Pregnancy the Second Time Around

Exciting news in our household! We are expecting our second child! It’s crazy how different this time around has been. You don’t really have much time to think about what’s happening or to slow down even for a second.


You also feel so many more emotions.

Excitement. Nerves. Excitement. Anxiety. Excitement. Guilt. Excitement. This is how my brain worked when I found out I was pregnant with my second child.

  • Excitement over bringing another amazing life into this world.
  • Nerves about how I was going to do it all (working, two kids, photography).
  • Excitement over growing our family.
  • Anxiety about how I was going to love another baby as much as I love Ben.
  • Guilt. So much guilt. Weird, right? I have guilt and excitement for the same reasons.
  • Extreme excitement for Ben to get a sibling. A built in friend.


My little family is incredibly excited to start this new chapter in our life. We are insanely blessed and cannot wait to bring this little one into the world.

Moms of two – Any advice?! Ben is still coming around to the idea of a sibling. He obviously doesn’t ‘get’ it yet, but is always saying ‘no, thanks’ when we ask him if he wants a brother or sister!!


Mom of Fame – Melissa

Walking into Melissa’s home we were greeted by her two little girls. Her little boy was busy in the other room watching one of his favorite shows. The girls came in and out showing us some dance moves and wanting to be involved in the conversation.

All the kids were happy to pose with their mom for photos and you could clearly tell how enamored they all are with her. Being the mom of three little ones can be such a crazy ride, but Melissa organizes everything with such ease (at least it looked like it to us). She even showed us her organizational wall; a place where the calendar is located (so no one misses a thing), book bags are hung and homework and forms go.

She might have three little children and work out of the home, but you would never see any sort of stress on her face. She takes it all in and she makes everything look easy. She deserves the title of Mom of Fame!


What is the best piece of advice you were given about motherhood? Did you take it? Would you give that piece of advice to someone else?

I thought about this. I guess it depends on what age, I feel like it changes. As babies, and I was a nanny before so I feel like I knew a little bit, to get a schedule and stay on it. That really worked for us. I always did that and that was such good advice. I always had a bedtime and all my babies went down at that bedtime. It always worked. We always did naptime at the same time of day and we just kept on a schedule. Still to this day, we go to bed at a certain time during the school year and a certain time in the summer. We keep to our schedule and I never had the problem with  my kids having a hard time going to bed. Everyone just knew it was bedtime and went to bed. It made my life really easy.

[I] sometimes [give that advice to other people]. I don’t feel like I’m quick to give advice. If someone asks me to I will, but I don’t know if I’ve ever given it out. Everyone has their own way of doing things and what works for you doesn’t work for everybody.


How is motherhood different than you imagined it would be?

It’s way more tiring than I ever imagined it would be. You think you can do it all, but you can’t. I don’t know how any mother does it as a single mother. It’s more than you think it will be. That’s the biggest difference. It’s more work than you expect. It’s worth it! And I always think to myself, “in 15 years I won’t have all of this work anymore and I’m probably going to miss it!” So it’s okay.

What are your three strengths when it comes to motherhood?

So this one was hard. First I thought…

Multitasking and being organized. I feel like that’s a big strength. I work from home and I’m balancing clients, and the kids, and my kids play sports and they dance. I can keep it all under control.

Then after that, I was like, “I don’t know…what else?” So in my group chat I asked my girlfriends. I said, “you guys, what are my strengths!? I don’t even know!” And surprisingly everyone says…

Patience. I don’t think of myself as being patient. But my girlfriend said, “I didn’t think of you as being patient either until you had children. And you are so patient!” So I guess I’m patient!


Describe a time where you were completely overwhelmed as a mother.

I feel like I’m overwhelmed a lot. The biggest overwhelming time was when I had [my daughter] and [my son] was 20 months old and she got really sick. I remember we spent two weeks in the hospital with her, from 3 weeks old to 5 weeks old. I felt so overwhelmed and so bad because I had a 20 month old at home and I stayed at the hospital every single night. It was awful. I just felt so guilty that I wasn’t with [my son] at home and then I felt so guilty even if I left the hospital to go shower. Even though my sister would come stay at the hospital I would come home and shower, see [my son], and go back. That was the most overwhelming two weeks ever. Just not knowing what was wrong with your baby and trying to be a mom to another baby, you feel like you’re neglecting because you’re not there.

Is there anything you feel that you have lost about yourself since becoming a mother? What have you gained?

Not really, I really don’t know. I feel like I’m the same person, but better! You grow up. Even if I wasn’t a mom I’m sure I wouldn’t want to be doing the same things I was doing before. I don’t feel like I lost anything really.

Obviously I gained patience, that my friends never thought I had before [laughs]! I’m able to juggle things now. I gained, obviously, children.


What do you want your child(ren) to learn from you?

I thought about my girls, I really hope that they get friendships like I have. And for [my son] too, but as a girl, as a woman to have those amazing friendships with other women is priceless. I’ve grown up with my best friends my entire life and just having them to back me up and to have someone else to talk to and to be able to share your experiences with. I really hope that for my girls, especially. I hope that they learn to be kind and nice people.

You have three small children, you work from home, you have a million friends and you seem to always be doing something fun. How do you prioritize your life with everything you have going on?

I don’t know if I’m always doing something fun! [Laughs]. So working from home with three kids is super hard. It’s a struggle. Weekly I’m struggling. My kids aren’t old enough yet to technically fend for themselves in the house while I work. So having to always have a babysitter here or have somebody here or try to schedule my work around who has dance, who has whatever. It’s a daily struggle. I’m lucky that my mom lives [close], my sister lives down the street, I have 15 and 16 year old nephews that will babysit for me. I have people to help me out. I couldn’t do it without that. That’s probably the most difficult to balance is working from home.

Obviously our kids are the number one priority. And work. But I also make my friends and our family, our relationships a priority too. I just try to balance it all. It’s a little different with my girlfriends now. It’s not like, “oh, let’s go out to dinner!” We hang out with our kids. So it’s quality time, but it’s hectic when you have 12 kids running around and you’re trying to talk. So I still try to do stuff, but it’s different stuff now. It’s not always easy, but I make it work. You just make it work!

Mom of Fame – Jessica

Being a mom is a hard job. Being a mom of three under three is a really hard job. Being a mom of three under three with one being a foster child (and all that that entails) is taking it to an entirely new level. Jessica seems to handle it all with ease, though.

We met Jessica and her three wonderful kiddos at a park near their house. We imagine getting all three kids out of the house isn’t an easy task, but they somehow managed to do it and even show up early. While we chatted, her smiley five month old contently sat on her lap and her other two happily played on the playground with dad.

Jessica was very easy to talk to and we had a lot of fun hearing her answers. She talked about being happily surprised by how much she likes being a mom, the funny advice her mom gave her about kids, and all about her experience with the foster care system. She is an amazing person and mom and definitely deserves to be in our Mom of Fame. Welcome, Jessica!

Note from Momfaming – We did take some great photos of Jessica’s sweet foster daughter, but because of certain rules through the foster care system we cannot share them. Please know that she was a part of the interview and as cute as can be.


What is the best piece of advice you were given about motherhood? Did you take it? Would you give that piece of advice to someone else?

