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Deborah Cruz

back pain, sciatica, midlife

Well, it’s been a hell of a last few days. Of course, it’s May so what else did I expect? If the universe is not trying to break me, is it even May? Thursday, I fell down my stairs. Hello, sciatica, not so happy to see you again. My fall was dramatic like a full-on telenovela or someone threw me down our stairs (though it feels like it) but more accurately, our new, gigantic French Mastiff excitedly came down the stairs while I was heading down to refill my water bottle in the middle of the night. Well, if you’ve been here long, you know that at night or in inclement weather I walk like a f*cking pirate thanks to the hardware situation in my leg from the broken leg situation in 2015. Yep, it’s the f*cking gift that just keeps on giving.

My point is that I’m already unstable as it is and when an unexpected bull in a China shop comes running behind you in the dark, I’m more than likely going to end up on my ass and I did.

Disclosure: I was provided the Boppy® Multi-use Slipcovered Total Body Pillow for review purposes but my true love and opinion of this pillow are all my own.

Anyways, it was only about 4 stairs but my life did flash before my eyes because this is not the first time I’ve fallen and, more often than expected, I’ve ended up in the ER. I didn’t this time but, of course, it was no regular fall. In my desperation not to break more bones, I forgot my own “go limp b*tch” protocol and stiffened my entire body up. What happened you asked?

My feet were capoeira style swept out from beneath me thanks to aforementioned adorable, silent but deadly dogue de Bordeaux (big ass dog) and thanks to the carpet on the stairs, I lost my balance. I stiffened my arms trying to catch myself (as if I remember nothing from the 2020 broken toe/concussion situation) and at the same time, I broke my fall into the banister with my ribs while stiffening my legs, arm and entire right side of my body. I thought I escaped with minimal damage until the next day. I woke up pretty sore.

Oh no, bad timing. I had a second job interview at noon with the owner of a company that could prove to be a super exciting opportunity for me. I pulled on my big girl panties, a really cute outfit and sucked up any pain I was feeling. Did I mention the in –person interview went from being 2 people to 7-9, depending when you checked?  Did I mention I haven’t had an in-person interview in 17 years?

The unconventional interview lasted 5 hours (that’s a post for another day) but I wasn’t actually surprised because the first one lasted 6 hours. But for the 5 hours, I was sitting in a typical office chair, super uncomfortable. About hour 3 I started using my left hand as a chin rest because I was actually trying to feign interest in someone else’s interview that I ended up a part of. I think I must have kept it there for about 2 hours. After 5 hours, I tried to stand up and my sciatica said, “F*ck you, Debi. Sit your ass back down!” But I had to go because it had been a long, weird day and I had eaten nothing all day so I was ready to eat the face off of the next person who looked at me.

I got in my car and as I drove, I knew the damage had been extensive and the weekend was going to be for recuperating. As soon as I got in my car, I realized that my left hand that was supporting my face for 2 hours, had tingling in my pinky and ring finger. OMG, did I have a stroke during my interview? I figured it just fell asleep under the weight of my chunky face and double chin. Only the pins and needles gave way to numbness.

By the time, I reached home, I could barely get out of my SUV because my sciatica nerve pain was so intense. I slowly grandpa walked into the house and barked at my poor husband to get us some dinner, as I put the heating pad on my back and prayed the damage wasn’t permanent. I felt about 100 years old. I started to get worried because the funky feeling in my fingers was not getting any better.

Well, it’s been three days. The feeling just came back in my fingers today. It’s an ulnar nerve injury from when I dislocated my elbow trying to do some manual labor in my yard that is acting up. It’s basically a pinched nerve that shows up occasionally t keep my humble.

However, my lower back sciatica pain that started when I was pregnant with the girls has its own plans. I’m currently trying to find a way to position myself to not want to kill myself from the pain. The only thing that seems to work is the Boppy® Multi-use Slipcovered Total Body Pillow it’s a one-piece pregnancy pillow that can be used in multiple ways ( well beyond pregnancy, as I am almost 15 years postpartum) to make you and your growing baby bump ( or your regular mom belly) more comfortable. Its unique contoured design supports your body head-to-toe. That boppy has been my saving grace these last few nights. Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to get comfortable enough to fall asleep.

Well, that was my weekend. How was yours? Did you enjoy every moment of it or was it too short and filled with obligations?

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How to Keep Your Shit Together while Busy Taking Care of Everyone Else, how to protect your mental health while taking care of everyone else

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

These past few weeks of motherhood have been thus far some of the hardest ever. Shit has happened that no one teaches you about in the parenting books. I’ve studied the whole of the DSM and I still couldn’t have been prepared, as a mother, for the kind of emotional toll that has been taken on me. That’s why I’m realizing how to protect your mental health while taking care of everyone else is so important for parents.

You know there are things you expect, in the back of your head, in the bottom of your heart and right there in the pit of your stomach. Things that you know can happen, like all those terrible side effects they warn you of when you are taking the drugs that will save your life. You take them anyways because living is more important than having the shakes. Well, my friends, this shit was not on the warning label when I got pregnant. Or maybe it was and I chose not to believe it.

