Ten Toddler Approved Chores

Toddler Approved Household Chores
As moms we’re good at taking full responsibility for everything—ourselves, our children, our spouse, our home…everything.  I know I find myself feeling overwhelmed at times because I have 5 million things that I think I need to do. 

When I get to this point, I often realize that I’m the one putting all of that on me.  I’m not asking for help when I need it.  I’m not giving myself any grace.  I’m not expecting my family to do things for themselves.

And I’m suffering because of it.

I won’t lie and say that I never feel overwhelmed anymore or that I don’t still mom guilt myself and when I try—and fail—to do everything.  However, I’m making a conscious effort to not hold myself responsible for everybody’s everything.  I’m working on remembering that my family has responsibilities, too, and needs to be held accountable.  It’s helped tremendously.

I know we moms want to do everything for our children, and sometimes we even feel guilty for expecting them to do things.  Or remember that sadness—and pride—you felt and still feel with every shred of independence they acquire?

Well, eventually our precious little angels will need to be self sufficient adults.  I, for one, do not want to do my 25 year-old’s laundry or grocery shopping.

Children can start doing chores and helping out right around the time they start walking.  Starting them young makes it the norm, instead of surprise! you’re thirteen and now I expect you to do all these things I never taught you to do.

When our kids are younger, they even enjoy chores.  Part of this is because they get to be involved with something you’re doing.  So, no, you probably won’t be able to expect your toddler or preschooler to handle most chores on their own.  And, no, it might be as fast as if you just do it yourself.  However, those days will come.

Lay the foundation.  Include even our youngest kids.  Let them know they’re needed and an important part of the family unit, too.  Everyone can contribute and feel proud!  Show your appreciation, thanks, and pride.  Your toddlers will appreciate it.

1. Dishes

Toddlers can help with dishes, but be warned that they really enjoy playing in the water, if you’re a dishwasher-less house, like mine.
  • Load/unload dishwasher
  • Put away dishes
  • Help with rinsing dishes
  • Sorting dishes
Responsibility Kids Quote

2. Laundry

My two year-old loves helping with laundry almost as much as much as she likes playing in the dryer.  Thanks to his early involvement in laundry, my 10 year-old can do the whole laundry routine without me and has been able to for a few years now.
  • Help empty dryer
  • Help load washer
  • Help transfer clothes from washer to dryer
  • Close lids/doors of appliances
  • Pour laundry detergent in
  • Push buttons to start laundry

3. Feeding Pets

Feeding our pets is pretty much the full responsibilty of the kids at my house, with some prompts from mom and dad, occasionally.
  • Pinch of food for fish
  • Scoop dog/cat food into bowl
  • Feed treats to dog

4. Training Pets

If you don’t mind your dog responding to commands from your children, they love being involved in dog training and reinforcement.
  • Helps give commands
  • Helps give rewards/treats when dog follows commands

5. Clean Their Room

This is one of the earliest tasks kids can easily be involved in, and I think it’s really important for them to take care of their own things/space.
  • Pick up their toys
  • Put their laundry in hamper
  • Throw away dirty disposable diapers

6. Wipe Up Spills

I fully encourage and insist that my kids, including my 2 year-old, clean up after themselves.
  • Wipe up spilled liquids
  • Pick up dropped food
Related Post: Kid Approved Jokes

7. Set and/or Clear the Table

If you’re a family who sets the table, you can get your kids involved in that and after dinner clean up, too.
  • Help set table
  • Clear dirty dishes from table
  • Put own dishes in sink/dishwasher
  • Throw away disposable plates/cups
  • Dispose of uneaten food

8. Hand Vacuum

I know some kids are afraid of vacuums but mine love to vacuum and a hand/mini vacuum is the perfect size for children!
  • Vacuum furniture
  • Vacuum crumbs off the floor
  • Vacuum staircase

9. Water Plants

Maybe your kids will have a green thumb.

10. Help Bring In/Put Away Groceries

Depending on their size, age, and maturity, your toddler can help with various grocery tasks.
  • Put away groceries
  • Help carry in lighter groceries
What chores does your toddler or older child do? What age do you start including your kids in household responsibilities?
10 Toddler Approved Chores

3 Cool Products You’ve Never Heard of for Lactating Moms

Products Lactating Moms
We’ve all had that experience where we come across some really cool product but only after it’s useful to us.  That happens to me all the time with kid and baby products, such as when I discovered the Kiinde breast milk storage system!  Lucky me, I keep getting new nieces and nephews so I can buy those things as gifts for them, instead.

Whether you’re breastfeeding or exclusively pumping, there are some really awesome products out there!  Unfortunately, many of them aren’t widely advertised or sold.  I know I’m on my third lactating experience and I’m still finding new products to make it easier/better. 

So, fear not, you don’t have to wish someone told you about that cool, unique product.  I’m going to do just that right now!

