b-line for the banana stand in the middle of the store.

Felix is a true delight. Most of the time he is a happy, silly, fun little boy. All babies have their moments, and he certainly has his. He gets dramatic over certain things, like when one of us has to go to the bathroom and wants to close the door. Even Seth can't close the door anymore (which secretly makes me happy because he understands my frustration). 

Drama: exhibit A

Felix understands so much and is learning how to communicate more with us. He loves to make animal sounds, and as you guessed it, vehicle sounds. He has a pretty big vocabulary of animal sounds: dog, cat, cow, lion, pig, duck, bird, owl, elephant, bear, lamb, and rooster. He also knows the signs for milk, bunny, moose, and fish.
 Most of the time I can figure out what he wants or what he's trying to say. It is so incredible to see him start to grasp new ideas and concepts, the way the brain of a child develops constantly amazes me. It helps that he loves to read, which is where most of his object identification comes from -- it started with animals and now we're on to his favorite machine books which we read approximately 25 times a day, and 5 more times with Seth when he gets home. 

I never imagined I could have so much fun with a little boy. But we really do have so much fun together. We have dance parties a few times a day, we chase each other around the house, and we attempt to keep the house at a reasonable level of cleanliness. 

We love when Seth gets home. We usually try to wait outside for him to drive up our street. I love how excited Felix gets when he knows he's coming home soon. I will ask him "Felix, do you know who's going to be home soon?" and he yells "DADA!". The delight he has for Seth makes my heart so happy. 


Life with a toddler is a constant state of motion. When we're out and about people give me the look that says "WOW, you've got your hands full." -- and I usually try and give the look back like "YES, but he's so much fun!" We are thinking about growing our family soon, but for now we are happy and feel like our life is filled to the brim. 

We do miss California of course. It is hard not having family close by. We are lucky that airfare is cheap and grandparents are generous. My mom is coming again in two weeks for a "work weekend" for me so I can prepare for an upcoming show. We are heading back to California in the beginning of May for a visit, a visit where I get to have my wisdom teeth pulled (yayyyyy {sarcasm}). 

Well, there's a little recap of our lives here in Oregon. I really love it here, and I wish we could convince all of our friends and family to move up here so they could love it with us. Transitioning to living here away from family hasn't been easy, but I know that we are a stronger and more independent family unit because of it. 

Friends and family, thanks for supporting us on our journey -- and a special thank you to those who have supported my shop. I wouldn't be where I am without those who believed in me from the beginning! 

Cheers!



Saturday, February 7, 2015

Felix Alexander: 14 Months

In an effort to remember all of the fun things Felix does, I want to continue the blogging of his monthly milestones! I wont be posting every  month, but he has made some significant changes since turning 1 and I want to make sure I document them!


A few days after we moved, I started getting insistent with Felix that he learn how to walk. He was ready, he was just scared and knew he could crawl quickly enough to get around. But, he always wanted to be on the ground in public places, and I was not going to let him crawl around everywhere. 

I started holding his hands and walking with him everywhere we went. It only took a few days for him to be like "okay Mom, I'm over this, I'm going to do this on my own." On January 6th, 2015 he learned how to walk. He quickly got the hang of it and is now onto running! He is getting himself into more trouble than ever! 


Since learning how to walk he has starting dancing. Which is quite possibly my favorite thing ever. It started with songs on his favorite shows, and now he just dances to everything. His signature move is the arm sway. He loves to stomp his feet, wiggle his butt, and clap his hands as he dances to every song he hears. It is such a magical sight. 

He has also finally learned to love FOOD! Felix had been on sort of a food strike. He would refuse to eat solid food, and would want his bottle all the time. At a doctor visit for his recurring colds we discovered that he had lost two pounds. I immediately knew that we needed to get rid of the bottle so he would learn to get his nutritional elsewhere. We got rid of the bottle on January 4th, cold turkey. It didn't take him long to adjust, and within a couple of days he was trying new foods that he would never eat before. He now eats regular meals and doesn't always need pouches. Getting rid of the bottle was the best decision ever, next to getting rid of the pacifier. He still really loves milk, out of a straw cup of course. He does this funny little noise any time he hears the word milk or see's the jug in the fridge. 