I have been struggling with mental illness since the teen years. There is a whole list of disorders and illnesses that I can speak of at length and in-depth. That should have been a red flag to me that maybe I needed to be a little more prepared for what could happen if the girls got triggered. But, I thought, I’ve got this. I found my way out of the darkness. It’ll be fine. And it was until it wasn’t anymore.

In my teen years, my mind was held hostage in a dark abyss. I couldn’t find my way out or at least it felt like I couldn’t but, true to Debi fashion, one step at a time, one moment at a time, I survived. Barely. Even though there were days when it was so painful to be alive that I prayed something or someone would kill me because I couldn’t do it myself and hurt my mom. She was my savior and she had no idea of the dark thoughts that were infiltrating my brain. It’s probably better that way. But I know.

In those days, it hurt to breathe because it felt counterintuitive and I cried more tears than I thought were even possible. But, my childhood was tumultuous to put it nicely. A lot of bad shit happened to me and when you’re a kid, you can only take so much before you break. Or so I thought. I’m more resilient than I ever imagined because I never actually broke, I just bent as far as my child mind and body could.

I promised myself that I would never allow that to be my daughters’ stories. They would live a “normal” life. As if I even know what that looks like. I promised myself they would never be triggered and I thought I could protect them from my same fate. But I was wrong. There are some things we can’t actually stop from happening, no matter how hard we try or how ‘good’ we are at this parenting thing. Maybe this is why I feel like such a fraud when people compliment me. I know the truth. There are simply some things that are beyond our control. That’s a hard and bitter pill for this recovering smother mother to swallow.

How to protect your mental health while taking care of everyone else is a hard, but imperative, balance to find

Today, I took my daughter to her first adolescent group therapy session. Never expected that to be a milestone. She almost cried when I left her. I almost cried when I left her in a room full of strange kids in their own turmoil. Is this a good idea? Is she going to get ideas or learn bad habits? But isn’t this supposed to help her live? All that matters is that she makes it through, by any means possible. She is the most important thing in my life. She and her sister are truly my entire reason why.

A couple of weeks ago, her depressive episode got so bad that I could see her slipping into that same dark abyss that I used to live in. I lived there for years. I honestly thought I’d never escape. I resigned myself to living there alone with my pain until it killed me. For me, it started at 12-years-old with body dysmorphia, then the major depression and suicidal ideations started around freshman year of high school, onto eating disorders beginning around 17 ( bulimia then anorexia with extreme exercising), and ultimately a diagnosis of bipolar 1 when I spent most of my college years and my mid 20’s manic AF. I didn’t have my first panic attack until I was 35-years-old but according to my psychiatrist, anxiety was there first.

As a child, I was prone to terrible stomach aches that landed me in the emergency room on more than one occasion. That’s how little Debi’s anxiety from living with an abusive, alcoholic father first manifested. But I learned quickly, around 7-years-old, how to develop my coping mechanisms. I’m a counter. It worked for years until my husband lost his job when I was 35. #mommysfirstpanicattack Yep, if I’m anxious and talking to people (pushing through my anxiety) I’m probably counting every word you are saying and all the letters in the words.  I know I’m an extrovert but I also have my limits. I didn’t even realize I counted or what it meant until about a year into my therapy. Did I mention now ADHD is on the table? Aye aye aye. Like seriously, what the actual fuck?

Anyways, most if not all of these things are in control ( save for a little mania that gets triggered when I’m under duress…you know like when you’re dealing with the guilt and pressure of passing along your fucked up brain chemistry to your children). You have not had mom guilt of this level if you haven’t genetically fucked your kids up. It is a special kind of hell because it is in fact my fault. I’ve been crying about this a lot lately.

Right now, I’m trying to keep my shit together while putting out a seemingly unlimited amount of mental health trash fires over here daily. It’s a lot. I’m overwhelmed. I’m triggered and I’m trying my best to do what’s best for everyone, especially my girls. I thought I was holding it together. I mean I know that on the inside, I’m falling apart but I thought on the outside, I was taking care of business. I think I am for the most part but I’m neglecting myself. I know this because the other days while I was sobbing about my daughter’s mental health crisis, I could hear my pressured speech and feel my pressured thoughts machine-gunning out of my head and my husband gave me a hug and said, “But Debi, you haven’t looked happy for a while.” And he’s not wrong. I’m too overwhelmed and exhausted and scared to be happy because what right do I have when my children are in pain?

That’s how I know that I need to step back, take inventory and do whatever I need to do to get my own mental health in order. Because skipping myself isn’t doing any favors for my children or my husband. In fact, I’m adding to the pile of neverending trash fires currently going on. Look, I’m not complaining. This is me processing. I write, that’s how I survive. If you’ve ever wondered why my feeds are not perfectly curated, it’s not because I don’t know that it’s what people want its because I refuse to live a lie. My battle with eating disorders made me a liar for about 8 solid years. You have to lie to hide the fact that you are slowly killing yourself from the people who love you. If not, they will stop you from your slow suicide. And I preferred to exile myself from everyone than to let them know how truly vulnerable and pathetic I was. I spent so many years striving for perfection and I’m still a fucking relentless overachiever. It’s just who I am. If I stop moving I die. But now, with years of therapy and doing the work to not only understand my disease but myself, I will never silently suffer again and I don’t want that for my daughters either. I never want them to feel that alone and afraid to live. So how do I protect my mental health while taking care of everyone else? I have to be vigilant that I take care of myself first or I won’t be able to take care of anyone else. I know from a mom’s perspective, it sounds very selfish but it’s not. It is giving myself permission to heal so that I can help the people I love the most heal and get the help they need with my full support.

