My Truth About Breastfeeding, Part 2

If you’ve been reading this blog for long enough, you might remember how difficult breastfeeding was for me when I had B1. I planned with B2 to try to breastfeed, and if it didn’t work out, then it didn’t work out. B1 had formula, and he is doing wonderfully. I naively thought that the reason my milk never came in with B1 was because of circumstance, not necessarily something that had to do with me. He was born a few weeks early, and he also was under the phototherapy lights so I had to pump.

A few weeks prior to having B2 I was contacted by Acelleron Maternal Health & Wellness, and honestly that email could not have come at a better time! While I definitely planned on attempting to breastfeed again, I hadn’t actually talked to anyone about how to go about things differently this time around. My only real plan was to make sure I had plenty of skin-to-skin time post-birth, something I didn’t do enough of with B1, and I wasn’t really aware of how great it is for baby and mom.

B2birth

Since I was able to do a Q&A with Acelleron’s Lactation Consultant I really started thinking about what I was going to do. When B2 finally arrived she was 10 pounds 1 oz, and there can be issues with having bigger babies. We did skin-to-skin, but after nursing for a bit the nurses needed to check her blood sugar, for babies that are larger they can not get enough milk and their blood sugar can dip or spike, and it is best to avoid that. Unfortunately, B2’s blood sugar did drop, and we gave her just a few mL’s of formula to avoid any complications. I was 100% on board with the nurses on this, my baby’s health is the most important thing.

After I was discharged from L&D I was moved to the Mom & Baby unit, and this is where the Lactation Consultant’s will visit you. With B1 I had a terrible LC, but great nurses who really helped me with nursing, and gave me tons of great advice. With B2, my initial nurse was not great, and not really around a ton, but the LC’s were awesome. After a long talk giving her my history she asked about any hormone deficiencies. Since I was diagnosed with PCOS after the miscarriage, I wasn’t aware I had it when B1 was born. The LC shared with me that most women with PCOS can’t exclusively breastfeed, because of the hormone deficiency your body just usually doesn’t create enough of a supply for the baby. While this was a bit of a relief, I wondered if I would be able to breastfeed B2 for any length of time.

I was again given a hospital grade pump to use in the hospital, and my insurance covered one for me to have at home, so I would pump after every nursing session, and I didn’t really get a ton of milk, and I hadn’t felt my milk come in either. On our second night B2 had to go in the photo therapy lights, since her jaundice levels were borderline and we wanted to avoid having to get re-admitted like we did with B1. This meant I only had 30 minutes to get her out of the lights, feed her, change her, and get her back in the lights every 3 hours. The nurses were super helpful, but it definitely felt like a time crunch. I ended up supplementing her with formula to make sure she would last the 3 hours. It was at this moment we realized that she needed more food than I could provide, she was eating almost an ounce at every feeding by the time we left the hospital.

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After we got home, I definitely had the baby blues, and the frustration with not being able to breastfeed well was getting to me. I ended up talking to Megan at Acelleron via email and the phone and she gave me tons of tips and advice. I think the most important thing she told me was that it’s okay to formula feed, it doesn’t make me any less of a great mom because I can’t exclusively breastfeed. As much as I knew in my heart that was true,  the martyr moms can be mean and really make you feel bad if you formula feed. It was nice to hear a LC say that it’s okay to formula feed, because my experience with the LC’s I had talked to previously, either didn’t help me at all with dealing with a low supply or they shamed me for using formula. Neither was a great feeling.

The best thing for me was trying a supplement called Motherlove more milk special blend. The blend included: goat’s rue herb, fenugreek seed, blessed thistle herb, nettle herb, and fennel seed. (I used the capsules not the liquid, because that’s what my Whole Foods carried, I have heard that the liquid can be more effective initially, but that the aftertaste is awful). I know that it is very expensive, and may not be affordable for some people, especially if you are buying formula to supplement as well. A few days after taking this I felt my milk come in, and while I wasn’t pumping a ton, sometimes only 1 oz, I was pumping more than when I had B1. B2 was also eating at the breast multiple times a day, and then I would supplement with formula.

