Baby Wearing: The best thing (ever!)

I am not an active person. I do not run marathons or lift weights, I do not do any pointed working out.

However, I am a let’s go do something person.

I walk around town, dig ditches, put in gardens and things. That is just who I am, who I always have been.

So, when I was blessed with a tiny bundle of joy that is not capable of feeding herself, much less carry a T-post what is a ‘I got shit to do’ momma to do?

t post.jpg  t Post diggin

Strap that baby on and get to it.

Spindle-1

What about when baby can walk, when baby is not a tiny bundle of joy but a big sack of ‘taters? You put that toddler in a carrier so she can’t run off.

Sandra and Z wearing

People keep telling me that leashes are just generally frowned upon. Just kidding, but seriously toddlers are everywhere and nowhere all at the same time.  I have to keep track of her some how.

Daddy Wearing

Safety First! When wearing your baby in the front always be sure you can kiss there cute little punkin’ heads. Wearing your baby on your back should only be done after s/he can support their own head. Always ensure proper alignment and support of joints and back.

Here are two great references for child wearing safety both from Baby Wearing International:

Kissable

 

Safety check list

My second piece of advice is to find the right carrier. This matters a lot.

Again, we borrowed this from Baby Wearing International:

Wraps

wrap

 

Wraps are the most traditional and simple of all carriers. They come in a variety of lengths and fabrics such as knit jersey (ideal for newborns), gauze (good for warm weather), cotton, linen, wool, and other fabrics. Wraps can be used to carry an infant, toddler, or child in a variety of positions including front, hip, and (if made of woven fabric rather than knit jersey) back carries. Wraps are infinitely adjustable to meet the specific needs of the individual wearer. Learning to wrap may seem intimidating at first but can be mastered with practice. The beautiful fabrics used in many wraps make them an aesthetically pleasing style of baby carrier. Their lack of hardware makes them ideal for snuggling newborns but wraps are wonderful for babies and toddlers of any age.

Ring Slings

Ring

A ring sling is a modern adaptation of traditional one shoulder carries found in Mexico, Indonesia, and other cultures. A pair of metal or nylon rings are securely attached to the end of a roughly two-meter-long piece of fabric. The tail end of the sling is threaded through the rings to adjust to the wearers body. The weight of the child in the carrier secures the rings against slipping. Ring slings are available in a variety of fabrics from basic cotton to luxurious silk. The long tail of the sling can be used for many things including a sun shade, nursing cover, light blanket, or hand hold for older children when your hands are full. Ring slings are excellent for newborns and for toddlers who want quick up and down carries.

Pouch Slings

Pouch

A pouch sling is a simple tube of fabric worn over one shoulder like a sash and used much like a ring sling but without the ability to adjust the size of the sling each time it is used. Pouch slings are sleek, easy to use, inexpensive, and convenient to stash in a diaper bag or glove compartment. However, because pouches are sized they are hard to share between caregivers and must be correctly fitted for safety and comfort.

 Mei Tai

Mei Tai

The Chinese mei tai (pronounced “may tie” not “my tie”) is the most popular of a group of modernized traditional Asian-style baby carriers. It has a panel of fabric with two shorter straps that go around the waist and two longer straps to wrap over the shoulder. Modern mei tai straps are often padded or made very wide (known as “wrap straps”) to provide extra comfort for the wearer and they are often made of attractive fabrics. Because they lack buckles and are tied to create a custom fit each time, mei tais are easily shared between multiple caregivers. They are easy to learn how to wear and can be used for front, back, and hip carries. Mei Tais are ideal for older babies and toddlers but can also be safely used with newborns.

 Buckle Carriers

Buckle

Soft structured carriers (SSCs) offer a mix of comfort, convenience and accessibility that is appealing to many caregivers. Most feature a thickly padded waistband and shoulder straps for a comfortable, ergonomic fit and can be used for front, back, and sometimes hip carries. The straps typically are adjustable for a custom fit and often these carriers have additional features such as sleep hoods, front pockets, adjustable seats, etc. SSCs have a low learning curve because they go on and off like a backpack but offer the same skin-to-skin benefits of wraps, slings, and mei tais. Some soft structured carriers may require the use of a special infant insert below a certain weight and size but most quality, ergonomic carriers can be used well into toddlerhood. There is a soft structured carrier for every taste, budget, and body type making them the most popular style of baby carrier on the market today.

