To the mom struggling with birth trauma: I see you

Not all births are traumatic. Not all births are perfect. This post is to the mom who is struggling.

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I want you to know your feelings are valid. Your birth experience doesn’t have to be a bloody emergency for it to be traumatic (to those moms I give you all the hugs). It is absolutely OK to accept that your delivery was traumatic, even if it’s on a scale. If you feel traumatized, it was traumatic.

My delivery was traumatic. Not a crazy you’re-going-to-die- blood-everywhere kind of traumatic but it’s on the scale. I struggled to bond with my baby. When I was pregnant, so many parents told me that the moment you hold your baby you’ll experience instant love. While logically I knew it was ok and that not everyone had that- it still hurt that I didn’t get that. This lack of instant bond squeezed my heart to death.

Here I am almost 18 months out and crying as I write this article. I’m doing it because it’s personal and I think its important to me and others. That’s why I want to put this out there.

To the most part- in the early days I did not think much about it. I was too present in parenthood and tired to remember. But there were moments. Those quiet moments when I was in the shower and I would touch my c section scar and my eyes would well up with tears. There were moments when I would scroll through Facebook and happen across a video of dads holding their baby’s for the first time and I would feel that crushing guilt wash over me. Or those moments when I would look down at this sweet, smiling baby -who I now have that immense love for- and break down.

Why wasn’t my love instant? Where did I go wrong? Am I not enough? She deserves a better mom. Why couldn’t I stop shaking? Why couldn’t I hold her? I am such a bad mom. Why can’t I breastfeed? Is pumping enough? I HATE THIS PUMP. UGH. Why do I NEED Zoloft?

It wasn’t just the guilt of bonding that crushed me – it was the entire thing. my last trimester was very borderline problematic. We rode that roller coaster for weeks; going between “everything is great,” to “let’s send you to the local children’s hospital.” We were induced 4 weeks early. We had little time to prepare for that. We spent 50 hours of various techniques trying to convince our baby to come out… she was not convinced. It was 50 hours of walking, squats, pills, balls, pitocin, Foley Bulbs, shaking and vomiting, and being constantly monitored for blood pressure (I was never high, but again – borderline). Just before midnight we had the surgery. I threw up in the OR. I didn’t stop shaking for 2 hours post surgery.

I still feel pangs of guilt. I think about how I didn’t get to hold my baby, how I was shaking too much to control my arms. I was so drugged up and tired to weeks. breastfeeding was a failure at first (we eventually got it around 3 months). I struggled a lot with anxiety and depression, and anger for months. My scar hurt – which to me was a cruel reminder of my guilt.

As I found the time, I embraced meditation. As baby fell into her sleeping routine I picked up relaxing baths with face masks. I took time to take care of myself and forgive myself. Sometimes I’m still surprised to feel those tears well up every now and then. It’s getting better. Our love grows every day. I have that love – it wasn’t instant, but it’s there.

Mama, I want you to know that if you are struggling with the trauma and guilt that you are valid. Those tears that well up? Let them. Our experiences may not be the same or may vary on any scale, but damn this is hard. It can be hard to reconcile your emotional state with your logical thoughts. And that is ok.

If you’re looking for advice, I don’t have much to offer. Time can help. It won’t heal it completely, but as you fill your heart with memories those dark ones will lessen. Take care of yourself. Figure out what you need. Let yourself cry and then dry your tears and kick some booty.

The first time I held my baby. I was still shaking, numb, and swollen.

Got a story to share? Tell me all about it mama.



5 ways to reduce plastics in the kitchen

5 was to reduce the plastic in your kitchen. These are things you can do today that will have a real environmental and economic impact to you.

One huge reason I’m becoming an advocate for cutting back plastic is realizing just how much water plastic consumes. Take this NPR article for example:

 The results, released this month, show that for North American companies, it takes 1.39 liters to make one liter of water.

That’s less than the global averages of a liter of soda, which requires 2.02 liters of water. A liter of beer, meanwhile, needs 4 liters of water, wine demands 4.74 liters.

