Houston Strong: Reflections on Hurricane Harvey from a Mom

Not even going to use the cliche expression “unless you’ve been living under a rock…”  But basically, what I want to open with is that regardless of what part of the country you’re in, or possibly even the world, as long as you have had access to a computer, smartphone, tv, etc.  you’ve heard of Hurricane Harvey.

Harvey was called a flood of biblical proportions and it raged on Houston and other parts of Texas about a week ago for several days.  Many people, some of whom I know well, lost their homes, their cars, and other belongings.  Thank God, only a small number of people (none who I know personally) lost their lives, but still that is beyond devastating.

As a mom, my focus during the storm was just keeping my daughter Holland safe, dry and happy.  I felt very very fortunate, that our neighborhood and specifically our street wasn’t hit badly.  It has been redeveloped for flooding.  Even though we haven’t seen a hurricane like this, there was Hurricane Ike 9 years ago, and a flood 2 years ago. So people took steps to remodel the neighborhood and ditches to prevent flooding.  Also, many installed generators for loss of power.  We lost power for about 10 hours but luckily the generator kicked in.

Holland did not even seem to notice that there was a hurricane.  She was just excited that Mommy, LaLa, and Pop as well as others were here to play with her all day.  As long as she’s happy, I’m happy.  But of course, the whole time we were praying for our city, our friends, and just others to survive the hurricane with as little damage as possible.

I felt so grateful that we were okay, but that did not stop me from feeling the pain of others.  I imagined what other moms had to go through- and I’ve heard the stories: hiding in their attics, bringing as much in there as they could and just trying to keep their babies calm and safe.

I tried to do what I could, as long as that didn’t mean leaving my daughter since I’m her primary caretaker.  I posted donation sites on FB to raise money and awareness, as well as donated. I collected Holland’s clothes she doesn’t need/fit into anymore, her bassinet, swing, etc. and donated them to those that do.  I understand that this may not be a lot or enough, but it was what I could do while still doing my number one job- being her mom.

I posted a message on Facebook encouraging people to stay positive and not focus on negativity such as bashing our President.  The people who inspired this post and who had been posting such negativity had not been impacted by the flood- a lot of them were in other parts of the country.  I was upset because instead of them doing what they could from afar such as posting about relief efforts, they were spending their time posting negativity about the president and criticizing his actions or bringing up things he said before Hurricane Harvey occurred.  Someone replied “obviously you weren’t hit by the flood.”  I replied “no, Baruch Hashem, ”  That means “Thank God” in Hebrew.  Unfortunately, this person had been hit and I felt really sad for him and his family.

I do not want people to harbor any resentment towards others who have not been impacted directly by the Hurricane.  I know there is a saying “misery loves company” .  However, this type of misery should not.

Just because someone did not have to encounter difficulties or hardships based on Hurricane Harvey, does not mean they have not in their lives.  Being a single mother is hard, moving back in with your parents at 33 is very humbling!  I’m so grateful to them for providing us with a safe environment that kept us safe during the Hurricane.

I try to thank God everyday for our blessings.  I know what sadness and loss are like, maybe not in the sense of a hurricane, but in general.  I noticed another friend on Facebook posting that it hurt him to see many people returning to life as normal, because the true victims of Hurricane Harvey are not able to and will not be able to for quite some time.  This friend was very heroic during the Hurricane and rescued so many people. He is also a single man with no children.  I definitely understand his sentiment but at the same time, as a single parent with a baby under 1, it is different.

I have to return to life as normal, my daughter needs me to.  She relies on me everyday not only for her basic needs, but also to be happy, smiling, loving and engaging with her. That is our reality.  I really believe for me, that my true charity starts at home, and from here, or with her, we will do everything that we can.

My is with y’all,

XO,

Erica and Holland.

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Where Has The Time Gone?!

I was looking at old pics of Holland last night trying to find a good TBT for today when I came across this gem.  (Also I just started Holland her own Instagram page even though she has already taken over mine, I’m sorry but she is way cuter, lol!!)  Hers is @HollandRoseGentry

Anyway,  I’m one of those people who absolutely loved the newborn stage.  Even my sister in law was like I think you like waking up all night with her and nursing her and changing diapers.  Guess what?  I did!  I remember telling Holland’s dad, Galen, that I looked forward to nights.  I like when Holland would wake me up and I was there to attend to her every need.  PS she still does wake me up sometimes during the night since I never sleep trained her, hee hee.

Anyway,  I made sure to cherish every moment of the newborn stage.  I did not hire a nanny or night nurse.  I wanted to do everything myself (with some help from her dad and other fam members here and there)  I loved her newborn smell, and the smell of her milky little breath as well as the little coos and noises that she made.  I mean what is better than a newborn baby?!

