I Worry About Breastfeeding ALL THE TIME (no I don’t.)

This post is sponsored by Similac.  I was compensated for this post but all opinions are my own.

moosh and mozzi.

In the early haze of new motherhood I was overwhelmed with guilt over not being able to breastfeed. While the two mammary glands attached to my chest look promising, the truth is they are milk duds. For whatever reason mine simply don’t work despite every reasonable effort I made to become the sole food provider for both of my babies. I would plan feedings so I wouldn’t have to pull a bottle out in public. The shame I felt whenever I mixed formula in front of a breastfeeding mom was overwhelming. I always felt like I had to justify myself, tell everyone how hard I tried because I was absolutely sure everyone was judging me.

Turns out I’m the only one who really cared.

You want to know how often I worry about breastfeeding now?

Exactly never.

You want to know how much guilt I’ve felt over the last ten years for not being able to breastfeed?

Exactly none.

my baby and me.

The only time I even think about breastfeeding anymore is when Addie brings home a 100% on some test she didn’t even study for. Back in 2004 a few hard core lactivists made me believe that if I didn’t exclusively breastfeed Addie, her health and intelligence would be forever compromised. Yet every time Addie dazzles me yet again with her smarts and kindness I want to hold her up like Simba on Pride Rock and yell “LOOK! IT DIDN’T MATTER HOW I FED HER! SHE’S WONDERFUL!” to all the mothers struggling with their own decisions on how to best feed their babies.

Two weeks ago Vivi told me she hated me. Last week she found a tube of lipstick and finger-painted an entire wall bright pink. The last two mornings she has located a permanent marker and colored her entire body blue, as well as written her name on several walls. Someone needs to tell her if she’s going to commit such heinous acts she shouldn’t sign her name or leave evidence all over her own body. I have a hard time believing she’d be any less of a toad had her milk come from my body and not a can.

November 2014

Here’s what I’ve learned about kids — some days they will eat Brussels sprouts, quinoa, and kale without complaint. Other days the only nourishment you will be able to coerce into their little bodies consists of grape skins and a handful of marshmallows. Some days they will be obedient little angels and other days it’s as though hellfire is pouring forth from every pore of their being. Some days they will get along with their siblings from sunup to sundown while other days you will feel like a referee at a bare knuckled boxing match.

It’s not like you didn’t try.

You’re just working with what you’ve been given. We all are. As long as we’re all doing the best we can each day (and some days are better than others), nothing we deal with is a direct result of what we fed our babies on the day they were born or how we have loved them every day up until now.

Addie puts up with so much from this goon.

I accept you. Hopefully you can accept me and my wildly inappropriate toddler.

(P.S. Does anyone know how to get petroleum jelly out of a stuffed bunny?)

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on infertility, four years later

When we were trying to get Vivi here, my entire though process revolved around getting and being pregnant. Every decision I made in or around my house included the fact that one day a baby would be in it and so I had to plan accordingly. I’d think about what kind of baby gates I would need and where, I thought about where I would store toys and how we would arrange car seats and strollers. I’d think about holidays with a baby and how long we could travel with her as a lap child and I’d think about how many times we could go to Disneyworld before she was 3. I fantasized about how I would spend my days with this baby, how I would document my pregnancy and what I would do differently in regards to labor and delivery.

I knew she was out there waiting for us. I felt it, I just didn’t understand why it was taking so long to get her here. (I get it now.)

I also knew I wanted another girl. Yes, healthy babies above all else, la la la, but I wanted another girl.

So what does life feel like now? It feels complete. I don’t think about getting pregnant, my mind doesn’t revolve around pregnancy math and fertility appointments. I don’t feel a nudge that someone else is out there (something I felt STRONGLY even when Addie was only days old) and there is no second guessing our decision to be done even under the spell of a tiny newborn. We’ve cleaned out the closets and rid ourselves of baby stuff.

It feels really good.

