Going on Maternity Leave

Hello, everyone.

I've had blogs scheduled pretty regularly for several weeks now, since I have been on maternity leave. But honestly I've had practically no comments, so it feels like no one is reading.

I can't be entirely upset- my readership was never super high, and I haven't been promoting this blog or interacting with other bloggers too much.

My maternity leave is flying by faster than I ever thought possible. How cliche, right? But seriously, I am loosing track of time and it really is zooming by.

So I am going to enjoy the last of my leave, and the beginning of summer, and take a break from this blog.

I expect I will pick back up once I return to work- maybe not right away, but once I get caught up. Although I have no idea how long that will be.

Hope you all have a fantastic summer!

Show Us Your Books Link-Up: June 2016

Hello! Took a break last month due to the baby- blogging has been on the back burner in general. But I'm doing a decent amount of reading anyway (or it feels like I am- more than I expected I would be able to do). So really this is going to be what I've read the past two months.

The Reincarnationist (Reincarnationist #1) by M.J. Rose


50 Stories in 50 States: Tales Inspired by a Motorcycle Journey Across the USA Vol 5, The West by Kevin B. Parsons



Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson 



 That Night on Thistle Lane by Carla Neggers


 Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay


The Superior Wife Syndrome: Why Women Do Everything So Well and Why--For the Sake of Our Marriages--We've Got to Stop by



Full of Grace by Dorthea Benton Frank



 I'm sure it's nothing compared to some of you, who read 8 or more books in a single month. But my monthly goal is 2.5 so the fact that I've averaged 4 books a month over the past 2 months is great for me. Very happy with my yearly progress, although I am making an effort to finish off my diversity reading project and my IRL TBR project...just needed a break.

2016 Reading Challenge

2016 Reading Challenge
Brittany has read 20 books toward her goal of 30 books.

What have you been reading? Link up and Show Us Your Books!

Life According to Steph

Thoughts on Motherhood: Feeding

I know not everyone is into the mommy topics...and if you're not, run away now. 
This post is ALL ABOUT some millennial mama drama. 

Although there is somewhat of a life lesson type thought at the end if you're interested.


It has been one of the hardest, most frustrating and confusing parts of being a new mother.

Growing up, I think most people fed their babies formula. I was formula fed, and any time I remember hearing about breastfeeding it was always with a little bit of a whisper, like it was weird.

Things have changed. 

Now breastfeeding is THE THING to do, y'all. It is THE BEST and most amazing and natural thing that is going to set your child up for LIFE, don't you understand?!? 

It helps the mother bond with the baby, and provides antibodies, and will prevent allergies and asthma and tooth decay and basically is the magical unicorn of baby health.

Do I sound dramatic? Well, so do the breastfeeding die-hards.

I wanted to breastfeed. I kept saying while I was pregnant that I would try it, but not super stress out about it. 

But I did also ask my husband to please not just accept defeat, and encourage me to keep going at least to 4-6 weeks.

Well, I ended up super stressing out about. 

To the point where I spent at least 60% of my first Mother's Day as a mother crying.

Breastfeeding is hard. 

It basically takes up all your time within the first 3 weeks, and it hurts. I won't even go into the details, because this isn't that type of blog, but it hurts. And everyone just says "Oh it will get better."

At one point I told my parents it's like getting repeatedly punched in the face, and crying, and people just going "Ah whatever," as they walk by.

To be fair, it kind of gets better. Possible TMI, but I have a traumatized boob. Traumatized, that is the description from the lactation consultant. Basically, while some pain is normal some is really really not. And it took me flat out refusing to listen to all medical providers and stopping nursing on that side...and a month later I am almost healed. The side that works though? Yeah, that side did get better and nursing no longer hurts.

I had to supplement, because my trauma made my supply drop a lot. And I was so miserable that I did not want to try and boost it. Supplementing is when your baby gets both breastmilk and formula. It's been working well for several weeks.

Look, I think breastfeeding is great. And had I not been traumatized, I may have stuck with it. 

But truthfully...I didn't enjoy it enough to fight. I didn't want my baby's first few weeks, and the precious 3 months I have at home with her, to be spent literally fighting to get her to eat.

And yes, it was a fight. It was not super sweet, and we did not bond through breastfeeding. I described it at one point as trying to get a wriggling catfish onto my boob (country folks who have seen catfish flop around will understand). She started loosing weight. Her output (aka diapers) severely decreased below what is healthy. It was AWFUL.