1. Freemies—Pump on the Go

Freemies—Pump on the GoFreemie Collection Cups The Only Hands Free and Concealable Breast Pump Milk Collection System
Freemies are a unique breast milk collection system.  They are hands free and concealable.  The cups go in your bra and the system is set up to work with a variety of breast pumps and can be hacked to work with others.  Some women have reported trouble maintaining supply with the Freemies or taking longer to empty, while others just can’t stop raving about how they’re the best product they ever found!

2. Haakaa—An Improved Hand Pump Design

Haakaa—An Improved Hand Pump DesignHaakaa manual breast pump
The Haakaa is a manual breast pump, by definition, but really it’s something different.  You squeeze the body of the Haakaa to form suction on your breast.  You can choose to ‘pump’ it if you want, but I think the Haakaa is ingenious for other reasons. 

Because of the suction many women have had success with using the Haakaa to suction to their breast and catch milk from one breast while nursing from the other.  Also, pumpers have utilized the Haakaa lying down and in bed.  Don’t try the knock offs.  They don’t compare to this awesome device and aren’t worth the minimal money saved.

3. Milkies Milk-Saver—Wearable Breast Milk Catchers

Milkies Milk Saver
The Milkies Milk-Saver is a unique way to avoid wasting or losing breast milk, because we all know every drop counts.  You wear the Milk-Saver and it collects any milk you have from leakage.  It can be used on one breast while you’re nursing on the other or you might even buy two of these bad boys to wear when you might be going a little extra time between pumping.  Although they claim to be discreet, the general consensus is that they’re a little bulky for continuous wear.
Have you tried any of these products?  Do you know of some other super cool, not mainstream product you wish everyone knew about?  Tell me in the comments below!
Cool Products for Breastfeeding

6 Things You Can Do Right Now to Save Money

Save Money Right Now

The need to save money is pretty universal.  Most people, myself included, are always looking for ways to minimize spending, so we can save more.  Drastic changes tend to be harder to commit to and more likely to inspire us to do something crazy in rebellion.  For me, it’s easier to just commit to a few small changes and work my way up.  Here’s six, simple, money saving tips you can implement right now.

1. Turn off the water when brushing your teeth.

Turning off the water when brushing your teeth is a great way to conserve water.  However, it also can save you money!  For a family of four brushing twice a day, turning off the faucet could save them around $50 a year!  Here's a handy chart to help you figure out your possible savings.

Related Post: Homemade Flea Repellant

2. Use less toothpaste or none at all.

Did you know, it might not even be necessary for you to use toothpaste?  And if you are using it, you only need a pea-size amount on your toothbrush.  While this might not save your hundreds of dollars, every penny counts, and I'm sure you'll save a few pennies if you stop being wasteful with toothpaste and cut back to the recommended amounts.

3. Wash clothes with cold water.

Instead of paying the money to heat water to wash your clothes, save that money and wash your clothes with cold water.  Washing in cold water is also great for delicates and stains—such as blood or sweat, which will set if washed in hot water. Money Quote

4. Use a programmable thermostat and use it right!

Inefficient heating and cooling can make a huge difference on your utility bills.  Using a programmable thermostat to lessen the cooling or heating effect while people in the household are sleeping and/or at work or school is a great way to lower your utility bill.

5. Skip or cancel your cable or satellite.

The average cable bill is somewhere around $90 and a similar average for satellite subscribers.  On top of that, bills are only expected to keep rising. I read this great article on cutting the cord the other day, that basically thanks all of the people willing to put up with cable/satellite company B.S. for making their cable-less life even better.

With Netflix ($7.99) a month you can stream tons of television shows and movies. 

If you're dying to watch the newest episodes of your favorite TV series, many are available for purchase (as individual episodes or as a season pass) on Xbox live for very reasonable prices. Going this route, you own them and can watch them anytime, again and again.

Many other options exist, such as Hulu, ChromeCast, Fire TV, YouTube, Google Play Movies, Roku, Vimeo, and Apple TV.  Do a little research, and I'm sure you'll realize you could be saving tons of money!

Related Post: 8 Ways to Spend Your Tax Refund Responsibly

6. Switch to a Prepaid Cell Phone

If you're still with AT&T, Sprint, or some other carrier, you're being robbed.  And I'm not the only one who thinks so.  If you're looking for somewhere to save money, why not kick your phone company to the curb? The downside to prepaid service is you must pay for your phone (full-priced) outright. 

However, you'll probably save $50 (compared to an individual plan) or more a month by switching.  You might even be able to take your phone with you in some cases. In other cases, why not settle for the non-iPhone (or whatever the latest craze is) and get an affordable smart phone while you save for the full cost of the one you really want?

What is something you do to save money?  Do you practice any of these money saving tips?

