Finley’s Birth Story

Finley's birth story | sharonisamom.wordpress.com

So many of you have asked to hear Finley’s birth story, so I decided to I needed to sit down and put it together for the blog to share with everyone. So here’s the story of the baby that was born in a car…

Finley's birth story | sharonisamom.wordpress.com

Miss Finley decided she was ready for her big debut on Halloween night. I was 39 weeks and 1 day pregnant (due date was Nov 6). We initially said we wanted her to wait and be late like her brother was, but David and I both guessed that she would actually come early. I was hoping she would wait until Nov 1-3, so I could still take Ellis trick-or-treating, but that obviously didn’t happen. Oh well. Close enough.

I went in for my regular prenatal appointment earlier that day, and at 11:30 when they checked me, I was 2 cm dilated and about 75% effaced, about a station -1. When they checked me a week earlier, there was no dilation, about 50% effaced, cervix was soft, and baby was “engaged.” The day before Finley was born, I felt a little off and zapped of energy. When David got home, I was taking a nap on the bed while Ellis watched a video on my phone. I felt crampy that night and some crampy feelings again the next day before my prenatal appointment. I had lost my mucus plug 2 days before, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that labor is imminent.

Left my prenatal appointment and stopped to grab Starbucks for me and my friend Lily, then went by her house to drop off her coffee and pick up a diaper pail from her. Had a couple of contractions on the way home and thought I probably shouldn’t be driving anymore. Got home and put Ellis down for a nap. I was going to nap too, but the contractions were keeping me from resting, and I noticed they seemed to be regular, so I decided I should go ahead and take a shower and put on some fresh makeup just in case it was baby day. (Yeah, I was that person, putting on mascara in between contractions, so I’d look good in pictures lol). I wasn’t too convinced that it was baby day though, since the midwife told me that I might have some more cramping from the cervical check, so I thought and hoped that’s all it was.

I noticed the contractions were regular at about 2:45, and by 4:30 I decided to text David to tell him he should probably head home just in case it was early labor. He skipped practice and headed home. I texted my doula a screenshot of my contraction timer app at 5 with contractions about 4 and a half to 3 min apart and lasting 35-50 seconds long. I texted the midwife at 5:20 when my contractions were about 2 and a half to 3 min apart and lasting about 45-55 seconds long. Midwife suggested I try to take a bath, eat something and get some rest if I can. I ate a little something (starting to get more difficult with contractions), and I tried to relax in the bath some. That seemed to help shorten the contractions (about 30-40 seconds long), but not really space them out (about 2:10-2:30 seconds apart).

The midwife asked at that point (6:30) if I think this was it, and I said yes. Since the contractions had shortened some though, she suggested we could wait. My doula called to gauge how I was doing, and after hearing me through a contraction, she decided she should probably go ahead and come over just in case. She got there at about 7 and could tell I was in active labor. I had a hard time myself categorizing what stage I was at, since the whole time I was able to make decisions and talk in between, which made me think that maybe I wasn’t as close as I was.

doula
Me and my doula

My doula (Daniela) was a Godsend. I was so glad to have her there with me to help me through contractions, because up to that point, I was laboring on my own. I had even told my husband to go ahead and take our son for a little trick or treating, because I didn’t want him to miss out.

Checked in with the midwife again at 7:40, and my contractions were about 2:30-3 min apart and getting longer again (roughly 50 seconds to a min long). I wasn’t sure if I needed to head in yet (I really hated interrupting people’s Halloween plans and taking them from taking their kids trick-or-treating). So we gave it until about 8:10, then we decided we needed to start packing up to head to the birth center, so I texted the midwife and told her that I think it was time for us to go.

Unfortunately, when I texted her, she was out with her kids trick-or-treating, so she asked if I could wait 20-30 minutes before heading out (so she would have time to head back from trick or treating then head to the birth center). When she asked if I could wait 20-30 min, I said “I guess” not having any idea how much longer I had. If we had left then, we would have made it. But things progressed quickly while we waited the 20-30 min. Contractions were getting really intense, and I had my bloody show during that waiting period (maybe around 8:30). I was literally crawling out of the bathroom and couldn’t quite make it out into the bedroom. We started to pack up into the car, and my body was starting to push (although I was trying my best NOT to).

