Tag Archives: breastfeeding

When “Best Man Holiday” Hits Home

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Sixty plus degrees..less than a week from Christmas… in DC? There was something distinctly surreal about that day. As I walked to the church (that fact that we lived so close, struck me as a bit odd) the warmth of the day and the bright sun in December, made each step forward even more unbelievable.

Our friendship was not born out of the fun of college experiences like the blockbuster hit, Best Man Holiday, but through navigating our new lives as young families. I was on maternity leave after having G1 and my esthetician/friend Germaine, told me about Mocha Moms. I attended my first meeting when G1 was 3 months old and 12+ years later, I am still a member and credit my early years with Mocha Moms for giving me my ‘Mommy Roots’. At the anchor of these roots is the Utsey family.

As a young, African American, professional, married woman, I had never been exposed to a group of people of color who were so…different. From discipline, to diet, I learned how to be open minded and explore ideas that were not necessarily the ‘norm’ in our culture. Monica Utsey, the Vice-President of the first chapter I belonged to, and then (and still) President of the second chapter I helped to charter (my first introduction to the term ‘crunchy granola’, lol!) led the way with many of the ‘unconventional’ approaches to family life.  Normal duration breastfeeding, attachment parenting, co-sleeping, alternative/natural remedies, stay-at-home moms, marriage support groups, my on and off again vegetarian eating :), homeschooling, natural/non-medicated births, natural hair, the importance of knowing more than Martin Luther King Jr. as it pertains to African history, and self-employment/entrepreneurism, were all values that were either supported by or in some cases introduced by the Utsey family. I would always say that we were a subculture of our community; it is where the concept  of ‘Off Da Chain and Outta Da Box’ was birthed.

When you live ‘against the grain’, it takes a special kind of man to have the confidence to respond to the critics and live life on your family’s terms. “Everyday I’m Hustling”, was the song that reminded the Pastor of Eric, Monica’s husband. Eric was time enough for anyone who wanted to challenge his family’s choices. He did what he had to do to support his family and provided the much needed ‘comic relief’ when he was around. Our marriage group was always live and poppin’ with the Utseys in attendance, lol! We all shared our stories with transparency and a deep desire to make our marriages work, but Monica and Eric always seemed to bring humor, even to the serious stuff.

It had been almost 6 years since Eric experienced a severe stroke. We were living in Georgia at the time and over the years, we stayed connected to the Utsey family and even visited Eric when he was in rehab (he was still able to tell me exactly how to get from NW DC to Potomac, MD lol!). Since returning to Georgia a few months ago, we had the honor of seeing Eric a few times, he had some physical limitations, but we all just knew that the worst was behind him and although it was a seemingly slow process, he was recovering. So it was shocking to me to get a call from a fellow Mocha Mom to tell me about his sudden passing, at the age of 47. Three days prior, Monica and I were planning to get together for a Yoga class and breakfast because I had reached out to her to share some of the challenges I was experiencing in relation to the loss of my mother (see previous post), something I knew she could relate to after recently losing her mom, grandmother, and grandfather, within months of each other. The weather was bad that day, so we decided to reschedule. After getting the call, almost immediately my own challenges took a back seat, and I set out to go see her.

As I sat in the church and remembered the little, rambuctious toddler and watched him basically officiate his father’s funeral with such maturity (he’s now 13) the tears wouldn’t stop (although there were some hilarious stories shared that did make me laugh…a lot, including all the Philly references, something Eric and I had in common.) I glanced around and saw mama after mama, some couples from our marriage group, and of course, the once babies, now big children that I was connected to primarily because of the Utsey family and the importance of them in my life just magnified. It wasn’t under the best circumstances, but it was a reunion none the less. The pastor (who was good friends with Eric) shared during the eulogy that Eric felt deserted after he had the stroke. Some friends didn’t come around anymore. We were reminded of Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loves at all times….” and challenged not to allow another friend to go through something without supporting them when they needed it most. ODC has done an awesome job of garnering financial support for the Utseys, and as a major beneficiary of their investment in community, I was compelled to share our connection. Over the past few years Monica has had more than her ‘fair share’ of challenges; the pre-mature delivery of her son Ayinde, Eric’s stroke, Zion’s car accident, the loss of her mother, grandmother and grandfather, and now this. I know that God will give her the strength to move her family forward, but as we approach Christmas Day, thank you to all who gave, and if you haven’t, would you please consider a gift to her as she now faces life as a widow with 2 young sons? Payments can be made via PayPal to motherjegna@msn.com. May Christ be lifted up during this time of year and the gift of hope and peace be given to the Utsey Family and us all.

ODB

Not JUST another BABY!!!

