Thursday, November 15, 2012

Molar Hell

Yes, we're back on the subject of teething. Teething has, without a doubt, been the most challenging aspect of parenting for me. We had a short reprise from teething and it was heaven. Xander began sleeping 11.5 hours through the night and taking 1.5 hour naps every day. He was a happy, carefree baby turned toddler. Never a fuss, always a smile. Laughing, playing, loving. Like I said, heaven. Then, overnight, the demise of the evil tooth returned.

It is what I quickly dubbed as "Molar Hell." He stopped napping for more than 45 minutes and wants to be nursed to sleep for naps and bedtime. He wakes every 2-3 hours at night wanting to nurse for hours and is unable to go back to sleep on his own. He has tantrums when I put him in his highchair or car seat or wants to be held for hours. He pulls my shirt down and cries to nurse far more frequently than ever before. I know my sweet loving baby is in there, but now there's a fussy toddler in the mix whom I've never before met! I sing to him, tickle him, play with him, let him nurse as often as he wants and try to keep him as happy and content as possible. I know what it's like to be in pain and it's no walk in the park, so I can truly empathize with my sweet boy.

Xander has always been a terrible teether. Whenever he cuts a tooth there are inevitably a plethora of sleepless nights. But these molars are a different breed. Normally after nursing he happily goes back to sleep. Not with molars. Not even with Advil, Motrin, Orajel, Camilia, Hyland's teething tabs, frozen binkys, frozen teethers or Mama sleeping in the crib (yes, I actually crawled in the crib with him one desperate morning at 4am). Not even with five hours of boob. Not even in bed with Mommy and Daddy. Not even in the glider with Daddy. For most of Xander's babyhood I'd done the night shifts alone figuring there wasn't much my hubby could do since I'm nursing. I felt bad for hubby that he had to work all day and wanted him to get a full nights sleep. No more feeling bad. I made sure he felt bad for Xander and me! After all, constant sleep deprivation is a form of torture!

After ten days of Hand, Foot and Mouth virus, six days of a nasty cold, six weeks of Molar Hell with three popping through, a three week reprieve and then back on for three more weeks I'm spent. I have aged five years in three months. I have bags under my eyes the size of Texas. I honestly don't remember it being this hard as a newborn. As a newborn Xander would sleep, nurse, poop and cuddle. And I got to rest in between. As a super active toddler with toddler teething problems he runs around all day and doesn't want to sleep at night so there is no time for rest. Mostly we've just ended up bringing him into bed whereupon he latches on to the boob for the remainder of the night. We have reverted to the days of co-sleeping and in the mode of "whatever works." Recently however, he refuses to sleep in bed and just wants to talk and move around. So I go back to the nursery and sleep in the glider with him. Not the best thing for my back and neck. I have grown to dread the glider.

Now the last molar and the first canine are simultaneously cutting through. Every tooth is a 3-6 week process of no sleeping and fussy baby time. My poor sweet boy is hurting. Though I've been told it would be far easier on me if I weren't still nursing and could have my husband soothe him too, Xander really relies on it and I feel as though it's a blessing for us. If I can make him more comfortable why not?

Through the rough patches I attempt to adopt a new lifestyle out of necessity. This is teaching me that sitting at my desk is a thing of the past. Blogging is far and few between. Painting is a luxury. Getting into bed with my laptop and an ice pack after Xander goes to bed is more in line with my current routine. I'm realizing I'm so damn tired that social plans feel like more of an obligation than a luxury. Bed, a book or my remote is truly all I want by the time 8pm rolls around. I'm realizing the smallest things can seem hard with a severe lack of sleep, like looking decent when leaving your house or washing your hair more than every three days. You know things are bad when you're too tired to get a pedicure! :) My how life changes when you have a teething toddler!! However, obligations persist and especially during the holidays plans and events are inevitable. So, I've accepted being and looking tired and having a cup of coffee in the morning to start the day all over again and muster the energy to be cheery and bright eyed for my baby in need. I am his world and I have fleeting magical mommy powers to help him feel better. I know that these amazing magical mommy powers, and his treacherous teething, won't last forever so regardless of how exhausted I am I must accept this as a passage of time and a rite of motherhood.

