Sleep Training Your Baby: It’s the best thing EVER!

Mateo is sleep trained!

It’s a fucking miracle.

After weeks and weeks of struggling with his 15 minute naps and constant night waking, I decided to get help from a sleep consultant and it was the best decision EVER.

Now, instead of spending up to 45 minutes rocking or bouncing Mateo to sleep, I am able to set him in his crib awake and he settles himself. He naps twice a day for at least an hour each time and he sleeps entirely through the night. When he wakes up, he is so bubbly and happy! He seems ready to take on the world – he seems more interested and engaged. No more constant eye rubbing and fussing.

It’s seriously so awesome!

Since I don’t have to put so much of my time and energy into figuring out Mateo’s sleep anymore, I have more of myself to give to Nori. I’m less impatient with her, I’m more available to play with her – we can read together or do crafts during his nap times. I don’t feel guilty anymore for having to push aside her needs in favor of her baby brother’s. She can count on having one on one time every day and I am able to be completely present.

The most awesome part of all?! I got some of my life back!!!

I have guaranteed time every night to do ME. I can watch a movie, I can take care of housework I’d put off in favor of playing with the kids, I can get intimate with my husband – all without the risk of being interrupted.

Why hadn’t I done this sooner?!

Well, because I was super against CIO sleep training methods. Letting my baby’s cries go unanswered for even 5 minutes felt wrong to me. I co slept with Nori until she was almost 2 and believed that I was going to do the same with Mateo. Thing is, our home life is way different than it used to be. Not only do I have another child to take care of but I rarely have help from Benny because he travels so often for work. What I felt comfortable and confidant doing just wasn’t working anymore.

I had to get over my own judgements about sleep training and take care of business!

The sleep trainer who I worked with is a Sleep Sense trained consultant. She got to know me and my situation and then formulated a plan and a schedule for Mateo. The whole thing was out of my comfort zone, but I was so desperate for things to be different that I dove into it head first.

We set a date to begin and she sent over a plan.

I was to pick a length of time that I felt comfortable letting Mateo cry for – I chose 10 minutes.

I was to pick a key phrase – I chose “it’s beddy-bye time”.

I was to choose a sleepy song – I chose “Twinkle Twinkle”

I was to be consistent.

The first night, I put Nori to bed first so that I could focus on Mateo afterward. At 7:15, I took him into his room and got him into his pajamas. I rolled some lavender on his feet. I turned on his noise machine and turned off the lights. I said my key phrase and sang him his sleepy song. I set him down in his crib and I left his room.

Immediately, he began sobbing.

I set my timer for 10 minutes and did my best to distract myself from his cries. It was super hard!

10 minutes passed and he was still upset, so I went into his room. I decided that picking him up to comfort him felt better to me than just standing near his crib, so I picked him up and held him close. Again, I said my key phrase and I sang him his sleepy song. He calmed down, so I set him back into his crib and left his room again.

I set my timer for 10 minutes.

This time, he screamed bloody murder! It was so intense. As the time counted down, I stared at the baby monitor. My stomach was in knots. My poor baby!! He wasn’t calming down!

The timer went off again and I returned to his room. This time, I only set my hand on his back while I sang his song and repeated his key phrase – I thought that maybe picking him up had been a bad idea. When he was calm, I left again and again, he seemed more upset than he had been before I entered the room.

I set another 10 minutes on the timer.

I decided to text my sleep consultant and see what she thought about his sadness escalating. She suggested that maybe I stop checking in on him. That felt really wrong to me, so I went in one last time and again, he became even more upset.

OK FINE!!

I stopped checking on him and 15 minutes later, he fell asleep and he stayed asleep until the next morning.

Mateo, asleep in his crib.

All in all, it was 45 minutes of tears.

The next day, we started naps. His first nap was to be at 10am. I did the same things – the key phrase, the song and left him sleepy but awake in his crib.

He cried – a lot. That first nap, I think he cried for 30 minutes. His second nap, he cried for 20. Bedtime, he cried for 20.

Honestly, for the first 3 days, he was probably crying for a total of an hour each day between his naps and bedtime. It was a lot. It didn’t feel good, but I knew that if I gave up, all of those tears would’ve been for nothing. I was so thankful that I had hired a consultant, because without her checking in on me, I may have given up.

She had me fill out a sleep log to keep track of his nap times and bed times and also how long he cried between our routine and falling asleep. By doing these, I learned when to put him down to minimize the tears.

No matter what time I set Mateo in his crib for his morning nap, he always fell asleep at about 10:20 and by 2:00 for his afternoon nap – bedtime he was asleep by 7:30. I started to set him down at those times, no matter what – even if I saw sleepy cues earlier – and he began to fall asleep with less tears. At most, I’d have 15 minutes of upset, but it stopped being real crying after those first few days and became more of a whiny moan. Even if Mateo woke up in the middle of night, he was able to soothe himself back to sleep within 10 minutes without needing to nurse or be rocked.

Everything had fallen into place!

YASSSSSS!

Now, it’s been 12 days and every day is easier than the last – in fact, now it isn’t a “thing” anymore – it’s just the way that we do sleep in our household.

I am so, so grateful for my sleep trainer! I couldn’t have done it without her!!