There are awesome groups where you can rent a carrier for a month to insure it is the right one for you and baby. I participated in one of these groups in Austin,Texas but they can be found all over the US.  Here is a piture of one that I rented:

International carriers

I highly recommend this because baby carriers can be very expensive.  They even have small groups at their meetings to ensure you know how to properly use the carrier you rent!

Now then the fun part:

Why baby wearing is the best thing {like ever}:

1)    The lactating breast regulates temperature to keep baby from overheating. ( but please still pay attention to signs of over hearing; flush cheeks, clammy skin, extreme sweating, ect.)

2)   No more holding baby and pushing the stroller {Who want to keep up with all that?}

3)   Your kiddo can see everything you do, helping them learn.

4)   Helps baby bond to you and feel safe

5.)  Daddy can wear too; promoting bonding and shared experiences.

6.)  Being worn makes baby happy.

7.)  And puts them to sleep?!? Yeah it does.

The list goes on and on.

For even more information Dr. Sears has a lot of very good thing to say on the subject in his book, The Baby Book.  {Have I mentioned how much I LOVE Dr. Sears?}

Now go have fun. And wear them babies/Toddlers! {and eat your BAM bars, they are great for energy!}

daddy2

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Some images borrowed from: http://babywearinginternational.org/

 

Panicked Momma: Postpartum Anxiety

Sit down on the floor.

Block everything out.

Breathe deep: in through your nose, out through your mouth.

Now listen to what’s going on around you.

This is a conversation I have with myself very often because I have postpartum panic attacks. I didn’t even know panic attacks were a possibility after giving birth to my daughter, but now it’s a part of my weekly routine.

According to Psychotherapy.com these panic attacks are formally called Postpartum Panic Disorder.  Here’s some quick info from them:

  • Occurs in up to 10% of postpartum women.
  • Symptoms include:  feelings of extreme anxiety and recurring panic attacks, including shortness of breath, chest pain, heart palpitations, agitation, and excessive worry or fears.
  • Three common fears experienced by women with a Postpartum Panic Disorder are:  1) fear of dying, 2) fear of losing control, and/or 3) fear that one is going crazy.
  • 2 significant risk factors: 1) a previous history of anxiety or panic disorder, and 2) thyroid dysfunction.

Let me explain what it felt like the first time I had a panic attack.  It first happened two years ago when my daughter was a few months old, it felt like the world was closing in on me.

Back then it happened at any given moment.

Once I was in a shopping center parking lot, about to go home, and I started crying uncontrollably, for no reason at all, I couldn’t catch my breath, and my heart pounded.  I thought what I was feeling was just a part of giving birth and it would soon end, but I was wrong.

The Mighty, a site devoted to addressing mental health issues and disabilities has a brilliant article about what having a panic attack can feel like.  The article, written by Rachel Kassenbrock, does a great job of showing what panic attacks feel like through a series of photos. Warning: the images are very real and may be upsetting.

Two years later I am still having the panic attacks that began after giving birth.  They are more predictable and manageable now that I have learned calming and breathing techniques.  I also use an anxiety ease essential oil in an oil diffuser or smell it directly from the bottle to help calm me down.

I rarely find myself crying because of them. My panic attacks usually happen when I have a to-do list that I’m running through my head. I can tell it’s approaching when my heart starts palpitating.

I have since learned that I am not alone in my suffering Postpartum Anxiety Disorders.  They are common, yet are diagnosed far less than the others because of the belief that new mothers are just naturally anxious. There are two forms of Postpartum Anxiety Disorder; if you’d like to read more about the different specifics and definitions HERE are the definitions as defined by Psychotherapy.com.

When I first began having panic attacks I spoke with my midwife and she advised me to start taking fish oil pills.  I took three 1,000 milligram pills per day.  The panic attacks weren’t as intense after taking the fish oil, but they were still there.

I even took Xanax, prescribed by my midwife, for a short time, but the side effects outweighed the benefits.

After doing some research on my own I found a solution that works for me.  I must recognize what’s happening, slow down, and realize that I need to be present in that very moment.  If you would like to give this a try here is a great video explaining the process for you.

