on making time for me…

I’m sure a lot of you will feel me on this one: after the first week of my summer off, I felt utterly useless and sometimes crazy. I went back to work when my daughter was 3 months old, and I was NOT ready. I clung to the idea of my summer off (perks of working for a school district) like some kind of life raft. I counted down the days, I closed my eyes when things got too stressful and went to my “happy place” – a land of adventures with my little one and long lazy days of playing peekaboo and reading stories. I couldn’t wait for the summer to start!

Well, I can honestly say the first three days were like that. But on the fourth day I got the flu, and when I came out of it two-weeks later, I had lost my summer luster. Don’t get me wrong, the part where I got to play with Avery as much as I wanted to was pretty awesome, and I soaked that up. But during her (sometimes several hour long) naps, I would find myself at loose ends, in dirty yoga pants, scrolling through Netflix and finding nothing interesting, wondering what on EARTH I used to occupy my time with.

I languished. I didn’t shower too much. I sent Sam whiny text messages at work. I seemed to have forgotten how to get things done around the house.

A month went by this way. A whole month.

When I realized how long it had been I took a good, long look at myself and realized I was fading into the background. I had once been informed, and well read, and creatively productive. I had once had interests and hobbies and friends. My life had once been mine, and now I was giving it all up entirely to this idea that “I didn’t have time” or “I was too tired” or “it was totally understandable to not shower or change for two days”.

In this way, I think the way the media portrays new parents was my biggest enabler. We expect this of ourselves. The deconstruction of our personalities, the stuffing of our former selves into this new “mommy” mold, the sacrificing of things that used to mean something to us – it’s all so normal, it happens to everyone, right? Who has time to make art? To write? To take photos? When you talk about it to other parents you get the sympathetic nod, or the “you just wait it gets worse” look. Nobody pushes you to remember who you are, or to break the cycle, because to do so would be rude, right?

My problem was, I wasn’t just unshowered and wearing out my pajamas, I was quickly becoming depressed. But because it was so “normal” and “everybody feels this way” I wrote it off, I told myself it would pass in time. I was wrong.

Right around this time I read a tweet from one of my favorite musicians about an online reading group that was tackling Infinite Jest (the postmodern David Foster Wallace epic that I’d been meaning to read for ages), and it was already part of the way through. I went to the website and was instantly overwhelmed. The book is 1,076 pages long and I was already 3 weeks behind in the schedule. The momentary excitement that had flared up in me at the prospect of participating died out almost immediately. With a baby? There was no way I could catch up, participate in the discussions, read all the members posts. I’d have to do it some other time, maybe next summer…

Around this time I got pretty pissed at myself. Who had I become? Why was I letting this idea that “moping around in spit-up-stained overlarge t-shirts is normal new-mom behavior” seep into my head and scare me away from something I really wanted to do? And what good was I going to be as a role model and a mother if I let all my skills and hobbies and interests just evaporate?

I took the book off the shelf, I calculated how many pages a day I’d have to read to catch up, and I started. That day.

It was incredibly rough going. The prose is dense and difficult, the vocabulary is borderline impossible, and my brain had turned to mush from too much facebook and bad tv. I struggled for the first week or so, the discussions on the website sailed straight over my head, and I thought of giving up. Often. I thought a lot about how easy it would have been for pre-baby me to read this book – I would have been discussing circles around all these other schmucks! But I didn’t give up. I kept going. And slowly but surely I found myself having an easier time, I started participating in the discussions and found that people respected my opinions; my confidence was coming back bit by bit and it felt amazing.

I finished the book on schedule, and it was a pretty huge accomplishment. I networked with people in the group that have become some of my favorite folks to bounce creative ideas off of. I have a new creative writing project in the works and I am writing music again. This experience opened the flood gates for me, and my personality – you know, the one I thought had been eaten by my daughter – came rushing back.

As a result I feel like a whole person again, like a happy person, and this has made me a much better mother and partner. I think that’s true for all of us, really – the most comfortable and fulfilled and happy we are within ourselves the more we will radiate that light out to our spouses, to our children, to our friends. We deserve to give ourselves the time to be the best people we can be, and our families deserve that too.

