Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Mom Blog Series: Lori Holyfield

Thanks so much to Lori Holyfield for contributing to the Mom Blog series! As with all the moms, I love and appreciate the honesty. I am starting to see themes that run through all of them, and it is making me very happy to know I have such a great network of women around me figuring it all out as they go :)

Chic Memphis: Tips from Moms

·       Baby’s Full Name & Birth Date (explain name if it has significance)
  • Emmanuella Grace Holyfield, born February 6, 2012
  • Significance of her name:  We are Christians and my husband is an ordained minister.  I know this is going to sound crazy, but I was sitting in a church service while my husband and I were dating.  I was 16 years old at the time, and her name just came to me.  From that point on, I always knew our first child would be a daughter and that her name would be Emmanuelle Grace or Emmanuella Grace. It means “God’s grace is with us,” and it turned out to be very fitting.  It took us six years of trying to conceive, including two miscarriages, to have her.  God’s grace and strength was the only thing that got us through that difficult time.  During my pregnancy, a little internet research revealed some unsavory things about a movie called Emmanuelle, so we decided on Emmanuella.  However, realizing that Emmanuella is a bit of a mouthful for a little girl, we call her Ella.

Hadassah Celeste Holyfield, born July 30, 2014
  • Significance of her name: Hadassah was Queen Esther’s Hebrew name in the Bible.  She was an inspiring figure who was placed in a specific place during a specific time for a specific purpose, to save her people by her courageous actions, and we wanted that connotation for our daughter.  We chose Hadassah rather than Esther for a couple of reasons.  First of all, Esther just reminds me of an 80-year-old woman.  Secondly, Hadassah was her birth name, her Hebrew name, and Esther was a name she assumed in order to blend into the pagan culture of the time.  In fact, the name Esther probably referred to the pagan goddess Ishtar, which wasn’t something I as a Christian wanted associated with my child.  And we want her to stand out, not blend in!  So Hadassah it was.  But again, Hadassah is somewhat of a mouthful, so we just call her Dassah.  The A’s in her name are all soft: hah-DAH-sah, not had-ASS-uh. 
  • Celeste was harder to choose.  We went back and forth on middle names and had a lot of trouble reaching a consensus.  There were lists and more lists, and I did a lot of crossing off of the names he liked.  It reminded me of our process of picking a restaurant for date night, whereby my husband typically makes an infinite list of suggestions, which I shoot down without making many counter-proposals.  We finally reached agreement while I was in labor.  Celeste means “heavenly,” and this child has been such a joy that it fits her perfectly.

·       After the excitement wore off, how prepared did you feel to have a baby?
  • I spent my entire pregnancy with Ella in denial.  I had miscarried twice before her, and it was hard for me to believe that I was finally going to carry.  From a material perspective, generous and excited friends and grandparents-to-be showered us with gifts, so I was not afraid she would lack anything.  From an emotional perspective, things are probably best summed up by the first words I uttered to my husband after her birth: “Wow, I think we just had a baby.”  We bonded quickly and she fit right into our life, but I let my fear of loss hold me back from bonding during pregnancy in ways I regret now.
  • With Dassah, things were different.  I had the whole motherhood thing down pat.  After Ella’s birth, I did not use any form of birth control, but I figured it would take me forever to have another child just because of how long it took me to have Ella.  Not so!  I conceived Dassah when Ella was 21 months old.  I was still breastfeeding Ella a little bit at the time, so I was surprised by the pregnancy.  It was also a weird time for me professionally because I was very unhappy with my employer at the time.  I ended up changing jobs at four months pregnant.  After the job offer came, the pregnancy conversation was pretty awkward for me, but my new employer was very accepting and accommodating. So while I was pretty shocked initially by the pregnancy and felt it was a little too soon, I bonded more with Dassah during pregnancy than with Ella, and Dassah’s successful delivery was less of a surprise to me than Ella’s was.

·       One word to describe my pregnancy is ______.
  • Ella: Mellow
  • Dassah: Joyful

·       Now that I am a mom, I wish someone would have told me that ________.
  • You are never going to be the perfect mom, but neither is anyone else.  We are all faking it until we make it; you’re not the only one!