We’re meant to be four. Four is good. Four feels right. Four is right for us.

I look forward to the things we can do together, as well as the things I will soon be able to do once Vivi is in school. I have all these projects and jobs I’ve wanted to pursue for years but didn’t or couldn’t because I was either too caught up in wanting to be pregnant, being pregnant or keeping a baby alive. I would never say the time I spent trying to get pregnant was wasted, the things I learned about myself, about Cody, and about other women are invaluable. They were lessons on empathy and compassion that can only be learned the hard way, and unfortunately I did hurt people in my single-minded and obsessed desire to have a second baby. I while I regret hurting others, I appreciate the subsequent lessons on redemption and forgiveness.

If you’re not sure you’re done? You probably aren’t.

If you know there’s someone (or someone else) out there waiting to join your family, don’t give up. Even when you’re convinced you will be swallowed whole by disappointment, jealousy, and pain—don’t give up. Six years felt like an eternity, but now that she’s here, those six years were nothing when compared to what I get to experience every day with these two little girls. It only took six years and nine really hard months to make the most spectacular thing I’ll ever witness, these two together.

November 2014

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Last night I was with you as you brought your fourth child and second son into this world.

Truly one of the best nights of my life.

I know you were pretty busy with getting him out so you may have not noticed everything that went on, but I did. And damn, you’re really good at making and birthing babies.


First off, shut up. You are amazing. I actually found myself jealous of how glowing and beautiful you were at 3 am after pushing a baby out with no drugs. I saw a glimpse of myself in a window as I walked out of the hospital and *I* looked like the one who had just been through the hardest physical task of my life.

While you were out walking with Charity, Michael and I sang the theme song to Fresh Prince of Bel Air, if only to prove that anyone born between 1975 and 1985 should know every single lyric by heart. Then Shireen and I got in a rap off about you on twitter. Sorry for my momentary lapse in professionalism. I joked with Michael that I was his doula, there to get him drinks and whatnot, I offered to press on his hips but things just got awkward.

fresh baby of Bel Air

At 8cm dilated you began talking about the Goodwill Outlet, and about needing gloves to make it out without any communicable diseases. It was a conversation we could have had over dinner, with strangers or sitting around at your house. But no, you were in labor and discussed the finer points of Goodwill Outlet shift changes until you were knocked speechless by another contraction.

You kept saying how exhausted you were, that you just wanted to curl up and go to sleep. If there were any moment that I wanted to take all of your pain away from you it was then. Just to give you 10 minutes of rest from what you so bravely doing.

That being said, labor and delivery nurses shouldn’t yawn so much. I don’t care what time it is. Just an observation.

I especially liked it when you where hunched over in the bed and as you heard me come near you muttered “I’ll bet I’m making you totally want to do this again.”

1:34 am.

Being able to keep in touch with your mom and sisters through the whole thing was pretty spectacular. There’s a very good chance I won’t be there for the birth of my nephew at the end of March and being able to see how your sisters rallied together for you and made jokes about their own labors, including one that took place at animal control and one that happened in a room down the hallway…I’m pleased to be counted as the 5th Dutch sister.

honorary sister

As far as the moment your water broke? If there were awards given out to women for listening to their bodies and demanding everyone else listen as well? You’d win. You knew that kid was coming and that he was coming now. When Nurse Yawns said ‘hold on‘ and you responded with ‘GET THE DOCTOR IN HERE NOW.’ I gave you a silent little standing O from the back of the room.

It went so fast. One push his head was out. Half a push later you had a baby in your arms. I perfect little boy with long fingers, full lips and a wrinkly little back.

At one point you yelled ‘I CAN’T DO THIS!‘ the sarcastic part of me thought ‘It’s a little to late for that now Em.’ while the rest of me, completely in awe of what you were going through shouted “YES YOU CAN. YOU ARE SHOWING BIRTH WHO’S BOSS.” I kept quiet of course, aside from the clicks of my shutter, you had plenty of other people cheering you on, including your doula who said very matter-of-factly “Yes you can, because you’re doing it.

