Beach Essentials for Baby, Kids, & You

Mother is Eternal | Beach Essentials

Mother is Eternal | Beach Essentials

While my sister was here last week, we took a trip to Ocean Beach Park with our babies for the first time and let me tell you, trekking through the sand with two babies that can’t even sit up on their own isn’t all that easy. Wearing them in the sling is extra effort and I was constantly worried about where his face was in regards to the sun.

Overall, it was a great time so I’m here to share some things to make your beach trip much more enjoyable.

Beach Cart: This thing was a lifesaver. We were able to pile everything into it (aside from a couple chairs) and just push it onto the beach. It was a lot better than our initial plan of packing it all into our arms.

Beach Chairs: These fold up into a backpack to make carrying simple.

Shelter: I highly recommend grabbing one of these for your babies. It pops right up, mom or dad can fit to lay in it as well, and you’ve got instant shade and extra sun protection. It’s also lightweight, breathable, and easy to lug. We also bring it to the pool or outside in the yard. This one is great for older kids and adults.

Lip balm: I’m prone to dry lips when out in the sun for too long so I like to keep them hydrated.

Beach Bag: My sister’s diaper bag was large enough to double up as a beach bag as well.

Cooler: Can’t forget the snacks! Also remember to pack a whole bunch of water. Dehydration is serious especially on extremely hot days.

Sunblock: Keep your babies fresh skin protected with a mineral-based sunblock. Apply throughout the day to make it most effective. And adults, don’t forget yourself!

Towels: These are perfect to lay underneath the baby in the shelter or for use with kids and adults.

Sun hat: I never put sunblock on Maddox’s scalp so I insist on him wearing a hat. It keeps the sun out of his face and protects him from burns. And mom, here’s a great one for you.

Shovel & Pail: You can’t go to the beach without trying to make a castle, right? This set is great for the older kids.

Water Resistant Phone Pouch: Between the sand, kids, and water, the beach is a war zone for your phone. The great thing about the pouch is it’s touch sensitive and you still have your headphone jack available. It’s a life saver! Don’t have the funds or the time to buy one? Put your phone in a sandwich bag. It’ll do the same thing!

If you wind up with a sun burn, apply a little aloe. It’ll cool down the burn instantly and promote healing. What else helps make your beach trip more manageable?

Quiet Moments

Mother is Eternal | Quiet Moments

Mother is Eternal | Quiet Moments

In the early morning, I peel open my eyes but it’s still dark. There’s a hint of blue morning light beginning to creep from behind the trees. Next to me, I can feel you searching. Barely even awake. I lift my breast a little closer and almost instantly you find me. Latching on and nestling into me like a little bird under my wing, you calm back to slumber. I smile groggily, curl into you, and follow suit.

At night, I lay you down and lay next to you. The sun begins to shine elsewhere in the world. Your skin smells of lavender and fresh baby. I kiss your forehead before your plump, peach lips begin to nurse. The sweet warmth of the milk works its magic against your tongue and you begin to get drowsy. Soft music plays in the background and I do my best to sing gently to you. Eventually, you fall into slumber.

My heart sings in rhythm, beating with yours, and I’m reminded that this is home. Slowly, I breathe your love in and I breathe out the stress. It’s just us, little babe. You and I. Together. Under these vast skies and for eternity.

How To Nurse In Public

(Source)

You’ve just sat down in a restaurant. You smile at your husband and begin to open your menu. As you start discussing the list of drinks, you hear a whimper and a stir. You look up apologetically at your husband and turn your focus to the baby. The diaper is dry, the pacifier won’t hold, and your baby is licking their lips and shoving their entire first in their mouth. This can only mean one thing so you unbuckle the seat belt or take baby out of the wrap, cradle hold your baby, take out your breast, and watch as baby settles down. You smile at your husband, flip through the menu with your free hand, and continue to discuss dinner options.

Or do you? Too often women shy away from this situation. A situation that is nothing but natural and normal. A common occurrence within the breastfeeding community of women is being uncomfortable nursing in public. For some, it’s a nerve-wracking task and for some it’s like an attached limb they’ve had their whole life. It’s understandable. For years, women’s breasts have been seen sexually rather than biologically. We favor bra ads but shy away from sharing information about breastfeeding. I’ve talked to so many new mothers who are scared of leaving the house because they don’t know what to do in this situation. Hopefully these tips can help:

Practice
Start at home. Breastfeeding may be natural but it’s not always easy. If you’re worried about breast exposure, try latching baby on at home and you’ll find you don’t expose much at all. Try different ways out. Try it with a cover and without a cover. Try it with a blanket over your shoulder that you can pull onto baby’s head until latched. Over time, you’ll be a ninja at breastfeeding without exposing much at all. Experiment and find what works for you.