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Dangerous Things You Probably Shouldn’t Let Your Children Do

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

As a mom, you want to do everything you can to protect your children, but sometimes, it’s not obvious that the thing they want to do could have some hidden risks and actually be harmful to their health and wellbeing. You know they shouldn’t play with matches or miss their shots, but there are less obvious dangers that you might miss.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some dangerous things you should probably not let your children do that you might not even be aware of:

Play music loudly

There is obviously nothing wrong with letting your kids enjoy music, but if they are using earbuds, then you should make sure that they keep the volume on the lower side to avoid potential ear loss. You can also protect the hearing of small children by wearing ear defenders if they plan on attending concerts with loud music. The whole family can still have fun, but in such a way that it will not be detrimental to their hearing.

Don’t let them play with dangerous toys

You could be forgiven for thinking any toy you buy at the store is totally safe for your child but that is not necessarily the case. Many toys contain small parts like button batteries and safety pins, which can be really dangerous if they come off and your child eats them, so as a parent, you should always check out the safety credentials of toys before you give them to your kids.

Don’t keep them out of the dirt

Okay, so this is not really dangerous so much as counterintuitive. If you try to keep your child pristine at all times, it could actually be bad for their health. Kids need exposure to a little dust and dirt to help them build strong immune systems, so although you should not let them play unsupervised in dirty areas, letting them get a bit muddy in the yard now and again is fine, and may actually help them.

Do not spoil them

It may seem harmless enough to give your kids everything they want when they are young, but I certainly did. But it could be causing mental health problems for them in the future when they do not get everything they want.

Kids who are spoiled find it harder to make friends, harder to deal with rejection and more difficult to be resilient, which can lead to anxiety and depression as they get older and realize that not everyone will spoil them as much as you do.

Don’t let them have secrets

It might seem harmless enough to encourage your kids to keep it secret that you ate cookies for lunch or whatever, but you need to bear in mind that some secrets are actually pretty dangerous and by encouraging them to keep a harmless one, you might make it easier for predators to encourage them to keep bad secrets too, Always be honest and open.

If you don’t let your kids do any of the above, then they will be less likely to get into difficulties and their well-being will be much better as a result.

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5 ways to relax at night, chill out, get ready for bed

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Do you have trouble winding down at night? An endless list of things show up in your brain right at the exact moment you’re supposed to be drifting off to LaLa land? If so, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, millions of people have difficulty relaxing and getting ready for bed. I’ve been an insomniac since college so I know a little bit about this topic. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help yourself calm down, relax and prepare for sleep. This blog post will discuss 6 ways to relax at night, chill out and get ready for bed. 

Listen to calm music

There is something about music that can soothe us and make us feel more relaxed. So if you’re struggling to wind down at night, try listening to some calm music. This can help you relax both your mind and body, making it easier to fall asleep.

Some suitable genres of music to listen to for relaxation purposes include classical, jazz, and nature sounds. Many apps and websites offer calming music specifically designed to help you sleep. 

Do some gentle stretching 

Gentle stretching is another great way to relax your body and mind before bed. It can help relieve tension and reduce stress. You can do several different stretches, so find ones that work best for you. Start by doing some simple neck and shoulder rolls. Then, move on to other body areas such as your back, legs, and arms. Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds before moving on to the next one.

Doing some light stretching before bed can also help improve your sleep quality and reduce the risk of pain waking you up during the night.  But don’t do a full cardio workout unless you want that rush of endorphins at bedtime. Be warned it won’t bode well for your insomnia.

Sit outside for a while  

If you have trouble relaxing indoors, try spending some time outside. Sitting or lying down in a park or other green space can help reduce stress and anxiety. I keep a comfy sectional on my deck for just this reason. The fresh air and natural light can also do wonders for your sleep quality. If it’s not possible to sit outside, simply open a window to let some fresh air into your room. You can also try smoking marijuana outside if it helps you to relax. But you might want to invest in this spray to get rid of weed smell and keep the neighbors out of your business. Or just go the edible route, no nasal evidence left behind.

Take a relaxing bath 

There is nothing quite like a warm bath to help you relax at night. Add some soothing aromatherapy, add a few drops of lavender oil to your bathtub or light a delicious smelling candle to help further promote relaxation. One of my favorites is GYV MesoAmerican Beauty Mango pineapple candle. The heat from the water can also help reduce muscle pain and tension. Soak in your tub for 20-30 minutes to give yourself enough time to relax fully. Moisturize yourself from head to toe. I love the Mango lotion from GYV. For luxuriously attractive and beautiful glowing skin I’m obsessed with Dignity Coconuts lip balms and raw coconut oil.

After your bath, avoid any activities that will stimulate your mind or body. This means no working, watching TV, or using your phone or computer. You want your body and mind to be relaxed, so give yourself time to wind down before bed. 