NPR. ORG

Here is what you can do:

  • Reusable straws. I personally love silicon straws. They are soft, large (perfect for smoothies), and easy to clean. Some prefer metal straws which are beautiful, but they hurt my teeth. Sensitive teeth have me reliant on straws, but I can be better with silicone straws!
  • Reusable K cup. K-cups create so much waste. However, to some -especially sleep deprived parents- the convenience of the brewing beast tops all. You’ll have more control over your coffee flavors, help reduce waste, and the coffee grounds you have left you can use for your garden.
  • Soap dispenser refills. Keep your dispenser full, and cut back on buying new soap bottles. I use my original soap bottle rinsed out between refills. I usually buy the Softsoap Aloe formula. At Target, you can get 50 OZ for $3.99, which breaks down to $0.07 cents per ounce. Compare this to your standard bottle (7 oz, @$0.99) at $0.13 cents per ounce. A 50 ounce bottle will last my family of 3 for almost a year. Not only do I save on plastic, I cut back on trips to the store!
  • Reusable, mesh produce bags. Ok, imagine you’re at a grocery store, and you are buying bananas, onions, and garlic. Each gets its own plastic baggie. When you get home, that bag goes in the trash, or you leave your produce in it and they go bad. This is wasteful to the environment and your wallet (if you are throwing away food that goes bad). Switch it up. Get these mesh bags. They list the tare on the tag, so you can always account for that weight at checkout. They allow your produce to breath with helps some items stay good. This pack has so many that I keep some in my car in case I forget them on a grocery run. You get 9 bags for $18, just under $2 each.
  • The ol’ reliable reusable water bottle. Don’t pay for drinking water. I got my set of Contigo bottles on clearance at Target. I prefer them because they have a straw which helps protect my sensitive teeth from cold drinks. If you reduce drinking your calories (soda, and alcohol), that will already save your waist and the planet.

Comment below, and share what steps you’ve taken to reduce plastic. Did anything surprise you?

TheHappyBoxes.com

Mama Monday: How to stay on top of the cleaning

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

It never ends. The dishes, the laundry, the dirt. The list of cleaning to dos is endless!

In order to prevent burnout, I spread out my cleaning. This way, something productive gets taken care of each day. I also give my self a lot of grace. If I can’t get to something on Monday, it’s ok. I will get to it later.

One thing I want to put out there:

Clean laundry and dishes do not define you as a parent.

You are not a bad mom or dad, husband or wife just because something is dirty. Not let’s get to work.

1.) Write down your chores and break your house down by room. Picture below:

Laundry, dishes, trash, clean out car, water plants, landscaping. Front room, office, hallway/ laundry room, guest room, guest bath, kitchen, dining room, nursery, master room, master bath.

2.) Divide the chores up. For me, I aim to get 2-3 things done a day. I work 10 hour days with a commute so I factor that in as well. I write it on the calendar in the kitchen so both my husband and I can get the chores done. Our cleaning schedule for a week looks like this:

Basic Cleaning schedule

Make a schedule that fits for you and leave what doesn’t! What have you found useful?

3 ways to reduce plastic in the bathroom

I used to think plastic was the way to go since it was recyclable. I never felt bad about buying plastic bottles until I learned more. Having a child has made me more purposeful in how I treat the environment. It has also made me tighten my purse strings. Often going green and saving money are best friends.

  1. Bamboo Toothbrushes. What makes bamboo toothbrushes a good option is that bamboo is a renewable source. The bamboo handle will eventually breakdown, unlike the plastic handle on traditional toothbrushes. They are currently selling for $7.99 for 4 brushes, So just under $2 a brush. Most dentists recommend changing out your toothbrushes every 3 months. That means, you will spend just under $8 for toothbrushes for the year.

2. Razors. You can choose to go natural and embrace all of your hair. However, that’s not always our preference. The advice here- that you may already heed- is to avoid cheap plastic razors. Instead, get a straight razor or just replace the blades. Less plastic waste and a better shave here. I found the below Solimo razor with 20 cartridges on Amazon for $14.24. That breaks down to $0.72 cents a cartridge. That is a steal! I suggest getting the one for men because the one for women has less cartridges. Another tip to make your razor last longer: Once you’re done dry it off. It takes a moment and you help prevent rusty, dull blades.

4. Rethinking periods. If you have a regular monthly flow, you may currently use a variety of pantie liners, pads, and tampons. Each of those has their own wrappers, backings, and plastic tubing to hygiene purposes. Personally, my birth control leaves me without a period, and that works for me. My cousin loves the menstrual cup. These usually run in the mid $25 range, but they last a long time! I used to spend $60 a year on various one-time use menstrual products, so the cup would pay for itself within a few months. The downside here is the need to pay attention to sanitation – boiling the cup and washing hands. Another great option is Thinx underwear or a reusable pad. I liked reusable pads after I had my child. To clean: just soak in cold water, then add to your regular laundry load. I love the designs on Amazon. The pack listed below contains 5 pads and a wet bag for $14.99. That makes the pads about $2 each! They would pay for themselves in a month or two.

Reusable pads

None of the links are affiliate links, so I make no money off of linking these items.