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A few days after my initial talk with Megan, I went to Acelleron for a breastfeeding support group, and while it was a bit overwhelming that most people were suffering with over-supply issues, again Megan gave me great tips about pumping, and trying to make it easier on my daily life. With two kids it was hard to nurse, formula feed, pump, wash all the pump parts and entertain B1, especially since I had to do that cycle every 3-4 hours. It was overwhelming.

I am now two months post-partum, I am still nursing B2, it is mostly in the mornings and evenings, this is mostly due to school  and fall activities starting back up for B1, and the sheer lack of time, I pump when I can, but it is not as often. I am still taking the supplement, but I do feel like our time of nursing is going to come to an end sooner rather than later, and I am okay with that. I did the best I could for me and B2.

The biggest piece of advice I learned from breastfeeding this time around was that there are great LC’s out there, it just might take some time to find them. If you are in the Greater Boston/North Shore area I 100% recommend Acelleron, Megan was amazing!

 

Did you ever attend a breastfeeding support group?

Baby Essentials – The Second Time Around

I know every mom that blogs probably has a list like this, and everyone and every child’s needs and wants are different. I never made a list like this with B1, but after having another baby I feel like I have a grasp of what was essential to our family for the babies.

I will say that there were some major differences with my two babies. When B1 was born we lived in a condo, that was on the third floor of our building and no elevator. With B2 we live in a multi-level home with a garage below the house. Obviously with B2’s birth B1 was a consideration when figuring out what items we needed to have the second time around.

Comfort Items

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I left out the obvious things like a crib, changing table, sheets, etc…

1. Summer Infant Classic Comfort Wood Bassinet – $140

Nick and I got this last-minute before B1 was born. Our crib wasn’t going to be available before his due date, so we knew we needed something. I knew I wanted a bassinet because co-sleeper beds freaked me out. I liked that this one was lightweight but sturdy, had a shelf, and was on wheels. I was able to roll B1 around the condo when I needed to get things done. I also kept the bottom shelf stocked with clothes, diapers, wipes, etc… That way at night I didn’t have to go into his room and get anything. It made nighttime wakeups much easier.

With B2, I love the height. B1 can see into the bassinet, but he can’t pick her up. Perfect. The downsides this time around are that it isn’t something that I can roll her around in, as it is her bed at night (until she moves into her crib) and so it stays upstairs. B2 has already grown 1.5 inches and is almost too big to be in the bassinet anymore, and so we won’t get too much time with her in it.

2. KACY Collection Morgan Nursery Swivel Glider - $450

We were supposed to get a glider when I had B1, but that never panned out. After Nick walked and sang B1 to sleep for the first 2 years of his life we decided we were going to make room in our budget for a glider this time around.

B2’s room is on the smaller side, so we needed something that wasn’t going to take up a ton of room. This one is super comfortable and the color matches her nursery perfectly. It’s small enough that Nick was even able to move it into our room while B2 is sleeping in there.

I cannot say enough that all new moms should get some sort of chair for the nursery. Your back and feet will thank you!

3. Graco Pack N Play Bugs Quilt TotBlock – $120

If you don’t need a Pack N Play that your baby can sleep in, I would recommend this one. Once B1 was more alert I would put him in this so I could cook, clean, do laundry, etc… but he would be container so I could turn my back for more than 20 seconds.

This would also be great to put out in the yard. Now that more of my friends have kids, or multiples, spending time outside happens a lot, but it is hard to chase after toddlers and watch babies. This will be super helpful for that.

4. Graco Pack N Play Yard with Cuddle Cove Removable Seat – $180

This is something that we got for B2, well my MIL graciously purchased for us. She was going to stay and help out for a good chunk of the summer. Unfortunately, due to some unforseen circumstances she had to leave early, and she bought this to assist me. The bed part is high enough that again B1 can’t pick the baby up. It also has a changing area and since B2 isn’t using the bigger sleeping area, I put extra clothes, blankets, and burp clothes there for easy changes. It also has pockets for diapers and wipes. It has been one of the most useful items we bought this time around.

Honorable Mentions

Bright Starts Bouncer – $30 – Both my kids LOVED this bouncer. Many people have a very strong preference for what type of bouncer or swing they love, and I swear by this one. We also have a swing, but neither of my kids really loved it that much.