Pop a gummy

IYKYK if you don’t, I’m definitely talking about a CBD gummy. Just 1 Inflamade Yummy Watermelon Vegan Sleep Solution gummy and you will sleep all night long. Deep Sleep CBD + CBN Vegan Gummies combine the power of CBD + CBN – and works to put your mind at ease and sleep throughout the night. With 20mg CBD + 5mg CBN, and 3mg Melatonin per watermelon gummy, products are lab tested to ensure 0% THC and 100% Drug Test Safe.

The compounds CBD and CBN have different impacts on the body, but when combined, they aid in alleviating restless nights and insomnia.

If you are looking for something with THC to relax your mind before bed and get a great night’s sleep, I highly recommend Berry Burst Indica Gummies by Encore Edibles at your local dispensary. It’s one of my personal favorites for overwhelmed and exhausted moms who just can’t relax. It does the job 100% of the time.

Practice some deep breathing exercises: 

Deep breathing is a simple but effective way to relax your body and mind. It can help reduce stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure, and improve sleep quality. To do a deep breathing exercise, simply sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and focus on taking slow, deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try to inhale enough to expand your stomach, not just your chest. 

All this to say, there are many things you can do to relax at night. By listening to calm music, doing some gentle stretching, spending time outside, taking a relaxing bath, and practicing deep breathing exercises, you can wind down and get ready for a good night’s sleep. 

These are 5 ways to relax at night, chill out and get ready for bed. What is your top tip for relaxing at night?

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how to hone your personal style

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Do you want to start dressing more stylishly? Maybe you just want to get back to dressing and feeling like yourself again, like before you were somebody’s mom. Let’s be honest with ourselves, getting dressed up in fashionable clothes that fit well and make you feel attractive makes everyone feel better. I know it sounds superficial but it’s definitely not. We deserve that little luxury. Either way, you can find out everything you need to know, right here.

How to Hone Your Personal Style

Become an Expert

The first thing that you need to do is try and gather as much inspiration as possible. You need to become an observer of all of the outfits you like, whether it is on Instagram, on fashion blogs or even in magazines. Look at all of the women and think about what makes them stand out. What resonates with you? What is it that makes you identify with that style? If possible, you need to be precise and you also need to train your eye. You then need to try and copy or imitate the outfits that you do like. Surprisingly, you can get a stylish wardrobe without breaking your budget. Believe it or not, this is a very helpful and creative technique, and it can really help you to build your foundational understanding of fashion. It also forces you to actually pay attention to detail.

Use a Mirror

If you do not have a full-length mirror, then now is the time for you to invest in one. A big mirror is so important as it gives you the chance to play around with different proportions and it also gives you the opportunity to play around with textures and colors too. You can accessorize better, and you can also become your own personal stylist. Just make sure that you are always seeing the bigger picture. If you want to help yourself then you also need to try and experiment with jewelry and accessories. You can try and buy a 1-carat diamond ring, a pearl necklace or some cute statement pieces if you like, and you will be surprised at how much of a difference this can make to your outfit and how you feel in that outfit.

how to hone your personal style

Get out of your Comfort Zone

Getting your own signature style can be very difficult to do. You may even find that it takes years of practice to fully develop your personal sense of style. At the end of the day, you have to make sure that you are not afraid to make mistakes. It’s just clothes. Knowing the trends is helpful but not the most important thing. Try and keep things fun and expose yourself to various styles and aesthetics. If you can do this, then you will soon find that it is easier for you to create an outfit that you love. Don’t be afraid to play around with patterns, colors and even accessories. Silhouettes are also a very good starting point, so explore things like this.

Proportions are Important

Proportion is everything if you want to try and create aesthetic harmony. If possible you need to try and wear clothes that are fitted to your body shape. If you want to play around with an oversized piece of clothing, or if you want to experiment with something that is an unusual shape, then you need to try and keep the rest of the clothing items you have fitted. This way you can make your outfit look fantastic, and you can also make sure that you are not dressing in clothes that look too baggy or oversized for your look.

In the end, fashion is about feeling beautiful in your own skin and it’s more about how you feel than what you wear. Be adventurous and self-confident and you’ll be the sexiest version of yourself.

What is the one piece of fashion that defines your personal style?

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how my miscarriage still affects me, anniversary of loss, loss anniversary, moms mental health

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Today is May 1st and it’s the day I dread all year long. This year particularly because it’s been a rough year, month, week and day. 10 years ago today, I lost the baby who would have been our third child. It’s weird because on that day, a part of me did die. I am not the same woman I was the day before. I have been broken beyond repair and put back together with existential gorilla glue or maybe just sheer mother’s love because if it weren’t for my 2 living daughters, I’m pretty sure I would have just given up which is saying a lot considering that giving up has never been in my wheelhouse.

I’m sure that anyone who has never survived a miscarriage or loss of a child thinks I’m being overly dramatic but I assure you, when my baby died, I wanted to follow suit. I was shattered and felt betrayed by my body, by the world and even by God. God, is the one thing, I have always had an unshakable faith in but in those moments after hearing that my child no longer had a heartbeat, I wasn’t so sure what I believed anymore. I was angry, sad and felt like I had been completely blind-sighted by the events that were unfolding at an alarming rate. I felt vulnerable and helpless and worthless simultaneously and I hated myself and everyone else for that. Why couldn’t I make this better? Why didn’t I stop this? How could I have prevented this? Why me?