We're learning new things that he likes to eat every day, but so far we're at: bananas, strawberries, chicken, sausage, cheese, yogurt, cheerios, and pouches of food. We can't get him to eat many vegetables, but I know that will come with time. 



Felix is still madly in love with his "LaLa" or his lovey. I've never seen a kid more attached to his blanket. It's so cute, and slightly ridiculous. When he can't find it, or it isn't within a few feet of him he starts babbling "lalalalala" until he can find it again. Then he quickly finds the corner of it and shoves it in his mouth. It stinks to the high heavens, even though I wash it every other day. 


Felix also popped out 3 new teeth, 3 molars that is. He pretty much drools nonstop all the day long. 

He is learning new words and sounds every day. He definitely knows "lala" to signify his blanket. He also knows "dada", "mama", "ball", and "DA!" (dog). He growls when he sees a dog, and roars when he sees a lion. We are working on a few others, like what birdies say, cows say, and kitties say. He loves to look at pictures of animals, all of his favorite books have animals. He has become quite fond of books lately. He always wants us to read them to him, and is delighted when I bring one with us on our errands. He also learned "peek a boo" recently, when we say "Felix, peek a boo!", he puts his hand on his eyes or the side of his head. It's pretty stinking cute!

He got his first hair cut. A big milestone indeed, though the experience at the salon we went to could have been better. He did very well, and doesn't have a mullet anymore!


Felix is now taking two consistent naps every day, and sleeps 12-13 hours at night without waking up. A lot of people ask me about his sleep schedule and how we got him to go to bed so early, and honestly, he made the schedule himself. We tried to do a later bedtime and he could never make it. We've settled on 6:30 for most nights. It works for us! I can't complain about having extra alone time at night, though it does make it tricky to do any kind of plans in the evening if we want to include him. 

Felix loves to build with his legos, play with cars, trucks, and trains, and still loves balls.  He makes himself laugh all of the time, which we find hilarious. He loves to spin anything that will spin, wheels, drawer pulls, airplane propellers. He is curious and wants to know where we are and what we are doing at all times. His loves to be tickled on his belly and side. He loves to be chased and likes to climb on to things. 



Speaking of climbing. Felix climbed onto our bed and proceeded to fall off, backwards. He gave us the biggest scare of our lives on February 1st when he fell off of our bed and immediately had a seizure. I think I've come to an understanding of what happened, he fell backwards, unable to catch himself and was totally surprised -- which caused him to be extremely scared. He did the "OMG what happened hold-your-breath before the big scream" thing and had a seizure right after that happened. I'm pretty sure he started seizing because he held his breath for so long during that pre-scream. I knew something was wrong when he didn't make much of a scream, and proceeded to have a seizure in my arms for about 10 seconds. The ambulance got her amazingly fast, and recommended that we go to the hospital right away. Felix returned to his normal self fairly quickly, though was shaken up and scared of all the people poking and prodding him. 
We were cleared to go home after a good CT scan and everything checking out well. We are so glad that he is ok, and we are a lot more careful about where we let him climb. 

Life with a toddler is not always easy. He gets into gross, dangerous, and downright annoying things almost every day! Aside from all of the cute things he does, he regularly attempts to eat cat food, throw things in the toilet, scream during diaper changes, stick his hands in the garbage, pull food out of the pantry, climb inside the dishwasher, and pull fragile things out of the cabinets. Some of these have been fixed with toilet locks and cabinet locks, and sometimes I give up and let him run around the house with the potato masher. He is learning that the word "NO" does not mean he can laugh at us. Learning how to discipline a child is as much of a learning process for him as it is for me. We also have a designated "blanket time" every day, so he can learn to sit down in one place for a certain amount of time when he is told to. It has been great so far. I can get something done in the kitchen or bathroom while he plays quietly. If he gets up I tell him that he needs to go back to his blanket, and he understands and usually goes back without a fuss. 