I'm looking forward to molar hell being over very soon so I can get back my happy go lucky precious boy and my, well...zest for life. Until then, Xander can have as much Bibi/boob as he wants and I will be here to soothe him. After all, though it's hard being a sleep deprived forty year old mama with neck problems it's also hard being a one year old baby whose swollen gums are being cut open by sharp knife like pearly whites. It aint easy being a baby, but thank God for breastfeeding!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Sweetness of Baby Bedtime

When Xander was about eleven months old I stopped nursing him to sleep. Our pediatrician kept telling us how important it was to brush his teeth after nursing, so I finally decided to make the switch. I was devastated as in my mind it signified the end of Xander's babyhood. I was convinced bedtime would never be the same sweet, tender loving time we shared every night. To my great delight, I was wrong!

Xander adjusted in two nights from our old routine of bath, brush teeth, books, nurse/sing goodnight songs to our new routine of bath, nurse, brush teeth, books, sing goodnight songs. What an adaptable little guy! Sure, he still tries to pull down my shirt sometimes after we've read books when we're singing our goodnight songs to get to the"bibis" (as he calls boobies) but I gently shake my head and smile at him and he smiles back and puts his head on my shoulder. It's actually the only time I tell him no to nursing. The rest of the day he nurses at will and routinely pulls down my shirt when he wants to get to the "bibis."

As I brush his teeth he tries to brush my teeth too and we laugh as he sticks the end of his toothbrush in my mouth. This little boy is so sweet I want to eat him up like an ice cream cone! He also feeds me when he's eating. It's too sweet for words. We laugh, we nurse, we cuddle, we talk, we read. Then when I manage to pull myself away from our sweet cuddling and it's officially bedtime I put my sweet boy in his crib, say a prayer, bless him in Greek, tell him how much I love him for the ninetieth time, and say goodnight. He smiles at me, lies down with his blankies and lion stuffed animal and by the time I walk to the other room to the monitor he's normally asleep. 

It's so hard to leave him at night, knowing I won't see him again until morning. I miss him when he sleeps!!  Up until six months he'd wake up every 1-2 hours to nurse so we co-slept. Co-sleeping for six months allowed us both to get a little sleep but at six months he started to not go back to sleep after nursing. However, once it "stopped working" we knew he had to do something as we were all totally exhausted. We hired a sleep consultant and did a form of sleep training, though I knew I didn't want to fully night wean until he was a year old. I'd go in once when he woke up around 3 or 4am and we'd cuddle and nurse for 30-60 minutes. It was the sweetest time that I'll always cherish. 

But now he's a big boy and goes to sleep on his own after the sweetest hour of bedtime routine that we spend together. I love and cherish this time, just as I love and cherish my sweet angel baby. He is the true love of my life. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

No one said it was going to be easy...

We had one of those nights again last night. It seems every time my poor baby recovers from something he gets hit again. He's starting to run now, which means more falls and more bumps on his precious head and more soothing and singing and nursing to ease his tears when he falls. I can now proudly call myself a master soother, and I love my job.

I was so upset when he contracted Hand, Foot and Mouth virus at mommy and me last month. He finally got over it and got back on track with his sleeping and now his molars are coming in. I've heard the rumors and have been dreading molars!! My angel is a glorious night time sleeper who goes to sleep between 6:30-7:00pm and sleeps until 6:00am. However, throw teething or an illness into the mix and sleep is literally out the window for both of us. Even Advil barely phases him anymore, and I only give it when he really needs it. Normally when he's really bad I just bring him into bed because he literally wants to nurse ALL night long and I just can't sit in a glider chair for that many hours. But it's a fine line because he'll sleep attached to my boob for a few hours then wake up and want to play at which point I look at him and say, are you really teething, who wants to play at 4AM?!?! Then we go back to the glider, I nurse him back to sleep, back in his glider and then back in the crib in the morning. It's a big shuffle and I get about three hours sleep and I end up moody, tired and drained and with a back and neck that hurts like hell. To top it off it's that time of the month so my back hurts even more and my cramps are insane. Yay.