Why me, indeed. You know, I used to think that child and pregnancy loss was something that only happened to other people. I didn’t think I was better. I just thought that it didn’t happen that often and I was probably safe. There was no genetic history of miscarriages happening on either side of my family. For some reason, I thought I was exempt from the possibility even though rationally, I knew horrible things happen to everyone and I’m not special but maybe on some level I thought I was. I’ve survived a lot of tumultuous shit in my lifetime, maybe I just thought I deserved a break.

But when it happened and I was falling apart in every way possible, an invisible community of women who most I had never even met or spoken to previous to this catastrophic moment in my life, rallied beneath me and lifted me up in compassion, understanding and love. From the nurses who wheeled me back to my D & E, to the other moms who read this website and I’ve come to know and love over the years, to my IRL friends who comfortingly disclosed their own losses and even strangers who read my post, these women across the world swooped in like superheroes and saved me from myself. How could I give up when so many stoic women who had gone through this same thing were holding their hands out to me to give me the strength to carry on? How could I give up when I looked into the teary eyes of my little girls who knew but could not comprehend what was going on with their mommy? They needed me and I needed them to be my reason why and they were.

You know, I was so devastated on that day that I became the most selfish version of myself, I had to in order to live. I still feel really guilty about this but in my soul-crushing pain, I never once asked the Big Guy how he felt. I couldn’t even face him. He was the one person who I felt the most that my loss had let down. I’ll never forget in the minutes after finding out that our baby had died, my Obstetrician, Nina (yeah we’ve become close like that after the gynecological tragedies we’ve shared), made me call my husband and tell him so that he could take care of me. She saw me disintegrating before her eyes. She knew a total collapse was imminent.

He knew I was seeing the gynecologist and he answered the phone with his usual jovial, kind, caring voice, “How’s our baby?” I’m crying right now just remembering. When I told him, when I tried to say the words I felt as if I was going to choke to death. I tried to swallow them down and rewind time. Nothing made sense and everything was hazy. I felt like I had betrayed him in a way that I can never undo and that somehow made it all worse. My husband is my best friend and the one person I love and respect more than anyone else in this world. We’ve built a life together, we made an unspoken deal when we got married to always be there for one another and I feel like I didn’t keep up my end of the bargain.

But today has been 10 years since I lost our baby and it still hurts as much as it did on that day, even if I sometimes feel like I am the only one who remembers or commemorates the day. But how could I pretend that today is like any other day when I so vividly remember the devastation that I felt on that day 10 years ago?

Even though I feel completely alone in my loss, I know that I’m not. My husband gives me space and my beautiful, sweet, kind, compassionate girls are extra tender with me every May 1st because they know. They’re only 14 and 17 but they feel the love that I have for them on a daily basis and they sense the gravity of my loss; the void in my heart, the heaviness of the emptiness of my arms that tinges my life every day with sadness that grows just a bit heavier every May 1st. 10 years ago today, I died a little bit.

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Breastfeeding Tips Every New Moms Should Know About, Tips to Help New Moms Get the Best Breastfeeding Results

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Having your first baby (or any baby) comes with excitement at all the firsts. You can’t wait to take care of your sweet baby and even things like breastfeeding seem magical. Even though sometimes it’s not as easy or as magical as we anticipate. Breastfeeding offers various benefits for you and your baby so if you can do it, I’d recommend giving it a try. It provides the ideal nutrition while preventing the risks of developing diseases. It also helps restore your uterus to its original size and reduces your risk of falling sick or depressed. But in all honesty, it’s not always easy and moms frequently find breastfeeding uncomfortable and sometimes painful. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to give up. However, it’s a great way to bond with your baby, one of my personal favorites and, for me, it was worth the work but it’s different for everyone. If you do want to give breastfeeding a try, here are some tips to help new moms get the best breastfeeding results. 

Provide ample support for your body 

Breastfeeding can be stressful or unpleasant if you’re not positioned comfortably. Therefore, you’ll find it helpful to support your body for the best experience. You can invest in a chair with substantial support for your arms and back. It’s also helpful to place your legs on a footstool, coffee table, or stack of pillows to create the perfect balance. If sitting down to breastfeed isn’t for you, you can also make yourself comfortable on your bed. As a tip, rest your back on many pillows for the needed support. 

Invest in a good nursing bra 

You’ll find that your regular bra may not be so comfortable. Due to their structure, you may have to take your bra off when breastfeeding. Moreover, the texture of your regular bras can feel irritating or compound the pain in your sore nipples. Fortunately, nursing bras are specially designed to enhance comfort when breastfeeding. These options enable you to nurse without removing anything and can accommodate your breasts, no matter how engorged they are. Therefore, investing in maternity bras is essential, so keep this in mind. 

Determine the proper breastfeeding position 

Admittedly, there is no right or wrong way to hold your baby while breastfeeding. However, some positions may be less pleasant than others. Therefore, determining the right options is essential. Fortunately, several breastfeeding options are available, and you can choose what’s best suited for you. For instance, the cross-cradle hold is excellent for feeding newborns and babies with latching difficulties. This position supports your kid’s shoulders and head when sucking. However, avoid holding them around the head to prevent a shallow latch and sore nipples. Another position you can consider is the reclined position, where you place your baby on your tummy or chest. Instinctively, your baby will work its way to one of your breasts. The skin-to-skin contact also stimulates their feeding instincts, so keep this in mind. Fortunately, you can research the various breastfeeding positions online for a more informed decision. It may take a while but you will find one that best works for you and your baby. Believe me, I feel like I tried every position there was, in fact, I may have created a couple but in the end, the girls were full and that’s the most important thing.

