Father of 6 Shares: Breastfeeding, Bonding, and the Non-Breastfeeding Parent

by Jeremy Martin-Weber

This post made possible by the support of EvenFlo Feeding

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Six times now I have seen my babies experience the sweet bonding power of breastfeeding with their mother. Six times I have marveled at their connection. Six times, in spite of the struggles that accompany the breastfeeding journey, in spite of the pain, the latch issues, the horror of mastitis, the mystery of blebs, the touch fatigue that comes with nursing every couple hours, I have watched these nourishing moments of intimacy with a mix of appreciative awe, compassion for the struggle, and jealousy.

Even though I understand and accept the natural way of things, that women are equipped both with the ability to grow and nourish a baby inside their body and the ability to nourish that baby outside their body, and that men – how should I put this? – aren’t; even though I know this to be a fact of the human experience, I see the connection between them both before birth and after with a twinge of envy.

Especially with our first, I even wondered if I should just accept that my chance to bond with my baby would come… later. Probably months later. Hopefully no more than a year or two. It’s even harder when the baby obviously prefers their mother. We had one of those. I tried not to take it personally. I decided to be present and patiently wait for her to come around, and she did. Eventually.

We’ve all heard just how important it is for babies to bond with their mother, and we also hear how important it is for kids to have both parents involved in their lives as they grow up (for those who happen to have two parents). This implies that it’s essential for both parents to bond with their little ones. So how does the non-breastfeeding parent get started, especially when it seems that their babies only seem to need one parent: the one with the leaky boobs?

Because the breastfeeding parent naturally needs to spend more time with their baby than their non-breastfeeding partner (babies eat all day, after all), it can be very helpful for them to take deliberate steps to help the other parent connect with their baby. Even though it may be easier to just do everything yourself, and indeed, our culture still encourages moms to think that they should be able to do it all, so there is a level of responsibility and personal pride that comes along with not needing your partner to help at all (and guilt if you don’t do it all), that kind of attitude only serves to speed up your own burn-out and to hinder your partner from being an equal parent. It requires intention to share the responsibility of caring for a baby. Here are some ideas to get you started based on some of the helpful ways that Jessica encouraged me to bond with our babies:

  1. Invite your partner to join the snuggle.

I never wanted to intrude on the intimate moments when Jessica and our baby were cozied up on the couch, mouth to boob, staring into each other’s eyes. It was so magical, and I didn’t want to break the spell, or distract them from their moment. A simple invitation from the breastfeeding parent is enough to change it from an intimate moment with that parent and the baby to an intimate family moment. Your first family portrait etched into all 3 of your memories. You’ll be working on intentionally welcoming each other into all sorts of situations for years to come (like when you’re on the toilet, or when you thought you were going to have a private intimate moment with just your partner), so why not get started right away? I had heard enough about sacred motherhood and the importance of the baby bonding to its mother that I needed an invitation to be a part of it. Maybe your partner does too.

  1. Offer for your partner to burp the baby.

Inviting your partner to burp your baby after nursing is a great way to get them involved and give yourself a little break from the constant skin-to-skin contact from that cuddly hot water baby. Sure it may seem easier to do it yourself since you’re right there but if you share the experience you might have a chance to get up to pee, or just to stand up and stretch. And if your baby can’t go without that skin-to-skin, invite your partner to lose a layer or two. For your partner, burping their baby is an opportunity to unlock that natural baby-holding sway. Pretty soon they’ll be practically dancing (it happened to me, and I’m not much of a dancer). And you can enjoy the sight of them bonding together.

  1. Share the other baby care responsibilities with your partner.

Once you’ve shared the responsibility of burping the baby, you’re ready to encourage your partner to take on other baby related tasks, like bathing them, dressing them, and cleaning that umbilical cord. Of course, there’s no reason for the 3 of you not to share those special moments together too.

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  1. Share the secret of diaper changing fun.

In many ways, diaper changes represent the last stand of traditional parenting roles. Guys willing to do all sorts of things for their wives and children still draw the line at diaper changes. What those dads miss entirely is that changing a diaper doesn’t have to be about changing the diaper at all. It’s a necessary task that provides the opportunity for special parent-baby time. Most anything can be turned into a game, and any event can be a bonding moment if that is the intent. Diaper changes can either be a disgusting obligation, or play time with your baby! Pee and poop, or fun and games. It’s time to let your partner in on the secret. You may have to model it like Jessica did for me. But once I understood it, I was hooked on diaper changing fun.

  1. Encourage your partner to hang out with their baby  

There is definitely something special about mother & baby time. But the part I used to downplay in my mind is that there is also something very special about babies connecting with their other parent. Encourage your partner often to hold your baby, their baby: to babywear, to cuddle, to take a nap together, to hang out in the rocking chair, etc. Bonding happens through time spent together. Your partner needs some of that time too!

  1. Spend a little quality time with your pump

This isn’t a necessary one and it is totally possible for bonding to happen without any participation in baby feeding- until introducing solids, invite your partner in on that fun for sure! But if you’re going to be pumping anyway to return to work or to have the occasional bottle for you to go out, this could be one way to give your non-breastfeeding partner the chance to participate. I loved every opportunity I was provided to give our babies a bottle, and, for my partner who gets overstimulated by touch very easily, sometimes it was just to provide her a break from all that physical contact that could get a bit overwhelming. You determine how often it will work for you – whatever the frequency, it’s such a special opportunity for your partner to connect with your baby.

  1. Ask for help and then back off

Sometimes our greatest enemy is ourselves. This is so true when one partner claims ownership of certain responsibilities. Our natural tendency is to want to make sure that the job is executed up to our standards, even when we “allow” others to do it for us. We want to control the outcome. We micromanage. We say too much. We follow too closely. We watch incessantly. We are ready to jump in (or take over) at the first hint of hesitation. And we get stressed out, anxious, and even angry, when things don’t run  by our definition of “smoothly”. This approach to letting your partner help does the exact opposite of building up their confidence. It may discourage them from even trying to be involved. And you may end up resenting an uninvolved partner that you had a role in creating. For your partner to really bond with your baby (and by “your” I mean theirs and yours), you have to really want your partner to be involved. That means you have to get out of the way. They may not do things exactly like you do, and that’s ok. Give them space, provide information when necessary, trust that they have their own parenting instincts, that they will ask you when they can’t figure things out, and that they will find their own parenting groove.

  1. Enjoy the view and tell your partner about it

Jessica has told me through the years that she loves seeing me with our kids. She loves it when they’re babies, and continues to love it as they get older, all the way up to high school! She says that the way I interact with our kids makes her love me even more. Somehow me bonding with our children brings us closer together as a couple. And it’s sexy. Not that my interactions with my children are sexy, but that she thinks I’m sexy when I connect with our children. And hearing her say how much she appreciates the view, I mean, my efforts, boosts my confidence and encourages me to keep at it.

