To the Mom Who is Beating Herself up about Breastfeeding

Not me or my baby!

Dear Mom Who is Trying So Hard to Breastfeed and Struggling So Much,

It will be OK. Your motherliness or love for your sweet baby are not dependent on your ability to produce milk. One of two things will happen for you:

a) Things will get better than they are now. You’ll hit a breakthrough in your milk production, and you’ll be able to successfully breastfeed.


b) You will realize you have tried the very best you could try to breastfeed. You gave it your all. But you just couldn’t make it work. And that is OK.

I was in the “b” camp with my son, Luke. Here is our story.

NICU Luke… oh, what a different child he is now!

Luke and I got off to a rocky start with breastfeeding because he was immediately whisked off to the NICU after birth due to a kidney tract problem he was born with that we knew about going into delivery. Traditionally, it is hard for NICU babies and moms to breastfeed, because the babies are hooked up to tubes and wires at all times, because the babies may not be functioning as well as babies without health issues, and because they aren’t staying in the same room as each other 24/7.

I found it nearly impossible to figure out the “latch on” thing when my baby had something attached to his head, foot, and arm — which was all the time his first 8 days of life! As a first-time mom, I was nervous enough just holding a 7-pound, delicate baby. Top that off with a baby attached to life-monitoring wires, and I was a nervous wreck.

This was the first time he drank milk I produced! (from pumping). I was so excited!

While we were in the hospital, I expressed my issues to two different lactation consultants. I did everything I was supposed to do. I pumped non-stop. I drank special Mothers Milk tea. I ate cookies a friend made me that were supposed to promote breastfeeding. Still, at the end of Luke’s 8-day NICU stay, I was barely producing any milk. Of course, the hospital had to begin to supplement him once he lost more than 1 pound of his birth weight.

Once we went home, I thought I would get the hang of breastfeeding. I consulted two more lactation consultants and did literally everything I read about or was recommended. I took every natural pill and drank every tea that could help with lactation. After 6 weeks of pumping 6-7 times a day and trying to feed Luke 8-9 times a day, I was still only producing 1/3 of the milk he needed, according to measurements a lactation specialist took.

This entire process was so unbelievably frustrating to me. Looking back 1 year later, I can think of few things in my life that have been more frustrating than attempting to breastfeed. I just wanted to be able to provide for my baby! And I could only 1/3 provide for my baby, even when I was trying twice as hard as I was supposed to! I felt like I was feeding (or trying to feed) two — my baby and the breast pump. And I was STILL having to use formula on top of that! It was sooo frustrating!

When I went back to work after 8 weeks of maternity leave, I decided I would still attempt to pump and breastfeed as much as possible. During one of my first weeks back, I worked at an event where the only place I could pump was a restroom. Sorry if this is TMI, but I had no choice but to sit in a stall to pump. After that unfortunately unhygienic experience, I said enough is enough! I had tried my very best. I realized that my level of love for Luke was not determined by the amount of milk he got from me. I loved him sooo much, and he knew that.

So if you’re in the process of trying to breastfeed, I encourage you to continue trying. Give it your best shot, but do not beat yourself up along the way. Give yourself grace. Do something nice for yourself today — take a bubble bath, eat an ice cream sundae. Consult multiple lactation consultants if you need to. They will be able to give you great advice.

Me and Luke nowadays

If and when you do stop breastfeeding, know that you and your baby will be OK. You will have an amazing bond no matter what, as long as you give him or her love. I’m not a child development specialist or a healthcare professional, but the one thing I’ve learned as a parent so far is that your child can sense your love. When you look into their sweet eyes, sing them to sleep, play with them, pray over them — whatever is you do to connect with your child — they will know that you love them.

And they will know you tried your best. And God will know you tried your best. And with that in mind, dear mommy, you can rest assured.


Wait, Wasn’t I Supposed to Be a “Somebody” By Now?

Me in college — big dreams, big heart

I venture to say that most of us, at one point in our lives, dreamed to believe we would make it big, in one way or another. Maybe you dreamed of being the next Mariah Carey, or Rebecca St. James, if you grew up listening to the kind of music I did! Maybe you imagined you’d be a famous actor or artist or preacher.

For me, I was just sure I was bound for journalistic greatness. The summer in between my junior and senior year sealed the deal. I had already spent the previous year in college as the “big fish in the small pond” editor-in-chief of the university newspaper. Now, I was interning at the newspaper of the wealthiest suburb in Oklahoma. I was headed straight for The New York Times, naturally.

I wrote so many stories that summer that I’m pretty sure the full-time reporters at the sleepy little suburb newspaper either hated me for stealing their bylines or loved me for allowing them to take a much-needed break. I wrote about clowns visiting kids in hospitals and summer camps and even interviewed the CEO of Sonic (no, I didn’t get any free slushies out of that gig).