Someone told me that when their baby got molars they just left him in the crib all night to "work it out" with a plethora of pacifiers in the crib, but not being there for my baby when I know he's in pain just doesn't seem right to me. When he is sick or teething no matter how exhausted I am I go to him to nurse him and soothe him. It's my job. Sure, it's amazing when he sleeps through the night but when he's sick or teething I cancel ALL plans and I stay home to be with my baby. I allow him to nap on me, I nurse him to sleep and I go to him when he wakes up. I give him lots of homeopathic teething remedies and when it's really bad I give him Advil. Mostly though, he just wants Boob. And quite frankly, that's what they're there for.

It is my goal to allow Xander to self-wean. Since he's 14 months old many people I know with babies his age have already weaned and some give me funny looks when he takes my boob out of my shirt and latches all on his own. I say he's a baby who knows what he wants and I'm willing to give it to him to make his life that much better. Self-weaning seems so natural to me. Knowing how much he relies on and loves nursing I could never imagine taking it away from him. When I'm asked how long I plan to nurse and explain that I'm going to allow him to self-wean people have asked, "but what if he's four". My answer is then so be it. I am not putting an age-limit on his self-weaning as that would defeat the purpose of self-weaning. I can assure you however, that he will not be nursing when he goes to college. :)

I'm praying for a healthy fall and winter, I never realized how easy it is for babies to get sick. If I can make him feel a little better by nursing him on demand then my day is better. I'm getting used to a permanent lack of sleep since I'm a night owl by nature. I need to sleep train myself to go to bed earlier, but by the time Kyri comes home from work, we eat dinner and get into bed to watch TV or hang out it's inevitably midnight. Ce la vie. Perhaps I'll sleep when my kids are in college?!?!? I've heard the rumors though, and the jury is out on that one!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Birthday Blues/Birthday Revelations

Today is my birthday. It's kind of a big one. I'm a little depressed. My poor baby has been super sick all week with a nightmare virus he contracted at Mommy and Me class. All thirteen babies in class got it from one sick baby. Poor guy had blisters all over his body and face, even in his throat and mouth. He wouldn't eat anything for three days. Our week has consisted of nursing and cuddling dosed with baby Advil. Poor mama Marika has had no sleep all week. People have been posting on my FB wall that they hope I'm getting spoiled today. I got three hours of sleep last night and Xander was up for the day at 5am. I've never been one to thrive with a severe lack of sleep.

Kyri is at his twenty year college reunion at the Air Force Academy in Colorado and my parents are on safari in Africa (both went with my blessing to miss my birthday). My brother is scared to drive to my side of town since it's Carmageddon part II. I can't have play dates with mama friends or go to the park in fear Xander may still be contagious. He was up all night again last night so we spent my birthday morning at the pediatrician having him checked out. So, it's my poor sick baby and me today. Happy birthday to me. Thankfully tonight I'll be celebrating with a fabulous girls night out at the 80's concert at the Hollywood Bowl. Cant' wait!!

I always knew being a mother meant putting everyone else's needs before your own as I have witnessed my inspirational mother do so for my entire life. I have happily put Xander's needs before mine for the past thirteen months but today somehow truly solidifies this for me. And the fact of the matter is that nursing Xander and being his Mommy is the best birthday present I could ever ask for. He makes me happier than I've ever been before. Even severe lack of sleep can't change that.

I hate to admit the age that today brings, since no one including myself can actually believe it by looking at me. I still have a youthful glow. I've taken care of myself. I have great genes. We can call it whatever we want, the fact of the matter is I look (and seem!) younger I am. :) But that doesn't change the fact that I'm now forty. Strange number. Is it mid-life? Hopefully not. My grandmother is ninety three after all. It seems as though I should somehow feel old, yet I don't. My father died when he was forty-five. I was twelve. I know this has a lot to do with the fact that turning forty is difficult for me. In my father's world I'd be gone in five years. Impossible to imagine. I've spent my life with that number burned in my head. Forty-Five. He died when he was only forty-five. Far too young, obviously. Especially with two young children. We were all too young and not ready for his departure. Hardest time of my life.