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A child is born….

And this is not JUST another BABY!!

I woke up and opened my computer to a Facebook picture of two of the most wonderful children I have ever met hovering over their only minutes old baby sister.  I immediately became filled with emotions and began to cry….I mean a hard cry.  Tears that only come once in a while, and in this case, for a wonderful reason.  Though there are children born every second somewhere in the world it is not often that children get to be born to such a wonderful set of Parents, as this family.  I have been able to sit back and watch this family raise their oldest son and now middle daughter and this new young sweetheart is in the best of company.

This was an awesome way to start my day and I just want to say CONGRATULATIONS TO THE PARENTS and the Papparazzi brother and sister.  I just hope they have many more children to bless this world and you might want to save this post, because I promise you…

This is NOT JUST ANOTHER BABY!

ODC

As We….Proceed: Part 2

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If you didn’t read Part 1, please start here.

She kept circling my stomach. We could hear my heartbeat. She asked me if I was ok, and told her I was. She tried for another minute or so and then she said she thought it was just too early. Hmmmm. She blamed it on her doppler. It wasn’t the most sophistacted. I cautiously accepted it, but I had never ‘not’ heard any of my babies through a doppler. I tried to remember how early it had been detected previously. Of course I googled “How soon can a doppler pick up a heartbeat”. That didn’t help.

I walked out to the truck (ODC and G4 stayed in the car because she was sleeping) and ODC gave me the thumbs up through the glass. It was like he was asking was everything ok. When I got in the car, I told her she didn’t get a heartbeat, but it was probably just too early. We stopped at IHop on the way home. (More comfort food). I tried to sort out my feelings. Maybe I really wasn’t pregnant! My life could go on without trying to figure out how I could ever get a sitter for 5 children. Who in the world actually works with 5 children?!?, I asked myself. ODC was pretty low key about everything, but made it clear that he wouldn’t be ok if something was wrong.

It was Saturday morning and I was going to run at Stone Mountain. I was going to take G4 with me in the jogging stroller. I put her on the potty and then I went to the bathroom. Whoa..is this blood? I called ODC. I was bleeding. I tried to remain calm and decided that I better not go run so I spent the rest of the day in bed. I called my midwife, who I had seen the week before and she told me to wait and see. I knew it was too late for implantation bleeding and of course good old Google helped me find several stories from women who bled throughout their pregnancy or at one time or another and went on to have healthy babies. I spent alot of time talking to one of my closest friends. She had recently expereinced two miscarriages and she was very supportive, informative and most importantly, positive.

The next day, I was still bleeding. I decided to stay home from church and take it easy. When Monday arrived and the bleeding continued, I knew it was time to go to the doctor. (OBs are for problems, midwives are for normal births.)

Thankfully I was able to get an appointment for that same afternoon. We found a sitter for the Gs and ODC and I made our way to the doctor’s office. I was starting to get nervous. Even though I wasn’t thrilled about being pregnant, AGAIN, I never thought that I could LOSE the baby! We get called back and everyone is treating me like this is a routine, first prenatal visit. All the normal questions and precautions were given. I was even offered prenatal vitamins. I was feeling optimistic. I was told that they noticed some blood in my urine, but couldn’t be sure if there was an issue without some further checking.

I had not had an ultrasound since G1, over 10 years ago. I was a first time mom, and although we didn’t want to know the sex, I just assumed it was required. My subsequent midwives made it more optional, and since there were no problems, we didn’t elect to have one. My body was literally trembling, I was so nervous, “just let there be a heartbeat”. The doctor pointed out some things I can’t remember, then finally, she pointed to the baby. Deep exhale. That day, I was 11 weeks pregnant, but the baby was measuring 7 weeks and there was no heartbeat, it was a “missed miscarriage”. 

The doctor was very sincere and shared that she too had experienced a miscarriage more than once. I was doing ok. ODC, of course, was my rock. She gave us a minute to determine whether or not we wanted to schedule the D&C. I started feeling like I didn’t have enough time to process it all. I was scheduled to go back to NY soon and didn’t know if I wanted to risk the uncertainty of things so far from home. I had some blood work done, just in case, and we left. This was a time I desperately missed my mom. I needed to hear her voice, her genuine concern, and her reliable words of comfort.

Once I was in the car, it actually hit me and the tears began to fall. In my mind, I thought I would find out that everything was fine, or the whole thing was a fluke; I was never pregnant to begin with! I wasn’t crazy about my menopause theory, but it would have been better than this! I started reflecting on the past few weeks, and how things never seemed quite right. I would always tell people “I’m not worried, but I am concerned that I don’t have any real symptoms”.  I recalled how on that prior Friday, the day before the bleeding started, I came home from the gym, dropped my bag and immediately started cleaning the kitchen, for about four hours!  I cleared the clutter, I rearranged things (this was not normal for me, I struggle with the domestic side of things). It was like the typical nesting that happens right before you give birth. My body knew.

