When I was in college, I worked at a summer camp called Strong Rock Camp & Retreat in my hometown of Cleveland (and it’s one of the first things I blogged about back in 2017). After 2 summers of being a counselor, I returned for …
When I first had Caleb, I committed to 6 months of breastfeeding. If I wanted to go longer, great! But if I was hating it, I wanted to give myself a less intimidating goal than an entire year. After one year + 18 days, my season of breastfeeding came to an end, and it ended up being both longer and shorter than I thought it would be.
There were definitely ups and downs to nursing for a year, so I wanted to reflect on a few of them to close out this season as well as share how I managed weaning.
The special bonding time and extra cuddles are just the best. Your brain gets a nice dose of oxytocin every time you nurse, and despite the isolation I sometimes felt from nursing, it can occasionally be a welcomed retreat when feeling overwhelmed.
Once your baby starts nursing faster, it’s a breeze. Instead of 20 or 30 minutes of being trapped under the baby, you can do a quick 3-5 minutes on either side and get back to your day. And the baby can get back to playing, which they are typically much more interested in than nursing at some ages.
Finally, it’s just freaking cool that your body can make food for the human you also grew with your body.
Definitely the biggest low was getting mastitis 6-7 weeks in. I wondered multiple times if I was going to die (dramatic), and had to get a second course of antibiotics when the first round didn’t work.
Breastfeeding can also feel really isolating. Especially when the baby is young and takes 20-30 minutes to eat, you just sit alone in a room with the baby for large parts of your day. Any time we took a trip, the first thing I would need to do upon arrival would be feed the baby, so off I would go to a room by myself where everyone chatted and caught up without me.
Babies can also be super impatient and picky! I never had a full blown nursing strike, but I definitely had segments of time where he would rather scream than nurse, and there was probably an entire month this summer where he wouldn’t nurse in the recliner but would in the bed. The worst was always when slow letdown frustrated him.
I started adding a gradually increasing amount of milk to Caleb’s daycare bottles for the 2 weeks leading up to his birthday, and they were still coming home empty, so he didn’t seem to have any trouble with the change to cows milk. My original plan was just to wean him off daytime feedings (no more pumping!) and keep the wake up and bedtime nursing sessions for another month or two, but then I started having trouble with the bedtime session letdown, and I just felt like my body was ready to be done. I wrote out a plan to drop one feeding at a time every 5 days and that was that.
The emotional process to accept weaning was rough. I kept crying in anticipation of nursing being over and very tearfully explained to Josh that it is time, I am ready, and Caleb will be fine, but it’s still the end of a very specific season of life, and I felt like I needed to mourn that season.
I Googled the phrase “mourning the end of breastfeeding” and found quite a few articles about dealing with the hormonal roller coaster that can accompany such a life change. But then I saw an additional Google question: “how to celebrate the end of breastfeeding?”
That’s what I needed. I needed to flip the script on myself and celebrate the 380+ days that I nursed.
One of the suggestions was to get a tattoo which I was very into for about 10 minutes. Then I fell into the rabbit hole of breastfeeding jewelry before deciding it was quite expensive and carries the risk of yellowing over time not to mention super shy me having to explain what it was to anyone who asked.
From there, I searched pearl rings on Etsy since a lot of the breastfeeding jewelry I looked at sort of resembled a pearl. Opal rings were a recommended suggestion based on pearl rings, and what do you know, opal is the birthstone for October! So now I have an opal ring for my October baby to commemorate the end of this breastfeeding season.
Also, I picked this ring that has Celtic love knots on either side of the opal because Josh gave me a Celtic love knot ring when we were in college, so it seemed like the perfect fit for me. 🙂
Getting myself a present to look forward to really helped with the emotional turmoil I was feeling (which I find hilarious, to be honest). And as I dropped feedings, neither Caleb nor I had meltdowns, which further confirmed that everything was going to be ok.
As for the physical effects of weaning, that was rougher than expected. If I do this again in the future, I will likely wean off the baby first and off the pump second rather than vice versa to have more control of the production slowdown. I also really don’t recommend going on a work retreat at the beginning of the weaning process where you don’t have access to ice packs or the ability to take 45-minute showers.
