Breastfeeding: a true story

13 Nov

This is by no means a bragging post.

This is simply me, wanting to document the third (and last) journey of mine while I still have the luxury of exclusively breastfeeding the little guy outside.

There are certain things about breastfeeding that no one tells you about.

When you become a mom for the first time, you are immediately flooded with all kinds of insecurities concerning the well-being of your newborn. The weight you are forced to carry for being solely responsible for its survival, weighs heavy on your heart and soul.

Then, your milk comes in. And it hurts LIKE HELL. And you turn into an ugly Dolly Parton version of yourself (I could draw you a picture but I am pretty sure you’d rather not). You begin to wonder:  Is this how it’s supposed to feel? Is this normal? Do I have enough milk? And along with the pain, the hormones and the self-doubt you get an overflow of information (you never asked for in the first place) from relatives and acquaintances trying to impose what THEY think is best for you. And while you are trying to tame the inner voices, a smart-ass, formula bribed, so-called pediatrician pays you your first visit and informs you that your baby is losing weight and that YOU might not have enough milk and that they might need to supplement with formula.

While I experienced all of the above I was one of the lucky ones. I had my sister’s back. She had previously nursed all three of her girls and reassured me that although it sure didn’t feel like it at that point, it would eventually get better & I would even enjoy it.

It took 2 whole months, a different pro-nursing pediatrician and the LLL (La Leche League) support group to make it work, but it did. And after the first very hard couple of months I started seeing the beauty of it.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not all moonlight and roses. Here are a few examples of what breastfeeding was/is to me:

  • For the first few months your baby is like your key chain. Glued on to you. Especially if your baby eats irregularly (all three babies suffered from acid reflux which on some days meant that they were on the breast 24/7).
  • You can NOT smoke/drink alcohol/starve as this will affect your milk supply.
  • You might have to say bye-bye to certain foods/drinks which make your baby fussy. Because lets face it, fussy baby=sleepless mommy.
  • Your milk is light=easier digested=frequent night waking.
  • You feel like super woman. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Which brings me to the next point:
  • You become mesmerized by the power of nature.
  • You get sick, baby gets antibodies through your milk, baby doesn’t get sick.
  • You have the power of the tit. If everything else fails, put your baby on the boob and it will immediately calm him down and drowse him off to dreamland.

Last but not least, do what you feel is BEST for YOU. If you feel like nursing is your thing, do it. If you feel that your baby will strive more on formula, do it. And feel damn good about it.

Until next time

love

t

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disgusting facts of motherhood, part 1

10 Oct

Remember a few weeks ago how naturally high I was from all the love and gratitude I felt pouring out of me? Remember how I bragged about being more calm and peaceful now with my three little bundles of joy(?) than I have ever been? That it can be done. Nothing seemed impossible.

That was before N. left for a 2-day business trip abroad.

I usually take refugee at my sister’s when he needs to travel or have my mom stay over or my mother in law help out with pick ups and drop offs at school.

However, this time, the universe decided to teach me a lesson and slapped me in my face challenged me by ‘sending’ my tribe to all kinds of strange locations as far as possible from this I-can-do-it-all-by-myself-mama.

This was day one:

I woke up at 06:15 feeling completely and utterly nauseated. If you know me, you know I don’t do nausea. If you ask me what the worst thing that my kids can bring from school is I will rank the stomach flu on top of my list. It is even worse than lice. That is how much I detest it.  I mumbled something of the sorts to the husband who was packing his carry on luggage and in an attempt to find a solution to the problem (nauseated mama + 3 kids + 35 minutes drive to school) he suggested the only logical thing a man would suggest: ‘If you are feeling too sick to drive stay home and let the kids skip school today’.

I gave him the look. You know, THE LOOK. The you-didn’t-just-suggest-I-help-Yiannis-cut-class look. It always amazes me how much power wrong wording can have on someone’s facial expressions.

Once N. left, I had twenty minutes to pack their lunches, fill up their water bottles, feed Benny, close the house and remember to take all three kids with me. Oh and the bucket, plastic bag(s) and kitchen roll which I threw on the passenger seat as my attempt to at least keep it clean.