Save Money Now

How I Pump 50+ Ounces of Breast Milk Daily

Pump Breast Milk
I’m currently working on qualification to become a compensated donor to a milk bank, following my surrogate pregnancy.  It’s a tedious (and very necessary) process of bloodwork, paperwork, etc., not unlike the process of becoming a surrogate—though it’s not quite that long.

When the parents and surrobabe were still stateside, I was pumping milk for the baby.  However, they’ve since returned home and I’m currently just filling my freezer with breast milk and waiting for approval from the milk bank. 

In the meantime, I thought I’d share some tips with you for pumping gobs of breast milk successfully!  Whether you’re an exclusive pumper, exclusively breastfeeding working mom, or just a mom trying to build up her milk supply…these tips can help you pump more milk!
Steps to More Breast Milk

1. Get a good breast pump!

With the majority of insurances being required to cover breast pumps thanks to the ACA, many moms are able to get their hands on a good breast pump for little to no cost to them.  However, insurance coverage varies widely from provider to provider and plan to plan.  And much like insurance, not all breast pumps are created equal.

Having a good breast pump is crucial to success in expressing the maximum amount of breast milk.  Hospital grade breast pumps are often available for rent from your local hospital or Babies R Us, such as the Medela Symphony.  However, this cost can get expensive and is relatively impractical because of their bulk and lack of portability.

A better option is the Medela Pump In Style Advance or, my personal favorite, the Spectra S1.  These are both options that work really well and can be used portably, though the Medela will require a battery pack and/or car adaptor to be used without a plug.  A good breast pump is one that your body responds well to and makes all the difference in your pumping journey!

2. Make sure your flanges fit.

Many women make the mistake of using whatever flanges come with their pump without ever considering that they have other options.  An incorrectly sized flange can have a detrimental effect on your supply because you likely won’t be efficiently emptying your breasts.
Breastshield Sizing Guide MedelaBreast Flange Sizing
These diagrams from Medela are a good starting point for reference, though you might want to visit a lactation consultant or your local La Leche League if you’re having trouble.  The average or standard size breast pump flange only fits about 45% of women.  For Medela shields, that’s a 24mm shield.  I, personally, have to use at least a 27mm shield. Bra size has nothing to do with breast shield size! 

If you’re using a Medela pump, Wal Mart and many other local retailers carry some of the other size shields.  However, you might have to order online for some other pumps or certain sizes.  Sometimes hospitals carry extra sizes, so if you’re in dire need, call your lactation consultant/local hospital.

3. Eat and drink plenty.

In general, nursing moms need around 500 extra calories per day than non nursing women.  Many women see a dramatic drop in milk supply in the event that they start a dramatic calorie reduced diet post partum.  Focus on eating healthy calories and staying hydrated in order to remain healthy and produce lots of milk.

4. Pump often.

If you’re exclusively pumping, then pumping 6 or more times a day is essential—especially in the early weeks and months.  Consistently pumping every 2 to 3 hours is ideal and at least once in the middle of the night.  If I manage to squeeze in 8 or 9 pumps in a day, I usually end the day closer to 60 ounces than 50.

If you’re breastfeeding and pumping, you can try and pump after every feeding or pump one breast while baby is on the other and alternate.  Another option is to add a pump in after the last feeding before bedtime and/or after the first morning feed and consistently pump at those times every day.

5. Power Pumping

If you’re just not happy with where your supply is at or maybe you’ve been a bad pumper, then power pumping is the most effective way to build your supply.  Power pumping consists of an hour long pumping session: 20 minutes pumping, 10 minute break, 10 minutes pumping, 10 minute break, 10 minutes pumping.  You can do this twice a day for as many days as you like and should yield an increase in supply within a day or two.

What tricks do you use to maximize your milk production?  Have you tried any of these tips with success?  Which is your favorite?

Pump More Milk

The Right Way to Freeze Breast Milk

Efficiently Freeze Breast Milk
When I was an exclusive pumper with my first born, I was totally clueless that there was a right and wrong way to freeze breast milk.  My bags were thrown into my freezer in lumps and frozen in all sorts of weird shapes and sizes.

This was so inefficient, but I was so oblivious to it, even though it seems obvious now.  I guess when you’re a new mom, though, it’s easy to overlook the simple things.  We’re so overwhelmed with new, new, new that I totally get why I spent almost a whole year freezing breast milk in ugly lumps.
Also, nobody ever told me any different.

Well, here I am to tell you that there is a right way to freeze breast milk.  It will save your freezer space and maybe even a little bit of your sanity—y’know if you’re a little bit of a perfectionist like me.
Storing Breast Milk

Freeze Breast Milk Flat

This is the right way to freeze breast milk, in my (and many others’) opinion.  If you’re pumping for a milk bank for donation then this is definitely the most efficient way to freeze, seeing as the only other option is bottles.

