Emily: DesignHER Momma
Emily Elling lives downtown Indianapolis with her
husband of 10 years and her four unintentionally hilarious children, Piper, 7,
Nola, 5, Gage, 2, and baby Paul, born January 2012.
Emily is a corporate interior designer turned stay at home mom and blogger. In 2006, Emily started her personal blog, DesignHerMomma.com, where she honestly rants and raves about raising her large family in a small house.
When Emily isn’t hanging out on the internet, she loves to cook real food, read long books, run short distances, and most of all enjoys treasure hunting in thrift shops and garage sales (she even has an online store selling ugly Christmas sweaters to prove it).
My husband is the absolute sweetest guy, the kind of guy that wouldn't intentionally say anything to hurt my feelings or make me angry. But sometimes, especially during those first few weeks and months postpartum when my hormones are 100% insane, he opens his mouth, and what he thinks is a totally rational thing to say or bring up, instead is twisted around in my mind and taken the wrong way.7:00pm on Monday November 26
Three years ago, my son was born just a couple days before Thanksgiving. And then last year, baby Paul came into the world two weeks after Christmas. Clearly, I'm awesome at planning because as if the holidays weren't stressful enough on their own, let's have a couple babies and throw in some birthday parties on that already packed calendar.7:00pm on Monday November 26
Know what's a whole lot of no fun? When breastfeeding and teething collide. Because you want to know a little secret about me? My nipples are not a chew toys.
Over the past month, Paul has cut his first two little bottom teeth. It's been somewhat of a rough ride, and it’s definitely taken a toll on his typical easy breezy and laid back temperament. And of course we've been doing our best to alleviate his pain, pulling out every trick in the teething book. Playing with cold spoons, wearing an amber necklace, and investing in some fun chew toys. But you want to know what soothes the pain away the best? Being cradled in my arms, nursing the day (and night) away.10:00am on Thursday October 11
It feels trite to say it, but women's bodies are simply amazing machines. We can grow life, we birth people, and we even can sustain and nourish that little human once he's out of the womb. Every time I think about it, I'm simply blown away at what a women's body is capable of accomplishing.
But like clockwork, when the baby comes out, my self-esteem plummets. You see, for me I've always felt my most beautiful while pregnant, and then the exact opposite after birth.
Seriously, what's up with that? Kind of messed up, don’t you think?4:00pm on Thursday October 4
When I was in college, I was very passionately involved in the my local chapter of Habitat for Humanity. It was the absolute perfect charitable organization for me, as I was an interior design student, and Habitat for Humanity aligned well with studies and desire to help others.
And when I graduated from college entered into the working world of corporate interior design, I discovered an amazing organization called Dress for Success (http://www.dressforsuccess.org/). Dress for Success is a charity that helps women obtain economic freedom, by providing gently used professional attire, like business suits and accessories, so that they can confidently go to job interviews, looking and feeling their best.9:00am on Thursday September 20
Nursing a baby in the presence of my other children is something I've always done. And so many things in life, little kids will say the most silly things, and often times at inopportune times.
A few of my favorites include:
Why is baby Paul biting your boooooobie?
Can you make chocolate milk?
Why are your booooobie SO BIG, and mine are so small?
Oh, and there was that one time with my then 4 year old told a stranger that "Baby Paul only eats moms boobies."
Yeah, that didn’t make me blush AT ALL.9:00am on Thursday September 13
I love new babies. I love everything about them. The snuggles, the feedings, even the bitty baby diaper changes. But if there is one thing that I absolutely do not handle well, is the lack of sleep that comes with that new baby bundle of joy.
The lack of "real" quality sleep kills me dead every time. Those first few weeks and months, I become a zombie mom. Fully and completely worthless of functioning like a normal human being.
But fortunately, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It might be a long tunnel, and the light might be very dim, but there is a sleep-filled end, eventually.9:00am on Thursday September 6
One of my biggest fears when I found out I was pregnant for the fourth time was that I wouldn't have enough hours in the day to provide for my kids. I was anxious (and sometimes still am) that I would fail to meet my children's needs both physically and emotionally.
