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    How Babies Can Affect Your Marriage [Part 1]

    Photography by Lindsey Tuscany

    I am not a marriage expert. I am not a baby expert. However, I am a wife and first time mom. 

    I have been a wife for almost three years, and together we have an 11 month old daughter. Putting those two things together has been the greatest blessing of my life. However, it has not been easy.

    Before having a baby, my husband and I had an amazing relationship. I don't want to say perfect, because I don't think any marriage or relationship is perfect. However, we were pretty damn close to perfection. And we still are! But...things are different now.

    We used to do whatever we wanted, when we wanted. If we wanted to go out and try a new restaurant, we did. If we wanted to go see a late-night movie, we did. Now, we have a bedtime to think about. We have a tiny human's well being to think about.

    Date Nights

    In the past 11 months, we have only had three date nights. My family lives 300 miles south of us, and his family lives 600 miles south of us. So, you can see where the issue lies. I do have a cousin who lives within 10 miles of us which has been amazing. But I try not to constantly bother him with babysitting gigs, even though I'm sure he doesn't mind. Yesterday we asked him to babysit, and we went out to dinner [without the baby]. It felt nice to connect with each other just like we did before we became parents. If you are wondering if we physically connected...We were in bed by 10pm. And by bed I mean asleep. Which leads me to my next point...

    Sleep Deprivation

    On top of not having the ability to go out whenever we want, sleep deprivation has been a HUGE factor in how having a baby has affected our marriage. Our daughter is breastfed, so for about 7-8 months, I was the main parent who had to get up 2-3 times in the middle of the night to feed her. My husband would help out when he had days off, but he is a police officer, so he needs to be well rested during his 12-hour shifts. Even though I insisted on getting up to feed our baby most of the time, I couldn't help but resent him. Just a little. [You would too if you were dead tired, with a baby attached to your boob, looking over and seeing your husband sleeping peacefully]. Ever heard the expression, "I don't want to sleep like a baby, I want to sleep like my husband?" No truer words have been spoken. 

    T sleeps through the night now [for the most part], but we are no less tired. This little ball of energy keeps us on our toes. Quite frankly, I am still recovering from the many months of sleep loss. No amount of coffee can make me feel wide awake.

    Part 2 coming soon. Thanks for reading!

    -Kristin, owner + creator of Free the Mother

    On Cloud 9

    The story of my son's birth wasn't originally intended to be a homebirth.  Originally, we had planned to have our son at a free standing birth center, but due to circumstances beyond our control, the midwife who owned that center decided to close it down and we were left with three choices:

     

     

    1. Continue our care with said midwife, but deliver in the hospital
    2. Find a midwife in our area willing to take us into her practice at 36 weeks gestation
    3. Stay with the other midwife from said birthing center and plan a homebirth

     

    We decided on the third option, since we had gotten to know this other midwife quite well and trusted her.  The way we saw it, the whole point of us planning a birthing center birth was that we wanted to have our baby outside of the hospital, but weren't sure if we would get moved into our new apartment in time for a homebirth (spoiler alert: we did).  

     

    It was quite the whirlwind experience, those last two weeks.  All of a sudden, we were planning a homebirth we didn't expect to have to plan for.  Fortunately, I have some amazing people in my life and was able to borrow a birthing tub for free, which really took a lot of stress off of us.  So now we waited.

     

    The day of our son's birth started early and unexpected.  With our older child, I gave birth at exactly 38 weeks and here I was at 38 weeks 3 days, thinking to myself, "I was spoiled with my first pregnancy. This kid is going to go past his due date."  I had no signs of labor like I had with our daughter.  No contractions, no mucus plug, nothing...until the wee hours of the morning he was born.

     

    I woke up at around 2:30am having some pretty intense contractions, but figured, I would just breathe through them because with my luck, I'll wake everyone up, get my midwife here, and everything will just stop because that would totally happen to me.  I let my husband sleep and just quietly breathed through my contractions, timing them.  They were about 10 minutes apart.  You would think I would've woken my husband up by now, but you'd be wrong.  When his alarm went off at 3:45am (he worked first shift), he woke to me breathing through a contraction and asked, "Am I calling in to work today?"  I said I wasn't sure.  

     

    He said, "Well let me know by 4:30 because that's the latest I can wait to get ready."