Turning forty is therefore embedded in a multitude of layers of emotion for me. It makes me thrilled to be a mama to Xander, whom I consider to be the most amazing gift of my life. But it also makes yearn to be thirty five instead of forty with my one year old baby. To have a few years back would be so nice. My biggest regret is not having had babies earlier. It wasn't because I didn't want to. I lost four prime baby-making years to two neck surgeries, one spinal fusion and twenty seven procedures under anesthesia after a horseback-riding fall. It was a dark and difficult time in my life and it attests to my inner strength that I got through all the intense pain and depression and then got pregnant.

At the end of the day, we are where we are. I could wish I was thirty-five again. I could also wish I was a size zero again. We could all wish a lot of things. But here is where I'm supposed to be and I will therefore embrace it. I will embrace that though I'm forty everyone says I don't look a day over thirty. I will embrace that I have a beautiful baby and an amazing husband who loves me. I will embrace that though I lost my father at such a tender young age I am extraordinarily close with my amazing mother. I will embrace that I have a beautiful, blessed life. I know that God is up there watching down upon me smiling, saying that five years in the grand scheme of things is really nothing and that when I'm ninety five years old and have two or three grown children and four of five grandchildren I'll laugh about feeling melancholy at turning forty! I also know that my Daddy is up there watching down on me wishing me a very happy birthday, telling me I have the most perfect son in the world and how it's not a coincidence that Xander got his mesmerizingly gorgeous and very unique green/blue eyes. Looking lovingly into Xander's eyes is a gift I cherish every day.

Yes, happy birthday mama. It's not all about me any more and that's exactly how it should be. It's about my child, my family and making others happy. It's about my baby who makes me the happiest I've ever been just by smiling, laughing, nursing and playing. It's about looking forward to the glorious spa getaway weekend where Kyri, Xander and I are going to celebrate my birthday in a few weeks. It's about being able to occasionally sneak in a little time for myself to write and paint and to know that I'm not old but rather that the best part of my life has just begun.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Teething Bites

There is nothing worse than having a sick baby. When Xander is sick I feel his pain inside my bones. When he awakens in pain in the middle of the night and the only thing he wants is Mama all night long I happily sacrifice my sleep to give him what he needs. Am I exhausted the next day? Hell yes! Am I a little moody and mean to my poor hubby at 6am after I've gotten two hours sleep? Um, yeah. Do I get over my exhaustion by the time I've brushed my teeth and had a cup of coffee. Of course!

Xander is a pretty good sleeper unless he's teething and/or sick. Last night he was attached to me all night long after waking every hour  and refused to sleep in his crib. He needed to sleep upright on my chest. I slept in the glider chair with him from 10pm-5am, when he awoke for the day. My sweet, sick boy.

Poor guy has the unfortunate luck to be teething AND sick right now. It's never been so bad. We canceled all our plans for the weekend. I can't go anywhere. My baby needs me. When my baby has a cold he becomes a snot machine. The snot pours out of his nose like a water faucet. And it's Mommy and Daddy's job to suck it out. So we live in the shower with the steam and with the Nose Frida snot sucker close by. The humidifier runs with Vick's pads constantly. Advil is our friend.

He reverts to comfort nursing all day and night, like a newborn. Yes, my nipples get a little sore but such is life. My baby is in pain so I can deal with some pain on my end in order to ease his suffering a bit. Anything for my angel. Comfort nursing is one of the greatest gifts of nursing your baby. It's an instant way to soothe them. Bang on the head; pop them on the boob. Hungry; pop them on the boob. Teething pains; pop them on the boob. Can't sleep; pop them on the boob. Woke up too early from a nap fussing; pop them on the boob. Anyhow, I digress. I could talk about the miracle of boobs all day long...

