Marriage isn’t the End

IMG_20140806_200458938

Two Married People Traveling- What?! Adventure and Sarcasm after Marriage??

I am the first of my friend group to get married. And after that I’m the first to have a baby. If you believed the myriad of articles and mommy bloggers on the internet than you would think that I no longer have any friends, I sit alone all day, and my life is basically over. Quite frankly that is so far from the truth, and I’m getting tired reading articles that purport this kind of thinking.

I have found myself reading articles like this, or this, or this one, a lot recently. Maybe it’s because I have a lot of single friends that they keep popping up on my social media, but I feel like I need to scream. This has to stop. We need to stop treating marriage like it is simply a destination, and the end of being an individual. The fade out, happily ever after at the end of the movie, nothing else matters. The same goes for articles that have the same sentiments about having kids. Sure things change, but I don’t know why our culture is obsessed with listing X things you MUST do BEFORE you are in a relationship/married/have kids. Perhaps it is just a way to feel better about not having reached these (extremely personal) milestones by an arbitrary age.

But I think it does more harm than that. Stating that there is a list of musts before you do any of these things isn’t exactly the problem. The problem are the types of things that are listed. Over and over again I read that you have to travel before you are in a relationship, or married, or have kids, because it will be impossible once you are. I’m married with a kid. And a dog. And guess what? I still travel! Yes, it takes a little more effort, but these things are not mutually exclusive. So let’s stop treating them this way. Writing and sharing articles like this reinforce the ideas that these things can not be done once you commit to anything else in life. How many people are afraid to commit because of these lies?

Babies are really good at hanging out in airports. They travel better than you think.

Life is a journey where we can continually expound on our experiences. So that means if you value traveling, even when you find someone you decide to spend your life with, you will continue to value traveling and make time and space for it in your life.

Now this doesn’t mean there aren’t things that you should focus on prior to a relationship. Learning to communicate, and love yourself as well as learning sacrifice are all great things that will deepen relationships you do have. I guess the message is that life doesn’t stop when you get married. You will continue to grow, just with someone else by your side. In most cases, that other person will help you grow in ways you couldn’t alone.

Same goes for saving money or being set in your career. There isn’t some magic number that your bank account hits that makes you ready to plan a wedding or have a kid. If you waited until you had enough money, you would never decide to get pregnant in the first place. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t know how to budget, or save as they are both important life skills for anyone, but please let’s stop pretending that you have to be completely secure before living your life with someone else. If I waited for that time, I would still be alone, worried about the balance of my savings account.

Maybe this is why we have commitment issues nowadays. We are being slammed with ‘advice’ from all directions saying we have all of these things to accomplish before we settle down. We have to have our fun before we say ‘I do’. Quite frankly, if you aren’t having fun in your marriage, you’re doing it wrong. Every relationship has ups and downs for sure, but if you look at your wedding day as the death of yourself as an individual, you are doing a disservice not only to yourself, but your partner as well.

IMG_20140912_172309563

Still Havin’ Fun. Take that!

In full disclosure, I write this after almost 4 years of marriage to an amazing man, with whom I have a beautiful son, and spunky adopted dog. We have lived in Pennsylvania and now Alaska. We travel each year, albeit with more luggage than we used to. We are still spontaneous, and occasionally have vacations away from each other. We didn’t stop having individual needs and wants. We didn’t stop seeing our friends, shared or individual. We didn’t stop being fun people when we had a kid. Life got more complicated, but really, it became so much richer because of it. Live each day as a gift, and you will worry less about what ‘Musts’ you have checked off someone’s arbitrary list.

Six Essentials on my Breastfeeding Journey

image

Becoming a mother was one of the biggest transitions of my life. I was excited and scared about everything. I knew I wanted to breastfeed my baby from the beginning because my mom had, and I knew about all of the health benefits for baby. Beyond that though, I didn’t know too much. So I did what any type A person would do: I researched and read everything I could get my hands on, and even went to a La Leche League meeting before I gave birth.

Armed with knowledge I was confident that I was going to be great at breastfeeding. Like any mom before she gives birth, I knew it all. Of course, as they say, having a baby changes everything. It has been a crazy journey with ups and downs, but we have made it six months now exclusively breastfeeding, and I couldn’t be happier or more proud.