A tip my sister gave me before the birth of my youngest was to use an empty wipes container to freeze my Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags. They fit perfectly which makes it even better. It's a great alternative to pricey storage solutions that promise the same thing. Why not use something you already have that costs a lot less. 
Breastmilk Store in Wipes Container
However, you can easily freeze breast milk flat without the use of a wipes container.  Now that I’m exclusively pumping for a milk bank post-surrogacy, I simply lay the bags flat on the shelf in my freezer of my fridge.  Another great tip is to freeze between two cookie sheets because then your bags will be flat on both sides.

Breast Milk Cubes

Another option for moms is to freeze breast milk in cubes, like ice cubes.  When I briefly did this, I used Munchkin's Click Lock Fresh Food Freezer Trays, but many other—probably better—options are available.  If I was to do it again, I’d probably use a tray designed for freezing breast milk such as Milkies Milk Tray or a flexible silicone tray such as this one Nuk offers.
Freezing breast milk like this can be convenient as many tray options allow you to freeze in 1 ounce portions, so you can thaw exactly what you need, when you need it.

However, it can also be a real pain to get the cubes out of the tray.  You will need to be mindful of properly storing the breast milk to avoid freezer burn.
Breast Milk Freezing
Proper care of breast milk is important so that the hard work of pumping doesn’t go to waste.  Any mom who’s ever dumped a few ounces of her pumped milk knows that crying over spilled milk is absolutely fine!

How do you store breast milk?  Are you guilty of freezing ugly breast milk lumps at one point, too?

Foods that Boost Breast Milk Production

Ever heard of lactogenic foods?  These are basically just foods that are chemically beneficial to the production of breast milk and could, potentially, help increase your milk supply.  Many moms struggle with low milk supply and producing enough breast milk to satisfy their baby.

This can sometimes be amplified by returning to work and/or not responding well to the breast pump while away from baby.  Other than nursing or pumping often, certain foods can naturally benefit lactation.  Whether you eat these foods raw or whip them up into a yummy cookie recipe is up to you.


  • Water
  • Lactation Teas
  • Coconut Water
  • Barley Water
  • Some imitation coffees
  • Ginger Ale


  • Carrots
  • Asparagus
  • Green Beans
  • Yams
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Watercress
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Peas
  • Beets
  • Oatmeal
  • Brown Rice
  • Barley
  • Most grains/legumes
  • Avocados
  • Raw almonds
  • Cashews
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Apricots
  • Green papaya
  • Parsley
  • Salmon

Spices & Herbs

  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Onion
  • Basil
  • Fenugreek
  • Dill
  • Marjoram
  • Turmeric
  • Fennel

Pin It!

30+ Recipes For Boosting Lactation

Breast Milk Boosting Recipes
Breast milk production is heavily influenced by supply and demand from baby (or pump, if you’re an exclusive pumper).  However, sometimes that just doesn’t seem to be enough and we need a little extra lactation boost.

Certain foods are known to help increase milk supply for breastfeeding and pumping moms.  To help stave off boredom with eating oatmeal everyday, all day—or one of the other lactation superfoods—some pretty genius moms have come up with a variety of recipes that can help boost milk supply.
Lactation Drinks Smoothies Shakes

Lactation Smoothies & Shakes

Gluten & Dairy Free Lactation Recipes

Lactation Cookie Recipes & Baked Goods

Lactation Cookies & Other Baked Goods

Other Milk Boosting Goodies


Your Comments About My Pregnancy Are Not Wanted

Pregnancy Comments
As I get more pregnant, people get more loose lipped and brazen with their assumptions, comments, and so-called jokes.  I am just shy of 39 weeks pregnant when writing this, so it’s quite obvious that I’m pregnant.  I get that.

And I don’t mind the polite questions or conversation, even if it is repetitive and I’ve already had this same conversation with 5 million other people.  Or the fact that I’m a surrogate and some of the questions (well, a lot of the questions) don’t even really apply to me.  However, I don’t want to have to explain being a surrogate to every. single. person.

Related Post: 6 Reasons Your Kids Don’t Belong on Facebook

In case you’re wondering, it’s really not that cute or funny when you’ve heard something like, “Wow, you look like you need another one” for the third time in a day.

I’d also like to make a PSA that any of these types of comments are not appreciated either:
Things Not to Say to Pregnant Women

You need the lay off the cheeseburgers.

Are you serious right now?  This isn’t appropriate to say to anyoneEver.  It’s just rude.  I get that you’re just acknowledging my obvious pregnancy, but I could definitely do without the acknowledgement if this is how it’s going to be done.

You’re not suppose to swallow the watermelon seeds.

My intense eye rolling cannot be conveyed appropriately through a blog post, but I’ve heard about 100 too many watermelon related jokes.  Or basketball references.   It’s really not that cute.