Boppy Pillow – $30 - I use this every day. For nursing especially. I like that there is a gap between the pillow and the body, I think adds more skin-to-skin contact.

Aden + Anais Swaddle Blankets – $50 - FYI You can find these for MUCH cheaper at TJ Maxx or Marshalls! I didn’t really use these for B1, and B2 doesn’t love being swaddled, so I only do it overnight. They are great for the summer time in general though, because they are so lightweight. I drape them over both kids car seats when I am parked in the sun, to avoid the seatbelts getting super hot. I also use it to drape over B2’s lower body when she is in the car seat or stroller.

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5. Uppababy Vista Stroller System – $850

I know, this stroller system is extremely expensive, but I don’t regret it one bit. We were able to get ours for about $250 cheaper because it was a store model. It wasn’t actually used in the store, although you can buy those for a discount usually, ours was the window model, which means it was basically brand new, it just sat in a window for a few months. Also, it is still in great condition after 4 years of use.

What I love about this system, you can use it from birth until the toddler years. This system comes with a bassinet, but you can also buy an attachment to put your car seat in it (more on that below). It has a toddler seat that can face toward the parent or away. You can also buy an extra seat so you can put two kids on the stroller. There is also a ride along board, so if your kids doesn’t want to sit in the seat they can ride on it while you push the other child, or you can have two seats and a ride along board!

Other pros: A huge basket, I can do a ton of grocery shopping just using the stroller. The core rubber wheels which are puncture proof, that was essential for me living in the city. When you fold the stroller, it can stand making it easy to store. Super easy to fold, adjustable handlebar, easy to manuever, and a very easy click tight system. When you put in the adapter, bassinet, or seat the area where you click those items in shows a green sign when you’ve done it correctly and red if it is incorrect. It is very easy to get those items in and out.

Cons: It is big, it takes up a lot of space in the car when it is lying down. You can’t fold it when the bassinet is attached, you have to detach and attach whenever you use it. You can fold it when the adapter is in place but you can’t unfold it. Only when the seat is attached can you fold and unfold it. The tires are big, so it takes time getting used to those.

6. Ubbi Diaper Pail – $80

Again, not cheap. We originally registered and received a plastic diaper pail that took regular garbage bags. Registering was overwhelming to me and finally I was like F IT, I don’t need a fancy diaper pail. It lasted about 3 months, even with taking the bag out every other day, the pail STANK. We did some research and found the Ubbi diaper pail. You can use regular garbage bags and the smell doesn’t escape. We’ve had B1’s since he was 3 months old and haven’t had any issues. We bought B2 her own because B1 still wears a pull up at night, and we only empty his pail every few weeks. Plus I don’t have to go into his room at night to throw a diaper away. I mean honestly these kids can just use them as garbage cans when they get older.

Carriers + Nursing

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7. Ergobaby 360 Front Facing Carrier – $160

I haven’t used this a ton yet, some girlfriends gifted me one and I am super thankful and excited to use it. B2 is too big for the infant insert but too small to be in it alone, so I have used it around the house, but that’s about it. I can say it is very comfortable but does take some getting used to with all the buckles.

8. BabyBjorn Baby Carrier Original – $90

I have the mesh carrier, which is actually cheaper now since it is an older model. The mesh is super breathable for a summer baby. I use it now since B2 can be worn in this carrier now. The downside is that it does put a lot of pressure on my back. It is easy to put on, put the baby in, and take off.

9. Medela Symphony Breastpump – 

Most insurance companies should comp a rental of a breast pump. The Symphony is a medical grade pump, which you do have to get a “prescription” for from your doctor. Because of milk issues, I was able to get that prescription for both babies. The downside, this pump is a beast, if you have to carry it around just be aware!

Bottles & Bottle accessories

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When Nick told people at work that I was pregnant, a lot of his coworkers told him about the Dr.Browns Bottles. They are great for babies that have gas issues, as both of ours have. They may have a lot of parts but they are easy to put together. We have both the standard bottles and the wide mouth bottles.  A 3 pack goes for about $15.