In celebration of six months, I’m going to share six things I couldn’t have done without on this breastfeeding journey:

1. Nursing tank tops

image

These have been a lifesaver for my wardrobe. I find nursing bras to be uncomfortable, and it’s difficult to get the right size. The tank tops are stretchy, and offer enough support for someone who is small like me. They are also great to layer with t-shirts, and then you can discretely nurse in public!

2. Nursing infinity scarf

image

I personally hate nursing covers. They look like unattractive aprons. So when I saw an infinity scarf that doubled as a nursing cover, I was sold. I could look stylish and nurse modestly in public? Sign me up! Now I don’t always use it, because baby boy doesn’t like it when it’s too hot, but I love having the option, and because I can wear it, it doesn’t take up precious space in the diaper bag.

3. Lanolin
image

Don’t skip out on lanolin thinking that you will see how things go and buy it only if you need it like I did. You will need it. Even with a good latch and no problems you will still be sore.

4. La Leche League
image

The women and volunteers involved with this organization have been lifesavers. No question was ever too dumb, and they were available all hours through Facebook for support. Living rurally I wasn’t able to attend meetings, but I never felt alone. They helped me get through it when baby and I got thrush (twice!) and when I had mastitis the leader of the Anchorage group checked up on me and got me in contact with an IBCLC who talked me through everything on the phone, and encouraged me even after I developed an abscess and ended up in the ER. With their help I was able to keep nursing even after I dried up on one side because of the abscess. I would have quit after one month without their support and knowledge, when the ER doctor gave me bad advice.

5. Support at the hospital
image

I was lucky to be able to deliver at one of the nation’s top hospitals. Providence Alaska Medical Center was amazing, and really focused on helping you form a strong breastfeeding relationship from the start. Skin to skin immediately, lactation consultants on staff to help even after you left the hospital, and nurses who were knowledgeable about breastfeeding as well. Baby roomed in with us, and nurses made sure I had everything I needed- including filling up my huge water bottle at all hours so I could stay hydrated.

The hospital you choose and their policies are really important in the crucial early days of establishing breastfeeding.

6. Support of friends and family

The most important thing I found though, was having the support of my friends and family. When I wanted to give up my husband would remind me that I wasn’t to quit on a bad day. I could quit, but not in the middle of the night just because I was tired. He knew I could get through it, and I just needed him to tell me I could. Breastfeeding can be very lonely and polarizing if you don’t surround yourself with people who share your goals. Once baby and I established a good nursing relationship I never felt like I had to leave the room or seclude myself to feed him because my friends and family supported me however I wanted to feed my baby. There was no judgement and nothing but love- something I really can’t be thankful enough for.

Looking back on those early days, when everything hurt and leaked and both baby and I shed our fair share of tears, I’m so happy I kept at it. Now we have a rhythm and a great nursing relationship that is especially awesome when traveling. Baby boy is happy and healthy and in the end that is really all that matters.

image

Here’s to six more months!

 

What essentials do you swear by for nursing? Have a breastfeeding story you want to share? Let me know in the comments below!

Throw Party and Baby’s Yupik Name

Hello internet! It’s been a couple of crazy weeks since I last wrote. I was a little bit busy having a baby, and learning how to keep him alive while only half awake myself. Fortunately I had my amazing mother fly all the way out to Alaska, first to Anchorage and then out to the village with my husband, new baby and I. It has been a hazy time filled with laughter, tears, and clichés. 🙂

Introducing Baby Emmett, born 9/19 in Anchorage AK at 7lbs 5oz.

Introducing Baby Emmett, born 9/19 in Anchorage AK at 7lbs 5oz.

I never expected anyone from my family to come visit us out in the bush. In fact, for the most part, I don’t recommend it. There isn’t much to do out here, and with the price of airline tickets I think it’s a much better idea to meet up somewhere tropical. However, with the birth of her first grandchild, my mother would have it no other way and I was so relieved to have her here, guiding my husband and I through those crazy first days.

Mom left the village today, starting her almost day and a half journey through five different airports back to New York. I’m really sad to see her go, but know that we will visit again over Christmas, and really I call her almost every day anyway!

mom

While she was here I was excited to share not only the new baby but also some of the local culture with her. We were fourtuante enough to attend a feast in the village on Sunday. This feast was held for two of the boys who had their first moose this year. I was very excited for them, as they are some of my favorite kids in the village, and it is always nice to go to a happy feast.

