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!

MommyCon Giveaway

MommyCon Austin is only one month away! It is going to be my first MommyCon, and I could not be more excited! The general sessions are on Saturday June 25, and VIP sessions are on Friday June 24th. I am practically chasing my tail with all the excitement, and I am so happy that I get to be a part of the MommyCon blogging team as well!

MommyCon Growing together
Is this not the coolest graphic ever?? I am obsessed!

First off, what is MommyCon? It’s a convention series all about natural, gentle parenting. I’ll be going to the one in Austin, but MommyCon will also be in many other cities across the nation. With many awesome speakers on the lineup, the biggest focus will be on birth, breastfeeding, babywearing and cloth diapering. In other words: all the crunchy-mama things I love! So of course I am going!

MommyCon 2016 | sharonisamom.com

Tickets are only $45, but you can use code SHARONISAMOM16 to get $5 off your ticket.

MommyCon will be a great opportunity to connect with other like-minded mamas, moms-to-be (and dads too!), discuss, learn, and grow together. AKA build your tribe! This will be a great opportunity to make some new friends. One thing I love most about motherhood is the friendships I’ve made. Parenting can be tough at times, but it’s great having friends to talk to and laugh with who are going through the same things as you and understand where you’re coming from.

MommyCon swag | sharonisamom.com
Here’s an example @itstheaveragejo shared on Instagram of the general admission swag bag she got at MommyCon Chicago. Swag will be different city-to-city, but I love seeing examples!

Oh, and the swag. How have I not mentioned all the glorious swag you’ll get to take home?? You get a bag full of cool baby gear with your general admission ticket. If you sign up for additional VIP sessions too, you’ll get even more swag to take home from each VIP session you attend as well. I won’t lie. I was up until 3:15 a.m. one night pouring over MommyCon hashtags on Instagram and drooling over the loot ladies went home with. PLUS each event ends with $10,000 worth of giveaways! Yes, I too am gawking at that number on my computer screen. You may want to pick your jaw back up off the floor at some point though!

MommyCon giveaway | sharonisamom.comNow for what you’ve all been waiting for… I’m giving away TWO tickets to MommyCon Austin! Head over to my Instagram (@sharonisamom) for your chance to win. The giveaway will close at 11:59 p.m. on June 3, so make sure to get your name in the drawing! Good luck, mamas!

For more info on MommyCon, check out their website at mommy-con.com.

New Year’s Resolutions

Looking at the year ahead has me thinking about some goals I have for myself for 2016. I have plenty of the usual resolutions on my list (work out more, do more yoga, read to Ellis more, yadda yadda yadda…). But more specifically, here are the big things on list that I’d like to achieve this year. Thought I’d share them on here to hold myself accountable for these aspirations!

Breastfeeding
Our breastfeeding journey has come a long way! Ellis will be 8 months old on Monday, and he’s still mostly powered by breastmilk. My goal is to make it to the one-year mark and perhaps longer from there. Ellis will be one-year-old May 4!

Pumping
Since I’m staying at home now, I rarely need to use the breast pump. I know there are moms and babies out there struggling with their breastfeeding journey. Some moms have medical conditions that cause them to have low supply, and some are unable to breastfeed at all. When I was pumping on a regular basis for Ellis, my stash grew, and we weren’t going to be able to use all of the milk before it went bad. So in October I decided to donate.

New Year's resolutions 2016: donate more breast milk | sharonisamom.wordpress.com
My stash before I donated.

At first I’d donated to my nephew, who’s 3 weeks older than Ellis and was born a month early. I had given them most of my stash (80-145ish oz, forgot to count exactly). After a couple bottles of it, my nephew wasn’t doing too well with it, they think because I eat so much spicy food, it was making him gassy. I was bummed that they weren’t going to use it after all, but I requested they hold onto it, so I can find another good home for it. My stepdad apparently didn’t get the memo and THREW IT ALL AWAY. I was livid. So much time and effort I had spent pumping that liquid gold, just to have it get thrown away! The worst part was that at that point I’d already promised it to another mama who was in need and had to apologize profusely when I only had 33 measly ounces to donate to her sweet first-percentile baby. She was still very thankful, but I felt awful.