ODC had an emotional moment, but immediately went into supporter mode. Krispy Kreme, Chick-fi-la AND Zaxby’s were the stops we made before going home to break the news to the Gs. (Do you see the reoccurring theme of comfort food throughout this 🙂 ).

The girls were heartbroken. They were so disappointed. They cried. They asked a lot of questions; “Where is the baby now?” “Was it a boy or a girl?” ODC and I tried to answer the best that we could. But like most children, they are very resilient and by the next day their main question was “Where are we going today?”

We decided to forgo the D&C and thanks to God’s mercy, my trip back to New York the following week, was conveniently canceled by my engagement manager. She had no idea what had happened, so I knew it was God who was working everything out for us. I had an additional week before I had to return to New York, so I  waited for the awful cramps and the heavy bleeding, but it never happened. Quietly and peacefully, my body did the work to end the pregnancy.

I received so much support and encouragement from friends, IRL and on-line. I found out just how common miscarriages are. If I told 5 people, 4 of them had experienced one. My midwife told me that so many ‘late’ periods are actually early miscarriages, but because of the widespread use of EPTs, we know we are pregnant so much sooner. I didn’t understand the silence. Maybe it’s because I am an oversharer, but why didn’t women talk about this? I know the answer is complicated. How does guilt make its way into something that you have no control over? I found myself feeling bad because I wasn’t initially happy about pregnant, then I started feeling bad because I wasn’t feeling bad anymore!

God, in His infinite wisdom, created our bodies to work perfectly. I learned the value of knowing mine. I learned the value of a 27 1/2 year relationship with someone who has been by my side during the best and worst days of my life. I learned the value of lining up my heart with my mind to truly accept His will. But most importantly I learned the value of every one of my children, they all teach me, even the ones that I never see.

Welcome to 2012!!!

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Hello Family!!

We are working on our new schedule and format for the new year.  Our goal is to begin posting this week and give you 3-5 new post each week!! Be on the lookout for more on marriage, family, parenting, love, dating, education, breastfeeding, healthing eating, fitness, running half=marathons, lifting weights, confronting crazy family members and more!!

ODC

P.S. We will also post schedule times weekly where we will be live on here ,Facebook and Twitter to discuss any direct questions you have for us both.  2012 is the year of new and higher direction. 

Feel free to send any question or subjects you would like discussed and HOLD ON!!

World Breastfeeding Week: Confessions of a Selfish, Lazy, Apologist

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I could not let World Breastfeeding Week end without sharing my thoughts and passion on my favorite subject. Everyone who knows me knows how committed I am to promoting breastfeeding and encouraging people to EDUCATE themselves about it. What many people don’t know is that I do have some personal motivations that have made breastfeeding work so well for me.

Apologetics (from Greek ἀπολογία, “speaking in defense”) is the discipline of defending a position (often religious) through the systematic use of reason. Early Christian writers (c. 120-220) who defended their faith against critics and recommended their faith to outsiders were called apologists.[1]

I have decided to borrow this concept and label myself a Breastfeeding Apologist. The facts speak for themselves. Breastmilk is the SUPERIOR choice. I will not use this post to discuss all of the wonderful benefits of breastfeeding. Instead, I will let you in on a few of the secrets behind my dedication.

I am a selfish mother. I’m secure enough to admit it. I can’t relate to this whole concept of wanting other people to feed your baby. Women are encouraged to pump so that Dad and other people can give the baby a bottle. This is all talked about under the guise of “help”. If you want to help me, let ME feed the baby, you can take her when I’m done and burp her, rock her, do the dishes, cook a meal, clean the house, do some laundry….you get the picture.  I can remember rushing home from the gym, hoping that ODC didn’t have to break into my freezer stash. I loved being the only one that could meet that need for my newborns. I cherished the opportunity to create a bond and a level of security that only I could develop with my children in those early months.

I can remember going to visit my Dad at his job, shortly having my first child. Someone asked me when I was going to let my Dad keep the baby. She seemed to get offended when I expressed that I didn’t really have a need to leave my baby. See, I enjoy keeping my infants close. I don’t really need a sitter for the first six months. (That’s around the time they get too wiggly and don’t just stay in one place…more on that when I talk about being lazy). Shout out to 1peachymama for inviting me to the movies and not hesitating to tell me to bring my 4 week old with me.