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View More: http://yourstreetphotography.pass.us/martinwebberfamily1

Jeremy Martin-Weber is the proud father of 6 inspiring girls, and is 20 years into a love story with his partner, Jessica Martin-Weber.

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#TLBloves – A Time to Focus on Love

by Ophélia Martin-Weber
#TLBloves pic 1
It’s time for #TLBloves!

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Valentine’s Day seeing it as a Hallmark holiday yet loving the excuse to celebrate and focus on love a little more while maintaining that we don’t need an excuse or a special date to show our loved ones we love them but still totally loving Valentine’s, chocolate, and flowers along with heart shaped pancakes and candlelight dinners but at the same time rejecting the commercialized pressure to even just HAVE romantic relationships and heart themed craft experiences for your kids.

Totally conflicted.

In the end though, my sappy, romantic side wins: it’s fun to see the whole world (sort of) celebrate love and it sparks that part of me that is encouraged that maybe the world is going to be ok because in the end it all comes down to love. That one day a brief moment to come back to and focus quickly on what really inspires me all year long and though I don’t need a commercialized day to celebrate and express my love to those that matter most to me, I appreciate the time when, for a heartbeat, the world seems to collectively agree that love is worth celebrating in the first place. I almost don’t even care that they’re trying to sell me something at the same time.

I’m a bit of an optimist too.

It’s true though, like most Holidays, Valentine’s can feel like an over-hyped, over-commercialized day based on one simple reason to celebrate: love.

There is value in giving intense attention to one specific area for a time. Such focused intention can strengthen a weakness, do the work required to heal hurts, build shared experiences, foster fresh energy, and create fuel to help sustain that area long after that time of focus is over.

And so it is with the belief that seasonal times of focus on a specific theme can be of great benefit for us and for our family, we’re pleased to announce that it is time for #TLBloves 2017!

#TLBloves focuses on what inspires us to connect beyond how we feed our babies, strengthening bonds with our other children, connecting with friends, deepening our partner relationship, and supporting each other in growing in loving themselves by providing them with information, support, and most importantly, community in action.

#TLBloves is a movement to talk honestly and openly about relationships and connection. With our partners, our children, and most of all, ourselves.

Humans have a deep need to connect with each other, forming bonds and experiencing love. But it isn’t always easy and sometimes it is downright confusing to be in relationship with others. With #TLBloves, we aim to provide families with community support through information sharing, narrative, and personal challenges. All free of judgment.

Following the inspiration of #TLBmoves and #TLBsafeKids, we are excited to share this new experience with you, The Leaky Boob and Beyond Moi communities, that focuses first on strengthening the connection we have with our families and ourselves, to key aspects that deeply impact relationships of all sorts. Join us on The Leaky Boob Facebook page, here; The Leaky Boob Community Facebook group, hereBeyondMoi.com and the Beyond Moi Facebook Page, here; and the Beyond Moi Community Facebook group (where we talk about just about anything and everything- particularly relationships).

#TLBloves appropriately launches today, Valentine’s Day, and officially will run through March 7. Though a meaningful focus on how we connect with others is never really limited to a set of dates, we will be focusing on what inspires us all to connect beyond how we feed our babies, such as strengthening bonds with our other children, connecting with friends, deepening our partner relationship, and supporting each other as we grow in loving ourselves, all of this through the sharing of information, support, and most importantly, The Leaky Boob community in action.

Be on the lookout for the hashtag: #TLBloves, Leaky guest posts, a vocal presence across social media (Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook), posts from our campaign ambassadors, relevant information and interactions on our sister sites, BeyondMoi.com, inspiring support within our community, giveaways, and informative articles!

Let’s explore the depth and strength of love in our relationships together, with #TLBloves.

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We’ve assembled a small team to provide a little daily inspiration and some real-life experiences as they focus on the love present in their relationships. Here are the six mamas (apart from myself) that will be sharing their #TLBloves experiences with us this for the next month.

 

Angela NavarroAngela Garcia Navarro

Hi, my name is Angela! I am a SAHM of 2 amazing kiddos, MJ and Athena. Bonding with my kids and loved ones in any way possible are so important to me. I am so passionate about breastfeeding because I know what it’s like on the other side wanting to have that special bond and connection with your baby but not being able to produce enough milk and have latching problems. Because I was unable to successfully breastfeed my son I was determined to do so when my daughter was born last April. And with the support of my husband I am going on almost 10 months EBF which is a HUGE mommy milestone for me! I am so grateful to have this opportunity to hopefully inspire others on their breastfeeding journey as well as help and learn myself how to strengthen bonds between loved ones! For an inside scoop of my unfiltered life follow us on Instagram.

 

Brianda TaylorBrianda Traylor

Hey everyone. I’m Brianda Traylor! I moved to Atlanta from Houston 3 years ago to be with my husband and start our family. We have a two year old daughter named Olivia and I am currently 35 weeks pregnant with her fraternal twin brothers, Owen and Benjamin. My husband and I enjoy going to car events and buying, modifying and selling old BMWs. A few days before Olivia was born my husband was in a serious accident that required an immediate spine surgery. (If you want to know more watch this.) Because of the stress of the situation my milk never came in and Olivia started to lose weight and was diagnosed failure to thrive. Her pediatrician wanted me to start formula but I knew I could do one better and give her donor milk. With the help with local mom groups and HM4HB I was able to receive donations and Olivia thrived only on donor milk and never had to have formula. It was a stressful time for our family and I’m happy to say everyone is happy and healthy now. I will be delivering these twin boys any day and I can’t wait to see what our nursing journey looks like! Thank you again so much for letting us be apart of this program <3

 

Kayla Nau headshotKayla Nau

Hi, I’m Kayla! My husband and I live in rural Ohio with out three sons ages four, two, and newborn. I have been in the Air National Guard for 9 years as a telecommunications and antenna systems journeyman, and I am a stay at home mom when not working for the guard. We strive to raise as much food as we can on our small farm, and live as sustainable and naturally as possible. I am breastfeeding my third child, and will be donating milk as soon as breastfeeding is well established. I am so excited to share a little insight to my life through #TLBloves and form new connections!!

 

Rachel Kirk headshotRachel Iglesia

I’m Rachel! I am a mother to 4 biological children (3 living, one angel), and a foster mother. I am married to a gentleman of the highest degree whom I lovingly refer to as “the Milkman”! We are a family that loves eating good food– be it from our own kitchen or other local establishments. I’ve been breastfeeding for the last 5 years straight and have also gotten formula feeding under my belt more recently with fostering. I write about my life as a mother at sherocksthecradle.com, post entirely too many food pictures on Instagram, and share random thoughts and stories on Facebook. I can’t wait to give you a little peak through the Window of my life via #TLBloves and share how my family loves and connects within our family and beyond!