     

    I got out of bed to get in the tub, as my contractions were more intense and about 8 minutes apart now.  I called my husband into our bathroom and told him, "You are definitely not going to work today." So he called in and got our birth tub all set up in the living room, in record time, I might add.  I figured I should probably call my midwife now, so I called her and she headed our way, which was about an hour from her house.  I sat in our bathtub, pouring water over my belly, changing positions, and listening to my Celtic radio station on Pandora.  At one point I had to pee, so I sat on the toilet and even after I peed, I continued just sitting there for about 10 minutes because the design of a toilet is actually quite beneficial to the progression of labor and, man, did it feel great!

     

    After our tub was all set up, my husband came in and asked if I needed anything.

     

    "Can you go to the store and buy some grapes? I want some red grapes."

    "Are you serious? You want grapes right now? Are you going to be okay if I go?"

    "I'll be better once I have some grapes."

     

    So he left to go to the grocery store at 5:30am for red, seedless grapes.  Apparently, when he got there, the produce clerk was stocking the red grapes and watched my husband awkwardly grab a bag of grapes from their freshly stocked display.  On the way back home, he called me and I had several contractions during our phone call.

     

    "Babe, you know those were only about 3 minutes apart, right?", he said.

     

    Oh, I was aware.  This kid was coming fast.

     

    When my husband got home, I was in our living room, wearing my husband's robe, kneeling on the floor, leaning against my birth ball, just rocking my hips, and riding every contraction out, reminding myself to breathe.  He brought me some water and the grapes I requested, which were amazing, by the way.  Probably the best grapes I've ever had.  He also set up my birth affirmations that my friend made for me to remind me of all the things I was capable of.  It might seem kind of silly, but seeing those mantras written out truly helped me stay focused and centered in my birth process.

     

    By this point, it was about 6:00am and my midwife arrived.  She asked if my water had broken yet, which it hadn't, so she made a quick run back to her car for one more bag she left out there and my husband went with her, so she could get back into our apartment building.

     

    They probably hadn't even made it to the parking lot yet and my water broke.  And when I say it broke, I mean BROKE.  I literally HEARD it pop and there was a massive gush of amniotic fluid, paired with a pressure relief that one would need to experience to understand.  Shortly after, my husband and midwife walked through the door.

     

    "My water broke."

    "Are you sure?" my midwife asked.

    "Oh yeah. I'm sure. And honey, it kind of soaked your robe."

    "First my shoes, now my robe." my husband said.*

     

    *When my water broke with our daughter, it soaked his shoes.  Apparently, my aim is impeccable.

     

    At that point, upon my request, my midwife checked my dilation and I was already 8-9cm, so my husband helped me climb into the birth tub.  Let me tell you, if anyone is ever on the fence about whether or not to birth in a pool, try it!  I officially endorse birthing in a pool.  Wow!  I instantly became so relaxed and continued breathing through my contractions, entering an almost hypnotic state.  With contractions on top of each other, I kept reminding myself to surrender to the pain and ride it out.  Fighting it was useless and energy draining, so I allowed my body to sink into the water, deeper and deeper as I delved into each wave.  

     

    As transition took over, I began to lose my focus, crying out for my midwife to just "get him out!" and even biting my husband's hand as a knee jerk reaction to the pain (sorry, my love!)  But my husband, with his naturally calming demeanor and gentle tone, said in my ear, "You are strong. You can do this." 

     

    And you know what?  He was right.

     

    I repeated those words to myself and remembered just who the fuck I am!  I am a mother, a warrior, a goddamned sacred vessel of life and I can do this!

     

    Upon my midwife's suggestion, I reached down and felt my son's head as he was making his way to our family.  I knew he was ready and so was I.  

     

    I breathed through one more contraction and finally was ready to bring my son earth side.  As I pushed, I imagined my body opening up to help my son find his way and I breathed down and into the depths of myself.  With a few solid pushes, my son's head was out and my midwife had me stand up for my final push, as my son's umbilical cord had a marginal insertion, which means it was attached more to the side of my placenta rather than the center like it usually is, so she wanted to carefully guide him out.

     

    With one more deep breath, I pushed and felt my son enter the world at 7:40am.  All I could say was "I did it! I did it!"

