How Breastfeeding Made Me A Better Mother

Alicia Juniku Photography -

Photo: Alicia Juniku Photography –

**Before we even get started let me just say this is NOT a formula vs breastfeeding debate. I fully believe that while formula is a medical food and life saving, breast is best.  However, this post is not ranking one over the other – rather taking my personal experience into account.  I’ll say it one more time – I don’t think I’m a better mother because I breastfeed, but breastfeeding has made me a better mother (not than anyone else – just than my base self) for many other reasons.

I am currently in my 28th month of breastfeeding.  When I was pregnant with Lucas I just assumed I’d breastfeed.  I was breastfed and so was my brother – and 30+ years ago that was less common than it is today.  Breastfeeding wasn’t always easy for me, in fact, I’m still struggling a little nursing my 3 month old.  However, I believe, without a shadow of a doubt, that breastfeeding has made me a better mother than I would have been otherwise.

1. Breastfeeding taught me how to advocate for my children and trust my intuition as their mother.  In case you haven’t read it, we had a lot of issues with breastfeeding when Lucas was born.  We struggled for months.  We were told by many people that everything was “fine” and I had a pediatrician look at me and tell me that I should just give a bottle instead of pushing through, but I knew something wasn’t right and that there was a problem we needed to resolve.  I also knew that no one was going to care for my kids as much as I do and, that while a pediatrician would never want to harm my child, they do not want the absolute best for them, like I do.  Lucas is only 3 years old (and Andrew only 3 months old) but I’ve already seen this spill over into other aspects of our life, not just healthcare (although I’ve had to do this more than once when it comes to the physical well-being of both boys).

2. Breastfeeding gave me confidence (well, after a while it did)!  I won’t lie, it’s easy to doubt yourself in those first few months of breastfeeding.  Even with all of the training and experience I have now, I still doubt myself sometimes.  But breastfeeding has also given me confidence.  My body alone is able to provide not only nourishment but also comfort and security for my children.  How bad@ss is that?!  It’s a reminder that I was made to be a mother.  And knowing that gives me the confidence that even though I may know have it all together all the time, I really can do this whole parent thing.

3. Breastfeeding taught me to push on.  As a mom you sometimes need to just put your hair in a “messy bun and get things done!”  There have been days (too many than I should admit) that I just want to stop breastfeeding.  For one reason or another I just want to be done but I push on, because in my heart I know I’m not ready to stop, and neither is my baby.  There are days when being a mom is tough too, especially as a Stay-at-Home-Mom who doesn’t always have any adult interaction during the day.  I wouldn’t trade that for anything though, so in those moments (you know, the ones where you have a crying baby and a toddler who is throwing the black beans you are using for your coal mining activity all over the house while waiting for someone to come and give you an estimate on the cost of a deep clean of said house – which was a baby gift, not something we would do on our own – that now has black beans all over the floor!) I remember that, like some of my breastfeeding struggles, this is just a season.  I’ve got my messy bun and I can get things done – even if that’s just surviving until Daddy gets home.

4. Breastfeeding gave me a purpose and a cause.  I got so much help and support while I was breastfeeding Lucas that I wanted to give back and help others like I had been helped.  The lead me down the path of leadership for a very popular mother-to-mother breastfeeding organization.  Being given the opportunity to help mothers as they are breastfeeding has been huge for me.  It’s given me a purpose outside of being the best mother I can be to my boys – and that has made me a better mom.

5. Breastfeeding gave me my village, and I’m a much better mother for being surrounded by these women as we raise our children.  This has probably been the most “life changing” aspect of mothering for me.  Not only are these the women that I go to when I have a question, they are also the women I go to when I have a success and (more importantly) when I’m feeling down and I need a little pick-me-up!  I’ve meet these women in, and then through, breastfeeding groups.  We all parent a little different – some cloth diaper and some don’t, some bed share and some don’t, some are working mothers while other stay home with their littles.  Somehow, we’ve avoided the “mommy wars” though.  We’ve even avoided the “female wars” – you know, the snide comments, jealousy and downright bitchiness we often find among women these days.  Instead we celebrate the success of others and are there with a shoulder to cry on when it’s needed. These women remind me I can do this, and when I can’t, that it’s okay to ask for help.  They are my village and it really does take a village to raise a child.  We aren’t meant to mother alone, although we often find ourselves doing that for one reason or another.  Having my village, which I give breastfeeding the credit for helping me find, has made me a better woman and therefore a much, much, MUCH better mother!