Here is a tool kit that I found very helpful from another blogger named Kate over at Post Partum Progress:

  1. Take 10 deep belly breaths (also known as diaphragmatic breathing).
  2. Drink a big glass of water.
  3. Eat a protein-based snack such as lean meats, nuts, cheese, or a hard boiled egg.
  4. Ground yourself in the present: Look around you and note (out loud if possible) everything that you can access in all five senses. What do you see? What can you hear? What do you smell? What does it feel like to be sitting on your chair? What, exactly, do you taste as you eat your snack?
  5. Find a “mantra” of sorts that you can tell yourself such as “I am going to be okay,” “I am doing the best that I can,” or “I am taking care of myself.”
  6. Go outside. Stretch. Feel yourself move and notice the sensations in your body.
  7. Once your initial symptoms decrease, find some help so that you can take a nap and get the rest that you need.
  8. If need be, call your therapist, your doctor, or someone who you trust to come and be with you until you feel better.

 

 

 

Images borrowed from:

http://themighty.com/2015/05/gripping-photos-capture-what-this-woman-feels-like-during-a-panic-attack1/

The Strong Momma

This is a blog about working out.

WAIT! Don’t change the page just yet.

I’d like to paint you a picture so that you know who’s telling this story {bear with me, my medium is finger paints these days}:

I am five foot four inches tall {not leggy at all}.

I weigh 135 pounds. I am thin because I am super active, not because I have been blessed {like some women – you know who I’m talking about: the one eating an ice cream cone in her size 0 jeans}.

I have big boobs; I tandem nurse. {Ask me about those big perky boobs in a few years}

 

I live under no false pretenses that I will ever be a Barbie doll style fantasy girl.

 

My name is Miranda and I am an addict. I am addicted to being happy, healthy, strong and fast.

 

Here it is: I LOVE WORKING OUT. {Who knew I’d be that girl?} Working out should always be about FEELING good. If you look good too? Icing on the cake.

Never having been a trend follower imagine my surprise when I find out I belong to one. I am a “Strong Mom.”

Women and fellow mothers who take pride in their fitness and athletic abilities after having kids.

How cool is that?! My family has always given me a hard time for devoting chunks of time to working out, seeing it only as time not directly spend with my girls. Which has been a huge hurdle for me. I am constantly torn between wanting to be healthy and giving my kids my very best. Guess what? Working out is what has turned out to be the glue that helps bonds us.

Back to that picture I was painting; I have recently acquired some kick ass obliques but, honestly, most days they kinda look like love handles. We are all different and we all look different, but there is a workout for everyone. Whether you’re my sister the free spirited, no body issues type who is fantastic at yoga or the super intense slightly neurotic (still adorable) me, who thinks they have to do it all. Whatever does it for you, whatever makes you feel good: that’s the workout for you. They’re all great.

My new opinion: It is absolutely vital for Moms and Babes to have fitness a part of their daily lives.

I have an 18 month old and a three year old and although finding the right rhythm and schedule was hard. With a bit of work however, my workouts fit perfectly and benefit each of us.

I feel there are three great reasons to work out just as far as children are concerned:

 

  1. Establishing healthy habits. Seeing me workout everyday helps teach my girls to take care of their minds and bodies as they age.
  2. Momma is important too. Taking time for myself teaches them that it is not ALWAYS about them. Granted, 95% of the time they are, but taking just that 5% for yourself helps let them figure out how to entertain themselves. This, in turn, gives them healthy independence.
  3. Happiness is learned. The countless benefits for you momma’s out there, live longer, feel stronger, and let’s not forget that serotonin shot we all so desperately need. Teaching that happiness is a choice we make every day is an invaluable lesson.

 

The first couple of weeks/months of working out, especially if you have gotten out of shape, is hard. Add kids to the mix and its easy to see why so many out there have a hard time getting started. The good news is after you jump that hurdle you’ll never know how you survived without working out.