If you’re on the fence about sleep training and want some tips, here’s what I’ve got:

  1. Be all in. Don’t try to train one day and then chicken out the next. Consistency is key.
  2. Listen to your baby. Some cry’s are frantic and others seem calm – adjust your timer accordingly. Also, like in my case, if something you planned to do seems not to be working, like picking up your baby or doing constant checks, stop doing it!
  3. Keep a sleep log so that you can see your baby’s sleep patterns and adjust your schedule accordingly.
  4. Plan to stay home and revolve your life around sleep training for at least the first week.
  5. Make sure that you have support, wether from your partner, parents, friend or in my case, hired help. It really helps to have someone to hold you accountable and also to have someone to talk to during hard times.
  6. Don’t judge yourself or think that you’re a bad mom for allowing your child to cry. You’re teaching them a valuable life skill – how to sleep! Anyone would feel upset if suddenly their routine was totally changed. As long as you’re usually attentive to your baby, they know that you love them!
  7. Focus on the goal! A few days of tears are so worth it for hopefully years of easy sleep from your child.

If your child’s sleep patterns aren’t working for your family anymore, I totally recommend sleep training. It has totally changed our lives over here – my only regret is waiting so long to give it a try.

Loving With Intention: How to put love before your ego and create relationship magic

On August 24th, Benny and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary!

YAY FOR US!

To celebrate, he and I got a babysitter and went out for dinner at Toro Bravo. We had the tasting menu and it was delicious, but seriously, it was so much food. I didn’t even want dessert and if you know me, you’ll know that is extremely rare.

On our way there, Benny took my hand and sweetly asked me, “What is your favorite thing about our relationship?”

I answered him without thinking too much about it – I don’t do well under pressure – I felt bashful! I said some sweet things, but I didn’t love my answer – I knew I had more to say, if I had more time to think about it.

So, I kept thinking about it.

I thought about it during our date, I thought about it when we got home. I’ve been thinking about it since then and I think that finally, I’ve found my answer.

What I love most about our relationship is the way that we love each other.

It’s that simple.

Right now, Benny and I can agree that we are the happiest we have ever been in our relationship – it’s not that we were unhappy before, but right now things feel so healthy – so easy.

Our love has grown into a new way of being. We have started to love each other with intention.

Every day, he and I make the decision to hold ourselves accountable for our relationship’s success – we don’t run on auto pilot anymore.

We strive for love in our every day and do what it takes to come from a place of understanding. Because of this, we have been growing together as individuals and within our marriage.

I feel supported to be me. I feel heard. I feel safe and understood.

Now, don’t get me wrong – we have our shit. Sometimes I want to strangle Benny. Sometimes, I am so annoyed with him that I vent to my friends about it, or huff and puff around the house. Sometimes I want space and sometimes he isn’t close enough. We struggle, like most couples do – the difference is, now we talk about it instead of arguing about it.

We put our love before our egos.

Moving toward loving intentionally instead of falling back on old habits comes down to just a few things:

Owning your shit. Instead of getting defensive when your partner tells you that something you have done has upset them, believe them! We all have our own emotional history and wounds – it’s important to look inward and see how you could avoid this trigger in the future instead of getting defensive and putting blame on something else. This helps not only to grow as a couple, but also to grow as an individual.

In the last two months, Mateo has become increasingly clingy and has been sleeping a lot less. By the end of the day, I feel touched out and tired. Even though I felt that I was doing a good job balancing my mom life with our romantic life, Benny didn’t entirely agree. His love languages are touch and words of affirmation and I realized, I had hardly been doing either of those things for him! Sure, I was telling him that I loved him every day and I was making time to be intimate, but for him, that wasn’t enough. He told me that he felt like I wasn’t interested in him anymore. He didn’t feel loved. I could have gotten defensive and in the past, that would’ve been my go to – “I’m tired! The baby is always on me! You never make ME feel loved! You’re always away, anyway!” but instead, my heart broke for him. I felt terrible! The last thing I ever want to do is to hurt my partner. I chose to love him! I looked inward. I set the intention to show him how much I love and desire him –  I give him longer, warmer hugs, I kiss him when we greet each other, I give him praise and make sex something that I make time for, not just something we can do if we have time. I’ve started to speak his language again and he noticed!

Picking your battles. You may not like everything that your partner does, but that doesn’t mean that they need to hear about it. When Benny gets home from work at 3am, he likes to take his pants off and get comfortable. I totally understand wanting to get comfortable, but when he does, he just leaves his pants on the floor, or draped over a chair. It drives me nuts!

NUTS!!!

There are pants left all over the house – upstairs, downstairs, by the door, in the kitchen. There was a time where I would get upset about this and often, it would turn into an actual fight!

What a waste of energy, fighting about pants.

Now, I just roll my eyes, pick them up and throw them in the hamper. In the grand scheme of things, will his pants on the floor outweigh all of the other wonderful parts of our marriage?

Doubt it.

Showing gratitude. Let your partner know how much you appreciate them! Do something kind without being asked or with the expectation of having the gesture reciprocated.

Say thank you for the things that you usually take for granted.

Every now and again, Benny will thank me for doing his laundry or for cooking dinner and it makes me so happy to know that he appreciates what I do for him in the day to day.

Even better is when he does my chores for me so I can relax. He knows that there is no easier way to get in my pants than to empty the dishwasher.

Supporting each other. Let your partner follow their heart and help to support their personal growth. Don’t let the fear that changes might ruin your relationship, ruin your relationship. Change is hard, but inevitable.

When Benny was offered a job working for a company that would require him to travel frequently, I encouraged him to take the job. I knew that this was something that he really wanted. I wanted him to follow his dreams, even though it meant that we wouldn’t be together as often and that I would be alone to care for both of our children for long periods at a time.