 

Rebecca Zuick headshotRebecca Zuick

Hello everyone! My name is Rebecca Zuick and I’m the wife of 2.5 years to Alex and mom to Asher and Tobias, our angel baby. I’m from Florida but currently live in Texas and, even after almost 2 years, it is still an adjustment. Right now I’m a student, looking to finish my B.A. in Multidisclipinary Studies by the end of this year, and then completing the teacher certification program here. I’m also a nerd, bookworm, and caregiver to my husband who was medically retired from the army last year and our son who is still struggling with sensory issues and a possible autism diagnosis. Thankfully, Asher still breastfeeds, so we have that centering activity that he can turn to when things get too rough. Needless to say, there’s never a dull day around here! In 2015 I was blessed to be able to give birth to our youngest, Tobias, at 23 weeks and spend time with him before leaving the hospital. I love taking pictures of Asher and Alex, reading when I can find free time, and exploring other cultures through television and music. Someday I’ll actually be able to visit them, but the internet works just as well for now. I have a blog at thenerdymatron.com, which started off as an attempt to alleviate some of my stress through writing. I look forward to learning more about all of you wonderful ladies!

 

Jenna StevensJenna Stevens

I am Jenna, wife to Anton, and mother to Gianna, Athena, Evanora, and Oberyn. I also am a bonus mom to Jalen. I run a small home daycare and home school my middle daughter because she is Type 1 diabetic. My interests lie in politics, world affairs, and general interest insofar as motherhood is concerned. I have an amazingly supportive tribe of friends who have helped shape the person and mother I am today. Without them, I’m not sure I would have had the confidence to breast feed despite my previous breast reduction surgery. I strive for as natural a home as possible which, for us, means as fresh a diet as possible, no chemical cleaning agents, and open-ended, often wooden toys. I’d like to consider myself knowledgeable enough to know that I am always opening to learning new things and changing behaviors when new information is presented. 

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Meet our partners:

Indigo Willow logoIndigo Willow Breast Milk Jewelry & Keepsakes specializes in custom jewelry made using a mother’s own breast milk to commemorate her nursing journey. It gives her a tangible reminder of the time they spent nursing and bonding with her little ones. Indigo Willow offers many beautiful original designs.

 

Naked Nursing Tank logo

The Naked Nursing Tank was invented by a busy breastfeeding mom who needed easy access to her breast AND the ability to wear a sports bra for the extra support. The open-chest design allows a mom to turn every shirt in her wardrobe into a nursing shirt while keeping her tummy covered. Made from a bamboo blend, this tank can be worn before, during, and after a mom’s pregnancy, making it versatile and money conscious purchase. You’ll love the freedom and comfort this tank provides, and the ease at which you can breastfeed on demand, whether at the park, doctor’s office, or in the comfort of your own living room.

 

Dressed to Deliver logo

Dressed to Deliver strongly believes that every woman deserves to feel comfortable, confident, concealed and beautiful – before, during, and after one of the most important days of her life! Every woman should choose to wear what makes them feel like the strong, competent, confident and beautiful mom that they are. Our hope is that our 3-in-1 birthing gowns provide you with the comfort and confidence to enhance your experience of labour.

 

Nova Natural logo

Nova Natural Toys and Crafts strives to inspire creativity by sparking the imaginations of children and adults with materials that allow them to learn and grow together. We connect communities by bringing people together to play, create and explore in families, neighborhoods and across the globe. A key goal is to practice sustainability by working with small businesses and artisans to supply families with heirloom quality, non-disposable toys that support healthy lifestyles in balance with the environment.

 

Uberlube logo

Überlube believes in focus and simplicity—not just in our products but also in how we do business. Rather than modeling our approach on the restaurant that serves 50 mediocre food options, we are focused on doing one thing right, every time: producing the best personal lubricant on the market. When you use überlube you are using a product that’s all about helping you feel and be your best, whether you are enjoying a romp with your partner, hitting mile 19 of your marathon, or putting on the finishing touches for an evening out. Simply put, überlube’s first job is to make you feel amazing. That’s why we say “feeling is everything,” and why we expect you’ll agree after trying our product.

 

Evenflo Feeding Logo

Evenflo Feeding’s Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump is the perfect solution for moms with frequent pumping needs. Whether at home or at work, the Advanced  Double Electric Breast Pump delivers all the premium features and benefits mom requires and deserves. This innovative pump’s PerfectlyPure™ design is a closed system that prevents milk back-up in tubing, which helps to keep tubing clean and dry, protecting mom’s breast milk and making pump cleaning more efficient. Each pumping session can be personalized with the AdvancedControl™ technology, which creates 32 unique setting combinations of speed and suction for optimal control.

To help ensure a successful pumping session, it’s important to have a comfortable, correctly sized flange fit. The Advanced Double Electric Pump includes 3 different flange sizes from our AdvancedFit™ flange system to help ensure the best fit, with additional sizes sold separately. Evenflo’s PerfectPosition™ design includes a shorter nipple tunnel and higher bottle-to-flange angle that allows mom to relax in a slouch-free pumping position. The integrated bottle holders keep mom’s milk safe after pumping, providing an extra “hand” to protect her precious milk from spills.

Access to expert resources can help ensure a successful breastfeeding experience. Evenflo is excited to include the ultimate breastfeeding education with the purchase of your pump. Developed by our partner, Breastfeeding Expert Shari Criso (IBCLC, CNM, RN), mom receives digital access to two practical and proven programs she can access anywhere! Both Simply Breastfeeding™ and Breast Pumps & Briefcases™ have helped thousands of moms successfully breastfeed and continue breastfeeding while returning to work and are included with purchase.

 

Silverette logo

Silverette is the original silver nursing cup that has been crafted by fully licensed silversmiths in Italy since 2002. Silverette cups soothe and protect nursing nipples. They use the healing properties of silver to heal and prevent soreness, cracks, wounds and infections. They are natural, easy to use and effective. Just wear them on your nursing nipples between feedings and forget about them! No need to wash your nipples before latching and no creams or oils needed.

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#TLBloves pic 2

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Ask the Sleep Expert- Rebecca Michi- Sleeping Transitions for your Baby – Sleep In Arm’s Reach

The Leakies with Rebecca Michi
This post made possible by the generous support of Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper

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We asked sleep consultant Rebecca Michi to come help us all get some more sleep and we asked the Leakies to share their current sleep struggles. Here are a few of the responses, followed by Rebecca’s support.

 

My son is 13 months old and has co-sleept with us since birth. At first he was in a co-sleeper next to our bed and when he outgrew that he was in our bed with us. I’m feeling ready for him to be in his own sleep space because my back gets sore. How can we transition him to his own little bed in our room for now without traumatizing him and making him feel rejected?

Thank you so much for your support!

Ready to sleep alone.

 

If you’re beginning to think about making the transition to more independent sleep, now is the time to start preparing. Getting ready to make the move will take you much longer than actually making the move.

