Mama Miller Parenting

Passionate parenting and homemaking.

Domestically Impared

I absolutely adore being a stay at home mom. It is by far the hardest and most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. I’m good with wiping noses and bottoms. Tantrums suck, but they happen.

Am I a good mom? Eh, overall I do ok.

A good wife? I try.

But a domestic goddess I am not.

My perfect housekeeping gene is broken. I’m domestically impaired. I keep a decently clean house, but I will never have my home on the cover of Good Housekeeping.

It is okay. I have other talents. I’ve made peace with the toys on the floor. (One day my children will call when their foot is impaled by a Lego one of their kids left out… And I’ll smile.) I’m not going to fret over my bookshelf being jumbled. (It will just get jumbled again.)

If you are a domestic goddess, I applaud you. I’m glad you are using your talent. Keep on scrubbing and changing decorations to fit the seasons and creating elaborate lunch box dioramas for your kids’ lunches. (That is what you do, right?)

This post is for the rest of us. For those who don’t care about “Tablescapes” or “Perfect Parsnip Soup”.

I submit for approval from my domestically challenged sisters my idea for a new magazine: Mediocre Housekeeping.
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Article ideas:

How to Avoid Your Home Looking Like an Episode of Hoarders

Best Deodorants: When you haven’t had a shower in three days and may be harboring cereal fugitives in your hair

Strategies for Peeing Alone: A guide to getting 5 minutes a day to urinate in peace

How to Have Adequate “Adult Time” When the Baby Will Wake Any Minute: It won’t knock his socks off, but it’ll do.

I am covered in sleeping kids and I have to pee. What now?

Surviving the Tantrum: When your child collapses in the bread aisle.

How many days can I wear these yoga pants before I need to wash them?

Where are Max and Ruby’s parents? An investigation.

A Guide to Period Panties

Breastfeeding Etiquette: Just deal with it or look away.

Getting three kids and a dog into the car

Where do all the socks go?

Yep… I’d read that magazine.

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The ‘Good’ Baby

It happens so often. In grocery stores and malls and parks everywhere. People asking the question that brings prickly stress and annoyance to my soul.

“Is he/she a good baby?”

What does that even mean?!

Please stop asking new moms this question. Just don’t.

Every baby is a good baby.

A baby who sleeps through the night from 4 weeks does not possess more ‘goodness’ than a baby with colic who barely sleeps for the first year.

They are babies. Innocent. Perfect. Beautiful.

There is no such thing as a bad baby.

Some babies are, however, easier than others. It doesn’t make them good.

Some are clingy or have high needs. Being difficult doesn’t make them bad.

Please, I beg you, don’t ask it. It is inappropriate and can make new moms feel awkward. A mom with a high needs baby already has seeds of insecurity about their abilities. Questions like this only help that insecurity grow.

Don’t ask if they’re sleeping through the night yet. Or if they are on an eating schedule.

Ask them how they’re doing.

Ask them if you can do anything to help them out.

Ask if you can pray for them or with them about anything.

Or just tell them what a great job they’re doing.

New moms are incredibly strong and incredibly fragile. They are precious like their sweet babes. Let’s build them up. Growing healthy moms benefits us all. Their weary, beautiful hands are shaping the next generation.

With love,
Mama Miller

P.S.  Baby F is doing well. He eats when he eats. He sleeps when he sleeps. He smiles and he cries. He gives great snuggles. He, like all babies, is a good baby.

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Jumping Ship

A beautiful thing happened this afternoon.

I was gearing up for my usual battle of getting K to stay still and quiet enough for me to get E to nap… while nursing Baby F, of course.

Easy peasy, right? *There is sarcasm here if you can’t feel it emanating from your computer screen. I understand some suffer from insufficient sarcasm receptors.*

My weapon of choice today was popping Aladdin in the DVD player. E curled up with me on the couch while I nursed the baby and K settled into the chair.

