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Life With An 11 Month Old

11 months! Just 4 weeks away from 1 year. Time please slow down! I can't take it! How do I have a nearly one-year-old? 😧

But I have to say these last few weeks he has suddenly developed so much more personality and it is such a joy to witness and get to know my son. It's hard to even count all the changes but just today he:

  • Tried to sound out a bunch of new words after watching me say them. Such as bubble, orange, kiss, water, bite, and bath. 
  • Easily picked up his sippy cup and took drinks.
  • Looked at a toy he wanted and made eye contact with me and a distinct sound to get my attention and then looked back at the toy as though he's telling me he wants it. 
  • Helped pull his shirt over his head and arms through the sleeves with ease. 
  • When I was in the other room and he started crying I came and asked what was wrong and he looked at Wilson and moved all his body language to see Wilson as though he was telling me Wilson hurt him, then I found the scratch on his arm and Wilson looking very guilty. 
These might be little things but they are all new and seem big as they happen. His communication skills improve so rapidly! No signs of walking yet and I am so okay with that! A lot of people ask about it and I see parents encouraging their babies to walk but it is so so good for them to crawl for as long as possible. It helps the baby develop all kinds of skills like problem-solving, self-confidence, agility, hand-eye coordination, and so much more. You can read more about it here. They actually have "crawling class" for adolescent children who have a hard time learning and concentrating in school because they did not spend enough time crawling as babies. Isn't that amazing?!

Sleep is also just recently improved too. The last week or so he has been sleeping for 4-5 hours without nursing whereas he used to nurse every 2-3 hours or even more frequently. This is a great help for my energy during the day! When Clark wakes in the morning it is adorable how he has always been so wide awake, not like hubby and I still sleepy and quiet. Clark will cuddle and give me kisses and crawl back and forth between us until one of us finally gets up to change his diaper. He clings like a monkey to us, all excited for the day and to see the dogs when we let them outside. 

These last few weeks have also brought a not so great change as well, Clark will not sleep while riding in the car lately. No matter how tired and full of milk he is, he won't fall asleep. As soon as we get home and lay down together to nurse, he is out like a light. So I think he just needs that close cuddle, maybe it is the new teeth starting to bother him. 

Ever since about 8 to 9 months things really just get easier and easier. Up until that point, there was still days of struggling to juggle all the mom things I needed to do. Cooking, cleaning, shopping, play time, sleep, meal prep, self-care, work, marriage, and I'm sure there's more. But right about 8 months or so, we really found a steady groove and it has just been easier and easier to where now I enjoy the days and weeks as they go by. We are busy and the days are full but it is fun and enjoyable instead of stressful and exhausting. It helps that Clark likes to go places, he loves being out and about, riding in shopping carts, and being involved in our lives. 

When we have yard work to do, we put jeans on him and he literally crawls around our rock yard exploring and loves it. When I have dinner to cook, he explores the kitchen cabinets, singing songs and telling me stories and laying on Wilson. When there is laundry to fold he helps throw everything on the floor and hide the socks under the couch. When he is tired and I am tired and need a break, we lay down together for a nap and get some rest. Mom needs sleep and a break too! 

I am also in the middle of planning a small family gathering for his first birthday, nothing too crazy or expensive but something to remember his first year by. I was hesitant to do a party at first but I'm glad we are planning this simple event with close family, easy lunch and drinks, and a sugar-free gluten-free blackberry pie for Clark to dig into. I can't wait for the photos of my berry covered baby before he isn't a baby anymore!

Boost Your Immune Health Naturally

Lately I have seen a lot of friends on social media asking for tips on stopping the spread of the flu or ways to feel better faster. I see others talking about how many medications they are taking, how their children are on antibiotics, and how it's just cold after flu after cold. Even my parents are dealing with colds, stomach bugs, flu, more stomach bug, and it seems never ending.

I'd like to share my thoughts on how to stay healthy and prevent sickness for everyone in the house. I do not claim to have a perfect immune system or know all the secrets but I have learned a lot over the last 5 years of living a cleaner life and also the last 2 years of digging deeper into a healthy lifestyle when I found out I was going to be a mother. My mama bear instinct kicked in and put me on a path of wellness which has worked out pretty well. My 10 month old has never had any type of illness. I have only had to deal with a 2 day cold and 4 hours of food poisoning sickness in the last 2 years. 

A lot of what I am sharing here may seem little or that it is insignificant in your health, but it truly all adds up. The more of these changes you can make in your life, the more you will strengthen your immune system and prevent sickness. Just because you cannot feel a detrimental impact immediately, does not mean that something is not hurting you. Think of smoking, it doesn't hurt or feel bad to do it, but it can kill you in the long run. Similar idea with what I am suggesting below. 

So you want to feel better, avoid the cold going around the office, and help your kids stay healthy with all the germs at school?

