Working Moms Group

For so many of us, when we have our first baby, we leave the support network we have at work.  We leave the people that see us every day, that know what we like to eat for lunch and which co-workers annoy the hell out of us.  We leave friends that may have seen us through break-ups and marriages, who have seen us fail miserably and come back in the next day to pick up the pieces.  And we leave them to be home, mostly,  home alone –  with a non-verbal, eating, pooping, puking machine.

And then, if you are lucky again, you meet some mom friends.  As you slog through this new and unknown realm of being a mom, you find support and community.  Most of the time it looks really different than what you may have found at work.  No one is gunning for your position – bleeding nipples – no thanks!.  The women in your group are all fighting their own unique and hard battles.  Mom friends are a new thing.  They are different from work friends.  You talk about poop and then you talk about sex.  You are all struggling to find your way on this very new path and the bonds can form quickly and tightly.

And then it’s over. Then you are going back to work.  Back to a place where Susie might just want your corner office and Joe is nice, but he’s more interested in your next monthly report than how sleeping training is going.  And just like when you left, when you come back to work, it can feel like you are cast adrift again.
And that’s why Working Moms Group is important.  It’s a chance to reconnect and recharge.  To be back in that place of moms and babies, where we don’t always have black and white answers and an quantitative goal to achieve.  This is a place where all we really want to do is to build you up, so that you can leave and know that you can go out there and do it again this week.

Working Moms Group is a continuation of the same community and support that you relied on during maternity leave.  It’s a continuation of the same concepts that Katie Madden developed for Pumpin’ Mama’s Blueprint (take that class).  Moms returning to work already have so many hurdles to jump.  Use your weekend to build back your reserves.  Fill up your cup with support, community and laughter.  See you on Saturday, mamas.

10 Reasons why you should not come to class at The Space

It’s 9:30 on Tuesday, you have been planning to come to class for three weeks, your diaper bag is packed, you got the baby in the seat and then…..
  1. You are hungry. Most days we have some snacks in the space. We also welcome you to bring your own food and eat it. In the studio room, in the kitchen, in the sitting area. Mi casa es su casa and no new mom should go more than about an hour without food.
  2. Your baby is fussy. We love fussy. No, actually, we do. We love giving you a break from fussy. We love holding your baby and bouncing him while you get coffee, go to the bathroom and just feel what it is like to have two hands again.
  3. You are using a nipple shield or struggling with breastfeeding. We have struggled to breastfeed and we know that it can be awkward and stressful.  That you need space, with your pillow and your water and that your baby is going to scream. Come sit on the couch, and we will get you your water and give you some space to let your shoulders relax.
  4. You are formula feeding. We welcome formula feeders. You can come here and feed you baby without an explanation. How we feed our babies is so fraught with baggage and judgment. You’ve got this and we support you.
  5. Your baby is a puker. Yes. we know about those. We have paper towels, burp cloths, extra clothes, etc. Pretty much everything you might need. Bring your puker – we can handle it.
  6. Your baby had a blowout.   Right. Before. You. Walked. Out. The. Door. Yes, you have been planning on this class all week. Leave that baby in the carseat and come on over. We have wipes, new clothes and everything else you need to get cleaned up.
  7. You are running late. Of course you are. You are a new mom. Don’t worry, you will get this down and be 5 minutes early to everything again. Right now, don’t worry. When we say 9, we mean 9-ish.
  8. It doesn’t fit your baby’s feeding pattern. Come early. Come late. Sit on the couch. Feed your baby. Have a snack. Have some coffee (or tea if that’s how you roll).
  9. You didn’t shower. We should have a sign, “no shoes, no shirt, no shower, no problem.”   We welcome you however you are. We are just happy that you are here, that you made it out. If you are in your jammies, we might give you a sticker – no really, we might.
  10. You are tired. Not tired like you pulled an all night-er in college. Tired like you have never imagined. Tired like you are not sure how you are alive.   You need to nap, but you also need to get out of house,talk with adults, maybe have a laugh, maybe have a cry. Only you can decide what will be best for you, but if you decide to come out, we promise to make it worth your while and give you a tip for getting a great nap when you get home.  And sometimes, nothing is more important than sleep and that’s okay too.