At the end of the summer, the editor of the newspaper wrote the nicest letter to the president of my university, saying essentially that I was destined for journalistic greatness. I treasured a copy of that letter as much as I would my college diploma, and it’s still in my portfolio to this day.

My people.

But The New York Times‘ doors I would never see. I don’t know that I was ever meant to see them. These days, I spend my time with my husband and 1-year-old son or marketing for a senior living community. This is not quite the career path I imagined. Yes, I still get to do some writing for local publications, and obviously, this blog, but I’m no Christiane Amanpour. I’m not traveling the world writing about war-torn countries like I once imagined.

And yet, I know if my heart, everything is just as it should be, for now. Would it be nice to be famous? Would it be nice to have an audience and be seen as a person of influence? Sure. I think we can all answer those questions in the affirmative.

For now, though, my lot in life is simple: to love. I may never be “successful” in the eyes of this world, if success is defined by money, fame, and good looks. But I will love those around me deeply. I will be “somebody” to those in my life — to my family, to the elderly people I see each day, to the nursing staff I work with.

Dr. Bennet Omalu

While I may not be a “who’s who,” I get to occasionally interview relatively famous people for a magazine I write for. I recently interviewed an amazingly humble, truly spiritual man named Bennet Omalu. In many people’s eyes, he has been a big success — coming from destitute poverty in Nigeria to becoming the physician who discovered Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in the brains of football players and veterans, namely.

Yet, Dr. Omalu doesn’t see success the way many do. Here’s his definition of success: “Success is not always about money. If you’re married for 30 years, that is a big success. If you raise your kids to be good human beings who treat others well, that is success. We shouldn’t always measure success by
money or professional accomplishments.”

Choose to embrace those around you and see success in terms of relationships, not money and fame. I hope you know that you’re a big somebody in the eyes of those you see each day.


What I’ve Learned the First Year of Parenting

Wow. Parenting is HARD. Just take a look at that cute little child who has crawled inside the cupboard and tossed rice all over the kitchen floor, and tell me that it’s not.

And yes, I know it’s only going to get harder. I know he’s not always going to be that cute and easy to forgive. I know someday he will talk back and say mean things to me and publicly humiliate me with a temper tantrum … and do other things I don’t even want to think about!

But goodness gracious… parenting is harder than I thought it would be! Maybe for some people, it’s a piece of cake! (If so, can you share that cake with me, please?!). But for an independent, free spirit such as myself, it has been an adjustment.

So as I prepare for my cute little guy turned 1 tomorrow!, I thought I would try to summarize what I have learned during the first year of parenting:

  1. Time is different when you have a child.

In our adult lives, typically, not that much changes in the course of a year. If we keep the same job and live in the same place for years on end, the only change we might have is meeting new people, trying new restaurants, going somewhere new on vacation, etc. In a given year, our lives may not change super drastically.

But with a child, a year brings about tremendous changes. It’s insane for me to think that 1 year ago tonight, my son was still inside of me! What?! Now he is a walking, talking (a few words!), hefty little boy!

And I know the changes over weeks and months and years will just continue to amaze us.

2. You learn to sacrifice your independence.

I am an independent person. I like going places at the whim of the moment and being as random as possible. Well, it didn’t take long for me to realize that with a baby, randomness is pretty much a curse word. You have to plan out everything with a child!

Their schedules are important. As a mom, you learn to put their needs and their schedules above your own. There are times that I would love to go hang out with friends or go for a run, and I would be cool with taking little dude with me, but I realize it’s almost his nap time, and that those ideas would sabotage that nap time and thereby derail the rest of our day!

Now, I’m not saying I don’t have a life anymore. I’m still able to have a rewarding job, and thankfully, I have a great husband who hangs out with little guy when Mommy needs some time out. But having a child has definitely changed the way I live after work hours!

3. A child is always watching you.

Luke is only turning 1, but I’ve noticed he’s already watching me. Soon, he will start mimicking me by repeating words or gestures. Which words and gestures of mine would be things I wouldn’t want him to repeat?

When you have a child, you have a little sponge who will quickly pick up on the things you do and repeat them, for better or for worse!

My #2 and #3:)

4. It’s a challenge to keep your priorities in order.

I had heard it said before having Luke that it would be difficult to keep my husband as a higher priority than my child(ren). Is that ever true! And to go a step further, it is also a big challenge to keep God as #1.

I’ll be honest, my “quiet times” in the mornings don’t look like they used to before I became a mom. Now, they are spent with Luke on my lap or with “Word Party” playing in the background while he toddles around and I try to get 10 minutes in the Bible and prayer. Or my quiet times are as I’m driving to work and singing worship songs. But God knows my heart. He sees that I am still trying to seek Him and put Him first.