Finance Friday: My top 5 selling apps

You’re inspired by Marie Kondo and you’re ready to donate half of your house. Me too! Less stuff means less to clean, less anxiety, and possibly a little extra cash this weekend. Before you toss everything in the donation bin, give it a look through to see if you can sell the items for a little extra cash.

Start by glancing around your office chair. Is there a camera you haven’t used in years? A scanner gathering dust? A cute Disney swimsuit that your baby wore once and grew out of? Girl, list that stuff!

The best part of selling my stuff is not only the money I gain, but the fact that the item will be useful to another family. A bit of a nicer way to look at things then the “one mans trash is another mans treasure.”

Get out your best KonMari boxes and let’s make some money!

Pin me!
  • Facebook Marketplace: I get most of my sells here for baby and toddler items. I usually get inquiries within 8 hours of posting an item on my local marketplace.
  • Letgo: This is my backup to selling baby items. I like that I can see how many views my items get, and I can reach a larger audience nationwide.
  • Mercari: This one was new to me. I do love the easy to use interface and the lack of clutter on listings. When using Mercari, I like to list the price written on the 1st picture, since that seems to get me more traffic and comments.
  • Nextdoor: While this app is not primarily a selling app, I use it to sell items to my neighbors. I like that this is local, and I know buyers are in my community. I’ve sold baby diapers, clothing, and computer hardware on here.
  • OfferUp: I’ve had better luck selling technology here. OfferUp makes it easy for buyers to test price flexibility and offer to pay shipping if they live far away. I recently sold a graphics card here and getting paid was a secure and easy process. This app seems to have the largest audience yet, with each of my listings getting 50+ views within a day.

Play: July Family Calendar

Looking for ideas on how to hold summer boredom at bay? See what I’m doing with my family to balance it all.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Think about your summer with your family. Maybe you have to balance work, day care, cleaning, errands, holidays, and somehow have fun.

It’s a lot to do. Write it down, and give yourself grace.

July 2019 Plans

This is far from our full list – I have yet to add in time to budget and cleaning. But I did try to add workouts! My toddler thinks its hilarious when we dance for 20 minuets.

What are your summer plans? Share here or on Instagram!

Play: 10 free things to do this summer!

Summer vacation is here, but our wallets have run away. Here are 10 things you can do with your kids.


  • Visit the parks in your area. Before the heat rolls in, explore the local parks in you area. Change it up and visit a new park each weekend to keep things interesting.
  • Splash pads! There are so many different types of splash pads. Pack your pool bag and roll out. Find splash pads in shopping malls, city parks, and community centers.
  • Discover the library. Seriously. Take a reading challenge. Visit once a week or more. Visit the different branches in your area. My local library offers Culture Passes which are FREE passes to local museums and gardens. FREE.
  • Wash your cars and the toddlers cozy coupe. Turn the chore into a game. Give the kids a bucket with soap and sponges, add in some water guns and it’ll at least keep them entertained for an hour.
  • Ice play. Need a quick activity in a pinch? Dump out your ice box. Give the kids different containers and cups to move the ice around. This uses what you already have, so there should be no cost.
  • Ice Painting. Assuming you have everything already, get an ice cube tray, add in different food dyes, put in a stick if you have one, and freeze them. I usually prep this over night. It only takes a few moments to prep, the long part is waiting for the freeze. When you need an activity, set the kids outside with the colored ice cubes and let them paint the patio!
  • Plan a safari. If you have lots of stuffed animals or any animal toys, plan a safari! Hide the animals around the house or yard. Toddlers will love to find toys. Older kids can take a more involved approach with binoculars.
  • Color the bath tub. Add 2 drops of food dye to a squirt bottle. I do advise to avoid yellow or orange, it just looks like pee! I usually give my tot 2 colors, pink and green. She loves squirting the water all over the tub and bathroom, and buys me a few moments to sit and watch.
  • Mud play. Summer usually means monsoon season. Depending on your soil, you can play with mud! When I was a kid, I would often make mud pottery. It’s free and entertaining, and environmentally friendly.
  • Color the box. We get diapers delivered via subscription to save money. This means we have a few boxes around the house. When I need to cook dinner and its too hot to play outside, i’ll set the toddler up with a box and markers or crayons.

What are you going to do this summer? Stay tuned for more ideas and graphics!

Play: The toddler years, 12 months- 24 months

You’ve made it to your first year! You officially have a toddler. Don’t worry, that image will settle in and eventually be fitting.

Weather you’re looking for a gift for a 1-year-olds party, or scoping out what the future brings, I’ve compiled a list of items you may need for the 12-24 month age group. View the list on Amazon here: http://a.co/4E7PR6U

Furniture upgrades

You might need to upgrade your stroller. We needed something lighter and with more portability now that the infant car seat was no longer an option. I love the love the Summer Infant 3D flip.

