True (Mom) Life: An Episode of ‘This is Us’ and My 5 Month Old Taught Me An Important Lesson About Worrying

I’m sitting on the floor of my living room on a rainy Wednesday, holding my son in my lap as he reclines against my chest chewing on a silicone toy shaped like a cactus. We’ve been sitting like this for a while now, longer than I can ever remember him sitting this idlily.

The past month or so has been trying. He’s five months old now and so much more aware of the world and of me. With this awareness has come a higher expectation of me in the form of entertainment, affection, and love. It’s made me watch those old videos of him on my cell phone, so young, small and docile. I ask myself, “What was so hard about him then?” Why can’t I even remember what it was? I only remember that it was hard and that – like now – I had no energy.

I’m sitting here with him watching the show “This Is Us.” It is an especially gut-wrenching episode involving family therapy and I can’t help but look down at my sweet boy and wonder all the ways I too am going to mess things up.

What will be the thing he throws in my face 30 years later that is all too true or hurtful but that I can in no way prevent? I don’t even know how to put him down to sleep longer than two hours at a time without feeling like I might be screwing with him. What about when he wants to play soccer? Will I push too hard or be too passive when he wants to quit after losing his first game?

I’ve been extra short with my husband lately and our son has been witness to it. More guilt. Another gem for therapy.

Is this considered screen time? Television show characters have been my window to the outside world, but he shouldn’t even be watching television at this age. Does this mean I’m setting him up to have a short attention span in school?

Seriously. These thoughts flood me in a single moment.

Will I be better in the future?

I’m holding him, thinking these thoughts, and they can be enough to cause a slew of mini panic attacks. I stop though. At some point, I remind myself to slow down, that the worry is part of what makes these missteps happen.

You see, in the whole time I sat with my racing thoughts, I hadn’t even realized that my son, the one who lately whines like no other unless I’m doing a song and dance for him, is sitting content in my lap chewing away on that cactus.

I stop. Savor the moment. It’s a victory. One of those little victories I like to record because it was so effortless and almost went unnoticed.

I can imagine that, in order to parent, each person comes to a point of acceptance that they are going to do something wrong. They are going to make monumental errors and some minor missteps. These will be sprinkled in between, next to, and straight up overshadow the victories, little and grand, throughout our lives.

I can’t avoid that. Maybe a select few Super Parents have found a way. But I don’t think I’m alone.

Moments like these though can bring me back to that acceptance. And that can help prevent me from snapping at my husband for leaving a dirty dish out. It can remind me to put down my cell phone, turn off the television, and talk to my baby, take him outside and explore. It will encourage me when I’m up for the fifth time in a single night to take a few extra deep breaths…or, you know, punch the mattress a few times (don’t judge me, it happened last night).

I think in therapy the step after acceptance might be forgiveness. If not, it still makes logical sense. After accepting my faults along the way, I can forgive myself for them. We all should.

In between these realizations, we also need to continue to celebrate. Celebrate the little victories, and also the errors. They each help us evolve into the fully formed parents (if such a thing exists) we are becoming.  

 

Stroll into Halloween: A Family Friendly Guide of Local October Events

If the Autumnal Equinox had you like…

…then you’ve already decked out your house in fall and Halloween decor, bought pumpkin flavored everything, and have your turtlenecks, booties and scarfs queued up for the slightest sign of wind chill.

The cooler temps and shorter days don’t mean that you and your young family need to be cooped up to enjoy this special time of year. Quite the opposite. In fact, throughout the month of October, there are tons of activities in celebration of pumpkins, candy, and things that go bump in the night. Read on to find out about some of the local family and stroller friendly events in the month of October.   

Bates Nut Farm Pumpkin Patch (Valley Center, CA)  

15954 Woods Valley Rd, Valley Center, CA 92082

All Month Long

It wouldn’t be fall without a good ol’ fashioned pumpkin patch outing. There are many to choose from but Bates Nut Farm’s truly has it all: hayrides, a straw maze, petting zoo and pony rides, food trucks, live music, and of course, pumpkins of all sizes! Spend a day with the whole family basking in some of these seasonal traditions at a venue that’s been doing this for over fifty years!

