Category: Uplifting

What You Will Find:

Sometimes you just need a boost. Reading uplifting messages can help you find the motivation you need for the day. Here, I share my failures, successes and lessons learned so that you don’t have to worry if you are the only one who feels ‘that’ way.

Sometimes we just need the reassurance that someone else is messing up just as bad as we are. Some stories are funny, some are just uplifting and others will remind you that someone else is struggling. Enjoy being rejuvenated and reminded that you are not alone.

A lot of the posts in this section are found in other categories as well. I just wanted to make sure there was a way for you to find all of the uplifting messages in one place, so here it is! Please leave comments on your favorites or let me know if there is something you would like to read about. I am always looking for new ideas and things to write about and I want to cater that writing to the needs of my readers. You are the reason I do what I do.

Six Months Old – Letter to My Amazing Baby Boy

Dear Grayson,

Six months comes and goes and all I can think about is how lucky I am. You’re six months old! But I get to have you forever. You are my son always. And even though I didn’t get to hold you until 6 months ago, you’ve always been my son.

six months old okay, maybe he was only five
Okay, I’m a little biased, but I don’t think babies can get much cuter than this.

I’ve known you longer of course. I’ve known you for about a year and 3 months.

When you were inside of me, you were big and snug. You always let us know you were there and showed us how excited you were to come and join us. There was a time, shortly after you joined us, when I was afraid that you were going to leave us too soon.

Your First Ultrasound

The first time I tried to see you, the technician couldn’t find you. There was no heartbeat, just a uterus that looked pregnant. My doctor said that it was probably just too early to see.

I didn’t think much of it until your dad seemed a little concerned. I started doing research online, to see what could have caused that. The words “blighted ovum” occupied every web page I looked at. I was devastated, because I felt like you had been there.

Fear clutched me and I spent the night sobbing as I thought about the possibility of losing you. I knew you then.

With crippling anxiety, I called my doctor the next morning. She ran some tests to give me peace of mind and a week later, a little tiny collection of cells was visible on the monitor. There you were! Elation can’t begin to cover my emotions. For now, my baby boy was safe.

first ultrasound

Finding Out what I already Knew

We could find out as early as 12 weeks whether you were going to be a boy or a girl. We planned on doing the extra tests anyways, so we figured we might as well find out. Even before they told us though, I knew.

I got a phone call when your dad happened to be home. The nurse asked me if I wanted to know. I put her on speaker and told her, “Yes.”

“You’re having a baby boy.”

Baby BOY announcement!

Of course I started crying again. “I knew it,” was all I could say. You will come to learn that it doesn’t take much to get your Mama crying.

Waiting

I waited for you all summer. You weren’t supposed to be born until October, but with your size, we hoped you would come sooner. Your Mama got so huge!

Siena on my pregnant belly
It got harder and harder for Siena to sit on my lap.

And it seemed like you were going to stay in there as long as possible so we had to coax you out.

Finally Here

brand new baby snuggling with mommy
Snuggling with my newborn.

When I held you in my arms, it felt like you had always been a part of our family. It was like we didn’t know that we had been waiting for you, but we were, and now you were here.

 

Your sister was so excited to be with you. She loves taking care of you. You are her best friend, and I suspect that is how it will be forever. Thank you for coming to be with your sister.

Watching You Grow

As I have watched you grow, I have been even more impressed by how unique you are. At just six months old, I have witnessed so many differences between you and your sister. You both have your own distinct personalities and it is amazing to see.

first night home from the hospital
His first night home from the hospital. I was so excited about this outfit; this was probably the last time he fit in it.

You were “you” long before you joined us. You’ve been smiling since you were just one month old. Everyone told me it was just gas, but it wasn’t. You haven’t stopped smiling since then. Your happiness is infectious and your laugh makes everyone happier.

six months old with his 2 year old sister, they're basically the same size
They are pretty much the same size. He’s going to pass her up before long!

You love your Mama. It might embarrass you to know that you are a Mama’s boy through and through. You love me and I am so grateful that I have felt your love from the moment you were born. It is a rare gift to make someone feel loved just be looking at them. But, you have that gift Grayson.

What I Will Get to See

You are only six months old now. You are just starting to think about rolling over and you haven’t decided how you feel about solid food, but I can already see how much happiness you are going to bring to our family.

daddy holding our giant baby who is only six months old
Do you see how big he is?!

Cloudy days will never seem as gloomy. The darker nights will have a guiding light. You are going to bring so much joy to those around you.

I hope you remember forever, how special you are to me. You are amazing. And just by being born, you are going to make the world a better place.

Thank you!

Thank you for coming to be with us and thank you for being six months old so I can be a witness to who you really are. I hope you know how much we all love you and how happy we are that you are here.

Six Months Old and Counting

We can’t wait to see everything that you are going to become. One day, you will probably know the fear of losing a child, even if that child hasn’t been born yet. It seems like everything in the world can be perfectly fine and I still find myself terrified that you or your sister will be taken away from me. When you are holding your own little baby, you will understand the gratitude I feel that you are here now and that you are still getting older.

Grayson in a bow tie at six months old
Happy 6 months little man!

We love you Grayson! I love you and can’t wait to see what the next 80 years bring. (I probably won’t live past 107.)

Love,

Mom

 

More about Grayson:

Grayson’s Birth Story

How His Night Sleeping Has Been

 

Little Mom Moment that Made Me Want to Laugh & Cry at the Same Time

Just a Moment

My little mom moment happened so fast. They all sneak up on me that way. It seems like the faster being a mom slips by, the more a little mom moment will surprise me. It was one of those times that I couldn’t even really get a picture or video to remember it. I got one, before the magic really happened.

Grocery Shopping

We had to run to the store to go grocery shopping and my son had slept so late that we had run into Siena’s nap time. I decided, well I might as well try and push her nap back a little so they take their afternoon nap at the same time and we are not stuck inside all day once summer hits.

We went shopping and the whole time Siena was sleepy, but she was also in a good mood. She was a trooper.

When we got back in the car, I knew it would be a struggle.

The Car Battle

We got inside and immediately she looked like she was going to crash. I told her STAY AWAKE!! She just looked at me sleepily. If she falls asleep in the car, she will not take a nap when we get home. That’s just the way it is and I have come to accept it.

After commanding her to not give into her drooping eyelids, she would give me this cute, tired smile. I told her to keep her eyes wide and this is the great face I got:

right before my little mom moment
My little zombie trying to stay awake.

Out of desperation, I turned the music up and started singing and dancing the way that only a mom can. Oh yes! I was grooving! My moves could have embarrassed the most confident of teenagers. I’m sure anyone who saw me wondered if I was oblivious to the rest of the world. And the answer to all of them is yes.

Because as soon as my daughter saw me dancing, she started moving her shoulders and grooving with me. I pointed my fingers and she pointed hers too. I did the wave with my arms and she stuck her arms out too. After she heard me singing at the top of my lungs terribly to the song I didn’t know the words to, she started singing too.

My Little Mom Moment

And I just kept watching her and every time I saw her start to dance again, my eyes burned and I wanted to cry because I was so lucky! I got to hang out with my little girl all day long.

I was suddenly filled with gratitude that my husband goes to work every day to support us so that I can have these little moments where I see my daughter trying to be like me. He frequently misses the little moments and he sacrifices the opportunity to be with the kids all the time to provide for us.