Teething bites. No pun intended. It has been a long road in a few short months from zero to eight teeth. Xander is getting his eighth tooth at 11.5 months; it's his first molar. He got his first bottom tooth at 7.5 months. We have experienced countless sleepless nights and all night nurse-a-thons, homeopathic remedies, boxes of Camilia, bottles of Hyland's & Advil, cold teethers, frozen pacifiers and of course, bitten nipples. I miss his adorable baby gummy smile terribly. But his beautiful little teeth are markers of his transition into toddlerhood and are a perfect example of how every transition & every change, good, bad, easy or hard that our babies go through is a time to relish simply because these changes and transitions come and go so quickly. We are mothers. We are warders of pain. It's just what we do.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Makings of a Mama

Before becoming a mother I never thought of myself as a "baby person." I had never changed a diaper. I had never nannied. I'd never felt my only life's purpose and goal was to be a mommy. I'm a night owl and relied on sleep in the mornings since I rarely go to sleep before 1AM.  I loved my alone time. I'm an artist after all, and artists need solitude in order to produce work. I always knew I wanted kids but I was scared of how drastically my fabulous life would change. I didn't believe all those crazy mommies at parties who always laid it on thick about how amazing motherhood was. Little did I know, they were indeed telling the truth!!  Motherhood has changed me in ways that I cannot describe.

My Mom always said, "when you have your own child, you will know a love that you've never known before." She was right, which is no surprise because she's right most of the time. :) When my son was born a part of me was born that I never knew existed. I became the woman I was always meant to be. Nothing else mattered any longer besides this sweet baby who lived and breathed around my very existence. As a newborn, nursing and soothing him whenever he needed and wanted became my only purpose. Sleep was non-existent. My own needs meant nothing. 

The perfect size zero body which once had belonged to me and that I'd taken great pains to maintain now had only one purpose; nurturing and feeding my child. Fat rolls and thick thighs had replaced my hard abs and model skinny legs. I donned pajamas, robes, sweat pants and tee shirts all day instead of designer dresses, skinny jeans and beautiful blouses. I wore slippers instead of four inch heels. Showering every few days became my new norm and I no longer had the time or energy to bother with perfume or makeup. My baby needed me every second and for the short periods that he'd sleep I became consumed with doing research in order to voraciously soak up every single piece of information I could find on babies, breastfeeding, mothering, parenting and the like. 

There is nothing I can compare to mothering my baby. Nothing in life has been as astoundingly meaningful for me. Nothing else I've experienced in life has caused me to shed so many tears of pure, utter exasperating joy. Every sweet breathe Xander softly breathed while sleeping on me or next to me when he was a little baby (and wouldn't sleep anywhere but on my chest) was like a kiss from God. It was as if God was whispering through my baby's breathe "this is the miracle of life, let us relish in our creation." 

I became a babywearing, co-sleeping, breastfeeding mama overnight. Being a Mommy just felt SO NATURAL to me. When Xander was born I felt completed. Every day I live with him, every poopy diaper I change, every cry I soothe, every hunger pain I satiate, every smile we share, every laugh in which we relish, every glance we all knowingly communicate through, every feeling we acknowledge through looks, smiles and baby talk and every kiss we savor has become the highlight of my life. I love him more, and more, and more with each bright day. 

Thus began my love affair with my sweet baby. After the past eleven months it seems as though Xander, Kyri and I have been together forever. We have become a perfect family unit. I couldn't imagine life without my sweet angel and am very lucky to have a husband who is such an amazing and loving daddy. Life before Xander seems almost a moot point. The past eleven and half months have gone by faster than any year in my life. I cannot believe my baby will be one in three weeks. Breastfeeding him for almost a year (and going strong) has been the greatest joy, accomplishment, commitment and bonding experience of my life. 