These are the changes I suggest you make to see a difference in your long term health:

Household Cleaners • Time To Ditch The Chemicals

Time to throw it all out. I know it works so good/smells good/kills the germs/etc. It is also killing your immune system! There are over 80,000 possible chemicals in those bottles under your sink and none of them have been tested for safety and long term effects. We do know that store bought cleaners do get into your bloodstream easily through your skin and inhalation and they have the same effect they do on your floor(wiping it clean of all germs) which is bad! We want bacteria in our bodies, we need them! Our immune system literally is made of bacteria so if we absorb chemicals that erase the bacteria we have nothing left to fight off the bad bacteria that cause sickness.
I have been using a spray bottle with 60% water and 40% white vinegar with a few drops of essential oils for 4 years now and my floors have never been cleaner, my counters are truly disinfected, my bathrooms sparkle. Plus my baby can lick the glass door and I don't have to worry about the shitstorm of chemicals he is ingesting. You can read more about chemicals on my post on toxins Part 1 & Part 2

Diet • Whole Real Food 

If this list was numbered this would be #1. To make it short and sweet: if you want a resilient long lasting body you need to feed/fuel it with nutrients and the SAD(standard american diet) will never ever cut it. Every single day you need to be eating whole real food. Start with breakfast so at least your day begins well and work up from there. Get a high powered blender and make a green smoothie every morning with organic fresh produce. Not only does packaged and fast food contain slim traces of nutrients, it is also likely causing an inflammatory response in your body. Inflammation is the cause of dis-ease in the body(1). So if you are eating inflammatory foods every day, your body is ALWAYS under stress and never able to get back to homeostasis and heal itself. 

Stress • Combat It With Lifestyle Changes

Chronic stress can suppress protective immune responses and induces chronic inflammation(2). See note above about how inflammation is the cause of disease in the body. Everyone has day to day stresses that we cannot avoid. Chronic stress is referring to something that you are exposed to for long periods over and over. This can be many different things from dealing with PTSD, the death of a loved one, being a caregiver and the physical and emotional toll it takes, to physical stressors like having a physical condition that frequently causes pain in the body for long periods. Often times it may not be possible to remove this chronic stress from your life but what you can and need to do is fill your life with anti-stressing activities. Take up daily walking or yoga, go for weekly acupuncture treatments, join a support group, make a weekly lunch date with a supportive friend, find a creative outlet like coloring or playing the ukulele. This is not optional if you want to feel better. You must commit to adding these positive choices into your life. This is also known as self care

Antibiotics • Just Say No

Yes, antibiotics have their place in the medical world for life threatening infections. Ear infections, nope try breastmilk, homeopathics, and Chinese ear formula. Flu, no it's a virus not bacteria. Cold, nope; time, rest, and food will heal you. Other odd illness that your doctor does not know how to treat and wants to cover his butt so he prescribes antibiotics? No thanks! There is an amazing world of natural ways to heal your body with food, herbs, homeopathics, and more. When someone close to me is sick they are prescribed 5 cloves of garlic a day chopped up and eaten raw(natures antibiotic), double dose of probiotics, fish oil, and vitamins, along with coconut water, trace minerals, rescue remedy, elderberry syrup, bone broth with soft vegetables, arnica, hot detox baths, hot rice packs, no electronics, sleep all day. I also create a lemon tea with a whole lemon sliced, a few inches of ginger sliced, and whole turmeric sliced, 4 cloves of garlic smashed, and a few tablespoons of ACV in a pot of water. Let it simmer for 30 minutes and drink 2-3 cups a day.

Did You Know?

You may not know this but your gut bacteria is amazingly diverse and highly talented. It not only supports your immune system but your mood, cravings, weight, and tons more so you want to protect it at every cost! Even just one round of antibiotics can permanently kill certain important strains that you will never get back! Isn't that sad! You could kill off strains that help you release oxytocin or those that help you sleep or bacteria that combat flu bugs and on and on. Say it with me: "Bacteria is good! I love my gut bacteria!"

Add In The Good

Now that you have made some healthy lifestyle changes let's add in some more good to support your body through this change. 
Probiotics - Make sure it is a good brand, I take this one and get it from my acupuncturist, keep it in the refrigerator to keep the bacteria alive. Best time to take it: first thing in the morning on an empty stomach with a glass of room temperature water with lemon juice.  
Eat fermented foods daily - Kimchi. Sauerkraut. Kiefer. Some yogurt brands. Some cottage cheese brands. Kombucha. Incorporate it into your meals every day to help build up the healthy bacteria in your gut. 
Bone broth - It is a little bit of work to make but you can now buy it frozen at Whole Foods or online. It's worth it, a cup a day keeps the doctor away. It nourishes every cell in your body, helps you feel full, rebuilds your joints, collagen, and gut. It IS all that it is cracked up to be. But make sure to use organic grass fed bones. 
Magnesium - This is my magical erase-all-the-sore-muscles-and-help-me-sleep drink. More than likely you are deficient in magnesium, most of us are, and this particular brand is incredibly easily absorbable for your body. I take a glass before bed and then fall asleep fast and stay asleep longer. I also take the formula with calcium since I am breastfeeding and need all the calcium I can get. 