Again, breastmilk is basically magical and perfect. And breastfeeding is supposedly THE BEST thing you can do for your child.

But the pressure to do it, and ONLY it, was too much. 

It was so much responsibility and everyone just kept acting like it should either a) be natural and wonderful and I should never question it, or b) it would suck and I should just deal because I am a mother now so my feelings don't matter, only what is best for my baby.

I'm not cool with either of these viewpoints. 

Breast is the best, okay. But I cannot truly believe that it is the defining characteristic of motherhood. I just can't. 

I made the decision to wean off to only formula. Currently I nurse about once a day...and the thought of stopping completely does upset me a lot. I feel bad. I feel like a failure. And I will miss those occasional moments where she nursed well and I felt like I was providing something special for her.

But I also feel angry that I'm being made to feel bad at all. 

Especially in a country with such crappy family paid leave-because the thought of finally figuring out breastfeeding, only to go back to work and have to figure out pumping, makes me want to lay down and sleep for the next 2 years so I can just avoid the whole thing. 

Formula is a perfectly fine way to feed a child. Sometimes I feel like the breastfeeding community is really more about moms saying "I did this super hard thing because I LOVE MY CHILD more than anything else in the world, including myself. You are clearly an inferior mother for not doing the same" than it is about treating their child well. It seems full of pride and judgement.

And even if the biological benefits are as magical as some people claim, I don't think the emotional aspect is something I can handle.

Being solely responsible for my child's nutrition was a huge burden- although some view it as a privileged. 

There are still restrictions to how I treat my body, and it still belonged to someone else. There is still so much pressure- don't use a shield, don't pump, don't let ANYONE EVER interrupt your schedule or dare to think they have a right to bond with your child (even the father). Oh and get ready to cry if your child takes a bottle, because that is precious special time that someone is flat out stealing from YOU, MAMA!

There are plenty of women who have great experiences breastfeeding. And there are some women who won't treat you the way the above paragraph describes.

I am so glad I tried it, and I'm so glad we made it through at least 5 weeks. 

That's still hopefully going to provide a healthy boost for her.

But, formula fits our life a lot better. And maybe it is selfish of me to provide anything less than the best for her. But you know what. If that's the first lesson I teach Maisie, I'm okay with that.

 Perfection is bullshit. Try your hardest, baby girl, but realize you are not defined by defeat or failure or being just a smidgen less than the best. 

And never be ashamed of being honest about what you need. Yes, being a parent (or a spouse, or a daughter, or a good friend) sometimes requires sacrifice. But self-care is important, and required for any type of healthy relationship.

Yeah, I'm 100% fine with that attitude being the thing I pass down to my daughter.

Book Review: What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child.

So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, she has three kids and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes.

Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over.

-What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

This is one of the first books in a long while that I have really enjoyed. 

To be fair, that's partly due to the nature of my yearly reading goals. But I finally got around to checking out the ebooks available through my local library and since I've been hearing a lot about this one, decided to try it out.

I actually loved it. It was well-written, intimately personal, and plausible.

I love stories about people

I am slowly getting more and more on board with the magic/fantasy/dystopian genres. But at my core, I'm a sucker for stories about people and relationships and families. There's just something about all the different ways humans relate to each other and view situations that pulls me in. There's a reason I majored in psychology, y'all.

****there will be spoilers past this point****

I identified with Alice almost immediately. In her mind, she is in her late 20s and expecting her first child with her (relatively) newlywed husband. I am also in my late 20s, happily married, and just had my first child.

So I can't imagine what it's like to wake up and find that basically all that has changed. It's incredibly sad for me to even imagine my marriage imploding the way Alice's did. It's all so cliche- he worked too much, she got too busy with the kids, they stopped communicating and took on other people's problems.

But cliche or not, it's a recipe for disaster. 

It's sad to see Alice's hope from the beginning of the marriage to Nick's (and everyone else's) vitriol from the current state of the marriage. The contrast there, and the way everyone treats the breakup as inevitable, breaks my heart because it follows the narrative our culture now perpetrates that marriage itself is doomed to fail. I'm sure there are many people who will say this is true and I'm still just naively happy and will end up just like Alice. But this story is exactly why it's so important to constantly make your relationship a priority, not in spite of life going on but because of life.