36 minutes later we arrived safe and sound at school. I had hoped that after dropping off the kids at school that the nausea would start to subside as the first stressful task of the day was behind me. In an attempt to convince myself that I was feeling better I left the school and went to the nearest super market to do my weekly shopping. As I entered the mall and passed by the fast food restaurant on my right I felt the intoxicating smells of deep fried dishes attacking my oppressed nausea and the whole what-if-I-need-to-throw-up-right-here-right-now kind of panic took over.

In a desperate attempt to ignore the signs of my body I put the little-guy-outside in the stroller and headed towards the deodorant section of the super market.

Note to self no 1: when nauseated, avoid all kinds of smells. Even the AXE anarchy for men. Especially THAT.

Along with my very disgusted almost to0 sick to keep it together kind of look I went looking for diapers.

Note to self no 2: when nauseated, any kind of disgusting visual (even little precious baby’s pooh) might trigger the unthinkable.

As I was now speed shopping through the super market and desperately trying to shush my inner alarm voice, I was also having to deal with the screaming underfed baby in the stroller.

Note to self no 3: when nauseated, successful problem solving skills are non existent. Out the window. Gone.

I quickly decided to find a quiet place in the upper floor of the super market to nurse him as my shopping cart was full and there was no way he (or I) would last through the check out lines without attracting everyone’s attention. So as I was walking towards the men clothing section I spotted a well hidden (or so I thought) kind of bench. I parked the stroller, took the baby out, started nursing him only to realize that my time had come. That instant when you realize that you must unlatch the baby, throw him the safest you can back on the stroller, grab the plastic bag and picture yourself as Kristen Wiig in the Bridesmaids, is one of a kind my friends. One of the I-never-ever-ever-would-want-to-relive-again kind of moments.

Note to self no 4: when nauseated, by all means DO NOT NURSE

Until next time

love

t

and this was day 2

and this was day 2

a little bit of gratitude

25 Sep

A little over a year ago I was completely ignorant of the magnitude of happiness that the little guy outside would bring to our lives. The day I held the positive pregnancy test in my hands I started crying and crying and crying and the only one that saved me that day was MY person, MY ROCK, my sister Alex. I honestly don’t have a clue what I would do without her.

Alex was thrilled. She was ecstatic. She was out of this world happy. She tried to calm me down by saying all the right things and she even managed to make me take a momentary glimpse at the light at the end of the tunnel. She stayed calm and reassured me that everything was going to be alright. 

Well, she was DAMN right. After a trying and very difficult pregnancy, everything DID turn out alright.

I would like to dedicate this post to the people who stood by me and whose gestures of kindness helped me in one way or another to fight my inner demons and simply gave me hope. HOPE is a wonderful thing. HOPE is essential to leading a happy life. HOPE is priceless.

A big shout out to my enthusiastic sister and my loving hubby, who always encouraged me that I COULD do THIS.

Special thanks to my mom who showed empathy, compassion and patience when mine was running out and to my mother in law who went into the trouble of putting properly cooked food on our table, every single day.

From my real life friends who went out of their way to help me (thank you Iro & Daphne for that surprise delivery of burger & fries-you seriously MADE MY DAY) to my fellow blogger friends whose words of encouragement made all the difference (Matt, you might be right, he might turn out to be my favourite after all).

Thank you.

Life is good. Life is NOT PERFECT. It is blissful, chaotic, beautiful, frantic, challenging, stressful but most importantly BEAUTIFUL.

Yes, LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL

Until next time

love

t

happy

social media frenzy

15 Sep

I am not a private person. I like sharing. I like communicating with others. I like getting to know new people. I would prefer doing all of the above face to face but for someone like me, a stay at home mom who lives in the suburbs, that would mean that these physical interactions would be limited to once or twice a week, should busy schedules and different lifestyles allow them to take place.

So, yes, I use social media to connect and stay in touch with friends and acquaintances.

These are a few of the main reasons I keep using them:

I found my dog Benny on facebook.

I reconnected with my friend from primary school who now lives abroad and we have managed to stay in touch thanks to Skype and facebook.

I have become a cinnamon bun freak thanks to Pinterest and an Akis Petretzikis groupie thanks to YouTube.