It Is Worth The Effort

It is a lifestyle change. It is a mental commitment. It does take effort. It will not be easy at first but after a while you will feel the difference. You will get little encouraging messages from your body that you are doing the right thing and it will be worth it. You may get pushback from your family or those around you, but all that matters is that you are doing what is best for you. Break free from the herd, it's more fun out here! Come join me on this healthy lifestyle journey! You can follow me on instagram for little tips and to see my journey. 

Thanks for reading! I look forward to hearing your comments and how you make changes in your lifestyle! BTW: I am not a physician and do not claim to be one. Please consult your doctor before making major changes to your health. I am only sharing my opinions of what works for me and my family. 

Preparing For Baby - Checklist For The First 6 Weeks

There are so many books and blogs about how to stay in shape during your pregnancy, how to recover quickly after giving birth, what baby products you need and on and on and on but what I feel is most important and most overlooked is that period of time after you give birth all the way until you feel like putting on pants again. (Which is hopefully a month or more! You deserve it!)

I call this the babymoon. I know typically a babymoon is a vacation couples take before the baby is born, but once you experience the post birth period, you'll see. It really is a babymoon. You are head over heels in love with this new little person, you cannot get enough of them. You never want to put them down, especially to do housework or cooking.
Night stand with 3 drinks, night light, basket of essential items, tissues, and snacks so I never have to leave the bed

In many cultures this period of time is called lying-in and in places like China they have systems in place where women hardly have to lift a finger for the first 4-6 weeks after giving birth. I first learned about it in Alicia Silverstone's book The Kind Mama and she made it sound so marvelous, so I read a bunch of blogs about how to make the most of it and I made sure I was prepared. It was really worth it, I loved my first 6 weeks with baby and I felt relaxed and was able to really savor every moment (and figure out what the heck I was doing!)

Here is my to-do list, to-buy list, and tips to truly enjoy and soak up all that new baby time you can while also feeling relaxed and pampered. You can read about why I chose a home birth here and check out the birth story of my son as well.

Basket in our family bed with baby essentials easily accessible for 2am diaper changes

Preparing Your Relaxing Space

  • Create a sanctuary in your bedroom! Make sure it is a space that helps you feel relaxed and happy to just be in. If you need to remove clutter, get some new curtains, fresh sheets, whatever you need to make the space more enjoyable and relaxing, do it! You want to feel good in the space you will be spending so much time in. 
  • Consider buying an aromatherapy diffuser and a few essential oils. Lavender is great for the bedroom to help relax you, there are also blends specially made for a relaxing mood or sleepytime. Just make sure to avoid peppermint as it reduces milk production. The diffuser is great to have going during the day to enhance relaxing happy vibes and help you all sleep well at night. 
  • A himalayan salt lamp makes a wonderful night light, which is needed for nursing at night while co-sleeping. You can usually get one with a dimmer switch, or just cover it halfway at night with a towel or t-shirt so it is not so bright but gives enough illumination so you can nurse your babe without bright lights. They are also said to remove positive ions from the air and purify your space, plus the glowing warm light really sets the mood in the room.
  • Prepare a basket on your nightstand, within reach of where you sleep, with some essentials: lip balm, lotion that is preferably homemade and safe for you and baby, refillable glass water bottle, 2-3 protein bars for midnight snack, helpful book on breastfeeding or other new mama book(I had The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding), phone charger, and journal. Then I kept my breastpump under the nightstand for nights when he didn't eat a lot, I could easily pump. 
  • I also prepared a basket with baby items so I never had to leave the room to get: diapers, wipes, change of clothes, nail file(or just nibble their nails with your teeth, less scary), burp clothes, blanket or two(one light and one more warm and cuddly). I kept this basket on our king size bed against the headboard in the middle, so baby fit perfect just below it and we had all the essentials within reach. (Makes for easy half-awake 2am diaper changes) You can kinda see it in this pic right near my head, it is grey and white chevron print. 