The most amazing part though, is that I know this is how every mother feels. It is the most universally astounding thing we all share. Rich/poor, thin/fat, country/city, red state/blue state, creative/corporate or...from Beverly Hills. :) It doesn't matter. We all love unconditionally. We all give endlessly. We are mothers. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Just say YES to Breastfeeding!!!

My breastfeeding do’s and don’ts:
                Whatever you do, DO NOT…I repeat DO NOT listen to the nurses at the hospital who try to push formula while your milk comes in. Colostrum is THE BEST thing for your baby and though it will be painful, difficult, exhausting & very challenging let your baby suckle all day and night if need be to stimulate your milk.
                Colostrum is ALL your baby needs until your milk “comes in,” so please be patient and work though the initial pain and frustration. It WILL get easier…I PROMISE!
                Caving in and giving formula in the hospital before your milk even has a chance to come in, is setting yourself up for failure.
                Tell the nurses ‘Thank you very much,’ but you’re sticking it out and that you’re 1000% committed to breastfeeding. Give it a chance before jumping to formula! ;-)
                Ask to see a lactation consultant in the hospital twice a day if you need to. Tell them you want to use the hospital grade pump to further stimulate your milk.
                Either rent a hospital grade pump to take home with you or buy a very high quality double electric pump. (I had great success with ‘Medela pumps.’)
                Once you’re home, if your milk supply is low, pump after each nursing session to increase your milk supply.
                Don’t forget that the first month or so is THE most important, as that’s when your milk supply is being established. So this is the time to hunker down and NURSE, NURSE, NURSE.

FEED ON DEMAND! Here’s why:
                Please, whatever you do, DO NOT put your baby on a nursing schedule. Feed ON DEMAND!!!
                Beware of the results; you’ll have a very happy baby and simultaneously boost your milk supply! )
                If your milk supply is on over-drive, no need to pump more than once a day. I always recommend pumping at least once a day in order to start a reserve “freezer stash”.
                Invest in a deep freezer and pump a lot before your baby starts solids
                (the first six months is when you naturally produce the most milk before your baby starts solids)
                Working Moms — In order to build up your freezer stash and have milk for a year to come or if you plan to go back to work, pump, pump, pump!
                Milk can be stored in a regular freezer for 4-5 months and in a deep freezer for up to a year. I use the ‘Medela milk storage bags’ and labeled them with date and ounces.
                Be sure to freeze in varying increments because once you defrost you cannot reuse or reheat. I stored in 2oz, 3 oz, 4oz, 5oz and 6oz increments.
                Be careful of blocked milk ducts if you plan to try to sleep through the night. Xander is 11 months old and I still haven’t night weaned him for a couple of reasons: a) to keep him happy and well fed b) to keep my supply up. He goes to sleep at 6:30pm, I pump at 11pm before bed to add to my freezer stash and then he wakes at about 3am to nurse.

                It’s also a time of bonding for us when I go in and cuddle him in the middle of the night. I love our middle of the night feedings as they are so peaceful and tender and all about cuddling, love and true nurturing.
                Your baby will not want to wake up in the middle of the night forever, so my thought is to enjoy it while it lasts.
                Look at things positively instead of negatively. If you see it as a bonding time instead of a dreadful duty you will wake up happier.
                Please don’t make the mistake of having your hubby do a middle of the night feeding while you sleep. This is a sure fire way to lose your supply and get blocked ducked and/or mastitis.
                This goes for any time of the day your baby gets a bottle. Please have your nanny tell you the exact time she’s giving your baby a bottle and pump at that exact time so you’re on the same cycle. I can not STRESS how important it is to be on the same cycle.
                If you get blocked ducts and engorgement freeze cabbage leaves and put them inside your bra for instant relief. Our freezer was stocked with frozen cabbage for months!!
                Whenever your baby gets a bottle you must pump!
                I still nurse Xander on demand and believe it’s always the best way. At eleven months sometimes he wants to nurse after four hours and sometimes after two, but I always take his lead. It’s far less rigid and more organic and natural to allow your baby to let you know when they’re hungry. I do pretty much always offer him the breast every three hours though and he lets me know whether he wants it.

