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moms supporting moms

breastfeeding photo taken by the Letter B Photography for Crystal Campbell of the Creative Copycat

Breastfeeding Past the First Year

This photo was taken at Hudson’s 1 year photo shoot. I never thought I would share it. It was for me to have to remind myself how I had overcome so many challenges with breastfeeding to make it to that one year milestone, but also to remind me what a joy and blessing it had been as well. I really feel that this photo captures that special bond between a mother and child and reminds me of those quiet moments I got to spend cuddling Hudson while I nursed him. I worked really hard to breastfeed for as long as I did and I am proud of it. 🙂

I originally published the below post on July 28, 2014 on my personal family blog. I was 7 months pregnant with Luc and Hudson had weaned himself a few months earlier. I was reflecting on my breastfeeding journey, particularly how the response I got from others changed from positive to negative after we reached the one year mark. Since this week is World Breastfeeding Week, I figured I would share it here in the hopes that it might encourage other mothers to continue breastfeeding until you or your child decide you are done instead of giving into pressures from society. I also hope that this reminds mothers to be less judgmental and more supportive in all areas of motherhood. We are all just doing our best and trying to make the right decisions for our family.

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After 19 months, I am officially done nursing. It is certainly bitter-sweet (and to be honest more bitter than sweet). Breastfeeding takes a lot of energy, which is something I don’t have a lot of these days so having one less baby relying on me for nutrients is a relief. It will also be good to get a break before baby number two comes. I can eat whatever I want after a long time of being on a very restricted diet and I will have a bit more freedom for a while, but in all honesty, it makes me sad. Hudson made this choice completely on his own. He slowly started dropping feeds and the last few weeks he has only done the morning feed, which has been getting shorter and shorter until I finally realized 2 seconds of nursing is silly.

I had a very difficult start to breastfeeding and at times, didn’t know if I would get to do it at all. Our journey started with jaundice, poor latch, weight loss and near hospitalization, followed by hours of time with a lactation consultant teaching Hudson how to latch properly (he was very stubborn), around the clock feedings and pumping sessions, and obsessive weighing before and after feedings. Then once I thought our troubles were behind us, he was diagnosed with MSPI (Milk Soy Protein Intolerance) and eventually allergies to wheat, dairy, eggs and nuts so I went on a strict diet to be able to continue to nurse him. I initially made it my goal to make it to 6 months of exclusively breastfeeding. Once we reached that milestone, I said I wanted to make it a year. After the one year mark, I assumed Hudson would quickly wean like many of my friends children did, but our breastfeeding relationship kept going strong. I secretly made a new goal to make it to two years, so I was a bit sad when he became less and less interested long before the 2 year mark. I really was starting to think I could be one of those moms who nursed both her children, but Hudson weaned himself, which is ultimately what I had always wanted: to breastfeed until he was ready to stop.

One thing that I found really interesting about breastfeeding is how quickly opinions change in regards to it. When you have a newborn, everyone praises you for breastfeeding. I always wanted to be an open-minded mom and although I ended up being rather passionate about breastfeeding, I would never judge a mother for formula feeding. I certainly know first hand how challenging breastfeeding can be and I think that loving your child and making the best choices for your family are far more important than breastfeeding. I do however see a lot of formula feeding mamas being made to feel badly about making that choice (or perhaps being forced into that choice for one reason or another). Around 1 year though, the tables turn. Apparently there is some unwritten rule that you are a Goddess Mama if you make it to the one year mark, but if you go past this deadline, you are suddenly committing a social crime. I see mom’s post all the time that the last day they breastfeed is literally on their child’s 1st birthday and the very next day they switch to cow’s milk and breastfeeding is over. As soon as Hudson’s 1st birthday passed, the feelings and comments of praise quickly turned very judgmental. “Are you still breastfeeding?” “Jeez, are you gonna breastfeed until he’s 5?” “Don’t you think he is too old to be breastfed” “How much longer are you planning to nurse him?” (with a weird sideways glance that implies I should stop immediately). “When they can ask for it, you really should stop” “You know it is only beneficial for the first 6 months, right?” “Why haven’t you stopped breastfeeding him yet?” The comments and questions were never-ending. I didn’t let them get to me, but suddenly my formula and cow’s milk feeding mama’s were the Goddesses and I was a freak!