By the time the movie was over, E was out. K announced I was boring because I said he had to be quiet, so he retreated to his room.

He actually fell asleep!

Husband called on his break just after I got the baby down for a nap.

“Hey honey, what are you up to?”

“I’m basking in the quietness… ”

“WHERE ARE YOU?!”

I am fairly certain he feared that I had jumped ship. The idea of me hoping into the TARDIS with a Time Lord seemed more likely than all three kids being quiet at the same time in the middle of the afternoon.

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My Daredevil

Today E tried to scale her brother’s tall dresser.

Husband and I nearly had a heart attack. Most of our big furniture is secured to the wall, but she managed to find the one piece that wasn’t.

This isn’t new for us.

She is fearless.

She climbs and jumps and falls. K is more cautious in nature, but not her.

I’m not sure anything could have prepared me for raising this girl.

Husband and I were cautious kids. We were rule followers. We colored in the lines. I never dreamed that I would have to worry about my toddler scaling the fireplace or running and falling 100 times a day.

I am constantly in awe of her spunk and bravery. She lights up the room with her smile. I want to raise a strong woman, but I also want us all to survive her childhood.

I once saw parenthood described as watching your heart walk around outside of your body. I understand that now.

I’m not sure what my goal is with this post. I think I just needed to put it into words- the worrisome balancing act that is parenting the strong willed, fearless child.

My brain says I need to foster her independence.

My heart wants to wrap her in bubble wrap.  

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4 Comments »

Cheers

Don’t worry friends- my absence this week is due to juggling three children, not anxiety.

We’ve had a very busy couple of weeks.

I have my moments where I feel like I am tied to my chair nursing, serving as a pillow, and kissing booboos.

Some days I am Super Mom. I handle three kids with ease.

Some days, like today, are hard.

Some days you get to nurse the baby while the toddler throws the mother of all tantrums on your lap and the four year old whines about juice.

But you drink some coffee, put on your big girl panties, and press on.

Let’s toast to our big girl panties.

Here is to pressing on.

Here is to sore boobs and marathon nursing sessions.

Here is to kissing booboos and administering imaginary bandaids.

Here is to making it through the tantrums.

Here is to snuggles and bedtime stories.

Here is to tomorrow being a new day with a fresh beginning.

Here is to their childhood being a compilation of moments that can’t be ruined by an occasional rough day (or week).

I hope you will raise your glasses, coffee mugs, sippy cups, or back-washed beverages in celebration of the beautiful monotonous journey that is parenthood.

Laugh at yourself. Take lots of pictures. Cry when you need to.

We can do this.

Tonight I am going to breathe in new baby, drink some hot tea, and remember why all the hard moments are worth it.

Hint: It’s these sweet little souls.

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Along the Milky Way: My Breastfeeding Journey

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K, my oldest, is now a precocious, talkative four year old. He is also huge and tops out the growth chart in height.

But, his beginning was much rockier.

After a 20+ hour failed induction, he was taken by emergency c-section. During the surgery the doctor discovered a large cystic tumor on one of my ovaries. By the time I was wheeled into recovery I was emotionally and physically battered, and less one ovary.

Our first few weeks were very rough. He was jaundice. My milk wasn’t coming in. We had to see an orthopedist because he had a tendon problem in his feet. He wasn’t gaining weight and my pediatrician was awful about it. It was brutal.

Despite herbal supplements, nursing around the clock, and pumping; I completely dried up at five weeks. It was devastating. I had desperately wanted to see his little cheeks grow chubby with MY milk, but losing the ovary had wreaked havoc on my system and thrown my hormones off.

When my daughter, E, came along two years later I knew this time would be different. I still had to have a c-section because of my condition, but hopefully would avoid extra surgery.

My hopes were realized and I was able to nurse in the recovery room. She too lost more weight than desired, but was getting more milk. I had a more supportive pediatrician and I was able to mostly breastfeed with less supplementing than before. I nursed her until my gallbladder started to fail at 5 months postpartum.