So my challenge to you is to think of something – big or small – that you’ve “been meaning to do” since getting married/getting pregnant/having a baby/having another baby, and take a step toward actually doing it. Even if you can only carve out 10 minutes a day to devote to it, it’s enough. It’s not a race, it’s just investing what little time you have toward making yourself a happier person.

And tell me all about it in the comments!

Cheers!
Tehlor

on nomination!!

Hey Y’all, Baby, Don’t You Cry was nominated for a Liebster award!

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Thanks to Lara at NomsTheWord for nominating me! It’s especially awesome considering posts have been thin on the ground this summer. I thought I’d have all the time in the world to blog when I wasn’t working, but when you live in Portland you get about 3 months a year that it doesn’t rain, so I’ve been taking advantage! I’ll probably be back up to scratch when it becomes impossible to leave the house again.

So anyway, THANKS! And here goes:

Liebster rules!

  • Thank the person that nominated you and link back up to their blog.
  • Answer the 10 questions which are given to you by the nominator. 
  • Nominate 10 other bloggers for this award who have less than 200 followers.
  • Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer.
  • Let the nominees know that they have been nominated by going to their blog and notifying them.

I will be perusing blogs over the course of this week and handing out my nominations. I read a lot of good blogs, so don’t be sad if I don’t nominate you! I probably still think you are awesome.

Here are my answer’s to NomsTheWord’s questions:

1. I’m sure it says in your “about” page, but remind me and your other readers.  Why are you writing your blog?

When I first found out I was pregnant I felt really cut off from the community I was a part of. Most of my friends were in the midst of their party/travel/see the world phases and suddenly I was unable to be a part of that anymore. I felt alone, and scared, and overwhelmed. The online community I found during that time in my life has been so valuable to me and my little growing family, the blogs, the message boards, the assurance that SOMEONE had been here before, that it was possible to live through it and even to thrive… it made all the difference in the world. This is just my humble offering to the people feeling like I felt then, and a way for me to remember the way I feel now, going through this for the first time.

2. What does your ideal evening look like?

Some pureed veggies, a bubble bath, and storytime for the little one, then a thai takeout and a good book for me after she goes down. Funny how my answer to this question has changed in the last year.

3. I know I’m stealing this one, but what is your favorite cocktail?

A whiskey soda with lots of lemon. Mmmm.

4. What is your #1 comfort food?

Thai food. Coconut curries, anything with peanut sauce, lots of rice. Mmmm.

5. Its summer time, what would you most like to be doing?

Relaxing on the beach of the Sandy river with a cold beer and some snacks, watching my little one dig her toes in the sand. Heaven.

6. What was your most memorable vacation or travel experience?

I’ve never been anywhere super exotic or far away, but my favorite trip memory was a few months before Avery was born. I was pretty hugely pregnant and Sam and I decided on a whim to drive to the coast for the day because I decided I absolutely HAD to have some little beach shack clam chowder. When we got there we went on a classic pregnant craving hunt, actually leaving two restaurants because they didn’t serve clam chowder. It was November so the wind was icy and it was pouring rain almost the whole time, but I finally found my clam chowder (which was AMAZING) and we went barefoot walking on the beach even though it was like, 48 degrees outside. It was the last trip we took together pre-baby, and I will always remember what a great time we had.

7. If you could make one change towards self-betterment, what would it be?

I always strive to have more patience. I have a bit of a short fuse at times, and my current life of limited sleep and the pressure of being a first-time mom makes it difficult at times. I have been working hard on just being in the moment and trying not to worry too much about what’s coming or going. It gets a little better every day, but I can always do better.

8. What do you want to be when you grow up?

Happy.

9. Do you get out of bed when your alarm goes off, or are you a hit the snooze kind of person?

I’ve had the summer off, which has been a blissful 11 weeks of no alarms at all. I’m usually the kind of person who just sets her alarm for the last possible second and then leaps out of bed when I hear it.

10. You’re attending a pot luck dinner, what are you bringing?

Baked mac n’ cheese with a dijon IPA cheese sauce. Plus grilled onions, bacon, and mushrooms. It’s my specialty.

Thanks again to NomsTheWord for the nomination, and look out for your nomination and my questions in the next few days!!

oh hey, internet, are you still here?