Last, but not least, I have become an Instagram lover, ever since my dad gave me an iPhone as a present a year and a half ago. And yes, I post pictures of happy moments because these are the ones that I would like to remember and hold on to when things around here get rocky. After all, for the daily struggles I have WordPress.

What about you? Are you pro or contra social media?

until next time

love

t

social media

source: Pinterest, Jessica Northey 2013

 

 

I think I’ve figured it out

10 Sep

It might probably be a bit hasty and I am almost certain it will backfire at one point or another but I think I now know the 1 thing it takes to master the magical number of three. Children, that is.

Are you ready??

Taratataaaaammmmmm……

If you want to survive the new situation with little or no help you will have to let go of wanting to do everything PERFECT. As a matter of fact, leave the word PERFECT out of your dictionary for good. As in, permanently. As in, never use it again. Because one thing is certain. YOU CAN NOT DO EVERYTHING PERFECT. Unless you are a superwoman. Then, kudos to you! You are truly ONE OF A KIND.

Back to the remaining human mothers, before (or in my case after) you hit rock bottom, LET some things GO. It won’t be the end of the world. I promise you that. Here is a short list of the few things I realized since the little guy inside made his debut:

1. Ask for help. If you are anything like me, too proud to ask for help, make an extra effort and DO ask for it. You will be surprised to see that there are more people than you think who are more than willing to give you a hand. I don’t know what I would have done this summer if I didn’t have my sister’s nor my mother’s help with the new addition. I felt a bit like a nomad moving from one house to the other and although it was tiring physically, it was the ONLY thing that kept me sane. Having someone to lean on is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING in the world.

2. Plan wisely whenever possible. Taking all 3 kids to the supermarket after school (as in tired and cranky & hungry) is a big NO NO. I thought I could manage it. Two days ago, I learned it the hard way. Let me paint the picture for you by describing one of the ‘beautiful moments’ I had to endure while trying the impossible. I was struggling to keep it together while Jannis was chasing Iliana in all four aisles of the supermarket and Iliana was screaming bloody murder. You can do this, I kept telling my burnt out & utterly exhausted self. The little guy outside was now WIDE AWAKE (in my mei tai) and slowly beginning to take his oh-my-God-I-suddenly-realised-that-I-am-starving-so-lets-tell-mom-that-I-need-booby-NOW face while I was staring on my phone’s shopping list in the hope that all remaining 23 items would just magically put themselves in the cart.  For a moment I decided to ignore the chasing & screaming and started speed shopping. Then, on aisle 3, I found Iliana sniffing on shower gel bottles (yes, THIS she learnt from me) and Jannis rubbing his hands with 1/4 of the coconut shower gel bottle which he accidentally poured on his clothes. I will let you imagine the rest. SPOILER ALERT: Multitasking: EPIC FAIL.

3. LET GO of PERFECTION. I can’t stress this enough. When I generously agreed to give N. some much needed personal time and go sailing with Ilianas’ godfather (am I not the COOLEST WIFE EVER???), I took refugee at my sister’s (AGAIN). We were two adults and 6 children. When he came back, 4 days later, he saw Jannis and commented on his change of colour of skin. Jannis, now looked more like a 7year old South East Indian rather than a Greek. What happened to Janni? Didn’t you put sunscreen on him? he dared to ask me. Oh honey, be thankful that all six of them are still alive.

I rest my case.

Until next time

love

tatu

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party of five

boy, was I wrong

17 Aug

I’ ll let you in on a little secret.

Here it goes.

Having a third kid is actually pretty awesome. Yeap, I never thought I would say these words, but it seriously ROCKS. I am so grateful and thankful for the little guy outside that I can not believe I actually felt that insecure and so horribly helpless a little less than a year ago.

How could we live without him? We have been asking ourselves that question more often than we would like to admit. The simple truth is we couldn’t have known. We were too busy planning our life with two kids that we didn’t even let ourselves consider adding one more to the bunch. The irony of it all is that we would have never taken the decision ourselves. We had flirted with the idea a couple of times in the past but we always chickened out.

And then I got pregnant. With an IUD in place. I still can’t believe it.

It’s not easy of course and I have no intent of sugar coating the whole thing. The decision to have another child is one of the most crucial decisions you might have to take in life and if certain circumstances stand in the way then by all means having another child might have detrimental effects on everyone.