I can’t believe how much Siena has been growing up and it is only a matter of time before this phase is gone. One day she’ll roll her eyes at her embarrassing mom. Then maybe she’ll rock out again with me when she realizes that I actually am cool. But she will not be the little girl in the car seat who is discovering how to bust a move while being strapped in to a car seat for that much longer.

I wish I could have gotten a video, or even just a picture. Because the only one who saw her busting a move like her mama, is her mama. And I hope this mama never forgets.

 

I have more Mom Moments that were not as heartwarming, but just as memorable.

5 Mom Moments that Were NOT Funny at the Time

Most Important To Do on your List Every Day

Cheesy Post Alert!!

Don’t care. Sometimes you need a little cheese. Today, it’s all about the cheese… and cute pics of my babies.

Most of my days end up just like today. I have a long list of things I should be getting done, but I don’t really get many of them done. But that’s okay. I think I did the most important to do on my list. I didn’t finish folding the laundry, or write this blog until super late. Dinner happened, but it was just Macaroni and Cheese, nothing special.

It seemed like a lot of things just got left undone. Some days I get even less than that done. But I always try and accomplish my most important to do. I try to remember to keep it at the top of my list. Because if I only do my most important to do every day, then my day is successful. If I accomplish it, I know that I am still One Helluva Homemaker.

In the House

Especially during the winter, most of the time we just hang out at home. Our home is our children’s world. They get to be in the place where they are most comfortable and can act like themselves the most. At home, it’s super easy to do your most important to do. And being at home all day, I love watching my babies just be. They are 100% themselves and they are so full of love!

toddler watching television in the middle of laundry
Sometimes, the laundry doesn’t get put away for a long time, so it becomes a nest for my toddler to watch TV in.
showing my toddler my most important to do
Her favorite spot to hang out while I try to whip together 3 meals a day.

My little boy

my daughter sporting some tude
I don’t know how I got a photo with so much attitude, but I absolutely love it!
most important to do in action from my son
This is what he looks like right before he goes to sleep. My heart!
Siena helping her brother
The little mommy helping her brother.
both my kids in the crib
Siena always loves to get in the crib with Grayson and play with him. He loves it too. I love watching them play together.

I love going out and letting them explore too. But, sometimes it is great to just be homebodies and enjoy being around each other.

Most Important To Do

That brings me to the most important to do. You could get absolutely nothing done ALL DAY LONG in terms of getting stuff done around the house, cleaning, shopping, whatever and still have a productive day as long as you do the most important thing on your list. Love your family. Just show your babies you love them. Show your spouse you love them. That’s all you got to do, and your day just became one of the best days ever. Literally, it is the BEST thing you can do every single day. That is what makes you One Helluva Homemaker.

most important to do shirt
Customize your shirt with different colors or choose from so many of the other products!

Remember it!

So, because I wanted you to have a way to remind yourself that you are amazing just because you loved your family today, I designed some shirts, water bottles and phone cases! I love how they turned out.

Check them out! 

 

Baby Boy Birth Story – Darkest Night Begets Brightest Light

Every birth story is a unique and special experience. Our Baby Boy spared no expense in making this a memorable occasion. He has brightened our life ever since he cured the darkest night.

 

Doctor’s Appointment

I had been hoping to naturally go into labor. I made it to my 39 week appointment and with despair heard that not much had changed. It was all I could do to not burst into tears. My baby boy was already measuring big, my mom was coming into town on Saturday and I didn’t want to wait and then have to deliver via C-section because of his size. I was so uncomfortable and Siena had been big too.

My amazing doctor asked me if I wanted to be induced and after talking with Austin about it, we decided that that was the best thing for us to do. I had been induced with Siena and was told that it probably was for the better, just because of her size and Baby Boy was already measuring bigger. So, if we were going to be induced, we might as well get that baby out of me sooner rather than later. The induction was scheduled for that night.

 

Last Moments as a Family of Three

Dropping Siena off before Baby Boy CameI was supposed to go in and have something put next to my cervix that would help soften it all night and then they would start Pitocin the next morning. Austin decided he wanted to spend the night with me in the hospital, so our friends were nice enough to watch Siena. Before dropping her off, we all went out to dinner one last time as a family of three. It was a restaurant we’d never been to and I got chicken strips and had one of them. I wasn’t that hungry… even though I knew I should probably eat because I wouldn’t get to later.

We took Siena to our friend’s house. We got her pajamas on and set up a Pack ‘n Play in their master closet. She looked confused and a little scared. We said a little prayer with her and told her that daddy would be there to get her in the morning. I felt like my heart was breaking a little as we closed the door. She had no idea what was going on or how things were going to change. I just remember looking at her big, beautiful eyes staring up at me, trusting that we would be back for her. It was probably harder on me than it was on her. Apparently she woke up the next morning and was just fine after she had her moment of confusion with new people around.

Getting Checked In

Trying to Sleep Before Baby BoyWe drove to the hospital and checked in. It didn’t take long to get situated. They had a room all ready for me. I donned the hospital gown and they did their usual prep stuff, reading documents, going over legal things, etc. I was dilated to a 2 ¾ and 70% effaced. Just a little more dilation than earlier that morning. It wasn’t super encouraging and I was glad that I had opted for the induction.

They stuck something next to my cervix that was supposed to help get labor going. Things were going pretty well. My nurse was super nice and I was pretty comfy in the bed. Austin conked out almost immediately and since I wasn’t tired enough to go to bed I started watching a movie on my tablet. Then I found out from my awesome nurse around eleven that I would be getting a new nurse…which is when hell began.

A Nurse Makes All the Difference

I knew it would be rough when I asked her, “so do you have any crazy stories from working here?”

She looked at me with a cutting, patronizing look. “That would be a HEPA violation.”

I’m sure my eyebrows raised in obvious surprise and disdain. I was just trying to make conversation but now felt like I couldn’t ask her anything without some sort of judgment being passed.

The Expert

My new nurse apparently had an idea of how every pregnancy was ideally supposed to go and my attitude  about my medically assisted labor did not seem to measure up to her standards. She obviously knew better than his mama or his doctor what was best for my Baby Boy. I started feeling contractions around 11:30 or so. They were bad enough that I wanted an epidural.

austin waiting for baby boy
Austin found a spot to rest while waiting for Baby Boy.

The nurse did not approve of my getting an epidural so early. She would say things like, “Well… because you’re getting an epidural so early… You really should wait… Are you sure you really need it?

But I was insistent and soon the anesthesiologist was there to relieve my pain. It was hard for me to even bend over, I was hurting so bad. I couldn’t relax.

I think it is also important to note at this time that I did have a terrible cough so my nurse was passively making comments like, “What was your doctor thinking? Inducing you when you have a cough?” To which I thought, my doctor is a genius. There’s no way I want to be miserable with pregnancy any longer along with this miserable cough. (And I had the cough for another couple of weeks… it wouldn’t have mattered.)

The Never-Ending Nausea

After my epidural, I suddenly felt very nauseous and remembered that the same thing had happened with Siena. I also knew that with my first pregnancy, they had given me something almost immediately that cleared up my nausea. Well, this nurse told me they gave me something and it could only be administered ever 6 hours, which I later found out was only Zofran!