I was given a lot of advice. I mean, everyone gives you all kinds of advice and I found most of it not very helpful. At all. But my mom always said, “you can have kids and dogs, or you can have nice things”. That’s kind of been my mantra since [having kids]. It’s kind of like, “don’t sweat the small stuff”. Like we were outside, I had mulched everything and I had the blower and [my oldest] was working really hard to figure out how to turn on the blower. He figured it out and just blew all the mulch everywhere. But that’s not as important as he was so excited to get that. I can always re-mulch. Whenever something [like that] happens, “we can have kids and dogs or we can have nice things”.

I try not to give too much advice. So much advice that I was given would have made me a neurotic mother; it would not have worked for me. So I guess the advice I’ve been giving lately is, “everything has it’s seasons”. That kind of makes some of the hard times easier to get through; like those middle of the night things. But also makes those good times just a reminder that it all keeps going. Just enjoy what you can and get frustrated when you’re frustrated.


How is motherhood different than you imagined it would be?

I didn’t think I would enjoy it as much as I do. I’m not really a touchy-feely person, or emotional person or anything like that. So I thought it would be fun, but I didn’t think I would enjoy it as much as I do. Like, they make up those silly games that you watched other parents play and thought, “well that’s just ridiculous”. But they’re so fun when they’re your kid or someone you know. I just enjoy it a lot more than I thought I would.


What are your three strengths when it comes to motherhood?

This is the hardest question [laughs].

I think my strengths would be:

1. Creativity and games. I teach, too, so I try to do everything with a little learning to it. Coming up with games that they enjoy to help them learn.

2. I think I’m pretty good at managing chaos. With three under 3 we have a lot of chaos and just trying to get out the door is, “does everybody have what they need?” and not forget anything for a week of daycare. So managing the chaos and doing all of that while they’re running around or screaming.

3. Being flexible and adapatable. Like the other day we were on a walk and it started pouring rain. But that’s fine. Then there was a bird’s nest that had fallen out of the tree so we then stopped in the pouring rain and looked at the bird’s nest. So just letting them be kids. If we got new shoes and we saw a puddle and we stomp in it, that’s okay too. You can have nice things or you can have kids and dogs [laughs].


Describe a time where you were completely overwhelmed as a mother.

There’s always lots of times, there’s lots of little moments. But there’s one that [sticks out] right when we had gotten home from the hospital [with my youngest]. So he was less than a week old and I had had a C-section so I wasn’t moving great and our oldest started throwing up. It ended up being pretty much a nothing episode, but in my mind it was so overwhelming. Like how I couldn’t pick him up to comfort him. Then I was so aware of the fact that that little stomach bug that would be nothing for all of us could be fatal to the baby. Again, it ended up being nothing but in that moment I didn’t know. What if all the kids got it? What if we got it, how would we manage everything? As I’m covered in puke and not able to move because I just had surgery? That was just overwhelming to figure out what we would have done.


Is there anything you feel that you have lost about yourself since becoming a mother? What have you gained?

Just alone time. I’m very introverted so I like my alone time and it’s pretty much gone. Those showers now are a beautiful thing. For now, because no one can quite open the door. But you follow that up with what you gain. There will be plenty of alone time in the future. So I sneak some here and there when I can.

What do you want your child(ren) to learn from you?

I think you always get the standard answer of you want them to be good and kind people. That’s always the most important thing. But you also want them to be confident in figuring out who they are. Confident to pursue what makes them happy and just being comfortable with themselves. My husband always says that he thinks they should also get my stubbornness, just not all of my stubbornness [laughs]. Just to grow up and be content, happy, kind people.


Tell us about your decision to foster. What has been the hardest part? What about the most rewarding part?

So I always thought that was maybe something I wanted to do. But I didn’t know, since I’m such an introvert and I like my alone time, I didn’t know if I would love parenting enough to want to do that. So once we had our first I knew it was definitely something I wanted to do. It just seemed like a piece of good that we could bring into the world. You know, everybody’s gotta find what they can do to better it and that was something we would be good at and something we could do.

Then we wondered when was going to be a good time. Like, would it ever feel like “now is the right time”. Life is never going to slow down is what we thought. Then it took us just a little bit longer to get pregnant then it did the first time so we said, “why not right now?” Life’s not going to get slower, it’s not going to get easier. It was always going to be hard, so we just went for it. We went for the training and we said we wanted to stay in the range of our age of children, so we said anything 0-4. Just about a month and a half after our training ended they called and said they had a 6 month old little girl. It ended up being a pretty easy placement.

After that it’s been challenging. A lot of it is really hard. It doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. There’s so many players in the game. There’s mom’s lawyer, dad’s lawyer, baby’s lawyer, case worker, the court system. With so many players in the game it’s so much work to get all these boxes checked. I just find, personally, as she stays with us longer and longer, since she’s been with us for over a year, it gets harder and harder to do these things. Like, nobody comes to my house to check how I’m parenting my other two children. I know it’s all part of the system and it’s all what we signed up for, but she’s part of our family now. I think the longer they stay with you the harder it gets. You can talk to 100 different people who have fostered 100 different children and every single experience is different. So you can’t be prepared. You gotta be prepared for heartache, you gotta be prepared for heartbreak. Some are easy stories that end up with an adoption quickly or a reunification quickly, but some aren’t.

She is [the most rewarding part], and watching her grow. She was so delayed when we first got her and just watching her catch up just with stability and love and nourishment. Now she’s just part of us.


Mom of Fame – Whitney

This blog will always be first and foremost a place where every kind of mom can share her story. Whether interviewed directly or a write-in, we want this to be an outlet where moms can have a safe space.

A couple of weeks ago another mom nominated Whitney to be a part of our Mom of Fame. We were so excited to get in contact with her and quickly learned that she is a very warm and open person. She is such strong woman who had beautiful words to share.

Whitney and her family have been through a lot more than most of us will ever see in a lifetime. Her son, Malachi, was born with a severe form of Spina Bifida. For the last seven months they have been living at Seattle Children’s Hospital. At the end of this month they get to go home.

It’s hard to share something so hard and personal with the world and we want to thank Whitney for doing just that. There is no one more deserving to be added to the Mom of Fame.


1. Tell us about your family and son (background information for people that are reading)

Hi! My name is Whitney Stohr. I am 32 years old, and I currently live at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Or, at least I have for the past seven months or so while my son Malachi has been in-patient and receiving treatment.

My entry into motherhood began on January 18th of this year, when Malachi decided he was ready to enter the world five weeks early, and I was emergency life-flighted from Yakima, WA, where I live with my husband, Jason, to the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. I was rushed into the Operating Room and had a quick c-section under general anesthesia. Malachi was born at 12:38 a.m. on January 19th, 2018, and was transported to Seattle Children’s a few hours later. We haven’t left yet.

But let me back up a bit.

Jason and I met as undergraduates at the University of Montana in Missoula. He is originally from Montana and had just re-entered his bachelor’s program after serving in the U.S. Army in Iraq. We got married in 2009 and lived in Washington, D.C., for several years before moving back to my hometown (Yakima) a little over two years ago. Jason currently works in agriculture, as a fieldman for a pesticide/fertilizer company, and I run a small non-profit promoting downtown revitalization and economic development.39167133_485783605224749_5869129263034138624_n

We bought our first house together in 2016 where we live with our two dogs, Marmalade and Neptune.

