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No More Babies: How I Really Feel (Last Child Grief)

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Thoughts at 4 Months Postpartum

I only have two children, and two will be my only. We always planned to have two kids for the usual reasons: financial resources, practicality, health reasons, familiarity, and so on.

This pregnancy and postpartum were much different than the first. I suspect it has much to do with knowing they’ll be my last.

I feel the postpartum slipping away. My youngest is now four months old, which means a little more than a trimester ago he was playing, breathing, wriggling, and listening in my womb.

For these past months I’ve watched my body turn into something blooming and abundant to swollen and rumpling to deflated and limp, stressed from constant demands upon it and weak from the the endless drill of late nights and early mornings. I’ve felt unmotivated to move into a new chapter, for I know once that happens, I won’t get to call myself ‘newly postpartum.’ In my case, not ever again.

This is now the body I’m left with. Rather, this is the body I get to keep. I’ve got more skin than I had before, a herniated navel, and my hair seems to be grieving with me as it sheds like a willow in the fall.

I think I’ll say I’m no longer ‘postpartum’ when my linea nigra disappears. The first time it took a year. I think that’s when I’ll stop telling people “I just had a baby…”

Right now my body is a signpost of declarations that say this shop is closed, be back soon. I know better because my intentions are steps ahead; I know the shop is closed indefinitely. Continue reading

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When You Feel Awkward Seeing Breastfeeding in Public

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For one reason or another, some people feel awkward when they see a woman breastfeeding her child in public. This does not necessarily make them bad people. Their feelings can be perfectly valid; it takes a unique set of nature and nurture to arrive at the point of feeling awkward with a specific trigger such as this.

For those who aren’t accustomed to seeing breastfeeding in public and are largely uninformed about how it all works, a little patience may be needed as they adjust. After all, few of us have been spared from American culture’s mixed messages about women’s roles and heavy promotion of both infant formula and breasts as sex objects.

That said, misunderstanding and ignorance are acceptable; projection of fears and lashing out with harassing or discriminatory behavior are not.

Here are a few ideas about what to do and not do if you’re not yet comfortable seeing breastfeeding in public (but you’re working on it, right?).

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What to Consider Before Sharing Your Birth Photos

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Thinking about sharing your birth photographs with friends, family, on social media, hanging them up in your foyer, perhaps printing them in a coffee table book for home visitors to peruse?

Here are a few worthwhile things to consider first.

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22 Tips For Breastfeeding In Public With Confidence

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Self-conscious much?

A recent Centers for Disease Control public opinion study found “only 43 percent of U.S. adults believed that women should have the right to breastfeed in public places.” Theoretically, every time I go out with my baby, I can count every two people we pass and justifiably assume the next three people do not approve of my child breastfeeding there.

With this in mind, in my early public nursing days I felt too embarrassed to be seen struggling to breastfeed my little baby, especially with postpartum depression at a high, an anxiety disorder, and being the first among all my friends to become a mother.

I wanted so badly to live in a part of the world that was acclimated to the sight of normal infant feeding.

The sprawling, diverse metropolitan area where I live isn’t even a major hotspot for public breastfeeding oppression. That’s the frightening part. A quick Google search will guide you through countless stories of mothers across the nation being harassed, shamed, bullied, and discriminated against by strangers, coworkers, relatives, acquaintances, anyone with an opinion… because they breastfed their children in public.

With my first baby I started out nursing in my car. At the time, to me it felt pretty ‘public.’ I quickly realized this could only be a temporary solution to calm my nerves. Not only was it terribly inconvenient to retreat to my car for privacy multiple times per excursion, but it was also completely unnecessary. (And far from foolproof! Do you know where we were the first time I was harassed for nursing? Sitting in the front seat of my parked car minding our own business).

Out of the car and into actual buildings I emerged. I only felt at ease enough in low-crowd places and often found the corner of rooms to nurse so I could have privacy. Then I felt like a professional NIPer after working my way up to nursing on-the-go while babywearing.

Things became easier when I expanded my potential nursing spots to, well, anywhere we happened to be. I wore covers at first (I ditched them for good after that car harassment incident, and life got less complicated when I put those annoying things in storage).

It didn’t take long before I wasn’t giving a second thought to when and where I’d nurse my child because it was not an isolated event — it was just part of the flow of life, which doesn’t stop when you become a mother.

Four and a half years later, through babyhood, toddlerhood, another pregnancy, and tandeming, I don’t think a week has gone by that I haven’t nursed in public, and it’s been nearly that long that I’ve done so confidently.

Twenty helpful tips I learned along the way, in no particular order:

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Milk & Muscle: Exercise During the Breastfeeding Period

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What if you’re a breastfeeding mother and want to exercise? Then you’re ten steps (or Zumba classes) ahead of the rest of us, fit mama!

We know gymnurstics doesn’t count as working out… so what does? Walking, jogging/running, biking and other forms of cardio, swimming, dancing, lifting weights, yoga, pilates, low impact exercise like stretching, home workouts, strength training, kick boxing, hula hooping, whatever gets your body moving and blood flowing.

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The Secrets of Postpartum Bodies

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The power of transformation is an inherent gift of woman. The spider, snake, and butterfly are just a few of many creatures regarded as manifestations of feminine energy and universal symbols of shape-shifting. A master of creation, woman’s body is the original 3D printer. When she nurses a child, as Mark Twain once said, “she has no equal among men.”

Somehow still, many of us know discontent with or hatred for our bodies, whether transient or persistent. What’s worse is we believe it’s normal. Accepted to the point of expectation. This is especially true at the moment we inherit our mothering bodies. Through literally all forms of media and outlets for opinion, we are told before anything else that mothering bodies are not sexy, therefore not valuable, therefore invisible.

It’s a dangerous trajectory for the postpartum woman who is vulnerable, open, and recovering — she is brainwashed to confuse these things with weakness, brokenness, incapability, and decreased desirability. Continue reading

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D.I.Y. Postpartum Padsicles

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Postpartum Padsicles bring soothing relief to sore, swollen, tender tissues after childbirth. Even if you didn’t tear or didn’t have an episiotomy, your (strong yet) sensitive passageway of life will thank you for looking out!

They fit nicely into those postpartum diapers or mesh panties you’ll be wearing for a while, too.

You’ll need about 18-24. I made 30 — just to cover my butt (ha).

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