I dried up during my recovery from surgery.

Then the postpartum depression and anxiety hit. It was awful. I had worked so hard.

Now I sit rocking my third child, another boy, while typing. My four year old is building a block fort with his two year old sister. I am at peace.

At four weeks old my little man is back up to birth weight and has a full tummy of MY milk.

I fought hard for this moment of peaceful bliss.

During these first weeks I have taken enough Fenugreek and Mother’s Milk Tea to permanently smell like an IHOP. I’ve endured cracked nipples, marathon nursing sessions, and pumping. I’ve nursed with my two year old perched on my legs and patting the baby on the head. I’ve nursed while my four year old talks incessantly about Star Wars. I used a supplemental nursing system to add a little pumped milk and formula to his feedings.

Over the past two weeks something wonderful began to happen- he started rejecting the supplemental nurser because he was full. He was full!

I’ve also shed a lot of modesty on this road. I’ve nursed in restaurants, in the mall, in the car, and even in the Library’s break room. I no longer hide under a huge hot tent cover.

The picture above shows my typical nursing in public position. I use a muslin swaddle blanket and cover the goods, but leave his little head, eyes, and nose peeking out. I’m still fairly modest, but I will not nurse in fear anymore. And I certainly won’t look down on those who nurse without any cover.

I get it now.

I understand the rally cries of ‘breast is best’. Without that motivation, many of us wouldn’t survive the first few grueling weeks.

It can be ridiculously hard. Some babies won’t latch when covered. Sometimes you just feel accomplished to have a shirt and bra on.

For those on that journey: Good job mama. You are a warrior. You are amazing and strong.

I also want to encourage the bottle moms.

I, more than anyone, understand the guilt associated with formula. I’ve sat feeding my baby and looked over in envy of the breastfeeding mom cuddled up with her nursling. I’ve experienced the heartbreak of knowing that I’m not enough to sustain my baby.

Guess what mama… You are doing a good job too.

Your babies will grow and thrive- mine did.

K is a strong, smart four year old. Formula didn’t warp his brain. He doesn’t have an extra limb from his time of powdered sustenance.

E is adventurous and sweet and brave despite her time as a nursling being cut short.

All you sweet, sleep deprived mamas:

You are beautiful.

You are strong.

You will eventually sleep again.

You are doing a good job.

You are enough- no matter how you feed your baby.

With love,

Mama Miller

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Life with three kids

I’ve had a lot of people ask me how I’m doing lately.

How am I coping with three kids?

How am I feeling?

Well, here it is. My uncensored, sleep deprived version of the past four weeks.

● We found a waffle in the fish tank last night.

● I absolutely adore watching K and E interact with the baby. They love to hold him and kiss him.

● E also loves to sniff him and try to decide if he is poopy…

● I am no longer shy about nursing. Being poked in the boob repeatedly by a two year old saying, “Mommy booby milk” will do it. With K I had to be in a separate room and completely covered. With E I used the big tent cover and felt dangerous when I nursed in the mall play area. Now I use a thin muslin blanket to cover the goods, but not his head. No one has been flashed (outside of family) or made any rude comments.

● There are toys everywhere. The house has settled into a state of clean, but cluttered chaos.

● After hours of nursing and being used as a jungle gym by the big kids, I get ‘touched out’ and desperately crave personal space. Husband usually takes over soothing and listening for kids when he gets off work so I can have a few hours of quiet sleep.

● I thought I’d still be crazy sore, but I’m moving around pretty well. Sometimes I do too much and end up super sore though.

● I’m often torn between the need for privacy while I pee and knowing where the big kids are. Peeing alone means yelling, “Do not touch baby!”… Repeatedly.

● I’m sick to death of strangers commenting on how I have my hands full. It is like asking a tall person, “How’s the weather up there?” It is expected and I’m used to it, but it doesn’t make it any less irksome.

● I squirted myself in the face with milk once and K thought it was hilarious.