By the time we got the toddler and myself packed into the car and left, it was about 8:55. Knowing my body was already pushing on its own, I knew once I got into the car that we wouldn’t make it to the birth center (it’s about a 25-30 min drive, and my first birth was only 20 min of pushing, and I expecting this to be even shorter). I made sure I had a Chux pad in the passenger seat and a labor-friendly outfit on (a maxi skirt, not the pencil skirt or Princess Leia costume I had planned to wear that night lol).

My husband drives slow usually. He goes the speed limit, tops. But tonight, he drove like a madman, whipping around corners and going 90 on the highway while my doula coached us on speakerphone, assuring me that I would make it to the birth center and have the water birth that I’d dreamed of. I knew that wasn’t happening. I was in the passenger seat on all fours, my arms resting on the console, facing my husband, and my ass in the air, to work against gravity and try my best not to push, even though my body was pushing on its own at that point. My doula had me doing horse lips and saying “pa-pa-pa,” which is supposed to help slow things down when baby is coming fast. David and the doula kept telling me that we could make it, and I told them no, I could feel the baby, I could feel the head crowning.

I started to reach around to pull down my panties, as they were in the way, and I needed to feel what was going on down there. David freaked out and shouted to the doula over the phone, “SHE’S TAKING OFF HER CLOTHES!!” The doula repeated him, equally as freaked out, “SHE’S TAKING OFF HER CLOTHES??”

Born in the car | sharonisamom.wordpress.com

Sure enough, quickly her head was out. I shouted that I feel her head. Then I knew that the next push, out slid her shoulders and the rest of her body. It happened. She plopped into my skirt/the seat of the car, and I yelled, “She’s here! She’s out! There’s a baby in the car!” and I quickly scooped her up, pulling her against my skin, wrapping her in my skirt as I heard her let out her first sweet cry.

After that, I was just so calm and happy. The doula told David to pull over and call for an ambulance. He began to pull off the highway, looking for a place to stop. I told him no, just keep going to the birth center. The baby and I were both fine, and I didn’t want another bill from an ambulance and a subsequent bill when they send us both to the hospital. I already paid for the birth center, we’re going there, damn it.

David saw how calm I was and decided it was fine to go ahead and get back onto the highway and continue heading to the birth center. He called the midwife and told them, calmly, that the baby was here and we were heading their way still. They thought he was joking. He called again a few minutes later, and this time they could hear the baby crying in the background and suddenly realized he wasn’t joking. Our baby really was born in the car.

We got to the birth center at 9:20, unloaded myself and Finley from the car, and birthed the placenta at the birth center. Got ourselves cleaned up, ate a meal, and we relaxed in a nice herbal bath before heading home (we were at the birth center for about 4 hours).

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Finley was born in the car going 90 mph on Halloween night at 9 p.m. She weighed in at 7 pounds and measured 19 inches long. She came in on her own time. The birth certainly wasn’t the way I had hoped or pictured it going, but it is what it is.

It’s been a week and a half now since Finley was born, and it’s taken me some time to process it all. I’ve thought a lot about what we should have done differently. I wish we had just made the call to leave sooner and not wait until the last minute. If it weren’t happening on Halloween night, I think we all would have made the call that I should leave sooner just in case. But hindsight is 20/20.

Looking back on the details and writing it all out has helped me bring some closure to it all. I know everyone wants to hear the story and think it’s a funny and exciting. Sure, it’s a hell of a story, and what a cool birthday to have, but laboring/pushing in the car while David whips around corners and speeds down the highway was awful. It wasn’t the birth I had planned for, and this being our last kid, I’m really sad that this is how it all unfolded, and I will never get the birth I wanted.

I know these things don’t always go as planned, but really, don’t say that to me after what I’ve been through. I will straight punch you. Because things couldn’t have strayed much further from the plan than that. I feel a little traumatized by it still. When I drive down that stretch of roads now, I relive it.

PS, the Chux pad didn’t help much. It was flimsy and moved, and ended up only covering about a quarter of the seat after everything was said and done. My poor new car, that I just bought 3 months ago. It ended up looking like a crime scene. They cleaned it up some at the birth center that night, and David gave it another round of cleaning 6 days later. It’s not very noticeable now, but it still needs professional help. Guess I should have laid down an old towel instead (my tip to you, for your “just in case” planning!).