For me, this has been the most difficult change that I’ve had to accept, but I am really working on it. He and I strive not to let resentments build up, so, whenever I am feeling really sad and lonely, I talk to him about it. He also knows that sometimes, I just need to vent and he lets me, even when it may make him feel bad. I’m not looking for him to make a change, I am just looking for a shoulder.

His personal growth is just as important our growth together (and vice versa)

Marriage can be hard sometimes, but it doesn’t have to be a battle! These are our partners, after all!

By choosing to love my partner over everything else, I’ve changed the way that I love and we have found a place of (mostly) harmony. It’s still a work in progress but by setting the intention, I’ve already done most of the work!

When 3 became 4: How adding a sibling changed everything

I am an only child.

Well, I had step siblings from my father’s second wife, but that isn’t the same thing. We didn’t have that intrinsic connection that I imagine siblings to have. Sure, I enjoyed growing up with them but I didn’t always feel welcomed or loved.

It was hard.

I wanted to feel more connected to them, for them to be like my real family, but no matter what, I always felt a bit on the outside.

When I was 21, my father died. It was a total surprise and left me and my step siblings shocked and upset. Even though we were all experiencing this loss together, I felt even further away from them then I ever had before. Here were these people who knew my pain – who were living it too, but we didn’t mourn together. They had each other to lean on, and I had myself.

I felt so alone.

Having someone to have gone through all of this with would have made a world of difference.

Im sure of it!

When Benny and I started thinking about wether or not we wanted to give Nori a sibling, I reflected on this time – how I felt, what I had wished for.

What if there was some sort of tragedy and Nori had no one to lean on?

She needed a teammate for life. A friend. Someone to talk shit about me and her dad to when she got in trouble. Some one to pick on and play with and really, do whatever it is that siblings do together – Im an only child, remember? I don’t know what I’m talking about.

I wanted her to have the forever friend that I didn’t have. I didn’t want her to ever feel alone.

Even though I had made up my mind about giving Nori a sibling, I had to work on Benny for close to a year before he was down for baby two!

I wasn’t worried though – I get what I want.

After three months of trying, I found out that I was pregnant. Nori was three years old.

We were THRILLED!

Soon enough, that happiness and excitement turned into anxiety and fear. Not fear of having the baby – we were already pros – but fear of what this new baby might do to our family dynamic. Fears about my special bond with Nori being broken.

I’d spend nights awake in bed, sobbing, worrying about losing Nori.

What the fuck?! We planned this!!

I thought about this for years. How did I suddenly realize that adding a sibling might be painful for her – for all of us?

I was mourning her – our love, our special bond – before anything had even happened.

Did we make a mistake?

I couldn’t get these thoughts out of my mind. Every moment that I spent with Nori, I treated like they were my last.

I gave her my full attention.

I held her close.

I breathed her in.

I kept telling her, “When your brother comes, things may be different, but just know that mommy and daddy love you so much! You’ll always be our special girl.”

Looking back, I don’t think that I should have said that so often. It probably hadn’t even occurred to her that things would be different.

I’m sure she smelled my fear.

Even though I was worried about her accepting the coming change, I also loved sharing my pregnancy with her. She loved my belly. She loved to kiss it and sing songs to it. She liked to feel the baby move. She would put her lips against my skin and talk to her brother.

She laughed when I used my belly as a table.

Nori’s sweet little hand on my baby bump.

When Mateo was born, she asked if we could put him back in there, because she loved my big belly so much.

He was better on the inside, in her eyes.

She didn’t come to visit us at the hospital. She didn’t want to facetime with us either. I tried to understand, while I laid in the hospital bed, nursing our son – her brother.

“It’s happening” I thought. “Everything I feared has come true.”

When we returned home with Mateo, Nori looked different to me. She looked humongous.

Her hands!!

Why were they so big?

How did she grow so much in the two days that we were at the hospital?

The fuck?

She hugged her brother. She hugged and kissed me and her father. She posed for photos. She was just being herself, but somehow, I felt like I didn’t know her anymore. I felt like she didn’t trust me – that I owed her something. I wanted to give her so much of me, to comfort her, to let her know that everything would be ok, but I couldn’t. I was exhausted, infatuated, distracted, hormonal. I expected her to be patient with me.

I expected my 4 year old to understand.

Nori and Mateo, when he was a few days old.

Benny took over most of my responsibilities that first month. He made Nori breakfast, he took her to school, he picked her up, he played with her, he made dinner, all while I laid in bed with Mateo, sleeping and nursing and sleeping and nursing.

Nori would come in to visit us. She never would come in the bed, but would stand at the edge and talk to me.

I wanted her closer. I wanted her snuggled there with me. I was missing her and I know she was missing me too.

After a few days, her sadness turned into anger and she started to be mean to me.

One morning, once Mateo was asleep, I went into her room to read with her and let her know that I’d do bath with her that night. I was focused on her. I needed to connect with her but she told me that she didn’t want to hear a story and that Benny should do her bath too. She asked me to leave her room.

Ouch.

I’d never felt rejection from her before and damn, did it hurt.

“Nori, I have this time to be with you, and you’re not being kind to me! I know that you miss me but I don’t think you understand that I miss you too.”

I started to cry. I couldn’t keep it together.

Nori looked at me in a way that I’d never seen her look at me before. I had never cried like that in front of my daughter, being her mom, I’d always held it together.

She jumped into my arms, crying and I held her.

She laughed, “Mama! We are both crying!” and then I laughed too.

Those early days were hard.

Mateo is almost 8 months old now and Nori is his favorite person in the whole house – well, except for me – but I think that’s just because I’ve got the boobs.