·       What items (beauty, food, medicine) did you swear by during pregnancy?
  • To get pregnant, I was on a crazy regimen of meds: metformin ER (for PCOS – way better than plain metformin), Synthroid (for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis), megadose vitamin D, baby aspirin (some of the literature suggests it helps women with multiple miscarriages), Super B Complex (helps with egg quality and progesterone), and progesterone (after the positive pregnancy test).  I continued most of these meds throughout pregnancy.  I did not take any other meds besides the occasional Tylenol with a can of Coke for migraines, which plagued me in my second trimester.  I now hear that Tylenol may contribute to asthma and allergies in the baby if taken during pregnancy (Ella has bad seasonal and peanut allergies), but I don’t know if I could have survived those headaches without it.
  • Food-wise, I craved sour candy with Ella and complex carbs with Dassah.  I had gestational diabetes both times, so I had to cut back on these things after diagnosis.  After the gestational diabetes diagnoses, I relied heavily on cheese, peanut butter, nuts, and eggs for protein to keep my sugars down.  Meat was fairly disgusting to me during pregnancy.

·       Favorite baby book or magazine (if you read them).
  • I didn’t really read books or magazines, but I read heavily on the internet, including Babycenter and Kellymom.  Kellymom is specific to breastfeeding.  Another great resource for breastfeeding mamas in the area is the Facebook group Breastfeeding Moms of Memphis.  It is a private group, so you’ll have to be approved by an administrator, but it’s an amazing, supportive community.

·       Maternity clothes tips?
  • I tried to get by for way too long without maternity clothes because I actually lost weight during pregnancy, but obviously my regular clothes didn’t accommodate my belly very well.  If you’re planning on breastfeeding, my advice is to choose clothes that will double as nursing clothes later.  You can tell because these items of clothing typically have discreet holes that allow for nursing.  Also, in terms of fabric, there is a specific blend of fabric that is common in nursing/maternity clothes that doesn’t show moisture very well.  Get as much of your maternity clothes in that fabric as possible. I got a lot of my maternity clothes from Kohl’s online.  The availability of maternity clothes in local non-maternity-specific stores (like Target and Old Navy) is pretty spotty in my experience.  I tried to stay out of Motherhood and similar stores because I found them to be ridiculously overpriced, but I would hardly consider myself a high-fashion mama, so your experience may be quite different.

·       What was the best advice you received that helped you in motherhood?
  • Mama knows best.  You are the expert on YOUR baby, and you get to decide what works for YOUR family.  Others – doctors, friends, family members, meddling grandma-type strangers – may offer parenting advice, but you don’t have to follow it or even agree with it.  Learn the art of saying, “Thank you for your advice.  I will give that the consideration it deserves.”  Then move on. They are all convinced you are doing it wrong.  You’re dressing baby too warm or too cold, you’re feeding baby too much or too little, you’re breastfeeding and that’s gross, you’re formula feeding and formula is poison, you should let your baby cry-it-out, you should never let your baby cry, you should have your baby on a schedule, you should meet your baby’s needs immediately so she will feel secure, etc. etc. etc.  It can be maddening and make you feel like you’re not doing it right, but don’t worry – you are doing just fine!

·       How did you decide the items from which you registered (research, word of mouth, random)?
  • Research and word of (trusted) mouth.  I am obsessive about research.