While we were there, Baby Emmett received his Yupik name. Both my husband and I received Yupik names last year, and knew that it was only a matter of time before baby got one as well. His Yupik name was passed down to him from a girl who passed away last month. Her family member was so filled with joy to see a new baby to give the name to, and it really touched me as well. I think it is amazing to keep names alive in this way, and really honor those who have come before us. It is a way of keeping in touch with those we lose. His given name is Anguuq (pronounced like ung-ook). It doesn’t have a ‘meaning’ or English translation, but I love it, and all the history behind it.

IMG_20151003_174355894[1]

After the feast, the family was having a ‘throw party’. Throw parties are more of a coastal village tradition that goes hand in hand with seal hunting, so I had never attended one. I was excited to share this new experience with my mom. It was cold and started to rain icy pellets from the sky part way through, but it was still a good time.

IMG_1217

IMG_20151004_150931917[1]

The two boys kicked off the event by tossing out stuffed moose to the women gathered below. Only women participate in the throw. After they tossed those out, they began throwing all sorts of other items off the roof. It was exciting, and a little dangerous (have you ever had a package of clothespins thrown at you? They hurt to catch with half frozen hands!) but I had a great time. All the items thrown are useful in some way, especially when you don’t have access to larger stores. Plates, socks, wash clothes, cups, cooking utensils, and laundry baskets among other things rained down with the sleet.

The things mom and I caught.

The things mom and I caught.

Waiting to begin!

Waiting to begin!

Overall, I think my mom had a good couple of weeks visiting, and we will miss her a lot- and not just because she did my laundry!

Safari Nursery

My favorite space in the room- books!

My favorite space in the room- books!

Despite the fact that we live on the chilly Tundra, Nathan and I decided that we wanted to decorate a Safari-themed nursery. Neither of us have ever really gone all out on decorating with planning and paint and such before, so this was an adventure for sure. I’m really happy with how things have turned out, and the obstacles we had to overcome to make this happen when we live in the middle of nowhere.

BEFORE: what the room looked like when we moved in last year, and pretty much how it stayed for a long time.

BEFORE: what the room looked like when we moved in last year, and pretty much how it stayed for a long time.

Because we can’t just run to the store and pick up anything we want, we started planning pretty early in the pregnancy. We got a swing from a family selling one second hand in the village, and painted the room before we left for vacation so that it would be free of any smells after airing out for the summer.

Starting to paint the room! We went with a neutral green for the Safari theme, before we knew if it was going to be a boy or girl.

Starting to paint the room! We went with a neutral green for the Safari theme, before we knew if it was going to be a boy or girl.

We were also able to get the big furniture provided by the school district (rocking recliner, bookshelf, nightstand and dresser). We found that no one really uses tradition cribs out here, as it would cost an arm and a leg to get it flown out, so we opted for a pack and play that has a bassinette, and can later have a mattress added for when baby gets bigger.

The pack and play currently in our bedroom. I know I'll have to take out the toys and blankets when baby arrives, but they looked so cute for now!

The pack and play currently in our bedroom. I know I’ll have to take out the toys and blankets when baby arrives, but they looked so cute for now!

Our changing area is in the hall between our two rooms due to limited space. During our baby shower, friends and family wrote little notes to the baby on safari animals, so I hung them above to add some whimsy to the space.

The changing area with love notes on the wall!

The changing area with love notes on the wall!

We finished the room just in time for me to leave for Anchorage where I will be spending the last month of my pregnancy, which is pretty standard out here. I’m glad it all came together so well, and it gives me one less thing to worry about while I’m away. Can’t wait to bring home our little bundle of joy!

One side of the room, with the gate up so our puppy can see us, but not eat all of baby's toys!

One side of the room, with the gate up so our puppy can see us, but not eat all of baby’s toys!

The other side of the room, including the great safari wall stickers my sister got for us! The pack and play will be moved into this space when he gets older.

The other side of the room, including the great safari wall stickers my sister got for us! The pack and play will be moved into this space when he gets older.

A little wonky, but a panoramic view of the entire room.

A little wonky, but a panoramic view of the entire room.