Related Post: 14 Quick Breastfeeding Facts

There’s something wrong with the water here.

Believe it or not, we (the pregnant ladies) are not all congregating around you on purpose.  Just because there are two of us in the same county, doesn’t mean you have to go on and on about the quantity of pregnant women in the area.

You haven’t had that baby yet?

No.  Thanks, though, for pointing out that I’m still pregnant.  I didn’t notice myself.

Any comments about my size/baby’s size.

Oh you think baby is going to be huge?  Oh you think I’m huge.  Well, I surely appreciate your unnecessary assessment.

Related Post: 4 Reasons to Cloth Diaper

Try this instead…

Okay, so once when walking through the grocery story, a young woman passing me by simply smiled and told me, “Congratulations.”  I don’t know if it was because I was 30+ weeks pregnant or what, but I felt like that was the sweetest, simplest gesture anyone could make.  I didn’t get hounded with questions by a (well meaning, I’m sure) stranger.  She just simply congratulated me and I kind of wanted to hug her.
No Pregnant Jokes
I think it’s important to remember that we are pregnant for 40 (sometimes very long and miserable) weeks.  Our hormones can be crazy.  Our emotional state may be questionable.  And it can get really outrageous with all the comments, questions, and so on from friends, family, and complete strangers.  Instead of cracking a joke, try a kind and simple gesture.  If you’re close to the person, offer a hand.

6 Perks to Being a Young Mom

Perks to Young Motherhood
So I’m not even 25 and I have 3 kids.  Some people might read that and be like, “Okay, so what?”  Other people are flabbergasted.  It really depends on your circle and your own personal beliefs on whether being a young mom is the norm or not. 

My oldest was born when I was 14, so I’ve had comments all over the place about that, because most people just assume I’m the one who birthed him and that I was got pregnant at 14.  Not that, even if that were true, that gives them anymore right to their sometimes rude comments and assumptions.

Being a young parent can be crazy, but definitely has its perks.

1. I’ll be a young grandparent.

Unless all 3 of my kids wait a really long to have kids, I’ll have grandkids by my early to mid 40s, if not sooner.  I think it’ll be great to be that young and, most likely, still have my health and the energy that I currently know it takes to interact with little ones!  I’ll be able to play with them and babysit them and all around enjoy them in a way that I might not be able to if I was older.  This is probably even more true for great-grandchildren, which I’ll probably have a few of by 60 to 65.  Basically, it’s great to know I’ll likely see several generations of my family in my lifetime!

Related Post: 21 Ridiculous Things All Parents Say

2. I have the energy now!

Kids are exhausting regardless of if you have one when your 19 or when you’re 40.  I get that.  I just can’t help but think about all the effects of aging on the body I keep learning about in my pre-nursing classes, though.  The truth is, I’m young now and taking advantage of the perks of youth by pouring my life and energy into motherhood and other things (marriage, college, etc); instead of taking it one life step at a time.
Why I Love Being a Young Mom

3. We grow and learn together.

I have the opportunity to grow and learn with my kids.  All parents change from the people they were before children, but I mean this in a different sense.  I’m still in school and can relate to my children in that aspect and I’m still developing as a person and I’m not so set in my way.  I feel like my children have a lot of opportunity to see me mold into the person I will eventually be, and I hope it can be comforting to them as they grow and learn about themselves and who they are.

Related Post: Relieving Pregnancy Pains Without Medication

4. I can relate to them!

It hasn’t been that long since I was a kid, even if some days it feels like an eternity.  I feel like I can more closely relate to my children, their experiences, and how they’re feeling because there really isn’t a huge time gap between my childhood and theirs.  Heck, sometimes I still get called a “baby” by coworkers or others that are part of similar life experiences as me but older.

I’ll be a young empty nester.

So when my youngest turns twenty-one, I’ll only be forty-three years-old!  That’s so young!  Now who knows if my nest will be totally empty by then, because kids don’t just magically disappear at the age of 18 and phase into adult life and their adult homes.  I’m just imagining that my husband and I will both be able to enjoy each other and just whatever stuff we want to to do still because we’ll be pretty young!
Being a Young Mom Rocks

5. I have time to return to my career.

If I want to take time off to dedicate to moming or just to have a break from pursuing my career goals, I’m still young enough where, theoretically, returning to the workforce shouldn’t be as challenging as if I were older; if for no other reason than I have plenty of time to rebuild momentum.

Related Post: 10 Chores for Toddlers

6. I’m still kind of cool, right?

I’m not totally out of sync with what’s currently trending.  And even if I am, it’s probably because that’s how I’ve always been without caring much for what’s currently “cool.”  So, this one is more of a joke than anything, because I’m a mom now, so I’m sure I’m definitely not “cool” and haven’t been for a long time.