● I eat an unprecedented amount of cream of wheat. It is easy, warm, and can be spooned into my mouth with one free hand.

● My pits smell like pancakes all the time. Fenugreek supplements (for milk supply) give you a lovely maple smell.

● We call Baby F our little spider monkey because he is all limbs.

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Life in the Miller house.

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Baby F’s Birth Story

Disclaimer: This is a birth story, and birth stories often contain information that some may find icky. There is nothing too traumatic in this story, but still…

My sweet husband and I had thought our little family was complete. We had one boy and one girl. I just felt incredibly lucky to have children at all.

With the birth of K I found out that I had an ovarian condition. One of my ovaries had been taken over by a large cystic tumor and had to be removed. I had a 30-50% chance of developing one on the other side. I was told not to wait too long if I wanted another baby.

E was born 2 years and 3 months after K. Her birth had been a much easier c-section than my first. Although I am totally supportive of VBACs, I knew it was safer with my ovarian condition to continue with cesarean births.

When E was about 15 months old our little world was turned upside down. I went to the doctor thinking I had an UTI and found out instead that we were pregnant! I had just been up on a ladder painting in our renovation house. We really had no clue.

The pregnancy went by very quickly this time. We moved into our house. We adopted Miri the big red dog. We found out we were having another boy.

I had some blood pressure issues toward the end of both my previous pregnancies, but not this time. We scheduled my c-section for September 26th- exactly ten days after E’s second birthday.

The day before I was still driving and getting things ready.

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Oh so very pregnant...

The big kids went to spend the night with my in-laws and we got up super bright and early to head to the hospital.

I had heard from a laction consultant friend that my hospital was now offering more family centered c-sections. I had discussed with my doctor being able to have skin to skin with the baby while still in the OR. He was fine with it but said to remind the nurses when we got there.

I was very worried when the first nurse I talked to wasn’t sure about the new policy. She said she would ask our ‘baby catcher’ nurse. Luckily, we had the best baby catcher ever. She was very excited and willing to adhere to our wishes.

At about 7:30am I left my parents, in-laws, and big kids in the recovery room to go back. I had a fairly smooth spinal block and epidural. Soon I was ready to go and had Andy by my side.

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My mom and dad waiting with the kids.

At 8:08am we heard him cry for the first time. Our amazing baby catcher, Monika, quickly wiped him down, suctioned his nose and mouth, and promptly placed him on my chest.

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She really was the best nurse ever. She helped us hold him on my chest and eventually worked all the blankets down enough to help him latch. I got to nurse in the OR!

It was the best cesarean experience I could have asked for. Everything went by so quickly with him to focus on. It was much more personal than the swaddled kiss I had with my other births.

He stayed with me until right before they moved me to the transport bed. She took him to measure and weigh while I was moved.

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8lbs 8oz and 20 inches long

He rode on my chest to the recovery room for more nursing and meeting his family.

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I had supply issues with both K and E. I desperately wanted to make it work better this time around. I think our early skin to skin definitely helped. We had some serious cluster feeding marathons while in the hospital. He lost over a pound, but was wetting, pooping, and feeding well. He wasn’t overly jaundice. I had some great lactation consultants visit with me and show me how to use a supplemental nursing system if needed.

(It is a canister that attaches to a thin tube. The tube is slipped into the corner of baby’s mouth while nursing. They get the expressed milk or formula while still nursing. No bottles or nipple confusion. I highly recommend looking into one instead of bottle supplements.)

My hospital stay was tiring, but fairly uneventful. I was walking to the restroom later that night. I took a shower the next morning and was able to slowly walk to the nurses station and back. We got the ok to head home Sunday morning.

He is nursing well and slowly gaining weight back. He isn’t quite up to birth weight, but because he is so healthy our pediatrician isn’t worried. I offer formula in the supplemental nursing system a few times a day after feedings, but he rarely takes any.