Drink water regularly 

You’ll discover that you get thirstier when breastfeeding. This is normal, as your body releases oxytocin to remind you to get enough water to produce breast milk. While drinking more water than is necessary won’t increase your milk supply, dehydration can reduce how much you produce. Moreover, you risk having mood swings, low energy, and poor skin health. Therefore, it’s important to drink water regularly for the best results. I kept my ½ gallon Hydro Jug by my side and it reminded me to keep drinking and I’ve never stopped. Experts advise taking a glass of water before or during breastfeeding and consuming cucumbers, watermelons, oranges, and other fruit with high water content. You can also improve your water’s taste by adding small juice amounts. However, avoid excess caffeine and alcohol when breastfeeding. 

Eat enough calories

When I was breastfeeding, I was hungry so remember to feed yourself, as well as, your little one. One cool and delicious snack that a lot of new moms like to snack on is EZMILK trail mix for moms. I wish they had it around when I was breastfeeding, it would have made things a lot simpler. It’s a natural, filling trail mix for breastfeeding & nursing moms made with just 5 ingredients, including almonds, raisins, organic pumpkin seeds, organic watermelon seeds and fennel seeds to help support a mom on her breastfeeding journey. Nourishing and delicious, EZMILK is naturally free of gluten, grain, dairy, soy, added sugars and fenugreek. It’s perfect to help curb mom’s hunger cravings while breastfeeding and the pouch can be kept within easy reach for a quick snack!

What’s your best tip to help new moms get the best breastfeeding results?

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Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Tonight, I’m sitting here with a lot of feelings swirling around in my heart and a lot of thoughts and unanswered questions in my head. At the top of that list is how to help your child survive depression and anxiety. There’s been a lot of big things happening around here. Yesterday, we celebrated Bella’s Junior day at school. How can my first baby be a senior and be leaving for college soon? Sunday will be the 10th anniversary of the loss of our third baby and it’s tinging every day this week with sadness.

Today was the day that I’d been dreading my entire life even before I had my children. The one thing I hoped would never happen, the thing that has filled me with guilt and sadness since even before thinking of becoming a mom.

Today, my daughter verbalized what most adults cannot… she told me that she no longer feels any joy in her life.

I was diagnosed Bipolar 1 when I was in my 20s and back then, I was very regularly manic. That’s how my bipolar presents mostly, I fly so high that I can’t come down so I fly erratically until the extreme irritability and anger kick in. Then, I become unbearable. So, I was relieved when I got my diagnosis because it meant I was bent not broken and that felt kind of like a miracle to me. It felt as good as being cured. But the one thing that scared me the most was the possibility of passing it along to my children. I’d rather live my life dealing with the harsh reality of highs and lows than ever let my children feel one moment of unrest but we don’t always get what we want.

Because of my own experience with mental illness, I am an advocate for my children’s mental health. I’ve raised them knowing that everyone could benefit from therapy and that there is no shame in having a mental illness diagnosis. It just is what it is and all we can do is get a good psychiatrist, a compassionate psychologist and work the plan and take our meds. We have to do the work and it is some of the hardest work you’ll ever do but it’s the only way to get through it.

Today, my worst fear was realized when I heard my child, whom I love more than my own life, say that she could feel no joy and thought maybe she needed more help than I alone could give. On one hand, I was so proud of her for advocating for herself and for being so self-aware at such a young age but on the other hand, I was absolutely terrified. How can this be happening?

I’ve done everything I could think of proactively because of living with and learning about my own mental illness. My girls have been in therapy for the past 2 years. I keep a close eye on their mental health and well-being, we talk about everything openly and I look for the signs because I know how torturous it is to go through it alone. But there are some things you can’t stop from happening. You can only be there to help them find their way and mental illness one of those things that you can’t stop from happening. No matter who you are, how much money you have, where you live or who you think you are, mental illness does not discriminate. The difference in the outcome is whether you get the help you need or not.

In my 20’s, I was very manic almost exclusively but when I was my daughters’ ages (really from about 14-18 years old) I was highly suicidal. But it wasn’t just ideation, I had a plan. I had backup plans to my plan. It was so painful to live that I often felt the only way to stop the pain was to disappear into the abyss. I wanted to die more than I wanted anything else. Honestly, I used to pray for the strength to do it but there was one thing that stopped me, my mom. I just couldn’t get past what it would do to her and the thought of me being the cause of her feeling like she wanted to disappear into the abyss was the very thing that prompted me to keep fighting. I never told a soul and the fact that my daughter discussed her mental health with me, I feel, is evolved beyond what I was at her age.

I knew that if I killed myself, I would essentially be killing my own mother and I could never do that to her so I kept living. One day at a time, some days, one minute at a time and on others, one second at a time. Living during that time felt cruel and unusual but it was my only option. I think that’s where my unbreakable (or as my daughters call it unbearable) optimism comes from. I had to find a way to keep going through the darkest time of my life, alone.