Bottle Warmer – $45

You can get this for a bit cheaper on Amazon. I like to make a few bottles at once, so a bottle warmer is essential. I also usually put a bottle in the warmer, change the baby’s diaper, and then usually the bottle is ready. I like that it remembers the length of heating that you used for the previous bottle. You do need to make sure that you follow instructions and keep the warmer cleaned out, because if you don’t it will get moldy. We had to through the one we had for B1 away due to this.

Formula Pitcher – $17

Again, I like to make multiple bottles at once, and this is how I do it. It helps to eliminate the bubbles from the bottles, aka so the baby doesn’t get gas. You can make up to 4, 8 oz bottles at once.

Drying Rack – $18

I had a different drying rack for B1’s bottles but it had layers and water got trapped, and it got moldy. I like that this one is slanted so water gets collected in one area nad you can easily dump it. It also folds for easy storage when you aren’t using it or you have guests.

Car Seat

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11. Chicco Keyfit 30 Car Seat – $210

A car seat was something Nick and I spent A LOT of time on. The chicco keyfit was at the top of the safety list for Consumer Reports, and it fit into our ideal stroller. It is lightweight and easy to install. It is also very durable as we used it for B1 and we are now using it for B2.

12. Chicco Keyfit 30 Uppababy Vista Adapter – $45

Honestly, I didn’t use this for B1. I just used the bassinet seat, but the bassinet seat takes up space in the car, and also doesn’t allow me to use as much of the stroller basket as I’d like. I have been using this for B2 ever since I dug it out of its storage area. It was super easy to attach and detach, and it was easy to snap the car seat in. Life with two kids is more on the go than when I had just one, so this has been perfect for our busy schedules.

Now that I’ve shared a few of my essentials, what are yours? Anything you were surprised you absolutely loved or hated?

 

If I Fall, I Die: The Fear of Raising Kids

This post was inspired by the novel If I Fall, If I Die by Michael Christie,about a boy who’s never been outside, thanks to his mother’s agoraphobia, but ventures outside in order to solve a mystery. Join From Left to Write on January 22nd as we discuss If I Fall, If I Die. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

If I Fall I Die Michael Christie

I really loved this book, it was a frustrating read, just because you wanted the mom to get better for the sake of her son, but at the end of the book I understood her fears. She doesn’t want her son to go outside because of her own fears, and he admits to doing things to ease her anxiousness, but he does eventually go outside.

This is the quote that resonated with me:

“But the shadow that love can’t help but cast is fear: fear they won’t stay alive or around-fear they’ll be reckless, or doomed, or just walk away and not consider you ever again. With love, you’re scared it will disappear. With fear, you’re scared it never will”

When I was pregnant with B the scary pregnancy dreams were so intense I would wake up with tears in my eyes. Dreams that I wouldn’t be a good mom, that I would lose my child, that something bad would happen to him, you name it I dreamt it. After B was born I hoped the dreams would stop, but they didn’t. They were less intense and vivid, but they still happened. Eventually they slowly started going away, I’d have one occasionally, but it wasn’t taking such a toll on me.

In the past year or so they started coming back, not just dreams, but you know in those moments before you fall asleep, I’d have images of someone breaking into our house and harming him, carjacking us, etc… The worst things racing through my mind, and then I would be awake and completely unable to go back to sleep.

Now that I am pregnant again, the dreams are back in full force. I try to use meditation to calm myself down (the Headspace App is wonderful) and talk through what I would do if this situation was to actually happen.

I think what I wasn’t prepared for as a mom is the constant fear and worry. Are we doing the right thing? Did I pick the right pre-school? Is my kids getting bullied? Are we giving him the right foods? I can’t imagine that this is going to get easier as the kids get older, only harder. I don’t even want to think about driving or college!

I have to believe in myself as a parent. I have to raise my kid with love and respect, but also with rules and consequences.

How do you deal with the anxiety and fears of being a parent?

2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas: Dealing with the Unexpected

This post was inspired by 2 A.M. At The Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino, a novel about hope, love, and music in snow covered streets of Philadelphia. Join From Left to Write on August 28 we discuss 2 A.M. At The Cat’s Pajamas. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

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 In the book Madeline’s life changed forever with the death of her mother and she had to change her everyday life. It’s no secret that I had a miscarriage, so it is probably no secret that Nick and I have been trying for almost year to get pregnant again. I wish I could end this post with a ta-da, I am pregnant, but I can’t.