Co-Sleeping helps build milk supply and is a great bonding experience!
I believe in co-sleeping for the first six months. There are many ways to co-sleep. There are co-sleeping attachments for your bed or co-sleeping bassinets you can put in the middle of your bed. Or you can go the old fashioned route and just have your baby snuggled up against you, with the covers pulled down of course.
                I tried them all and eventually when Xander was 2.5 months old went the route of snuggling. He slept nestled in my breasts for six beautiful months and it was an amazing experience. Sure, I didn’t leave my house at night for that time or have plans with friends or see a movie or do anything but nurse and be with my baby but nothing can ever take that away from us. Hands down I will do it again with our next baby.
                Six months is a perfect time to transition your baby to the crib. By this point, the baby will be on pureed solids and will be able to sleep longer stretches and will not be too overly attached to co-sleeping.
                Yes, of course it will be a slightly difficult transition, but co-sleeping for the first six months is invaluable for your milk supply and for meeting baby’s needs by easily nursing all night long without having to get out of bed. —It’s easier on mom and baby!
                I also use ‘More Milk Plus’ supplements and ‘Fenugreek’ when needed. They can really help to boost your supply but must be taken regularly.
                Of course, eat oatmeal EVERY day and drink a dark beer at night, these are both GREAT for your milk supply. Limit the beer to one though.

And lastly, words of encouragement: DON’T GIVE UP!!
                Breastfeeding is not without challenges but it is SO worth it! I had severe blocked ducts, engorgement & mastitis. I had to go on antibiotics twice.
                I had a lactation consultant come to the house three times to help relieve my engorgement and help educate me on what to do. I did a ton of research. I refused to give up.

I promise there is another side to the madness at the beginning and it does get easy and becomes second nature. It will be something you will always fondly remember and cherish and something no one else can give to your baby. This is what we were meant to do as mothers. There is simply no comparison to a mothers milk. It will make your baby healthier, stronger & smarter. Just say YES to breastfeeding!!!! xoxo 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Here Comes Reality!

I didn't seek this out, it came knocking on my door. I know, it normally doesn't happen like that but it did for me. Last September the producers of Beverly Hills Nannies called to tell me how perfect I'd be for the show.

Right off the bat I told them no...I have a one month old baby, I'm fat, boring, breastfeeding every two hours around the clock, getting three hours of sleep a night and totally, utterly exhausted. How could I possibly do a reality show? I explained I'd gone from a Louboutin loving, size 0, seriously social butterfly to a pajama wearing, slipper slinging, stay at home, breastfeeding mama and that the old Marika they'd known no longer existed. I'm a mommy now, and Xander is my priority and my life. Plus, as the camera puts on 10 lbs clearly I'd be no match for HDTV having gained 65 lbs while prego!

But they kept calling and eventually convinced me to shoot the pilot in November when Xander was three months old. I dusted off my hot rollers and pulled out my makeup and went shopping for some bigger clothes. Sure, I've been known to be funny. I can hang with the best of them. So, why not have some fun with this? I actually didn't even think the pilot would get picked up, but it did (clearly I must have been beyond fab in the pilot and dazzled everyone to the point of no return at Evolution and ABC Family because after all, it's all about me...right?!?). They had to have the show. They had to have me. Rock and roll.

And so began my adventures of shooting a reality TV show. We shot for eleven weeks last Spring and I had a total blast. The producers and crew that were at my house four times a week became like family. Our nannies are amazing and I love them to death (as does Xander). Xander also had an amazing time filming. He LOVES the cameras, a little too much maybe. He's actually kind of obsessed with them. I don't know what this means for his future, but I know he enjoyed the process. He loves people and so do I. He's a ham just like Mommy. 

Now onto phase two...the airing of the show. July 11th, 9/8c ABC Family. Nine weeks of fabulousness. We shall see how I'm edited! I'm so curious to find out who I'll "be", haha! I already know they will take all my funny, dramatic lines and sensationalize them. That's what it's all about it, right?!? This stuff just spews out of my mouth, I swear I have no control of it. :) I know it's going to be a funny, fun show and I'm super excited to see where this wild ride takes me.