Honestly, I think as a mother and a wife, it's common to often feel like we're never going to be "enough" when it comes to meeting the needs of a growing family.
I'm now seven months in to being a mom to four children, and everyday I still struggle with feeling inadequate. I mean, there is one of me, and four of them. Oh, and a husband too. How could I not feel stretched, right?
But believe it or not, I think breastfeeding baby Paul has actually helped me spend quality time with the other kids. You see, breastfeeding has become something that the kids don't even realize I'm doing half the time.9:00am on Thursday August 30
Last weekend I left baby Paul for the longest stretch we've ever been apart, five full days. I've known about this getaway for over ten months, but like all things in life, the timing of the trip snuck up on me. Ten months ago, I was pregnant and very positive that it wouldn't be a big deal to leave an almost seven month old with his dad for a few days.
I was wrong, kinda. Leaving Paul for a five day trip was very hard, both emotionally and physically.
Let's start with the emotions. Sure, babies are a ton of work, and at the end of the day you are utterly exhausted. But oh, the reward is so great. I've decided that nothing in this whole world calms my soul and brings me more peace than a heavy sleeping baby snuggled up on my chest. Over the past few months, Paul and I have gotten into a routine and rhythm. And when we're apart, I'm just not myself.10:00am on Friday August 10
Hey pregnant mama, so you're thinking about breastfeeding? Can I offer you a bit of unsolicited advice and support?
Because honestly, breastfeeding is awesome. But sometimes, it's really hard, and won't come easily. You're going to have to be strong and brave. Some days, it might feel like your heart and soul are being stretch right out of your postpartum body.
But it is so worth it. So worth it.
I'm breastfeeding my 4th baby, and looking back, when this chapter in my life is over, I know I will miss it so much.
Because even in the hardest of hard days, it's such a blessing and true miracle to be able to nourish my baby with my own body. I wouldn't trade this experience for anything.10:00am on Friday August 3
Back in the late 80's, there was an anti-drug PSA that ended with a teenage son saying to his dad, "I learned it from watching you", in response to who taught him about drugs. Even though I was only nine years old when that campaign debuted, the saying has continued to resonate with me as a parent.
My four kids, they are always watching. My every move, and every word out of my mouth. Their eyes are always watching (I swear they don’t ever sleep), and their ears are always listening. They watch how I treat those around me, and they watch how I take care of myself.10:00am on Friday July 27
It's hot outside, so hot. I live in central Indiana, and it's been in the upper 90's (sometimes in the low 100's) for weeks now. There is a mandatory ban on any and all outdoor watering, and I have friends who are taking their kids dirty bath water and transferring it on to their little backyard vegetable gardens hoping to salvage their meager crop.
It's a heat wave to say the least.
While in a perfect world I would stay in the air conditioning all day and never leave the house, it's summertime and my four (well, at least three of them) kids want to have fun and play outside!
Want to know my beat-the-heat summer trick?10:00am on Friday July 20
I'lll be the first to admit that while I love breastfeeding Paul, I don’t love breastfeeding him in public. I’m not ashamed of breastfeeding, I’m just very modest and perpetually worried that I’m going to flash or offend a stranger.
If I know I won't be breastfeeding Paul at home, I will make sure to leave the house properly dressed and with all the supplies needed to make it as easy as possible. I will typically wear a Bravado tank, and layer it with a flowing shirt. I will also make sure to have a muslin swaddling blanket to drape over myself while he nurses. As long as I’m dressed appropriately and have a lightweight swaddling blanket, I’m good to go and feel confident to feed Paul wherever we may roam.9:00am on Thursday June 28
It's been five months since Paul was born, which means I've successfully managed my way with four kids through winter, spring, and now summer.
While pregnant, many of my friends offered unsolicited encouragement and said that if I was going to have three kids, I might as well make it four, that the work load doesn't increase, even though you're adding another human to the mix.
Those people lied to me. Four kids is a ton of work!