He laughs at everything she does. She will yell, “Banana bread!” and he cracks up and then we all crack up because it’s so random and funny!

Seeing their friendship blossom has been a treat. It fills my heart with so much love that I can feel it exploding!

The two of them being extra cute, playing on Mateo’s mat.

It’s crazy.

But, I’m not gonna lie, we still struggle.

Bedtime is a nightmare and sometimes, errands are too. Some days I feel so overwhelmed that when I am finally free to do whatever I need to do, I just go straight to bed. Some days Nori plays alone for hours while I struggle with a fussy baby, but we are getting there.

I’m trying my best.

Just the other night, Mateo was asleep in his room and I had my hands free to cuddle with Nori in her bed. I stroked her hair and sang her lullibies. Out of nowhere, she sat up and turned to me. She said, “Mama, I’m so sorry that I hated Mateo so much before, because now I love him!” and you know those heart explosions I mentioned before?

I had a thousand of them.

Fill your cup: Simple self care for tired moms

Ever since becoming a mother, I’ve heard the phrase, “you can’t pour from an empty cup” more than I ever have in my entire life – In fact, I don’t think I had ever heard it before having kids.

Is this a phrase that is reserved only for parents?

Probably.

Mom life is exhausting.

Look at all this momming I do!

Now, don’t get me wrong – I love being a mama and feel so lucky to be able to stay at home with my children, but damn, some days, it is so hard!

I cook, I clean, I play, I entertain, I problem solve, I taxi drive, I wipe tears, I wipe butts, I pay bills, I schedule appointments, I give baths, I do laundry, I grocery shop.

And that’s just what I can think of of the top of my head.

It never ends! Literally!

When Benny is home, its hard enough, but when he is away for weeks at a time?!

Just thinking about it makes me anxious.

When you’re a stay at home parent, you never leave work.

Feeling run down has become a way of life. Instead of planning to get more rest, I’ve invested in a better concealer.

I drink so much coffee that if the opportunity for a nap comes up, I’m too jacked up to lay down.

I haven’t pooped alone in years!

Sometimes, I just want space! I want a few moments to myself, to hear my own thoughts.

I envy my husband when he travels. I know that he misses us so much, but usually, he gets a hotel room where he gets to shower alone and lay down alone – he doesn’t have any one asking him questions. He gets to look at his phone without feeling guilty.

OH! The bliss.

I can only imagine.

I want to shower alone! I want to lay down and know that I won’t be interrupted for 8 hours! I want for one day, no one to ask me anything.

If only.

When he is home, I struggle to admit to him that I could use a hand – and this is the time where I should be taking all the help I can get! I should be milking it!!

Unfortunately, for me, asking for help is not something that I do well.

A few weeks back, we had several 100 degree days in a row. We have a great house, but no AC. Toward the end of this heatwave, our house was miserable! The house was barely cooling down to 80 at night.

Making the best of being smothered in my hot bed first thing in the morning.

One morning, after a rough, sweaty night with Mateo, I woke up, extra grumpy.

My daughter, like she always does, ran into my bedroom to rush me out of bed. She wanted to assign me a character for whatever make-believe she was already playing.

Pretend play? Already?! I’ll pass.

She wanted pancakes, she wanted another cup of milk, she wanted to go outside.

“MOM!!! Stop calling me, Nori, I’m Princess Blue!!”

OMFG, girl. What else?!

I wanted to hide under a blanket.

I made myself some coffee and set it on the counter.

I thought that getting dressed might help to pull me together, so I grabbed the baby to bring him along with me. I noticed he was wet, so I went to change him and once he was undressed, he peed ALL OVER ME.

Now I was grumpy, sweaty and covered in urine.

I rolled the sleeves of my robe up until the wet parts were hidden inside of the dry and cleaned Mateo up. I washed my hands and dabbed my belly dry with a cloth.

I felt so gross.

The icing on the cake? Now, my coffee was cold!

ARG!

Huffing and puffing, I went to change in my bedroom and remembered that my husband was still asleep, as he worked late the night before.

That asshole!

I went to microwave my coffee and sat down to drink it, still in my pee clothes, so that I wouldn’t disturb sleeping beauty.

An hour or so later, when I heard him waking up, I became overcome with rage!

I stormed over to him and blerted out, “IM GOING TO TAKE A SHOWER, NOW! TAKE THE BABY!!”

He looked at me like, “Okay?”

He didn’t know about the pee, or how little I had slept or about my cold coffee on the counter. He didn’t know that I still needed to change. He didn’t know how much I was struggling that morning.

How could he have?

I handed him Mateo, and went to take a shower. Not some BS, rushed shower like I’d become accustomed to taking, but a nice, long shower.

I let the water pour over me. I lathered, I rinsed. I fucking repeated! I stood there and enjoyed the quiet. When I got out, I put in my contacts, put on some makeup and got fully dressed.

Usually, after a shower, I’d put my robe back on and rush out of there with my hair still in a towel.

Not today!

When I walked out fully dressed, everything was fine. The kids were happy. My husband was happy – he greeted me warmly, with a kiss.

There was absolutely no reason for me not to be meeting my own needs. The household survived while I bathed. I don’t know why I thought that they wouldn’t.

Those 20 minutes alone were fantastic. I should have been doing this all of the time – at least three times a week.

Why wasn’t I just asking for help when I needed it?

It occurred to me that I was the only person in my family who was keeping track of the last time I showered, or how many times I had woken up the night before or microwaved my coffee that morning.

It’s easy to forget about taking care of yourself when everyone else forgets that you need to take care of yourself.