 

My back hurts less than before I even had kiddos and I had back labor! I have a ton more energy, sleep much sounder(when I get to sleep) and a much needed boost in my self-esteem make life much easier.

holly4

 

The best thing for us was finding and establishing a schedule so everyone knows what to expect.  Our typical days go like this:

  • The girls and I wake up at the same time since we co-sleep
  • The second all eyes are open we grab a book and have a little story time. Generally two to three books (largely because I have  a rule about books before any television)
  • Then both babes get half a banana/apple/pear, whatever fruit we fancy that day. Which largely helps fight off that early morning drop in blood sugar.                            *During that time I set my oldest up with her favorite show of the week, which she watches at least fifteen seconds before getting distracted by something going on.
  • The youngest gets set up with four or five distracting toys, a drink in her Sippy cup and a fresh diaper directly in front of my workout station.
  • Now, finally, I can get to my morning 30 to 40 minute cardio. For this work out I turn to Jillian Michaels videos, I love them! Some say addicted.
  • Following that the girls and I all sit down together for breakfast.
  • Later in the day I’ll do one or two focused strengthening moves and these usually only take ten to fifteen minutes a piece. The girls and I usually sing songs back and forth which gives me that added bonus of increased cardio.
  • Evening time is reserved for yoga, which is so mellow the girls typically join me. Which thrills me to pieces to see their little bodies gain balance and strength while we giggle and poot (those who do yoga out there you know what i mean) our way through practices.holly3

You have to go into every momma workout with any open mind- things will come up, you will have to multi-task sometimes. That doesn’t mean you are not getting your full workout and interruptions don’t have to mean you’re not having fun. When you have to stop to take care of something (and you will) just get back to it as soon as you’re done. Sometimes I try to jog over to whichever one needs me or sing to keep that cardio from falling off. My littlest loves trying to trick me into changing her perfectly clean diaper, and I know her little silly self thinks its hilarious when I see there is nothing in the diaper. You do what you have to do. It’s a balance that we all have to integrate into our lives, so what’s one more thing. You have plenty of time anyway…..don’t you? {eye roll!}

Helpful hint: One of the very best investments you can make is a full length mirror to work-out in front of.

It’s a great tool in checking your form but it has another purpose: No matter how careful you are one day you will hit/kick/knee your kid while working out. They will zig zag when you only have time to account for a zig.

You Will Feel Terrible!!! Even if it doesn’t really hurt them.

Don’t worry though if your child is old enough she will remind you of the terror you caused every day for quite a while. Anyway, the mirror helps avoid this situation by working out in front of it. {While we are on the subject maybe save kick boxing for nap time ;)}

 

Working out can be for any family, in any situation.

Mine is very organized and is important to me, but every workout is a good one.

Taking baby out for a long morning stroll has fantastic benefits. 20 minutes of yoga while you’re waiting for baby to fall asleep so that you can have a glass of wine will make that wine so much more enjoyable.

Each mom out there has the right to take time for herself to be healthy, because in reality that will pay off more for your children in years to come.

So… bad ass momma’s out there: free yourself from guilt, taking just a half an hour “away” from your kids a day could give them years more later in their life. {and yours}

To sleep, or to Co-Sleep

Sandra fact: I do not function on lack of sleep, as in not at all, not even a little.

Lets begin with how much I love and appreciate my husband.  I do, truly and honestly, appreciate everything he does for our family and for me.  He is the yen to my yang.

That is the sweet, kind way of saying we drive each other crazy.

If he is up I am down, black and white, oil and water, so on and so forth.

Most of our life is a careful balance of give and take that ends up in compromises that work for us.

Co-sleeping has been one of those compromises. {Giving birth in a Birthing Center was another one, we can save that for another blog.  Spoiler alert: my crazy, country ass wanted to give birth in a barn.}

Honestly, I had not thought about this much before I had to.

Here is what I knew and thought going into my first days of being a momma:

 

  1. My sister advocated for co- sleeping after her first baby.

Her legacy of life not going quite to plan is in play again here.  She tried putting her little bundle of joy in a bassinet by the bed to sleep. Two weeks into being a momma the exhaustion over took her and without planning to she fell asleep with baby in the bed. She woke alarmed, the baby was OK.  She was surprised by her actions but took them as a sign to do what came naturally.  From that night forward the baby and, now her little sister, share a bed with their parents.

  1. I knew how to sleep without moving.

As a child I bottled raised rabbits. {I mentioned that I’m a little country, right?} Those baby rabbits slept in my bed to keep warm; I could totally do that with a real baby.

  1. Co-sleeping meant I would not have to leave my bed to feed my baby.

With any luck she would not even wake to nurse. Dude, why would you do it any other way?