For a long time, we didn’t know if we could have kids. It just never happened, so we thought maybe it wasn’t meant to. And we were okay with that. We thought maybe someday we would look into adoption, and I think someday we might still… But last summer, we found out I was pregnant. Our whole family was thrilled. There was talk of youth sports and science camp and college — all for a kid that none of us had actually met. We began buying clothes and planning the nursery. Because, at that time, those things seemed like the most important things.

Then, our world came crashing down. At Week 17, I received a call from my OB. He told me that a blood test had come back showing increased probability for a baby with an Open Neural Tube Defect, and suggested that I schedule a follow-up appointment at the local at-risk clinic. It was during that follow-up appointment, at Week 19, that we received a diagnosis. Malachi would be born with Spina Bifida.

If you’re like me, and don’t work in the medical field and have never had a family member with a disability, then there’s a good chance you don’t know much about Spina Bifida. I had no clue. We were told at that initial appointment that Spina Bifida is a congenital birth defect where part of the spinal column fails to close properly, leaving the baby permanently disabled. Malachi was diagnosed with the most severe form of Spina Bifida — Myelomeningocele — which meant, we were told, that Malachi would also likely suffer from Hydrocephalus, a build-up of fluid on the brain, as a result of a brain malformation (known as Arnold Chiari Malformation Type II) caused by Spina Bifida.

39257873_1874271625975816_4261486084602462208_nThese diagnoses meant Malachi would need to undergo a surgery in the first 24 hours of life to close his spinal defect. Then, he would need to undergo a second surgery the following day to place a shunt in his brain that would help drain fluid from his head and prevent a life-threatening build-up of pressure. Oh, but, by the way, we were told, he would need that shunt for the rest of his life, but they are notoriously unreliable and fail constantly. And each time his shunt fails, it is a medical emergency and requires another brain surgery.

On top of this, we found out Malachi also had a Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) and Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) — basically, two holes in his heart — that would require a third surgery… open heart surgery. And, here’s the icing on the cake: Because of his Spina Bifida, I would need to give birth via c-section and would still be in the hospital — a different hospital — when Malachi underwent his first two surgeries. I couldn’t even be there with my baby.

So, the plan was always to give birth in Seattle. What we didn’t plan for was also being diagnosed with IUGR (Intrauterine Growth Restriction) and him deciding to come weeks before his due date.

And so here we are.39258911_323729868198700_733602485993734144_n

Malachi had his spinal closure surgery on January 19th, and his shunt was placed on January 20th. In March, he began showing signs of heart failure and underwent open heart surgery to repair his VSD and ASD on March 22nd. As a result of his heart surgery, he suffered vocal cord paralysis and began showing signs of breathing obstruction (basically, turning blue). So, on May 7th, he had a tracheostomy and is currently trach/vent dependent. Following that surgery, he developed a kidney infection and sepsis, and a shunt failure led to his first revision surgery (brain surgery!) in June.

There were several days where we weren’t sure he would make it….

Honestly, even telling the story is exhausting. Everything about the past seven months has been exhausting.

But, we’re moving forward… because, what else can you really do?

Since Malachi’s tracheostomy, we’ve completed training in how to care for him and have had to recruit a team of home nurses that will go everywhere with us. We are just now finally preparing for our first discharge from the hospital… if all goes according to plan (*knocks on wood*).

But we’ll be back here. A lot. For follow-up appointments, MRIs, trach/vent clinics, and more shunt revision surgeries. The hospital will be a big part of our lives from here on out.


2. What are your three strengths when it comes to being a mother?

For me, motherhood looks different than I think it does for most women. I would like to say that my three greatest strengths as a mother are traits like being loving and caring and comforting. I hope that is true of myself. I believe that it is. However, because of our situation and the circumstances surrounding my ascent into motherhood, our world is a little more complex and, as a result, I now take pride in qualities that I wouldn’t have probably considered to be my greatest strengths before Malachi, but have since become just that.

39171370_277031382887725_755176553398140928_nI think one of those strengths is the fact that I can find humor in everything, even if it sometimes comes out sarcastic and cynical. I am entirely aware that humor is my coping mechanism, and I’ve come to embrace it because, otherwise, in this situation, all you really want to do somedays is curl up in a ball in the corner and cry, and feel sorry for yourself, and contemplate how the hell your life got to this point. But, I think, there’s power in feeling those emotions and acknowledging them and coming to understand that it is totally normal to feel that way and it is absolutely expected that you do. And, if you happen to be the type of person that can, at the same time, make a serious situation a little less heavy, or the type of person that can laugh at the time in your life when you are most afraid… well, I believe there is power in that too.

A second strength of mine I have come to love is my relentlessness. I do not give up on things. I will push and push and keep on pushing. When we were told about Malachi’s diagnosis, I spent the next few months devouring any information I could find. I read medical journals and countless articles about recent medical breakthroughs, studies and trials. I stalked parent chatrooms and Facebook groups for hours. And it was no different once Malachi was born. Every time he has faced a challenge, or there has been a question about his health, I have returned to the medical journals, the studies, the trials. I do not give up, especially on him.

A third strength is my ability to see beauty in all things. I take joy in unique experiences and diversity in people, in art forms, in architecture, in viewpoints, in life experiences… in everything. I enjoy the “square pegs in round holes” type of people. Malachi has a permanent disability. He will undergo perhaps dozens of surgeries in his lifetime. His life will be different than most. It is my fear that other people outside of a hospital environment will define him by his disability — that others will see him as “broken” — but, in him, I see nothing but light. He has the most amazing, unique, extraordinary spirit, and, even now as an infant, that light is apparent. He is different, but he is beautiful.


3. What has helped you remain positive through everything you’ve been through?

Nothing about having a sick, or medically complex, child is easy — especially when their diagnoses require them to actually stay in the hospital for extended periods of time. Most everything about hospital life is abnormal and disheartening and soul-crushing and every other type of negative emotion that comes to mind. Nearly every day is an emotional rollercoaster, and you are hyper-aware of any change in your child’s temperament, and, even on the good days, you’re prepared at any moment for the rug to be pulled out from under you.

But even in those dark moments, the goodness of others shines through, and it keeps pushing you along. It is sometimes the greatest source of positivity you can muster.39203574_223024091718775_1719805265819205632_n

It wasn’t until I began sharing Malachi’s story that I realized just how big our village is and how many people love us, and support us, and care for a baby that they’ve never even met. When we were first rushed to Seattle and news spread of Malachi’s birth, we were amazed at how many letters of support, greeting cards and gifts we received, even here in Seattle, and many from people that we hadn’t seen in years. When people discovered that we loved to read together, they sent us books. When they learned that Malachi can’t wear certain baby clothing due to all his wires and monitoring equipment, they went shopping and sent clothes that he could wear.

But it wasn’t just people in our own circles. It was total strangers that reached out — friends of friends that heard our story and had gone through a similar experience. It was the ladies in the community that make quilts for every child that stays at the Ronald McDonald House in Seattle. It was the women who offer free massages and haircuts to the parents of sick kids, the man who goes room-to-room playing his ukulele to the tune of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” the team of volunteers that bring their therapy dogs to visit, and so many more. It was the social workers that make sure you have access to all the resources you need so you don’t fear losing your home to bankruptcy. It was the nurses that showed up every day with a smile on their face, who were always willing to sit down and listen to my concerns about my son and my fears about going home and leaving the relative safety of the hospital. It was the medical student that held my hand when I was afraid.