My point is that life is a struggle for all of us in its own way. Sometimes life is so hard and scary that it’s almost impossible to see clear of the darkness. But I promise that eventually, the darkness lifts and becomes bearable. Learn to read between the lines and hear what your teenagers are feeling, beyond what they are saying. It’s not easy being a teenager in today’s digital world. There is so much pressure to be perfect in a world where everything is filtered and curated.

At the end of the day, all I want is for my girls to be happy. I want them to feel loved and filled with hope and a sense of purpose. I want them to know that everything is possible and no dream is too big. But mostly, I want them to feel real, genuine joy and I will do whatever it takes to make sure that I safely get them to a place where they can and they do. It’s been one of the hardest weeks of my life but I am grateful that she felt comfortable enough to talk to me because it terrifies to think about the alternative.

Have you ever been faced with the fact that your child may have a mental health issue and need help beyond what you can offer as a mom? What did you do? How did you get through it and comfort your child in a meaningful way without trivializing or catastrophizing their situation? How did you learn to listen beyond their words?  

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KNowing when to walk away from toxic relationships, toxica

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

The disappointment of people who let you down whether it be a family member or a close friend is always devastating and somehow unexpected, even when all the signs warn you that it’s coming. Have you ever been let down by friends or family? Let’s be honest? Who hasn’t been? People are human and humans are fallible. We know this. Hell, I practically expect it. I’ve lived long enough to know that shit really does happen, especially when you least expect it. The key is recognizing toxic people and knowing when to walk away from toxic relationships.

The thing is I don’t want perfection in the people I love but I want respect, love and effort. I want you to try to live up to my expectations because I’m trying to be my best for you. I’m not trying to be perfect, because I want you to know the real me, I want to be less uneasy being my vulnerable self with you than the general public. So when you can’t do me the basic courtesy of being honest with me, you fail me, yourself and our friendship. This is what I teach my children. This is something I learned the hard way.

I teach my girls to behave this way and to expect it from others. Relationships are investments and you should expect ROI. Friendship shouldn’t be a bottomless pit of give. You should get what you give. You should get what you want to get. Will that always look like equality? Never. Sometimes one will need more than the other and other times the other will need more. Relationships should never involve receipts, IOUs or keeping score, it should be about being there and giving to one another what the other might need. 

Knowing when to walk away from toxic relationships is a life skill and most of us don’t learn it until we’ve been burnt by toxic people more than once.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that not everyone feels or views relationships the same way. There are people who want relationships for purely selfish reasons, to see how they can benefit from it with no regard to the other person involved. Honestly, unrequited love has its place but not in a confirmed relationship whether that be friendship, a relationship or a marriage, that’s a violation of the social contract that humans agree to when getting involved with other human beings. It’s a fucking bamboozle and I’m not here for it. 

So, let’s break the cycle. I’ve done my fair share of crying over relationships and I’m done. I’m henceforth accepting people for who they show me they are. I’m no longer putting my hope on how people can or will change because that’s not fair to me or them.

I’m not trying to change anyone and I’m certainly not changing myself for anyone. I’m trying to be my own best self so that I like the me in the mirror. End of. If you don’t like her, no need to discuss or argue, let’s just civilly part ways. TBH, if you tell me you don’t like me, I can accept that. I’m not for everyone. But if you pretend we’re friends or whatever the relationship is and you’re not all in, that’s worse. If I’m not a hell yes for you, let me be a hell no. It might sting temporarily because I’m human and I lean a tad on the narcissistic side but I will get over it. 

However, if you enter into a relationship under false pretenses, that’ll hurt to my core because I allowed myself to be vulnerable, love and trust you when our time together was based on a lie that you knowingly perpetuated. You’ve wasted my precious time and squandered my care for you. That’s grounds for hate to me and you deserve it. I can forgive but I can’t forget so, we will never be the same because the trust and respect isn’t there… it probably never was because when you care about someone, you try to protect them. 

I’ve taught my girls that to have a good friend , you’ve got to be a good friend. They believe this so they know the rules. They won’t waste your time pretending. Faking is not their way. Either they love you or you’re not significant enough to matter in any way that can hurt them. Make no mistake, they care about the human race, they are respectful and kind but they know that relationships are an investment. They don’t say anything behind you’re back that they aren’t prepared to say to your face. They don’t judge people on what they have, do or how they look or how popular you are. They judge you on how you treat them and others. They observe. Still, they’re teenagers and my middle-aged wisdom can only guide them through the murky waters of the teen years. But sometimes their youth and big feelings drown out my experience and they get hurt. 

Relationship hurt has to be felt and gone through to process and make peace with. I encourage them to feel their feelings, talk about them and be honest with others about their feelings. Don’t push them down or pretend they’re ok when they’re not. That’s a recipe for disaster because then you’re just damaged for the next relationship. And don’t be fooled, it isn’t just romantic partners who have the power to hurt you in relationships. This advice applies to friends, lovers, family members, parents and co-workers. Respect  yourself, know your boundaries, speak up and put in what you want to get out and most importantly, don’t be afraid to walk away from relationships that no longer serve you, or worse, actively hurt you. Life is too fucking short. 

Have you ever had to walk away from a relationship that you really wanted to work? What was harder for you, walking away from family, a relationship or a friendship? What are your best tips for walking away from toxic relationships?