Maybe, it’s not that they were forgetting, but that I’m such a boss ass mama that my family didn’t realize that I was running on empty.

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Don’t mind me! I haven’t slept in 5 months.

This wasn’t a them issue, it was a me issue.

I needed to pencil in time for myself just like I did for my husband and children. I needed to let go of the assumption that because being a mom was “my job” that I wasn’t allowed to or deserve to take breaks.

Self care, y’all!

Self care doesn’t need to be a spa day. It doesn’t need to be luxurious. Self care is whatever you need to do to care your yourself – even if it’s just advocating for your needs!

No one should ever breakdown crying over a shower.

I’ve put more focus onto my own well being and have become a better mother, a better wife and a happier me. I’ve done this by:

1. Speaking up. Instead of feeling resentment toward my family for things that I feel overwhelmed by, I began to tell my husband and daughter what I needed from them and I found that both of them were more than happy to go along with my requests. If I feel backed up on housework, I’ve learned that I can just tell my husband and more often than not, he will fold our laundry or pick up around the house. If I feel overwhelmed by my daughter wanting to play the moment we wake up, I just tell her that I’m not quite ready to make believe yet and she will give me space until I have woken up more. No one is a mind reader – more often than not, my family didn’t know that I was feeling overwhelmed.

2. Making time for friends. It isn’t always possible for me to get a sitter and hang out with my friends without Nori and Mateo. Luckily for me, a lot of my friends have children or don’t mind when I have mine with me. I try to see my friends at least 2 times a week and call and text my friends regularly. Feeling connected to other adults helps motherhood and family life feel less isolating. I am so grateful for the solid group of friends in my life!

3.Doing something extra. One thing that I always do for myself that makes me happy is have manicured nails. I go every three weeks to have my shellac changed and it is an act of self love that I refuse to sacrifice. Whenever I look at my hands and their pretty polish, I feel happy! Sometimes the kids stay with my husband, sometimes with my mom and sometimes with a sitter – no matter what I need to do to make it happen, I do it. Lately I have been bringing Nori along with me and I love that something that I do for me has become a bonding experience for us. Nourishing my relationship with her by including her in an activity that I love brings me happiness!

4. Indulging. When I am feeling down or worn out, taking myself out for a treat always helps. Okay, so, maybe I am a comfort eater, but whatever! We all have our vices. It could be worse!! My favorite treats are donuts and fro yo. This act of self care is a double whammy, because I can use getting treats as a bargaining chip for good behavior from Nori. Win/win, amirite?!

5. Taking breaks from social media. Nothing like a perfect instagram family to make you feel like shit on a rough day. Sometimes, disconnecting and taking time to be fully present in your own life is all you need to snap out of a funk. The world won’t end if you don’t share every activity you do to your story – I promise!

6. Buying something new. Something as simple as buying yourself a new teeshirt can make a huge difference. I try to make a point to only get myself something when I do this – all too often I’ll buy myself something on clearance and get the kids a whole new wardrobe – that doesn’t feel as good as shopping just for you.

I know it’s easier said than done, but as a stay home mom, you’re the families glue! You’re the most important! You need to take care of yourself just as well as you do your family.

Fill that cup, mama!

Digital love

My husband, Benny, works in the music industry. He is an audio engineer at music festivals and night clubs. He works strange hours and travels often, sometimes for several weeks at a time.

He has been doing this since before we got together.

When we were young and partying, I LOVED his job. It had amazing perks – guest list to pretty much any show that I wanted to go to, free admission to music festivals, feeling cool – lol at that last one, but really, at the time, that was a valid plus. I loved living vicariously through his life – I thought he was so cool.

As the years went by and I became less and less involved in that part of his life and more and more involved in motherhood, I began to struggle with jealousy. He was still so cool and what was I now?

A mom.

I went to bed at 10pm. All I talked about was nap schedules and breastfeeding, baby carriers and diapers. I complained about being tired, about being touched out.

I thought that I’d become a bore; a nag.

I couldn’t help but think that when he was at work he would be surrounded by young, attractive girls in party mode. They were probably way more interesting than me. They were out having fun, trying to get laid, looking their best – and my husband was right there, in all of his coolness.

It was hard for my mind not to go there when I’d be at home alone, in bed, likely not showered, with a baby in my arms.

Before having kids, I knew that my husband only had eyes for me. I was confident in that. I pranced around our house in my underwear. I practically threw my sexuality at him all day, everyday. He would compliment me and flirt with me. We had an amazing sex life. Amazing.

We weren’t flirting anymore.

I had no sexuality to throw at him.

Our sex life was practically non existent. I was tired, touched out and honestly, sex was painful for me for that whole first year of being a parent.

No wonder I was feeling jealous – it wasn’t only stemming from his work, but also from our lack of connection as sexual beings – not only as parents. For me, sexual connection and intimacy is vital for feeling secure.

I needed to pull it together!! I didn’t want to start any drama in our relationship. Being new parents was hard enough.

Rather than dwelling in my jealousy or panicking about how I’d lost my intrinsic ability to flaunt my sexuality, I became proactive.

One night, after Nori had gone to bed, while benny was at work, I put on some sexy lingerie and took some selfies. I sent him a few and almost immediately was bombarded by texts from him, flipping out!

Screenshot from a recent sext thread.

I felt his excitement through my phone. I felt my own excitement. I missed this part of us. I missed knowing that he was wrapped around my finger – that my own sexuality could foster security in my relationship.

Why had I stopped doing this?

It’s not like this was my first time ever sending him photos like these. I’m pretty sure texts like these laid the foundation for our relationship!