And just like that he was here.


You probably didn’t get to see Michael’s face. He’s so in love with that tiny little seven pound body and even more in love with you. I hope that being able to see his face in these pictures made it worth having me there. The joy of a man becoming a new dad, even for the fourth time…it’s palpable, fleeting and one of the most powerful emotions out there.

As I left you were snuggled up tight with your son, surrounded by the dim, warm, quiet that happens after all the excitement and intensity has slowed down. That magical time when it’s just you and your baby.

People commented on how lucky you are to have a friend like me, while I’m certainly not going to argue with them (what? humility is overrated) I am going to say it is me who is blessed to have you as a friend.

Our friendship may have started because of the Internet, but it was designed by God.

You are forever a part of my family and heart.

Thank you.

Thank you for being you.

And thank you for letting me be with you two years ago and last night as you welcomed your sons into this world.



(note: my mobile theme is wonky and won’t show photos on most mobile devices, sorry about that, click for full site to view photos.)

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live and diastasis.

So I have a tear down the middle of my stomach.

Technical name?

Diastasis Recti.

What does it look like?

The one on the left.

image copyright 2010 Julie Tupler, RN

Does it hurt?

Yes. Quite badly at times.

Can you feel your guts through it?

Yep, and it’s just as gross as it sounds.

Can you fix it?

Sure! But I’m learning it’s a whole hell of a lot of work to do just that.

It involves a splint. A tight splint that I have to wear day and night for at least six weeks. A tight splint that I have to wear day and night for at least six weeks in super hot and sweaty Indiana weather.

What does the splint look like?

*deep breath*

Well, before I show you what I look like with the splint on I should show you what it looks like with it off.

Wait wait wait! First, let me show you what I looked like 9 hours before I gave birth. (Perspective. It helps.)

9 hours before she came out.


9 weeks postpartum (with a giant diastasis, remember? Good.)

11 weeks postpartum diastasis.

and while we’re at it…from the front.

9 weeks postpartum diastasis.

and now with the splint…

diastasis splint.

diastasis splint.

Yeah. That’s a lot to hold in huh?

So. There you go.

That’s what I’m dealing with over here.

It kind of sucks.

But look what I got out of it!!

my ladies.

Two of ‘em! BONUS!

Now move along and have comfort in the fact that not all of us are in bikinis eight weeks postpartum.

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spoiler alert. there will be a baby.

plaque by @lisaleonard

We’re leaving for the hospital. 12:56 am EST May 4, 2011.


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eleven months pregnant.

Today Katy Perry asked me if I felt paper thin, like a house of cards, one blow from caving in.

Thanks for asking Katy, but no, I feel the complete antithesis of paper thin.

Round, robust, thick and sturdy are a few adjectives that come to mind.

We walked around the mall yesterday and I shocked myself every time I realized the reflection of that comically large pregnant woman was in fact, me.

Today is my “official” due date, and while I’m still on the outs with the word “due” I feel it’s better than using the word “expire” or “lapse.”

However I have decided that every day that passes by after today will be considered a month. Tomorrow? I’ll be 11 months pregnant. If I do go two weeks past? Say hello to Casey, 24 months pregnant.

I’m very happy that I make such a hospitable environment for babies, my only fear is the “I” word. Induction. It was brought up at my last appointment. As soon as he started into the “I” discussion I began to move my head back and forth in a very adamant “no” wondering when he’d figure out that my fervent head shaking meant “NO INDUCTION!” not “check out how bouncy my hair is with this new shampoo I’ve been using!

Ah yes, then there’s all of the advice.