Kids Free October Safari Park (Escondido, CA)

15500 San Pasqual Valley Rd, Escondido, CA 92027

All Month Long

Throughout the month of October, kids ages 11 and younger get free admission (with an adult) at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. It’s not the only place where kids get in free during the month of October in San Diego. The San Diego Zoo, Legoland, Birch Aquarium, and museums across the county are dropping kids’ fees for a whole month. The Safari Park is promising lots of special activities during the weekends, and the free admission includes its Africa Tram! While this isn’t a Halloween-themed offer, you have to admit, it is quite a treat!

Legoland’s Brick-or-Treat (Carlsbad, CA)

1 Legoland Dr, Carlsbad, CA 92008

10/6/18 – 10/31/18

Not only is Legoland taking part in the Kids Free October offer, but the theme park is also celebrating Halloween season with the return of its annual Brick or Treat event. This year, the event is taking place even more days (9 days to be exact) beginning October 6. What is Brick or Treat exactly? It’s a time when the Lego-themed park transforms for Halloween with a trick-or-treating trail and scavenger hunt, kid-friendly spooky entertainment, music and fireworks, and more surprises.

Breakfast with the Littlest Pumpkin (San Marcos, CA)

3 Civic Center Drive, San Marcos, California 92069

10/13/2018, 7:30 AM – 11 AM

Enjoy a pancake breakfast at the San Marcos Community Center and play fun carnival games. Halloween costumes are encouraged so it’s the perfect opportunity to get more photo opps with your cutie pie in their costume! One night isn’t enough.

Pumpkin Plunge (Carlsbad, CA)

6565 Alicante Road Carlsbad, CA  92009

10/20/18, 5 PM – 9 PM

Who said the end of summer means our swimsuits have to go in storage for a whole year? One perk of San Diego living? Halloween events can take place in community pools! The Alga Norte Aquatic Center in Carlsbad is hosting its annual Pumpkin Plunge! For one day, the aquatic center transforms for some Halloween fun with pool activities and games with prizes, floating obstacles, and Key Logs. Not interested in getting wet and wild? Dry activities include a pumpkin themed bounce house, Floating Pumpkin Patch where every child will get to lasso and keep a pumpkin, ring toss, and a photo op. To top it off, the evening ends with a movie showing (Boxtrolls, rated PG) on a giant outdoor movie screen. Dinner and snacks available at the event!

Not So Scary Estuary (Solana Beach, CA)

2710 Manchester Avenue, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA 92007

10/28/18, 10 AM – 3 PM

Looking to get in touch with nature and have an educational experience in costume? Have a howling good time this Halloween season at the 7th Annual Not-So-Scary Estuary Family Discovery Day at the San Elijo Nature Center. This year’s theme is Changing Climate and will include performances about sea level rise, a zero-waste activity and animal meet and greets. Kids who come in costume will be invited to join the parade with prizes awarded. With all that and more inside the Nature Center and outside along the loop trail, this is sure to be a fun-filled day of memories for you and your family.

Dia de los Muertos (Oceanside, CA)

4050 Mission Avenue, Oceanside, CA 92057

10/28/18, 10 AM – 4 PM

The San Luis Rey Mission comes alive to celebrate Dia de los Muertos at a free family-friendly event that includes live entertainment, carnival rides, alter displays and a classic car show. The event includes tons of craft activities and carnival rides for your kids. And you definitely won’t want to miss out on the over 90 vendors and amazing traditional food available at this community event.

 

Blooming Gift Guide for Mamas & Mamas-to-Be

Ah, the art of gift giving. So often, this crafty endeavor is one of those things that either comes naturally to you or is a small form of torture. Which is it? Are you the person who has made multiple Pinterest-worthy DIY creations for your loved ones over the years, or do you rest more comfortably in the category of people who bemoan any special occasion that comes up too quickly on your calendar?

No matter where you fall on the above spectrum, there is an inherent pressure to pick the perfect item for that special someone. Even the best of us gifters feel the strain at times, which makes a trusty gift guide all the more appreciated when needed.

Babies in Bloom is in the business of supporting families from pregnancy to birth and beyond, and we’re pretty sure that from the time of conception to forever, you and your family will have plenty of gifts to give. Don’t you worry – support is here! Our one-of-a-kind curated Blooming Gift Guides are tailored to meet the specific gift-giving needs of our community.

Read on for our first guide dedicated to Mamas & Mamas-to-Be. Whether you’re invited to a baby shower for a dear friend or want to send a special present to a woman in your life about to give birth, this gift guide will help remind this new mom that caring for, honoring, and celebrating herself is just as important – if not more so – than the adorable baby that is about to arrive.