Wear Appropriate Attire
I get disheveled easily. Breastfeeding in public was a snap once I wore more accessible clothing. I highly recommend a nursing bra if you don’t already have one. Besides my breasts and my pump, it’s my most valued breastfeeding tool. These are the best and easiest outfits I’ve found:

– Two piece outfits. Pants, shorts or skirts paired with a nursing bra and a loose top is the easiest outfit and my go-to. Lift your shirt from the bottom and baby can access the breast. You can pull the shirt down enough to cover any breast exposure and help make you more comfortable. If you are uncomfortable about any belly showing, you can wear a belly band or a tank top underneath your shirt.
– Dresses are wonderful as long as they are an easy, flexible material so you can pull down and access the breast.
– If you have the cash, splurge on a couple nursing clothes that already have the holes sewn in.
– Nursing tanks are great too. Buy a couple different colors and wear them with a cover up.

Pick A Comfortable Spot
Breastfeeding in public is so much easier when you find a cozy spot to sit. Making this experience comfortable will help you calm any anxiety you may have. This may mean a fitting room at a retail store, a park bench when walking around, your car at the grocery store, or a restaurant booth. You want enough space for you, your baby, and whatever else you have with you.

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
Some people will get uncomfortable and feel obliged to say something to you. That is their own personal issue. You are within your rights and the rights of nature. Breastfeeding in public is LEGAL in many places and for good reason. No one has the right to discriminate against you for feeding your child nor can anyone prevent you from doing so. They shouldn’t be asking you to feed elsewhere or disturbing you whatsoever.

If you’re in the states, this site summarizes the statutes for each state.

Act Confident
The trick to anything is acting confident.. even when you aren’t. You know you are doing something crucial for your child’s livelihood so own it. Smile if someone frowns at you. If someone responds negatively, here are some witty comebacks you can use. Remember, not everyone that stares at you, is staring for a negative reason. Some may be genuinely curious. If it’s hard to find your confidence, look at your baby while you’re feeding and remind yourself what’s truly important. You can also join The Badass Breastfeeder for a positive boost and more breastfeeding information and watch this video to give yourself a little laugh.

Just Do It
I know, I know. It’s easier said than done but I promise, once you do it, you’ll be refreshed. You’ll get so used to it, you won’t ever think twice of hiding away in your car or in the restroom. After a couple times, your confidence will be exploding and you’ll be a pro.

Why I Babywear and Reasons You Should, Too.

You’re lying on your activity mat observing the toys hanging above your head. You’ve been there for a few minutes by yourself, curious and content but you’re beginning to fuss. I think you’re starting to realize your alone and you’re not sure where your mother went. So I hear you whimper and I come over to you. You look at me with big blue eyes, searching me, knowing me. You look into my eyes and you whimper – an acknowledgment that you crave to be picked up. So I grab my sling and I tuck you inside close to my warmth. You whimper maybe twice more until you calm, realizing where you are. Now it’s just us with uninterrupted connection.

Babywearing has been practiced for centuries in countless cultures and countries. Often, mothers had to return to their labor not long after birth making babywearing a necessity. In most of history, women are seen carrying their babies on them rather than in a separate counterpart. By incorporating babywearing into your daily life, you can make it a whole lot simpler.

Bonding, Closeness, & Connection

One of my main reasons for babywearing is it promotes a closeness between baby and wearer. By wearing baby, you help create a warm, safe, and secure environment. This is a necessity for babies. Think about it. They were curled up tight in a womb for 9 months. Now they’re out in the world: fresh, new, and frightened. The best place for them to be? In your arms, soaking up your warmth.

Keeping them close to you in a sling allows you to connect, bond, and be close to them. Crucial actions that are dire to their development. Another great thing about babywearing is it’s not exclusive to mother alone but family and friends are able to benefit and bond as well!

Happier Baby

Research shows babies who are worn cry less. The study done by Hunziker and Barr (1986) concludes “the relative lack of carrying in our society may predispose to crying and colic in normal infants.” They also concluded 43% of babies who were carried cried less and 54% in the evenings! I don’t know any mother who would object to that.

Convenience

One of my favorite things about babywearing is both hands are free. Babywearing enables you to do chores, eat a meal, prepare a meal, go shopping, etc while tending to your baby. Not only that but you don’t have to lug a big, bulky stroller around everywhere. Some places don’t allow strollers and without one, you are able to fit into tighter and crowded spaces.

Growth & Development

In a sling or wrap, babies are at eye level. This helps promote an interaction that babies lower down are less likely to receive: talking, eye contact, etc. They have a “parent’s eye view” which helps them become aware of their surroundings (i.e. voices, tone of voice, walking patterns, etc). It helps give them a sense of “being human”. Also, by being carried, baby is able to see more compared to being condensed in a stroller and if they are seeing too much they can look elsewhere. This helps baby make independent choices. And even if mom or wearer is busy, baby is still able to learn.