Babies demand so much of your attention, whereas your spouse can pretty much survive on his own. But don’t forget to feed that marriage and put your spouse #2 under God on your priority list. He will (hopefully!) be a constant in your life even after your kids are raised and moved out of the house.

Make date nights a priority. Pray together. Read marriage books together. Have fun together. By doing these things, you will solidify a strong marriage now and in the future.

I hope you enjoyed this post! What challenges have you discovered since becoming a parent?

Cherish Your Friends, No Matter Your Seasons of Life

Recently, I’ve been doing a bit of pouting. You see, it seems that no matter what season I’m in, I never have friends in quite the same season as me.

I’m somewhere in the “in between” of all my friends.

I get to feeling sorry for myself because I don’t have anyone in just the exact season as me — married 7 years, having an almost 1-year-old, and being a working mom.

I realize as I write this just how foolish and crazy my expectations are. There are maybe a handful of women in the entire world who meet those exact criteria.

Some of my friends are single. Some of my friends are married and have kids who are elementary aged. Some of my friends are newlyweds who don’t yet have children.

But I am learning to cherish the friends I have and not wish I had more friends who are exactly like me. I am learning to enjoy the season I’m in and encourage my friends in the season they’re in. Even if we’re not experiencing the exact life events at the same times, that doesn’t mean we can’t be there for each other. That doesn’t mean God won’t give us the exact right words to say at the exact right time for that person.

One of my dear friends, Kelly, and I are not in the exact same season of life, but we were able to encourage each other so much about a year ago when we were both approaching a season of great change. She was preparing to get married, and I was preparing to have my first child. We read the book “Girl Meets Change: Truths to Carry You Through Life’s Transitions.” Instead of fretting that I didn’t have another close friend who was expecting her first child, I was excited that I had another friend who was facing a similar theme in her life: change.

What themes are you and your friends facing? Change? Grief? Joy? Stress?

It’s becoming harder and harder to make friends in this fast-paced, technology-driven world. I’m not saying you don’t need friends who ARE in the same season as you; just encouraging you to appreciate and cherish the friends you DO have. We aren’t meant to do this life alone, so let’s love on our friends today! Send them a text or give them a call and let them know how much you love them and are happy you get to do life with them!



To the Moms… and “Not Yet” Moms

I never imagined that being a mom would be such hard work. But it truly is worth every single sleepless night and every minute that I could have spent “for myself” that I spend playing with him instead.

This Mother’s Day, I wanted to write something to encourage the moms out there… and those who are “not yet” moms.

To the Moms

To those who are lacking in sleep, who have given up the dream of “sleeping in” ‘til 6 a.m.,

Those who just wish they could get through a day without some sort of bodily fluid staining their clothing,

To those who are so tired of saying ‘no,’ ‘Don’t eat that,’ ‘Stop doing that,’

To those who are at their wit’s end from asking their teen to look up from her cell phone,

To those who are trying not to worry themselves to sleep when he isn’t home by curfew,

To those whose babies are now having babies of their own and you’re trying to figure out how much help to offer without it being too much,

To those whose babies are now taking care of them…

You’re amazing. You give of yourself selflessly day after day. Even if your kids don’t thank you…know that your impact is changing their lives, day by day.

You are planting seeds into the most valuable ground: another life! Maybe not today, maybe not even this side of heaven, but someday, you will see a glimpse of the difference you have made in those lives.

To the “not yet” Moms

You are a mom in your heart before you’re a mom according to a birth certificate or adoption papers.

You are a mom before a baby is placed in your arms

You are a mom whether or not you ever deliver a baby

You are a mom if you give of your life to a young person,

If you encourage them to be more than they are,

You are a mom if you pray for your niece or nephew like they were your own child,

You are a mom if you cherish those around you and help them live out their callings,

Be encouraged… you have a heart of a mother. Plant seeds into the lives of those you have now. Maybe not today, maybe not even this side of heaven, but someday, you will see a glimpse of the difference you have made in those lives.




Keeping a Grateful Heart through the Holidays

Photo by Markus Spiske
Photo by Markus Spiske

It’s amazing how much a life can change in one year. Last Christmas, I was struggling big time. I had just one thing I had wanted all year — to get pregnant — and it wasn’t happening.

At one Christmas party, a family member actually said something like, “Haven’t you guys waited long enough to have kids?!” I seriously wanted to slap her. Of course, she didn’t know we had been trying that whole year. She also didn’t know how much it stung my heart every time someone brought it up.

The holidays can be hard when you don’t have the one thing you really want. Maybe that one thing is a husband. Maybe it’s to get pregnant. Maybe it’s to have your marriage restored.