So now my once newborn is approaching 10 months old!  The other day at her daycare at my health club, they moved her from the infant room to the Toddler Room.  I was like, I didn’t think they became a toddler until they were a 1?!  She is crawling away and already trying to stand and soon walk.  She says “Mama” and “Dada”  and “Da” for dog and “Ba” for ball and also says “hi” and waves.

I love how interactive she becomes and how she is able to express love and emotions.  I cannot wait until the first time she is able to tell me that she loves me!  But, I’m trying to enjoy this new stage while I can, since I know before I know it she will really be a toddler, and then a 2 year old, and then a threenager.

My friends with older kids tell me every stage is magical in its own way and I truly agree and understand that.  Babies are blessings, especially healthy and happy ones.  But, I just can’t help it if my heart hurts just a little when I look through these old pics 😉

Below is a pic of us today taken at the Four Seasons in Austin over 4th of July weekend.  We still have not spent a night apart and she is my bff 100%

XOXO,

ER and Baby Holland

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Let’s Taco Bout Fitness

Because fitness and tacos go together right?  Well kind of..I mean if you eat a taco you should probably go work out after.  Unless you’re pregnant.  Then it’s a pass. Lol!  At least it was with me.  Now, it’s time to get back into it.  But first let’s look at my old gym selfie from pre pregnancy and admire how fit I was.  Sigh.

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Fitness has always been important to me.  I’ve never been naturally thin.  I am actually naturally muscular and curvy. I have an easy time gaining weight whether it is muscle or fat.  Therefor, if I eat right and hit the gym, I’m able to look pretty good.  If I don’t though, that is a different story.

I actually somewhat envisioned myself having a fit pregnancy.  I was hoping to look like Jessica Biel or someone who maintains a fit body during pregnancy.  Instead I went total Kim K on it, eating whatever I wanted and rarely hitting the gym.  No taco was off limits!  Nor was any donut, burger, pizza, cupcake, pancake, you get the idea…I took it as my all access pass to indulge however I wanted. I’m not even sure I had cravings- I just indulged in everything.  If I was watching TV and saw a commercial for a food, I immediately felt I had to get that food and I did!!  Whereas, in the past I would try to satisfy the craving in a healthy way, or if I did indulge I would hit the gym later.

The more weight I gained (20 lbs in the first trimester alone!)  theharder it was to work out.  Towards the end of my pregnancy I went to Equinox in Bev Hills and got so out of breath and tired just from walking up the stairs from the locker room.  After a few minutes on the elliptical I actually had to go to the bath room and throw up.  Not a proud moment. During the last few weeks of my pregnancy I actually got high blood pressure.  It was always on the lower side before I was pregnant.  (Luckily it’s back to normal now.) At that point walking my dog became difficult and my friends were concerned about my heavy breathing.

When they weighed me at the OBGYN a few days before delivery I saw that I had gained 65 lbs.  OMG.  I was at my ideal weight prior to pregnancy, so if I had gained the recommended 30-35 lbs I would have been good.  Some of my girlfriend tried to make me feel better about it saying “well you were underweight before pregnancy so you needed to gain the extra weight”.  That was sweet of them to say or think, but it wasn’t true.

Oy!!  I knew I had a job to do, 6 weeks after my scheduled c section when I got the green light to work out again-it was time!  About 20 lbs came off due to breastfeeding alone. But that was it.  The rest of this weight I would have to work to get off.

I started with walks around my neighborhood pushing Holland in the stroller.  From there it was time for mom friendly gyms such as Equinox and The Houstonian in Houston that have a babysitting area (Kids Club and Bungalow)  I eased my way back on to the elliptical and took a weight lifting class.  I was told not to do abs because of my C section and when I tried after 2 months it still hurt.  So for now I will wear my belly bandit until the 6 month mark.

The other day I trained at Esser’s gym in LA with my friend Kasey Esser while Holland played on a yoga mat (another good mom friendly option)   It felt good to sweat and have a hard work out for the first time.  I actually liked being sore the next day.

The point is, I’m slowly but surely getting back into it.  I’ve lost 20 more lbs, making it a total of 40.  So I have 25 more to go.  They say it took 9 months to gain and will take 9 months to lose.  That puts me to mid June to reach my goal.  And even if I don’t get down to my exact pre baby weight that’s ok!  As long as I’m healthy and fit, and not overweight that is what is important.  I want to be a good example for my daughter by the time she is old enough to notice.

 

 

 

 

#MomLife

So…it’s been 5 months since I became a mom and I think I’ve got the hang of it.  It just so happened that I was at a place in my career where I have been able to be a full time mom.  I met Holland’s dad Galen working at his Family Law Practice.  We both agreed it was best for her for me to stay home with her during the first year or so of her life.

