Don't be fooled by fake Before and After pictures!

Have you ever looked at a before and after picture and wondered if it was real? I have, countless times! Especially if it is trying to sell a product. Does the product really work? It is so hard to say. Sure, there are many legitimate before and after photos out there. BUT there are far too many that are bogus.

To prove my point I created my own. These pictures were taken only hours apart. I used a few detail changes I see in a lot of different before and after pictures:

In my BEFORE picture I am wearing low rise sweats, using poor posture, pushing my stomach out, and applied a filter to make my stretch marks stand out more.

In my AFTER picture I am wearing high-waist exercise pants, using good posture, flexing my stomach, and chose a filter to make my stretch marks appear lighter.

The next picture is just for good measure... me relaxed and unedited. 

So whats the moral of the story? If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Our bodies change if we make changes. Not by fad diets and over priced products. Don't fall for silly before and after pictures... it might just be an average sized girl with stretch marks poking her stomach out!

The Newborn Stage has passed at last!

Call me a bad mom, but the newborn stage was not my cup of tea. Even more so, the new-mom stage was not for me! I turn into a complete basket case when anything new and challenging presents itself. This has been a great fact for me my entire life. I walk into nearly every situation with doubt and fear. That is how I entered motherhood... doubtful and fearful. Those first couple months were far from enjoyable. Justin tells me today that he was picturing himself as a single dad because he thought he'd have to commit me to a nut house. Yes it was that bad. I was a W.R.E.C.K.

I read somewhere that a baby is considered a newborn from birth until 3 months of age. Well around month two I started to gain some sanity back. There was some joy in my day and I could see the darling light in my son's eyes. Physically I was feeling a little better and able to do more. Braving the outside world I ventured to the stores wearing a sleeping baby boy at my chest. Things were still hard, but I was adjusting. I still wasn't sleeping at all, but I was functioning. I only felt like a basket case about half of the time, which seemed to be quite an improvement.

Then Waylon turned 3 months old. My baby boy was no longer a newborn. I don't know if anyone would have believed he was just in that category because he was wearing 9 month sized clothes at this point! I have myself a big ol' baby! His smiles and laughs became more frequent, and motherhood started to feel like a good fit. Kind of like a pair of running shoes that seem to hurt more than they help for the first while. After you break them in it is like running on pillows. Motherhood finally started to fit and feel comfortable.

On Christmas day Waylon turned 4 months old. This is my favorite month so far! I finally find myself begging him to stop growing. I want to take in every facial expression. I want to breathe in the smell of his hair and kiss his soft little hands. Every moment feels fleeting and I am trying so hard to experence it all, terrified that I am missing something. Here it finally is, what all of those other moms have been talking about. It took me longer than most to get here, but I am here. Now I am scared to be anywhere else. Motherhood finally IS me. I am a mom. It's not a role, or something I am trying to make work. I AM. I don't know how to be anything else. I don't want to be anything else.

I finally feel human. I can exercise. I can sleep. I can be a part of. I can enjoy. All because of my growing baby boy. He has given me all of those things. He has grown so much. I can sleep because he sleeps. I can exercise because he is patient and easier to care for. I can be a part of because he can come with me. I can enjoy because he is so enjoyable.

I must say the only thing I miss from that blur of a newborn stage is the rooting reflex. He would try to find a nipple everywhere and anywhere. We called it rootin' tootin'. I do miss that. Other than rootin' and tootin' I will happily say goodbye to that newborn. I am in awe of my growing baby boy and his developing skills and personality. I am a better mom to this 4 month old than I was a few months ago. Today I want nothing more than to be present and I pray that I don't miss a single thing. ... Hello motherhood, I have arrived.

Why Crying it out isn't right for my family.

In no way do I mean this post in offense to anyone who uses the cry it out method of sleep training. I am completely against mom shaming, that is not what this is. We are all doing the best we can. This is simply my experience.

Most moms are sleep deprived, stressed out, physically and emotionally wiped out. Despite all of that we do our very best to be our very best on very little sleep. I think all moms need, want and day-dream of sleep. Most days I feel like I'm running at about 30 percent. No, at 4 months of age Waylon does not sleep through the night. He no longer needs to eat at night but he wakes up just for the sake of waking up, multiple times! Sometimes he is really upset and screams, other times he just wants to play. So many people including our family doctor, parents and many friends suggest letting him cry. I have done the research and cry it out seems to have high success rates if baby sleeping through the night is your goal. Once you get over the hump of the first couple nights it seems baby sleeps perfectly!

I was reluctant about the idea to begin with. The goal of crying it out is that our little one will learn to soothe himself and fall back to sleep. Also, there is the thought that when baby cries out at night he is only manipulating me and he knows what he is doing. That is where I don't follow suit. I cannot get myself to accept the idea that a baby has the mental means to manipulate. I don't believe we are born with the ability to manipulate, it is a learned behavior. In my opinion there is a prerequisite for manipulation and that is malicious intent. On the other hand, are his screams selfish? They are sure. He gets to be selfish, he is a baby. His wants are his needs. He has no idea how tired I am, or how badly I just want him to stop crying and go sleep. His goal is not to stretch me to the point where I am running on fumes. Being considerate of others is also not a trait we are born with.

I have tried to let him cry a couple times for 20 minute increments, and he never calmed down. He can cry for hours with me comforting him. A "win" in cry it out would be considered that moment that he finally gives up and realizes I am not coming. What a terribly depressing thought! I never want him to feel that way unless he is truly doing something wrong. In this case he is 4 months old, I am not bailing him out, I am simply loving him. I cannot love him too much and I cannot spoil him. Until he has learned certain behaviors, his wants are his needs. Someday he will not want me or need me, why would I want to give up the opportunity now? 

Cry it out is just simply not for me. I am a comfortable confident adult and I get the blessing of sleeping next to my husband every night. Let me tell you, when he is not next to me, I don't sleep as well. Meanwhile, tender Waylon is down the hall by himself in his cold room with no blankets or stuffed animals to cuddle because he is too small. So as long as he needs me I will continue to lose sleep. I will continue to freeze my ass off every time I have to leave the comfort of my warm bed in the winter. When he cries I will come to his side, even if it is as simple as putting his pacifier back in, or as complex as a meltdown.

Being Waylon's mother is my job. I am supposed to nurture him, love him and guide him. I have the BEST job in the world. Despite how exhausting and hard it is, it was my choice. Now, if I was a working mom I might have a different opinion! You working moms are inspiring. All moms are inspiring. Raising a tiny human is in my opinion probably the hardest thing anyone will ever do. Cry it out or not, doctors suggestions or not, families suggestions or not... we are all doing the best we can. Give yourself a break, and do what works for you. In the mean time I will work on taking my own advice!