Extreme Nausea waiting for Baby Boy
Trying to smile while suffering through the nausea.

It was doing absolutely nothing for me. Every time I rolled over (to evenly distribute the epidural) I felt horrible waves of nausea. I couldn’t remember what had been given to me before but I knew this wasn’t it. She refused to even ask the doctor on call if there was something else.

The Urine

TMI WARNING!

The fluids they kept giving me for baby boyShortly after the epidural, the most embarrassing horror, that I will never be able to forget was that they refused to put a permanent catheter in me. They are pumping me with fluids, I’ve lost all feeling down there and I have a cough, that unless I squeeze my legs together will force urine out of me. I complained to the nurse and tried to explain the situation.

“This is the way we have to do it,” she responded. She eventually did ask the doctor, who without coming to talk to me, also refused. I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t do it when I had had one with Siena, even though I didn’t have a cold.

I pleaded and threatened, “you will literally have to keep changing my sheets because I cannot stop myself from peeing the bed.”

“Well, we could give you some pads.” I must have gone through 30 pads that night. My hands were covered in urine and the nurse and whoever the resident on call was that night, refused to put in a permanent catheter. And on top of all of this, I am trying my hardest not to spew vomit everywhere.

 

The New Nurse

Some time in the middle of the night, I got a new nurse who liked to interrupt me every time I asked for something for the nausea, by saying, “You have already asked for that.”

Obviously I have! Would I still be asking if I wasn’t desperate? Do you think it’s pleasant for me to constantly request for someone to come into my room and help me?

Pitocin

At 5:30 in the morning they finally started me on Pitocin. I was so excited because I was so ready for the night to be over. Delivery couldn’t be as bad as my night had been. Things were at least starting to move in the right direction. After they took out the string next to my cervix, they informed me that it hadn’t been inserted far enough and it had essentially done nothing all night. That was all for nothing then.

Around 7:30, I was dilated to a 4. Maybe things would move now!

The End in Sight

My doctor was going to be there in half an hour. I still felt horribly nauseated, but at least the nurses were gone and daylight was starting to come in through the window. They checked me at 7:50 because I guess it looked like my contractions were increasing. Suddenly I was at a 7. Then, just a couple of minutes later I really felt like I needed to push.

I told my morning nurse, who was perfectly pleasant, that I felt like I needed to push and she was like, “well, you were only at a seven a couple of minutes ago.” She checked again. “Wow! You’re at a nine.”

Then my doctor came in. I breathed a sigh of relief. It was over! It was finally over! Light had broken over the horizon. Immediately I felt like everything was going to be all right. She was scheduled to come in at 8:00 am. Good thing! Because Baby Boy was coming fast.

Doctor came to deliver Baby Boy
After some Phenergan and my Amazing Doctor came!

We were talking about my nausea that I had been fighting all night and then she said, “we’ll just give you some Phenergan,” without even blinking an eye. As soon as she said it I said, “that’s what it was!” That was the medicine the doctor had prescribed when the epidural gave me nausea with Siena.

My wonderful doctor gestured to the nurses and they started putting me on it and I instantly felt better. Why couldn’t they have given that to me 9 hours ago?!

Go Time

At some point I had to interrupt her as she was talking to me and I was like. “I really feel like I have to push!” She checked me and said, “Well, let’s get this baby out of you.” Time for Baby Boy!

“Right now!?” I thought I’d have more time after my Doctor Goddess got there.

She laughed. “Yeah, I’ll just break your water. Let’s have this baby.”

getting ready to push out baby boy

Pushing out my Baby Boy!
Pushing to see my Baby Boy!

She broke my water; it gushed everywhere. I pushed for twenty minutes or so and my Baby Boy was out! I couldn’t believe it. When I had delivered Siena, I had been in so much pain in spite of my epidural. The ‘ring of fire’ or whatever they called it. When I asked my doctor about that, she said that some hospitals turn off the epidural before you start pushing so that you can feel when you are supposed to push! WHAT?!?!?!

With Grayson’s delivery I could feel no pain, just pressure. It was awesome! I felt so alert after he was born, even though I hadn’t had a wink of sleep the night before. And there was my beautiful Baby Boy!

My beautiful Baby Boy

Baby Boy all cleaned off!

He was so amazing. Also, he was all covered in the white gunk when they handed him to me for the first time. They cleaned him up while some new resident stitched me up. My Doctor was not happy when she found out that the other doctor had let a resident practice on me.

waiting to hold baby boy

I was a little annoyed because the stitching took so long and I just wanted to hold my baby again. Finally, they were done and I got to hold him.

Holding my precious baby boy
Finally Holding My Baby

My Baby Boy

The first thing I remember about him is he had this cute little pointy nose! I’m pretty sure he has my eyes, at least the shape. And he was super bald. Siena had a lot more hair than he did. Oh and he was definitely a boy! It was so cute.

My precious Baby Boy. We named him Grayson. He was finally in our arms, healthy, happy, alive! I couldn’t believe the pregnancy was finally over and that the most horrifying night of my life was in the past.

Look at his leg rolls already! He was a hefty 8 lbs 15 oz and he was early! I have big babies.

After we shared some time with just Austin and I and our little bundle, Austin left to go get Siena.

I couldn’t believe we had Baby Boy Grayson already. I still called him Baby Boy because that is what we called him for so long. We had kept his name a secret and now that I could finally say it, he seemed more like Baby Boy. Grayson was here. We were a family of four! Our lives were forever changed.

My Sweet Grayson

Big Sister Siena

Siena about to meet Grayson
Her life is about to change forever!

When she came in, she looked like she always does in a new situation. Her eyes were really big. She just stared at everything and walked slowly into the room. I had Grayson in the bassinet because I didn’t want it to seem like we had replaced her. After she finally made it to the bed, we showed her, her baby brother.

Siena meeting baby boy brother

siena meeting baby boyBaby was already one of her favorite words so she just kept saying baby over and over again. She liked trying to hold him and was super sweet with him. I don’t think I detected jealousy or her being mad once. From day one, she just loved her brother.

The rest of the day we stayed in the hospital together as a family and hung out. At night time, Austin went home with Siena and they slept there. I slept in the hospital with Grayson.

That night I got a little bit of sleep because in spite of how exhausted I was, I couldn’t sleep much. I had to resort to watching a movie, You’ve Got Mail, to fall asleep. It took my mind off of the rush, adrenaline and excitement I felt at having Grayson finally join our family.

 

siena checking out baby boy
In an act of unparalleled love, Siena placed her treasured Owl Blanket with her new baby brother.

Family of Four

We are now a family of four! It feels like Grayson has always been here. In some way, he probably was, just waiting to come and join us. He and Siena have so much fun together. I love watching them interact. Thank-you for joining our family, Grayson!

If you happen to be expecting yourself, you might want to check out information on what you’re in for. Best of luck new Mama!

doctor who delivered baby boy posing for picture with our family
Us with our incredible Doctor!

My Husband, Perfect for Us

Prescriptive World

I read so many articles telling men and women what their roles should be in relationships. Women should be working, men should be helping more with the kids, women should be happy at home and men should be content providing for their family. We live in a prescriptive world where people feel the need to tell my husband and I how we should think, how we should behave and how we should raise our kids.