Now I’m not saying I’m the best mother in the world (in fact, if you ask my mother I’m sure she’ll be happy to list all of my faults, like the fact that I don’t wear socks on Andrew or that I “run too much” with the kids) but I really do feel like I am the best mother I can be for both of my boys.  My parenting style is probably very different than yours, and that’s okay.  As long as you are being true to yourself and your child(ren)’s needs, you are the best mom they could ask for!

So tell me, what do you think has made YOU a better mom?!


Toddler Activity: Mining for Shapes


I’m always trying to come up with new things to do with Lucas during the day.  I browse Pinterest a lot and try and take what I find there and make it fit us.

I saw a super cute mining activity and thought it would be fun to try.  The site I found used gems with magnets and a magnetic pole to do the mining.  I didn’t have anything like that in my house, so we went “old-school”

Here is what you’ll need:

A small container

Dried black beans, I think I had 2lbs worth

Foam board (the kind you get at the craft store – I got a pack of 32 small squares for $0.98 at Walmart)

Tin foil

Things to mine with (we used kitchen tongs and some measuring cups)

If you’re feeling super adventurous and want to make a miners light you’ll need:

Construction paper


Part of a paper towel roll

Yellow crepe paper or tissue paper

I cut shapes out of the foam to make the gems we’d be mining for (we had green emeralds, “red” rubys, circle amethysts and diamonds).  I used the foil to make wrap around the diamond shape to make it shine.


A small container and some beans and we’ve got ourselves a coal mine!

Toddler Mining Activity

To make the hat I just used the construction paper to fit L’s head.  Then cut of a piece of the paper towel roll and added in the yellow “light.”  I wasn’t too sure L would wear his miner’s hat but he did and thought he was hot stuff in it!


I just kind of let him go to town trying to find all of the gems.  We ended up with a LOT of black beans on the floor but had a ton of fun in the process.


It was awesome to hear him identifying each shape and color (he’s super into diamonds right now so I knew he’d love that one).

This activity kept him occupied for a good 30 minutes.  I still have it put together and plan on bringing it out again when I need a few minutes to get some things accomplished!


What are you favorite activities to do with your little ones?  I’d love it if you’d share them below!

Another Hello Fresh Review

HelloFresh Review

Several months ago we tried our first HelloFresh box.  We really enjoyed it and have done several more since then.

We had taken a break from it for a while (mainly b/c my first trimester I was having a hard time cooking ANYTHING and I didn’t want it to go to waste) but got another one last week and I was really impressed with some of the changes they had made to the packaging.

The box itself seemed more stable and the separation between the meat and the rest of the product was better.  I also feel like these ice packs were “nicer” – they just seemed sturdier.

HelloFresh Review

Instead of the produce and other ingredients being in a bag they were nicely packaged in individual boxes.  This kept the produce from being crushed I think (not that I’d had a huge issue with that in the past but I know a few people said that was an issue).

What didn’t change??  Well the meals themselves were amazing as usual!  The recipes are creative yet not too hard to put together (even if you aren’t that experienced in the kitchen).  The flavors are always amazing!

The meals I chose were:

Chicken & Butter Bean Cassoulet with Crispy Parmesan Breadcrumbs


Hello Fresh Review

 {Finished Meal}

Hello Fresh Review

I had SO much left over for lunch the next day it was crazy!

Pan-Seared Steak with Cipollini Onions, Roasted New Potatoes, and Tomato Pan-Sauce


HelloFresh Review

{Finished Meal}

HelloFresh Review

Autumn Risotto with Butternut Squash, Sage, and Pepitas


HelloFresh Review

 {Finished Meal}

HelloFresh Review

This was only 1/2 of my portion. Darrin’s was even bigger!