To everyone who knows me, you know who I truly am. To everyone who will get to know me on the show and has never met me,'ll either love me or you'll really, really love me. :) I'm as readily available as a stay at home mommy to a ten month old can be, so Tweet or FB me with any questions/comments and I promise to get back to you. I hope you enjoy watching the show as much as I enjoyed filming it. I know everyone on the show has had a blast.


Sun Valley. Gone.

Ever since the first time I came to Sun Valley, Idaho at the age of eight it has held a special place in my heart. Like most who visit this majestic place, I instantly fell in love. Sun Valley has been a second home to me for most of my life. In many ways, I have grown up in Sun Valley just as much as I have in LA.

Having spent over 25 Christmas' in Sun Valley and just as many summer weeks I have experienced many life events in Idaho. As a young girl, Sun Valley was all about skiing in the winter and riding my horses in the summer. One of my show horses had the luck to be able to "retire" in Sun Valley, so I'd spend time with her every summer riding the trails with the gorgeous mountains as our scenic backdrop. What a life. It made me want to retire with her!

During the lazy summers in addition to riding my horse everyday my little brother and I would explore and various rivers, lakes and streams around town every afternoon. We'd wander off having lost track of time as it doesn't get dark until 10pm in the summer. We kayaked, inner tubed down rivers, hiked until we had blisters and ran up hills until we were out of breathe. There is nothing like floating down a river in an inner tube not knowing where it will take you. We took in neighbors dogs and would walk them & feed them and swim with them. We'd make castles out of river rocks. We went river rafting with my family a few times as well. What a rush! Days flowed into night and never seemed to end. Sun Valley was the antithesis to Los Angeles where we could barely play on our block, let alone "explore" around town. Sun Valley is every kids dream, especially in the summers when everything is so relaxed.

In the winter I skied until I was so cold I thought I was going to die of frostbite. Being cold didn't matter for this LA warm blooded skinny girl, it was all about the snow. I wore adorable pink puffer ski outfits in the 70's, shiny fluorescent green and pink ski outfits in the 80's, oversized matte burgundy ski outfits in the 90's, and elegant Bogner white parkas and pants in the new millennium. I got my first pair of custom ski boots, had crushes on my cute ski instructors, showed off in ski school since I was always the fastest skier in class, watched the ball drop every year on TV with friends until I turned 21 then spent the next 15 New Year's at Whiskey Jacques where they had live music, pool tables and skeet hockey. Like I said, the opposite of LA. I snuck into my first bar as an underage teenage, danced with Bruce Willis as an 18 year old, went to house parties, stared at the amazing crystal clear stars until my eyes went blurry, and went cow tipping & swimming in the hot springs at midnight with friends. I went hiking under the bluest of sunny skies through rivers, mountains & trees. I did a series of amazing BodyScape photographs in the winter and the summer, which I'll forever cherish as a part of my history in Sun Valley. I spent countless hours cooking with my Mom in our country kitchen and enjoyed even more hours of stimulating conversation in our hot tub under the stars. I lounged with our dogs by our amazing fireplace and read more books than I'd ever have time to read in LA. It's a place to go to slow down, catch up with family, books and nature. A slower paced life.

For me, Sun Valley is a defining part of my childhood. I always want my children to grow up with a mountain home. Life is just not the same without a mountain home. My parents just sold our family home in Sun Valley last week. So, on the bright side I can say it's a new era. In reality though, I'm really quite depressed about the sale of my childhood mountain home. It's never easy selling a house that's been in your family for 35 years, especially considering I wanted Xander to grow up with the same opportunities I had to wander and be free in Sun Valley. Kyri and I will have to buy our own mountain home for our baby because sadly you can't rely on family homes forever. Especially when your step-father decides he hates the cold, loves the desert, stops skiing and drops out of his mountain golf club. Ce la Vie Sun Valley. You'll forever be a part of me.