Motherhood does not cancel out your sexuality, but it can if you allow it.

Now that I had broken down this barrier that I had created for myself, I could feel my jealousy dissipating. I had gotten my power back. I stopped feeling insecure. I wasn’t worried about girls at the club, because reconnecting in this way reminded me of just how treasured I was to my husband. I was giving him the attention that he needed again and I was getting the praise that I so badly needed to hear.

It was a win win.

That confident woman inside me was starting to shine through my tired eyes. I felt like a goddess – my husband would tell me that I was a goddess – and it felt good. So good, that I haven’t stopped sending him photos and I likely never will.

It’s sort of our thing.

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My husband and I call this type of booty shot, “cozy booty”.

As a proud nude sender, here are some tips and tricks.

  1. If your partner is at work or out with friends, send a text before sending that reads NSFW. Benny has definitely opened messages in front of friends and coworkers that were for his eyes only. WHOOPS.
  2. Change it up! Don’t always send the same mirror shot. Better yet, rarely send a mirror shot. Pick your favorite assets and highlight them. I know Benny loves my booty, so he gets those a lot. I have a few favorite angles that I have perfected over the years.
  3. If you are feeling extra frisky, send a boomerang! Seriously, the littlest movements or gestures running on a loop can be so super sexy! My favorite is to put my finger in my mouth a little bit. Try it. You’ll see why.
  4. Delete them off of your camera roll if you often scroll through your photos in public and don’t want people to see them. I’ve wanted to show my mom pictures of the kids before deleting photos more times than I’d like to admit. In fact, she has become so accustomed to the risk of seeing my sexy photos, that now she goes with it –  if she sees a nude, she just compliments me. My mom is awesome.
  5. Only send nudes if you enjoy sending them. No one should ever pressure you into sending them nude photos. It should be just as much a treat for you as it is for your partner.
  6. Make sure your partner is someone that you can trust to respect you enough to keep these special treats private (if that’s what you want).

Now get to it!

Drive someone crazy.

Radical Self Acceptance

It feels like out of nowhere, I’ve become a serious adult.

We own our home, we have two cars – one of them seats 8 people, wtf – we have two children and a dog. We eat home cooked meals, host bbq’s and birthday parties. Hell, we have a storage box filled with holiday decorations for every major holiday.

It’s crazy.

We are grown. ass. people.

I turned 31 this past April. I still feel like 20 year old me – maybe not as clueless and careless – but that same goofy person is in there. What’s different now, though, is that I have grey hairs coming in. I have wrinkles. My boobs sag. My feet are rough. I feel too old for some of my go to fashion choices and struggle to find myself in what may be more appropriate.

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It’s always a little awkward to be sung Happy Birthday.

I feel in transition.

Should I hold onto my youth? Or should I gracefully walk toward the inevitable?

Everybody is going to be crazy wrinkly one day. Everybody. No surgery’s or interventions can hide it all.

In terms of my own wrinkles, there are a few places on my face that really bring me sadness. One of those places is my smile line. How backward is that? This little mark on my face was formed by years and years of smiling and when I see it, it totally bums me out!

I’ve gone back and forth on the idea of injectables for a couple of years now. I have many friends who get botox and juviderm and they look fantastic, but for some reason, I have never gone ahead and made an appointment.

As much as I hate aging. I deeply want to change my own inner dialogue about aging. I don’t want to look at other people, and yearn for their youth. I had my youth, and I wore it well! I want to do the same for my maturity. I want to be a badass older woman with grey hair and wrinkles and saggy old tits and feel good about it all.

ENTER: Radical Self Accepance!

When I was a teenager, I struggled emotionally and was put into a group therapy called DBT. It helped me a lot and there are still many skills from the program that I strive to perfect in my life. One of these skills is called “radical acceptence”. To utilize this skill, rather than getting upset or angry about life’s inconveniences or disapointments, you acknowledge that they’re happening and accept the feelings they give you, good or bad, without judgement or reaction.

“GAHHHH! I am already late to work and now there is traffic?! WHY. ME!!” could easily be, “Wow. There is traffic and I am already late. I should put on a podcast. I hope they’ll understand at work.”

So, what does this have to do with anything? We were talking about aging…not anger.

Well, hear me out.

What if, when we look at ourself in the mirror, instead of feeling angry or sad or disappointed in our aging appearance, we instead accept it for what it is – a gift. Not everyone lives long enough to watch themselves age. We live in a society that practically demonizes aging and praises youth – other cultures revere their elders, not hide them.

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Worlds oldest woman, Emma Morano, who died at 117 years and 37 days.

I want to wear my age proudly! I have come a long way and I have nothing to hide. Instead of trying to prevent aging, my solution is to encourage aging gracefully through a few simple steps.

  1. Keep a good skin care routine, day and night with quality products, including SPF.
  2. Eat foods that nourish my body, to ensure that I receive all of the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that my body needs to thrive.
  3. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
  4. Get a good nights sleep. Our skin cells repair themselves while we are at rest – if you aren’t resting, your skin cells are going to look tired too.
  5. Embrace life to the fullest – a happy person, is a beautiful person – no matter the age!
  6. If all else fails, cut some bangs.

I will touch on all of these coping skills individually in future posts, as this leap into radical self acceptance can’t be accomplished simply by saying I’m doing it. I know I will still struggle. My hope is to share these struggles with you and that maybe some other people will join me in discovering and owning their aging beauty.

I love this quote from Coco Chanel; “Nothing makes a woman look so old as desperately trying hard to look young.”