The Five Stages of Grief When Your Child Will Not Nap

It’s 2:00. I have just put him down. I close the door and hear the first shriek. I hold my breath. I tiptoe away and go into my bedroom and grab the baby-monitor. Its little lights are blinking furiously as I pick it up and carry it to my ‘office.’ I sit down and turn on the volume. More shrieks, wails.

How could this be? He was so tired. He had such a good lunch. We were so active this morning. I have so much to do. He’s going to fall asleep. He’s going to just wear himself out. He just needs to calm down and then he will fall asleep. We are going to have a nap today. I did the naptime routine perfectly, I even emphasized the word, “sleep” each time it came up. I rocked, I sang, he will sleep. (This is Denial)

It’s 2:07, he pulls the handle on the little musical animal in his crib. A wonderfully saccharine version of “Hush Little Baby” reaches me over the monitor.

2:11, the thudding starts. He is banging on the sides of his crib. He’s throwing himself around. More crying. My nerves are frying. (Anger) I debate going in to soothe him to rock him again. My hope of getting something done is being crushed with each wail and note of the song from the music box, that is on round seven now.

2:14 I turn the sound off on the monitor. The rage subsides for a moment.   I take a deep breath. I can do this. I will go in and rock him and sing to him. If I go in, he will sleep. We just got a bad start, I will be patient and kind and loving and I will rock him for as long as it takes, then he will nap. (Bargaining)

2:16 I take a deep breath and enter the room. He stops crying immediately and wiggles up the rail of his crib where I can reach him more easily. I pick him up and hold him against my chest. His face sticky and wet from his tears. I feel crappy, how could I let my baby cry. I snuggle him into my chest and start to rock in our chair. I remember the work I need to get done and a flush of anger runs through me. I remind myself to be patient, that I agreed not to hurry this phase of going to sleep.

2:19 I rock. I sing. I look down at him as he closes his eyes. I breathe. Ahhh. This is working. I feel his weight in my arms and the fuzzy warmth of his sleep sack against my hands.   His breath deepens and evens out. Just a few more breaths and he will be gone, 1.. 2…3… 4…

2:28 I look down. His eyes are open. His beautiful, amazing, little eyes are f-ing open!

His eyes catch mine. He smiles. I can’t help but laugh, it’s part love, part defeat. He just needs a few more minutes. I look away.   I rock, I pat.

2:35 I dare to look down again. He looks up. I am seething. I need to get stuff done. This is my time. I waited until the perfect time. He was sleepy, but not too sleepy. I did the routine. He doesn’t have a poop – I confirm again. How can this be happening? I agree to rock for two more minutes. His eyes close.

2:43 I look down. They stay closed. I can do this. I take some deep breaths and remind myself not to hurry. I walk him over to his crib and gently place him down. He starts to fuss. I make for a quick getaway, but I am losing hope fast (Depression).

2:45 I’m back at my desk. I look at the monitor. Flashing lights. I consider that the work in front of me is not going to get done. Sadness. Despair. What can I do with a cranky, tired baby until dinner time tonight? I’ll put him to bed early. The afternoon still does not seem very attractive. We could go in the car? He won’t want to go to bed early. I want to curl up in a ball. I am defeated.

2:46 I raise my head off my desk. I look at the monitor. The lights flash. I dash off one quick e-mail. I stand up and do a big stretch. I walk to his room, slowly, deliberately. (Acceptance)

2:49 I pick him up. He stops crying. I pat him and cuddle him and I turn on the light. He smiles. He has won. I am angry, I am frustrated, I am sad and my heart melts. I wipe a tear off his cheek as he babbles to me. I unzip the sleep sack. I take another breath and begin to imagine the afternoon. Perhaps a short drive is in the cards. I will have the cutest and most charming driving companion this side of the Mississippi.