Being the mother to this little boy is such an adventure. It has been quite an adjustment to being alone with him every day of the week, but we're making it work. We try to get out of the house once every day to play, and we are making new friends in our new favorite places. We miss California sometimes, but we are loving our new surroundings and the ability to have a life here that we can afford!

I am so excited about the little boy that Felix is becoming.
He is sweet, funny, energetic, and has a big personality. I feel so lucky that I get to spend my days with him. 


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Felix,
you are 14 months of pure joy. 
I love you more than you will ever know.
Love, smooches, and snuggles,
mama.  

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Essential Oils: A former skeptic turned total believer

This past Christmas I decided it was time to ask my mom to get me the Young Living Essential Oils starter kit.  For months I had watched countless women post about them on Instragram, Facebook, and their blogs about how beneficial essential oils were in their life. What held me back for a long time was the cost, and just general skepticism -- I believe in some crunchy hippy stuff, but not all! I also wanted to make sure the oils were high quality and safe for me to use internally, and on my baby!  After Felix got his first of many colds, I was hoping that essential oils might be a way of helping his symptoms naturally -- instead of overwhelming his system with antibiotics and tons of ibuprofen or tylenol. 
When we finally got settled and moved in I opened up the box and poured through all of the material inside. It's definitely intimidating at first. I had never met with someone in person about using essential oils, and had only skimmed through Instagram posts and facebook groups that teach you the basics. I decided that using the diffuser was an easy way to jump in, and with time I would learn which oils can be put on what body parts for different ailments. Just a month later, and I'm totally hooked. I have seen firsthand, the benefits of using essential oils and am so eager to find out how to incorporate them more into our daily lives. 

Here's a short list of what it's helped with so far:
- Seth's snoring
- my funky moods
- bedtime
- cold symptoms
- headaches
- stinky things
- neck and back tension
- cough and congestion
- did I mention SNORING?! hallelujah!! 



Lavender was an easy go to. I knew it was in baby bed time stuff, so I diffused it in Felixs bedroom for a couple hours before bedtime. This resulted in a calm baby who didn't make a peep when he was tucked into his crib at night. Now I use it frequently to help us all relax and wind down at the end of the day. Lavender is also good for soothing bites, burns, and stings. It can help with dry or chapped skin, and even dandruff! That is next to try on my list as my dandruff has dramatically increased since moving to the PNW. 


Young Living has blends which are fantastic. I particularly like Stress Away. It helps my mood when I'm having a difficult day (which is not uncommon with a toddler). I like to diffuse it almost every day, and it smells great! They even make Stress Away in a roll on container for easy application when you're out and about. 


My next favorite is Valor. Valor is a blend of frankincense, Rosewood, Blue Tansy, and spruce essential oils, it smells amazing too!  As a wife of a snorer, I will do whatever it takes to sleep better at night. Usually I will ask Seth to roll over onto his side about 5x a night to help him stop snoring, but recently that hasn't been working, it helps maybe 1 out of 5 times. I had heard that essential oils could help with snoring but this is where my real skepticism set in. How could rubbing an oil on my husbands big toe REALLY help with snoring? I read that the key is consistency so I am pretty religious about putting it on both of his toes at night before we turn in. For two weeks I have had to wake him up to turn over significantly less. And some nights I don't wake up at all. 

There was one oil in my kit that I didn't open until recently. I didn't really understand the benefits of it so I figured I would give it a shot after I did some research. Melaleuca oil is also known as Tea Tree oil, is known as a great skin refresher. I rarely ever put anything on my skin. My routine every day and night is a face wipe and moisturizer. I wear makeup maybe 2 days a week, and am blessed to not have any acne issues. I do get pretty big blackheads on my nose. I started putting just 1 or 2 drops on with my moisturizer and my skin is brighter and my nose has no visible blackheads. It's not my favorite smell in the world, but after it is all rubbed in the smell goes away quickly. 


Purification is another oil that smells strongly, but for all of the right reasons. When I diffuse it, which is often and especially before people come over, it gives the illusion that my house is really really clean. It is also a very versatile blend. You can add a drop to your laundry for a fresh scent, put some on a cotton ball in your stinky shoes (aka every pair of TOMS I've ever owned), or diffuse it to neutralize odors in the air. 