My favorite comedian Jim Gaffigan (who's apparently is expecting his fifth child), said it best:
“Want to know what it’s like to have four kids? Imagine you’re drowning, and then someone hands you a baby.”
To this, I want to scream YES, YES, YES! This is exactly what it's like.9:30am on Wednesday June 20
It goes without saying that there is no way I could be the mom that I am, without my husband and the father to my four children by my side. Honestly, I just couldn't do it. I mean, if I had to I obviously would, I wouldn't crawl into a hole and die, but it would be unbearably hard. I pray everyday that I'll never be put in a situation where I have to parent alone.
Because by the end of the day, I oftentimes feel like I'm drowning. 5:30 PM hits me like a ton of (Lego) bricks, and I'm in desperate need of a proverbial life jacket to be throw my way. My husband Michael is my saving grace, my life vest that keeps my head (barely) above water.9:01am on Thursday June 14
I cannot believe that Paul will be five months old in just a few short days. It feels like just yesterday I was heading out in a January blizzard to give birth to him!
Over the past five months, everything and nothing has changed in my life. Nothing is the same, yet I can’t remember anymore what it was like for Paul not to be a part of our family. He’s such an easy baby, and has totally meshed into our family without skipping a beat.
And yes, we're thankfully still going strong in the breastfeeding department, without an end in sight.9:00am on Thursday June 7
If you've ever parented a newborn, you probably know firsthand how very (VERY) exhausting each and every day is. And while I can only speak for myself, those first few weeks feel like all work and no play.
But fortunately, it gets better. SO BETTER! The light at the end (or is it beginning) of the tunnel starts when you catch out of the corner of your eye, a real life genuine smile.I know you know exactly what I'm talking about. The moment you realized your baby is looking right at you. Not mindlessly gazing past you off in the distance, but seriously racking your every move with his beautiful set of bright blue eyes.9:00am on Thursday May 31
Pregnancy and those first few months caring for a newborn come with a lot of “what if’s”, I’ve decided. I remember during my first pregnancy, I could have killed myself with sleepless nights (pregnancy insomnia, it’s a real thing), thinking about all my concerns and hypothetical situations for the baby and I.
Just having my 4th baby a few months ago, I still have worries and fears about bringing him into our large family, but they’re a bit different than my worries and fears when I was pregnant with my first.10:46am on Thursday May 24
Preparing the baby registry and attending my baby shower had to be one of the most enjoyable experience of my whole pregnancy. I loved being surrounded by the friends and family that loved me, enjoying a morning of celebration and support for myself and the new baby. Not to mention, getting showered with baby gear and gifts was pretty fun too.
Since I'm ever curious about what gear other mom's register for, I thought it might be fun to highlight a few (ok, 10) of my favorite things I registered for.9:00am on Thursday May 17
Dear Baby Paul,
This week you turn four months old. You're getting so very big, and I can't believe you've surpassed the newest of newborness stages, and are already starting to become a little boy that according to the lady at the grocery store "doesn't look like has ever missed a meal". I'll admit, your chunky monkey little cheeks are my favorite part of you.
Did you know that because of you, people always tell me I should buy lotto tickets? Yes, I won the jackpot when it comes to raising a large family. You have two older sisters, and one amazing older brother who can't wait for you to get bigger. He's ready and waiting for you to grow up, so he can teach you all about his favorite Star Wars characters and play dinos with you. Two boys and two girls, you've seriously made us the perfect family.9:00am on Thursday May 10
I think I've been either pregnant or nursing for so long now, that I don't even remember what I was like before I had babies. I mean, I'm nothing like the 25 year old I was before I had kids, I know I've changed. Some things for the better, and of course some things for the worst.
And I'm not fully convinced if these developed habits and quirks can be attributed to pregnancy, or just the fact that I'm now in my 30's and getting older, wiser, and maybe a bit crazier, each and every day.9:02am on Thursday May 3
Breastfeeding. It’s natural, it’s good, and you will love it! It will be easy, it won’t hurt one single bit, and you’ll lose weight quickly because of it. Heck, you will look down right stunning doing it!