So, I rather fell off the face of the planet there for a while. I would apologize here, but I’m one of those people who apologizes like, compulsively; like, way more often than I should. So I won’t apologize. This blog is about family, about parenting, and most of all about my daughter, and lately my life has been about those things too; so much so that I have just not had the time nor the inclination to blog about it. I think, as bloggers, it’s healthy to take these breaks. To go out and live so that we don’t end up writing blogs about blogging… because aren’t those just a chore to read? Ugh.

So, since my last post I have (in a nutshell):
-Gotten the job of my dreams (well, my realistic dreams) as the assistant director for a before and after school program.
-Worked at said job for 6 weeks, during which time I missed my little chunker so much I thought I would die, sometimes.
-Finished out the school year at said job, and was super bummed to kiss the kids goodbye for the summer (not literally, because that’s line crossing and probably illegal).
-Had one, perfect day of summer break.
-Caught the gnarliest flu I have ever had and spent almost the last two weeks shuffling, zombie like, through my long awaited summer.

I am feeling better now though, and in what I consider to be a summer MIRACLE, Avery didn’t catch it. All those times I forgot to make people wash their hands before they touched her when she was a newborn must have made her immune system beastly.

Unintentional mom win.

So yeah, I have much more spare time now, and I finally understand what people meant when they talked about not showering for days, never changing out of your yoga pants, and leaving spit up on your shirt because “whatever, she’ll probably just spit up again if I change it”.

I have also discovered – in earnest, at least – the joy of babywearing. I have had a homemade linen wrap since Avery was a newborn, but when she hit 15lbs my shoulders were all “noooo thanks”, so I decided to see what else was out there. Boy was I amazed to find a whole community (not to mention a plethora of bank breaking accoutrements) dedicated to wearing your little ones. I will write another post about my favorite things about this community and some of my awesome babywearing moments at a later date.

So yeah, Avery is doing great. She is just baby babbling all over town, becoming a little toy fiend, and generally wrapping her daddy and I tighter and tighter around her finger every day. This post is sort of all over the place, but hopefully I’ll be back into the regular swing of things soon. Still always up for a good product to review, a guest post, anything really. Email, call, write, send flowers, etc.

Cheers,
Tehlor

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Mama Runs With Scissors’ Kool Kid Arm/Leg Warmers

Well everyone it’s time for another product review! Thanks for all the great feedback on my last review, I hope you guys enjoy this next one as much as I enjoyed the product!

A little background: Mama Runs With Scissors is an awesome Etsy store based out of my home sweet home of Portland, Oregon. Owner/operator Jen’s “creative toys and clothes for children” are super hip and awesome with some of the coolest prints to be found on any kid’s stuff I’ve seen. No pastels and baby animals on this site (which suited me just fine, to be honest), Jen focuses more on vibrant colors, bold patterns, and trendy images, which make her clothes for your little one quite unique.

The product she was kind enough to allow me to use and review was a set of Kool Kid Arm/Leg Warmers, which are available in a variety of prints and colors. Since this blog is mainly here to feature local, handmade products I had to go with the I ❤ Oregon ones myself 🙂

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photo by mamarunswithscissors

First of all, these arm/leg warmers are advertised to fit your newborn to preteen, and can also be used as arm warmers or “non-stretchy leg warmers” for the average sized adult. Basically, this product will fit your kid until it literally falls apart from overuse. They fit my 3.5 month old daughter perfectly, and I also put them on my arms just to test… they fit me too. Officially the first time I’ve been able to share clothing with my infant.

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The seams were all finished very professionally, the fabric itself is just as vibrant and awesome as it looks in the photos on her site – and super durable as well. I did have to roll them up a bit to fit my little one, but I chose to forgo having them shortened (Jen offers that service for customers with little guys) in favor of keeping them around longer.

They are also incredibly convenient for infants, as they are thick enough to be worn in lieu of pants with just a onesie, making diaper changes positively breezy. They can also be taken off and put back on very easily, which is great for those of us that live in the bipolar climate of the Northwest. Sunny and 90? Stick them in the diaper bag. Flash hailstorm? Stick them right back on.

I cannot say enough good things about these leg warmers. I had been looking for a while at retail stores (target, fred meyer, etc) for something like this, and I never found anything nearly as awesome as these. I have been approached numerous times (since my daughter wears one of three pairs of these almost every day) and asked what they are and where they came from.