Physically, it keeps baby off their back to reduce the chance of a flat spot and it promotes  proper hip development (in most carriers).

Aids Sleep

Personally, my baby has yet to find the sleepy dust that babywearing gives off as he is much too curious of everything but I have heard numerous stories and have seen countless pictures with babies asleep in slings and wraps. Also, many people have found their babies sleep longer at night when they are carried during the day.

Alleviates Muscle Pain

Let’s face it, babies are heavy and they get heavier the older they get. Babywearing evenly distributes baby’s weight across the body which helps take weight off your shoulders and back and allows you to hold baby for longer. If you often have sensitive or sore muscles, a carrier is a great addition to your mommy arsenal. 

Carrying your baby is a positive and intimate experience. I hope this inspires you to wear your baby close to you and close to your heart, exactly where they belong.

Mother’s Milk

 Breastfeeding has been a sacred journey for me. It’s truly one of my favorite things about motherhood. To be able to nourish his body with my body is unfathomable. To be able to sustain life with my body is amazing. I feel I have been let in on an ancient secret between women and it’s beautiful.

I’m surprised at how natural it came to both of us and how natural nursing in public was. I thought I’d shy away, embarrassed. Worried about judgment. Turns out, I don’t care. It is what it is – natural and necessary. I’ve learned to become a nursing ninja with no nip slips. Those offended need to look within, question themselves.
These are our soft moments together. As one, once again

Scars of Love

tumblr_nqd9pw3QfL1qzvcg6o1_1280 How amazing a woman’s body is. Only 7 weeks ago, I carried 8lbs of a human life beneath my heart. Over the course of 9 months, a tiny seed turned into a baby boy. Now, my body has returned and healed, back to what it originally was yet somehow it has changed entirely. I have 3 small claw marks pressed against my belly and a faint line running through my middle. My scars have always been seen as a sign of strength and these will be no different. These are my proudest scars yet.

(taken from my instagram, featured on takebackpostpartum)

Not Returning to Work Post-Baby

It’s June. The sun is beaming down overhead. The metal chair feels cool on your back. You’ve got your camera ready, anticipation flooding in your hands. You’re chattering to the women next to you about how unbelievable it is that you’re here. You’re both reminiscing when the microphone from the podium starts to sizzle. The guy standing there announces the graduating class. In a line of students preparing to take their seats, you locate your son. You’re beaming from ear to ear, clasping your hands together, proud of how far he’s come from the little boy you once knew.

Because before you know it, they’re adults. They’re ready for the world. They’re ready to start their own life, to get their own job. It’ll flash by and before you know it, he’ll be marrying into his own family. He’ll be watching his own kids graduate. Perhaps, instead, he’ll be out traveling the world. Whatever he’s doing, he’ll be out of the house.

So I’ve held my breath, after countless hours of contemplating in my head, and I’ve decided: I’m not going back to work. At least not 40 hours a week at the law firm. It wasn’t an easy decision. I weighed my options repeatedly in my head: paid vacations, paid time off, a steady paycheck each week, etc. Not only the benefits, but I love my job and I was damn good at it. Turns out, I’d rather lose all of those things than 40 hours a week with my son. All that time adds up and it adds up faster than you think.

My original plan was to return to work and I had every intention of doing so. I was aspired by the thought of tackling a job, a child, a household, and a partner. I felt I’d be falling short if I wasn’t able to handle all three of those. Surely I’d be able to do it all and do it well.

Then I brought Maddox earthside and, apart from my heart being blown wide open, so was my mommy instinct. I started to worry that I’d lose out on his precious moments, the ones I treasured so much already. I didn’t want someone else to witness his first laugh or his first roll over or his first step, let alone a stranger while I was at work. I’m his protector, his sole support, his constant comfort. This was something I’d lose and something he’d lose as well. The inevitable change was becoming clearer the more time I spent with Maddox.

Having a baby changes you and teaches you. I’m not the same person as I was before I brought Maddox into this world. As much as I love working at the law firm, it’s not what I want to do for the rest of my life and now I’m able to focus on what I love: Maddox and my studies. I plan to work towards my holistic health & wellness coach certificate along with my doula certificate. Two things that will help and support people.

Right now, I know Maddox better than anyone. I know him better than himself. Everyday, I am helping him grow and become comfortable in this world. I want to be his teacher, his provider, his biggest support system for as long as I can, while I can. I don’t want to lose out on precious moments. They are too important. He’s too important.

(Photo by Jill Krementz of writer E.B. White)