But, I don’t really care what other people think my relationship and my family life should be like. My family is amazing. We may not be the trendiest idea of a family right now, but who cares? It’s what works for us. My husband is the breadwinner and he is so good at it. He is also an incredible father and the love of my life. I am a Stay at Home Mom right now and I love it! (I don’t love it every day… nap time today was a monster.)

So, keep writing your articles, telling me how to live my life and how I am supposed to think and act. From now on though, I’m going to try and ignore them. So, ignoring the trends and the social norms, my husband, this is why I love you and us, just the way we are.

 

Dear Husband,

You may not see this post for a little while because I know how busy you are. I am so grateful that you come home and immediately play with the kids instead of perusing social media. That is amazing. I know that work is exhausting and that all you want to do when you come home is relax. But somehow, you make the time anyways. You are amazing to me.

Every single day, I may not always see it. I may complain, I may be grumpy or I may just not be looking for it, but wish that I could always see it. Because I know some of just how amazing you are. You are my husband and I hope to see all of your greatness one day, but for now let me tell you some of the little things that I know.

The Things You Do

I’m impressed by the things you do. You listen to your scriptures on the way to work. Sometimes you make dinner for us. There are so many times when you help get the kids ready or help me tidy up the house. I know you don’t have to. No one HAS to. But you do it anyway, because you love us. You ask me how I’m feeling and you really want to know. When you ask for my opinion, you really want it. You see me as an equal and you value my input.

When I talk with you about things that bother me, you infrequently argue with me. Instead, you discuss it with me and we work together to make it better.

You always drive when we’re together. It might seem silly to some. But I don’t like driving and much prefer to dork on my phone and talk to you while you cruise the streets.

You stop by the store on your way home from work even though you hate going to the store. That really means you must love me because you don’t want me to leave after you come home from work.

You go to work Monday through Friday. You provide for our family. I see you clinging to your pillow in the mornings and know that you would much rather sleep. I notice when you are so excited that it’s Friday so that you can have a break. You love your job, but it’s not always fun to work. I get that. But every single day, you go anyways even though you might rather stay in bed and snuggle with the kids.

The Things You Don’t Do

I’m impressed even more by the things you don’t do. You don’t criticize the house when it’s messy. There is never blame placed when something has gone wrong. In the mornings, when you have to go to work early, you don’t wake me up. You shut the doors so the noise and the lights will not interrupt my sleep.

my husband with our newborn sonYou don’t interrupt me when I’m talking or crush my dreams. I never question whether you think I am competent because you don’t do everything for me. You don’t expect meals to be ready. Sometimes, you don’t do the things that you want to do because you know there is something important to me that I want to do.

You don’t lie to me. You don’t keep things from me. There is never any reason for me to wonder if there are secrets I don’t know about. You don’t do things that would compromise your health.

My favorite thing that you don’t do though, is you don’t allow me to talk about your favorite person negatively. You want me to treat your favorite person with as much love as you have for her. You want me to be nice to her. And I try to do that even when my self doubt and insecurities would tempt me to not be nice to myself.

All that You are

Austin, I love all that you are. I love your strengths. You lift me up when I am weak and are seeing me struggle. When we got married, your strengths and my strengths became our strengths and now we are so much stronger together.

I love your weaknesses, because after we got married, they became our weaknesses and we can become better together and through Jesus Christ. Now we have each other to lean on as we work to become more like Him.

I love who you were. I love learning about where you came from and why you are the way that you are now. You have such a rich history and it has shaped who you are today.

I love seeing who you will become. The amount of potential you have sometimes astounds me. You are truly going to become something great one day and I can’t wait to see it.

I love who you are now. I get to see you right in the middle of your journey. You’ve come so far and I get to see the evidences of that character building every day in our home. You’ve got so far to go and I am ecstatic that I get to go with you. We are a team and get to be together forever. Thank you for being my partner. We are going to do such great things!

You are My Husband

But the reason I love you the most, is because you are my husband. I chose you. You chose me. We chose each other and the fact that we are committed to each other is why I love you no matter what. We promised to make this work and I plan on keeping my promise. I love you forever.

Love,

The Love of Your Life

 

My husband, me and my daughterYour Family

So, for those of you who are constantly measuring your family against the opinions of everyone else: stop. Your family works because you are the ones making it work. You are trying your best. Don’t worry that it might not be the way everyone else describes as the ideal. If you are happy, you are right.

I love my husband. My husband is right. I love myself. I am right. I love my family. My family is right.

We work to make it right every day.

Grandpa’s Last Words and how they Changed my Life

It is not very often that you get to hear someone’s last words. This experience, though special, is not something most people want to experience. Because inevitably, it means someone has died. I never really got to hear a ‘last words’ speech with either of my Grandmas and my other Grandpa is still alive.

Me and my Grandpa before he died and gave me his last words
Being with my Grandpa Haroldsen one last time before he passed away.

Getting to Know my Grandpa

My Grandpa sitting on the couch before his last words
I was impressed at his flexibility at 80 years old!

My Grandpa Haroldsen was a stern man. He always liked to be on time and he frequently didn’t have patience for the crazy antics of me and my four siblings. And to his credit, we were rambunctious kids.

He worked an egg farm and had spent much of his life working hard. Every morning he had a hearty breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast. He read the paper and when we would come and visit, he would wake us up way too early in the morning by rubbing his unshaven, prickly whiskers on our faces. If you think an alarm clock is bad, you should try that.

One of My Memories

Because we grew up in Alaska, he and my Grandma would frequently fly up to visit us. This allowed us to spend some time with our grandparents without my parents having to drag all of us to the Lower 48. (And yes, that is what we call the continental US. My husband makes fun of me and says that we must refer to ourselves as the Upper 1)

One Christmas, when my grandparents were visiting, I woke up early to go sneak a peak at what Santa had brought for us. It was around 3 in the morning. And to my surprise, and honestly, disappointment, my Grandpa was sitting at the kitchen table with my sister’s globe that she had gotten for Christmas. He spun it on the table, obviously caught in some distant memory.

I said, “hi Grandpa.” Hoping that that would be my only required discussion with him, I anxiously looked around him to the couch where my presents were hiding.

“Good morning, Jennifer.” He then asked me if I knew where he and my Grandma had traveled.

I shook my head. And for the next 3 hours, he regaled me with all of his journeyings throughout the world. He pointed all of them out on the map. At some point I had to sit down on the floor, because I had gotten tired.

At 6 am I was rescued by my brother who emerged and distracted my Grandpa long enough for me to FINALLY see what presents I had. I will never forget that lecture of his world travel, at least the fact that we had it.

When My Grandpa was Dying

I was a sophomore in college. Right before I was about to go back home for the summer, I decided I would drive up to Idaho and keep my Grandma company for a couple of weeks. I wanted to be there for her and help her out.

Spending time with my grandma while i received my grandpa's last words

I also wanted to spend time with my Grandpa who had been diagnosed with cancer a year and a half ago. He had been put on hospice, and I knew it was probably the last time I would see him. That trip holds some of my most tender moments with both of my Grandparents.

Aside from my Grandpa’s last words, I remember being by the dining room and kitchen when my Grandma got off the phone with someone. She held the phone and let her hand fall to her side before looking at me. “I wish people would quit asking me how I’m doing.” She started crying and I held her while I cried too.

She gave me that. That impossible urge to cry when someone else does was her doing. My mom has that curse too.

