Monday, December 23, 2013

The Art of Extreme Self-care Winner

A huge thank you to everyone who visited my blog and entered the contest. I used to pick the winner and the lucky reader is:

A Personal Spiritual Journey.

Contratulations! Please shoot me an email to melania (dot) tolan (at) gmail (dot) com to claim your prize. If I don't hear from you by the end of the week I'll draw another winner.

Thanks again. Happy Holidays to everyone and we'll see you in the new year. I'll be back January 6, kicking off The Art of Extreme Self-care read-a-long, post-partum/ busy mama style. :)


PS The book is still on sale on Cheryl's website.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Art of Extreme Self-Care Giveaway!

Thank you so much for coming back. As promised I have an incredible treat for you just in time for the holidays and New Year's resolutions. But first a little background.

The first six months postpartum were very hard for me. I battled depression and anxiety everyday for what seemed like eternity. Nights dragged into an infinity of hell watching my daughter sleep so peacefully next to me in bed, while I could not turn off my brain. Sleep deprivation does nothing to help with postpartum depression, by the way. On one of these nights I pulled out my phone and went to the Kindle app, but none of the dozens of YA or romance or fantasy novels I had waiting to be read appealed to me, so I went to the Kindle store and somehow got to the Hay House book section. Not sure how it happened, those days/night are kind of a blur. But anyway, I ended up buying and downloading The Art of Extreme Self-Care by Cheryl Richardson.

Photo courtesy of Cheryl Richardson's Facebook page.

I'd seen her at an I Can Do It! event several years ago and I listen to her radio show occasionally at  This book completely changed my life. After reading it, I started taking care of myself and also got the help that I needed. Because The Art of Extreme Self-Care helped me so much, I decided to share this book with you all in two ways.

Starting in January of next year, I'm going feature a read along one chapter a month (the book has 12 chapters) and blog about how I applied the concepts in a postpartum setting.

AND I'm also going to give away a free digital copy of The Art of Extreme Self-Care to one lucky reader. All you have to do is comment below and share with me how you want to improve your life in the new year. Next Monday on the 23th, I'll randomly pick a winner.

Are you in? Spread the word to your fellow goddess mamas! Also, The Art of Extreme Self-Care is on sale at Cheryl's bookstore (paperback)

Have a fabulous week, ladies, and good luck.


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Holidays and New Babies

Daughter helping me get the decorations out.

'Tis that time of year. Shopping, decorating, presents, parties, cards, lights, baking, cooking, wrapping, stockings, trees, wreaths, Christmas plays, events, and the madness continues until after the ball drop on New Year's Eve and the last ornament is put away.

I love this time of year and all the festivities that go with it. Always have, always will. However, last January when my daughter was born, I realized something. I love the spirit of Christmas, but I despise the commercialism associated with it. The whole Black Friday thing makes me want to scratch my skin with a razor blade. Suddenly all the Christmas decorations that showed up in September in most of the major department stores made me want to puke tinsel and mistletoe right in the middle of the isle.

Funny thing is I've actually always felt that way, but never really thought about it as I let myself get swept up in whirlwind of presents, parties, and holiday music. A few years back, I actually stopped buying actual presents for my family, unless it was an item they really wanted or needed; instead I started canning jams, salsas, jellies, and specialty sauces that I then gifted. People already have too much stuff, but you can't go wrong with a nice treat to eat.

As the holiday season approached this year I started to panic. People were going to be buying presents for my girl and not to mention I wanted to get her something special. We are still getting presents celebrating her birth, TEN months ago, and now Christmas. Not that I'm ungrateful for all the things she's received, I am very thankful, but it's overwhelming. Living in a small space doesn't help. The whole idea of a room full of wrapped gifts for one person really freaked me out. She's a baby! What does a baby understand about Christmas and getting presents?

When you have a child, everything you do changes because that child is your responsibility and you want to make sure they are raised properly even though you might not follow everything you teach. I decided right then and there that I would walk the talk. If I didn't want my girl to grow up with a consumerized version of Christmas, we needed to cut back and focus on these three things.

Simplicity. That's my new favorite word. Less is more and make what you do have quality. We decided to decorate, but be basic. A tree, our stockings, a faux bough with lights over the book cases, and some lights out on the balcony. Whatever our presents are this year they must fit inside the stockings (limit 1 or 2 items).