I’m not sure if there is a perfect time to conceive, socially or biologically.  There are all kinds of studies that have produced varying data and come to all kinds of conclusions.  So, basically, do whatever works for you, right?

Are you a young mom or did you wait to have kids?  What prompted you to be one or the other?

A Surrogate Birth Story

Surrogate Birth Story
It’s been three days since the beginning of the end of my first journey as a surrogate (when I wrote this).  On Friday, October 7th, 2016, I was 39 weeks pregnant with a baby boy whom I had no genetic relation and soon he would meet his dads for the first time!  Myself, my husband, and Baby’s parents were anxious and nervous in our own rights.

At my 36 week check up, we discovered that Baby was still breech.  He never did turn and the decision was made to have a scheduled c-section.  This was all new territory for me.

First time surrogate. Different OB provider and hospital from my previous pregnancies.  First breech baby.  First c-section.

This was shaping up to be a very trying group of first time experiences that had me relieved that we were nearing the end of our journey but also nervous.  The expecting parents arrived weeks in advance and were basically just bored and waiting around for Baby to arrive.

Their presence caused me—mostly self-inflicted—extra pressure, but I finally let myself be honest with them that I was exhausted and had a lot going on the last few weeks before delivery.  I was still trying to maintain being a halfway decent mother and wife.  They were totally understanding, per usual.

My husband absolutely sucks at saying all the right things, apparently, and I think I should have probably banned him from commenting on the whole procedure leading up to it.  Looking back, I’m fairly certain he was nervous himself and word vomiting not-funny-jokes related to the birth and what it was going to be like.

Related Post: Surrogacy: Getting Started

At 7:50AM, two blocks from the hospital, I get a phone call from the woman who would be my nurse for the day to come. 

“Amanda, are you coming to your scheduled c-section today?” was her question. 
“All of my paperwork said to arrive at 8AM.  I’ll be there in about 5 minutes.” I confirmed and we disconnected.

My husband and I laughed and considered all the alternative answers.  Had people actually decided not to show up for a scheduled c-section before?  The labor and delivery unit had been expecting me at 7:30AM, apparently.

We arrive at the same time as the expecting dads and make our way upstairs to labor and delivery, where we are shown to my room.  My c-section is schedule for 9:30AM.
It’s almost time.
Surrogate Baby Delivery

Here We Go!

The next 90 minutes are a whirl of personal questions—mostly for me, but some for the dads—and prepping for surgery.  I am wearing an always-fashionable hospital gown, surgery cap, my glasses and an IV in my forearm.

The anesthesiologist is a curt Asian man whos social skills left something to be desired.  He’s telling me about long lasting pain relief and side effects and benefits and I’m signing consents, while my husband is being given what I lovingly call the ‘bunny suit.’

Then the nurse is putting the ugly, tan no-slip hospital socks on my feet and I’m walking across the hall to the OR.

There are already several people in there, and I sit on the edge of the OR table as everyone bustles around preparing.

I’m nervous.

There’s a lot going on, though, and Mr. Personality—the anesthesiologist—soon is giving me the spinal pain medication. 

Back of knees against the OR table.
Hunch over.
Hold still.
Here come’s the stick and burn.

In just a few short seconds, my feet are warm and tingly.  It’s time to lie down, which I do mostly unassisted.  Someone is placing my legs for a catheter, while someone else is instructing me where to put my arms.  I don’t need to have them dangling over the side like that. 

Related Post: What is a surrogate mother?

Nurse R. mentions that with everything going on at once, I don’t get time to be nervous.  She’s right, and I’m thankful.  Another nurse and I chat about surrogacy.

I briefly register and find some humor in the fact that I’m pretty sure I’m exposed to all 100 people in the room and I could care less.

I’m nauseous.
So nauseous.

Even with all that has happened, it’s really only been mere minutes—maybe 5?—since I got the spinal.  I tell them I’m feeling very nauseous and the OR Mom—or maybe ‘the gofer’ is a better term, I had been jokingly told earlier—stands next to the side of my head with a green barf bag.  Mr. Personality gives me a dose of Zofran in my IV.

I spend the next few minutes imagining having to suffer through an hour of being sick to my stomach and, surely…eventually barfing all over myself.  Because how does someone even barf to the side of their face while lying flat on an OR table without it being an awful, miserable mess?  They don’t, right?  It simply can’t be.  Just great!

Oh and the nausea is gone.  Thank god!

OR Mom can go back to goffering and Mr. Personality is wrapped in a warm blanket somewhere—yes, literally—and Dr. B is in the room now.  I’ve been wiped with iodine and there’s a tarp in my way.  Hubby is in his bunny suit next to me.
Delivering Surrogate Baby

Then There Was Baby

A large part of me had been very thankful that Mr. Personality hadn’t felt comfortable with any extra people in the room, because I was nervous as heck.  However, I realize around this time how little I actually care now that everything is started—I think they’ve started, right?—and am a little sad that the expecting parents are anxiously waiting in their own room for Baby to be brought to them.