My Grandpa’s Unofficial Last Words

My Grandpa right before he passed away and gave me his last wordsTo me, they are his last words, because it was the last time he tried to impart wisdom to me. He said them to me in full awareness that he wouldn’t be seeing me again once I left and I wouldn’t be seeing him until I died.

He had just let me win a game of Twenty Thousand with him… I know, because I tried to let him win and was finding it extremely difficult to do so. And he was lying on his hospice bed and I was lying on my Grandma’s daybed that they had put in there for her. We were mindlessly watching some TV show. And while we’re both laying there, he says, “Honor your Marriage Covenants. That is the most important thing.”

Kissing my grandpa on the head before he died and gave me his last words“Okay, Grandpa.”

And that was it. His last words were short. I wasn’t even looking at him when he had said them, but they stuck. I guess that’s the thing about last words. They are impactful enough to stick.

Understanding His Last Words

If you are unfamiliar with my religion, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This is important, because it will help you to understand the impact of what my Grandpa’s last words were when he said, Marriage Covenants.

my grandpa following his own last wordsWhen we are married, we get married in the temple. We believe that as Husband and Wife, we are sealed toget her as a family unit for Time (life on earth) and all Eternity (life after earth). This means that we are bound together, our children will be bound to us and nothing will be able to separate us, unless we break our covenants.

That means at the end of my Grandpa’s life, the last words that he felt were essential to share with me was his over arching wisdom that when all is said and done, our family is the most important. Family is the most crucial thing to fight for. If you honor your Marriage Covenants, you will get to be with your family FOREVER. And my poor Grandpa, knew that that is what he wanted after he passed.

He was going to be separated from my Grandma for a time. But he loved her so much and his children so much, that fighting to keep that bond in place was the most crucial thing he could have imparted to me, even though at the time, I was not married.

Keeping My Promise

My husband and I adhering to his last wordsHis last words still pop into my mind from time to time. Keeping your marriage covenants includes commandments such as being faithful to each other, loving God and loving our fellow man. The best part about these covenants is the more we adhere to them, the closer we grow to each other, the more we want to be together and the stronger our bond on earth becomes.

I love my husband so much. He is my strength and my support. There are many times when I feel like I am weak and he is there to lift me back up again and cheer me on.

My grandpa’s last words were not just important for the eternities, they are essential for me now. They remind me of my love for Austin. And by adhering to them, we become better friends every day.

A Note to My Grandpa

I know you’re not physically here now. I’m so happy that now you get to be with Grandma. But I hope you know that by having the courage to share some last words with me, you have impacted my life for the better. I know it was probably scary to share them with me, acknowledging the fact that we weren’t going to be together that much longer. You broke the unspoken rule and brought attention to the fact that this was temporary. I am so grateful that you did. It probably didn’t seem like it made much difference to me, but it did. I heard you and I’m trying to do as you instructed. I love you Grandpa. Save a spot for my family next to yours.

To read about one of the ways we are trying to honor our marriage covenants, you can visit: My Imperfect Husband & His Imperfect Wife

Postpartum Anxiety & OCD without Medical Help

There are few experiences written on the web about Postpartum Anxiety or Postpartum OCD. They frequently get swept into the category of Postpartum Depression. But if you have ever experienced this, you will know that they are not the same and hearing about PPD all the time can make you feel that you are all alone in your struggle.

You are not alone.

taking care of my daughter after months of battling postpartum anxiety

 

My First Baby

I was obviously anxious about having a baby, but I was more focused on the delivery part of it. I figured that since I was the oldest of five, having a child would be easy. Having helped my mom change so many diapers, feed my siblings, gone babysitting, I just assumed that I wouldn’t have a problem with that.

 

The First 6 Weeks

For the first 6 weeks, postpartum, I was fine. We were with family and felt like we had a great support network. Our moms would gobble up any opportunity to hold Siena. They helped her fall asleep, changed her bum and were there for us to lean on physically and emotionally.

Literally, the day after my daughter was 6 weeks old, we flew all the way around the world and began living in China. There is nothing that could have prepared me for that kind of culture shock, but that is a story for another time.

 

Living in China

Facetiming to help cope with postpartum anxiety
My mom helped me through so much just by being available to talk to me whenever I needed to.

We were excited to go on this great adventure, but we weren’t entirely sure what it would be like with a baby. We had planned everything out and felt like we were prepared, we just didn’t anticipate the very real possibility of the mental health issues that might arise.

I was alone frequently during the day. Before we had left I didn’t think this would be a problem. I could make friends, and if not I could catch up on some of the things I’ve been wanting to do. I could blog, I could read, I could watch movies and of course I would be caring for our little angel.

Then I realized there was no one around me who spoke any English. And my Spanish only served to frustrate my attempts at learning Chinese. That was fine. I still had friends online… except that Facebook, Gmail, Youtube and any other American social networking site was blocked by the government. My saving grace was FaceTime, but the time change also made that very challenging. If it was four in the afternoon in China, it was two in the morning back home.

The afternoon was usually when it would start to get hard. I knew Austin wouldn’t be back from school for another couple of hours and by then I was at the end of my rope with Siena. I didn’t know how to make her happy. Being a Mama was much more difficult than I had anticipated.

 

Signs of a Problem

From the beginning, I was always a little paranoid about my baby girl. I was terrified she would just stop breathing while she was sleeping. A kid was coughing into her hands and then touching Siena’s hands… I about lost it. Fear gnawed at me constantly that something would happen to her.

We hadn’t been living in China for very long, maybe just a week or two when I started having the thoughts. Siena would be crying for hours and I would have no idea how to calm her and these unsolicited, unwanted images would flash through my mind. The images were a constant stream of me doing horrible things to my daughter. I couldn’t stop them. It seemed like the more I tried to rid myself of the thoughts, the more they permeated. (I will not get specific about what those thoughts were because I know that such descriptions can trigger images in people who suffer the same things as I did.)

I used to sit on my bed, sobbing and clutching my daughter with fear, terrified that somehow, I would do something that I had seen in my head. The fear that I would somehow do those things without wanting to may sound irrational to anyone not in my head, but it didn’t feel impossible to me. It felt terrifying and very real. 

 

Logical Explanation

mama who looks perfectly happy but battling postpartum anxiety
No one would know how I struggled unless I told them. You never know who could be going through this.

At first I thought that the only explanation for me having these thoughts was that I was a horrible mom. After all, how could I be a good mom if I was seeing all of these things in my head? It reaffirmed my belief over and over again because I couldn’t make them stop. If I was really a good mom, I wouldn’t keep seeing atrocities in my head. A good mom would never think these things.

The bad thoughts persisted so I finally looked it up online. At first the only articles I found were about postpartum depression and as I would read those, I thought, see… it’s just me. I’m the only one who thinks this way.

I finally clicked on a link labeled Postpartum Anxiety/OCD. OCD was never something that described me, but I certainly had a history of anxiety. As I read the article, everything made sense. I felt a relief just knowing that I was not the only one who had experienced this. Maybe, just maybe I wasn’t having these thoughts because I was a bad mom!

 

Postpartum Anxiety & OCD Explained

When someone experiences Postpartum Anxiety or Postpartum OCD they feel extreme anxiety about the well-being of their infant. The OCD describes ritualistic things done to help avoid the dangers that the mom foresees. As a mild example, a mom could constantly be washing her hands to make sure her baby doesn’t get sick. Another example is getting rid of items they perceive as being potentially harmful to the child.