On a side note, I’m currently watching Talladega Nights. Remember in the beginning, how Ricky Bobby was born in a car, speeding down the highway? Seemed like a fitting movie for us.

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MommyCon Austin 2017 Schedule and Giveaway!

It’s that time of year again, mamas! MommyCon Austin is a little less than two weeks away, and I am so excited! I am so lucky to have been invited to be a part of the blogger collective again, and I get to be a part of the media team for the VIP session that Friday as well (more on that later!). AND I have a pair of tickets to giveaway too! Check out my Instagram @sharonisamom for the ticket giveaway (good luck!). The giveaway closes on Wednesday, May 24, 2017, and a random winner will be drawn to win a free pair of tickets for MommyCon, so bring a friend to share in the fun!

MommyCon vendors | sharonisamom.wordpress.com

The general admission day is on Saturday, June 3 at the Austin Convention Center. There will also be VIP sessions available the day before on June 2 as well. If you don’t have a ticket yet, you can use my code SHARONISAMOM17 to get $5 off your general admission ticket (you can use the code for any of the MommyCon locations, not just Austin!).

I always seem to luck out on the timing for MommyCon. Last year, my husband had a trail race in the area that he wanted to do that evening, so our trip worked out perfectly then. And this year my husband and son will be going to San Antonio (not far from Austin) for my nephew’s graduation that weekend, so we just have an extra excuse to be staying in Austin for the weekend. Plus it’s our anniversary weekend, so we’ll get to spend an extra day in Austin having fun and eating lots of delicious food. So looking forward to it!

If you’ve never heard of MommyCon before, I’ll let you in on the details! Last year was my first time at MommyCon, and I loved it! It’s all about breastfeeding, babywearing, cloth diapers and more! It’s a great place to find your new Mom BFF and be surrounded by a group of like-minded mamas. There are a wide variety of sessions to check out, a ton of awesome vendors, and at the end, they giveaway thousands of dollar worth of awesome baby gear! Plus the swag your get in your general admission bag is fantastic too. You get so much for the price of your ticket!

They just released their finalized schedule for MommyCon too, and I’m going to go over a few highlights of the sessions I’m most looking forward to below.

Let’s start with Friday’s VIP session: Not Your Momma’s Baby Shower! This VIP session will be so much fun, with a 1950s ice cream parlor theme, complete with food, games, prizes and more! Plus Jessica Martin-Weber (AKA the Leaky Boob) will be hosting with Ameda. I am already Pinteresting 50s hairstyles and hoping I have a dress that will work. I Thought this VIP session is too perfect for me to pass up, since I’ll be 4-5 months pregnant come MommyCon! It’ll be a co-ed baby shower too, so both moms and dads are welcome. They’ll even have Ameda Aunties there to help if you are bringing your little ones too!

For Saturday, I think I’m most looking forward to the birth story circle. Pregnant or not, I have found that I love hearing other people’s birth stories and sharing mine as well. But since I will be pregnant at this year’s MommyCon, I am especially looking forward to this session!

Another one of my favorites on the schedule for Saturday is the session on Natural Remedies for Common Childhood Ailments. I love having natural options to try and help my little one feel better instead of going straight to medicine. Heck, even if I wanted to do the medicine, it always tastes so gross, my child spits it right out anyway. So I am looking forward to hearing more natural ways to prevent and treat things like ear infections, sleep problems, reflux, colic and more!

And that’s just a taste of what’s on the schedule! All sort of topics will be covered, like Breastfeeding and Pumping Q&A, potty training, cloth diapering 101 and much more! Check out the full schedule below!

MommyCon Austin 2017 Schedule | sharonisamom.wordpress.com

Don’t forget to use my code SHARONISAMOM17 for $5 off your ticket and check out my giveaway to win a free pair of tickets to MommyCon over on my Instagram @sharonisamom! Hope to see you guys there!

Our Nursing Journey

I have two big pieces of news to share with you guys today: one is happy news, and the other comes with much sadness for me. I’ll start by sharing the happy news, then I’ll get into the sad news later.

So, first things first, I am pregnant! As I write this, I am 11 weeks pregnant with our second child, and our due date is November 6. We are so excited for our little family to grow, and I know Ellis will make a sweet big brother.