I just don’t understand why we as mothers need to tear each other down. I always had a really hard time defending my choice to breastfeed because the judgmental comments regarding my extended breastfeeding more often than not came from mother’s who either formula fed from the beginning or didn’t breastfeed for very long. I didn’t want to give a laundry list of reasons for my choice that might make them feel bad about theirs. As I said before, we are all doing our best and that involves making choices. No choice is right or wrong, it is the choice that is right for your family that matters and I wish we as women could just support other moms even if they make different choices than us. I really love this response to the Time Magazine cover with the mom on the front feeding her toddler with the title “Are You Mom Enough?” I couldn’t agree with it more!

“Dear Time,

To answer your question-

I AM MOM ENOUGH!

I am Mom Enough to breastfeed.

I am Mom Enough to bottle feed.

I am Mom Enough to co-sleep.

I am Mom Enough to crib sleep.

I am Mom Enough to cloth diaper.

I am Mom Enough to use disposables.

I am Mom Enough to make my own baby food.

I am Mom Enough to buy baby food.

I am Mom Enough to wear my baby.

I am Mom Enough to use a stroller.

I am Mom Enough to stay at home.

I am Mom Enough to go to work.

I am Mom Enough to do both.

I am Mom Enough to choose what is best for my family.

I am Mom Enough to raise happy, healthy children.

Thanks a bunch for asking,

-a Mom”

mama, you inspire me free card printable - perfect for Mother's Day or just because to encourage and uplift your mama friends

Mama, You Inspire Me – Free Card Printable

Just like the Mama, You Rock cards, which you can get here, these cards are perfect for sending an uplifting note to your mama friends. So many of my mama friends inspire me in different ways. I hope receiving a note in the mail helps those mamas to feel appreciated and realize that not only are they doing a great job raising their kids, but they are also making a positive impact on the other mamas in their life too. The best thing about these cards is that they can be used year round and I definitely think mamas deserve love, encouragement and recognition all year!

Click here to get your free printable.

mama, you rock free card printable - perfect for Mother's Day or just because to encourage and uplift your mama friends

Mama, You Rock!

One of the hardest things for me when transitioning from working to staying at home was the lack of validation and re-assurance that I was doing a good job. At work, I didn’t get much of this either, so I figured I would have been better prepared, but I quickly realized that I had figured out ways to validate myself. I made to-do lists, did trending to make sure I was always improving, I had an annual audit where an outside source evaluated my work, then gave me feedback and a score. As a stay at home mom, my to do lists were never even getting looked at, heck, I was barely even finding time to shower and I constantly felt like I was failing. I didn’t really talk to anyone about how I was feeling, but I assumed I wasn’t the only one.

Facing challenges like that again, also brought back a lot of memories from my first year with each of my boys. Hudson had reflux, allergies and eczema and was therefore always fussy and needing to be held. Luc had food intolerances and tummy issues (nothing to the extreme like with Hudson), but he was a terrible sleeper and I was an emotional mess. So many times I would wonder why motherhood seemed to be so much harder for me.

As I talk to more and more mom friends though, I realize that many of us feel this way at one point or another. I had been trying to think of a small way I could make a positive change and had a little lightbulb moment around the holidays and when we were in Australia. Just before we left for our trip, my best friend’s mom sent me a text telling me she was proud of me and that I was doing a wonderful job with my kids and then while in Australia, my sister-in-law also told me that I was doing a great job raising my boys. I cried when I read those words in the text and almost burst into tears the second time too. Their words were so powerful and it got me thinking that many of us moms don’t hear encouragement like that often enough. It seems like the focus is primarily on what we are doing wrong or what we can be doing better (and I am definitely my own worst critic) so it was just nice to feel validated and hear that encouragement.