Make sure that your son is comfortable with the space you want him to sleep in, so set up the toddler bed and make sure he has plenty of awake/playtime there. Start small and increase the time as he gets more and more comfortable with it. You can play with him initially, but do work on moving away from the bed, you can do other things in the room as well as leaving for short periods of time. When he is comfortable with around 20 minutes you can work on making the change.

Make sure the mattress is on par with yours, if yours is super squishy and his isn’t he may have a tough time sleeping there as it is so different. You may want to buy a mattress topper or put a quilt or blanket on top of the mattress but under the sheet.

You could start with naps in his bed or just the beginning of the night. It is never an all or nothing when it comes to making changes to sleep, you can gradually make the changes. You just want to make sure you are being consistent with the changes. If naps are going to be in his bed, then naps need to be in his bed, especially when you begin to make these changes, changing venue one day to the next can be very confusing and unsettling and he could have a much harder time making the transition.

Good luck.

 

Co-branded Arms Reach- July 2016

My mother-in-law insists I’m spoiling my son by rocking him to sleep and then transitioning him to his own sleep space. Is this the case? He’s 6 weeks old and I just love this time with him snuggled up to me, I’m not ready to let it go. Am I ruining his sleep by doing this?

I appreciate all you’ve shared with us before, thank you!

Still Rocking

 

You are certainly not spoiling him, food spoils babies don’t! He’s only 6 weeks old, he’s just so new. I suggest you give him all the help he needs to get to sleep and enjoy those wonderful cuddles. When he goes through a really big sleep transition at around 12 weeks old (52 weeks from conception), he will sleep quite differently and at that point you may want to try for the elusive drowsy but awake, though I do feel that drowsy but awake may be an urban myth! Make changes when you are ready and enjoy those amazing snuggles.

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I love bed sharing, as a matter of fact I sleep better with him next to me and my partner and I love waking up with his smiling face between us but I have Problem …. Naps! I love laying with him but I cannot get anything done during the day because I’m stuck in bed with him. He will sleep without me for about 30 minutes but he needs more than that and I need to be productive! He’s 8 months and I can no longer spend a couple of hours in bed during the day. I want to do crib naps but he will NOT tolerate it as he will scream for 30 minutes with me next to him patting him etc. I don’t feel comfortable getting him to sleep and then sneaking away, in part because he won’t sleep long but also because of the safety of him alone in my bed is an issue, he wakes up silently and will crawl right off of I’m not there.

Thank you for your help!

Searching for a miracle Answer.

 

One day stay near him and watch him sleep as he naps, you need to know when he comes into a light sleep, this will be when he make a noise or moves and should be around 10 or so minutes before he actually wakes. Take a note of the time he begins to make those movements, that is when he is coming into a lighter sleep. At this point you want to be really hands on and help him back into a deeper sleep. This can take 10 minutes or more so don’t rush off. When he has got back down into a deeper sleep you can leave the room. The following day/nap you want to go back into the room a few minutes before you expect him to come into a lighter sleep, be hands on again, pat, shush until he is in a deeper sleep and then leave. As he gets really used to not waking up you can try leaving him and see if he can get through the sleep cycle without any help. It’s not a quick fix, but it is super gentle.

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Be sure to check out Rebecca’s book Sleep And Your Child’s Temperament and don’t miss out on the opportunity to participate in her Sleep Academy here.

If you have a question you would like Rebecca to answer next time, leave a comment.

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Rebecca is a Children’s Sleep Consultant who has been working with families for over 20 years. She is a gentle sleep consultant who doesn’t believe in leaving your child to cry-it-out when teaching them to fall asleep more independently. She is passionate about helping children and their parents build healthy habits so they can finally get some sleep. By transforming drama into dreamland, her mission is to help your children—and you—get a good night’s sleep.
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Ask the Sleep Expert- Rebecca Michi- Mothers, Restless Toddlers, and Newborn Nap Schedules – Sleep In Arm’s Reach

The Leakies with Rebecca Michi
This post made possible by the generous support of Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper

Arms Reach Banner Logo

We asked sleep consultant Rebecca Michi to come help us all get some more sleep and we asked the Leakies to share their current sleep struggles. Here are a few of the responses, followed by Rebecca’s support.

 

Dear Rebecca,

With my first baby my mother came and helped. It was nice to have her but at night she wanted to have the baby in her room to let me get more sleep. I was uncomfortable with it for some reason I still can’t explain but it was nice to get a little more sleep. She would comfort my daughter when she would wake, bounce her, give her the pacifier, change her diaper, and try to get her back down. If that didn’t work, she would bring her to me to feed. Several times a night it did work so I did get more sleep. But it never felt quite right even though I appreciated the sleep. My daughter is a pretty good sleeper and my mom says it is because she taught her to sleep as a newborn.

This time I know she’s going to want to do that again and I’m torn about it. Is this ok to do or are is it potentially causing problems? I’m just not sure.

Thank you for your help,

Conflicted mom-to-be again.

 

Hi Conflicted Mom,

How lovely that you have family who come and stay and help you with your newborn. Don’t worry, your Mom helping at night will not cause any problems. Having said that. Don’t do anything that is making you feel uncomfortable. Maybe have your Mom do this once or twice a week, or after the first week or two. If you’re feeling uncomfortable you probably won’t be able to relax and sleep, always trust your Mommy instinct.

~Rebecca

 

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Dear Rebecca,

Every night around 3am my 2.5 year old wakes up. I try taking her back to her bed but she’ll just cry and cry and I’m so tired I lay back down with her or let her get in bed with us. Sometimes she needs to go potty but not every time and she’s always very confused. If I let her in bed with me she’ll fall asleep and everything is fine but I wake up sore. If I take her back to her room she’ll be up repeatedly for the rest of the night. I don’t want to reject her but I need her to go back to her bed and sleep. How can we gently help her get there?

Sincerely,

3am Zmombie.

 

Hey Zmombie,

I would work on eliminating this wake up, as it is happening at the same time each night it is happening out of habit. That’s a good thing as we can work on breaking habits!

If she’s waking at 3am, you’ll want to set your alarm for 2:20am (sorry), go into your daughter and rouse her from her sleep, you don’t want to wake her, just bring her into a lighter sleep. Put your hands on her and rub her tummy/back until you see her move or make a noise. When you do, stop and creep out the room. She shouldn’t wake at 3am as she is going back down into a deeper sleep. Try this for 3 nights before seeing if she has eliminated the wake up herself. If she wakes as you expected her to you will need to wake her slightly more the following night as she wasn’t quite woken enough.

~Rebecca

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Dear Rebecca,

Naps, how do I get my 10 week old to nap somewhere other than on me? I love babywearing and I love holding my baby but sometimes I just need a break and would like to set him down to rest on my own or take a shower or something. He loves to sleep but only in my arms. At night he sleeps in the cosleeper next to me and I can transfer him pretty well after feeding but nap times during the day are an entirely different matter. It seems like he always wants to sleep during the day but it’s only in little bits here and there because if I try to transfer him he wakes up. I end up feeling stuck sitting there holding him until he wakes. Is there anything we can do or have we already made a bad habit we have to live with?