You’re sure to score some bonus points for thinking outside the box with these thoughtful gifts! Not sure where to grab these awesome items? Never fear, most are available at our Babies in Bloom boutique (in-store or online).

Babies-in-Bloom Presents:

Blooming Gift Guide for Mamas & Mamas-to-Be

 

  • A Rest & Relaxation

 

Easy Naps and Calm Nights Tea – $17.95

Every family needs this tea in the pantry! A soothing and relaxing blend that encourages calmness and entices sleep. Perfect to sip after a bath on one of those restless preggie nights. It also makes our favorite drink for overstimulated toddlers, mix one cup of hot tea and a teaspoon full of raw local honey to a cup of cold organic whole milk for a lukewarm calming treat.

A Little Something for Mama to Be – $24.95

Pregnancy brings it all on, so here’s special gift that says “I get it. This will help.” 6 piece set includes travel sized deodorant, body wash, belly butter and oil, and lip balm in a sweet reusable non-toxic, PVC-free plastic zipper pouch.

Fox Box Pre-Curated Gift Box – $32.00 and up

Fox Box is a LA based company started by three women wanting to create beautiful gift boxes as a way to create stronger relationships. With an assortment of gift boxes available, Fox Box is sure to have the perfect curated gift for the one lucky mom you’re shopping for. Take the Beauty Box that retails for $100 and includes a Bkr water bottle, Tony Moly sheet masks, a gorgeous BOXFOX rose quartz facial roller, a woven french market tote and rose facial mist.

  • Preferred Reading

Nurture – A Modern Guide to Pregnancy, Birth, Early Motherhood — and Trusting Yourself and Your Body – $18.95

Nurture is the only all-in-one pregnancy and birthing book for modern mothers-to-be and their partners who want a more integrative approach. Author Erica Chidi Cohen has assisted countless births and helped hundreds of families ease into their new roles through her work as a doula. This beautiful, comprehensive and judgement-free pregnancy companion covers everything from the beginning months of pregnancy to the baby’s first weeks. Including supportive self-care and mindfulness exercises, trimester-specific holistic remedies, nourishing foods and recipes for every month of pregnancy along with more than 40 charming and helpful illustrations, and expert tips for every birth environment, itƒ??s got everything modern mother would want to know: fetal development, making choices for a hospital, home or birth center birth, the basics of breastfeeding, tips on what to expect postpartum and more.

The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother by Heng Ou, Amely Greeven, Marisa Belger – $22.46
The first 40 days after the birth of a child offer an essential and fleeting period of rest and recovery for the new mother. Based on author Heng Ou’s own postpartum experience with zuo yuezi, a set period of “confinement,” in which a woman remains at home focusing on healing and bonding with her baby, The First Forty Days revives the lost art of caring for the mother after birth. The book includes 60 simple recipes for healing soups; replenishing meals and snacks; and calming and lactation-boosting teas, all formulated to support the unique needs of the new mother. In addition to the recipes, this warm and encouraging guide offers advice on arranging a system of help during the post­partum period, navigating relationship challenges, and honoring the significance of pregnancy and birth.

  • Mom Armor

Solly Wrap – $64.95

Lightweight, easy to put on, Solly Baby wraps give you and your little one unparalleled closeness and comfort, less crying (it’s proven!), and reduced rates of postpartum depression.                                        

Pregnant Belly Salve – $17.95

This salve effectively prevents stretch marks and relieves the itch of stretching skin. Wonderful for regular moisturizing in the mornings, evenings or anytime!

Organic Herbal Sitz Bath – $5.99

Take care down there with natural herbal compresses filled with organic herbs traditionally used to soothe and comfort down there during pregnancy or after childbirth. Packed in easy-to-use, individual herbal sachets, each one is perfect for one use.

Original Belly Bandit – $49.95

The Original Belly Bandit Belly Wrap features an uncovered, latex-free design with medical grade elastic to help slim and support your belly, waist and hips post-pregnancy.

  • Trinkets & Treasures

Vintage Pearl Custom Products – $35 and up

Our custom jewelry is hand-stamped with your names, dates or meaningful

phrases, making them a special keepsake. Our desire is to design and create beautiful handmade pieces and personalized jewelry that will connect with your heart and soul. You will love to give our pieces as gifts, we have the perfect piece for everyone.

Ju-Ju-Be BFF – SALE $108.00

This bag will be your BFF. It has tons of pockets and organization…so much you won’t know what to do with it all. The BFF comes with detachable shoulder straps and messenger straps.