Anyway, all that made me want to set this goal for the new year, to make a point to pump so I could donate again. I’d like to be able to donate at least 200 oz, but it would be great if I could donate up to 1000 oz. We’ll see!

Running
I won’t lie. My total mileage for what I ran in 2015 was way less than the previous year. I got pregnant late July 2014, but I managed to still run quite a bit while pregnant (scaled back some, but still running a lot). My total miles for 2014 was a whopping 470 miles. My total for 2015 was a measly 139.

Running goals for the new year | sharonisamom.wordpress.com
Finishing strong at Big D in April 2014.

Running pregnant was a piece of cake compared to running postpartum. It’s not that running itself is more difficult, but that being able to get out there and go run has proven to be quite a challenge for me. I took 9 weeks off from running, (stopped at 38 weeks pregnant and picked it back up at 6 weeks postpartum.)

Even when I had the OK to go running again, it was in the middle of summer, so the heat wasn’t exactly ideal running weather. All that time off made things difficult for getting back into the swing of things. We have a nice BOB stroller for running, but it says to not take them running until 8 months (before that it’s supposed to just be used for walks). I know lots of people take their little ones running way before that, but we decided to err on the side of caution and go with what the manufacturer suggests.

Running goals for 2016 | sharonisamom.wordpress.com
Finished one half marathon for each trimester of my pregnancy.

And my other excuse for my lack of miles this last year is simply timing. The little guy is still mostly breastfed and doesn’t eat a lot of solids still, so he relies on me for his meals. I try to feed him right before I go for a run/go to a race/head to the gym or make my way to yoga. I also don’t want to work out on an empty stomach or just-filled stomach, so I have to time my meals just right too to allow time for food to settle and make sure I have energy in me to run.

All of that to say I’ve had plenty of excuses. I think it’ll be easier in 2016 as Ellis doesn’t rely on me as much for meals and I’ll have more time now that I’m a SAHM and can take him out in the BOB now too. With the huge difference in mileage from 2014 (­­470) to 2015 (139), it’s hard for me to pick a goal for 2016 not knowing how realistic that number will be.

 

Running goals for 2016: Run a marathon | sharonisamom.wordpress.com
Portland Marathon 2016, here we come!

I’m setting out to do 366 for the year, giving me an average of a mile a day (it’s a leap year). If I can do more, great. If I fall short, that’s OK too. And I’d like to run my first full marathon. Portland Marathon in October, perhaps?

I’d also like to set some new PRs (personal records) for race times. Here are my current PRs:
5K26:20 VOWS Bunny Hop April 12, 2014 (8:28 pace)
10K (OFFICIAL)- 1:01:36 Fort Worth Turkey Trot November 26, 2014 (9:54 pace), 4 months pregnant
10K (unofficial)- 57:28 Chocoholic Frolic November 29, 2015 (9:28 pace), 7 months postpartum. Note: It kills me that this isn’t an official time. I couldn’t get my shit together and started the race 7-9 min late and had trouble getting my Runkeeper started right away, but I had my Fitbit going to keep time. Something was weird with my late start, and for some reason the official results had me down for 1:04:and change. Anyhow I know this is my real time, give or take a few seconds. I hate so much that it’s not official though. Even more reason I need to break this PR.
Half Marathon2:10:45 Big D April 6, 2014 (9:58 pace)

2015 was a great year, and it’s looking like 2016 will be awesome too. Looking forward to working towards and achieving these goals. What are your New Year’s resolutions?

Going back to work

Since many of you don’t know me, let me preface this with a little information about what I do. I am the publishing manager at my job. I’m in charge of our magazine, brochures, maps, rack cards, printed and online publications and editing anything else that needs my keen eye.

My first day back to work at 6 weeks postpartum.
My first day back to work at 6 weeks postpartum.

The office is 30-35 minutes from home. So when I started back to work at 6 weeks postpartum, all things considered, that meant I was away from baby about 50 hours a week. It was rough. At least we timed it right, so my husband was home with him (he’s a teacher and has summers off). That made it a little easier rather than having to drop the little man off at daycare at 6 weeks. It still wasn’t easy though.