Fun. Christmas & the winter holidays are supposed to be fun. So we've been playing fun Christmas music and games every day, like "let's find all the snowman on the tree." At her age most of the fun is just being silly. So we dance to Jingle Bell Rock and play peek-a-boo with her Winne the Pooh & friends ornaments. I want her to have fun memories about what we did together not what she got from Santa.

Giving. Though she doesn't understand the concept of giving yet, I'm packing a bag of her outgrown clothes and toys she doesn't play with anymore to take to the women's shelter in our neighborhood. This will be a tradition, one that I hope will stay with her for a lifetime.

So far the holidays have been pretty easy and stress-free. In fact I think these are the best holidays I've enjoyed to date. Of course, having a little new person in my home has much to do with it. :)

As always thanks for stopping by, comments are welcome, and stay tuned next week for a little Christmas surprise.

Much love,

Monday, November 18, 2013

10 things you should do when you are pregnant

Are you expecting? I'm sure you have a million things to get done before you're little one makes his or her grand debut, but let me remind you to not forget yourself on the "to-do" list. Here's 10 things every pregnant woman should do for herself:

1. Get massages. Massage is vital for your health, stress reduction, and it feels good. Once baby shows up it will be harder to find the time to get a nice hour massage or be reluctant to spend that money on yourself so take advantage now.

2. Read. Take the weekend off and curl up in your favorite fussy prenatal jammies with a cup of tea and that trashy romance novel you've been dying to read. 

3. Watch movies or your favorite TV shows. Indulge in a movie or TV show marathon, because once baby comes, you'll be lucky to get even a 20 minute sitcom in without interruption.

4. Go on a mini vacation. Treat yourself to a long weekend at your favorite resort or vacation home. Pack all your favorite foods and whatever the current cravings and relax. 

5. Get your hair and nails done. You're a goddess so allow yourself to be pampered like one. 

6. Enjoy quiet time to yourself. Because after baby, quiet "me time" joins the way of the dinosaur, at least for the first few months.

7. Buy yourself new makeup. Why not? It's much easier now to visit your favorite makeup boutique then hauling around a screaming infant with you.

8. Treat yourself to a fancy dinner. Yes, make a reservation to your favorite posh restaurant and order the most expensive entree on the menu you've been dreaming of savoring, because chances are you'll probably not be bringing your baby with out to this venue. 

9. Sleep.That's what everyone says, but it's true. If you are in the middle of a project or washing dishes and suddenly feel the urge to nap- DO IT. And do it as often as you want to. Don't feel bad. You'll make up for it the first year after baby comes. 

10. Spend time with friends. Enjoy your relationships. Make great memories, because everything changes after childbirth. Even the best intentions of maintaining your connections are derailed after baby moves in.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Exercise & Pregnancy

I’m sure you’ve heard how important exercise is for pregnancy, so I’m not going to focus on that. I am, however, going to share my top 3 favorite forms of exercise I did during my pregnancy. As with any type of sport, make sure you clear it with your doctor or midwife for safety reasons.

1.       Swimming. First of all I love being in the water so naturally swimming became my number one go to sport. Benefits: The water keeps you from overheating, majority of your muscles are being exercised (more bang for your buck), it’s gentle on your joints, and when you’re in the last trimester the water buoyancy gives your body a break from carrying the extra weight. Cons: You need a good prego swimsuit, or if you are like me, just wear a two piece and show off your beautiful baby bump, and you get to smell like chlorine for the rest of the day unless you find a saline pool in your area.
2.       Yoga. I didn’t do enough of this during my pregnancy and I paid for it with a prolong labor. Benefits: prenatal yoga helps strengthen the essential muscle groups you’ll need for labor and delivery, gives you flexibility, reduces stress, and very calming to mind, body, and spirit. Cons:  Well, I can’t really think of any. Here’s a fabulous 30 minute video I found online and practiced during my pregnancy, although not enough. Make sure you drink plenty of water and you have a fan on to keep you cool. 

3.       Walking. This is the easiest go to form of exercise out there and best of all it’s free. Good walking shoes are a must during pregnancy because of the extra weight and the change of center of gravity for the body. 15-30 minute walk a day is sufficient. For more of a workout add some stairs or hills to your walk, but make sure you don’t overheat yourself. The best way to know you’re pushing too hard is your breath. If you can’t carry on a conversation because you’re out of breath that means you’re overdoing it. Benefits: as I said it’s free, you strengthen your legs which you need during labor, and it’s a chance to get out into nature which has a nice calming effect. Cons: towards the end of pregnancy it can become difficult to walk as the baby positions his/her head down into your pelvis (speaking from personal experience here). 