  • Chew fresh basil! (ew.)
  • Cold plain yogurt! (where?)
  • Hot baths! (nightly! but, still pregnant.)
  • Mini trampoline! (I have a balance ball! Bounce bounce bounce everyday. See also: still pregnant!)
  • SEX! (PFFT.)
  • Spicy food! (It hurts going in, staying in and coming out, no thank you.)
  • Eggplant! (Delicious! But, still pregnant.)
  • Red raspberry leaf tea! (Tastes like artichokes! Still pregnant.)
  • Chiropractor! (Love mine, however, still pregnant.)
  • Castor oil! (Sweet love almighty no.)
  • Evening primrose! (I’m still not sure where people are telling me to stick them.)
  • Cold stone cupcakes! (MMM! Still pregnant!)
  • Pedicures! (Every two weeks! STILL PREGNANT!)
  • Acupuncture! (So I’m trying this one this week.)
  • Acupressure! (See: If acupuncture doesn’t work.)
  • LUSH sex bomb! (I smelled good! Pregnant!)
  • Pennyroyal! (Googled=TOXIC!)

All of this silliness has simply led me to realize that this kid will make its appearance when it’s darn good and ready.

But there’s still this anticipation and uncertainty which is both wonderful and stifling all at once. Let’s go see a movie tomorrow! You know, assuming I don’t birth a human. What’s for dinner? Bean soup! You know, unless I can’t make it because I’m birthing a human. What are you doing next Thursday? No idea! But I could be birthing a human!

Cody acknowledged today the whole surprise element is probably killing my spirit unicorns slowly. I just don’t do surprises well! At all! And this! ALL SURPRISE! But I am still happy. Still enjoying my daily kiwi, naps and baths. And like someone said on twitter “I’ve never seen one stay in.”

So there’s that.

SO WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THIS WEEK? May I live vicariously through them?

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nimble I’m not, happy I am.

There have been many mentions about how uncomfortable I must be with this fully cooked human that has over taken the front of my body.

leading with my mozzi.

The truth? I’m not really that uncomfortable.

Yes, I get heartburn from really weird stuff, I can’t roll over in bed without getting winded, getting off the couch (or a chair, or out of the car, or off the ground) is comical and I certainly won’t be winning any awards for leaping buildings in a single bound (Let’s be honest, I won’t even be circling them on the ground in a graceful manner. TAXI!) But overall? I’m not bad.

I’m not one of those women who will be screaming at my doctor to “HURRY UP AND GET THIS BABY OUT OF ME ALREADY!“  I kind of really super duper wanted her in there in the first place, so I’m going to enjoy the time I have with her. She’s safe, she’s well fed and there are very few choking hazards in there. I am also not the type to take to drastic eviction methods (I’m looking at you castor oil) nor do I want to be induced. (Pitocin and I are not on speaking terms.)

I guess the hardest part is that I stink at surprises and acquiring babies is one of the last great surprises left. Could my water break in the Costco checkout line? Maybe I’ll have to poke Cody at 4 am and whisper “it’s time” or maybe I’ll birth a baby in the toilet, SURPRISE! (but really, no thank you on this last one.) Mozzi could easily be a boy, have dark hair and weigh 9 pounds (also, no thank you!!) I’ve had adoptive friends go from childless to parents before their milk expires and I’ve had dinner with pregnant friends only to find out 12 hours later they’re in a hospital snuggling a new baby that came out of them.

I can’t shake the package on this one. I can’t google the return address. I have no tracking number and no delivery guarantees.

39 weeks.

I just get to enjoy it.

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MamaMemoirs, because mama’s memory isn’t so good, and pregnancy is too funny not to remember.

Now that pregnancy is coming to an end I’m feeling nostalgic about all the little things I’m going to miss.

Little things I didn’t blog about but that deserve a mention.

Like the other night at 4 am when I wanted applesauce. I couldn’t get any of the jars open so I went back to bed sobbing, but not before emailing Cody (yes, at 4 am) informing him that there were 4 unopened jars of applesauce and a sad pregnant lady in his midst. He wrote me back saying “You could have woken me up to open it.” Yes, yes of course Cody, because it would have made perfect sense to you why your very pregnant wife was standing over you crying with a giant jar of applesauce at 4 am.