My husband, the quiet thinking type, could give you a few reasons why he was against the whole idea. All his reasons came from a place of love and worry. Among other logical things like simple space equations his main concern was that he would roll onto Baby Z during the night. I quickly dismissed this one as he is the lightest sleeper I know, one might not even call it sleeping as much as lying still. So the idea that he would, in his sleep, roll onto our warm, squishy baby seemed a very unlikely scenario to me.

I decided to hit the books.

I was quoting Dr. Sears in my sleep.

Finally, that husband of mine conceded.

He did make sure that we had a crib ready when we brought Baby Z home. He likes to be prepared. {Truth be told I don’t think he was really sold on our tiny fragile baby sharing a sleeping space with two 150 pound steam rollers that could crush her at any moment.}

In the spirit of compromise I will admit that we were both right. He was right that we don’t really all fit on the bed. How would I have known he would need to sleep on the floor just to get some rest? I was right too, though. We did not roll onto her, we did not harm her in any way in our sleep.

My sweet, loving husband slept on the floor for at least the first month. He saw that my inability to function without sleep took precedence as I need to feed our tiny girl.

His act of love and self-sacrifice took a toll on my guilt level and on his sleep.

We eased him back into our bed. Slowly, he started napping with her and then we put the mattress on the ground so we could all sleep together.

Screenshot_2016-03-16-20-02-36-1
Focus on the sweet baby, ignore the mustache {eyeroll:it still isn’t funny}

We have since graduated to having a full-fledged bed, not on the floor, and at 19 months along we all are very happy with our sleeping arrangements.   Turns out that the little I knew, based purely on my instinct was plenty {Confirmed after doing a TON of research} the combo of my instinct and my husband’s push to investigate yielded a process of compromises that made us all safer and happier.

Screenshot_2016-03-16-20-03-25-1

Maybe next we can talk about the compromise that ended up in my junk food loving husband making fair trade, organic bread for our family 😉 ;).

 

Lead Poisoning

Last year my seemingly healthy 17 month old baby was diagnosed with lead poisoning.

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No dramatics here.  None of that over blown, minor issue is the end of the world, wipe up my crocodile tears sort of nonsense.  Baby Z’s lead levels were not a little elevated.

They were 10X the acceptable level.

We are talking brain and organ damaging level.

This has changed just about everything in our lives: where we lived, what we ate, and how we see the world.

Before I share our experience there are some very important things I want you to know about protecting our children:

  • If you live/rent an older home test the inside and outside paint. The test is 10 dollars at the hardware store.
  • If your house is less than 5 years old test the water coming out of the faucet. The solder for pipes can be lead based.
  • All dirt (in populated areas) has lead in it. Thanks to leaded gas exhaust (unleaded gas was not used until the 1980’s so if your area was populated before then please use precautions when playing outside).

Here’s how we found out that our lives were about to change:

Due to relocating (we’ve been more nomadic than most) we missed baby Z’s 12 and 15 month checkups. Even though we were a little late to the party we scheduled her doctors appoint as soon as we realized our over sight.

Everything went well. Baby Z behaved well, letting the doctor check her ears, listen to her heart and lungs without a fuss or fight.

Height and weight: above average, mental development: above average. Heck yeah! Momma win! {y’all remember my BF journey right? The moment I get cocky life knocks me flat on my ass.}

As we are leaving the doctor stops us to ask if baby Z has had her lead level checked, apparently it should have been done at her 12 month check up. She had not; we had them tested before we left the office. The doctor was able to test her right there with a hand held machine.

Important note: there is no safe level for lead, 3.5 micro-grams per deciliter is the acceptable level.

45 MPD requires immediate medical treatment.

Baby Z’s level was 35 MPD from the handheld machine in the doctor’s office.  We were sent immediately to the hospital for a second, more thorough test.  We learned during this process about the treatment process that Baby Z would need to endure if her levels were too high.  We were terrified.

It took five days to get those results back.

When the results came in my heart stopped. Remember that 45 MPD requires immediate medical treatment.

The results read: 43 MPD.

Baby Z’s blood was 3 points away from a dangerous medical treatment that would pull the lead out of her blood.

The day our lives changed

My husband and I searched and read everything on lead poisoning we could find while waiting to have Baby Z’s blood drawn for the more intense and conclusive tests.

We came to the conclusion it was the house we were living in.