For each of these mental illnesses, bad thoughts are a central theme. They could be bad thoughts about things in general, happening to your infant or things that you are specifically doing to your child.

Another core feature of Postpartum Anxiety or Postpartum OCD is repulsion at the images you are seeing. If you are experiencing a desire to do the things you are seeing or feel like someone is telling you to do those things, it is imperative that you stop reading my blog right now and seek medical attention. This is something called Postpartum Psychosis and is very treatable if you get help.

For all of these Postpartum Anxiety, OCD, Psychosis & Depression… it is not your fault. They don’t make you a bad mom. Merely the fact that you are worried about it and researching it on the internet proves you are a great mom. You are worried about the safety of your baby and yourself.

 

Postpartum Anxiety without Medical Help

I don’t recommend this. If you are experiencing any Postpartum Anxiety, Depression, OCD or Psychosis, please seek help ASAP. There are professionals who know how to help you.

I did not have this luxury. I was in a country across the world where very few people spoke English and it would have been extremely good fortune to find anyone who knew anything about Postpartum Anxiety. It was also hard to talk to my family about it because I was afraid they wouldn’t understand. But I did find a couple of things that were helpful in my battle for it alone.

I share these with you if you are in a situation like I was and cannot receive medical help. This may be a rare circumstance, but it was extremely frustrating to receive no guidance online beyond, go seek a medical professional when that was something I couldn’t do. If nothing else, these things might help until you can receive help.

 

Things that Helped

Talking to my husband was one of the first things that helped. I told him of my thoughts even though I was ashamed and embarrassed. Getting them out in the open helped to normalize the situation. He also shared his fears and even though they were not the same as mine, it helped to know that I was not the only one struggling during what should be “the most joyful time of our life”.

My beautiful angel who I fought for during my postpartum anxiety

When I did get back to America, I went to a group once. It was helpful to an extent. The other women there struggled with postpartum depression and it was hard to really share with them because I was embarrassed about the bad thoughts I was having. However, before anyone else arrived, I got to talk to the psychologist there one on one and having a medical professional validate my experience was helpful.

What helped me the most though was realizing that my fear behind all of the thoughts was that I was a terrible mom. I was scared that deep down maybe I really was this horrible person. Once I realized my fear, I also learned that this was a lie. I was not a terrible mom. I’m not a bad person. From that point forward, whenever I would see the horrifying images, I would repeat to myself “I am a great mom.” I would repeat it until I believed it and then they would leave me alone for a time.

To me, it seemed like infusing myself with truth was the only way to combat the lies that accosted me constantly.

 

Spirituality is Helpful, but Not a Curemy husband rescuing me when I needed help with postpartum anxiety - an answer to prayers

I am a very religious person. While I was going through this, I used to read my scriptures, go to church, pray and plead with my Heavenly Father to take this away from me. I tried everything I could think of to implore heavenly help. It came, but it came in the form of ways to cope until I could find professional help.

For example, I found an article that reaffirmed I was sick, that there was a name for something I was going through. That felt so liberating.

Another example is my husband would have strength when I had none. I have a picture of him standing, silhouetted in the dark while he held our crying baby and had saved me from emotionally crumpling in on myself.

Even though I was doing everything I could to stay close to my Heavenly Father, I still had the bad thoughts. And part of me likes to think that I went through that so I would know that this is a legitimate illness that is not imagined or something that you can just control. Because I know this, I can now be there to support other women who are struggling in the same way.

 

Length of Time

After I returned to America and was around family again, my bad thoughts almost went away. But they didn’t completely. Sometimes they would return full force and I would find myself crippled in emotional hell.

They came back more frequently when we moved to Detroit. I had read somewhere that it would last throughout the first year of your child’s life. This seemed impossible to me. How could they just go away? I would never be able to forget the images that had tortured me.

While that is true, it is also true that the illness went away. After a year, I was no longer consumed by it. I still remember every horrible thought I had with impeccable clarity. They are not easily forgotten. But, they don’t replay in my head over and over again, threatening to strip me of my sanity.

Instead I think, “my poor new mom self. I wish I could tell her how amazing she was for being strong when she felt impossibly weak.”

 

Will it Return?

Postpartum Anxiety and OCD is most common with your first pregnancy, but that does not mean it is impossible for it to return. As I prepared for the birth of my second child, I talked to my OB/GYN about my experience with Siena and she helped me take some precautions. She recommended some mental health professionals and prescribed some anxiety meds.

Taking the medication gave me extreme insomnia so I quit taking those. And I never did get to go see someone before my son was born, or after for that matter. I am happy to report that I haven’t needed to so far. He is 5 months old and I have been so happy. I didn’t know this kind of happiness postpartum was possible.

And in case you were concerned or wondering, the postpartum anxiety I had with my daughter does not in any way affect how much I love my children. I love them both the same and am so grateful that this time around, I got to enjoy all of the experiences that being a new mom can bring.

my angel baby and her big eyes helped me battle postpartum anxiety
My beautiful girl was a light to me during the trying times.

 

You Always Have Help

I am not a medical professional, I don’t have a degree or a license. I just have a lot of experience that can at the very least, assure you that you are normal. You will just need some help getting through this.

If you are struggling with this and have no one else to turn to, I am here as a resource. It will get better. It doesn’t last forever and you are an incredible mom.

If you would like to reach out to me, please send me an email or leave your comments below. I am sure there are many people who struggle with this and would be able to offer even more insight than I can. 

Cake Smash Fail – Definitely Not Pinterest Perfect

In my days before I knew that I was not Pinterest Perfect, I thought it would be a great idea to make a cake for my daughter’s first birthday and we could do a Cake Smash! Smashin’ idea, eh? It was going to be brilliant! I made a cake that looked like one of the owls on her precious owl blanket. This was going to be so fun!

And then of course, being the photographers that we are, we were going to document every fun, messy second. Bring the Cake Smash on!

one-year-old-in-the-middle-of cake smash

Building the Cake

I did two layers. I know, I’m so fancy! There were different colors of frosting that I had made with cream cheese so not only was it going to look pretty but it was going to taste pretty darn good. I spent an entire afternoon creating my masterpiece and I wanted it to look just like her blankie.

All in all, I think I did a good job. It looked like a cake fit for my princess to smash.

cake smash-cake, my perfect creation!

Finding a Time

This was tricky, because my husband’s work schedule was busy, the Holidays were upon us and we didn’t necessarily want a big audience around while we went crazy with our camera. We ended up having to wait a couple of days after her birthday before we could do it... which affected the density of the cake

Finally, we got her in her cute little bootie cover and got everything all set up. Time to show off our cute, messy angel to the world.

 

The Cake Smash

This Cake Smash wasn’t exactly what you would call a success. First of all, our daughter didn’t seem remotely interested in the cake. She was more interested in the lights we had set up and the big giant cameras in front of her parent’s faces.

Well, the Cake Smash was a giant FAILURE! My cake that I had spent hours meticulously baking and decorating was hard as a rock and she tried everything to dig into it, but to no avail. 