Now for the sad news. This is hard for me to write, and I don’t feel like I have many people I can talk to about it either, as not everyone will understand. I think our nursing journey has come to an end. My big goal for nursing Ellis was to make it to two years, per World Health Organization recommendations, and Ellis turns 2 in about two more weeks. I know that making it this far is good, and I’m not kicking myself too much over not quite making it to the two-year mark.

The hardest part about all of this is how this is ending. I had thought Ellis would start asking to nurse less and less, we’d let him self-wean, and that’s how this would end. But unfortunately, that’s not the case. Being pregnant, my body and my hormones have changed, and the last week or so I could tell my supply was going away quick. I would normally nurse Ellis down for his nap and to get him to sleep at bedtime as well as throughout the night.

But lately he would nurse, and instead of falling asleep, he would finish and seem aggravated, then he’d be tired, and we didn’t know how else to get him to sleep, and he’d end up staying up late. When he’d wake up at night, same thing, he’d nurse, but it wouldn’t work to get him back to sleep. He seemed upset, then he’s ask for water or a banana (he’s never asked for either during the night before).

While I know I could continue to dry nurse him, it didn’t seem like it was helping him, and it seemed to be frustrating him more than anything. We decided that maybe it was just time for me to stop breastfeeding, and that would be best for all of us in the long run.

From the last time Ellis nursed. He loves to play with my hair.

So we began the process this past week of weaning, and it has been a rough week on all of us, (although it has gotten better this weekend). It has been so hard for me, when Ellis is sad and frantically signing “milk milk milk,” then having to explain to him that “mama doesn’t have any more milk” then offering fridge milk and snuggles instead. Well, he doesn’t like that answer. He then would start hitting himself and crying more, and contorting his body like something out of the Exorcist. Not being able to give him what he asks for has been so hard for me. I am fighting back the tears having to tell him that I’m sorry, I don’t have any more milk, I wish I could.

To be honest, it makes me feel like a failure, like I’m letting him down, and I feel selfish that we are stopping. It has been a hard week on all of us, and I have cried lots over this, as has Ellis.

It has been a challenge to figure out how to get him to sleep, but my husband had a long weekend off for Easter, so he’s been able to help with bedtime, and it’s taking less and less time and struggle to lay down with him and get him to sleep, thankfully.

The trickier part seems to be naptime. We have yet to master our transition for naptime, so naps have been crap or non-existent this last week. Normally he would nap around 2 hours, or at least an hour and a half, but this week it’s been only 40-45 min even with nursing, and without, it’s either no nap at all, or if we happen to be going somewhere, he got a little nap in the car seat. We’ve tried to give him a good meal and play outside before naptime, trying the same thing we do at night, by laying down with him, and try and get it as dark as we can in the bedroom (which is harder in the afternoon than it is at night, of course). So far we’re not having much luck, but I’m hoping we’ll get it to work this week.

Those sweet brown eyes looking up at me…

And the other really hard part about this is how much I miss our nursing snuggles. I would run my fingers through his hair, and it’d calm both of us down. I miss him looking up at me under his long eyelashes, and the way he’d always reach up and grab my hair. I miss the closeness, and falling asleep with him as he’d nurse, and the way his hair would get sweaty when he’d nurse at naptime. He was easily distracted, so I’d always lay down in bed with him to nurse. I’ll miss those quite, peaceful times we had together.

It’s been two days since Ellis nursed last, and I still can’t believe it’s over. I knew when I got pregnant that my milk supply might dry up, but I didn’t think it’d be this soon.

My little boy is growing up, and I hope that he still needs my snuggles and kisses and doesn’t stop being the sweet mama’s boy that he is now that our nursing journey is drawing to a close. I never thought it would be this hard, but all I can seem to do right now is cry buckets about it.

To those still nursing, soak in all those sweet breastfeeding snuggles while it lasts, mamas.

With love and tears,
Sharon

Body Image and Eating Disorders

I’ve been thinking a lot about body image lately. It is something that I have struggled with, and I know many other women, teenage girls and postpartum moms struggle with as well. So today I’ll share my story.

Body image & eating disorders | sharonisamom.com
Here’s a picture of me the summer after I graduated high school. This was not at my skinniest, but I was still at an unhealthy weight.

It was back in my senior year of high school that I  became anorexic. I still remember the words that someone told me that kicked it all off. Words can destroy someone’s whole planet, especially when you are a sensitive teenage girl.