True that, Coco.

Wrinkles, grays and saggy tits, I am still a fucking sexy bitch!

 

Hello!

I’ve been wanting to start a blog for a while. I think about it at night while I scroll through my phone. I come up with name ideas and post ideas, what my layout will look like, the whole nine. I fantasize about how awesome it’ll be and how maybe I’ll connect with people with whom I wouldn’t have connected with otherwise. Maybe my story and ideals can influence others or help them get through rough times. Maybe I can help someone feel less alone. What a great release it could be for me – to put myself into something that isn’t my children, something that brings me joy. It’s the perfect daydream. The thought of it gets me excited, it consumes me, but then, like clockwork, that excitement turns into anxiety. My brain tries to bring me down – it does bring me down and I think, “it’s just a fantasy. Everyone is doing it already. Why bother?”

GAH. Shut up brain!

I hear her again. “No one will want to read it and people who do might think you’re weird.”

Seriously, dude. Shut up.

And again! “You don’t even know how to do this. What would your first post even be? Do you even know? Would you just start writing? Would you introduce yourself? You’ll probably start out wrong. Just forget about it.”

My brain doesn’t shut up.

My anxiety swells.

I decide to not start a blog.

The end

Just kidding!

Who cares if everyone is doing it. Who cares if no one reads it. WHATEVER, DUDE!! If I don’t bite the bullet, it will eat away at me forever – those “what if’s” in life really have a way of doing that. So, here we are!

Let me introduce myself.

I’m Emma!

I am 31 years old, married and have two kids, Nori, 4 and Mateo, 7mo. My husband, Benny, is an audio engineer. He travels a lot for work. Sometimes he is gone for weeks on end, hustling hard at music festivals and concerts all over the country (and sometimes other countries too). It’s hard for me to be alone with two young children, but I am proud of him. Thanks to him, I get to stay at home with my kids and honestly, that is the only consistent thing I have wanted in my life.

I grew up in New Jersey and now I live in Portland, OR. It’s cool! I really like it here. I’ve been here for over 10 years now – I better like it. So much of my life has been made here – I met my husband here, I lost my father here. After I gave birth to my daughter, my mom moved out here. My closest friendships are here. Some of my lowest times were here but because of those rough spots, I’ve really grown out here. Sometimes I think about leaving, maybe to somewhere warmer – usually when it’s been raining for too long – but deep down, I know that I probably never will.

I think when I was first pregnant with Nori, that people judged me (re: low times). I’m sure a lot of people would share the news, laughing, thinking “oh my god. she is going to be a mom?”

By the time I got pregnant with Mateo, I’d already gone “full mom” as I like to call it. My husband has asked me, “What does that even mean?”

Honestly, I don’t know. But it feels like that’s what I did.

Motherhood is demanding, selfless, thankless. Your freedom is stripped, some friendships are lost, parts of yourself go missing, your relationship changes, you’re always tired and your boobs will never, ever be the same!!

Yikes. That sounds awful, huh?

It’s totally not though!! Motherhood is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

I hope to share my ups and downs, my ins and outs, my favorite things and my least favorite things, my ongoing struggle with excepting getting older, my ambivalence about my hair and my personal style, eh, the list goes on.

I hope you stay for a while and really get to know me. I’ve got so much to say.

The itch of pregnancy: A horror story

In 2013, I was pregnant for the first time. Our pregnancy was a surprise, but one we were happy about. We had just gotten married and found out that we were expecting the day we returned home from our honeymoon.

From that moment forward, it was smooth sailing. I suffered the usual nausea in my first trimester but otherwise, I got off pretty easy. Once my second trimester rolled through, I was feeling fantastic! I had so much energy, I felt like my bump looked cute and loved feeling my daughter’s movements in my belly. Life couldn’t be better! I had heard from friends that I should enjoy that time, since once you enter the third trimester you start to be uncomfortable, lose sleep and have to pee all the time. The way I saw it, those rougher times were like baby boot camp, preparing you to lose some sleep. I was optimistic!

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LOL I thought I had a bump. (forgive this terrible 2013 filter plz)

I started preparing a birth plan. Water birth, NO DRUGS, birthing playlist. My birth was going to be beautiful! Incredible! NO hospital interventions!! I was a strong woman, after all. Pregnancy was easy. I was eager to bring my daughter into the world *my way*.

As I entered my third trimester, I still felt good! I was peeing more and I started noticing that my pee looked darker than usual. I didn’t think much of it. I drank more water. No matter how much I drank, it still seemed a bit darker (maybe more orange?) than it used to be.

Around 33 weeks I began to notice that my feet would start to itch a lot when I’d head up for bed. I figured that my feet were dry, or that maybe the added weight was making the skin on my feet tingly since they weren’t used to it, by that point I’d gained close to 40lbs – who knows! I bought some nice lotion and started to take better care of my feet.

“Pregnancy is weird” I kept telling myself.

Don’t complain.

I felt like all I was doing was complaining.

Every night, I’d itch again and every night, it was worse. Soon, my palms began to itch at night too. My pee looked like orange gatorade – it frightened me, but I kept it to myself.

Within a week, bedtime would roll around and my hands and feet would begin to itch – so badly that I couldn’t sleep at night. I would rub my feet on my blankets and cry. When that wasn’t enough I’d move downstairs and scape my feet on our sofa cover. It always felt cold and had little bumps of fabric that really did the trick, at least for a while. This itch was so real that many nights I stood on the cold tile of our kitchen for relief, sobbing, contemplating scratching my feet with a cheese grater.