The night before I went back, I sat there holding my sleeping son while I cried. On the drive to work the next day, I fought more tears, feeling sad and guilty that I would be away from my baby all day. All WEEK. By the way, no one told me this. DON’T start back to work full-time on a Monday. TERRIBLE idea.

Jumping right back into a full week was SO hard. Then when I got to work, I tried to hurry over to my desk quietly and avoid talking to everyone as best I could. I knew if I started talking, I would start crying. And they don’t get it. They’re just excited to see me after being gone the last 6 weeks. They don’t understand that I love them and love my job, but right then I hated them and hated that I had to be there. Not that it’s their fault that I had to be there, but it’s hard to be rational at times like this. My chipper officemates were eager to chat me up and welcome me back, but I just wanted to get my coffee and sob at my desk. Then my sweet friend from upstairs came down to welcome me back. No words. Just a hug. She knew exactly what I was going through. I really needed that hug, and that empathy. And then I scurried off to the bathroom to cry some more.

It seemed like the longest, most awful day ever. Luckily I convinced my husband to pack up the baby to come visit me at lunch. Noon rolled around, and I got to eat some comfort food with my husband while I breastfed the baby (one less time to pump!).

After what seemed like an eternity of catching up at work and pumping, finally it was 5, and I got to go home. I practically sprinted upstairs to lay down and nurse Ellis. He really missed me too and took his time soaking in the snuggles while he nursed. A sweet little baby is simply the best thing to come home to.

Here’s what my schedule generally ended up looking like. I would generally get to bed around 12-2, then wake up a couple time at night to feed Ellis, so by the time I had to get up for work, I was running on 3.5-5.5 hours of sleep every night on average. I usually cannot function on less than 8 hours of sleep. This lack of sleep was completely depleting me. I felt sick, like aching in my bones, like some kind of zombie. I’m sure many moms with newborns know the feeling. During maternity leave I slept much better, since I could sleep in to make up for sleep. But work hours don’t work like that. So that’s the sleep deprivation I was struggling with.

Tasty lactation treats made with chocolate chips, peanut butter, oats, chia seeds, honey and brewer's yeast.
My tasty lactation treats! Click for recipe.

On top of that, it was hard to feel like I was getting enough work done. Depending on what time Ellis ate last, I would need to pump 2-3 times while I was at work. I hate pumping. I imagine no one likes it. But I found a way to make the time go by faster and maximize my output at least.

After all this, I’d eventually get to come home and spend about 2 hours with Ellis before he goes to sleep. Then the weekends always manage to be so damn busy, we can’t get a chance to just slow down and breathe and just relax as a family. Before I knew it, it was Monday again, and another long week at work.

That’s what my life was like for about a month. It was hard. Then I switched to my new schedule, where I get to work mostly from home at 30 hours a week. It’s amazing getting to be here with my baby boy, but working from home has its own struggles that I’m still trying to figure out. I’ll go into more detail on what working from home really looks like in my next blog.

What’s your work/mommyhood situation like? If you went back to work, when did you go back? What was it like going back to work?

Our Breastfeeding Story

sharonj_011_finalwm

(Pictures taken 5/18/15, blog written 7/16/15. Originally published with A Breastfeeding Photographic Journey)

My whole pregnancy was all about research. Even before we were trying, I was researching. Researching what would be best to do during pregnancy, and researching what would be best for baby after he’s born. I already knew that breastmilk is the most perfect meal for babies, but the books I read further enlightening me on the subject. I knew when Ellis was born that I wanted immediate skin-to-skin contact to help us start breastfeeding right away.

I was 41 weeks and 3 days pregnant when we welcomed our sweet baby boy into this world. I had an unmedicated, all-natural birth at a birthing center with my husband, midwife and doula by my side. Nothing could describe how excited I was to meet our baby. Even between pushes, I was smiling at my husband and telling him how happy I was that we would get to meet our baby soon. And when I finally did get to meet him, and he was laid on my chest, I was over-the-moon. Love at first sight! And we were eager to get him fed. It was amazing to see him latched on, knowing what to do.