When it started off, I was in denial about, thinking that I was just like anyone who was dieting and restricting my caloric intake. I would have days that all I would eat was a banana and an apple-cinnamon Nutri-Grain bar, a total of about 225 calories. And I was proud of my “self-control” on those days. On top of that, I had a very obsessive workout regimen. I’d do 500 crunches a day, and that was only half of my workout. At 5’8’’ I whittled down to 101 pounds.

Then following a rough breakup, I became bulimic. I would over-indulge in sweets and fattening foods and devour massive meals, then later, disgusted with myself, I would hover over the toilet and force myself to throw up, while hot, wet tears prickled and stung in my eyes.

I weighed myself daily. I reveled in the glory of the compliments I’d get, that I looked like a model, etc.

All I wanted was to be skinny. To be perfect.

But when I looked in the mirror, I didn’t see what everyone else saw. I was never happy. My mind was clouded with darkness and self-loathing. I was never good enough. There was an ugly monster in my mind that would rear its nasty head and seep awful thoughts into me, its poisonous words coursing through my veins.

Looking back on it now, I feel so ashamed of myself and who I used to be. Eventually, my poor eating habits and obsessive workout routines went away. That’s only part of the eating disorder though. The other part is that sickness in your mind. That part, I’ve heard, may never fully go away.

Today I eat (mostly) healthy and workout regularly. And most of the time I am happy with my body. But on occasion, there are moments when I look in the mirror or try on clothes or weigh myself, that the ugly monster rears its head again, with its disgust and hatred.

These moments are rare and fleeting, thankfully. I try my best to keep the monster at bay by practicing positivity. I look at my body and remember what an amazing temple it is. I grew life inside me, and today I sustain that life through breastfeeding. My worries over eating now are more towards making sure that I eat plenty to take care of myself and to ensure that I am passing on good nutrition to my little one.

Today I am at a healthy weight. I don’t count calories anymore. I work out on a regular basis. Sometimes I don’t get to run as many miles as I’d hoped to, to or go to as many workout classes as much as I’d planned, or go to the gym as often as I’d like to. And that’s OK. Part of practicing positivity is forgiving myself.

Love and appreciate yourself. Spread the love and positivity to others. You never know who might need to hear those kind words the most.

Be beautiful on the inside. You are amazing. And thank you for listening to my story.

Love,
Sharon

Fresh Wave Giveaway!

This has been one busy summer over at our house this year! Last summer, I went back to work full-time when Ellis was just 6 weeks old. After digging into my sick time and vacation time for my maternity leave, things were too hectic at work to be able to afford to take any more time off or even think about the costs of vacation after shelling out thousands of dollars of medical expenses. Now that I’m home with Ellis though, this summer has been the best one yet.

My husband is a teacher, so it has been great getting to spend so much family time together the last couple months. Without an office job to get back to, we’ve been able to work some vacations into our schedules this summer, and it’s been awesome! We took our longest vacation yet: 8 days in Portland in July! And we are squeezing in one last trip before summer’s over and heading to Gulf Shores with my dad (Ellis’s first beachy vacation!). We also worked it out to take a mini-weekend trip to Austin in June for MommyCon.

We love Austin anyway (lots of good vegan food us there), and I was psyched to meet up with other crunchy moms at my first MommyCon. While I was there, I scoped out the vendors and found some awesome, crunchy-mom approved goodies to take home.

My favorite from MommyCon was Fresh Wave. I hadn’t heard of them before, but I’m so glad I found them. They make natural products to remove odors from your house without all the icky-chemicals.

Over the last couple years, I’ve been trying to slowly replace things in our house with natural alternatives and a few DIYs. We swapped out cleaning products for natural versions, I make my own laundry soap, and I’ve even tried my hand at a few Pinterest projects.

When it comes to bad odors, we used to spray a bunch of Febreeze on a regular basis. Now I’m weary of putting all that crap in the air with a baby around. I found a recipe on Pinterest called “Faux-breeze” and gave it a whirl. Worth a try, right? Well, sadly the result wasn’t anything to write home about. It didn’t really cut it, so I set it aside and gave up for a while.

So I was really glad when I found Fresh Wave to give their products a try. I tried out their odor removing spray, gel, packs and fresh pod.