And, then there are these amazing organizations that offer so many services to families and kids with special needs, and you don’t really know anything about them… until it’s your kid that has that diagnosis. It’s the amazing family behind Bella’s Bumbas, a non-profit out of New York that makes tiny wheelchairs for toddlers. And, it’s Songs of Love, a group that composes and produces special songs for kids with lyrics that include their family members and all their favorite things in life. And all of these were given freely.

These amazing people have helped immensely — more than they will ever realize. They have played such a huge part in my ability to remain positive in light of our circumstances.

The one other person that has helped me remain positive through all this is Malachi himself. That little boy is absolutely amazing. He has gone through so much in such a short time, including five life-saving surgeries; yet, he wakes up with a smile on his face. He laughs uncontrollably and stares into your eyes in the most loving way. His smile has helped me maintain my positivity and my hope for the future. The thought of showing him new things and helping him reach milestones and explore the world around him, keeps me moving forward.


4. What do you want your child to learn from you?

This question made me laugh because I think I’m learning more from him than he is from me. And I don’t know if I see that really changing in the future. I have a feeling that he will be my greatest teacher.

Maybe it is thinking too highly of myself, but I do hope that I can teach Malachi to see some good through the bad and light even on his darkest days. I hope I’m able to show him the extraordinary light he has inside himself. I hope he learns from me the importance of cultivating his interests and following his passions in life. I want to teach him to have empathy for others and about the importance of giving back to his community. I want him to learn to advocate for himself, of course; but for others, as well, and for any cause that sets his soul on fire. But, mostly, I hope I am able to convey to him that the single, most important thing in life is love — love for your family, your friends, your pets, your job, your hobbies, and on and on. If I can teach him how to create a life that he loves, then, in my eyes, I have succeeded as a parent.


5. What advice would you give mothers in similar situations?

The piece of advice I most often hear is that “you need to take some time for yourself,” or “remember: self-care is important.” For those parents who are able to step away from the hospital, or go to the gym, or get a full eight hours of interrupted sleep every night, good for you. Seriously. I envy those people. I’m just not one of them, and that’s okay too if you’re not. So, I won’t give advice in self-care because, from where I’m standing, it’s the pot calling the kettle black.

Here’s what I would say: Buckle-up. This is the single, most challenging ride you will ever take. Hospital life is hard. Having a kid with serious medical issues is harder. It is emotionally draining, all the time. But it is absolutely, without a doubt, worth it. Malachi is the most amazing thing in my life. He is worth every single second, of every sleepless night and every exhausting day.

So, through the daily struggles, try to hold on to the positive things, and try to find a reason to laugh. Laughter helps.

I don’t know what our future will look like. Honestly, I don’t even know what life with Malachi outside the hospital looks like. I hope the future is bright, for all of us. And, thankfully, there are people out there able to give me advice!


6. If people want to get involved or want to help, where should they start?

I can share from experience the gratitude that families feel when others donate or volunteer in the hospital. Here, at Seattle Children’s, people donate crocheted hats, handmade quilts, and clothing. Volunteers provide services to both the kids and their family members. And everything that is given is deeply appreciated. Whether volunteers dress up as Star Wars characters, or come to make Valentine’s cards with kids, everyone can give something of themselves to help others. So, for those that want to help, I encourage you to find the nearest Children’s Hospital, or a regular hospital, or even a nursing home, and give of yourself. Donate your time, your energy, your special gifts and talents. It is one of the best investments you will ever make.

For anyone interested in learning more about Malachi’s specific diagnoses, I would suggest starting with the National Spina Bifida Association ( and the National Hydrocephalus Association (

Lastly, if you want to follow our story, you can find us on Instagram: @WhitneyStohr and @rollin.w.spinabifida.


I want to thank everyone for listening to our story, and especially momfaming for reaching out. It’s been a long road and a tough year, and it means so much to us to have the support of so many. Peace to you all.
—Whitney Stohr—


Activities to Promote Cognitive and Physical Development in Babies

When Ryan was 4 months old he qualified for Early On because of his Down syndrome diagnosis. Early On is a special education program for children aged 0-3 that is provided through our school district. As part of his services he has an Occupational Therapist (OT) and a Physical Therapist (PT) come to our house once a week for an hour each. These amazing ladies use the hour to “play” with him and basically teach me (and sometimes my husband) activities to do with him to promote his physical and cognitive development. I thought I would share some of their tips and tricks for others looking to do the same with their babies.

Tips & Tricks from an OT and a PT

Start with Signals

Babies can understand and use signals long before they can actually say them. So if you want your baby to be able to communicate with you before he has the
words to do so teach him some easy signals.

Trick #1:
To get a baby to raise his arm up —
Softly run your hand down the baby’s arm (from elbow to wrist) and it will automatically raise up due to his natural reflexes

The three we started with were “up”, “hi”, and “bye”. All of these include the baby raising his arms up so the trick to get him to do this is to softly run your hands down his arms (from elbow to wrist) and his arms will automatically raise up due to his natural reflexes. Once you get his arm(s) up, say the word you want him to learn (“up”, “hi”, or “bye”).

So for “up”, run your hands down both of the baby’s arms at once and repeat “up” several times. We did this before we picked Ryan up each time (and had other people do the same) and he now does it whenever we say “up”. He also reaches up when he wants to be picked up without us prompting him occasionally.

For “hi” and “bye”, run your hands down whichever arm you want your baby to use and then once the arm is up, put your hand on his and move it back and forth while repeating “hi” or “bye”. We are still working on this one with Ryan but he does do it occasionally on his own.


Take Turns Talking

Babbling and cooing are a baby’s first steps in language development. In order to help your baby progress from this to saying real words you need to join in the conversation. When he is “talking” act interested and look in his eyes.

Trick #2:
To promote language development —
Have a conversation with your baby and say things like, “really!?”, or “I can’t believe it!”

Then when he takes a break, start talking back (just like you would in a real conversation). Either repeat back to him what you think he is saying or say things like, “really?”, or “I can’t believe it!”. Then once he starts saying a group of sounds (ga-ga, da-da) repeat those sounds back to him a few times and then introduce a new set of sounds (pa-pa) and see if he will say that back. We have been doing this with Ryan ever since he was a newborn and the OT and PT are both shocked at how vocal he has been since they met him!

Use Furniture Instead of “Containers”

We got to a point where we wanted Ryan to sit up and play before he was able to do so independently so we used a Sit-Me-Up Chair to help him. He loved it because he could see so much more than when he was laying on his back, and I loved it because I could see his cute little face while I played with him.

Trick #3:
To help a baby sit up before they are able to do so independently —
Use couch cushions to prop your baby up so that you can play with them

While this chair is perfect for when I want to leave the room for a minute and for feeding him (when we don’t have access to a highchair) the OT and PT suggested not to use it for play time. They said that the chair was doing most of the work for him instead of his muscles learning to do it for themselves. So instead, they suggested I use the furniture to help him sit up. We either put him in the corner of the couch (if we were sitting right next to him) or we bring the couch cushions to the floor and put him in the middle of them. He loves sitting like this to play with his toys and even though the cushions are there if he starts to fall, he is now usually sitting up on his own and not even using them.