 

1-year-old-pushing-down-on-cake smash-cake

1-year-old-trying-to-penetrate-cake smash-cake-with-teeth

Finally, we tore a chunk off for her and she at least got to taste it, but her interest faded shortly thereafter.

trying-some-of-the-cake smash-cake

 

We tried the cake too. It was now like a calcified brick with baby slobber all over the top. Needless to say, we ended up having to throw the whole thing away. So sad!

Lessons Learned

Sometimes it’s just better to pay for a cake. I am obviously not a Cake Smash baking expert.

Don’t assume your child likes to get messy. Ours hates it.

When it comes to kids, it’s okay to let go of expectations, because it is never going to go the way you planned.

You will still get adorable pictures though!

1-year-old-not-getting-to-enjoy-cake smash-cake

More Mom Fails!

For more Mom Fails check out: 5 Mom Moments That Were NOT Funny at the Time.

Or, enjoy my failure at trying to teach my daughter how to use the potty.

My Daughter – Ambassador of Light

I’m sure most people feel the way about their kids that I do about my daughter. She lights up my world. My son does too. This post however, is about my daughter. It is over the last two years of having her in our home that I have come to realize just how special she is. Let me share with you what little I know about my daughter’s potential.

When I First Met My Daughter

My daughter was born in the afternoon after a grueling labor. Twenty hours of labor and three and a half hours of pushing. As I finally got her out of me, I collapsed in a kind of exhaustion that I think few have experienced. My body and spirit felt broken and I didn’t know if I would ever be the same again.

I was right in being worried; I never was the same again. But it wasn’t because of my delivery experience. It was because of the big, beautiful eyes looking up at me when they placed her in my arms. She made me a mommy. Her eyes were wide and it seemed like she was seeing more of me than I have ever seen of me. My baby girl was perfect.

my daughter-at-6-months-old-looking-up
Looking-at-my daughter-right-after-she-is-born

The First Sign

The first sign of just how special my daughter really is, was the complication with the umbilical cord. We found out after I had delivered that the cord was small and that it had a knot in it. If she had somehow managed to tighten the cord during her 9 month stay in my womb, she would have died. If it had pulled tight during delivery, she could have died. But somehow, through all of that, she survived.

Survival

She survived during a very rough postpartum for me. Our challenging stay in China would have been enough to rattle the calmest of babies, yet she survived.

I got really sick when she was just two and a half months old (bronchitis, tonsillitis, a viral infection and the flu). My temperature was 104 and I finally had to an IV with antibiotics to knock out the infection. Yet somehow, she never got sick. Not one time during the China trip did she get sick.

We rode in taxis without seat belts or car seats (because they didn’t have them) on what looked like some of the most dangerous roads we’ve ever had the pleasure of taking. Granted, we were observing with our Western eyes.

She has shown her resiliency time and time again, proving to me that she is here on earth to bring light to those in darkness.

waiting-at-a-bus-stop-with-my daughter

Helping her Brother

Grayson, has not been as easy-going as his sister was. Perhaps it is because he was not forced into a life of nomadic venturing from the very beginning. He gets very upset when he cannot go to sleep on his bed, our bed or someone else’s bed.

If we are out and about and he is having a hard time, Siena will grab his hand and say, “It’s okay.” She’ll give him her favorite blanket and her favorite baby. If I need her to, she will run and grab his pacifier so that he will have something to suck on. She wants to help her baby brother to be happy.

my daughter-holding-her-brothers-hand

Helping her Mommy

About a month ago, I got the flu after she did. She had thrown up, been miserable and then of course, it was my turn.

I was laying on the couch, perpetually letting Daniel Tiger occupy the screen so that I would have to get up as little as possible.

At some point, Siena came over and patted my hand and then climbed up with me. She snuggled next to me, grabbed my arm, put it on herself and held my hand to make me feel better.

my daughter-holding-her-mommy's-hand
My daughter-at-6-months-old

What I See

Every day she is learning. She creates new things, comes up with new words, or impresses me with her actions as she learns to be a good person.

One of the things she absolutely loves to do, is be a mama. She tries to do everything I do, so I have to watch what I do sometimes. I have to send her out of the room before I trim my bangs… because we all know what could happen if she found scissors and decided she wanted to be like mama.

She puts her baby and bunnies to bed. She tries to feed Grayson. Her favorite thing to wear when mama wears boots, is her boots that match. She likes to sit in the sink while I get ready and pretend to put lotion on her face while I’m getting ready. She loves to wear a backpack and get ready to go because I have a diaper bag backpack that goes everywhere with us. Our baby girl is a Mama in training.

Siena loves music. She dances, tries to play the piano and sings along when her mama is singing at the top of her lungs. She laughs when she tries new things at the thrill of doing something new. My daughter is the sweetest.

She is Human

She gets angry, throws tantrums and tries to kick the cat. My daughter is imperfect, but her human nature is not ever going dissolve her worth.

my daughter-sleeping-as-a-newborn

Rarity in Vision

It is rare that someone gets the opportunity to see just how special someone is. I think that is the role of a parent. I doubt anyone will see as much as I, her intrinsic value. She has overcome so much already and she is only two years old.

I can already see her doing so much. One day she’ll light the world. She is going to accomplish so much and become so much. I can't wait to be a witness to it. Even now, there are so many people who want to talk to her because she is lighting up their day. My daughter is an ambassador of light and one day, everyone else will see it too.

Flying with an Infant – It’ll be Okay!

Flying with an Infant

I’m not going to claim to be an expert on flying with an infant, but if there was an expert based solely on experience, that person would be me. This is not a brag list, but a comprehensive list so you can understand that when you are reading my advice, I have some life lessons backing me up.

Flights during the first 6 months of my First Baby’s Life

1. Raleigh, North Carolina --> Denver, Colorado – 1 week old
2. Denver, Colorado --> Salt Lake City, Utah – 1 month old
3. Salt Lake City, Utah --> San Francisco, California – 6 weeks old
4. San Francisco, California --> Shanghai, China – 6 weeks old
5. Shanghai, China --> Shenzhen, China – 2 months old
6. Guangzhou, China --> Shanghai, China – 2 ½ months old
7. Beijing, China --> Shanghai, China – 4 months old
8. Shanghai, China --> Xi’an, China – 4 months old
9. Xi’an, China --> Shanghai, China – 4 months old
10. Shanghai, China --> Hong Kong, China – 4 months old
11. Hong Kong China --> Taipei, Taiwan – 4 months old
12. Taipei, Taiwan --> Hong Kong, China – 4 months old
13. Hong Kong, China --> Shanghai, China – 4 months old
14. Shanghai, China --> Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – 5 months old
15. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia --> Singapore, Singapore – 5 months old
16. Singapore, Singapore --> Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – 5 months old
17. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia --> Shanghai, China – 5 months old
18. Shanghai, China --> Los Angeles, California – 5 months old
19. Los Angeles, California --> San Francisco, California – 5 months old
20. San Francisco, California --> Salt Lake City, Utah – 5 months old
21. Idaho Falls, Idaho --> Salt Lake City, Utah – 6 months old
22. Salt Lake City, Utah --> Denver, Colorado – 6 months old
23. Denver, Colorado --> Detroit, Michigan - 6 months old

Map of all of infant's first 23 flights for flying with an infant

If you were thinking that we must be insane then you are correct. I don’t know what we were thinking, but we have all survived and lived to tell the tale.