·       Where did you register?
  • Babies R Us and Target.
What is your stroller? Do you like it?
  • We use the Graco Travel System.  I do like it but I find the mechanism to open and close it to be awkward.
What is your car seat? Do you like it?
  • Infant: Graco Snugride 22.  It is an average car seat, heavy and awkward to carry, but it does the job.  It plugs into the stroller, which I liked.
  • Convertible (after 22 pounds): Diono Radian.  This thing is a roll cage.  It’s made of steel and weighs 35 pounds.  You can even take it on a plane with you.  It rear-faces to 45 pounds, forward faces in a 5-point harness to some absurd weight like 80 pounds, and serves as a booster to 120 pounds.  Safety and extended rear-facing were important to us.  We are happy with the purchase.  My mother-in-law has a cheapie Cosco Scenera in her car for when she carts our daughter around.  It does the job.
 Isn’t a baby bottle a baby bottle or are some better than others?
  • Some bottles are better than others, particularly for breastfed babies.  A more natural nipple shape and gas-preventing vents were important to us, so we chose Born Free bottles.  The things have 5 or 6 parts each, which is annoying, but we are happy.
Favorite diapers? What the heck is a diaper pail?
  • Pampers (Swaddlers, then Cruisers).  Both kids had unfortunate reactions to Huggies when tried, and I liked the wetness indicator line on the Swaddlers.  For diaper pail, we have one but don’t use it.  Pee diapers go in the regular trash, which is taken out almost daily.  Poop diapers go into a leftover plastic grocery bag and straight outside to the big garbage can.  Breastfed baby poop is actually pretty mild, but once they start eating…ick.
 Baby monitors are expensive. What did you choose and why?
  • We don’t have a baby monitor.  The baby still sleeps in our bedroom in the Pack N Play.  It lowers the risk of SIDS for the first six months, and it’s just easier with breastfeeding.  We do have a nanny cam made by D-Link, which allows us to remotely view the nursery and the common areas of the house via iPhone app.  We like it.
Where did you get your diaper bag? What is in it? 
  • I got my diaper bag at a baby shower.  Right now, all that’s in it is diapers, wipes, diaper cream, a changing pad, and a full change of clothes.  If I had it to do over again, I would have bought a backpack-type diaper bag.  Much easier to carry with a squirmy baby
Best place to buy baby clothes?
  • Carter’s is the best brand of baby clothes.  I would not buy from the Carter’s store necessarily, though.  Target, Walmart, and Kohl’s all carry Carter’s clothing.
Nursery theme? 
  • Carter’s Butterfly Flowers theme.  It’s been discontinued, but it was (obviously) butterflies and flowers, in pink and chocolate brown.

·       What do you wish you had registered for?
  • I had everything I needed.

·       What did you think you would need, but it turns out you do not?
  • A crib!  Isn’t that terrible?

·       Is your baby on a schedule? Was that hard?
  • No, they’ve never been on a real schedule of my making.  In my opinion, feeding on demand is important to establishing an exclusive breastfeeding relationship.  With that said, both children fell into their own rhythm and their sleep/wake/feeding schedule is pretty predictable.

·       Be honest. When did you start getting sleep again?
  • Sleep?  What’s that?  Just kidding!  Ella started sleeping through the night at 5 weeks old.  Dassah still gets up to nurse once around 4 a.m.  My theory on this is that my husband inadvertently wakes her when he leaves for work at 4 a.m.  He didn’t go to work that early when Ella was a baby.

·       How did motherhood change you the most?
  • Motherhood made me less of a perfectionist and less selfish.

·       What is your favorite part of being a mom?
  • Being a recipient of true, unconditional love.  My children have almost boundless patience, forgiveness, love, and affection for me.  Their smiles and cuddles make the rest of motherhood, which isn’t always pretty, absolutely worth it.

·       What is the hardest part?

  • As a working mom, the hardest thing is not bringing my work concerns and attitudes home with me.  My kids deserve a mom who is present with them, and that requires shutting off everything and just focusing on them.  I do better at this some days than others.  I also struggled with postpartum depression with Dassah.  My advice on that is to get help as soon as possible because if you don’t, you will be robbing yourself of joy unnecessarily.

·       People seem to have opinions about everything related to parenting. How do you deal with that?
  • “Thank you for your opinion.  Bean dip?”

·       Your best trick for losing the baby weight.
  • Baby weight?  Ha.  With Ella, I weighed the same on the day I found out I was pregnant as I did the day I walked into the hospital to deliver her.  With Dassah, there was a mere 4 pound differential, and Dassah weighed 7 pounds so that weight came off immediately.  The reason for this seems to be that my weight problem is related to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease that goes into remission during pregnancy. However, with both children, I actually *gained* weight breastfeeding.  Breastfeeding is not a weight loss magic bullet for all women, and a significant portion of women do gain weight.  Now that I am nursing Dassah significantly less, I have started losing a little weight, but it’s hard.  The Hashimoto’s is always going to make it difficult.

·       husband, and yes, the car was stationary.  I love the looks they are giving each other.

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