     

    As I sunk back into the warm pool, I cradled our son, kissing him over and over, memorizing his scent and etching that experience into my memory.  We waited until the umbilical cord had stopped pulsing before clamping and cutting it.  My husband cut our son's cord, as he had with our daughter, something he describes as "trying to cut through a garden hose."  After 15 minutes (I think, really, I'm just estimating timelines), my husband held our son for some skin to skin time as I laid on our couch to deliver my placenta.  I don't really recall feeling anything.  I was preoccupied with admiring my husband become a father for the second time and riding an intense surge of oxytocin that made me feel like I was floating.  I guess that's what they mean when they say "on Cloud 9".

     

    After I delivered my placenta, my husband brought our son over to be nursed and he latched on instantly and camped there for a good hour or so, as my husband and midwife took the birth pool down.  We then got his measurements (8lbs 5oz; 21in) and my husband made eggs & toast for me.  After all the excitement died down, my midwife loaded my dishwasher (because she's a gem and a half) and helped me wash my son's hair, which we then covered with the very hat put on me when I was born.  Once my midwife was confident we had it from there, she congratulated us again and went home.  We all just kind of sat there, my husband, our daughter, and I, admiring our new addition and taking turns loving on him.  

     

    After it was all said and done, I just kept telling my husband, "I can't believe I just did that." 

     

    "You're so fucking metal." he said.

    -Amanda Castillo

    The First Two Weeks Are The Hardest

    Breastfeeding didn’t start out how I had dreamed & hoped for... We ended up finger feeding my expressed milk for the first 2 1/2 weeks! Yes, my hubby & I almost went crazy. It was so incredibly hard!

    It’s amazing to me how shamed I felt in the hospital & the assumptions the nurses & LC “specialist” made about me as my son & I struggled to get our breastfeeding journey started. The biggest assumption being that I was going to starve my son if he wouldn’t breastfeed. (While I was hand expressing & feeding him by spoon sometimes & through a syringe with my finger acting as the “nipple”

    other times) He was getting plenty of nourishment based on his diapers & all the glucose test came back amazing!  No one was any help to me there. All they wanted me to do was use a nipple shield & move on. I refused which made them upset with me. I knew that something else was going on with my sweet baby boy & the nipple shield wasn’t going to fix it. They wouldn’t listen.

    When we finally got discharged from the hospital we went to the LC (lactation consultant) I had been working with pre-birth (a wonderful woman at the birth center I intended to give birth at but had to transfer away from during active labor due to my sons dropping heart rate) & she diagnosed my son with a potential lip & tongue tie. She recommended a pediatric dentist which we got into as soon as we could. She also said his pallet was really high. My son was 8 days old when we found out he had a third degree lip tie (out of four degrees. The fourth being the worse possible) & a posterior tongue tie. That is what had us on our difficult journey from the beginning. We had both revised that day. At 10 days old we got him to a chiropractor that specializes in children. She was able to help us with his high pallet alone with several other parts of his little body that where not in the correct place. (neck, cranials, hips) A week after the revision my son latched & we haven’t looked back since.

    I believe that chiropractic care also helped us immensely & he is still under monthly chiropractic care to maintain as he grows! If we had just done what the hospital wanted & hadn’t gotten another opinion my son & I wouldn’t have a breastfeeding relationship today just over 5 months later! He also would very likely have speech issues & eating issues as he got older based on the information I was given my our pediatric dentist. The past 4 1/2 month of exclusively breastfeeding have been the most amazing gift! 

    If your struggling in your breastfeeding journey it’s okay! Keep pressing on & find people who are great supporters & encourages. For us that made ALL the difference! ❤️️

    -Emily Smart, @guidedlight_motherhood

    Just Because It's Natural, It Does NOT Mean It's Easy

    I’m currently a mother of two little boys under the age of two. As if that weren’t enough of an adventure, I also decided that I wanted to take on breastfeeding with my second. I would like to mention that I was THAT naive mother that never took any breastfeeding classes, never talked to a lactation consultant outside of the hospital, and assumed my maternal instinct would just takeover and the magic of boob nourishment would just happen. NEWS FLASH: I was wrong! Just because it’s “natural”...does NOT mean it’s easy. I supplemented coming home from the hospital due to jaundice levels (nothing serious), but also because I hadn’t fully convinced myself that breastfeeding was something I wanted to do. My first baby was formula fed, so I knew what the “other end” of the feeding spectrum looked like. During the first few days of waiting for my milk to come in, I felt comfort in knowing I could easily make a bottle and everything would be fine. AND THEN IT HAPPENED...my milk arrived, my boobs grew twice their size, my shirt was constantly covered in milk stains, and it seemed like my baby was ALWAYS attached to my boob.