Have Fun with a Mirror

Mirrors are great to promote language and cognitive development. When Ryan looks in the mirror he immediately starts “talking” to the baby looking back at him. This is great practice for him (and hilarious to watch)! He is also able to see how his mouth moves when he is making his sounds (or how my mouth moves if I join him in the mirror and talk back to him). This helps him understand that his mouth needs to make different shapes in order to make different sounds.


Play Peek-a-Boo

It is so fun when your baby reaches the age where he can really start to play with you and Peek-a-Boo is one of the first games he will be able to play. In order to help Ryan learn this game the OT first put a burp cloth over his head to see what he would do. The first time he just wiggled around trying to figure out how to get it off. After she did it a few more times, though, he realized that he had to grab it off using his hand. Once he had it off we excitedly said, “peek a boo!” so he realized that it was a game. He now immediately takes the cloth off and smiles because he knows that he has won the game. He will also sometimes hold the cloth over his own face, pull it down, and smile when I say “peek a boo”.

Trick #4:
To help your baby understand object permanence –
Teach them to play Peek-a-Boo with themselves and with toys

The OT then moved on to putting the burp cloth over one of his toys. She started with his favorite toy so that he would be more interested in finding it. So she put the toy in front of him, let him see and touch it, and then placed the burp cloth over it. This version of the game took a little longer for him to figure out but he finally understood that if he took the cloth off his toy was still under it. This really helps to promote cognitive development because it means that the baby is beginning to understand the concept of object permanence and realizing that something doesn’t disappear just because it is out of sight.

Encourage Mimicking

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? This is even true with babies! When you can get them to mimic something you are doing it is really helping to promote their cognitive development. One of the first things I was able to get Ryan to mimic (besides sounds) was clapping. I started by clapping his hands together with him and cheering, “yay, Ryan!” I did this for several days until one day I said it and he clapped all on his own. We then moved on to “Patty Cake” and he’ll now start clapping if I just start singing that song. Other ways to encourage mimicking are playing with a toy first and then seeing if he will do what you did after, making sounds and trying to get him to repeat them, and joining him in the mirror and seeing if you can get him to make the same silly faces that you do!


All of these activities are very simple and use things that are easily found in your home. Some may be things that you are already doing, but hopefully this gave you a few tips and/or tricks to help you the next time you want to meaningfully play with your baby!

What are the best activities you have found to help promote your baby’s cognitive and physical development?

Mom of Fame – Laura


Laura was born to be a mom. She started babysitting at a young age, went on to be a nanny and now is a preschool teacher. While we were doing our interview her two girls were playing on the playground with their dad. That is, until they missed their mom too much and just couldn’t be away from her any longer. They compromised so that we could finish up and the girls agreed to stay with their dad as long as their mom was in full-view the entire time.

Laura’s background should have made becoming a mom really easy, right? I mean she knows more about kids than most of us. She realized pretty quickly, though, that nothing really prepares you for becoming a mom and it’s much harder than she thought it would be. Her answers were completely relate-able and it was so refreshing to hear how honest she was. She talked about what it was like to have kiddos only 15 months apart, how she makes sure to make time for herself, and her journey with breastfeeding.

Even though Laura says being a mom is hard, she still makes it look easy. Her girls are best friends and are both totally in love with their mom. Please join us in welcoming her to the Mom of Fame, she definitely belongs there!

What is the best piece of advice you were given about motherhood? Did you take it? Would you give that piece of advice to someone else?

Sleep when they sleep and enjoy each moment because it goes fast. I feel like when they were babies I was a lot better at taking this advice; especially sleeping when they slept. It was harder with [my second], I think, because [my first] was still kind of like a baby. She was 15 months when [my youngest] was born so it was like I had two babies and [my first] didn’t really understand. I feel like I still try to enjoy everything and it’s gotten more fun now that they’re older.

Another thing was making time for myself, I guess. I think when they were babies that was hard for me because I was obsessive. I didn’t want to miss anything. I went back to work when they were both 9 weeks, so I didn’t want my mom or mother-in-law to tell me anything that happened. Then with working, I had guilt in doing things for myself. Now I don’t. I’m trying really hard to do that still; making time for myself. I’ve gotten better as they’ve gotten older and I know they’re okay.

I would tell people those same things. I always tell my friends that if they have any questions or anything to ask me. I’m not just going to go, “so…you need to do xyz with your baby and if you don’t you’re a crappy mom.” I’m not going to do that. Everyone makes their own choices. I try to do the same and I can’t stand when people tell me things. I feel like I’ve learned to just nod and smile.


How is motherhood different than you imagined it would be?

This is going to sound weird, but I thought it would be easier. Because I started babysitting when I was 12, I was a nanny for 10 years, and I’m a teacher. So I was like, “I know kids, I’ve got this!” No one prepares you for the lack of sleep, the poop, the puke, all of the stress. Like, you have to keep a person alive. And no one prepares you for that. Nothing prepares you for that.

I feel like the beginning was just survival. I look back on it and I think how did I make it through that first year? Especially with [my second]. I don’t even remember her being an infant because it was such a blur with two little kids. And everyone was like, “how did you do it?” It just happened; I just did it. I feel like now that they’re older, I’m enjoying it more and I have fun with them. It’s kind of more like I expected. We get to go do things and they’re funny and they make me laugh and make me smile.


What are your three strengths when it comes to motherhood?

Hard Worker

Showing my kids that I’m a hard worker. This past year has been really awful for a lot of reasons and I’ve had to do everything on my own. So I feel like when they’re older they can see that I was strong and they can be strong in similar ways.


Everyone has always told me I’m a pretty patient person. Even though [my daughters] know how to push every single button I have, I try to be really patient with them. I want them to be independent and I try to encourage them to do things by themselves. Even if it’s going to take 20 minutes to put their own shoes on and it’s probably going to be on the wrong foot. But at the end of the day she did that; and she might make me 10 minutes late to something, but I don’t want her to feel rushed. Or I don’t want her to think she can’t do something just because I am impatient. I don’t want to squelch that, I want them to feel they can do things. I don’t want them to feel frustrated, I don’t want them to feel me being frustrated. I mean I have to be patient all the time with kids. It is harder with my own and hopefully they feel that I’m patient most of the time.


I try to make sure they feel loved, safe and happy every day by making a warm, loving home. I try to make sure home is their safe place. I try to give them extra cuddles, we always read stories and I always tell them how much I love them and that I’m proud of them. We always talk about how they can do whatever they want and I always try to encourage them. [My oldest] just wants to be a mom, she says. [Laughs].


Describe a time where you were completely overwhelmed as a mother.

I feel like I’ve been overwhelmed a lot, just by everything that has gone on in my life. The past few years have been really hard. I don’t ever do anything for myself. So last year I told my husband, “I’m going to get a hotel room for a night”. So that’s what I did. I went up to Birch Run, got a hotel room by myself, went shopping, had wine, took a hot shower, ate hot food, slept in a bed with no one touching me, watched chick flicks. It was amazing. I’ve said ever since then that I need to make it a point to do things like that because I do get overwhelmed. If I’m not taking care of myself then my kids start getting affected and I’m snappy at everyone and no one really deserves that. So after I did that, I felt human again.


Is there anything you feel that you have lost about yourself since becoming a mother? What have you gained?