Trapped under a baby in the midwest.

 

Dear Trapped Momma,

This is very normal behavior for a young infant. I can guarantee that it will certainly not last forever. Sleep will really change at around 12 weeks of age (actually 52 weeks from conception).  At this point I would try for 1 nap a day in a swing or crib, the easiest is the first of the day. Don’t worry if naps are short, that is very normal as naps don’t develop until sometime between 4 and 6 months. In the meantime I would make sure you are swaddling your little one, making sure they aren’t getting overtired, dark room and have white noise playing as you work on a nap. You never know you may be able to pop them down whilst they are sleeping.

~Rebecca

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Be sure to check out Rebecca’s book Sleep And Your Child’s Temperament and don’t miss out on the opportunity to participate in her Sleep Academy here.

If you have a question you would like Rebecca to answer next time, leave a comment.

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Rebecca is a Children’s Sleep Consultant who has been working with families for over 20 years. She is a gentle sleep consultant who doesn’t believe in leaving your child to cry-it-out when teaching them to fall asleep more independently. She is passionate about helping children and their parents build healthy habits so they can finally get some sleep. By transforming drama into dreamland, her mission is to help your children—and you—get a good night’s sleep.
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How to Help Your Kids Love and Connect with Their Father After Divorce (Even When You HATE HIM)

by Shannon Streger

I will be the first to tell you, I HATE divorce!  I never thought I would find myself divorced, single at 35, whilst raising 3 kids under 8; but life is unpredictable.  There is a LOT of judgement out there when it comes to divorce. I know I’ve dealt with my fair share of critics, especially having walked through this as not only a Christian, but also, a pastor’s wife.

People told me I was “ruining my life”, that I was likely, now “damned to hell”, and the real zinger, “I had selfishly ruined my kids FOREVER”.  And, all this to scare me into staying in a physically and emotionally abusive relationship I had worked hard to keep together for over 17 years. I realized that with hard work and openness, my kids didn’t have to be “ruined” and infact, they could very well thrive in a two-home, co-parenting arrangement.

One of the first steps was coming to an agreement with their father about how that would look.  He was in agreeance we needed to work on having positive exchange and open dialog about our children, especially in front of them.  They needed to see we were on the “same team” when it came to parenting. I would like to share with you some steps I have learned towards having a healthy co-parent relationship that gives your children space to feel connected to their father, while still allowing you to “move on.”

*It is important to note: these steps may not be possible in every situation. If your ex is unwilling to work with you, the fact is you will only be able to do so much and if your ex is not a safe person for your children to be around at all then your path will look completely different.  

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Provide a means for them to communicate with him directly..and often.

In this day in age of smartphones and FaceTime, connecting face to face with someone is easier than ever.  While at times I find it tempting to discourage phone calls for the sake of busyness and staying on routine, this is a lifeline that could be crucial to showing your child you will not stand in the way of them building a strong relationship with their other parent.  It’s not always convenient but it’s important none the less.  We often will do facetime calls from the car on the way home from school or they take turns on the couch talking to Dad while I make dinner.  

TIP: Avoid calls when they are emotionally vulnerable such as bedtime. Sometimes you may feel that an exception is appropriate but be aware that this could potentially be upsetting.

You may opt for a regular phone call vs. facetime, particularly in the beginning.  I was given this advice early in my separation.  Seeing their other parent but not physically being with them can be confusing for young children.  At times too, when emotions are high, it can be a manipulative exchange and in turn will create an unhealthy relationship for the parent and child.

 

Share stories and point out commonalities.

As you find yourself healing from a separation and/or divorce, it is tempting to rid yourself of all things that include or remind you of your former partner.  You may even catch yourself becoming irritated at the very mention of their name.  To help my children feel connected to their Dad, I began making a point of sharing stories or pointing out common interests.  My kids favorite story about their Dad is “the roach story”.  I’m pretty sure my re-account gets longer and more dramatic with every telling.  They also love when we talk about where they got some of their distinctives such as hair and eye color.

TIP: You never want your child to feel that because they may remind you of your ex that you are rejecting them. Encourage them that the traits that they share with their other parent are ones you love, even if you don’t love it in your ex.

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Encourage them to celebrate special days and help provide a means for them to do so (birthdays, religious holidays, Father’s day, etc..).

Kids love giving gifts as much as they enjoy receiving them. Perhaps with little ones, give them each a certain amount to spend on an individual gift and give suggestions on things you know your ex-husband will enjoy. If they are older, this is a great opportunity to teach savings and budgeting, allowing them to plan their own giving.  But, better yet, a homemade gift goes just as far, if not further. Remember, this is their father, and gifts are a great way to express love and build a deeper connection.  Allow them to brainstorm what their father enjoys, his interests, hobbies, etc.

TIP: Let them own the gift as being just from them, not from you, no matter how much you did to make it happen. And then let it go, don’t expect your ex to make the same effort and don’t stew on that because this is about your child and their relationship with their other parent. You’re doing this for your child, not your ex.

 

He isn’t JUST their father; he is ALSO their parent.

Make a point to keep the other parent informed, whether that be phone, email, counselor, or direct communication from their school of successes and difficulties your children may be experiencing. You may now be leading your household alone, but it doesn’t remove their other parent from helping to guide and teach. For instance If your child is having a tough time making good choices, or is struggling with their friend connections at school, give their parent an opportunity to speak into that situation as well and address disciplinary problems. This will further cement the fact that as a two-home family, Mom and Dad are still “on the same playing field” when it comes to their parenting roles.

Tip: Do not take this as an opportunity to blame-shift or use the other parent as “the bad guy”.  This will jeopardize the co-parenting relationship and create a toxic environment for everyone! Also, do not make disciplinary decisions for the other parent. For instance, do not set restrictions that apply to their time with the other parent. Allow Dad to set his own consequences for his home.

We all worry about our kids and want them to thrive as they develop into the amazing people they have the potential to become. Even through divorce, your children can and will flourish and develop normally emotionally, and having a strong plan in place will help make that possible. This isn’t realistic in every situation, and that’s ok! Your children still have a strong future ahead of them, with your help. You’ve got this!


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Shannon Streger, a work at home mom, is the project manager for The Leaky Boob. She is a (not so proud) native Houstonian.  Truly the most un-Texan Texan you’ll meet. She has 3 amazing children who keep her days full! She has a degree in Kinesiology and Psychology from Houston Baptist University. Recently, she began the certification process to become a birth doula and IBCLC.  In her free time, Shannon enjoys road trips, anything outdoors with her kids, and 90’s movies. 

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A Focus on Love and Relationships with #TLBloves

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Announcing the launch of The Leaky Boob’s brand new movement: #TLBloves.

#TLBloves is a movement to talk honestly and openly about relationships and connection. With our partners, our children, and most of all, ourselves.