And now a couple of weeks removed, everyone survived. My baby is a toddler and asserting his independence and growing up!
It’s finally here! The Marathon Olympic Trials are tomorrow, so it’s time to finally make my picks. Want to enter your picks? Join my prediction contest here.
First place: Jordan Hasay
If Jordan is healthy, I don’t see how she doesn’t win. She has the fastest PR, had the fastest marathon debut, and has experience in major marathons. Plus, she’ll be in the shoes.
All of her social media posts have been positive regarding her training, and she’s certainly putting it out there that her hamstring is fully recovered after pulling out of Chicago back in October. I think she distanced herself well from all of the Salazar drama in the fall, and she didn’t attend the pre-race press conference yesterday, so there was no opportunity for anyone to ask her about it again to try to rile her up.
Second place: Sara Hall
Sara Hall’s 2:22 breakthrough in Berlin was a long time coming. She’s a consistent high-performer, and I think now is her time.
Third place: Des Linden
Des is the only returning marathon Olympian, and she’s an absolute beast. I cried when she won Boston in 2018. With the challenging course and stacked field, I see Des being able to weather any storm the course or conditions throw at her as well as cover any moves made by the competition.
Des will be celebrating with whiskey on Saturday night after making her 3rd Olympic team.
In no particular order because this field is just too deep.
The NAZ Elite Trio
If there was an award for the coolest contender, Kellyn Taylor would win hands down. In addition to being a runner and a mom, Taylor is a firefighter and foster parent. I also recently learned on a podcast interview that her husband was deployed when she gave birth to her daughter, which further adds to her being a total badass.
Stephanie Bruce and Aliphine Tuliamuk round out the NAZ Elite training group. They all ran smoking fast half marathons in January to tune up for the trial, and I imagine they’ll be working together during the race.
The New Balance and Saucony Training Partners
Molly Huddle and Emily Sisson are two serious contenders with many considering Sisson the favorite for the race. I just don’t know enough about Sisson to put her in my top 3. Her 2:23:08 debut was the fastest by an American woman on a record-eligible course, but the Trials will be her second marathon on a vastly different course.
Huddle is a more experienced marathoner, excellent road racer, and led the American charge on the track at the 2016 Olympics. Her PR isn’t as fast as Sisson’s or others in the field, but her experience performing well in a high-stakes event makes her seriously dangerous.
And a couple more…
Sally Kipyego is another front-runner that I don’t know too much about, but 2:25 puts her in serious contention. Finally, Emma Bates came roaring into the marathon scene when she won CIM in 2018 and then lowered her PR to 2:25 at Chicago in the fall. I learned in my research that she lives off the grid, so she certainly has some grit!
Disclaimer: I know a lot less about the men’s field.
First place: Galen Rupp
After Rupp’s 61 tune up half marathon, he seems a lock for the team.
Second place: Jared Ward
Ward literally wrote his dissertation on marathon pacing. He and his mustache will be representing the US again this year in the marathon.
Third place: Leonard Korir
Korir had the fastest debut of an American marathoner. He’s a bit of a wild card since it will only be his second marathon, but a sub-2:08 is hard to discount.
Fourth place: Scott Fauble
I really want Scott Fauble to make the team. The top 4 are so tight, but I’m not sure he’s in the top 3 of those 4.
Fifth place: Bernard Lagat
Lagat is not ranked in the top 10, but he has #oldmanstrength. Plus he just finished up a training stint in Kenya where he ran with Kipchoge. I’m not counting him out.
The Olympic Trials is coming to Atlanta next week! I’ve been excited to watch this race for over a year, and I can’t believe it’s almost here. Atlanta Track Club has done a fantastic job putting together the race and communicating spectator information, and tonight …
I am in the stage of life where many of my friends have babies or are pregnant, and I’m the type of person who compulsively reads reviews before making a purchase, so I put together a list of items I’ve enjoyed using with my little one so far. I hope this helps anyone who is putting together a baby registry!
This night light rocks. You can tap it on and off or hold the top of it to brighten or dim the light. Anything you can operate with one hand is especially useful when you are carrying around a baby!
