To You, Strong Mama.

To you, strong mama, who knows love.

You know what it’s like to wake up three times a night and still rise for the day with the sun.

To you, strong mama, who knows compassion.

You know what it’s like to carry and nurture a small life while facing poop, puke, endless dirty laundry and dishes.

To you, strong mama, who believes deeply in the future for your children – you are a visionary.

You see past the daily stuff, and can rise above a toddler’s melt down in the cereal aisle, to see a developing independence that will drive your Little toward great future goals.

You can look into the eyes of your frustrated kid and see passion and determination- things that will make the world a better place.

You can see past your needs and confidently walk into social situations without a shower in the past three days.

You, mama, have a tenacious love. You are deeply valued at home and in society. You are beautiful, brilliant and you are the perfect person for your important role in life- now and later on. For always.


Photo credit by Pixabay

The Top 10 Essentials For Raising A Baby: A list for the new parent.

I had my first, and so far only, baby when I was in my mid-thirties. It was a perfect surprise for us, but we both knew we were totally ready to be parents.  At the time, we had been together for 11 years. You’d think that was plenty of time to ease into the role of “parent”, but we were wrong.

There is no amount of time that adequately prepares you for taking care of a tiny little infant human. You just need to show up and do it. Looking back, we both reflect on the first three months of our son’s life as a blur. We were always tired, always hungry, and always asking ourselves if we were doing it right. I’d change that last part.

There is no “do it right” route. There is, of course, safe ways to keep your tiny human alive and healthy, which could be considered doing it right.  We did that. We just don’t totally remember it all. Then, right around the fourth month of his little life, things changed. We changed.

We began to understand our baby’s likes and dislikes. We began to understand our own likes and dislikes as his parents. We were still sleep deprived and still always hungry, but we were less concerned about doing it right and more focused on loving and living together as a messy growing family of three (plus our dog and cat so that would make five of us in our home). I think what happened during the fourth month is the intense love and awe that we felt, from the moment we heard our baby cry, started to win over the fear of being perfect parents. That made a huge difference.

Recently, when I friend asked me what a few essentials are for helping new parents with their first year, I crawled back to those first three months of my little boy’s life (and maybe I began wanting another baby, but we won’t talk about that now) and really thought about the essentials. Since every parent is different, because every baby is different, the essentials will be different. Right? Right. And, let’s define essentials as: making life with an infant easier and safer.

I jumped on Facebook and conducted non-scientific qualitative research. I asked parents to share the top four items they couldn’t live without in the first year of their baby’s life. There were so many on-point recommendations, and so much mention of legal stimulants (for the parents). I have narrowed in on the most mentioned helpful essentials and dropped them into a list for you or your friend, or your friend’s friend.

The Top 10 Essentials For Raising A Baby: A list for the new parent.

  1. Diapers and Wipes (Pampers was a hit, night diapers and cloth were major too)

  2. Baby Carrier (car seat, wearable carrier, stroller)

  3. Crib (Pack n Play, Fisher Price Rock n Play)

  4. Community (friends, family, trusted babysitter)

  5. Legal Stimulants (coffee, wine, beer, bourbon)

  6. Swaddle blankets (muslin wraps, Zipadee, sleep sack)

  7. Monitor (video or just audio, but more so video)

  8. Sound machine

  9. Pacifier

  10. Patience

Parenting is a blast. You’ll learn so much about life and your limits. You’ll learn how to love while also getting pooped on, literally. If you’re doing this parenting thing solo or with your partner, remember one thing: you’re not supposed to be perfect, you’re supposed to unconditionally love your Little. And, that begins with liking you. Plus, stocking up on the essentials helps. Cheers, to you, Parents!

Natural Birth Plan vs. Reality

By: Teresa B. Duffy

It took us two and a half years to start our family. Once we got over celebrating getting pregnant we signed up for a natural birthing course. It was helpful and empowering. The course underlined the fact that the human body is made to do amazing physical feats of greatness. Especially a woman’s body. #inawe

After the course we wrote up our natural birthing plan.

Okay, so below is our birth plan with updated insertions of “what actually happened”. If you’ve lived longer than five years, you’ll know that expectations and reality don’t always line up. And, with that, here we go….

Duffy Birth Plan (written in 2015 then updated in 2017)

Our main priority is to have a safe and natural birth for Teresa and baby. Below is a brief overview of our desired natural birth plan for bringing baby into the world.

Naturally progress: to progress naturally through the stages of labor and delivery.