I called my OBGYN on call line one night around 3 or 4am in desperation. The doctor who called me back seemed unfazed when I told her what was happening.

“You’re pregnant.” she said. “You’re supposed to be itchy.”

I cried to her, “THIS ISN’T NORMAL! It’s my hands and feet, not my belly!”

She suggested that I buy this lotion called Sarna that people use for eczema. It didn’t do a damn thing.

My regular OB would be unavailable until closer to my due date. She was on maternity leave until week 36 of my pregnancy. I wished so badly that she was there.  I had chosen her as our doctor for a reason – in mine and many other’s eyes, she was the best. She would have listened to me – she always humored every issue I ever had with compassion and care.

The following night, the itching continued. My husband became super worried and called the on call line himself. He hated seeing me suffer! He was firm with the doctor and told her that something was NOT right.

The on call doctor took him much more seriously than me (hello misogyny) and I was able to come in the following day.

Still, nothing. She drew some blood and sent me home.

Week 35, the itching continued. My pee was still orange and now, my poop was white!

FUCKING WHITE!!

I was so freaked out. Every night I applied the Sarna, knowing it wouldn’t work and I had also started bringing ice packs into bed to lay my feet on so that I could sleep.

Every day I dreaded nighttime. Would I be able to sleep at all? Every night I cried. The fear of itching and the itching itself wasn’t doing me any favors. It was affecting my sanity. I felt depressed, afraid and out of control. I worried about my baby. Would all of my suffering and sadness affect her?

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One week before my induction, pretending to be happy, on my 27 birthday.

Week 36, to the day, my usual OB called me. I was so relieved. Finally, someone who would take me seriously. She had heard from her covering doctor what was going on and she knew what was happening and that it was, in fact, a very big deal. She told me that I had cholestasis of pregnancy and no matter what, DO NOT GOOGLE IT.

I googled it.

Cholestasis of pregnancy, or ICP, affects 1 in 1000 women. It is a condition in which the normal flow of bile is affected by the increased amounts of pregnancy hormones. Aside from making the mother miserable, the condition carries no risk for her and resolves after delivery, but the baby is not safe. After week 37, the risk of stillbirth increases steadily and induction is recommended.

HO. LY. SHIT.

I knew something wasn’t right!! I was furious at that other idiot doctor, especially for making me feel stupid, or like I was a whiny baby who couldn’t handle pregnancy.

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Those red blotches are areas where, I assume, bile salts are trying to leave my body. SO. ITCHY.

I went into the office that day and had blood work to check on my liver enzymes and another to check my bile salts. Even without the blood test results, my OB was positive about what was going on. I had all of the classic symptoms – the itching, the orange pee and the white stool –  so she took action. I finally felt cared for. I saw a light at the end of the tunnel.

She sent me for an NST (non stress test) and had me schedule to do them every 2 days. I was sent home with a prescription for a medicine called Ursodiol, which would help me excrete the bile acids and help to reduce the itching. I was sent home, again, with the warning to stay off of google.

I didn’t. I was torturing myself willingly every night. I was so, so afraid. I read so many horror stories about women who lost their babies. Women who had no idea of the severity of their illness until after their babies live’s were lost. Woman, who if only they had found out sooner, could have saved their babies and now were helping to spread what they know now to other women who may be suffering in silence, thinking what they’re going through is normal.

The bile salt test can only be read at one lab in the entire country, which is totally weird, but whatever. The results took a week to come back. Now, we were entering week 37. I knew that this was the time that my baby could die and that every following day, my bile salt levels would double. I was so afraid. At this point, I don’t know what was worse – the fear, or the itching. Looking back, I think it was the itching. It was making me feel insane, in a very literal way.

That day, I went in for what would be my last NST. My blood tests had returned and she was right, all of my levels were dangerously elevated. With these test results in hand, we were now able to schedule my induction for 2 days later, when my OB would be available to deliver my baby. I would be 37.5 weeks.

I remember laying in the hospital getting ready for my induction to begin, looking at the nurse and crying – asking her if this would help me stop itching. I wasn’t even thinking about my baby at that point. I was barely able to live in my own skin. When I remember this, it makes me so sad. If only someone could have helped me sooner.

Baby Nori was born 24 hours after my induction began. Both she and I developed an infection and had to stay at the hospital longer than expected. My placenta was in terrible shape and broke into a million pieces. To think, I had planned to encapsulate my placenta and eat it. When I asked my doctor if we could still save it, she looked at me like I was crazy but also with empathy and told me that would be a terrible idea.

I wouldn’t say that my birth was traumatic, but it definitely wasn’t the all natural, water birth that I had planned. I took all of the drugs and watched Naked and Afraid while I labored – NOT what I had in mind! But, none of that mattered. My baby was safe in my arms.

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Happy to have my baby girl and excited to stop itching soon. (2014 camera quality sucks)

With my second pregnancy, we anticipated that I would get the condition again and I did. We tested my bile salts every 2 weeks in my 3rd trimester and at 35 weeks, I began Ursodiol treatment and scheduled my induction. I was itchy, but not crying every night. I knew all the tricks and brought ice packs to my bed from the start.

Mateo was born healthy and neither of us developed an infection.

I don’t want to get pregnant again, solely because of cholestasis – I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone – but the two times I suffered through it were worth it, because now I have my two beautiful children!

*If you’re pregnant and have symptoms that don’t seem normal, seek help!! If no one listens to you, KEEP BOTHERING THEM! There is good information at Itchy Moms and also ICP Care that you can show your doctor if you think you’ve developed ICP.*