Rotunda Bag – $84.95

Our sophisticated Rotunda diaper bag brings you an elegant combination of style and thoughtful function while you’re out and about with your little one. It’s a classic piece you can flaunt even after you’re done changing diapers.

 

  • Breastfeeding Gifts

 

Nursing Pillow – $43.95

The My Brest Friend Original Nursing Pillow was developed in a laboratory of new moms, babies, and breastfeeding experts who set out to create a nursing pillow whose sole purpose was to answer all the needs of nursing moms and babies. 50 prototypes and a global patent later, the nursing pillow is loaded with features moms love.

Simple Wishes Hands Free Pumping Bra – $38.95

The Signature Hands Free Pumping Bra gives moms the valuable gift of time by freeing up their hands for other tasks or allowing them to simply relax while using their breast pump. The patented design is adjustable in size, using high quality Velcro, to sustain a perfect fit over time as a nursing mother’s size changes. Straps and 1” Center Panel included to help achieve the perfect fit!

Adjustable Nursing Stool – $33.95

My Brest Friend’s nursing stool can help a breastfeeding mother minimize lower back, shoulder, neck, and wrist pain by helping her to maintain a supportive, comfortable position while nursing.

5 Things The Baby Blogs Do Not Tell You About Life With A Newborn

Real Talk: A lot’s about to change and fast.  

You’re pregnant with your first child and counting down the days before their arrival. You can’t help but click on any and all articles about those early days of parenthood. You want to be prepared. You want to minimize surprises. No one wants to be blindsided, especially with a baby. Those articles you’re reading might be helpful but one glaring truth remains: there were some big omissions I noticed too late (i.e. after I had my baby). Have no fear. Compiled below are the top five things I would have liked to know and you’ll be glad you heard from me before your newborn arrives.

 

1) Breast milk will get everywhere

 

If you’re using formula, you can substitute the headline, but I’m certain the same truth holds up. Between my breasts having some quite literal growing pains in the early weeks and months following childbirth, and the need for pumping between feeds, breast milk had taken over my life. It will take over yours too. Plan for it, don’t be surprised by it, embrace it.

Also, embrace the white splotches and blotches all over the place. Seriously, just the other day, I stared at my tile wondering what could possibly be the cause of the faint but definitely creamy dried splatter trailing down the hall. Didn’t take long to remember a week or so before, I had to run upstairs mid-pump session to get my baby because he woke up from his ten minute nap. Where else have I found remnants of my liquid gold? The inside of my overnight duffle bag (no idea how it got there). In the fridge. Around the fridge. All over my clothes. The bathroom mirror. Kitchen countertop. A cutting board. Our mattress and bed frame. The nightstand. My cell phone. The steering wheel. You get the idea right?

And, if you’re like me, and cleaning takes a backseat during this time of constant learning, little sleep, and bonding, you’ll get used to these spots, splats, and splotches becoming permanent fixtures in your home. At least for an unforeseeable length of time.

2) TV will become your (new) best friend

Maybe you already know each other. You spend time together at the end of the night after a long day’s work, or you enjoy binge watching five seasons of your favorite show in one weekend together. Your television or cell phone, iPad, computer screen is not necessarily something new to you.

What will be new is your dependence on it and the frequency of your get-togethers after your baby arrives.

I don’t know why this was such a shock to me, but I distinctly remember, within the first week or two of motherhood getting really upset. NO ONE TOLD ME that I wouldn’t have the use of my free hands anymore. Before I had my baby, I remember thinking I would spend my maternity leave reading lots of books, sleeping when the baby slept, and knitting, or writing, or drawing, or painting. I would have so much free time, I told myself.

Expectation soon met reality. Holding my cell phone with one hand was sometimes virtually impossible with a newborn. My story of postpartum mommydom included breastfeeding challenges to include nipple shields, SNS tubes, pumping between feeds, and all the other stuff you have to do with a baby too. So, most of my days involved holding a baby with one hand and eating with the other, or holding a syringe in my mouth, squeezing my boob with one hand and cradling my newborn as he attempted to latch with the other. My life revolved around the two hour required feedings, feedings that averaged a half hour a piece, and his naps meant it was time for me to pump. Whatever version of motherhood you may be blessed with, you will probably sit for an inordinate amount of time doing some combo of any of the above. You will need to turn to something for company, and that something will be your TV because your baby is really a pretty boring, albeit very cute and squishy, blob right now.