What got me through last Christmas — in a season when I was so focused on getting that one thing — was gratitude. Instead of pouting because yet another friend found out she was pregnant, and I still wasn’t, I tried to thank God for what I did have. I thanked God for my wonderful husband, my good job, my friendships.

One verse that I stood on was Psalm 23:1, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” Just like a good Shepherd, the Lord knows what I need. He will give me what I need when I need it. So I should not live out of a lifestyle of wanting, but rather trust in the Shepherd to give me the necessities.

Photo by Biegun Wschodni
Photo by Biegun Wschodni

I pray that whatever your heart longs for this Christmas, you will continue to surrender it to Him. He truly DOES know what you need, and He will give you what you need. Meanwhile, give Him thanks for everything you already have, and choose to focus on what He’s already given you; not what you’re lacking.

The end to my story is a “happily ever after” one, but I don’t want to paint some fantastical picture that everyone’s story will end this way. I know sometimes we long for something for years and decades and that thing never happens. I don’t pretend to know why. I think Joyce Meyer sums up what our attitude should be in those seasons well with this quote: “If God asks us to stay in a situation, then He is going to give us a special grace, for a special season, to experience His peace and joy despite the circumstances.”

But sometimes, friends, THANKFULLY… sometimes, longings are fulfilled. “…a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12b

January 1, 2016 - 7:40 a.m.
January 1, 2016 – 7:40 a.m.

The end of my story is that I went to bed in 2015, not knowing what my future would hold, not knowing if I would ever get pregnant, but holding out hope in the Lord. I woke up in 2016, and within my first five minutes of being awake in this year, I discovered that I WAS PREGNANT and that 2016 would be a life-changing year!

God knows the seasons of your life, friend. Try to cherish this holiday season for what it is, and don’t let anyone else’s opinions rock you.

To the Future Mom Who is Scared

notcaptivetofearI have a 3-month old.

For so much of my life, I never imagined I’d be saying something like that.

You see, until about a year before my son was born, I was afraid of babies.

I’m not talking afraid like one is afraid of clowns or snakes or spiders, but more so afraid of taking care of someone so tiny and needy. I was afraid I couldn’t cut it.

This post is for the gals out there who aren’t moms yet but have some sort of fear about becoming a mom someday. Because I can relate.

There were seriously several points of my adulthood when I said and thought, “I don’t know if I can handle a baby. I’d rather just adopt a kid in elementary school.”

You see, I was afraid of that which was unfamiliar. I spent almost 15 years in children’s ministry, but it was all spent working with elementary-aged kids. Kids in elementary and I get along great… we have the same maturity level, after all:)! Being the youngest child in my family, I didn’t grow up around babies, either. And when I babysat in high school and college, it was always for elementary-aged kids.

Babies were pretty much foreign to me, and it showed when it came time for me to hold friends’ newborns. Awkward! Sorry to all those friends whose babies I held ever-so-awkwardly!

But lo and behold, my husband and I knew we wanted to try for kids of our own, which would indeed require having a baby (last time I checked… they don’t ever come out of the womb as 5-year-olds!). So about a year ago, I decided it was time to face that fear head on!

I asked my church if I could volunteer in the nursery. Folks, this was a step of faith! I seriously think I had maybe changed only one or two diapers in my life before this experience. And the first diaper I changed in the nursery… let’s just saw it was a big fail and my fellow volunteer had to help me redo it!

Thankfully, though, after a few times hanging out with the babies, I started becoming comfortable with them, and some of the fear began to dissipate. I won’t say all my fear was gone by the time my baby was born because there have still been plenty of challenges I’ve had to face and fears I’ve had to overcome, but I’m so glad I didn’t allow that fear to determine the direction of my life. Instead of dwelling in fear, I did something to try to overcome the fear. We’re only held captive by our fears as long as we do nothing to try to overcome them.

perfectloveFriend, I don’t know what your fear is. Maybe you can relate to me and my former case of baby phobia. Maybe your fear is that your future baby will be born with a condition (I can relate, and if that does happen, God will give you grace. He did that for me abundantly!). Maybe your fear is that you and your husband won’t make enough money to provide for a little one (If so, see Philippians 4:19!).

Maybe your fear is that you won’t be a good parent. If so, I pray that God will speak to your heart and remind you that you are good enough because of Him. He lives inside of you, and if it is His will for you to have children someday, He will give you grace in that season.

Whatever your fear may be, ask God to drive it out by His perfect love. As you focus on His love for you and for your future child, He will gradually cause those fears to disappear.

“Perfect love drives out fear.” 1 John 4:18

May His love continue to abound in your heart and cause you to live in abundant faith instead of fear!