I hope all those folks go straight to Jen’s site and buy a pair (or two) for a special tiny person in their life (or for themselves). And I hope you do too!

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on indignation and giving back…

On the first part of this journey into parenthood, my little family and I have needed some assistance now and then. We had some bad luck when my preeclampsia and high blood pressure after delivery made for an extra long hospital stay, and then with the medication I was on to lower my blood pressure I couldn’t be alone with my little one for a few weeks. As a result my partner Sam lost his income, and (due to some shady business practices) I was not paid for my maternity leave. Our only option was to accept assistance from our families and some government programs to get our little family afloat, so we applied for food stamps and WIC and were thankfully approved, allowing us to feed ourselves and our new little one (who needed supplemental formula) until we could get back on our feet.

I am back at work now doing what I love with a great school, and Sam is interviewing for a great position today, so we are back on track and feeling much better. But I don’t regret accepting help when I needed it, and I still think about the people I met while frequenting the WIC and DHS (Department of Human Services) offices in my community.

Now, as a little background, Sam and I attended biodynamic childbirth classes through a private birthing center. We gave birth in the hospital due to complications with a previous pregnancy, but we wanted the warm and natural birth centered classes to bring a little home birth flavor to our hospital room. The things we learned in this class (taught by the fabulous proprietor of Family In Bloom) enabled us to make the best of what was a pretty scary situation (more on my birth story here) by believing in our innate sense of what was right for us and our baby. We felt empowered – even as first time parents – to stand up to doctors and nurses and even my mother to do what was right for us.

We have carried this conviction with us through our first 4 months of raising Avery, leading us on the path to a more simple, natural way of providing for our little one.

Naively, I was shocked to hear that most lower income parents in my community had had VERY different experiences from ours. Their hospital birthing classes did little more than tell them when to ask for their epidural, and as a result they felt helpless and powerless during their births, often getting bullied into a host of interventions that they weren’t even sure they wanted.

Many of these new mothers were clueless about co-sleeping, cloth diapering, babywearing, and so many of the other tenants of attachment parenting that had made the early parts of my life with Avery so blissful. The more I heard about the experiences these women had had, the more upset I became about the lack of knowledge out there for low income families. The final straw was when a woman approached me at the WIC office and asked me what my linen baby wrap was. She had never heard of babywearing, and was excited and amazed when I showed her the simple front carry that Avery was comfortably sleeping in. “It looks so easy!” she exclaimed as her baby wailed in his carseat on the floor.

The basics of attachment parenting are a throwback to the primitive, nomadic stages of human history. Women had natural births because there were no such thing as narcotic interventions, women gave birth in water because it was the only pain relief available to them, women clothed their babies in natural fibers because there was nothing else but what they (along with their communities) had made from the materials around them, women wore their babies because there were no strollers or carseats or baby swings and they had housework (and sometimes more arduous work) to get done.

To me, natural and attachment parenting is a way of getting back to our roots and back to a time when our babies were the center of our lives and communities. Of recalling a more basic, simple era of human existence when we had no choice but to care for our children well. Why, then, has the knowledge of how to do these things been relegated to an elite group of wealthy families that can pay for it?

Why are we paying hundreds of dollars to gain knowledge that was once passed through generations, from grandmother to mother to daughter? Why are we paying three times as much money for clothing and toys and bedding made of natural fibers?

It’s just the way the world works, I guess. We accept it because we don’t have any other options, and because we want the best for our babies no matter the cost. People know that, and they exploit it, and it’s sad.

I can’t change the world all by myself, but I’m tired of watching people be taken advantage of, so I’ve decided to do my own little something about it.

Through this blog and my work over at Parents Space I’ve made some great connections with wonderful people working to show families how to live a healthy lifestyle without going broke. I have benefited so much from the tips and tricks and tutorials and giveaways I have found in this online community. I want to do for my community what all of you have done for me.

Starting hopefully midsummer I’m going to be offering a series of free classes to my community showcasing attachment and natural parenting concepts and skills. My first class will be a babywearing basics class, showing new parents how to wear their babies with confidence. I have already sent out feelers to a few great businesses to get materials donated to keep the cost down, and I have been amazed and overwhelmed with the generosity within this community.