Humans have a deep need to connect with each other, forming bonds and experiencing love. But it isn’t always easy and sometimes it is downright confusing to be in relationship with others. With #TLBloves, we aim to provide families with community support through information sharing, narrative, and personal challenges, all free of judgment.

Following the inspiration of #TLBmoves and #TLBsafeKids, we are excited to share this new experience with you, The Leaky Boob and Beyond Moi communities, that focuses first on strengthening the connection we have with our families and ourselves, to key aspects that deeply impact relationships of all sorts. Join us on The Leaky Boob Facebook page, here; The Leaky Boob Community Facebook group, hereBeyondMoi.com and the Beyond Moi Facebook Page, here; the newly formed Beyond Moi Community Facebook group (where we talk about just about anything and everything- particularly relationships), here; and What Love Tastes Like, here.

#TLBloves appropriately launches today, Valentine’s Day, and officially will run through March 14, though a meaningful focus on how we connect with others is never really limited to a set of dates. We will be focusing on what inspires us all to connect beyond how we feed our babies, such as strengthening bonds with our other children, connecting with friends, deepening our partner relationship, and supporting each other as we grow in loving ourselves, all of this through the sharing of information, support, and most importantly, The Leaky Boob community in action. Be on the lookout for the hashtag: #TLBloves, Leaky guest posts, a vocal presence across social media (Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook, and coming to Periscope), posts from our campaign ambassadors, relevant information and interactions on our sister sites, BeyondMoi.com and What Love Tastes Like on Facebook, inspiring support within our community, giveaways, and informative articles!

Let’s explore the depth and strength of love in our relationships together, with #TLBloves.

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We’ve assembled a small team to provide a little daily inspiration and some real-life experiences as they focus on the love present in their relationships. Here are the four mamas (apart from myself) that will be sharing their #TLBloves experiences with us this for the next month:

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I’m Erica: artist, wife to Jeremy, and mama to 1 year old Jayden (you can check out #jaydenrobertalexander on Instagram to see his precious face and sweet fro), expecting another baby in September. I blog at e-everydayart.com

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image1Jennifer Spillman. 

I’m Jennifer: 35 years old, married, and mom to 4 (Hayley-15, Ty-13, and Sadie and Wyatt- 5 month old twins). I am an RN at an OB/GYN group having worked in the mother/baby capacity for the last 10 years I love breastfeeding education.

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image1Valerie Barr.

I’m Valerie, stay-at-home-mom to 3 (Anthony- 7, Lauryn- 6, and Landon-2) with a background in school counseling . We are an active family: soccer, basketball and baseball for the grown-ups, gymnastics for Lauryn, and swimming for both eldest children, and plenty of time outside for all!

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image1 (1)Samantha Barragan.

I’m Samantha, 28 year old stay-at-home mom to Ximena (He-men-uh) . We are a very proud multi-racial and bi-lingual family. I am passionate about babywearing, breastfeeding (and FED babies), and spreading awareness on issues related to social justice. I love to read and I love being outside.

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Meet our partners:

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Chompy Chic. Chompy Chic Chewlery offers unique accessories for moms to wear and babies to chomp on. Our stylish accessories are ideal for teething, nursing and babywearing. Chompy Chic is handmade in the USA, BPA and lead free, FDA approved and 100% food grade silicone. Keep those little hands and teeth busy with any of our accessories to avoid pinching and biting. Chic geometric style necklace are ideal for babies to teethe on who have emerging teeth and may need a little extra help on focusing on the nursing. All silicone is BPA and lead free, contain no phthalates, heavy metals or cadimium, 100% food grade and safe for babies to chomp on. Silicone is FDA/CE approved.

All necklaces have a breakaway clasp for safety and are intended for moms to wear. Products with small beads should never be left unattended with a baby. Inspect for damage to cording and beads before each use. Discard if damaged.

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Earth Mama Angel Baby. Earth Mama believes in the natural process of birth, and the healing power of nature. Our mission is to provide safe, herbal alternatives for pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, and babies of all ages, and to help educate people about traditional plant medicine and safe personal care. We manufacture natural and organic products that work, combining generations of women’s wisdom and traditional plant medicine with the safety and assurances of contemporary evidence based research. If it doesn’t measure up to Mama’s standards, it doesn’t leave the building.

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Kahiniwalla. Kahiniwalla is a fair trade company based in the US which distributes Pebble, a fair trade brand based in Bangladesh, employing over 9,000 women in over 90 separate villages. Pebble is made up of handmade toys, rattles, hats, nursery decor and more. Kahiniwalla means storyteller and we not only seek to create a market for Pebble products but we tell the fantastic story of Pebble’s talented artisan wherever we go. Pebble is truly putting smiles on faces around the world.

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Bamboobies. Bamboobies makes premium, eco-friendly breastfeeding support products. Our products address a variety of pregnancy and new mom breastfeeding needs and really work (as our growing, vocal base of moms will tell you!). Our products are created with love from one mom to many others to ensure that new moms and babies are happier and healthier, and so is their world.

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Milk Makers. Milkmakers cookies and mixes are seriously delicious and nutritious…with natural key ingredients that can help BOOST your breast milk supply.

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Baby K’tan.  Baby K’tan, LLC is a Florida-based Juvenile product company founded by two families raising children with special needs. With a desire to provide their children with the sensory nourishment they required for optimal development, while also wanting to carry their babies as much as possible for parent-child bonding, both families experimented with different baby slings and carriers. Improving and incorporating different aspects from various carriers that were already on the market, the innovative designed Baby K’tan® Baby Carrier was created! As time went on, the Baby K’tan family added new styles and accessory items to their brand and continue to increase their product line in various areas of the juvenile industry, adding innovative products that assist in baby-parent bonding and make life easier.

A percentage of the proceeds from the sale of every Baby K’tan® product is allocated to the American Heart Association and to The National Down Syndrome Society.

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10 Ways to Love Yourself, Love Your Life, and Not Lose Your Mind

by Brianne Martin

The alarm rings, I jump up, get dressed, run to the kitchen, make coffee and breakfast, wake the kids, prepare their lunch, pick out their clothes, and send the them off to school. In the midst of the morning madness, I make sure my husband doesn’t forget the leftovers from the night before, and a hot cup of coffee to go. That is just a glimpse to the start of my day. The chaos continues throughout the day with feedings, diapering, meal prep, clean up, dinner time and baths. As moms our jobs are never done and with hectic schedules it is easy to forget one very important thing. Ourselves!!!

Just recently I found myself sitting in my bed, but not in dreamland anticipating the sound of the alarm. I was sitting there crying my eyes out. I let myself go. I lost my identity. I was mom, and no longer had a name that I once belong to. I stopped caring for myself which basically had a domino effect on my family. Since I wasn’t taking care of myself, I slowly slipped into a dark bitter place. I was no longer enjoying my children and I was no longer my happy self. My attitude was affecting my children and husband in a negative way. My relationships with them were becoming unhealthy.