    After about two weeks of fumbling with bruised nipples, warm/cold compresses, pumping, nursing, latch trial and error, and a bottomless pit of an infant, I decided it was time to ASK FOR HELP. I made a plea for help through my IG stories and within an hour, had over 30 MESSAGES from moms offering advice and product recommendations! I immediately felt encouraged and wanted to continue to fight through the first stage of breastfeeding. While I continued practicing the art of breastfeeding, I did supplement one bottle a day. I did this to ensure he was getting SOMETHING since nursing him didn’t give much detail as to how much he was consuming! For that first month, my nipples hurt, I found out my baby had a lip tie, and I (like most mothers) had to constantly remind myself to drink enough water! LOL...I was a hot mess: walking around in my fiancé’s boxers, no bra, with a baby in one hand, and a lactation bar in the other. I was CONSTANTLY washing those dang pieces to my breast pump and I hate washing dishes. 

    After that first month, I decided to GO OUTSIDE. I packed the boys up and ventured out of the house to run errands. This was the first time I would have to potentially feed my baby in public. I will never forget the turning point of my breastfeeding journey...I was grocery shopping with both my boys and OF COURSE right in the middle of our trip the baby starts screaming of hunger. I had no pumped bottle, my nursing cover was in the car, my cart was half full of groceries, and as I stood in the middle of the toothpaste aisle full of nerves and confusion, I made a choice. I whipped my boob out and fed my baby. I have never felt more powerful! My baby needed me; he needed my body. As I fed my baby, picked out the toothpaste I needed, and continued our shopping trip...that was the moment I knew: I AM CAPABLE! I can do this. I CAN do this!

    After that I stopped giving him formula. I realized I was using formula as a safety net, and was therefore dependent on it. For every bottle I gave him, I was taking away from what my body was already going to give him whether I saw it or not. My baby boy is now 3.5 months old and while that isn’t a very long time, I am so proud of myself! The temptation of being able to just made a formula bottle and “keep it moving” still exists, but as I see my baby grow because of the nourishment I am able to provide, I continue! 

    I had a miscarriage before giving birth to my first son. His birth felt like an accomplishment that my body WAS CAPABLE of creating and giving birth to a baby. With my first I put breastfeeding on the back burner because him being earth side was more important to me. When I found out I was pregnant with my second I felt confident in my body’s ability to create life, so I could put my energy into the next step: breastfeeding! I have spent a lot of time thinking about why I keep breastfeeding, and the only real reason I continue is to prove to myself that I CAN. It’s also more convenient financially, if we are being honest. 

    This has been such a crazy, incredible, cool, confusing adventure and I am excited to see where it takes us...and for how long. If I could offer any advice to mothers who are new to breastfeeding, it would be this:

    “YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Ask for help. Surround yourself with PEOPLE WHO UNDERSTAND. You are capable, but even more than that...YOUR BODY IS CAPABLE. Even if your breastfeeding journey only lasts a week, be proud of yourself! Breastfeeding is not for everyone, but eating is. As long as you love and care for your baby, how they are nourished becomes secondary...you are still an amazing mother and powerful woman!”

    -Lauren Miller, @inthemuddleofmitchells

    A Baby's Gotta Eat!

    I was out shopping with a friend when baby got hungry. I had nowhere to sit and feed him and I didn’t want to sit in a bathroom stall for 30+ minutes. So I decided I was going to shop and feed at the same time!

    I got quite a few stares and dirty looks but I said screw it and I did it anyways. A momma’s gotta shop and a baby’s gotta eat!

    That was when I realized no reaction would ever stop me from breastfeeding in public.

    From that moment on, I felt so powerful and strong! 

    -Breana, @bregoettle27

    Read more on her blog http://thegoettlelifestyle.wordpress.com