If the babywearing class goes well, I will offer it once a month. I will advertise – not in the boutiquey baby stores where an organic cotton onesie costs 22 dollars, but in the DHS and WIC offices, at the plasma donation centers, at the places where people have been overlooked and robbed of the opportunity to learn to care for their babies in a natural and simple way.

I am thinking down the line of offering other free classes and workshops as well, how to safely co-sleep, maybe some workshops on clothing and toy making.

If you have a great idea for a class or know someone with an awesome product they might want to donate please contact me through the comments here or by email at babydontyoucryblog@gmail.com.

If you are interested in teaching a class in your area get in touch with me as well, wouldn’t it be great to have a network of people teaching free classes to those who want the knowledge but can’t afford it? Maybe down the line we could make it a non-profit so the donations could be tax deductible?

So many ideas, there’s no limit to the good we can do. Spread the word, let’s take back natural parenting and give it to the people who need it the most.

Marley’s Monsters Re-Usable Nursing Pads

Okay! Here we go with our first ever product review!!

Today’s awesome, local, handmade product comes to us from an Etsy store called Marley’s Monsters, which has some really great stuff, and is made by a super sweet lady that was a treat to correspond with throughout this process.

At my baby shower I was gifted a box of Lanisoh Disposable Nursing Pads, which are basically like crinkly wads of tissue paper with sticky stuff on the back. These things are terrible. And terribly expensive. And completely necessary if you are a breastfeeding momma. Bummer. I soldiered through my first 2ish months of breastfeeding with these things shoved down my shirt, until a friend of mine kindly explained that there were washable pads I could buy and re use! Hallelujah!

But when I went in search of these magical things I was dismayed to find that they are pretty darn expensive themselves, especially if you favor low impact, eco friendly, organic type stuff. Double Bummer.

But then, one of my awesome followers alerted me to Marley’s Monsters and I was delighted to find some local, handmade nursing pads (with awesome prints!) for a great price. Sarah (the proprietor) consented to send me a couple of samples of these adorable things so I could try them out and tell you all how I liked them.

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First off, these things are adorable. Her prints are just great. We all know having a new baby can sometimes make you feel like an unwashed, bedraggled version of your former self, so I’m always happy when I can find a product that makes me feel fun and sassy again… even when I’m leaking breastmilk.

Second of all, they are super effective! I was going through about 6 pairs of disposables a day, sometimes more, and I can change these out once in the middle of the day and once before going to bed, and be dry as a desert. No more embarrassing shirt stains, no more stickiness, no more smelling like sour milk all day. MORE than worth the price if you ask me.

They rinse out easily (I usually just rinse and wring them out in my sink, sometimes I use a little soap if it’s been a day or more to prevent the sour milk smell), and they dry within an hour or two. So well designed and effective, I was really impressed!

The only tiny annoyance I had was the thickness (which is great for absorbency) and the surging around the edges (which is great for making them last without fraying) combined to make them a tad bulky. When I was wearing an underwire bra with a little padding it was no problem, but with a sports/nursing bra or anything thin you could see the outline of them through my shirts. After a few washes though, they’d started to become softer and more moldable, so I’m sure after a few more this won’t even be an issue anymore.

I definitely recommend these pads for any nursing mamas that are tired of feeling like a 6th grader with toilet paper stuffed in her bra. I love mine, and will definitely be ordering more!

Thanks Sarah, for being our product review guinea pig!

Please email me at babydontcryblog@gmail.com if you have an idea for a great product/make a great product that you’d like reviewed!! The guidelines for product submissions are outlined here.

Happy weekend, all!

on catching up…

Just wanted to let y’all know that I have some truly awesome handmade local products to review, I’ve received a few samples from some of my favorite etsy stores and am very excited to share them with you! Our first review should be up this week and I’ll be posting two a month from now on (time and baby willing, of course).

If you know of an awesome product you’d like to see here, or make a product that you’d like to see on the site please let me know! The parameters are as follows:
The product must be mom/baby/family related.
The product must be made by a small company or an individual – I’m trying to keep it to handmade stuff, but that’s not as strict.
The product must be semi green and/or eco friendly. Simple fibers, simple ingredients, etc.
The product must be affordable! I’m so tired of being ripped off by companies that think they can exploit our desire to have the best for our little ones. The most important feature will be to highlight affordable alternatives to things we’re being charged an arm and a leg for.

Look out for the first product review this week!