EllisUnfortunately, he had taken a breath a little too soon during delivery and got some fluid in his lungs that had to be suctioned out. It gave us a little scare, but I knew he would be OK. It did cause his blood oxygen levels to be a little low, so they had to put an oxygen mask as he was rushed by ambulance to the hospital. I had to wait at the birthing center a little bit before they could release me, so my husband rode with my son. He called a little later to tell me how it was going. It was only 3 hours after birth (and I had breastfed him already), and the nurses were already trying to shove formula at us, telling my husband they needed to give him a bottle. My husband declined, knowing I would be there within the hour. Hearing the story though, I nearly strangled the nurses through the phone when I heard the word “bottle.”

I got to the hospital, and Ellis was already off oxygen and getting his numbers up on his own. I breastfed him immediately, and he nursed for more than an hour, enjoying snuggles with his mama. When I was pregnant, I heard the horror stories of moms who were unable to breastfeed, had low milk supply, babies with tongue tie or lip tie, etc. I was worried that we would face similar issues, and I feared being unable to breastfeed and having to supplement with formula. I tried everything I could to give us a conducive environment for our breastfeeding relationship. And it paid off! I am proud to say that ten weeks later, he’s 100 percent powered by breastmilk.

Breastfeeding has not been without its woes, however. I had struggles with engorgement, clogged ducts, and just a little lip tie. There were times when I fought tears through the pain while he ate. There were times when I was up at 3, 4, and 5 a.m. unable to sleep because of the pain. Then I’d turn around and have to be up doing it again running on 3-4 hours of sleep. I remember showering and contemplating, “What if I stopped breastfeeding? I wouldn’t have to deal with this anymore and have this pain.” But I knew I could get through it, because it’s what’s best for my sweet boy. And I’m glad I worked my way through it. I visited with a lactation consultant for some pointers while we were at the hospital, and I went to a latch clinic when Ellis was just 12 days old to make sure we were off to a good start. When I was pregnant I watched a 3+ hour-long DVD on breastfeeding. When I ran into troubles, I did more research to help me get through it.

Our next big hurdle was my return to work. I would be going back to work full time at 6 weeks postpartum. The date approached, and I dreaded it. I pumped a few times to start a little stash before that date. I really, really despised my breast pump. When we were trying to get labor going, they had me on the breast pump, and it made contractions more intense. It also felt so awkward. I felt like a stupid cow hooked up to this machine. Since then, my aversion to the breast pump has lessened. I no longer dread it. I got pretty used to it when I got into the habit of pumping 2-3 times every day at work. A friend of mine told me that her company let her use a white noise machine to cover up the mechanical whirring of the breast pump. I thought, “What a great idea! Then it won’t be so loud and awkward.” I didn’t have one of those machines at work, so I thought I’d just play the white noise sound on my phone. Then I thought of an even better idea and played music instead. Getting to “blast” some of my favorite songs while I pumped certainly made the time go by quicker and made it somewhat enjoyable.

sharonj_010_finalwmI’ve also done every trick in the book to ensure a good supply: I drink three liters of water a day, eat lactation treats, have overnight oats or lactation smoothies for breakfast, use coconut oil as pumping lubricant, and I look at photos and videos of my boy while I pump (I Insta-stalk myself lol).

Today at ten weeks postpartum, I’ve started a new journey. I got the amazing opportunity to work mostly from home. With the commute and working full time, I was away from Ellis about 50 hours a week. Now I’m working 30 hours a week mostly from home, giving me about 20 hours back into my life, and I get to spend more time with Ellis instead of having to find childcare for him. I am so happy! My husband has been taking care of him while I was at work, and he hadn’t had much luck getting him to sleep for more than 30-45 minute stretches during the day. I know when I was with Ellis, I’d get him to sleep just fine and take 1-3 hour naps after I breastfed him. I love feeding him as we lay in bed, letting him fall asleep snuggled up next to me. He is such a cuddler! I am so glad I get to feed him from the breast again instead of so much pumping/bottle feeding. There is something so special about breastfeeding, and I am just so glad that I can nourish my baby with my body. It is an amazing experience!