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To understand what was going on internally with me, I had to ask myself some important questions. Why did I stop caring for myself? Why did I put everyone else’s needs before mine? I think as mothers, we tend to naturally put our kids first. We tend to feel guilty when we do things for ourselves, but I am here to tell you to push the guilt aside! If you don’t fill your cup and shower yourself with some love, you are going to grow weary and become bitter. I know many of the reasons I didn’t do things for myself was due to financial stress and the cost to treat myself to something so luxurious as a spa day.

I decided to put together a short list of things you can do for free or almost free to fill your cup!

  1. Take a hot bubble bath or shower- Be sure during this time you are kid free and totally alone. It is important to find peace to regroup for another full day of adventures. (If it requires some bonding time with Netflix and your kids, it is worth it.)
  2. Give yourself a pedicure or manicure- soak your feet or paint your nails in silence or while listening to your favorite tunes. (Netflix can help with this too.)
  3. Barter babysitting with a friend- this will allow your friend some free time and you some free time and there is no cost involved for childcare. Us moms have to look out for each other!
  4. Read a book- turn off the television, close the laptop, and put down the phone. Get lost in a book for an hour while sipping on your favorite beverage. And don’t fret about the Lego pile that has magically appeared in the living room.
  5. Write in a journal- take a few minutes to write down things that are bothering you or things that make you happy. I find writing helps me feel free of things that may have been weighing me down. Doing this when kids have just settled for sleep even before doing the dishes or cleaning can help clear your mind.
  6. Get outside- go for a walk or jog. Breathe the fresh air, stop and look at all that Mother Nature has created around you.
  7. Borrow a fitness video from a friend- I know exercise is not for everyone, but it really is important for your health. It will help with stress and we know as moms we deal with SOME stress.
  8. If you like it and you wear it, put on make-up – sometimes make-up can be that added touch to lift our spirits.
  9. Get dressed up- take off the yoga pants and put on something that makes you feel pretty.
  10. Take a nap- If the kids are napping, leave the dishes and dirty floors, and climb in the bed and rest. Sleep really helps us in so many ways.

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It isn’t always easy finding time for yourself, but it is important to make the time recognizing that what that looks like for one person may be totally different from the next. It is important to love and care for yourself because in turn you can better love and care for your children. As moms the most important people in our life are our children and significant others. For us to truly love them, we need to love ourselves. Loving myself doesn’t come easy, but I will continue to work at it every day to be a better mom and wife.

You can find more ideas on ways to nurture the nurturer with a multi scenery approach here, when you’re in need of an oxygen mask here, 22 more ideas for taking care of you here, and that point where you have to do something here.


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Brianne Martin, a work at home mom, is the brand coordinator for The Leaky Boob. She has 3 children so her days are always full of activities and adventures. She studied American Sign Language at the University of South Florida. In her free time, Brianne enjoys reading and spending time with her kids and husband. They currently reside in sunny Florida. 

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13 Truths of a Bed-sharing Family

by Joni Edelman

Joni Edelman, cosleeping

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We share a bed with our babies. Actually two beds. We share two beds with our babies — because one bed just wasn’t enough bed.

I was a bed-sharer even in the early 90s when the Back to Sleep campaign was a newborn and the idea of an infant lying anywhere but a crib was gasp-worthy. How dare you risk your infant’s very life by being so foolish as to allow them to sleep in any position that deviates from flat on their back, on a FIRM mattress, without even so much as a blanket.

I ignored them.

Joni Edelman, cosleeping

This was before Dr. James McKenna told us, YES. Sleeping with your baby isn’t only OK it’s even good, even better. Since then Dr. McKenna has devoted his very existence (well, maybe not existence, but certainly his life’s work) to researching, writing, and talking about co-sleeping. Babies actually shouldn’t sleep alone.

I’ve put every one of my five babies in my bed, despite the finger-wagging, the “campaigns” set out to terrify me (likely in the name of crib sales), the pediatrician’s shame scowl. I did it because it matters to me, even if I get kicked in the face. A lot.

Joni Edelman, cosleeping

Bed-sharing is a darn good-time, and here’s how you know you’re definitely having all the fun that you can fit into one (or two) beds full of people:

  1. You wake up because someone kicked (or hit) you in the face. They probably didn’t do it on purpose — if it helps to know that. But it probably doesn’t help to know that because you are busy trying to sop up the blood pouring from your nose. It’s like a Game of Thrones episode — in your bed.
  2. You have sound, scientific evidence that your child(ren) have telepathy. They know when you’re asleep. Either that, or the sound of your deep sleep inhalation activates their Pavlovian response. “Mom is sleeping. QUICK. CRY.” (Note: This also holds in non-bed-sharing settings.)
  3. There is a towel in your bed, somewhere. Possibly more than one. The towel is covering pee. Because someone peed at 3 AM and no, you are not changing sheets at 3 AM. In fact, you may just leave that towel there for tomorrow when someone else pees in your bed.
  4. You know how to sleep with nothing but a corner of a sheet. Everyone is burrito wrapped in your blankets. You’re too tired to get up to forage for one. Sure, this 12X12 section of flimsy cotton — that probably has pee on it — will suffice. Who needs blankets anyway?
  5. You have mastered the art of sleeping, fetal, on the southeast 5% of the mattress. Forget that you are four times larger than your toddler. Starfish child cannot be bothered with your sleep needs. 
  6. You can sleep without moving. AT ALL. There is a nursing baby in the crook of your arm. Because A. you know they are safe there and B. they are face-to-face with your boob. The bar is open all night.
  7. You’ve given up shirts. The only thing shirts are good for is absorbing milk. And, oh hey, there’s already a towel in your bed. FORWARD THINKING. Achievement unlocked.
  8. No fewer than 17 people have told you “if you let them sleep with you, you’ll never get them out of your bed. And for a split-second you thought, OHMYGODNO, and then you remembered that the number of 16-year-olds sleeping with their parents is practically zero.
  9. Your bed is on the floor and you may have more than one bed sandwiched together. This isn’t a look you’ll find in decorating magazines. You no longer care about magazines, only that everyone will just Go The F*&K To Sleep. Please. God. Sleep.
  10. You have slept on the floor. Because bed-sharing is beautiful, but sometimes you are so terrified to wake up your sleeping toddler by moving them, that you’ll just sleep anywhere. See: Floor.
  11. Your partner has slept on the sofa. No, not because you’re fighting or they don’t want to be near you. But because the baby owns you now — and also the space where daddy used to sleep. Ownership: transferred.
  12. Your children have never slept on the sofa. They own the bed. This is your life now. Embrace it — at least until they’re 16.
  13. You wake up to snuggles. And you’re reminded why the bloody nose is (probably) totally worth it.