This is a nice, lightweight hamper, and I love anything heather grey. With how often we do baby laundry, we haven’t come close to filling it up yet.
I have yet to lose a tiny baby sock thanks to using a laundry bag! We just drape it on the side of the hamper to keep it easily accessible.
We end up changing the baby all over the house, but it is nice to have a dedicated changing station in his nursery. This pad is the same width as the top of his dresser, so it works well as a changing table, too.
This changing pad cover being waterproof is clutch for the many “surprise shower” diaper changes we’ve had with a baby boy. I recommend having a stash of 3-4 covers unless you want to do laundry every day.
This basket fits the exact dimensions of the top of the dresser that aren’t already filled by the changing pad. It fits diapers, wipes, diaper cream, lotion, etc to make them easily accessible.
There are a ton of diaper pail options out there, and so far we have no complaints about the Diaper Genie. It’s easy to use, change the bag, and keeps the smells at bay!
No need to buy Diaper Genie branded refill bags! These Amazon brand ones work just as well for a lower price.
Dehumidifiers are especially important during the winter where the heat dries out the air. Plus – germs travel slower through moist air!
We opted for a sound monitor instead of a video one or anything with wireless capabilities, and it’s worked out just fine. You can adjust the sensitivity for what all it picks up or keep it on vibrate if you only want to be alerted that there’s noise rather than know what the specific noise is.
Only downside is that the parent unit only works when plugged in, so you’re out of luck if the power goes out.
These washcloths are super soft and are great for scrubbing while being gentle enough for little cheeks.
Is there anything cuter than a baby in a hooded towel? No, there is not.
These are nice and soft and a great size for wrapping up your baby after a bath.
We thought scrubbing Caleb’s head with our fingers was effective until we got a cradle cap brush. If your baby has cradle cap, a silicone brush will help a lot! It only took a few baths with the brush to make a major improvement. If your baby has long/thick hair, you’ll want to get a fine-tooth comb as well to comb out the flakes after you scrub.
Bath time will dry out your baby’s skin, so it’s important to rehydrate it! Our pediatrician recommended any lotion that is super thick and not runny, and so far this has worked well enough for us.
You’ll likely get one of these from the hospital, but I recommend you have one for your diaper bag, and a spare around the house as well.
This is for when your baby is really congested, and the bulb syringe isn’t cutting it. The first time Caleb was congested, the snotsucker was a game changer for clearing him out in the mornings.
I asked a nurse practitioner if you could get sick from using it, and she said the filter protects you as long as you change it after each use.
Another item to help fight congestion! If your baby is extra stuffy, using some saline drops in their nose can help thin the mucus so it will clear easier.
Beware: Babies don’t like saline drops going in their nose, though.
If you have a baby who loves overeating (cough, Caleb, cough) or just gets gassy, gas drops can help. There was a night where he ate almost continuously for 90 minutes and wouldn’t settle until we tried the gas drops.
We had to use this for the first time after Caleb had a fever reaction from his 4-month vaccinations. Your pediatrician will advise when it’s appropriate to use and dosing instructions.
If your baby has eczema, hydrocortisone cream can help it clear up. I wasn’t sure it was ok to use on babies, but our pediatrician said it’s so light, you could put it on toast.
Tiny baby nails are so sharp! I have yet to use nail clippers on his hands and have opted to just file them instead.
Especially in the early days of a floppy baby, the boppy can really help with breastfeeding or long periods of holding your little one. Once they are less floppy, it’s also a great propping pillow when you want to keep them upright, like after a feeding.
If you’re pumping, the last thing you want is to use a storage bag that leaks or bursts in the freezer! None of the Medela bags I’ve used have done this to me while about 30% of the Target Up&Up branded ones did. The Medela ones are worth the extra money!
There are soooo many pieces to these bottles, but they are marketing as anti-colic and anti-gas bottles, so we’ll take whatever we can get with our voracious eater.
These bottles are much easier to clean since there are fewer pieces, and it’s nice that the smaller versions go up to 5 ounces instead of just 4. They also make 8-ounce versions.