Her relationship with her children is also fascinating. They are constantly surprising her, and it also shows the way we get fooled into thinking we truly know someone. It seems as though "new Alice" (39 year old Alice) has assumed she knows her children and her actions reflect her own thoughts. "Old Alice" (29 year old Alice, the way she currently thinks with the amnesia) doesn't know these children- so she accepts them based on the way they are acting at that particular moment. Of course it's natural- and encouraged- for mother's to know their children's background and personalities. But there is something to be said about the way she now listens to them on a daily basis and doesn't put all of these past behaviors and attitudes towards them.

We too often so bogged down in the past that we don't allow for individual growth and change.  I've noticed this tendency in myself and it's something I try to fight against, because I hate when it's done to me.

Speaking of growth and change, I LOVED the epilogue. Especially for the romantic relationship, but also for the way her children changed during their teen years. Since being pregnant and having my own child, I've noticed how easy it is for adults to slip back into "Well when YOU were little." Which is nice, but again it's important to remember that people do change and personalities can flip. It's not fair to assume your relationship with someone is going to be the same in ten years- whether it's a spouse or sibling or child.

Another thing that struck me with this book was the way people treated Alice's illness. 

She literally could not remember anything from the past ten years. In her mind, she was 29 and still pregnant and happily married. This was a physical condition with a mental manifestation. But no one believed her, or wanted to believe her. They kept treating her like it was a joke, or like if she just tried hard enough that she would be able to remember her current life. It was especially unbelievable that she would not remember her children- like the Mom part of her brain should be magically protected and never ever fail.

This is indicative of something our society believes of mothers- that we have to be perfectly dedicated to our children AT ALL TIMES. It shouldn't matter if we are sick or injured because they are our CHILDREN, DAMN IT! Which, I'm sorry, is bullshit. The woman had a freakin' medical condition and her family treated her like she was being a slacker or just avoiding her responsibilities. No one wanted to accept that she did not know these children.

I understand why it would be traumatic for the children- mothers are often our one constant in life. But the adults should have realized what was going on and stepped in to help her. They should have been mature enough to acknowledge Alice as her own individual person (who in this case had a medical problem) and assist her in order to help her be the mother the children deserve, instead of leaving it to her because she biologically birthed the children. That is not enough to care for someone- you need mental health also. Not saying she was mentally unstable, but she did not know them or their routines and the adults around her should have helped all of them out by acknowledging that.

I also enjoyed Elizabeth (and Frannie's) letters. It showed the different ways families can be built and the unexpected bonds that form.

Again, I'm all about the way we react to others and seeing the situation from so many varying viewpoints was great. 

Sometimes authors are too ambitious with this and it gets confusing, but it was handled really well here and was easy to follow. The multiple viewpoints added to the story instead of distracting from it.

I had a relatively easy time from TTC to delivery, but I have read a lot about infertility. Not enough to say that I understand it, but enough that I was familiar with the viewpoints provided in the book. From what I have read from those struggling with infertility, the character of Elizabeth was well-written and identified a lot of the struggles faced by real-life "Infertiles" (using the books terminology).

All in all, it was an excellent book about family and women and love and I highly recommend it.

What book/s have you most loved lately?

Thoughts on Motherhood: The Early Weeks


It's been pretty great. 

Mostly great.

Okay it has been predominately great with some kind of crappy moments. 

I am so in love with my baby and seeing Tank be a daddy and all the amazing love and support we've been showered with. 

It's truly heartwarming and I've cried from shear gratitude several times.

I've also cried from pain and frustration with breastfeeding (currently have a "traumatized" boob, wtf) and being on a 3 hour schedule (Maisie's weight is not where it should be so we have to wake & feed her every 3 hours). 

But it's getting better.

I honestly had a pretty great labor & delivery. Short version- more than a week overdue, induced with pitocin, had an epidural, labored for 13.5 hours, pushing the last 2 for a vaginal delivery. Recovering pretty smoothly and cannot wait for clearance to start working out again. It's sort of nice to not be pregnant anymore!

Hubs says that is why breastfeeding is so difficult- can't have everything go that smoothly! May be changing to formula soon for my mental health.

 Anyway. After hibernation for a while, we finally made it out to church and go on outings maybe every other day. We're figuring it out...one day at a time.