Joni Edelman, cosleeping

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IMG_0670 I’m Joni. I’m lucky enough to have 5 amazing kids (19, 16, 15, 4 and 2), one fantastic husband, an awesome sister and a yarn addiction. When I’m not raising up people I’m a freelance writer, RN, and the momma behind mommabare. Love is my religion. I like cake and crafty crap. And yoga. In that order. 
You can follow Joni on Instagram here and on Twitter here.
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Get Outside and WIN With #TLBmoves!

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Hey Leakies,

First, don’t forget, Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference is coming up and it’s not too late to get your tickets, plus I have a discount code for 20% off for you:theleakyboob.

Are you having a great summer?!  We are, we’re getting out and moving as a family. It’s been great too, not as hard as I expected and has had a powerful influence on me and my kidlets. We’re getting strong and learning to love our bodies together with #TLBmoves.

I had written something else for this week’s newsletter but what feels appropriate is sharing what is coming from our community efforts together. Because whether we’re talking about feeding our babies, sleep, getting healthy, preparing for childbirth, relationships, or really any other aspect of life, these ideas still ring true. This collection comes from our #TLBmoves community members.

A lesson for me… and for my children:

A reminder when I’m not sure I want to keep going:

A collage from a community remember that inspires:

Encouragement, for when my efforts seem small:

And this video that hits right in the feels.

We all need encouragement along the way and together we are stronger. Inspired by our children, we are pursuing wholeness for ourselves and society. Just like there are certain things I want my children to know about motherhood and feeding babies, so there are things I want them to know about their bodies, their strength, and their health. We can start by modeling it. They are watching.

Happy moving and happy feeding! To enter to WIN and Find out MORE- READ HERE !

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Six Meaningful Ways to Honor Motherhood and Our Children

by Jessica Martin-Weber
this post is made possible by the generous support of Baby Bee Hummingbirds.

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Parenting is at once a lot of overwhelming work and a precious beautiful joy. The saying, “the years are short, but the days are long”, while cliché, is so true. Each day can be long and quite frankly, full of actual poop. They aren’t always fun. And though they drag, they go by quickly. Amidst the poop, sleep deprivation, stress, and whining, there are cuddles, giggles, dance parties, and heart melting smiles. It’s the best, with moments that can be the worst. Worth every second of the poopy stuff. Though it’s impossible to enjoy every moment of our parenting journeys, there are so many special moments to cherish. I propose that we make memories, commemorate them, celebrate the stages, and create a narrative that keeps it all alive in our hearts. Inspired by the many ideas shared on this post, here are some of my favorite ways to celebrate our mothering journey and the stages of our children. There’s much to honor in our journeys, pregnancy, birth, feeding, play, sleep, and milestones or just the whole journey itself. What you focus on depends on what is the most important and moving for you, there’s no right or wrong way.

Journal
Whether you start it when you find out you’re pregnant or sometime after your baby has made their entrance, a journal to share with them later can be an inexpensive and meaningful way to honor not only their journey through childhood, but your journey as their parent. It doesn’t have to be filled with long profound thoughtful entries, brief, honest looks at that moment can hold a lot of meaning. If a journal is overwhelming, a baby’s first year calendar may feel a little more manageable while still helping you record those special moments. Some days are red letter days, some are green, some are purple, and some are black. Whatever color you use, using a calendar for a baby’s first year or two can be a precious way to look back at all their firsts and big moments in their start to life.

Photographs/video

You may start with documenting your bump growth or it may not occur to you until you see their adorable little face, but pictures are an easy way to celebrate the big moments and the most mundane. In this digital age we can snap as many photos as we like, it’s no big deal to scrap 30 shots if they don’t turn out and that could easily be what it takes to have that one perfect capture that immortalizes the look on your 18 months old face when daddy walks through the door each day. Same with video, smart phones make it easy to forever grab the moment when they first take tentative steps feeling grass under their bare feet and trashing the times when they refuse to put their feet down at all unless of course, that moment is a laugh worth holding on to as well. Saving these files digitally and converting a few into photo books or sharing with friends and family on social media lets you look through them over and over. While it can be fun to create clever staged photos, some of those more candid ones may very well end up being your favorites. Just make sure you don’t end up never being in the photos with them, you’re worth remembering in your different stages too so don’t be too much of a momarazzi and practice the art of a good #selfie and handing the camera off.

Repurpose

That sweet dress can be handed down to future children, future grandchildren, or passed along to friends and with all the clothes a baby will go through, you can’t keep them all. But a few can be repurposed, specially your favorites. A quilt made out of the softest pajamas, several pieces deconstructed into a whole new outfit, a scrap of that little onesie they came home in added to a shadow box, that cute t-shirt from your sister becomes play clothes for a favorite plush animal, or even just displaying that frilly dress as part of a room’s decor. If you’re not personally ready to cut up your baby’s clothing to create something new, there are many incredibly talented work at home moms that take custom orders that can create something special for you.

Mini time capsule

Take the hospital wrist band, a piece of the hospital cap, a snip of the swaddle blanket, the first pair of socks, or any other small memento and put it in a clear class ornament available at craft stores. Write baby’s name and the date for a mini time capsule ornament for a holiday decoration. Or gather similar items and display in a shadow box. An actual time capsule, hidden in the ground or even just under your bed or in the attic, can be added to annually, the contents reviewed together with your child on their birthday.

The talented Katie M. Bergen has a stunning collection of art that honors parenting and families.

The talented Katie M. Berggren has a stunning collection of art that honors parenting and families.

TLB admin, Star, has this tattoo to honor both her daughters and her mothering journey.

TLB admin, Star, has this tattoo to honor both her daughters and her mothering journey.

Art

If you’re artistic, creating your own piece of art that captures the essence of your parenting journey or your child’s spirt can be especially meaningful. It can be a continual work in progress, adding to it over time or it may be a complete work. If storytelling is your talent, a self published story book can capture your own unique narrative. If you’re not comfortable creating your own art, purchased art can be just as meaningful and some artists are happy to create commissioned pieces inspired by your family, you can find some on Etsy, and here are three of my favorites: Katie M. BerggrenKate Hansen, and Claudia Tremblay. Taking commissioned work even further, some may want to honor their parenting journey with ink on their own body. Whether they be symbolic or representative, tattoos can fit both your personality and your journey. I wrote about the meaning of my tattoo here.

Jewelry

A special piece of jewelry, intended specifically to celebrate parenting and/or your child, be it personalized or more general, is such a meaningful expression. Again, you can have one custom made and it can honor your parenting or child(ren) in a more general way (such as birthstone charms) or some specific aspect such as breastfeeding. A breastmilk pendent, created with your own milk, a curl bead the incorporates a lock of your child’s hair, or some other specific area of focus are all possible and unique you can find some at Baby Bee Hummingbirds. A designated necklace, bracelet, or ring, something you wear every day or just for special occasions makes for special conversations in the future. My children love when I wear my mothering necklace, it means a lot to them that being their mother is so beautiful and important to me that I have a special piece of jewelry just about that.

 

 

What would you add to our list of ways to celebrate and honor our children and our own parenting journey?

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