Mama Miller Parenting

Passionate parenting and homemaking.

A New Life

It has been far too long.

Since I last wrote life has gone on, but also changed. Somewhere along the way I let depression take my voice. Every time I started to write, a whisper in my mind would say, “Why bother?”

But life doesn’t stop when you are battling depression. Postpartum depression and PMDD don’t make your babies stop growing any faster. They don’t slow down the steady cadence of time.

So here we are almost two years later. I’m still fighting to regain myself. Some days are better than others. Overall I am happy. I still have the best husband ever and three beautiful kiddos.

Our New Normal

So an update on life…

I’m now 30. I kind of thought I’d feel more adult-y at this point. Growing up is a much slower process than I’d ever imagined… Until I hang around teenagers. Then I feel all sorts of adult.

We have lived in “the old house” for two years now. We still have our rescue dog, Miri. I’m a stay at home mom.

K is now 6 and in the first grade. He is completely obsessed with Minecraft and Star Wars. He is still the funniest kid ever. He has an amazing teacher who really does well with his quirkiness.

E is 4 and still our fearless, sometimes vexingly so, child. She plays guitar and loves to sing. (In this case “plays guitar” means she stands on a chair while furiously strumming her little pink guitar and singing made up songs.)

Baby F is now a hybrid toddler/zombie/dinosaur. He enjoys roaring at people and trying to eat their brains. He has remained significantly more petite than his giant siblings. He is my little buddy.

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Life with three kids is still an entirely new beast from having 1 or 2. I will never “just run into the store” ever again. A trip now involves one of those behemoth carts that has the turning radius of an AT-AT. It also involves threats on screen time and frequently repeating “don’t touch that” and “come back here”.

In fact I recently said the most mom thing I’ve ever uttered on a trip to the store. I looked up to find E chasing K down the aisle. I finally got them back to the cart. K told me E had started chasing him.

I actually heard the phrase, “I don’t care who started it. I’m finishing it.” Then I realized that it has come from me. I said that.

I’m pretty sure my mom must have felt a disturbance in the force and shed a single proud tear.

So that is where I am for now. I’m momming it up and doing the best I can with my own little circus.

-Cori “Mama” Miller

If you or someone you know is suffering from postpartum depression or premenstrual dysphoric disorder, please don’t stay silent or let them go it alone. Talking to others and reaching out for help is so so important. 

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Types of nap waking…

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Nap-time is a glorious hour in any parent’s day. A much earned break from constant noise and demands. And they are so cute while they’re sleeping.

Unfortunately, not all naps are created equally. How your child acts when they wake up can greatly vary from nap to nap. So, here is my handy guide to the types of nap waking you may experience…

1. The Cuddler
This is when your waking child becomes a snuggle bunny as they wake. Hugs and kisses abound. It is like a unicorn frolicked through to fart happiness on their dreams. This is probably the best waking mood.

2. The Grump
If your child wakes in a foul mood and closely resembles you when you haven’t had your morning coffee, you have a grump. Everything you say will be met with grunts and nothing will please them.

3. The Crier
This is like a grump doing a Niagara Falls impression. Every you do will lead to tears. A sibling looks at them? Tears. You give them the juice they asked for? Tears. The sky is blue? Tears. Everything will be tragic.

4. The Cyclone
Do they wake and immediately tear into a frenzy of motion that could rival Speedy Gonzales on uppers? Is there copious amounts of spinning, twirling, jumping, climbing, and/or running? Fits of laughter over jokes that only they get?

5. The Jekyll/Hyde or Bipolar Baby
This one hits all the above waking types within the span of five minutes. Crying and clinging. Kisses and hugs. Yelling and tantrums. Spinning and giggling. And repeat.

6. The Up All Night
Sometimes parenting comes with horrible, hard choices. No, I’m not talking about vaccinations, car seats, or schooling. The ultimate conundrum happens when they fight napping too long. Perhaps you had an event or were out. Maybe they are just wired. Either way it is past the time frame they can nap without being up too late after. Do you suffer through several more hours of craziness and tantrums until it is late enough for an early bedtime, or let them nap and risk being up all night? Don’t be fooled, it is a no-win situation.

7. The Power Napper
Another classic no-win situation. It can happen anywhere; in the car, out and about, or even at home. Your child napped, but only for about five minutes. This does not bode well for you. This gives them a temporary energy boost, but not enough rest to be mood stabilizing in the long run. Avoiding this is the reason parents will sometimes read a book in the car to keep from waking the child by moving them into the house. It is why you will bribe your four year old with candy not to touch or even look at your two year old while they sleep. It is why you will contemplate peeing on yourself rather than risking moving them off your lap to go to the restroom.

I’m not saying I have any sound advice on any of these, but it is fun to give them a name. Super helpful, right? 😛

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Happy Holidays!

A few fun nuggets from the past week…

E tripped (shocking right?) and got a big knot on her head. K overheard me telling Nana that she had a “goose egg”. When he woke up the next morning he told her to show Daddy her “goose brains”.

E has developed a massive love of rubbing Baby F’s head. She also wants to make him dance with her. He just gives her wide eyed stares of startled wonder.

K’s conversation with one of Nana’s coworkers today:
“Are you a good big brother?”

“Well, I don’t change diapers. Mommy and Daddy have to change those.”

“I bet you are still a good big brother. Do you show them the ropes?”

“Um, actually I don’t know how to jump rope very good yet.”

Anyway friends: Merry Christmas!

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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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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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