While these thing might be true for a handful of women, don’t ever let anyone shame you into thinking all these things listed above to be 100% truth.
The truth is, it might hurt sometimes. It could be awkward at first. And it might take longer than expected to find the right rhythm that works for you and your baby. The first few weeks of breastfeeding can be rough, but believe me, if you can get through the first few months, great is your reward.9:22pm on Monday April 23
During all my pregnancies, I had a love hate relationship with food. I loved it, I needed it, and I sometimes craved it. But I also (typically between weeks 6-17 gestation) I just really hated it.
And with each individual pregnancy, I had some hardcore addictions that I totally allowed myself to indulge in. My first pregnancy was fueled by Cheetos alone, and I had the orange fingers to prove it. During my second pregnancy, I ate pizza rolls and mozzarella sticks every chance I got. And my third pregnancy, I considered naming my son after a bottle of hot sauce. Lastly and most recently, with my son Paul, I craved boxes and boxes of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal.9:00am on Thursday April 19
Before I had children, I don't think I really gave breastfeeding much thought. I always just assumed that I was going to do it. Growing up, I was the eldest of 4 daughters, and I was raised watching my mom breastfeed my baby sisters. Looking back, I honestly never remember seeing my siblings get a bottle (not that bottles are bad, I just don't remember). My mom was a dedicated breast feeder, and still to this day I can conjure up images of her sitting on the sofa feeding my sisters.
During my pregnancy, my husband and I took a prenatal breastfeeding class being offered by my doctor’s office. I must admit that I was floored at all the different positions, tips and techniques I was taught throughout the class. For the first time ever, I left worried that I might breastfeed my child "wrong", and that breastfeeding might not work out for me. I was left to wonder how my mom made it look so effortless.9:01am on Thursday April 12
I'm a corporate interior designer by degree, so you would think that my house is designed and decorated perfectly, everything having a purpose and defined place. Unfortunately, that's not really the case at all. I have 4 kids, we live hard in every room, and function trumped form many kid-less years ago.9:00am on Wednesday April 4
For me, the first few weeks and months caring for a newborn has always meant many days spent at home, adjusting to our "new normal", and simply trying to survive from day to day. My survival skills typically kick in around 7 months pregnant, where I start to collect all the parts and pieces I'll need once the baby arrives. I nest, therefore I shop. I always stock up on a few essential wardrobe pieces that I know I'll be comfortable living in both during the day and night.
The first thing on my list is always one or two nursing bras comfortable enough that I can sleep in, as well as lounge around during the day, during those first few weeks postpartum. I've always loved the Bravado Designs original nursing bra, because the structure of the bra easily allows for changing breast size, which makes it a perfect choice for the end of pregnancy as well as newly postpartum. I have always waited to buy a more "fancy" under-wire daytime bra until the baby has arrived and I know exactly what my new cup size is.9:00am on Tuesday March 27
When I first registered for baby gear, which was almost 8 years ago, I didn't really do much research. I simply went to the big box baby store, and spent an hour or so with that little scanner thing, and clicked away at whatever caught my eye. Looking back, that was a huge mistake. My lack of research has plagued me so badly that I either hate all the original gear I have, or we've long gotten rid of it ages ago, as our family has grown and multiplied.
Next to the crib, the stroller and car seat is probably one of the most spendy items that needs to be purchased. Over the course of the past 8 years, I've learned a ton regarding strollers, and the one thing I've taken with me is that what works for my family today, might not work for my family in the future. And that's OK.11:58am on Wednesday March 21
Paul is my fourth child and second son. His labor and delivery was very routine, and pretty much a textbook unmedicated birth with little to no complications. (If you love birth stories like I do, here is a link to my personal blog Paul, you were born on a cold and windy night where I wrote about the event in detail).
I’m a laid back kind of girl in general, and my birth plan followed suit. My list of requests were short, and at the end of the day, I just wanted was to do what was best for my baby. One of the main things I desired was to nurse him the within the first few minutes after he was born, as I had read somewhere that immediate nursing was a great way to start the bond and develop a healthy nursing relationship.8:50pm on Wednesday March 14