I talk to Daniel, my husband, for distraction.  Part of me is a little worried about focusing too much on what is going on.  What is going on, anyway?  I really can’t tell.  Between the pain meds and the tarp, it really is hard to tell.

I ask Daniel if he’s going to watch.  Yep.  He’s sitting on a stool next to my head.  He’s too short to simply stretch his neck and look over the tarp.  He makes a joke about it.

I can feel movements and I’m listening to comment being made on the other side of the tarp.  Daniel is standing now, watching.  Nurse R., who’s also in charge of taking photos for the parents, tells Daniel he has to sit back down if he starts to feel faint.  He says he will, bot not to worry because he’s not going to pass out.

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There’s a brief discussion of all the people who she’s seen pass out, including doctors.  I can feel movement—that’s Baby, wiggly ‘til the end—pressure and tugging.  It’s very weird and literally feels like a baby is being pulled out of your insides…y’know, minus any pain you might expect to be associated with such a thing.  Who would have thought, right?

Here we go.  Baby comes out butt first. Oh, he must be big.  They’re all commenting on it.  His head is briefly “stuck.”  And he’s out…I guess.  I can already tell my stomach feels deflated.  There’s some suctioning going on.

Baby starts crying at some point.  I can tell Daniel is glowing and grinning even though he’s wearing a surgical mask.  I tease him and tell him he’s weird.  He tells me that Baby is cute.  I can’t tell because Daniel’s arm is in my way.

He sits back down.

There’s a chubby cheeked, pink baby boy across the room being evaluated by nursing staff and a nurse practitioner.

Yep, he’s definitely cute.

Dr. B. is guessing he’s around 9 pounds, but Daniel doesn’t think he’s as big as Luna, our daughter, was.  She was 9 pounds, 3 ounces.  I tell him I think Baby is probably close.


Dr. B. is putting me back together.  It’s…different…then the taking apart process.  It doesn’t hurt, but it doesn’t feel very good either.  Just…weird.

Someone—maybe Dr B.—makes a comment about how most people get nauseous at this part and how good I’m doing.  I break the news that I got Zofran about 7 minutes after I entered the room, so I’d already been there, done that.

Oh.  And we’re done.

I’m being slid onto my bed.  I get rolled around some—this is weird because I’m usually the one rolling people around—and they put the abdominal binder on me.  I like the way it feels immediately.

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Back to my room we go.

The next few hours all blur together, mostly.  My pain is very well controlled, minimal even.  Nausea is awful and it takes a while for me to not be lightheaded anytime I’m sitting up even a little bit.  At some point I become itchy.

I have some brunch and a second dose of Zofran.  I keep saying I’ll take a nap and don’t.  I don’t see Baby and his dads until mid afternoon, sometime after I’ve pumped the first dose of colostrum for the little guy.

Bed Time Expectations vs Realities

Bed Time Realities
Bed time.  You know…  That glorious time of the day where your children fall into their innocent dreams and you finally get some much needed peace, quiet, and alone time—probably at the expense of your own sleep.  Yeah, well, I hate bed time, and I know I'm not the only one.
Sure, some nights are exactly like that mom fantasy.  Some nights the kids are even asleep early enough where I’m not sacrificing too many winks of my own for a little me time.  However, there are many nights (like tonight) that I loathe bed time.

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We shared a bed with our youngest for most of her infancy and a large majority of her toddlerhood.  She’s two and half now and still sleeps with us…whenever.  There’s no real “rule of thumb” here for whether or not that’s happening one night a week or all seven.

Sometimes my expectation for bed time are met, but with three kids, it feels like there’s always that one that has to make it difficult at the end of the day when I’ve almost hit my max moming limit or it’s a day I just really need the munchkins to go to sleep.

Here are some expectations versus their alternate realities at my house.
Night Time with Kids

Cosleeping Expectation

Toddler and I (and maybe one or both of the boys) snuggle in together and loll into a dreamy, loving sleep surrounded by those we love.

Cosleeping Reality #1

Toddler rolls around for 30 minutes, cries about not being able to find her cup of water, kicks me in the rib cage, argues over whose pillow she’ll sleep on (mommy’s or daddy’s), and an hour later I’m wondering why I didn’t just put her in her own bed and will I ever get to sleep?
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Cosleeping Reality #2

All of #1 plus add in one or two more kids, being hot and squished and possibly peed on and really thinking that going and sleeping on the boys’ bunk bed is a better idea.

Crib Sleeping Expectation

Put toddler in her bed with her sippy cup of water, pillow, blanket ,and probably a baby doll.  Sit in chair next to crib for 10 to 30 minutes while she settles and falls asleep, possibly requiring you to hold her hand.