If you don’t already have one, a large changing pad is handy for adventures with your on the go toddler. This changing pad is extra large, and I use it at parks, in the back of my car, and on planes. Pretty handy!

A toddler size table and chairs for your rapidly growing babe. This LATT table by Ikea is $40 for a table and two chairs. We love how inexpensive it is and how easy it is to paint and customize.

Kids Learning Tower! There are many out there. I recommend scoping out your local markets for any second hand or locally made products. A learning tower is perfect for washing hands, helping cook (when it’s safe), and for crafts! Perfect for toddlers who are becoming more independent.

Potty training time!

Ok, you don’t want to force potty training on any child, they will be ready when they are ready. However, it is ok to introduce baby to these items so they can get used to them.

  • The Summer Infant Training Potty looks like a regular toilet, and the kids can mimic you. I also love that there is a place for wipes on the back.
  • Cloth Training Pants. There are so many cute designs to choose from! They aren’t meant to hold much, but they are meant to start teaching kids to feel when they are wet. I love that they are reusable, so environmentally friendly and economical too.
  • Potty Books. Any potty book. Choose a character your child likes, and normalize and explain the bathroom process to them. One day they’ll get curious and give it a try.
  • Ikea training potty is ideal for travel. Put it in the car for emergency stops on a road trip. Its simple design leaves few areas for bacteria to hide and makes cleaning easy.

Play time!

  • Painted Stones. Okay this is something you can do on your own. I’ll post a blog soon!
  • My First Christmas Tree is a super fun way to get into the spirit.
  • The eye droppers are huge, help with pincer grasp, and are handy during simple experiments.
  • Hape Wooden Builder kit
  • Threading apple keeps kids entertained for just under an hour
  • Melissa & Doug latch board helps teach fine motor skills
  • Doctor Kit. I prefer wood. I use this to help any doctor office anxiety my toddler has
  • Battat stacking rings and shape sorter is a beautiful playroom upgrade for your toddler.
  • Wooden Rainbow Stacker. It’s a versatile toy you see all over Instagram. Its popular for a reason!
  • Melissa & Doug cleaning set. Montessori approved, teach your child to clean up.
  • Contigo Water Bottles with straws. I use these for water only when we travel to parks. The lid also keeps small snacks.
  • Take N Toss cups are kept in our diaper bag for water cups at restaurants.
  • Munchkin snack cups. My toddler eats in the car with… less of a mess.
  • Nuby Stages toothbrushes. I love that this set has every piece you need for the first 2 years.
  • HABA bubble bath whisk. We want clean to be fun!
  • Giant activity cube. In this age group it’s just fun to toss around.
  • Books: Jane Goodall, Hero Vs. Villan, Moon Landing. Everyone needs more books!
  • Ride on toys. Any will do! I personally love any animal fun shaped toyds.
  • Cozy Coupe. This is a classic! I got a good deal on mine from Kohls! Check your deals, and check them twice.
  • Rocking horse. My mother in law found one in Goodwill for $3.
  • Push toy popper! It’s a classic toy. Even before my tot could walk, she liked to push it sitting down to get the balls popping.
  • Walker toy. I personally love wooden toys. They are much more durable and timeless.
  • Step 2 Play Kitchen. Any Play Kitchen. These are perfect for toddlers because they are so easily customize able.
  • Play eggs. I like this set because the carton is a realistic color, versus the bright yellow I typically see.
  • Ikea felt fruit and vegetable baskets. This comes with mushrooms and garlic! It’s totally cute.
  • Melissa & Doug metal pots and pans. My child has better kitchen ware then I do. The bonus for my house hold is that the dogs can’t chew on metal!
  • Wood toy mixer! I love the feel of wooden toys and this kit is so cute!
  • Travel ID bracelets. I got these for our upcoming trip with my energetic toddler. I wrote my name and number on the bracelet in case we get seperated.
  • Safari Tails book. We like to flip through the book and describe what we see, hear, and feel.
  • My Big Day activity book! Super awesome for travelling. I only bring it out for trips, so there is a sense of excitement around it.
  • Travel kit with various toys. If you’re in a pinch for your trip, this kit has a lot of good ideas. Water Wow book, lacing toy, cards, crayons, and paper.
  • Toy Cash Register! My tot loves to play with this in the toy store, and has started taking note when we shop. Pretend play starts to peek up after 1 year!
  • Mega Blocks Legos. Classic.
  • Apron and brushes. This is perfect for water painting!
  • B. Toys keys! We all get to grab our keys when its time to go.
  • Fat Brain toys: Buttons and pops. Both of these help with fine motor skills and encourage concentration! We talk about the colors and sounds with these.
  • Bamboo stacker toy. This is great for themed play!