To Buy or Make List

  • New Mama Bottom Spray - I cannot even tell you how much I loved this stuff! It is amazing! You can get it online or even at Target. Basically this is your recommended bathroom routine for the first few weeks: go pee, do not wipe, spray with New Mama Bottle Spray and or Herbal Sitz Tea in a peri bottle, done. I also used baby wipes for the first month instead of toilet paper to help reduce irritation from hemorrhoids and all the healing that was happening. 
  • Padsicles - This amazing invention was the best feeling on my hot angry baby maker the first few weeks. I did two versions, one was a recipe I found on Pinterest and the other was using the Herbal Sitz Tea from above. Generally the instructions are to buy pads without any added chemicals or scents, create a mixture of pure no-alcohol witch hazel, pure no color or scent added aloe vera, a few drops of lavender and frankincense and cover the pads with the mixture, fold them back up and put them in a bag in the freezer. Or make the Herbal Sitz Tea and pour it over the pads, fold them back up and freeze them. Then wear them 24/7 for the first few weeks after you give birth. It's like an ice cold beer on a 100 degree day, but for your vagina. 😁
  • Mama Bottom Balm - Ahhhhmazing for healing after any stretching, tearing, trauma, etc. I applied this after each bathroom use and I feel like I healed very quickly, I also had zero pain, I never even had to take one ibuprofen and I feel like this balm played a big part. It has a fabulous mixture of organic nourishing herbs and oils to help you heal faster. 
  • To continue the bathroom theme, make sure you are stocked up with a package or two of big fat pads that you would never wear out of the house. They are SUPER absorbent and will last half the day. Make sure you buy some without any scent or chemicals and maybe even organic cotton, usually have to look at a health food store for these. These sexy suckers are going to be there when you laugh for the first time and realize your bladder is maybe not as strong as it used to be(and because there will be blood, a lot, it's normal).
  • Labor-ade(the healthy gatorade just for birthing mamas!) - I probably wouldn't have lasted through 30 hours of labor without this stuff. It literally saved me. It is the perfect mixture of coconut water, trace minerals, raw honey, salt, and Rescue Remedy. I made it into ice cubes that I then added to my water or juice that I drank all throughout my labor. Thank you Mommypotamus for this recipe! 
  • Absorbent organic cotton pad - If you are co-sleeping/bedsharing you will want at least 3 of these. Have baby sleep on the pad and then you can easily pull the pad and baby close to you when it's time to nurse while side lying, and then slide the pad back to the middle of the bed. It will also absorb all the milk leakage, baby dribbling, spit up, and other random fluids. Pretty much every night this got changed out by 3am for a fresh dry one, and we only had to wash our sheets once a week. 

Using organic cotton pads under baby makes bed sharing easier, cleaner, and dryer!

To Do When Baby Arrives

  • Absolutely nothing but stare at his or her precious face, memorize every little wrinkle on those feet and enjoy this beautiful time. Under no circumstances are you allowed to put pants on! Tell your partner that they are now the bouncer/door person and if you are not up to visitors, it is their job to turn them away. This is your time, be selfish, it IS all about you and that perfect little squish! Family and friends have many years to get to know this little person. You only get so many weeks of no other responsibilities before life begins again and you have to put those damn pants on. 
  • But seriously, you need to heal. It is so important for your body to have this time to rest, recover, process, and get to feeling like yourself again. In some cultures they do not even allow the new mother to walk, she is on bedrest and this is only because it is what is best for her body. Not because she feels weak. You may feel wonderful and alive and full of energy, but your body truly needs TIME to heal. It has to put all your organs back in place, release a ton of fluids and blood, shrink your uterus back down, start producing milk, process the fact that you just gave birth and all the emotions that came with it, and so much more. 
  • You will not get this time back; real life will begin again soon enough; you will want to have beautiful memories of your child's first few weeks of life and how glorious it was for you both.
  • Cuddle that little squish skin to skin for many reasons including stimulating milk production, releasing oxytocin, relaxing your body and mind, comforting baby(learn more about that here), preventing postpartum depression, connecting with your newest family member and helping them feel safe, secure, and loved. 
  • Give Daddy time to cuddle him or her skin to skin as well. Dads can bond just like we do during these early days and baby will recognize his voice and want to get to know him as well. Use this time to go take a sitz bath, eat the food that Daddy(hopefully) prepared for you, or just sleep. 
Having a staring contest with my new squish, he always wins
Skin to skin after he finished his 13th meal of the day

Little Things

  • Don't obsess over it, but try to take at least a photo a day, and videos! Looking back on videos of your 1 week old opening their eyes and rooting for the breast will make you cry just a few months later. 
  • Make sure your partner is on board with taking care of you, or enlist the help of a friend or family member to come over everyday for the first few weeks to care for you while you care for your baby. Someone to prepare meals, refill your water, do any house cleaning and walk the dogs. 
  • Consider putting a sign like this on the front door if you expect a lot of visitors or unexpected guests. 

Big Reminder

Ask for help if you need it! Whether it is about getting breastfeeding advice from a lactation consultant or a super experienced friend, help with postpartum depression, or excessive bleeding.

I am not a physician, please consult your doctor before following any medical advice I may give. None of the links in this post profit me, I am simply sharing the resources that best helped during my postpartum period. I hope they help you as well! Thanks for reading.