Fresh Wave Giveaway | sharonisamom.com

Their spray was the perfect solution to replace my Pinterest fail. You might think we’d need it most for baby-related stinks, but we actually use it most for animal-related smells! We have two cats and two dogs. Between the lot of them, it seems like it’s nearly every day that I’m spraying to remedy their dog farts, vomit and poop accidents. Oh my!

I use the fresh pod on the inside of the lid for our diaper pail. It sticks right on to eliminate odors round the clock! We use the Diaper Décor brand one for our cloth diapers, but it’ll work on most any diaper pail. After a few days, the diapers start to pile up, and the smell is not-so-alluring. The fresh pod has been working great at removing those odors though! I think I may need to get another one for our trash can in the kitchen as well now! After 30-60 days, just pop it open and replace the odor removing pack inside. Easy peasy!

We also use spare odor removing packs as car fresheners. I stuck one under the driver’s seat in my car and my husband’s car. They’re quite versatile!

Best for last! The odor removing gel just might be my favorite! My office/guest room has been taken over at our new house as the “cat room.” Things were starting to get pretty gross in there with the litter boxes. It was so distracting that I couldn’t even work in there anymore! Stuck the gel on my desk and noticed instant relief. We keep one in the living room as well. The changing table or bathroom would be another great spot for one though!

Check out freshwaveworks.com for more info on all of their products. Fresh Wave is also available at Target and on Amazon.

And what you’ve all been waiting for… how to win it all! I’ve partnered with Fresh Wave for a giveaway on my Instagram @sharonisamom. One lucky person will win everything pictured: a fresh pod, odor removing spray, odor removing gel and odor removing packs. The giveaway ends on Sunday, August 7 at 11:59 p.m. CST. Good luck, mamas!

My First MommyCon

After much anticipation, MommyCon Austin is officially behind us. And it was awesome! I enjoyed all of the sessions I went to, and loved being surrounded by other like-minded moms. Now it’s time to finally recollect my thoughts after the whirlwind that was my first MommyCon!

My First MommyCon: media swag bag | sharonisamom.com
Here’s the swag I got in my media bag!

I’m somewhat of a planner. I went into MommyCon with a schedule written out of all the sessions I planned to attend, and what times I had breaks to check out the vendors and grab lunch. I may try to plan and be organized, but I am also a bit of a hot-mess mom. It seems like the more I try to have control, the more things don’t go according to plan. Since I was a part of the MommyCon blogger collective, I planned on getting to the convention center early to meet up with the other members of the media team for breakfast at 8:30. But after a rough night, Ellis needed to sleep in Saturday, so I let him. That meant I was missing the media breakfast, but I still planned on catching a ride with my friends to get there by 9 for registration, or at least by 9:30 for the first session on our agenda. But we were running late, and by the time we parked, fed the baby and walked over to the convention center and got checked in, it was about 10:15. So we missed the first session we had planned to attend, but that’s OK. There were still plenty more great sessions for us that day. I peeked in to check out a couple of the vendors and grab a Kind Bar (thank goodness, since I’d skipped breakfast!), then we headed into the next session on our lineup to learn about potty training. My son is only 14 months old, and we hadn’t quite starting researching all that jazz yet on our own. I ended up learning a lot from this session and took home some great tips to try out when it’s potty-training time.

All this time, my husband was with Ellis, taking him on some Austin adventures. My friend Catherine was also at MommyCon with me, and her husband was watching their 17-month-old, so we let the dads be “mom for a day,” (as I called it). They met up at the Thinkery to let the kiddos have fun while the moms enjoyed a relaxed morning without the babies at MommyCon. My husband said they loved it! And we didn’t even have to pay, since we have a membership to the Fort Worth Museum of Science & History (we get in free to over 250 other museums around the country, how cool is that?).