Crib Sleeping Reality

Toddler cries because she wants her sippy cup (it’s right next to her).  She practices her awesome jumping skills.  She might even be quiet for forty five minutes but starts crying the second I exit the room.  An hour and a half later and I wish I would have just waited an hour to put her to bed.
Bed time with Kids

Older Kids Bed Time Expectation

Tell six and ten year old boys to go to bed.  They have bunk beds but prefer to share a bed and will chat for awhile before falling asleep.

Older Kids Bed Time Reality

Wrestlemania is happening but only after each have taken their turn peeing, getting a drink, interrupting you trying to put the toddler to bed, and so on.  They are acting like they each just had an energy drink and being so loud you have to separate them to their own beds as punishment, but in 45 minutes they’ll come ask to be reunited and actually go to sleep like you told them to the first time.

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When it’s good, it’s great.  But bed time can be a real PIA and days like today, I’m feeling the struggle.  I just want to say forget it and let them run rampant until they’re exhausted and we all pass out.  Unfortunately, I have to be up at 5AM and bed time has to happen.

Bed Sharing Safety Tips

Safe Sleep Practices
Bed sharing, a lot like breastfeeding, is still a very taboo parenting choice in many Western countries.  Of course, this is when you’re out in public or talking to your pediatrician.  The reality is, a lot of parents have shared sleeping space with their infant, toddler, or older child…probably quite a few times!

It’s one of those parenting choices that comes with so much judgement!  Also, everyone seems to be an expert and there’s so many conflicting facts and even more opinions, that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and maybe even guilty.

The most important thing…

The most important thing I can say and stress is that parents who bed share should do so intentionally!  Many dangers can be eliminated simply by making the intentional choice to bed share—sometimes called co-sleeping, though co-sleeping can be room sharing or bed sharing.
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Bed Sharing Safety

Safe sleep surface

If you’re going to host the family bed, then the bed needs to be safe for your little one.  Eliminating risks of entrapment, suffocation, and falls is the priority here.
  1. Take your bed off its frame, so it’s closer to the ground.
  2. Make sure you have a firm mattress.
  3. Keep room at a comfortable temperature, so you can eliminate excess blankets, pillows, etc.
  4. Pull bed away from wall and remove other risks that might provide opportunity for baby to become trapped.

Don’t be a risk factor!

Part of being an intentional bed sharer is knowing what conditions and choices can make it inappropriate and, most importantly, dangerous for you to sleep with your baby.
  1. If you’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs (including many prescription drugs), then you shouldn’t bed share with your infant.
  2. If you’re obese, then it can be dangerous to share sleeping space with your baby.
  3. If you’re overtired, your child is safer sleeping solo.
  4. If you’re a smoker, you shouldn’t sleep with your baby because of the increased risk of SIDS.
Safe Cosleeping

Never ever, ever…

Couches, loveseats, recliners, etc. are never a safe place for baby to sleep.  This is true for parents who sleep with their babies, as well.  There are lots of reasons, but at least one is all the crevices where baby can slip or slide and become stuck and strangle, suffocate, etc.

Where to learn more?

If you want more information about bed sharing, room sharing, co-sleeping, or just are seeking general knowledge about family sleeping arrangements, then here are three links that can help you!
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There is no one “right” way to do this parenting thing, so if you’re considering bed sharing or maybe bed sharing has chosen you, then safety is what is important!  Finding what works for your family is what’s important and remembering that all children are different is helpful, as well.
Nothing in this post constitutes medical advice and I’m not give medical or “professional” information.  I’m simply a mom sharing info with others who, hopefully, find it useful and thought provoking.
We love bed sharing in our home, but it’s been different with each of our kids.  How do sleeping arrangements work in your home?

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Lego, Minecraft, Playdoh Charlotte Mason Inspired Narration Cards

Charlotte Mason Narration Cards

This year is our first year homeschooling.  The “meat” of our curriculum comes from Build Your Library, a secular and literature based curriculum that is inspired by the Charlotte Mason style of teaching.

Included in the curriculum your purchase are a wonderful collection of narration cards for your kids to draw or choose from.  My kids really love Minecraft, Legos, and Playdoh, so I’ve created 20 more cards to go with the ones included in our Build Your Library curriculum.

Printable Narration Cards

I print mine on bright colored cardstock and laminate them.  Then I cut them up for the kids to choose from on days we’re doing narration.

These could be used separately from the Build Your Library curriculum.  They’re straightforward enough to be used in any homeschooling environment.  Simply have a child do his daily readings—or you read to them—and then draw a card.  You might get:

Build your favorite character’s home in Minecraft.

It’s fun and helpful to have discussions before, during, and after these kinds of activities to help build on what the child heard, remembers, learned, feels, thinks, etc.


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