Note: When filled past 4 ounces and in the bottle warmer, these tend to bubble over.
There are nicer and thicker burp cloths out there, too, but these are a great all-purpose item to have around. Need to clean up a massive spit-up? Need something to shield a surprise pee during a diaper change? Grab one!
While the lawn works well for the smaller pump and bottle parts, the tree is best for the bottles and larger pump parts.
Clothes & Accessories
I thought I would learn how to swaddle well enough with a regular blanket that I wouldn’t need a velcro swaddle. HA! Caleb was busting out of my blanket swaddle while he was still in the hospital.
This has been a great swaddle transition solution for us. Caleb can still move enough to get his hands in his mouth, but the suit muffles his movements enough that he isn’t smacking himself in the face.
We used the sleep sacks for afternoon naps. The zipper makes it easy to add the sleep sack to an already-sleeping baby compared to an over-the-head version.
Caleb is a huge fan of these pacifiers and hasn’t shown much of a liking for the more cylinder-like ones. My favorite part about the NUK ones is that the ring glows in the dark if it’s been charged by sun!
A pacifier clip will save you from picking up and rinsing off the pacifier that you baby spits out twenty times a day. The plastic clips are gentle on clothes, too.
If you are in cold enough weather to need socks, these are a fun way to add some color to your baby’s wardrobe! They say 0-6 months but only fit Caleb until about 3 months.
Toys & Furniture
This is probably Caleb’s favorite toy. With hanging toys at the 4 corners, it’s practically like having 4 playmats when you can just reorient him to a new toy. The mirror is great for tummy time as well.
We haven’t had a need to travel with it yet, but it does fold up nicely.
These are nice and light for a baby to grip, and the soft side cushions the blow to the face for when your baby enthusiastically tries to shove it in his mouth.
This is probably Caleb’s favorite toy. The rattle is light, and the tubes are thin enough for easy-grasping as well as chomping on when teeth start coming in.
I can’t underestimate how nice it is to have somewhere safe to put the baby. You can’t carry them around 24/7! And it’s incredibly cute to watch them stare once they are able to notice the stars above the swing.
Again, having somewhere safe to put the baby is important. We keep this chair in the kitchen, and Caleb sometimes hangs out there when I’m prepping dinner.
I’m not sure anything caused me more stress than researching car seats. Why do some of them cost $60 and others cost $600?
Once I finally picked this car seat, it felt like a weight off my shoulders. The base was relatively easy for Josh to install, and the carrier simply clicks into the base. It’s also been easy to adjust the straps as Caleb grows.
We got a spare base for Josh’s car off Facebook Marketplace for $20 and so far have only used it a couple of times. The couple I bought it from said the same thing – that they probably used it twice.
I knew I wanted a BOB for running, and you can check out all of the difference options on their website. I got mine from Facebook Marketplace, a.nd you can typically find a ton of used ones online
I knew I wanted a compact, lightweight stroller and really like the option of something that folded down to overhead compartment size…but not the price associated with it. I got this one as an “Open Box – Like New” option from Amazon for more than half off!
The Moby wrap is the only reason I get to make dinner some nights. It works great for taking a newborn out to the store as well as wearing an older baby around the house when he isn’t content unless he’s being held.
We haven’t used this carrier as much as the Moby yet, but I like that it has a lot of wearing options for when he gets older and has more head stability.
My hospital gave me a giant water bottle with a straw, but if you don’t have one and are planning to breastfeed, I suggest you get one! You will drink an insane amount of water, and it still won’t feel like enough. The high capacity will lessen the amount of times you have to refill it, and the straw makes it easy for one-handed hydration.
I wore one of these during pregnancy when I would exercise, and I also wore it my first few days home from the hospital. Your core muscles are still stretched out and weak, and the support belt helped with tasks like getting out of bed.
I appreciated this book as a first-time mom for the soothing techniques and the scheduling.
It is important to remember that babies are all unique, though! I asked our pediatrician a lot of questions when Caleb wasn’t matching up with how often he “should be” napping or how much he “should be” eating. They also recommend the cry it out method for getting your baby to sleep through the night, and we let Caleb get there on his own instead.