17 Items to Pack for the Hospital

There is so much focus on preparing for birth.  This list is about after birth and it is written with a specific hospital in mind.  You can leave most of these things in the car until you are on the postpartum (now, cutely called, Mom/Baby) floor.  I have not included things that you might want in L&D, as some of those things might depend on the type of birth that you have and this already a long list – yes, you might look like a crazy person with twelve suitcases, but at 2 am on the second night, it will be worth it!

  1. Food – In my opinion, the food at Christiana is pretty bad. I realize they are feeding hundreds if not thousands of people and I hate being critical, but it is not good. After birth, fiber is your friend and the menu at the hospital includes a lot of processed and low fiber options. Have friends and family bring you good, fresh food like fruit or salads. You can also use the hospital concierge, “At Your Service” to get takeout.   Pack some healthy, hearty snacks (like chocolate, nuts, whole fruit, Kind Bars) that don’t need refrigeration to eat throughout the day and night. If you thought you were hungry while pregnant, just wait until you are breastfeeding, it is hunger like no other. Also, even if you are trying to be healthy, DO NOT ORDER the salmon (trust me).
    This was the first go round – notice no water bottle
  2. Clothing – once your medical situation is stable and you are hooked up to less stuff, it’s nice to put on your own clothes. Women who have Cesarean births might find that pants (or anything else) with a waistband are not comfortable. Bring a nursing nightgown and robe in a dark color. The nightgown can also be preferable to the pants in the first two days as you can sometimes “gush” blood and overflow a pad. You can hike the gown up away from your tush while in bed and still look totally dressed as you lie on your chux pad. Leave your lacey, pink nighties at home – they’ll be fresh and clean in a year when you are ready for them again.
  3. Bring a going home outfit – this outfit does not include your favorite pre-pregnancy skinny jeans. Plan an outfit that is comfortable and can accommodate at least your belly at six months pregnant. Again, dark bottoms are a good idea in case of leaking/staining.
  4. Bring a couple of your own pads. The pads at the hospital are huge and puffy. I have used “Always” pads since I first met my own crimson tide and I prefer them to all other pads. Buy giant, super absorbent pads, and bring a few for the ride home. I did not object to using the hospital pads while lying in bed.
  5. Toiletries – bring your own shampoo, soap, facewash, etc. The hospital might have some, but it is horrible. Your first shower should be as wonderful as possible – just FYI, the new shower pans at Christiana are not dirty – they are discolored by the bleach that is used to clean them. In any case, it’s nice to have flip flops to walk around your room and to use in the shower.
  6. Speaking of showers, bring a towel. Bring a big, soft towel. But don’t bring your best, favorite towel.  Use those little scraps of sandpaper that the hospital hands out to dry your bottom and legs and use your own towel on your hair, face, arms and back.  Remember the part about gushing blood? Bring a towel that can get stained without evoking your tears.
  7. Tears….. tears and stitches. I was recently informed that Christiana is no longer providing witch hazel pads and benzocaine spray (Dermoplast). These were handy little tools to find in your bathroom to help you deal with perineal stitches, swelling and hemorrhoids. Some people say that the spray can delay healing, but I say, do what makes you feel good. If in doubt, throw a bottle of Dermoplast and some Tucks Medicated pads into your bag.
  8. If you want to breastfeed make sure that you have a plan. Meet with a good lactation consultant while you are pregnant to identify any risk factors for breastfeeding issues and come to the hospital armed with a solid breastfeeding plan (I suggest Katie Madden at The Birth Center). I also came to the hospital with pacifiers, bottles, formula and nipple shields, but those were all part of my specific plan for my specific problems.
    My mom in my 1994 era room. Yes, she’s every bit as awesome as she looks.
  9. Bring a “My Breast Friend” Pillow, not a Boppy, not anything else. As you are trying to hold a floppy newborn in a football hold, you are going to need this pillow. I know it’s big and it doesn’t fit in your bag, bring it anyway.  Second time moms – you are not too cool for a pillow.  You have not nursed a newborn in at least nine months – you forget.
  10. More pillows. The pillows in the hospital are hospital pillows. They are like hardback books wrapped in a paper towel and covered with a Ziploc bag. Bring your own pillows and put them in colored pillow cases to keep them identified and make your room a little cheerier.
  11. Socks – as your hormones come and go, you may be hot, you may be cold. Nothing is nicer than a great pair of pink polka dot knee socks.
  12. bring chapstick and body/hand lotion. The hospital is dry
  13. Bring your favorite water bottle. I don’t like Styrofoam cups with straws, I like my water bottle.
  14. Swaddling Blankets. Christiana has these customized sleep sacks with industrial strength Velcro. Sleep sacks are great – for nine month olds! Sleep sacks are not great when you are changing diapers ten times a day and trying to do skin to skin. Ditch the sleep sack and bring large swaddle blankets from home. You can change diapers more easily and undress your baby more smoothly. Find a nurse and have her teach you to swaddle – they all know how.
    A selfie that captured the brilliance of the floral wallpaper
  15. Phone charger with extra long cord. The outlets are somewhat far from the bed. Make sure you have an extra long cord so that you can keep your phone close to you (if you want it).
  16. Stuff for your partner – Your partner should have what they need to spend the night so that they are not running to get shaving cream or another shirt when you need them by your side.  Note: this is their job, not yours, but I put it on the list as a reminder.
  17. Your Postpartum Plan – Your 4th Trimester deserves as much planning and preparation as your pregnancy and birth. If you are interested in learning more about creating a useful postpartum plan, check out our upcoming workshop, Managing Your Maternity Leave.