The important thing to remember is to just move your body and stay active. Happy Pregnancy, mama.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Loving your body

Take a look at this video.

A woman’s body goes through tremendous amounts of changes through pregnancy and childbirth. With each person it’s different. Some have stretch marks; others have excess weight that won’t come off. 

I’d always been a thin person for the most part. Not that I wasn’t incapable of gaining weight, but even when I would put on an extra 10 or 15 pounds I managed to remain slender. I attribute this mostly to genetics and a vegetarian diet.

So you can imagine when I got pregnant and gained  55 pounds (nearly ½ of my pre-pregnancy weight) how strange it was for me. For the first time in my life I truly understood and could sympathize with people who struggle with their weight. I remember how hard it was to move at 9 months. Talk about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes. Lugging around an extra 55 pounds is not easy feat, but through it all I loved my body.

I loved the new layer of cushion I now had. It was nice not to be so boney anymore. I especially loved my boobs. Goodbye A cup and hello C. I also loved the dark life line that started at few inches above my belly button and went all the way down to my pelvis like a natural tattoo of motherhood.

Then I had my baby. Everything changed. The adorable growing baby bump transformed into a jiggling flabby mess. While some of the weight came off in the form of baby & fluids, I still looked swollen and for the first time I actually felt fat. But that’s not what got me down. No, it was something that nobody could see except for me, my husband, and gynecologist.

During delivery, I had a 3rd degree perineal tear and when the doctor sewed me up he’d left some little pieces of skin along the perineal body which almost looked like hemorrhoids and because of my prolonged labor I ended up with a cystocele as well. I distinctly remember the first time I took a mirror and looked down there for the 1st time since delivery. I literally sat on the edge of the bathtub and cried. I suddenly felt so unsexy, unbeautiful, disgusting. After the tears dried up and I washed my face, an avalanche of guilt tumbled over me.

How could I be so vain? I had a loving husband, a beautiful baby, and a supportive family. All of my friends and even strangers said I looked fantastic. So why did I care, that a certain part of my body wasn’t the same when nobody else could see it? Of course I was also dealing with postpartum depression which made everything ten times worse than it really was.

I didn’t care about my squishy stomach or excess weight. No, none of that mattered to me. My genital area is what mattered. The fact I had pelvic pain and that whole region of my body was constantly sore for months after delivery didn’t help. All my tissues down there were so tight, I couldn’t stand a tampon. Forget get any kind of intimacy.  

Three months of pelvic floor therapy and lots of personal care and meditation, and seven months after my daughter was born I grew to love my body again. I realized that these “petals,” as my midwife called them, were just a mark of my transformed life. They didn’t hurt anymore or interfere with intimacy with my husband. He certainly didn’t care about them.

My daughter is eight months old and now when I look in the mirror I see a beautiful sexy mother with curves she never had before, a lovely life line down her stomach, and fabulous toned arms from carrying a baby around all day long.

Each woman has her own body image struggles. Even the ones with perfect bodies most of us love to hate have something they despise about themselves. Don’t judge them, but especially don’t judge yourself. No matter what your body looks like now, know your battle scars are a mark of motherhood, one of the most elite titles in the world. You ushered in a new live, a fresh soul into this world. You are the mother queen of the human race. So hold your chin high, straighten you spine, and bask in your glory, you sexy mama. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Baby is home, now what?

Okay new mama, I’m sure you’ve been given a million suggestions and more advice than you know what to do with while in the hospital about what you need to do for yourself when you get home. You’re probably so tired that you don’t remember or even give a rat’s ass about any of it. So I’m going to break it down into the top 3 you need to do for yourself: Sleep, Eat, & Self-care.

Sleep? I know, it sounds as foreign as a pedicure on Mars, but LET. ME. TELL. YOU. Sleep is where it’s at. When someone says “I can come hold the baby so you can take a nap” TAKE them up on it, girlfriend. When your partner is home or a family member you trust is visiting, hand that little bundle of bewildered joy over, put some ear plugs in, draw the drapes, turn a fan on, and SLEEP. You may have a hard time getting to sleep at night as you will be waking every two hours to nurse. If you find yourself in that situation, drink a small cup of strong sleepy-time tea or take a quick hot bath with some lavender essential oil. The best way to bounce back from the labor and delivery is to get rest.