I decided I wanted to make more of an effort to uplift my mama friends, but sometimes it’s hard or awkward, at least for me, to verbalize praise for my mama friends, especially when most of our gatherings involve chasing after our kids. I figured a card would be a better approach and there is just something special about receiving a hand written note in the mail. I enlisted the help of one of my favorite mamas to do the artwork. She founded the facebook group, First Time Mommy Group, which provided me with so much support and encouragement my first few years of motherhood (you can also find her on instagram, just click here). It seemed fitting that she be involved in creating another way to uplift and acknowledge mamas. I’ve made her beautiful artwork into a printable and can’t wait to start writing notes to send to all my mama friends.  

I hope we can use these notes to tell our mama friends what a great job they are doing, or to share our own struggles so they don’t feel so alone or just to give them a little boost on a tough day (because even the best mom with the easiest baby has those tough days). I hope we can use these cards as one step towards lifting each other up and encouraging each other because Mama, You Rock!

Click here to get your free printable.

*If you send or receive one of these cards and share it on social media, please use the hashtag #mamayourock

may your coffee be stronger than your toddler free printable - put $5 gift cards in and pass out to mamas who could use some positive energy - great way to encourage other moms, random acts of kindness, just because gift for mom friends or a mother's day gift

May Your Coffee Be Stronger than Your Toddler – Free Printable

You know the mom in Target whose kids are all melting down and she is on the verge of melting down herself? Not only have I seen this mom multiple times, but I’ve also been her. Since I know how this feels, I try to give a smile and an “I know exactly how you feel because I’ve been there” nod, but I always feel like I want to do more.

Enter my husband, who one day was complaining about someone buying him his coffee that morning. I’ve been seeing a lot of this lately actually, where the person in front of you at the drive-thru coffee line buys your drink then you pay it forward by either buying the person behind you coffee or with some other random act of kindness. This obviously makes the do-gooder feel great and it is supposed to brighten the receiver’s day too, but my husband, who tends to over-analyze things felt guilty. Was he now supposed to do the same? What if the car behind him was packed full of people with a massive order? Was he supposed to come up with some other way to “pay it forward?” I know he is missing the point (don’t men tend to do that?), but all he wanted to do was buy his coffee and be on his way (I can sort of see his point if I am being entirely honest – don’t tell him I said that ;)).

As I was thinking about all of this, I decided I like the core idea of paying it forward – a random act of kindness to spread joy – and decided that I would like to partake, but in a more intentional way. I came up with the idea to make these cute little gift card sleeves and fill them with $5 coffee shop gift cards so that the next time I see an overwhelmed mama I can hand it to her and hopefully lift her spirits a little.  I know in those moments, we often feel utterly defeated and then on top of that, judged by those around us. My hope is that this card will not only make the mama laugh and give her a little caffeine boost, but also just let her know that I support and encourage her.

may your coffee be stronger than your toddler free printable - put $5 gift cards in and pass out to mamas who could use some positive energy - great way to encourage other moms, random acts of kindness, just because gift for mom friends or a mother's day gift

If you would like to spread some mama love, click here to download this printable.

Supplies (you could easily do this without most of these supplies, but they might make your life easier)

may your coffee be stronger than your toddler free printable - put $5 gift cards in and pass out to mamas who could use some positive energy - great way to encourage other moms, random acts of kindness, just because gift for mom friends or a mother's day gift

Directions:

  1. Print out the printable on cardstock
  2. Cut out using paper trimmer and scissors
  3. Use circle punch to remove half circle for tab
  4. Use score board and bone folder to make creases along white lines
  5. Add double-sided tape or glue to tabs
  6. Fold card over and press down to attach to tabs
  7. Gift card should slide nicely inside

may your coffee be stronger than your toddler free printable - put $5 gift cards in and pass out to mamas who could use some positive energy - great way to encourage other moms, random acts of kindness, just because gift for mom friends or a mother's day gift