I hate saying this, but I got pregnant easily the first two times. The first time I was on the pill, and it was a shock to say the least, but now I have a happy and healthy 3-year-old, and I would not change a single thing. When Nick and I discussed having a second baby, without a lot of effort I was pregnant again. Just like that, I wasn’t. It  was the worst thing I have ever been through.

Now with B starting pre-school it is really hitting me hard. I never expected to have this time to be by myself. Having a few hours a day where I could pretty much do anything is completely unexpected. Many people tell me that I will figure it out, because hopefully soon enough that will change. And I get it, I do, but this wasn’t the plan, and I hate that I couldn’t control this.

IMG_8698I mean, who wants to spend a minute away from this guy?

On top of all this, Nick and I have been seeing an RE (reproductive endocrinologist) to figure out exactly what is wrong with me, and it is never an easy process, is anything.., and one that I am not quite ready to put on this blog because I am still dealing with the process that we are going through and some of the diagnosis we were given.

I know in life things never go how you plan and you have to roll with the punches, so here I go, attempting to let life guide me and not the other way around…

 

 

Dad Is Fat: Parenting is Fun(ny)

This post was inspired by the novel Dad Is Fat by comedian Jim Gaffigan who riffs on his adventures co-parenting 5 kids in a two bedroom Manhattan apartment. Join From Left to Write on April 22 we discuss Dad Is Fat. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

 

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This is the 4th book for the month of April for From Left to Write this month, and possibly one of my favorites. I have been a fan of Jim Gaffigan’s for a while so I knew, especially since I am a parent, that I would love his book. As I read I kept marking passage after passage that would give me ideas of what to write about, and there are a million ideas I have swirling around in my head.

What I ended up deciding on is something that I find some parents struggle with, and those who aren’t parents might not understand. Parenting is fun, but it is also funny, but it isn’t for everyone. Having kids, especially if you are the first among friends and family, can be very alienating. You are navigating this brand new part of life, and are in charge of this human being (!!), and you don’t have anyone who can relate to you.

Jim Gaffigan writes about how he is called anti-family because of some of the things he says or posts on social media, and I too have gotten rude comments about things I have said. As Jim writes in the book, complaining about taking your kids to swim lessons or navigating the world of play dates doesn’t make you a bad parent, you are taking your kids to these events, and most of the time other parents can relate about how hard some aspects of parenting are.

It is hard to find mom friends and play groups if you don’t have kids at the same time as your social circle. But I guarantee you will have some stories to share that are on-par with blind date horror stories.

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You will learn that swim diapers are not meant to hold pee, and will have a horrifying moment before you realize that, and then you will laugh at your ridiculousness.

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You will constantly question if you are doing things the “right way” and social media will always tell you that you are doing it the wrong way. Spoiler, social media is full of martyr moms and know-it-alls. 

photo-1.JPGYou will find your own way as a parent, and just when you thought you’ve got one aspect figured out, something else will throw you for a loop…I’m talking to you sleep.

IMG_5596.JPGAnd if you are lucky, you will find someone to share this journey with you. A dad to your child that you just couldn’t imagine parenting without. The person that will laugh with you when you finally share your ridiculous swim diaper story, and who will also have their story to share with you.

I loved this book, I laughed through the whole thing and I had to refrain from reading passages to Nick every 30 seconds. I highly suggest you get your own copy ASAP!

What is one of your hilarious parenting stories?

The Idea of Him: Throwing Parties as Parents

This post was inspired by the novel The Idea of Him by Holly Peterson. Allie thought she had the perfect husband, until she finds him and another woman in a compromising position in their own apartment. Join From Left to Write on April we discuss The Idea of Him. Join us for a live chat with Holly on April 3.  As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

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In my effort to keep my book club posts out of the depressing sector, I thought I would write about a topic that was touched briefly upon in the book.

Allie’s husband liked to entertain in their home and Allie was always on duty to put together the perfect party. Allie and Wade had 2 younger children and in the book the children stayed in their rooms, doing homework, reading, etc… while the party was hosted in the family’s New York City apartment.