What Is ‘Toddler Talks’?

The day we conceived our second child my 17 month old grew horns. She turned into a miniature devil who sought to challenge me both mentally and physically. She threw herself on the ground, hit me, refused to nap and wanted to do every single task “by myself!”. I was a behavioral specialist for Pete’s sake, how could this be happening?

The truth is she was right on track for being a toddler. Raising toddlers is hard and there are not many resources to help guide us through the trenches of toddler-hood. In Toddler Talks we explore how to shape these common and frustrating behaviors into celebrated independence. Structured yoga and creative movements specifically designed for 1-3 year olds introduces participating in a group setting, taking turns and following directions. Don’t let this scare you away, no one gets kicked out for ignoring directions and not sharing, it’s all just for practice.

The goal for parenting is to raise our children to be independent. Children are much more capable than we realize. Courtney will share her favorite tips and tricks to help your child take on more responsibility and take a few jobs off your list.

Courtney has a master’s degree in education, bachelor’s in psychology and over a decade of experience teaching yoga. Toddler Talks is a lighthearted blend of her professional experiences, and honest stories from one mother to another.

Planning for the 4th Trimester

When I was pregnant with my first baby, I focused on the birth. I read birth books, I listened to birth relaxation CD’s. I took HypnoBabies and read HypnoBirthing. I hired a birth doula.

Sure, I read a book on infant sleep and I researched baby gear (with a spreadsheet of rankings, comments, pricing and sources), but my main focus was on my ideal birth, not on being a mother. I was going to have a baby the way I had done everything else, through organization, hard work and determination. I had a sleep schedule worked out and I was sure that I could manage this baby-thing like any other tough project that had come across my desk.

But having a baby is not like a project that comes across your desk. Becoming a mother is not about the ‘right’ car seat or the best highchair. It’s not a process that I could manage with a spreadsheet or a timer, despite my best efforts. Becoming a mother takes a different type of preparation. Our workshop, Managing Your Maternity Leave is about looking beyond birth. It’s about planning for postpartum in a way that is positive and realistic.

Before I had my first baby, I had heard other mothers describe the newborn phase only as a time of sleep deprivation and pain. Our workshop provides the tools that you need to make your time with your newborn a time of ease, peace and transformation. No, it’s not going to be all rainbows and unicorns (I said, positive and realistic), but you will come away with a real plan for your 4th Trimester. A plan that involves your partner, your family and your friends in ways that will support and nurture you as you become a mother.

“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.” – Rajneesh