I am a lazy mother. I love the ease of exclusive breastfeeding. No fixing bottles, no getting up in the middle of the night, (oh yeah, I co-sleep too, another product of my laziness). I have joked and said that I wish I could breastfeed exclusively until my children were potty-trained and could cook their own food. I purposely delay solids for the first year because “there is no rush to get the baby to eat much solid food because breast milk provides the bulk of nutrition through the first year (and in fact some babies thrive on breast milk alone)” (http://archive.blisstree.com/live/exclusive-breastfeeding-beyond-six-months/). This approach has worked well for my last three girls and has worked extremely well for me. No packing food when we go out, no sitting at the high chair slowly spoon feeding an uninterested infant, and most importantly NO STINKY DIAPERS!!! When my children can pick up food and put it in their mouths, by themselves, BAM!!! They’re ready for solids!

Thank you ODC for creating a home where breastfeeding is celebrated all year. Thank you for being a father who READS and continues to be outspoken about eliminating the excuses and false information. To all my breastfeeding mamas, I celebrate you and the incredible contribution you are making to the health of your babies and yourselves. I have seen 3 wonderful breastfeeding relationships come and go. Who knows how much longer my 4th will last, in the meantime I will continue to guard and protect it as I go about the business of proclaiming the truth and defending every baby’s right to be breastfed.

Happy Breastfeeding!

OTB

Moms, Marathons, and “Milk-Milk”

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Snow White, Mommy, and the 4 Dwarfs (Guess which one is Sleepy?)

After training for what seemed to be FOREVER….I finally completed my first half marathon!!! I am very proud of myself and thankful for all of the support that I received from my friends and family, especially my husband, ODC! It was an amazing experience, I reached my goal of actually running the entire 13.1 miles (something I learned is not required, who knew?). I ran the Disney Princess Half Marathon with Team in Training. I raised over $3,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

I returned to the gym when G4 was three weeks old. ODC had no problem with me leaving her with him, as long as I left some expressed milk. I would nurse her before I left the house and then check in with him while I sat in the sauna to see if I needed to make a mad dash back home. You see, expressed milk, in my book, was for “emergencies” only. You know, for if I broke my leg in a step class, fell off a treadmill, broke my arm, hit my head on the bench press machine AND was unconscious! We live 15 minutes from the gym, in my “AP, exclusive breastfeeding world”, I only wanted the baby to have a bottle in the aforementioned “emergency” scenario. I was such a control freak that I would check the freezer and count my bags of milk to see if he had to feed her while I was gone. More often than not, I would release a huge sigh of relief because he didn’t, but on the rare occasions that he did….honestly, I would be a bit upset. I had to realize that I couldn’t have everything my way. I was leaving her with him and I could just work out at home if it was going to bother me that much. (Oh yeah, I did that at 2 weeks post-partum and after having the other girls join me for my Jillian workouts, I decided to get over my control issues, pump the milk, and pack my gym bag.)

As the weeks passed, G4 could go longer between feedings and I could hit the gym without frantically stepping on the medal to make it home before she needed to be fed. Fast forward to this month and she is now 10 months and still pretty much exclusively breastfed. As I started to prepare for the trip to Orlando, it was a given that she would be traveling with me. ODC would drive down with the other girls and he would have her while I ran. The logistics of the TNT runs and meetings never fit my schedule, so aside from e-mails, I had not met any of the team members. When I received my hotel and flight confirmation I thought “maybe I need to let someone know that I am bringing my baby” but because I didn’t see any information about a roommate assignment, I decided to just let it (and her) ride.

I arrived at the airport with G4 in the Maya Wrap while ODC took our luggage in the car with him. I noticed a few women with TNT shirts and I introduced myself. Everyone was warm and friendly, but I’m pretty sure it was unusual to see someone with traveling with a baby, alone, headed to an endurance event. It was a super quick flight to Orlando and using the “one-two punch”, my little nursling slept most of the flight.

When we arrived in Orlando, our event coordinator pulled out the hotel information and ugh!!!…I had a roommate. We headed to our hotel and grabbed some lunch and I kept looking at my watch and looking at my phone, I was ready for my family to get there. My social circles mirror my life. These women were past the baby days, or didn’t have children at all. Don’t get me wrong, they were nice enough, but I was pretty sure that I was not the typical TNT member, but hey, that’s why I’m Outta Da Box!

ODC and the girls arrived earlier than I had expected, and I couldn’t have been happier! We hooked up with ODC’s cousin, grabbled a bite to eat, and enjoyed some quality family time. I opted out of staying at my prestigious Disney Resort Hotel and instead stayed off property with my loud lovely crew.