Sometimes I feel like there are days where I don’t even recognize myself. It’s like, do I have a hobby? Do I have any things that I enjoy doing? What makes me happy? I feel like in a sense I have lost part of myself where I just don’t know anything anymore. But [with everything that’s happening in my life] I’ve started to talk to my friends again. I’ve started to get myself back and find myself again. And be my own person, which I think is good, because I think I’ve been consumed with my kids and that’s not really healthy.

I feel like I’ve gained a lot. I like being a mom. I like seeing things through their eyes. Seeing them learn new things and seeing them grow is fun. Seeing them be best friends is really fun. So I feel like I’ve lost myself, but I’ve gained them. I’ve gained everything. I love them.


What do you want your child(ren) to learn from you?

I want them to learn to be independent, kind, compassionate, strong and loving women who never give up on their dreams. I want them to know that it’s okay to ask for help. I feel like that’s something I have struggled with, especially lately, and I’ve gotten better about being like, “okay, I need a break.” So I want them to know that it’s okay if they’re struggling with something and that they can ask for help. And I’ll always be there for them and love them no matter what.


Tell us about your extended breastfeeding experience.

[My youngest] is still obsessed with my boob and she’s three [laughs]. Which I think people are like, “why are you doing that?” I’ve always said, with both, I would let them self-wean. But with [my oldest] I got pregnant when she was 7 months so I dried up. So she made it to 13 months before we were completely done. With [my youngest] I’ve tried. I have tried. But her face. Like she just gets so sad. It’s really only at night and in the morning. And I time her and give her only 5 minutes. Honestly I’m ready to be done, but she’s not. I feel like people are like, “you’re weird, you’re doing that for you”. No I’m not. Honestly at this point I don’t care if she was done tomorrow. I might be a little bit sad because I like the bond we have but at the same time I get really touched out. I get touched all day by [my students].

I know it’s good for her, but she’s not a baby, she doesn’t need it. I never thought I would be nursing a 3 year old. She can ask for it, she has teeth. But her little face, I can’t tell her no. It’s not hurting anyone. She’s fine overnight at other people’s houses. I was just gone for four nights and deep down I was hoping I would get back and she wouldn’t ask, because I don’t bring it up. But she asked me, and I don’t usually say no. I can say no to a lot but she just gets too upset and it’s not worth it. So here we are, 3 years later, still going at it.

Mom of Fame – Santana

Being a new mom is stressful; you stress about everything from the baby eating to the baby sleeping to making sure the baby is hitting his/her milestones. Now imagine being a new mom and having all of that stress THIRTEEN weeks earlier than expected! Then add on an almost FOUR MONTH stay in the NICU! That is exactly what happened to Santana.

We were so lucky to be “introduced” to Santana through another one of our wonderful Mom of Fame moms. We didn’t get to meet her in person, but we definitely feel like we know her after writing back and forth and reading her thoughtful answers. She can probably introduce herself a little better, though:

“I’m a Detroiter, coffee lover and foodie. I work as an Attorney for Social Security and I enjoy working out, dancing, and trying new restaurants. [My daughter}, Maya, was born at 26 weeks and 5 days due to preeclampsia. I went in for a glucose test and my blood pressure was through the roof, unbeknownst to me. I had no symptoms other than some swollen fingers and ankles. They were able to monitor me for 10 days until making the call that Maya would be better off outside than in. She was born on Good Friday and spent 116 days in the NICU. Other than her lung development (she was diagnosed with a pretty severe case of bronchopulmonary dysplasia) Maya thankfully graduated pretty much unscathed, albeit with an eighth of a liter of oxygen. Since then she’s just been thriving and jumping over milestones! She’s my Mighty Maya!”

Santana’s journey as a mom began much earlier than expected but she didn’t let that stop her from being the most amazing mom she could be. Please join us in welcoming her to our Mom of Fame, she certainly deserves it!

What is the best piece of advice you were given about motherhood? Did you take it? Would you give that piece of advice to someone else?

The best advice I was given is there is never enough time in a day, and that’s okay because there’s always tomorrow. I’m the type of person who plans everything, so hearing this advice really helped me to put my “time” into perspective. It’s okay if I missed bath night, or if I didn’t go over Maya’s shapes and colors before bed, or if Maya didn’t eat her serving of veggies for dinner. It’s okay! There’s always tomorrow, it’s not the end of the world, and sometimes your “plans” don’t work out as planned. Being so type A I try to use each day as a new start to be the best mom for Maya that I can be and to not be too hard on myself because… there is always tomorrow.

I have and would give this advice, when appropriate of course. There is no clear cut guide on motherhood, so we have to look out for one another and lift each other up when necessary.


How is motherhood different than you imagined it would be?

Motherhood is a lot different than I ever imagined because I never in a million years thought I wouldn’t have a healthy stress free pregnancy. I’m a planner! I wanted a summer baby and everything was going to be perfect. But, with motherhood comes joys, pains, and many unexpected turns. I ended up in the hospital with preeclampisa after going in for a regular doctor’s appointment. Maya was eventually born at 26 weeks 5 days, 1 lb. 3oz. I was not expecting to spend the next 116 days on a roller coaster ride in the NICU and I definitely wasn’t expecting for her to come home on supplemental oxygen. But through that experience I learned so much! I never expected that motherhood would strengthen my faith, allow me to see my partner in a new and different light and ultimately love him even more, teach me so much patience, and make me feel like I can do anything! I legitimately feel like I can overcome anything now that I’m a mom and my family went through such a traumatic experience, yet came out stronger.

What are your three strengths when it comes to motherhood?

Three strengths… that’s tough.

1. LOVE. Well, I always felt so much love as a child, which I think enabled me to love without limits. The world is a cold place, so everyday I make it a point to make Maya feel loved.

2. KNOWLEDGE. My husband will think this second strength is hilarious, but I know everything. Lol. And if I don’t know it, I’m wise enough to defer to others. If I can’t find my answer through research I’m sure I know someone who is a reliable source who does. I never burn my bridges and somehow manage to keep in contact with people from all walks of life. So any answer or reassurance I need about a cough, itchy eyes, fever, whatever is a phone call away. I may be an attorney, but I always joke about being an honorary M.D. haha.

3. FAITH. My last strength would be my faith. I want Maya to know that she isn’t here by luck or chance, she has a purpose. So every night we pray and we’ve done this since she was born. I want her to know God and to know she’s not alone. I know that when I’m having a crappy day, or if I’m upset about something I’ve heard on the news I can turn to God. And I hope I instill that in Maya. Even when no one understands, God does.


Describe a time where you were completely overwhelmed as a mother.

A time when I was completely overwhelmed as a mother was definitely when Maya was in the NICU. Wondering if she would survive, worrying about her lungs, possible infections, her development, what will happen when we take her home, etc. I tried to take it one day at a time. Some days were horrible, to the point where the doctors didn’t know if she’d make it through the night. And others we were on cloud nine just happy she could sustain kangaroo care in one-hour increments without her breathing becoming unstable. Somehow, everything came together. We took it one day at a time and kept our eyes on the prize… bringing her home.

Is there anything you feel that you have lost about yourself since becoming a mother? What have you gained?

I don’t particularly feel like I’ve necessarily lost anything other than the sheer ability to do whatever my heart desires whenever I want. Like, I can’t go to the mall during Maya’s nap time. If I venture to the mall, I can’t try on clothes, it’s gotta be fast. No more mani/pedis, I have to settle for a polish change. But nothing major and nothing that I can’t eventually gain back when time allows.