What actually happened: I was in labor for 46 hours, three of which were “active” labor. That means the midwife said, “push” a lot. My husband and I took a natural birthing course in which we studied the progression of labor into delivery. Textbook knowledge did not translate well for us. Odd, because we are both educated people: me with an M.A. and him with a B.F.A. But, birthing a child is not like a normal education…it’s like, birthing a human. There are no tests.

Fetal Monitoring: to be ambulatory during labor, and prefers intermittent fetal monitoring with EFM or Doppler.

What actually happened: I waddled around my house, to the car, and down the hospital hallway saying, between contractions, “I feel connected to every woman in history who has ever birthed a baby!” I was so tired and walking hurt and showering was awful and sitting on an exercise ball was hell, so I was on the hospital bed for hours.

Cervix Measuring: the same medical personnel checks dilation, please limit the amount of measurement checks to ¼ of normal checks.

What actually happened: I think I had four different midwives and one OBGYN check my dilations. Someone should have been handing out Solo cups, because it was a party.

Medical Interventions: our wish is to avoid medicinal intervention including Pitocin, forceps, C-section, however if necessary for the safety of Teresa and baby, Tyler would like to be present.

What actually happened: About a day into labor a midwife said to us that we would not be able to naturally birth our baby, and to sign papers for a C-section. We decided to stick with our natural birth plan. Then about 30 something hours into labor I was given Pitocin. That was closely, but not close enough, followed by an epidural. Then at 46 hours, while I was all drugged up and had puked on myself two times, I signed a bunch of paperwork to approve a C-section. In hindsight, we should have done that way sooner, but both my husband and I are a bit stubborn.

Midwife: Tyler views the Midwife as a highly valuable part of the team to obtain the desired results mentioned above. Professional guidance in avoiding pushing too early (not fully dilated) to avoid a potential episiotomy, but if needed a pressure episiotomy is preferred.

What actually happened: I have no clue what Tyler and the midwives all talked about, but I think he did a lot of slow blinking, head knodding and definitely didn’t eat enough. He never left my side. Love him for that (and much more)!

Birth Team: Tyler and Teresa desire to be together at all times. They have trained together through the Bradley Method course and trained to anticipate the stages of labor and delivery.

What actually happened: We were together the entire time. It was awesome! He was up with me for two full days. Then, when our sweet baby boy was born Tyler fell fast asleep on the hospital cot for a good eight hours. It was nice to watch him sleep.

Attire & Food: Teresa desires to wear her own clothing and plans on drinking clear fluids and eating Cliff’s Shock Blocks or consuming Carbo Pro mixed with water as needed for sustenance.

What actually happened: Someone at some point dressed me in a hospital gown because I saw it in a picture of me lying on the hospital bed. I don’t remember consenting to wearing it, but in hindsight who the eff cares about what I’m wearing? I tried eating a lemon ice pop and I tried eating a some other stuff I don’t remember. I do vividly remember puking all of it up.

Delivery Position: Teresa would like to respond to her body’s needs and move into different positions. Recommendations from the Midwife are welcomed.

What actually happened: At one point there was a giant exercise ball between my legs and I don’t know why but I went with it. I remember feeling like a whale trying to do a downward dog at another point in labor. Nothing worked. I had no clue what I was supposed to be responding to.

Bonding & Cutting the Cord: Delay cutting until blood stops pumping; Tyler would like to cut the cord. Teresa would like immediate skin-to-skin contact with baby and start to immediately breastfeed.

What actually happened: At 4:59pm on April 12th I heard a sound that pierced my heart and changed my world forever. My baby cried after two days of trying to make his way into the world. It was bliss. I had tubes stuck in my nose, my body was numb from the chest down, and I was wearing a blue shower cap. I held my healthy baby boy as soon as I could and began to nurse him. I was alive and he was too. That was all that mattered. Also, I think my husband got to cut the cord.

Baby’s first bath: Tyler would like to assist the nurse in giving our baby its first bath.

What actually happened: As I mentioned earlier, Tyler fell fast asleep after his two-day-no-sleep streak. And, I didn’t know this, but they don’t bathe babies until a few hours after they are born. Someone with the skills of a babywhisperer bathed my sweet boy and then handed him back to me for endless cuddle time.

Original Closing: Again, we will be flexible on any of the above preferences should a complication arise. Thank you for your support.

More Realistic Closing: We were flexible, which actually is a really great approach to parenting in general.

| photo credit PublicDomainPictures via Pixabay |