I’m not sure I always knew I would be a stay at home mom but for now it feels right.  There is no one besides her dad and sometimes her Mama C (my mom) who she enjoys being around as much as me.  I just have that mother’s intuition and am able to tend to all of her needs and decipher her adorable sounds and occasional cries.  I know her I want my bottle cry, her I’m sleepy cry and her I’m bored fake cry, lol!!

It has been a bit of an adjustment for me though.  I’m someone who has been used to always being on the go.  I was in law school and doing reality at the same time while volunteering at the junior league and having the occasional clerkship.  Even once I started working I would fill my evenings with Equinox, happy hour and dinner with friends, not having much down time.

This is not to say that being a mom isn’t busy but it’s a different kind of busy.  I write this now as Holland is taking a nap. Though she seems about to wake at any moment- better type fast.

I prefer to have her on a needs based schedule.  Meaning we don’t have particular napping times, etc.  She has been waking up, playing for about two hours and then wanting to go back down for a nap.  She is also a bit of a night owl like me.  Her preferred bed time is around 9 pacific so when we are in Texas it can be as late as 11pm!  She usually wakes between 8-9am which is just fine with me!  However it makes morning bday parties and get togethers with other moms difficult.  I prefer to wait until after her nap, which makes it hard to be anywhere before 1pm.

Some of our favorite things to do together are: going on walks on the beach, going to Mommy and Me Yoga- we love Yoga West in LA.  In Houston, we love the Houstonian.  There is a place called the Bungalow where babies can go play while mommies can work out, get a spa treatment, lunch or just chill and drink coffee.  She loves the women who watch her there.  I’m looking forward to when she’s 6 months old and can go to Spa Le La- just went to the opening. We love the Pump Station in Santa Monica- it’s a great resource for moms and babies too.  They have great classes and mommy and me groups.  Also wanting to try out Kids Corner at Equinox this week.  We also love get togethers with our other Glitter Mommies.  It’s fun to bond while the babies play and exchange tips and stories.

Over the weekend Baby Holland went skiing!  We all three went to Big Bear and she rode down the mountain in her Baby Bjorn strapped to Daddy’s chest under his parka- she had so much fun.  That just personifies our parenting style- we bring her everywhere since we know that she’s the happiest with us.  And honestly, we are the happiest with her too 🙂

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Adventures in Breastfeeding!

img_5613-2This is a pic of Baby Holland and the face she makes when she wants the boobie!!

Getting her to latch hasn’t been as effortless as I thought it would be though.  She was born September 19 at 8:34 AM at Cedars Senai Hospital in LA.  She was 21 inches and 6 lbs 13 ounces.  I scheduled a cesarian because she was breech.  She had a mind of her own even in utero and still does!

After the cesarian she latched right away in the recovery room.  After that though she started having some trouble.  Luckily the most amazing lactation consultant Hedi walked in and started helping us.  It was def a struggle at first and Holland didn’t seem to like breastfeeding.  It broke my heart and caused a fight between me and my fiancé Galen when I relented and gave her a bottle of Simlac Organic formula that the hospital provided.

Hedi told us it is okay to make a collustrum cocktail for the time being which meant combining the formula with some hand squeezed  collustrum.  Galen literally had to milk me like a cow to pump out the collustrum.  The pump wasn’t working yet…until it finally did!

Stage 2 enter the pump:

IMG_5514.JPGWe rented the Medella Symphony pump from the hospital.  (yes you can see I still have a bottle of formula next to me bed as back up)

We accidentally turned the pump up too high though and it injured my left nipple.  It’s still in recovery so for now I’m operating with only one breast, lol!!

The good thing about the pump is that it shaped my nipple so that Holland can latch better!  Who knew nipple shape was such a thing?!

Anyway now she is happily latching away.  I’m pumping at least a bottle or two a day.  However, I still have Simlac Supplemental on site in case I need it.  It’s more important that she eats and gets nourishment to me right now than it is to only give breast milk.

I do hope to get to the point where I’m a full fledged dairy queen and feeding out of the boob exclusively.

Until then…

XO,

ER

Boobies

I wanted to start a blog now that I’m about to have a baby in a matter of days.  I liked the name Babies and Boobies because when I looked at my Instagram feed that’s what it’s all about recently.  My boobs have taken on a whole new meaning to me though.  Before they were an expression of my femininity.  They are natural.  They may not look it in this pre pregnancy pic, but trust me at 9 months pregnant they do now, lol!!  Now I think of them as the main food source for our daughter Baby Holland who is coming in less than two weeks.  I was so excited the other day when I squeezed my nipple and a little collustrum (pre milk) came out.  I cannot wait to be breastfeeding my baby.