Saturday would present a new set of challenges for the breastfeeding dyad. I had a TNT strategy meeting followed my an inspirational dinner. ODC and the girls enjoyed some serious pool time and G4 was sleeping when the strategy meeting started. I knew I would leave her with him for the dinner (which, by the way was family friendly, but since my family wasn’t attending, I decided I would leave her with them) and since it was a low-key meeting in the lobby and she was sleeping, I kept her with me so that I could minimize our separation, you know, like a good “crunchy” mommy does. I filled her tank, and after the meeting was over, I dropped her off with ODC and enjoyed a great dinner with an inspirational presentation from a leukemia survivor.

This is where things get a bit tricky and I had to get creative. The shuttle was leaving the hotel for the race at 3:00 am. My TNT group was meeting at 2:45 am. I was going to really be pushing the limits because the race did not start until 5:45 am and it was going to take me at least 2 hours or more to finish. It was likely that it would be 6+ hours before I would see the baby. By this time, I realized that I had been blessed with a super cool roommate, but I still didn’t feel the need to ask “permission” for my baby to stay with me in our shared room. ODC and I had a game plan. I would stay in the host hotel with G4 and he would take the other girls with him. They would come get her at 2:30 am, and we would meet up after I finished the race. A banana and water would be the back-up plan for the baby. (*full disclosure* the older girls wanted to swim at my hotel until midnight, G3 wasn’t having it, she was exhausted, and since ODC was coming to get G4 in the middle of the night, I told him to just let her stay with me too. They both slept pretty quietly, so I did say to my roommate, that I hoped they didn’t disturb her, she said they were fine)

I had considered bringing a pump, but I didn’t. I had to chuckle when my roommate told me that she and some of the other team members were talking and they thought since I homeschooled, I probably didn’t pump, lol! (I had to tweet and ask the difference between a judgement and stereotype). I really wasn’t going to go through the hassle of bringing a pump, finding the time to pump, and getting a refrigerator for 1 feeding for a 10 month old.

ODC arrived as planned and I whisked my sleepy babies off to their Daddy. By the time I was reunited with my family, my feet were hurting and I was strapped down by my Enell Sports Bra, not the most convenient, nursing friendly contraption. I looked at G4’s dress and she had some type of food smeared on it. The banana was my stand-in. She was happily playing with a water bottle and I wasn’t the least bit offended.

The traffic leaving the park, after the race, was horrendous. I took that opportunity to nurse the baby while ODC crept through the parking lot, by this time it was after 10 am, 8 hours after our 2am nursing session. All was well, our plan worked. ODC was going to head back to GA with the big girls after getting some lunch, so I left the baby with them so that I could shower and have a minute of down-time before my support team abandoned left me.

The TNT victory celebration was my last “official” event. This was another “family friendly” event, so although my team members didn’t have children with them, there were plenty of children at this beach party, complete with Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Daisy! The sun was beaming and the temperature was toasty, G4 managed to sleep through lunch, so my meal was eaten without doing a juggling act of keeping her from taking stuff off the table, while trying to keep the fork from missing my mouth.

I declined an invitation to dinner with my team because I was very tired and I wanted to take advantage of any sleeping that the baby would let me get. She must have known how tired her mommy was, because we napped together for almost 3 amazing hours! Snug in the Maya Wrap, I took her with me to find some food and she drifted off to sleep again! I returned to the hotel, tucked her into the bed and chatted with my roommate about the Oscars, and then I fell asleep too.

My roommate, other teammates, and passengers on the plane kept commenting on how “good” the baby was. “She’s so easy”, “She never cries”, “She’s so happy” were statements (I think they were supposed to be compliments, but if she cried, does that make her “bad”? -another post) that I heard all weekend. Without standing on my proverbial soap box, I tried to drop a few Attachment Parenting principles to explain that because we have developed a solid sense of security, I can anticipate her needs and respond promptly. (The magic of  the booby doesn’t hurt either).

By the time I run my next event, G4 will be eating solids, and this will no longer be an issue. It is very likely that I will still be nursing, but I will have other options. I hope that nursing mothers will empower themselves to reach their fitness goals without compromising their nursing relationships. It can be done with a little planning, flexibility, and a good support team. Now that I am an “athlete” the world of endurance sports better get ready for a mommy that crosses the finish line and can be found barefoot, sipping on a sports drink, while unfastening her sports bra for one of her biggest cheerleaders!

Are you an endurance athlete AND a nursing mom? Or maybe you are just trying to return to, or start, a fitness program while still nursing. If so, let’s talk! I would also love to hear how experienced mommas handle training, events, and how you make it happen for you and your baby!