I replied “In an effort to maintain a modicum of sanity in your eyes, I wrote the email instead. Hope you understand. xo-Red

Another little event that deserves to be mentioned and recorded in any pregnancy is the first time you wallop a stranger in the back of the head with your belly in a crowded restaurant.

Then there was my checkup last Thursday, it’s been awhile since I’ve had to do the whole “paper drape” at the doctors office and I forgot just how flimsy the damn things are. While trying to tuck the sheet under one butt cheek I ripped the other side. While trying to tuck the ripped side under my other cheek I ripped the original side and was left with nothing more that white paper streamers covering my nakedness. Ah yes, this is the stuff memories are made of.

I started composing a song about losing feeling in my legs on the way to the mailbox today. I really feel it could be a chart topper in the country music scene.

One thing with this pregnancy that never really happened with Addie are cravings. My third trimester shall always come with images of me hunched over a cutting board in my kitchen shoveling triangles of seedless watermelon into my mouth at a furious pace. In fact, I just polished off a quarter melon moments ago. I’m sure Cody will be left with a mental image of me pounding Cheerios every night before bed.

Blissdom '11 (Friday)

My stomach is so full of human that painting my own toenails became a joke back in January. Shaving my legs? That became comical in February and today? After getting out of the shower and realizing there was no way I was bending over to dry off my legs I just took to flipping the towel at my legs hoping that either the towel would whisk off some of the moisture or the breeze the towel produced would leave me with somewhat dry skin allowing me to put on underwear without it getting all rolled up and bunchy as it stuck to my still damp skin.

Really, these are all things I want to remember. Promise. If for no other reason than to really laugh at them when I have abdominal muscles back and I don’t run the risk of peeing a little if I let out a good guffaw.


Awhile ago I was asked to try out a new site called MamaMemoirs, it’s an online pregnancy journal for everything from “I’M ONLY 34 WEEKS BUT MEASURING 39!! (true story)” to “No watermelon in a 8 mile radius is safe from my voracious craving right now.” It allows you to add pictures, link your flickr and share your posts with just yourself, your family or the entire world (aka facebook.) While I personally haven’t used it for the exact reasons listed above, I kind of wish I had. I decided to use it as a way to document the huge virtual baby shower so many of you have taken part in. Collecting stories, cards, photos and well wishes from dozens of friends, because when this is all over? I’ll be able to have it made into a book ($30-$40) that mozzi and Addie will be able to read about how much we were loved before we even became a family of four.

Not to mention there is a place for information and photos from parties and showers as well as a whole area dedicated to your labor. And after Mozzi is here? The format will automatically switch over allowing me to keep track of Mozzi’s first years. (like the moment the umbilical cord falls off unsettling everyone in the house…especially if the cat runs off with it…so much good stuff.)

An account is free during pregnancy and can be started the moment you get that positive pregnancy test, because you control who sees it you can keep it updated and private until you’re ready to announce your news to the world. As soon It’s also especially handy if you’re not a blogger but want to have some sort of tangible record of the 40 weeks that is the hilarity of pregnancy. Adoptive mom? You don’t have to start with pregnancy, you can enter your baby’s birthday and start tracking their first year, from the moment you first saw them to the moment the papers were signed to their first steps. (There is a $19 fee to continue using the journal after pregnancy.)

Sound good? I know my first reaction was “THEY DIDN’T HAVE THIS STUFF WHEN I WAS PREGNANT! (with Addie that is.)”


What do you always want to remember from your pregnancy? Because I know I’ll always remember the look on that guys face when he turned around and realized he had just been pummeled in the back of the head by my protruding stomach.


DISCLOSURE: I was compensated for my time in evaluating, working with and creating my own profile with the MamaMemoirs team. All statements and opinions are my own honest ones. Pinky swear.

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