The Risotto was, by far my favorite, but the Pan-Seared Steak was pretty awesome as well.  The Cassoulet was good but I couldn’t get the stock to reduce down enough and it was pretty “soupy.”  If the stock would have reduced more I would have loved it because the flavors were amazing.

So now the nitty-gritty…How much does this all cost?  The total cost for 2 people for a Classic Box is around $70.  That’s $70 for what could have been 3 dinners and 1 lunch each for 2 people.  In my house that’s a pretty good deal!  It’s a tad more than what we would spend for 3 meals (and leftovers) if I was just purchasing it at the store but I’m also getting simple and fun new meals to try and really fresh ingredients delivered right to my house!

If you’re still a little hesitant, like I was, I have a code that will get you $40 off of your first box!  That means for around $30 you’ll have at least 3 dinners for 2 people (and probably some lunches as well)!  Now $30 for 3 meals for 2 people (plus leftovers) is a super great deal in my book.  It’s totally risk free – you can cancel after the first box in just a minute or two.

So, what are you waiting for? Try the new and improved HelloFresh for yourself today! I’m sure you’ll love it just as much as we do.

Hello Third Trimester!

3rd Trimester

I hit 27 weeks this past Friday and I have officially welcomed the third trimester!  In some ways I feel like this pregnancy is going so fast!  Maybe because I’m pretty sure this will be my last one and I want to hold on to those baby kicks and flips and special time between me and this little nugget for as long as I can.  Or, maybe it’s because I’m totally scared at the thought of having a newborn and a toddler!  Either way, the closer we get to January, the more excited I get.

How Am I Feeling:  I’m feeling GREAT!  I love this part of pregnancy!  I have a decent amount of energy (during the day at least!), I’m not SOOOO big that I’m uncomfortable but all of the “yuck” from the early weeks is officially long gone!  I am starting to get a bit of swelling in my feet when I push it too hard during the day but I’m hoping that’s not a sign of my blood pressure going up in the future or anything like that.

Food Cravings:  They’ve calmed down a bit and are much more “tame” now.  Apples and peanut butter are topping my list.  We’ve also been baking a lot of cookies in our house.  I’m not sure if this is pregnancy related or just fall related but I’m loving everything pumpkin as well!

Active Baby?:  Oh my goodness – this little guy is SO active.  Way more so than his older brother (which is slightly terrifying).  And it’s all the time already.  At this point with Lucas I usually felt him when I was resting – this little one makes his presence known even when I’m up and moving around.

How Much Weight Have I Gained?: At my appointment at 26 weeks I was up right at 15lbs (although I think it’s really about 17 or 18 pounds).  By that point with Lucas I had gained 24 pounds.  I’m really happy with my weight gain at this point.  Although I may have celebrated that victory a bit too much last week and need to reign in the snacking!

Any Other Pregnancy “Symptoms”:  I am already starting to nest like crazy!  We’re working on setting up L’s big boy room (we’re going with a train theme) and I decided I needed to organize all of my wrapping paper, gift bags, etc. for some reason yesterday.

My Health Update:  In my last update post I mentioned they had found I had marginal placenta previa during my anatomy ultrasound.  I went back for another scan 4 weeks later and all was well – Praise the Lord!  My blood pressure has also been perfect so far and I’m hoping it stays that way!  At the slightest sign of swelling I start to freak out but I think some of it is that I’m going a little crazy with the nesting and it’s still in the upper 70’s here (so the heat is NOT helping).  At my follow up ultrasound they said that baby was measuring a week or so ahead so I go back later this week for another one (at 24 weeks he was weighing 1lb 12oz according to their measurements – which I don’t totally believe by the way!).  I also passed my 1 hour Glucola test this time (I failed with Lucas and had to take the 3 hour – which I passed) so no Gestational Diabetes for me!

Overall this has been a wonderful pregnancy.  Yes, it’s harder being pregnant with a toddler but I’m loving everything about growing this little nugget.  I know I’ll be sad when our special time together is over, but I can’t wait to welcome him into this world!