What I’ve gained is the ability to carry multiple things at once so I legit don’t have to make 2 trips to the car. I got Maya in one arm, she’s got an item, I got my work bag and laptop, a few grocery bags…ya name it, I’m carrying it, in one trip. I’ve also learned how to love without limits. There is no love like the love you have for your child, and the love I have for my hubby for helping me make her. So new found love is a gain for me.


What do you want your child(ren) to learn from you?

All I ever want for my child and my other hypothetical children is to be a good human. Be kind, be strong, be a good friend,  and help those in need. And I hope I am showing her that.

What advice would you give to a mom who has a baby in the NICU for an extended period of time? 

I would definitely say keep a journal. It was very therapeutic for me during that time to write daily about how Maya was doing, her ups and downs, and of course my own feelings. It’s a bonus now because I get to look back and read that journal in awe that we made it through that experience and also Maya will have it when she’s older.

I would also say to ask your NICU doctor to pair you up with another mom who is near graduation with her little one to “mentor” you. It’s so nice to have someone to talk to who has been through a similar experience. I try to give back by mentoring others and I also had an awesome NICU buddy so I definitely recommend it.



Breastfeeding Week – Part 4: No Judgement Zone

Shaming, judgement, that feeling that you are doing something wrong (but know you aren’t) – this is what we are trying to fight against.

The sadness that comes with not being able to breastfeed, the questions that pop into your mind on whether you should be breastfeeding your child when they are older and nursing in public. These are all things that moms think about and almost wonder if they will be judged for their choices.

These three moms decided to do what’s best for them. There is no shame in that. Moms deciding to do what is right for their family are moms we want to be friends with.

Mom to Finn who is 4 years old and was breastfed for 3 weeks

When Finn was born I was completely dedicated to breastfeeding. I had taken classes and read books and got a top-of-the-line pump. I was aware of the possibility that he could have trouble latching so my backup plan was to pump and bottle feed him breast milk which is what some of my friends had to do. I had no idea that it was possible my body could just not produce milk. But that is what happened. After three weeks of round-the-clock nursing and pumping, my milk had not “come in” as they say. I tried all the drinks, cookies, supplements, etc. I went to see two lactation specialists. Meanwhile, Finn was born at 9 lbs (41 weeks) and was always hungry. He ate way more than they taught us in the breastfeeding class. It was so hard on me to spend half an hour “nursing” only for him to scream and cry because he was hungry.DSC_6128

I say we “supplemented” with formula but honestly he was formula fed from the start because he wasn’t getting anything from me. I’m sad to say that I gave up after three weeks of “nurse, pump, cry, repeat”. In retrospect I look back and say, “What if I had tried for just one more week and my milk came in??” But from what I have read and learned since, that wasn’t likely. Those first weeks were miserable not because he was a newborn, not because of sleep deprivation or postpartum depression… but because I was devastated that my body wasn’t producing milk. Once I let it go I felt like a huge weight was lifted and everything became 100 time easier and in the long run I was happier.

Finn turned 3 in March and I still get sad about it. Every time I see a mom nursing or read about how amazing breast milk is I get a pang of jealousy. I am my own worst critic and think I gave up too easily… but in the end you have to feed your child, keep them safe and healthy, and for me my only option was formula. I will never, ever judge a mother who keeps her child fed in any way she is able.

Mom to Evelyn who is 4 years old and was breastfed for 13 months,
and Lizzie who is 3 years old is still breastfed 

I have spent the majority of the past 4.5 years breastfeeding. In fact, I just finished putting my 3 year old daughter to bed and I nursed her to sleep. Breastfeeding is something I’m very passionate about and when I was pregnant with my oldest, I did all of the research. Google was my best friend and I read EVERYTHING. Still nothing really prepared me for those first few months; the cluster feeding, cracked and bleeding nipples, and I never knew what a nipple shield was until then. Though it was challenging at first, my oldest and I found our groove and I loved the bond we shared. At times, it was exhausting because she refused a bottle (she NEVER took one) so I was it for her. When I became pregnant when she was 7.5 months, we had to push food and formula but she still would nurse for comfort. I heard all kinds of comments from people (even my doctor) about nursing while pregnant and felt judged for it. I nursed her until I literally had nothing left and we were both ok with it (13 months was it for her and I and it made me sad that we didn’t make it longer).

37250279_10102922736948906_3267540208886743040_nWhen my second was born, breastfeeding was easier for me because I knew what I was doing and what to expect. She was also completely different than my first; she latched right away and we fell into a routine a lot quicker. In my research, I decided again that I would let her self-wean. This is what has been the hardest for me because she turned 3 in MAY and she still wants to nurse before bed and in the morning. We just stopped middle of the night nursing a few months ago. When people (even other moms) find this out, I definitely get judged and it bothers me even though I act like it doesn’t. I’ve heard that I’m doing it for me which is not true. At all. I’ve heard that she’s too old for it especially since she has teeth, can talk, and can ask for it.

Again, I’ve done the research and I know that breast milk is still beneficial for her and that children all over the world sometimes don’t wean until 7. She can spend the night at other peoples houses without me, is smart, independent, and doesn’t “need” it, but I’m her comfort and that’s ok right now. She will only be little once. The bond I have with her because of breastfeeding is amazing and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I don’t plan on breastfeeding until she is 7 and I would be ok if she was done with it tomorrow. But until *she* decides she is done, I’ll continue doing what I feel is best despite what society says and despite what our “norm” is.

Mom to Nora who is 1.5 years old and was breastfed for 17 months

While I think of my BF journey as boring, looking back that in itself is encouraging! I never had any issues with acceptance or negativity at work or in public, which was one of those things I braced myself for when I was a new Mom. You read so many stories of women being asked to leave when feeding I think I had it in my mind I needed to be prepared to stand my ground but it never really came up for me.img_2352

I think the thing that surprised me most is that I had bought the nursing scarf, a nursing apron, all the “gear” to feed more privately in public but my daughter would never latch when covered; she HATED it! I realized I was a lot more concerned about getting her fed than keeping it under wraps so I went forward mostly nursing without a cover. I would try to be as discreet as possible but I’m sure I’ve startled a passerby in public a time or two!  I also used a pump when I couldn’t be with my daughter so I’ve pumped at work, in airports, in bathrooms, and a ton of times in the car. The car adapter and a hands free pump bra were easily two of my top “must have” baby items. And Soothies gel pads, those are key in the early days!!

I was lucky I was able to exclusively BF for 6 months, and then continue feeding as my daughter started solids. Around 11 months we had to supplement my supply with formula at Daycare until she started drinking cow’s milk, but I was able to keep up a bedtime feed until 17 months. I loved that quiet time to bond at the end of the day!

Breastfeeding Week – Part 3: You Have to Find the Humor

What’s the saying, “if I don’t laugh, I’ll cry”? That’s what these moms decided to do when it came to breastfeeding. We all know that breastfeeding isn’t easy, and these moms chose to find the humor instead of getting frustrated.

They all had different experiences; one with exclusive pumping, another with breastfeeding in public and the last with engorgement, but they chose to handle them similarly. Their stories weren’t funny at the time, but looking back they couldn’t help but laugh.

All three of these moms are amazing and they did what they needed to for their babies. We hope you enjoy their stories as much as we did and that it helps you to laugh a little at yourself and your experiences (especially when it comes to breastfeeding)!