While I waited for my husband to pick me up for lunch, I spent a little time checking out some more of the vendors (there were so many great vendors!). He picked me up around noon, I nursed Ellis, then we headed to lunch. The first place we went to was oddly closed, (apparently their servers didn’t show up), so we checked out our list of other restaurants we’d planned to hit up, and headed to the next one. To save time, we ordered it to-go and ate in the car as we headed to Starbucks (another stop I needed, since moms need coffee). Grabbed my coffee and headed back to the convention center. Tried to find where our friends parked since we needed to swap out car seats for the ride back after MommyCon. Turns out we went up and down the wrong parking garage before we finally found where they were parked at the other parking garage. Ellis was napping in the car seat at this point, so my husband made the trek to walk to the convention center, go up to the 4th floor and meet our friends to grab their keys, come back and do the swap. After all that madness it was 2:30 by the time Ellis and I got back to MommyCon (insert the ghost-breathing emoticon here)! All of that lunch/shuffling/driving around took two and a half hours out of my precious time at MommyCon! We had an hour allotted for our lunch break, and that means I missed yet another session I had planned to go to. So I spent a little more time checking out the vendors before heading to my next session: Sex and the Breastfeeding Mom with Naya Weber (she’s an awesome lady who runs the Lactivist in Louboutins blog and is an aspiring IBCLC, lactation consultant). This session was very different for me, since I could no longer sit and quietly take notes. I had Ellis with me now, so I listened from the back as he played in the play area, diligently eating all the spongy play things.

After that I made another stop to check out more vendors and get help from Tekhni for some one-on-one wrapping breakdowns. Before I knew it, MommyCon was coming to a close. I’d say winding down, but that wouldn’t be an accurate description. The excitement kept building right up to the very end, with everyone packed in for all the awesome giveaways. They finish out each MommyCon by giving away $10,000 worth of mom-approved products, so make sure you stay to the very end! Heck, one of my friends ended up winning the BEST jogging stroller- a BOB duallie ($710 value)! Totally jealous.

All things considered, here’s what I learned from my first MommyCon and what I might do differently next time:

Considering how long my lunch break ended up taking, next time I’d rather just do what my friends did and literally walk across the street and eat wherever is closest, not caring about how fun and family friendly it is. Ain’t nobody got time for that lol. Or most likely, I’ll pack a lunch or have my husband deliver to me. Either way, that means I don’t have to go anywhere, so I’d have more time to shop during the lunch break rather than having to miss sessions to check out vendors.

My afternoon at MommyCon with Ellis in-tow was admittedly less easy than my baby-free morning. However I LOVED that the convention was totally prepared for our littles. They had snack stations, arts and crafts areas, toys/play areas and several diaper changing stations (with diapers, wipes, hand sanitizer, the works!). Seriously. The Babyganics diaper changing stations were SO AWESOME! It’s funny the things we get excited about as moms, isn’t it? I never thought I would be so stoked about butt wipes, but here I am. Nearly a month later I’m still raving about it haha.

All in all, I had so much fun at my first MommyCon. Absolutely loved it, and can’t wait to do it all again next year! We got cool swag, learned great tips, listened to some rad speakers and made fast friends.

One of the biggest takeaways was being able to nurse my baby in public, no cover, no shame without feeling like I had to worry about anyone saying something ugly about it. I don’t ever cover while breastfeeding in public anymore anyway. I tried it early on and decided it wasn’t for us. Sometimes I do the double shirt method (which keeps you very covered) and sometimes I have clip-down nursing tanks or a wrap-style dress. I generally try to avoid NIP if I can, but sometimes it’s unavoidable, and baby’s needs come first, of course. Sometimes I’ll retreat to the car to nurse, and sometimes I’ll nurse where I am. Sometimes I try to find an isolated and quiet corner, but sometimes I’ll nurse at the table while I’m waiting on my food at a restaurant. When I do the latter, I find myself with a resting bitch face that reads “Come say something to me. I dare you. I WILL CUT YOU.” Haha no joke! I live in a very conservative state, and you hear stories all the time of moms being shamed for nursing in public. Luckily I haven’t had anyone say anything to me, but they might not want to approach me with that look on my face either lol. Anyway, it was a nice relief to be in such a breastfeeding-friendly environment with no worries while I fed my baby. Based on the online chatter, that seemed to be one of the aspects that attendees loved most about MommyCon, and I agree!

While MommyCon Austin is over, MommyCon is not yet done for the year. Next stops are Costa Mesa (Aug 20 & Nov 11-12 for MiLK), Orlando (Sept 3) and San Jose (Oct 29). For more info, check out mommycon.com and use code SHARONISAMOM16 for $5 off general admission tickets.