But if you do decide to go down that road, know this: you will be rewarded. In all sorts of ways. Some days will be tough and most nights will be sleepless but you will get the first glance, the first smile, the first everything. All. Over. Again. And this my friends, is priceless.

Until next time

love

t

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and then there were 3

1 Jul

He is finally here.

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one week old

After what seemed to me the longest 36 weeks of my life, the little guy inside made his debut. I still can’t believe we managed to pull it through. Safe and sound. Mainly sound.

One thing is for sure. It has been one hell of a ride. A roller coaster of emotions. I was utterly shocked when I found out I was pregnant (after all I had an IUD successfully in place when that little power sperm sneaked in). I was in complete denial for the first few months weeks. I became depressed when morning all day sickness and tiredness kicked in as I still had to take care of my lovely 2 + already burnt out husband of mine. I was severely petrified when N. found me in a pool of blood, sobbing like a lunatic as I was convinced I had just lost him. I felt panic & despair when my doc advised strict bed rest if I wanted to keep this baby and from then on stress, more stress and some more stress to make it through until we enter the safe zone, week 36.

I still remember N.’s comforting reply when I expressed my worries to him back in January. How will we manage? I asked him. Oh honey, don’t worry. It’s not that long. You have approximately 160 days to go. And no, it was not ironic, it was genuine.

I look at him now and I hear my grandmother’s voice in my head. There is nothing like a newborn. The smell, the touch, the helplessness. Cherish the time you have as they do, grow up, ever so fast.

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Needless to say I am in love. AGAIN. And yes, life with a newborn is difficult and challenging and requires a lot of adjusting to do on everyone’s part, but it is rewarding, OH SO REWARDING!

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two weeks old

Until next time,

love

t

sleep is overrated

3 Jun

What???????????

Listen…Sometimes we NEED to lie to ourselves to make it through some rough patches. OK?

Mother Nature is wise. And cruel. Mostly cruel.

‘Sleep while you still can’ N. told me the other day. You think after 2 kids and 3 pregnancies he has become wiser. Nope. At least not in the sleep recommendation area.

It is a genuinely good advice, because let’s be frank, you will never know how much you will eventually cherish uninterrupted sleep until you become pregnant and ultimately a parent.

The shift from ‘sleeping like a baby’ (one of the most inaccurate and misleading expressions I have ever heard in my life) to zombie like walking around the house 24/7 while you are attending to a newborn doesn’t happen overnight.

If you are lucky enough you will start losing the privilege of sleeping through the night once your belly starts to grow and takes over 90% of the space available while squashing all other organs into tiny little corners. ‘Stay hydrated’ they say. ‘Your body and your baby need the water’ they say. Don’t drink anything after 4pm I say, if you want to skip the 10 visits to the toilet at night.

It’s not the same of course. But imagine if you were ‘allowed’ to enjoy uninterrupted sleep until the baby comes and then…

Well then…you will want to fall asleep and never wake up again…that is how much sleep is underrated.

Two weeks left!! YAY

until next time

love

tatu

snoopy

source: pinterest

 

32

20 May

I am almost there.

Officially I still have 8 weeks left. Realistically I will be ecstatic if I get another 4. Both my children decided to leave the premises at 36 weeks gestation and I have been holding on to this little guy tight ever since I had one of the most terrifying days of my life when I nearly lost him right before Christmas.

This has been, and still is, one hell of a ride. A roller coaster of emotions. At times I felt broken, I saw no hope, I thought we had hit a dead end. I felt like there was no way out. But you know what? There is (almost) always a light that will shine through. The impossible becomes possible. And what I feared would tear N. & me apart, made us actually a lot stronger. I feel more love, appreciation, respect for him than ever before. He picked me up when I fell down. Each. And. Every. Single. Time. He said the right words at the wrong time. He was there. 24/7. He was my rock. I am confident that I (we) wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t been for his support. This is what LOVE is all about you guys.

Cheesy? YOU BET. But, let’s not forget that I am still pregnant and I have the right to overindulge in the emotional outpouring of my soul. OK??