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What to Do if Your Child Comes Out to You as LGBTQ+, how to handle it when your child comes out, LGBTQ

Children in the world have it tough for a lot of reasons from being abused to being treated as property by their parents instead of like autonomous human beings. I’d say you’d be hardpressed to find many that have it tougher than children who fall under the LGBTQ+ label. Those children will be more likely to have trouble with peers, romantic interests and finding their place to fit in general, but perhaps the most stressful moments come from wondering how their family might handle it. But do any of us really know what we’d do if our child comes out to us as LGBTQ+ ?

As far as we know, our girls are cis-gendered which is hard enough as a teenager. Being a tween and teen is hard enough in general when things are considered “usual”. My girls have had friends who have come out as gay and bisexual but when they were younger, I was their parental sounding board. I’ve been asked multiple times what I would do if my girls were gay or bisexual. Every time, without hesitation, I answered I’d love them. Nothing would change. Who they love has no bearing on how I love my children. The only thing I ask is that their love is reciprocated and they are happy.

I have no real experience with a child who has come out as part of the LGBTQ+ community. I’m only speaking from a place of what I hope I’d do. I know it would be more difficult when actually in the situation because there would be more to consider than just what ifs but the main priority is to make life as easy for my child who is struggling with how to navigate coming out to their parents and the world.

Here are a few pieces of wisdom gleaned from the internet on what to do if your child comes out to you as LGBTQ+

Ensure that they know that you love them

The most important thing to do is to ensure your child that one of the primary fears of queer youth doesn’t come to pass: the loss of parental love. So many children have been disowned by their parents for coming out one way or another, even leading to homelessness. The very first thing you should do, even if you are confused about what their admission means for them and for your family, is to let them know that you love them and support them. If you can’t do that, then none of the other advice here is going to be very applicable. Being able to have empathy and love for your child after they reveal an important truth to you is an essential skill for parents, no ifs, ands, or buts.

Encourage them to share what it means to them

You shouldn’t pry into their personal lives too much, nor should you offer an endless barrage of questions to them. However, you should make it clear to your child that you are interested about their life and available to talk at anytime. This goes outside of their sexuality and gender, as well. Ask about their day, their friends and don’t be afraid to ask what they like to do. The main thing is to let them know that you care and keep the lines of communication open. Bit by bit, day by day, you should encourage them to share their life with you. This can, in turn, lead to them sharing more about their sexuality and identity, too.

Back them up, no questions

It might not happen often or immediately, but your child is very likely to face prejudice from others. Sometimes, it can come from places within the family. You should try to be their soft place to land. One of the most difficult parts for parents to navigate is when more conservative, often older members of the family take a stand against the sexuality of the younger members or act insensitively towards them. Stand up for your children. Parents, not wanting to rock the boat, can freeze up and fail to defend and support their children. However, at that point, the boat is already rocked. You don’t necessarily have to do anything inflammatory, simply let your loved ones know that you support your child and don’t want to hear any bigotry in their direction. You can’t control what other family members do, but you can control how you react and you can refuse to stay where your child is mistreated or made to feel humiliated or marginalized.

Should you try to help them find gay spaces?

Helping your kids feel accepted, supported and loved in the home community is one thing, but what about outside of that? They may have peer groups at school and otherwise, that accept them, but you might, like any parent, want your growing child to be happy in the relationships they find. Of course, this applies mostly to parents of children on the older side, those who are approaching or crossing into adulthood. While you don’t need to help them find the top gay chat line or gay bars near you, letting them know that you support them if they want to explore building a social life in gay spaces and being open to meeting their friends can help a lot. Be there for the choices that they make and if they want help, be there to offer it, but don’t try to take over their life.

What about their rights?

It’s a typical open-minded response to care about a cause but not to fully understand the situation until it affects you directly. That said, if you want to show how much you truly support your child and their ability to have all of the rights that they deserve, including the rights that non-queer people already enjoy, then getting involved can be well worth it. When it comes to things like gay marriage rights, fighting conversion therapy and taking a stand against the gay erasure that’s affecting young queer people across the country, even taking a stand alongside your local LGBTQ+ community can help a lot. Put your actions where your words are.

Consider finding your own support system

Being the relative of someone who is part of the LGBTQ+ sphere might not be quite as much of a challenge to navigate, but it can still be helpful to be in dialogue with people who are going through the same situation. This relationship with your child is always evolving and, as such, having people you can feel comfortable talking to (in a supportive way) can do a lot of good. You can make sure you get a good understanding on what you do right, what can go better, and what you might want to avoid during this journey with your family.

Accept responsibility when you do something wrong

Your response might not always be perfect. You might fail to speak up when you should have done or said something that comes across as insensitive. Your immediate reaction may be to defend yourself, to assure your child and yourself that you have no ill-will. But in doing so, you can easily minimize the harm that’s done to queer children by aggressions, micro and macro, not to mention the hurt done to your own child. Even if it comes late, apologizing when you’re wrong is a vital skill for a parent to learn, and you should be able to clearly see and correct your wrong-doing.

If you have any reason to suspect your child might be about to come out, or they already have and you’re worried you’re not doing enough to support them, or you simply want to make sure that you’re the best parent you can be, reading and learning about what you can do is important. 

What would you do if your child comes out to you as LGBTQ+ ? How would you handle it?

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