This also does not include the many train rides, bus rides, taxi rides, metro rides or road trips that were also a part of my daughter’s first 6 months of life. I am sure in her big baby brain, she probably thought that her family must be gypsies and she was doomed to a life of constant change.

The best part about this list is that on flight number 23, someone asked me if this was my baby’s first flight and I just laughed.

So, from someone who has REALLY been there, here are my juicy secrets:

Call Ahead

If you will be flying with an infant, call ahead. Especially on International flights, but even on Domestic flights, it’s possible that they have a baby bassinet and you’ll be able to lay your angel inside of it and just let him sleep. They can also put you in an emptier row, or closer to the bathroom with a changing table. Let the crew know about your situation so they can be a team player for you.

breastfeeding-on-the-plane-while-flying with an infant

Take a Bottle & Some Formula

I don’t care if you are exclusively breast feeding your baby or if you have so much milk you feel like you might explode. If you are a new Mama, you may not know how much milk you are producing and it might be awkward to bust out your boob for the general public.

Also, flying with an infant can be very stressful and stress affects milk production. Bringing a bottle also provides a way for your spouse to feel like they can be helpful too. You don’t have to use the bottle, but having it can be a lifesaver.

My experience: I didn’t think to bring one until the very end of our 6 month journey. All of the flights were hard. We were stressed out of our minds and so concerned about our little baby girl. On our flight out to China, I figured I would just breastfeed her in our row. We had the whole row to ourselves, and I breastfed, but she kept crying and crying. I spent 15 hours onboard an aircraft, with no escape and other passengers watching, trying to soothe a screaming baby.

Hindsight is 20/20 and if I could go back and tell myself, I would say to bring a bottle. I don’t think she was getting enough milk to fill her belly enough to fall asleep. My poor exhausted baby was hungry and her poor stressed mother couldn’t feed her.

Just swallow your pride and bring a bottle.

Bring a Pacifier

Even if you don’t typically let your baby suck on a pacifier, this can be a lifesaver when taking off and landing. The elevation changes can hurt your babies ears and giving him something to suck on will naturally release the pressure in his ears.

Also, flying with an infant is just as stressful to the baby as it is to Mommy and Daddy. Providing the baby with some way to self soothe can help him feel safer and more secure.

If for some reason you forget a pacifier or lose it, I would let Siena suck on my finger. Sometimes you might not be able to reach it. After all, the flight attendants want those bags to stay in the overhead bins during takeoff and landing.

Pack Extra Diapers and a Change of Clothes

You never know when a blow out can strike! My son is an eating, sleeping, pooping machine. And when I say that, I mean he eats and eats and eats and then a couple of days later, he explodes. He has a blow out almost EVERY time he poops. I literally have to catch him in the act to prevent a desecration of his outfit.

There are also other bodily fluids to worry about. For example, vomit, spit up, urine, blood… Someone could spill a drink on your baby. It could be raining. It’s always good to be prepared.

Flying with an infant is not always predictable. On our way back from China, we missed our second flight, due to delays with the first one. We couldn’t make it to Salt Lake that night, had to fly to San Francisco instead to try and catch the last flight out there. Then we missed that one and had to spend the night in a hotel. We were very glad that we had packed extra diapers and a change of clothes for our daughter in the carry on but our own clothing situation was not as fortunate.

sitting-in-the-airport-waiting-to-be-flying with an infant

If you want to read about the most memorable time I forgot to bring an extra diaper, you can read about one of my many Mom Moments.

Ignore the Looks of Disapproval

MOST OF THE TIME people are SO NICE! Even flying as frequently as we do, I have found very few people who are shooting daggers at me. In fact, the only lady who I think legitimately hated us was someone who sat in front of me and my 18 month old daughter, who decided that kicking the chair in front of her was the best sensation her feet could experience.

But I had so many people offer to help, or the flight attendants would ask how they could help. One flight attendant gave me an entire liter water bottle so that I had enough water to mix bottles for Siena on the very long flight.

I’ve had nice passengers hold my kid while I grab something, make sure she didn’t fall, lifted my bag for me. You will not believe how amazing people are, so if someone is being a jerk, ignore them. Most people are NOT thinking the same thing. In fact most people have had to experience flying with an infant themselves. They get it.

flying with an infant-using-the-joey

Use the “Joey”

We call those backpack, baby carrier things, the “Joey”. The Joe saved our lives. A stroller is bulky. When you have a toddler or heavy baby, sure, bring a stroller. But when you have a little infant baby, bring a Joey. The closeness will make your sweetheart feel more secure and if you’re lucky, flying with an infant will be even easier because as you’re going through the airport your little one will fall asleep from the gentle rocking motion.

However, expect to take the Joey off at security. Apparently a Joey is a good place to hide drugs or something.

This is especially important when you are traveling out of the country. Americans have a lot more baby gear than most other countries. One day I will tell you all about some of our experiences with our “gear” in China. But suffice it to say, the Joey became our best friend.

Trust Your Gut

Flying with an infant can be nerve-racking. The worst place I could imagine losing your child is an airport, so trust your gut.

When we were traveling from Beijing to Shanghai, a security personnel offered to hold my baby while they scanned me with their little hand scanner. I did not want any of them to hold my baby. I felt extremely uncomfortable with the situation.

A man kept retranslating as if I didn’t understand that I needed to hand my baby to the woman. I told him no. I was not going to do that. He looked exasperated so I pointed to my husband and told him that he was going to hold my baby.

Don’t be afraid to say no. If you don’t feel comfortable with something, especially when it comes to your kid, trust your gut! I suspect my baby would have been fine, but I was much happier waiting for Austin to come and join me and hand him my little baby. No one can force you to do something you don’t want to do.

This is ONLY a situation that we ran into in Beijing. No one else asked to hold my baby while going through security (in case this story scared you). Beijing, in general is a very high security place and the government has a high degree of control and power there.

Blankets: 1, 2 & 3

I recommend 3 blankets, maybe 2… depending on your situation.

1. Swaddle Blanket
2. Warm, Snuggle Blanket
3. Cover Blanket

Numbers 1 & 3 can be interchangeable if you don’t need to do both at the same time. We combined these when we traveled to China because any time our daughter was in the Joey, she couldn’t be swaddled so we would have her thinner blanket to cover her. Protecting her from the light (and nosy faces of potentially sick and contagious onlookers) was essential to having a happy, healthy baby while traveling.

walking-around-while-flying with an infant
waiting-in-the-airport-before-flying with an infant

You Can Do It!

Here’s the thing, you know your baby. You are her Mama or Dada. Don’t ever doubt the significance of that because that is your number one compass. If you think your baby needs that pack of teething crackers, bring them along. If your little one has a favorite blankie, bring that thing. My daughter had an owl blanket that she STILL takes everywhere with her. I think that because it was one of the only constant things in her life, it is now like a lifeline to her.

Every time someone shoots you a look or tries to offer unwanted advice, just remember that God gave you that baby, He trusts you to be her parent. Your opinion about your baby and how to travel with her is the one that matters the most.

You may be tired and worn out by the end of your trip, but the flight will end eventually. Flying with an infant is not an experience that will last forever and you'll usually have a memorable experience to look back on. Pretty soon you’ll be blogging about your own horror stories.

Check out how to entertain your toddler here!