We had been living there for 5 months, it was home. We have nomadic tendencies and I have not felt “at home” in years, it was nice.

Baby Z and I have not been back to the home since the day we left for the standard doctor appointment, got the results, and came to the conclusion the house was to blame.

That day, the day we left our home for the last time, we arrived at the hospital and in the hospital waiting room, Baby Z had her blood drawn.

 

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Hubby drove us straight to my in-law’s house where we would stay until we had somewhere to return to that would not poison my baby. Their home is an hour away from our home. That means it’s an hour away from my husband who had to stay for work.

I was scared and stranded.

I was left alone with a million questions from myself and my in-laws that I did not have the answer to:

How did this happen?

Why did this happen?

Why did you not clean more often?

Maybe you should have washed her hands more often?

Why do you let her play outside in the dirt?

Will she be ok?

This time was a very hard period my husband, my baby and me. It took two weeks for my husband to find a new place for us and get moved in.

Give me just one moment to gush: My husband amazes me and I grow to respect him more every day. He is my rock. He moved an entire house in two days by himself! Simply so that we could be back home with him.

He did it and we started again in a new home determined and ready to heal our baby and make up for the lost time together.

The things that had to change

What we ate:

When I became pregnant I changed my eating habits. I tried to eat more organic food and a properly balanced diet, but I did not make it major priority. Sometimes I succeeded and sometimes I failed. Life went on.

That all changed when I found out Baby Z was sick.  Diet is the best and fastest way to help flush the lead from her little body.

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We were worn out from all of the uprooting and the back and forth to the doctor. I was determined to continue breastfeeding because it was the best thing to continue to help heal my baby. What is right is not always what is easy.

Thank goodness for friends: My friend Holly started making us snack bars tailored to our needs to help alleviate some of the stress of eating correctly while on the move. She made me a variety of flavors so that I would keep eating them and made sure that they were safe for Baby Z in case she decided to treat herself to one of Momma’s snacks.

I will forever be grateful for that help, she saved my sanity.

Reading ingredient labels was getting exhausting ( the things that are put in kid snacks is scary.)  Baby Z’s liver was being taxed by the heavy metal in her blood, the liver is the filtration system of the body and helping to cleanse that organ system became a major part of our life.

Now we (meaning Z and I – hubby doesnt have to worry about the baby eating what he eats while away from us) don’t eat any artificial dyes or sweeteners.

Over time I have relaxed a bit. I can’t control what her grandparents feed her and freaking out about it isn’t good for anyone.

How I now see the world:

When we first received the diagnosis I saw everything as life threatening to Baby Z.

I threw away all plastic toys (yep trace amount of lead), any and everything made in China (so many things from there are recalled due to safety concerns), started storing our food in glass containers, read every package like a threat letter being sent to my baby.  I had to get extreme to feel like I was doing enough.

How we play:

The saddest thing that changed was the ability to let baby Z play outside.

Z and I basically lived outside before all of this. We had a vegetable garden in the spring/summer and a container garden in the fall/early winter. We painted outside, learned to felt and practice our skills at felting outside.  We made mud pies and other random fun kid things that we just cant do now.

It crushed my free spirited soul to find out these things, the things that brought us so much happiness are the very things that caused her to become so sick.

You see: the outside paint was lead, the paint chips on the ground were lead, and our town is old so, the soil was full of lead. Everything around us was poison.

The healing has begun:

Four months and 5 blood draws later Baby Z’s levels have dropped to 12 MPD .

The doctor is surprised how quickly the levels are falling.

The changes to our diet and lifestyle are what has sped along her healing.

We still have a very long road ahead of us; we will not know if there has been any lasting damage done to her brain until she is 6. Speech is the most common area damaged by lead and we just aren’t there yet.  Time will tell and hopefully heal both her body and our spirits.

Something amazing happened along the way:

I felt so alone in all of this.

I had no Momma tribe.  I had very few friends and no one that understood what was happening to my baby and how it was breaking our hearts.

Along the way B.A.M! happened.  It was born out of support and love for my family.

I started building my own Momma tribe.  B.A.M! is so important to me because it was the beginning of that.  We don’t see ourselves as simply a product that can help, but as a community that can help.

I want you to join my tribe, our Bad Ass Momma community.  Mommas of all styles and walks of life can share their stories, their knowledge, their questions and find support.

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