I couldn’t have made it through the first couple of weeks without my parents and in-laws. They helped us so much with the kids and transportation. We also had some amazing church family send us meals.

I’m still sore, but I’m driving now and I’ve even made a couple of outings with all the kids. I even got to go to my 10 year high school reunion this weekend (with the baby).

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Baby F is here!

I know it has been a while dear friends. Baby F did, in fact, make a safe healthy debut. I’ve had a hard time blogging during this pregnancy.

In many ways this pregnancy was the easiest. I knew what to expect. I had no weight gain (lost 25+lbs and gained back about 15-20lbs). I never had high blood pressure…

It was also the hardest in many ways. Chasing two kids while pregnant is not easy. We also renovated a house and moved. I also made the choice (along with my OB) to go through this pregnancy without my anxiety medicine.

After E was born, postpartum depression and anxiety hit fairly hard and I had been on a low dose mild medication since she was five months old.

There are so many wrong assumptions about what depression looks like. I never laid in bed and cried all day. I didn’t look like a little cartoon with a storm cloud over my head. I just didn’t feel right. Little things would make the stress resonate in my shoulder blades. I was moody and didn’t cope with things as well. I would want to write or visit friends or do something, but a weirdness would wash over me and I’d hold back.

I was still me. I still got up every day and made breakfast for my kids. I could still joke and visit family. Please remember that if a friend or family member ever approaches you about depression. They may not look depressed or anxious. It can be a silent affliction that lurks in the shadows.

I made a plan with my doctor and pediatrician to start a new breastfeeding safe medication while in the hospital. I don’t regret waiting out my pregnancy, but I feel much more like myself now. Adjusting to three kids is much easier when you don’t feel like you are drowning in stress.

Baby F is almost 4 weeks old now. E and K are over the moon for their baby brother. They both like to hold him and both help grab things for mama. We are well. I’m hopefully back.. As much as a newborn will let me be.

Stay tuned for his birth story with more pictures!

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You know you’re 9 months pregnant when…

I apologize for my absence. Our house has been invaded by ants and we’re currently staying at my parents. I’m slowly getting over being ill, but I’m still exhausted. I hope to get back into my reading and commenting soon. Just popping in for a quick post…

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Brother love!

I’m officially a few days shy of 9 months pregnant. As I said before, we are staying at my parents until after the exterminator comes tomorrow. Husband went to the house to move our clothes out of the closet before they come tomorrow. Yes, we have ants all up in our closet. Ugh.

He picked up some more clothes for all of us. I ran up to his work to get them out of his truck. When I got back to my parents, what would fall out of the bag? Why, my bra of course.

You know you’re 9 months pregnant if you’ve ever kicked a bra up the sidewalk because bending over is not an option. (Yes, that happened.)

You know you’re 9 months pregnant when you bribe your son to pick something up for you with a cookie.

You know you’re 9 months pregnant when people ask if you’re due any day now, but you’re still a month out.

You know you’re 9 months pregnant if you’ve ever had an emotional crisis over running out of lunch meat.

You know you’re 9 months pregnant when you adopt a Hobbit eating plan. (Why yes, second breakfast sounds perfectly viable.)

You know you’re 9 months pregnant when water gives you heartburn.

You know you’re 9 months pregnant when you are willing to let your kids sleep wherever they fall because carrying them to bed isn’t going to happen.

You know you’re 9 months pregnant when you can’t even fit in half of your maternity pants anymore.

You know you’re 9 months pregnant when you crave Reeses cups and cry because your husband gets the minis instead of the regular cups. (There is a different chocolate to peanut butter ratio, I swear!)

You know you’re 9 months pregnant when the only way sex sounds remotely appealing is the hope of jump starting labor.

You know you’re 9 months pregnant when you go to the bathroom, wash you’re hands, and the sound of the running water makes you need to pee again.

You know you’re 9 months pregnant when switching positions while sleeping involves a bathroom trip and rearranging about 10 pillows.

Yep, I’m feeling it!

22 Comments »

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