Initially, I was floored by this, I couldn’t imagine throwing some sort of industry party while my kids are upstairs. Than I realized I was more like Allie than I thought. Nick and I don’t throw ragers like we used to (a post for another time) but we love entertaining and we don’t have family close by. Every year we have a Superbowl Party. I make a ton of food and order a few pizzas. Our friends bring delicious treats and beer and we all gather around the TV to watch the game and catch up. B has always been a part of this tradition, and this year he loved watching the game, eating pizza and desserts, and hanging out with our friends. I put him to bed at half time and was able to hang out with our friends after bed time.

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From 2013’s Superbowl Party

For those who want to just dabble in party throwing, I think a daytime event might help. I throw a ladies only cookie swap every December. The first year I was the only one with a child, now more of my friends have kids and it is a fun kids and moms event. It will also give you an idea of how your kids might handle large groups of people being in your home.

The more I think about it, the more I think having an upscale party, like a fancy NYE party, would be fine to do when our kid(s) are older.

What do you think? Have you had a party with your kids at home? Would you ever?

Confessions of a Mom, Vol. 10

Before we get to today’s post, I just want to say there has been too much loss in the past year, in the city of Boston and in my personal life. Many thoughts and prayers to the Boston Fire Department and to the families and friends of the two firefighters who lost their lives doing their job. Thank you to all first responders, everywhere, without you wouldn’t be safe.

Disclaimer: please read this post with an open mind and sense of humor. Sometimes we all need a good laugh.

 

When my toddler picks out his own clothes for the day

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How I feel about the fact that it has been freezing cold outside the past week

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How I feel that the temperature for today and tomorrow is “play outside all day” type of weather

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{Vol. 1,  Vol. 2Vol. 3Vol. 4Vol. 5Vol. 6Vol. 7Vol. 8Vol. 9}

Confessions of a Mom, Vol. 7

Disclaimer: please read this post with an open mind and sense of humor. Sometimes we all need a good laugh.

When it takes less than an hour to get B to go to sleep in his own bed.

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How I feel about passive aggressive and vaguebookers on FaceBook

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How I feel about the weather this week

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When I found out my favorite gym class was cancelled this morning

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{Vol 1, Vol 2, Vol 3, Vol 4, Vol 5, Vol 6}

Reasons Mommy Drinks

I received this book to review through my relationship with From Left to Write.

We know that I love the Mom humor. I like to be on the side of there is something funny (eventually) in most frustrating parenting situations.

When I was pregnant all I could find was picture perfect stories about pregnancy and technical stories, boring. Then I found this book: The Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancy. It was full of satirical humor and sarcasm and posting the honest truth about what happens when you are pregnant.

I was recently given the chance to read and review Reasons Mommy Drinks by Lyranda Martin Evans and Fiona Stevenson.

Reasons Mommy Drinks

This book is very similar to the pregnancy book. It has an anecdote for every stage in motherhood, starting with pregnancy and your baby shower and moves into stages like baby wearing, mom groups, and dealing with visitors. Along with every passage there is a drink to go along with it. For the pregnancy bits there are non-alcoholic drink, but we quickly move into the alcoholic ones.

One of my favorites? Nap Thyme. First of all the anecdote of how you have to get ALL THE THINGS done during nap time, spot on. The drink is also creative, and something I need to try, and soon. Since B has been on a nap strike for a month.

Nap Thyme

Ingredients

Lemon Juice
Sugar
1 ounce gin
3 ounces club soda
Sprig of fresh thyme

Instructions

Rim a glass with lemon juice and then sugar. Fill the glass with ice, pour in the gin, club soda, a splash of lemon juice, and sugar to taste. Stir gently. Garnish with thyme.

While I was reading this book, I was practically nodding along with every single story, saying to myself, that’s exactly how I felt! This book would make a great gift for any mom-to-be, new mom, or even if you’ve been a mom for a while, and since we don’t always have a ton of time to sit down and read, it is a book that is easy to put down and pick back up, and reads very quickly.

These hilarious ladies have a blog, but you can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

What is the one moment in parenthood where you look back and laugh, but at the time you were a mess?

For me? It was the time that B hid all his toys and then got very upset that he couldn’t find them. We both practically had a meltdown, and then I found them in our wine rack. One for you, one for me, thanks kid.

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