I have (finally) reached the stage where I am genuinely happy about #thelittleguyinside. I am confident that we took the right decision when we decided to play along the very scary (at least in the beginning) game of fate and keep him. I see the anticipation and joy in my kids faces when they ‘help’ in the preparation for their sibling. I also see the first signs of jealousy but I choose to look away. I know what’s coming and I know it will be exhausting and draining and challenging but also BREATHTAKING, BEAUTIFUL & FULFILLING.

I CAN’T WAIT!

Until next time (please keep your fingers crossed he will stay put at least for the next 4 weeks)

love

tatu

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of lice and mayo

6 May

Are you one of those people who get easily disgusted? Are you single and /or child free? If you answered yes to either one, DON’T read along.

Consider yourselves warned.

Now, embrace yourselves for the following wise fact I need to share with you before I begin to tell my story:

Becoming a parent will CHANGE YOU for LIFE. There is no turning back. Long gone are the carefree days. There are all sorts of disgusting little encounters you will have on your day to day life as a parent that you slowly and steadily start getting immune (if there is such a thing) to dirt and stink. It starts slowly. First there are some spit ups (or exorcist style projectile vomits if you are lucky). Then there is pooh which tends to be very liquid if you breastfeed and has the unbelievable power to spread and permanently soil all of those precious little onesies you carefully picked out at the maternity store.  Eventually your baby will get a stuffy nose which YOU will have to unblock by sucking out the snort because your baby is well, too young to do it on its own. The older the baby gets, the more disgusting the encounters become. Until you reach the kindergarten/preschool/casual encounter with other small children age where you see your child scratching its head and while you are still ignorant you discover the first louse, which you accidentally and wishfully take as dirt until you see it moving. THIS my friends, will transform you forever.

For the past six and a half years the only encounter I had with these dreadful microscopic insects was at the most inconvenient time of all: when I was pregnant with Iliana. Until that time, I belonged to the ignorant group of people who thought that clean kids don’t get lice. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Yes, you can laugh along. I had erased all the bad lice related memories from my mind, the only thing I do remember from that summer is that I had semi-permanently ruined my relationship to vinegar.

When Iliana started kindergarten back in January, I received a 3-page detailed advisory letter from school on how to avoid catching lice and what to do if you do find yourself in the unfortunate situation. I quickly read through it and tossed it somewhere in the school file as I considered myself & the kids immune to lice since we hadn’t encountered any for the past 4 years. Little did I know.

Ten days ago as I was blissfully watching my kids play, I saw Yianni scratching his head. Not the 5 scratch a day thing, more like the 5 scratch a minute thing which immediately sent cold shivers down my spine. Could it be….I couldn’t even pronounce the word in my head. No….it can’t be. 

So, I did the only thing a mature parent would do in my situation. I looked the other way.

A day later, I started scratching my head. The whole day. I even had N. look at my head. No honey, I can’t see anything, he reassured me.

MEN

Later that evening, when Yiannis was already in bed, and after I had just washed my hair I started feeling THE ITCH again. Now, I started to panic. I opened the pharmacy drawer, took the magic lice comb out, stuck it in my hair, pulled half of my hair out, looked at the comb only to find a microscopic particle of dirt. MOVING. S H I T. That can’t be happening….Oh no…How will I get rid of them?? Why me?…. Why now???

While I was in complete self pity mode I broke the news to N., went to Yiannis room, switched on the light, took a good pitiful look at him, visioned the lice that were probably having a party on his head, switched the light off, shut the door and decided to deal with that the following morning.

I went online and started frantically searching for natural remedies to get rid of the nasty intruders only to remember a couple of minutes later that a dear friend of mine had gone through a similar situation while she was breastfeeding her infant daughter last summer.

I immediately rang her up and shared my pain. While I listened carefully to her instructions I asked N. to bring me the mayo we still had (and seldom use) from the refrigerator. After emptying the whole bottle of Heinz Light Low Cholesterol Mayo on my head and wrapping the whole thing in cling film I had two choices. Laugh or cry. I chose option no 1.

While I spent 3 hours on a Saturday night and all Sunday (at least on Sunday I had the company of my son) wrapped in mayo and combing out lice and their offspring, I felt gratitude for two things: Friends who give you priceless advice & Heinz Mayo.

Until next time

love

tatu

 

 

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