I could go on and on about what I've used oils for. Peppermint for tension headaches, thieves for Felixs cold, R.C for Felixs cold, citrus fresh as a mood booster, Joy as a mood booster and stress reliever, Breathe Again as a powerful vapo rub for Felixs asthmatic cold, and Pan Away for my achy body. 

I'm not going to try and sell you anything, mostly because I chose not to sign up as a distributor or anything like that.  I don't want to pressure anything to buy something they aren't going to use! I have found Essential Oils to be extremely versatile, helpful, and valuable. They are also completely safe when used correctly, who doesn't love to use 100% natural products especially for their kids?! 

If you have any questions about Essential Oils and there benefits I encourage you to join a facebook group or follow an IG account that has expert knowledge. I am a total novice, but I will happily share more insight as we continue to use them in our daily routine! 

xo



Sunday, January 25, 2015

Taking back the shower.

There are a lot of phrases coming out of my mouth lately that I'd never thought I'd need to say.
There is no exaggerating when people say "toddlers get into everything". I mean, it really is everything. Every square inch of our place is his territory now that he is walking.

And he doesn't want toys. He wants toilet seats, toilet wands, cat food, potato mashers, the dishwasher door, sharp scissors, and anything from the recycling bin.

"Felix, please don't lick the toilet seat"

"Felix, please stop sticking your hands in the trash can"

"Felix, mommy deserves to shower without an audience."

That one really struck me as I said it.
Because, I really do deserve to take a shower without a toddler trying to pull the shower curtain down, or throw his sippy in the toilet, or stick his ENTIRE mouth around the toilet brush. Please excuse me while I throw up at the very though of that.

Yes, motherhood is sacrificial. Yes, we are in charge of a tiny human at ALL times. Yes, I am no longer my first priority.
But can't a sister take a shower alone?
Do I have to feel guilty every time I pass Felix off to Seth for 3.5 minutes to take a shower in peace?
NO.
But I do.

While I am "Mom" 24/7, 365, always on call, always ready, I am also chief house cleaner. Chief grocery shopper aka belly satisfier. Chief laundry doer. Chief banker.  I am still a person aside from my role as Mom. But seeing as that every second of every day I am "Mom", being a person aside from that is tricky.

So I've decided to take back showering.  Dangerous, I know. But satisfying. And peaceful...kinda. For 3.5 minutes while Felix yells and bangs on the door I pretend to be blissfully unaware. Even though I'm really not, Moms, are we ever unaware of anything that's going on with our babies?

I love the quote, "Moms don't sleep. They worry with their eyes closed".

I'm learning that self care is really important. It always seems to be the first thing to go when motherhood sets in. It's crazy how unimportant deodorant and a hair brush can be on most days. And how moms can have perfectly styled children while staying in the same yoga pants for 3 days. I recently discovered that my favorite pair of yoga pants, maternity yoga pants mind you, had holes up the ENTIRE middle seam in the back.
Blissfully unaware, right?
Thank goodness I usually wear yoga pants with a sweater that covers my butt.

Welp, Felix's naptime has officially expired. 30 minutes to a T. Maybe our next child will be a good napper. A mama can dream.

xo.


Monday, January 5, 2015

Hello from Aloha!


Aloha! Or should I say hello?
Well, greetings from our new home in Aloha, OR.
It's not pronounced the way you would think.
It's actually pronounced UH-LOA.
We learned that from the locals. 

We're slowly settling into our new digs.
But it's hard for me to totally settle knowing that we won't be here for longer than 6 months -- we will moving into a house of our OWN soon. 
Now that is something to look forward to. 

Oregon is a fun new place for us. Everything seems so different, so foreign. I imagine it will take some time for us to adjust for it to truly feel like home.

Seth is really liking his new job. If you're wondering, he's manufacturing airplane parts. I wish I could explain in more detail but I would be stumbling over some pretty big words like silicone and fuselage. Ask him if you must know more. 