Stock up on some shows and movies you’re excited to watch because that will be your life. 24 hours of the day. Okay, maybe minus the two hours you get to sleep. I’m serious. During this time, I had Netflix and Hulu and ABC apps downloaded to my phone even, because night feedings and night pumping meant that I had to stay awake and focused on very little sleep in the dark next to my peacefully sleeping husband. You need some real exciting entertainment for that to even be remotely possible.

3) You should learn how to go to the restroom one-handed

Picture this: you’re in the middle of a grocery run with your baby in tow when your bladder starts sending you distress signals. You head over to the restroom and are reminded that your cart and all the unpurchased items are not allowed inside. You grab your baby, head to the nearest stall, lock the door, and what happens next is a not-so-fun game of Choose Your Own Adventure.

Don’t believe me? Try unbuttoning your bottoms, shimmying them down, doing your business, hoisting them back up, and re-buttoning gracefully one-handed all while holding your baby with the other arm. Not so easy, huh?

Until more businesses take this issue seriously and install these in their restroom stalls, you’re going to find yourself in this predicament more often than you realize. Changing tables aren’t safe enough to step that far away from your baby, and even though there are times that your stroller comes in clutch with the baby-holding assist, you can’t always rely on your handy dandy baby carrier on wheels. One day you will need to purchase more items than a stroller can carry, or you’ll just be running in for a quick trip and don’t want to lug around that heavy stroller, or you forgot it, or your child is going through an anti-stroller phase. You might even be in for a total treat and have a child who has decided to be stuck to you 24/7 even at home and won’t let you put them down even for a potty break. Rest assured, it will happen to you. Your time will come, it will come many times, and when it does, you’ll think back to this very moment and at least acknowledge that someone out there warned you.

Public Service Announcement: One possible solution is to wear your baby whenever possible in a baby carrier, ring sling or wrap. While the challenges outlined above won’t be completely absolved, you are granted the freedom of two working hands which makes a huge difference!

4) Your living room is really boring

Don’t take this statement personal, so is mine. So is anyone’s once you spend multiple days in a row, hours on end in that same small space. If you have your baby in the middle of the summertime heatwave, or live somewhere that has Snow Days and give birth in the winter, then you could literally be stuck inside your home and have no choice. Even in your unique situation, there is a good chance you have more than one room in the house. Staring at the same walls, the same furniture, the same decor, looking out the same windows, will start to get to you.

For your sake, and for your baby’s sake, rotate rooms throughout the day. Spend your first couple hours in the bedroom, move to the living room, spend some time in your kitchen, the patio, your guest room, the office, the nursery. Use the space you have and hang in each corner. Changing the scenery will work wonders for your mental state.

When you feel up to it, get outside, explore your neighborhood, drive around, and breathe in some fresh air at least once or twice in the day. You have to be intentional about it. If you’re not, you may find yourself realizing it’s been a couple days since you’ve ventured outdoors (I see you; checking the mail doesn’t count).

5) Making your bed every morning might be all you accomplish in a day

It goes without saying that caring for a human being is an accomplishment in and of itself, but in case you’re striving to get more done every 24 hour cycle, it’s time to face a hard truth. Here it goes: You can’t do it all, so don’t even try. I don’t care who you are or how wonderful you are because I thought I was a pretty close at making doing it all look easy. I prided myself on cooking all meals at home, working long hours, keeping my house clean, and still had a social life. Any semblance of that changed real quick after giving birth. Don’t get me wrong, things are still pretty tidy, and I found a way to still cook here and there after a few weeks to recover, but gone is the unnecessary burden of a do it all lifestyle.

Almost a year in and I’m finally coming to a sense of acceptance over what I can do and can’t. I can be present for my baby but I can’t if I insist on having laundry, dishes, and everything clean each day. So, I choose baby more times than not. I’ve learned to have some non-negotables that help me feel accomplished no matter what I get done or don’t get done in the day: make the bed and brush my teeth. I do this right after I put down my son for his nap (because I can’t control how long he will sleep, but I can count on at least 20 minutes even on a bad day). Sometimes I even shower, get work done, make a phone call too. But I don’t count on those things and that helps set my mind at ease and shape my perspective.

There are advocates who swear making the bed each day is the key to success. But, honestly, if it isn’t important to you, choose two things that are and stick with them, no matter what, each day.