Eat. I had a hard time eating after I had my daughter, mostly because of postpartum depression, but I knew I had to eat something if I wanted to have enough milk for her. What helped me with my lack of appetite were smoothies and milk shakes. Those first few weeks home make sure your fridge is stocked with quick high calorie snacks that will help you get the most nutrition. Here’s some healthy suggestions: organic yogurt smoothies, organic cheese sticks, whole grain crackers, fig bars, fresh fruit, nuts, energy bars, and Amy’s hot pocket sandwiches and frozen dinners.

Self-care? “Are you on crack?” You might ask. No, darling, I’m not. Self-care is sooo important. As you get caught up caring for your baby, you’ll forget to shower, brush your teeth, or even use the bathroom. Guess what? It doesn’t have to be like that. Your partner can hold the baby for ten minutes so you shower or brush your hair and put some makeup on. And if you are in desperate need hygiene care and find yourself alone, you can put the baby in a bouncy chair or carseat and bring them into the bathroom with you. Often times the sound of the shower is very soothing for the baby. You don’t have to take half hour. Even 5-10 minutes can do wonders to your spirits and give you a much-needed boost of energy. 

Congrats mama! I know it’s hard, but you can do this. Just remember to ask for help.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

3 Must-Have Nursing Products
There are so many products out there for everything that you need and don't need when it comes to nursing so I'm going to keep this short and share with you my favorite 3 that I've gone to time and time again. In my opinion these are pretty much must-haves.

1. Night Nursing Bra. You want a bra that is comfy to wear at night, doesn't have underwires or too constricting, and easy to access your breasts. Trust me when you're tired and have to nurse in the middle of the night the last thing you want to deal with is clasps and hooks. If you're worried about leaking milk, just insert nursing pads (see #2) before you go to bed and keep a couple of extra by the bedside.
Majama's has a great organic easy bra and tank. I love their nursing products because they are so practical, plus they are made in the USA and organic.

2. Nursing Pads. If you're a first time mom, you will very likely need nursing pads because when the newborn nurses on one breast the other will start to leak. I tried several different types of pads including organic cotton reusable ones, but in the end I used Lansinoh disposables, especially during the period when I had thrush and sore bleeding nipples. Reusable ones are great too. You choose what is right for you.

3. Milkies Milk-Saver Breast Milk Collector. Okay, so you might not think this is a must-have, but if you're leaking milk every time you nurse think of all the milk you could be collecting without even having to pump! I didn't leak as much as most women did and I collected in one day during daytime feedings enough for one feeding. By doing so I built my milk supply in the freezer pretty quickly so when I had to go back to work I didn't have to worry about my girl's food supply. Why not save those drops?

Happy Breastfeeding!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

My Top 3 Nipple therapies

This is for you new mommies out there in honor of Breastfeeding Awareness Month. By now, you've discovered how painful breastfeeding can be. If your nipples are sore, bleeding, cracked, and tender, here's the top 3 remedies that helped me.

1. Breast Milk. It's true. Breast milk is loaded with all sorts of antibodies and healing properties. My nipples used to get really sore after a full day of pumping at work, but I started to express a few drops, rub them on the sore parts, and then let them air dry. Within a day they healed and looked as good as new. If you're dealing with an yeast infection or thrush, then you might not want to use breast milk until the yeast has cleared (speaking from experience.)

2. Gel pads. The lactation specialist brought me two sets when I was in the hospital. I used those puppies around the clock for weeks! Tip: put them (in a plastic baggie or container so they don't dry out) in the fridge to cool them off and when you put them on, you'll feel like you're nips are getting a spa treatment.

3. All Purpose Nipple Cream. This is a prescription so ask your provider if your nipples just don't seem to heal and are cracking or bleeding. APNC is a compound that includes anti-yeast and an analgesic to help with the pain. If your dealing with thrush on top of sore nipples, this is the miracle magic solution. Make sure you slather it on generously.

It does get better. I promise. My nipples didn't feel "normal" until after eight or so weeks, so give it time. You're doing great, mama. Happy Breastfeeding!