And our new place is only 15 minutes away from his work, which is such a lifesaver. The traffic in Portland is a nightmare so we needed something close to his work. 

I'm adjusting to what its like to have Felix with me full time.
With Seth having been in school after he was born, and then job hunting, and then living with my parents...I had someone around most of the time. And we had friends near by so we were able to go out on dates if we wanted or get some free time for ourselves.
I know it's only been a week but I'm already craving that date night. That alone time. Because even after bedtime there's still cleaning, unpacking, laundry, and tons of sewing -- the mundane stuff. It makes you crave a night out alone with your husband. Not to mention we spent the two previous weeks without each other, including Christmas. 

And Felix has had a tough time adjusting, if you were wondering. 
It's hard to adjust to a new room, in a new home, while being sick. 
I need an extra dose of patience and grace with him. And I need to join a mom's group...STAT. 

I think we're all craving normalcy. And we'll get there. I know it.
I keep telling myself "we've only been here a week". 

Here's a few things we love about Oregon so far:
1. Not having to pump my own gas. When you have a toddler that screams every time you're out of sight, getting gas can be tricky. 
2. Strip malls. They are EVERYWHERE. If you don't see the store you are looking for, drive a half mile the other direction an I bet you can find it. 
3. Weather. It's nice having some real weather, and not having to worry about the drought all the time. 
4. Everything is green! Hence the rain and the non-drought. I love being in this new landscape.
5. Mountains. On a clear day you can see Mount St. Helens and Mt. Hood from the main road you drive on. There's just something really neat about these towering beasts of mountains close by. 
6. My friends. I haven't lived within driving distance of my two closest friends since 2010. Now they are both within 30 minutes of me, and there are even more of them in Seattle --it's a dream come true. 
7. BEER. If there is one thing I'm snobby about, it's beer. This is land of the beer snobs and I love it. LOVE it. 
8. People are so nice here. Maybe it's just first impressions but everyone I've encountered so far is super friendly. 

I'm sure the list will grow as time goes on. There are definitely things I miss about California -- but we're on to new and exciting things so it's important to focus on the positive. 

And thank you for all of your prayers and happy thoughts these past few weeks. We feel them. 

With love, from Oregon. 


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Peace Out, 2014.

I'm so glad 2014 is over.
It's been such a tough year.
A good year. But a hard year. 
Don't get me wrong, Felix being here has truly been the highlight of my life. 
But he couldn't have picked a more hectic time to come into the world. 

Between Seth graduating, us leaving our old church in San Jose, Seth completing his tests, me working two jobs, Seth finding a job, us moving in with my parents, and now moving to Oregon, and everything in between all of those HUGE things -- I'm exhausted. 
Emotionally, spiritually, physically. 
I feel like I need a year to sleep this last one off. 

During all of this change, I struggled. My relationship with God suffered. My marriage suffered. Our finances suffered. My role was constantly changing. The baby weight didn't magically fall off. I forgot how to take care of myself. 

I'm at a point in my life where I couldn't care less about church. That is a really hard thing to admit, but it's true. When we left the church in San Jose I was so disillusioned and mad at the church and Christians in general. 6 months later, I feel like I'm finally in a place where I can let it go and move on. I want to be captivated by the gospel again. 

2015 has the potential to be really awesome. We've been given a fresh start in a new state, my business is doing well, Seth likes his new job, and Felix is growing up to be a curious and exciting toddler. 

I have high hopes for 2015. I'm not sure I'm going to make any "resolutions" -- because 99% of the time those things don't actually happen. 

I hope my business grows, a lot. I am excited where JVN Designs is going!
I hope I fall back in love with Jesus. 
I hope we can get plugged in to a local church. 
I hope I can be a better wife and mama to my boys. 
I hope to lose the baby weight by sticking to low carb and not cheating. I want to lose the baby weight before having another baby and adding more weight on!
I hope to take better care of myself. Learning to slow down, listen to my body, and shutting my computer, phone and iPad off more often. 

Peace out, 2014. You were officially the craziest year on record. 
2015, I hope you're a little less hectic and a lot more enjoyable. 

Happy New Year!