Phew. It’s a long list but here you go! Here’s to another year of fun and exploration.

Mama Monday: C-section recovery

Planned or unplanned, here is what you need to know about recovering from a c-section.

C-section recovery pin, created on Canva!

1.) Plan on doing nothing! The first two weeks of recovery you will be limited in what you can and cannot do. Your health care team will go over this with you, but it usually includes: no driving, no stairs, and no heavy lifting.

2.) Make sure your family knows your limits. Have them talk to your doctor or share this post. You family and friends want to help. Give them something to do.

3.) Schedule alarms in your phone for your pills. Not only are you recovering from surgery, but you will have serious mom brain thanks to the new baby. Your health care team will tell you how often you need to take your iron supplement, stool softener, post-natals, and of course your pain pills. I had to layer when I would take the Oxy and other pills.

Photo by John-Mark Smith on Pexels.com

4.) Have a pillow or blanket handy at all times. This is something you will press against your incision in case you sneeze or cough. Or laugh. Anecdotally for me, I only needed this for the first week after surgery.

5.) Use the belly binder. Ideally the hospital should provide a basic one to you. After the 4th week, I ordered a sturdier one off of Amazon. I ordered the one below. I liked it because it gave me options. I also liked that it helped to provide lumbar support while holding a baby all day. While you’re on Amazon, order some cheap high waist under ware and pants.

Picture from Amazon.com

6.) The scar will be ok. It may fade a little bit. Many moms report some soreness or different feelings for up to a year after surgery. You are not alone, and it does get better with time. Once it has healed, after about 6 weeks, you can start massaging the area. This is supposed to help the scar tissue swelling and nerves reconnecting. Clear it with your doctor first.

7.) Planned or unplanned, scheduled or emergency, you did it. You may have many emotions. They are all acceptable. You may feel some guilt about how the birth went, and it is something that only time can heal (and a bit of therapy). You will bond with your baby. You will be okay. You got this mama.

C-sections are hard. Hopefully a little preparation and knowledge will make the process easier for you. Listen to your health care team and listen to your body. Make sure you talk to your family and friends or online support community.

Play: Surviving Months 6-12

All of my recommendations are in the Instagram stories

The Amazon ideas list link: http://a.co/apgRTmZ

You’ve made it half way through your first year as a parent! HOORAY! Now what do you do once you’re past the newborn stage? After 6 months the baby becomes less of a potato and a little more fun to be around.

Sunscreen, after 6 months of age you can use sunscreen for your adventures! A large Picnic blanket will keep your play area clean. Baby Makes Three, because the hardest part of being a parent is being a partner. Mama, and the Dada book are great and easy reads for baby. The zigzag car toy teaches cause and effect.

Space Adventure Pound Bench is verstile fun to experience music and cause & effect. Mushroom Teether (or all the teethers really) will be needed. Toothpaste and a finger brush to start teaching those good habits. Motrin and Tylenol if you choose to help with post-shots soreness and teething, and the fevers that come home from daycare.

Aveeno lotion is awesome. MAM pacifiers, don’t forget to size up after 6 months! Stroller fans are perfect for summer. Halo vibrating bedtime soother will help sooth fussy babies, help breakup congestion, and is portable. Vech walker, this is the perfect age to get a push-type walker toy.

Reuseable Swim diapers go over the disposable ones to splash pad play dayte and swim lessons. Nested Bean Sleep sack is amazing. I love this brand. Munchkin 360 cups help transition from bottles to cups. They don’t spill but do take some babies a while to get the hang of them. Skip Hop Unicorn water toy, I don’t have it (yet) but I’m sold already. Ergo Baby mesh 360 carrier is what we use for our hikes with baby!

Graco playard was used as a spare for when baby sleeps at Oma’s house. Graco convertible car seat is perfect for extended rear-facing. Our chunky baby grew out of her infant seat at 7 months. Dr Browns options bottles were perfect for our baby, and we had to buy extras for daycare. Haba wood beads are huge, and perfect for small hands. Ribbon toy because babies are really cats.

Crayola My First Tablet is perfect for travel and restaurants. Oball cars are always fun and easy for toddlers and babies. B. Toys stacking stones are beautiful. My First Quiet Book fatures a bunny that rattles and still tells a story. Manhattan Toys Click Ball helps develop fine motor skills. I like playing with it too!

What helped you survive the 6 months to 1 year stage? Comment below!