Best Places to Eat in Austin with Kids

I won’t lie. My favorite thing about Austin is the food. We live in Fort Worth (about three hours North), and we love to visit Austin just so we can eat a bunch of delicious food and be fat and sassy. No joke. It’s that awesome. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. So today I wanted to share with you a few of my top picks of kid-friendly places to eat close to MommyCon! I’ve included links, addresses and I’ll even tell you how far it is from the Austin Convention Center. All of my picks are less than two miles from the Convention Center, but there are many, many more family-friendly restaurants to check out in Austin if you don’t mind driving a bit. Explore and enjoy!

Voodoo Doughnut (.5 mi)
212 E. 6th St.
Best Places to Eat in Austin with Kids: Voodoo Doughnut | sharonisamom.comHave you heard of Voodoo Donuts yet? This place has some serious hype. With crazy, fun varieties like bacon maple, Captain Crunch and Mexican hot chocolate. They also have several vegan options as well. And don’t forget their infamous voodoo doll donut, filled with raspberry jelly and a pretzel stake! Keep in mind if you go, they are cash only. So worth it though. This would be a great place to grab breakfast before MommyCon or the perfect place to fuel-up before heading back home.

Whole Foods (flagship) (1.4 mi)
525 N. Lamar Blvd.
Whole Foods has a delicious café menu, and you can enjoy your meal Al Fresco on their rooftop patio. They also have live music Saturdays and Sundays 11-1 and Fridays 6-8 p.m. Perfect timing to sample some local music that Austin is famous for! Oh, and they have a nice little playscape for the kiddos to enjoy. #momwin

Casa de Luz (1.8 mi)
1701 Toomey Rd.
Casa de Luz is a 100 percent organic, plant-based, gluten-free restaurant. I know many moms will love this option if you or your kids are vegan, vegetarian or have dairy, egg or wheat allergies. It’s nice to know there are restaurants where you can order anything off the menu, instead of only having only an option or two to pick from. But you don’t have to have a special diet to love the healthy and delicious menu items at Casa de Luz- herbivores and omnivores alike rejoice in their whole-foods-based soups, salads and entrees. They also have a playground the kids can play on all day Saturday and Sunday and after 6 during the week. Healthy food + playtime = SCORE!

Blue Cat Café (.6 mi)
95 Navasota St.
This is a great place to relax, play and grab a bite to eat with your little animal lovers. My 13-month-old boy LOVES our cats. He crawls around the house, throwing balls for them, trying to play with them. So I know he’ll love his first visit to the cat café. And I’ll confess. I really love kittehs myself. I am no stranger to cat cafés. When I heard of the concept, I was thinking, “WHAT!! I NEED THIS LIKERIGHTNOW.” Blue Cat Café is a wonderful place filled with adoptable kitties, and they have lots of tasty comfort food options like the Big Meowth Melt and Blue Ribbon BrisCat. They just combined puns with Pokemon. SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY, right?? Bring the kids to pet and play with the cats while you fill your tummies with delicious vegan food. Yup, you read that right. Another dairy-free, egg-free and meat-free option- rejoice!

Best Places to Eat in Austin with Kids: Shady Grove | sharonisamom.com

Shady Grove (1.6 mi)
1624 Barton Springs Rd.
Shady Grove has a very low-key, chill vibe, perfect for all the crunchy moms to unwind after all the excitement at MommyCon. While this restaurant doesn’t have a playscape, it does have ample outdoor space with shade from pecan trees for the littles to play. Their kids menu has all the favorites like corndogs, PB&J, grilled cheese and more. And for the adults, everyone goes nuts for their tortilla-fried queso catfish. Plus they’ve got a nice selection of adult beverages to keep you cool in the Texas heat. Speaking of adult beverages…

Max’s Wine Dive (.4 mi)
207 San Jacinto Blvd.
Mom’s night out! Those three little words are music to my ears… I figured some of you might enjoy a little MNO option thrown in here that’s close to the Convention Center. Get the kids and husband tucked in, and sneak away to Max’s Wine Dive for some “no-no juice” while you catch up with your friends from MommyCon. If you want to bring the kids though, it is family-friendly: they have highchairs, plenty of seating and even some mac and cheese on the menu for the little ones. I’ll drink to that!

I hope you enjoy these places as much as I do! Bring your appetites with you to Austin, y’all! Can’t wait to see you next week for all the fun at MommyCon!