Mom to a 6 year old boy who she pumped for for 12 months,

a 3 year old girl who she pumped for for 12.5 months (383 days),
and a 15 month old girl who she pumped for for 11.5 months

Wacko, Wacko, Wacko

No, I’m not crazy, well relatively speaking, that’s the sound I hear repeating in my head every time I think about my time as an exclusive pumper.

Seven years ago I was pregnant with my first child, a boy. I had no clue what I was doing, all I knew was I could not drink wine or eat sushi until March when he was set to make his arrival. My girlfriends and I were all pregnant the same time with our firsts and in November when the first was born and I went to meet the new arrival I also learned about exclusively pumping.

What! That’s a thing? Ok, I’m going to do that! With all the horror stories I heard of nipple confusion, babies not taking a bottle, not being able to separate from a baby because of nursing, all these things ran through my mind because at that time I had a demanding job that I was going back to work five weeks after baby was born, I couldn’t have any of those scenarios holding me back. So there it was, I was set to become an EP’er. I had my heart set on giving the baby Breast milk, but really didn’t want to nurse. Problem solved. I always knew nursing wasn’t for me, but to do this and provide Breast milk in this way, sold.img_2351

March 10, 2012 a healthy baby boy was born and that started my journey of pumping. Through the last six years I have also given birth to two little girls and I also exclusively pumped for them as well.

I made it 10 months with my son, and had a freezer supply that got him to a year. My first daughter, I pumped for 383 days, damn right I counted. She had a fresh supply the entire time and I donated over 3,000 ounces to other mothers in need. My last daughter I made it 11.5 months (that .5 counts, let me tell you!) and I was also able to donate 2,000 ounces to other moms.

In the last six years of my life, almost half that time has been hooked up to a machine like a dairy cow; just call me Elsie! I will say, it’s one of the hardest jobs anyone can have, but worth every minute. It takes discipline, a routine, probably a little bit of crazy built into the genes and most importantly heart!

I have pumped driving, on cruise control, while in traffic on the expressway. I have pumped in an airport in the coffee bar. On the floor of a minivan while my father was driving, at dance competitions under makeup tables while my old students fixed their hair. Basically you lose all self-dignity and do what you have to do so you keep that supply up and so you don’t explode! That one time outside a church in the parking lot in the wedding planner’s car before my sisters wedding. Me, my pump, the battery pack and a quick 10 minutes, then I dumped it in the lawn all while repeating “I’m sorry God, I’m so sorry!”

I have fallen asleep while pumping only to wake up an hour, yes, AN HOUR later, soaked in overflowing bottles of breast milk with the sorest most raw set of boobs you could ever imagine, but need to hook right back up a few hours later, that was a bad day!

Wacko, Wacko, Wacko…. maybe it isn’t just the sound of my pump and I really am a little crazy.

However any mother knows there is no sacrifice too great for their children and the time and energy, not to mention destroyed nails from washing all the parts on a daily basis, never hindered my goal to provide the nourishment I could for my children in this way.
I will always be grateful to have been able to pump like I could. Many dear friends and family never could and many always felt bad about themselves because they couldn’t. That’s crazy to me, if your body doesn’t allow you to, that is why formula is there and all three of my children have had some formula in their lives. There is nothing wrong with it, at all!

My youngest is 15 months old, she is my last and this past March I put away all the supplies and all four pumps. I don’t miss them, but am grateful for the journey we took. However, the freedom away from them after all that time…. heaven.

Mom to a 10 year old boy who she breastfed for 8 months
and pumped for for 4 months


My son was 8 weeks old and the two of us had to fly. My husband was in the military and the flight we were on was mostly military men. I forgot my pumped milk in security and when we went to take off he wouldn’t stop crying. I tried everything I could but realized he wouldn’t stop unless I fed him so I tried to cover us the best I could so I could breastfeed him. He hated being covered and soon he threw his blanket onto the random man in uniform next to us while I was fully exposed. He kindly smiled (without making eye contact) and gave the blanket back and said “it’s ok, I have kids”.  I soon realized that modesty was a thing of the past.

Mom to a 4.5 year old girl who she breastfed for 14 months
and a 2 year old girl who she breastfed for 11 months

So, breastfeeding is supposed to be this maternal, natural, beautiful thing with a cooing baby and an angelic mother, soft music plays in the background and even a warm filter takes over the picture.  You got that right?  Yeah, me neither.  My story doesn’t go so much like that…

Let me set the stage, we begin with an emergency c-section due to a breech, caused by a tilted uterus and a uterine septum.  All undiagnosed.  During my stay in the hospital I had to get real comfortable with perfect strangers poking and prodding me and looking at and in parts of me that my husband hadn’t even seen.

Breastfeeding took the form of nurses propping me up with pillows and placing the baby IMG_0407on my bloated, flabby, stapled stomach.  I was so doped up the first couple days I laid there like a human experiment that aliens had taken over.  Immediately, the worry began of “your baby is dropping weight”. She was already early and small to begin with, so they wanted to supplement.  I pushed against this so the “hospital grade” pump came out and we celebrated when after 15 minutes of pumping, a millimeter of yellow fluid filled the vial.  In between nursing the baby was fed with a tiny spoon.  By the last day of our hospital stay we were doing better and were on our way home.  I thought my nursing was going great, and then my milk came in…

Flash forward to several hours later in our home.  I woke up after falling asleep in our bedroom with the baby and literally felt like I had 20 pound boulders attached to my chest.  I couldn’t even sit up, which was difficult to begin with given the c-section, but the chest pain…I had to roll out of bed and was on my hands and knees on the floor struggling to get up like Leo in the Wolf of Wall Street “lemon” scene.  I called to my husband and when he came in the room I thought his eyes were going to pop out of his head.  There I was topless with MASSIVE, engorged, completely rock-hard boobs.  They had doubled in size (I was a 32G before pregnancy), and their sheer magnitude caused my husband to revert to his teenage years.  Giant blue and purple veins covered my chest and looked like they might burst open.  They hurt to touch, to breathe, even look at.  It was then I knew what all the crazy moms before me talked about… the milk “came in”!

Not knowing what to do, my husband left the room, and went to the only person he thought could help; his mother.  While I might have been used to strangers seeing me at my most vulnerable, I wasn’t comfortable with family witnessing such events. Humiliated, I was crying, sore, and had no idea what to do.  The thought of “squeezing” the milk out made me want to run into oncoming traffic.  Pumping sounded like a Gitmo torture and I was afraid to nurse for fear I would literally drop the baby in pain.  My mother in law left the room to call the La Leche League 800 number and returned a few minutes later with bags of vegetables from our fridge.

Apparently, one of the best remedies for engorgement is cold cabbage leaves, purple or green doesn’t matter.  Of course, neither were present in our home so the produce aisle found its way into the bedroom and we looked for the next best thing… enter the strong and mighty Romaine Lettuce Heart.  As I laid on the bed my husband and mother arranged the leafy greens around chest like they were creating a work of art.

When they were done they stepped back, admired their work and joked about how “I guess we won’t be having salad tonight”.  I didn’t laugh, it would have hurt too much.  Instead I laid there, the artistic creation, lettuce on the top, frozen diapers along my stomach to numb the staples, and my padded underwear – a very angelic, beautiful, picture indeed.  From that day on, though, we have always managed to have a head of cabbage in the house.