Nicole: Okay, it’s me again guys. This is Nicole Vascianna with Village Maternity Services. Today I’m interrogating the wonderful, amazing Sharonda Butler Stewart. Now this woman – out of all my girlfriends – she can keep stuff. She’s always dibbling dabbling in something. She’s constantly on the go, hence why she is the… wait, are you a travel mom Sharonda?
Sharonda: I’m a travelling busy mama.
Nicole: There we go. She’s a travelling mama and trust me when I say she lives up to her name. I’m going to turn it over to Sharonda right now so she can introduce herself. Tell us a little bit about what you’re currently doing, some of your endeavors and what you’re currently involved in, Sharonda.
Sharonda: Okay, hey everybody, I’m Sharonda. I am the busy mama of three and I am the owner and founder of Sporty Mamas LLC. Sporty Mamas is where style, inspiration and mamas connect, and through the business I love to help mamas stay looking fly and encourage them to pursue their passion, be the best they can be and be a fabulous mom.
Nicole: Okay, alright. So you’re very entrepreneurial right now. I know you do a lot of community work, probably a lot of organizations where you mentor and things like that. Can you take us back and for our listeners, who don’t know you, describe your life 8 years ago. Your oldest victory is 8 right now. Describe your life – what it looked like 8 years ago; brand new mom, baby in tow. What Sharonda’s life looked like.
Sharonda: Well, Sharonda’s life 8 years ago was very, very different than it is currently. I was the… had been married for a year to a professional baseball player and our lifestyle was very different. We were always moving around city to city and baby was in tow. When the baby came, the baby went with mama. So about four weeks after she was born, we packed up and moved to Minnesota and we lived there during the season. It was very interesting because I was a new mom with a new born and used to going out and hanging out and going to all the games, networking with you know, hanging out with other women and the after parties and everything stopped.
It was like mama time; everything else stopped. It was very different, but you adjust and you learn your role as a wife and a new mom – how
to balance it the best you can. You know, just the best mom and wife that you can be.
Nicole: Okay, so when your first… when he was born, did you do hospital delivery, was it a natural delivery, did you use the C-section; can you give us a little bit of information about that – if you’re okay with sharing that.
Sharonda: Yeah, of course. Well, believe it or not, I [inaudible 0:02:50.7] I did prenatal yoga up until it was spring training and the baby was born and it’s a girl. The baby was born in April and we did birthing classes, we did everything to prepare for baby before spring training started. We left for spring training and we… I just lost train of thought. I’m trying to like really replay it as… Say the question again because I just lost—
Nicole: No, because I know that depending on the type of delivery you have sometimes—
Sharonda: Okay, okay. I was talking about the classes so—
Nicole: …make you—
Sharonda: We prepared and I actually hired a doula to help me, because we were going to try to do this, you know, natural without messing but my doctor had already told me because of my back – I also have scoliosis – because of my back, I may have to do C-section. So in the back of my mind even though I was doing the yoga, I was working with the doula; I knew there was a possibility of having to do a C-section just to be safe. The night I went in to labor, my husband was in Minnesota and I went to the hospital and I was asking them, “Is this really it?” because I had been three times before thinking I was in labor, and I was like, “Is this really it?” She was like, “Yeah, but it could be another 8-12 hours. We don’t know what’s going to happen” and they did that test where they estimate the size of the baby and they came back. They said, “The baby looks like she’s not [inaudible 0:04:24.0] and so they kind of like pressured me into having a C-section.
I went ahead and agreed with the C-section cos it was more like planned and I called my husband and was like, “Look, I’m having a C-section.” He got on the first flight and he actually got in Miami about two hours after the baby was born. There were complications with the epidural. I had to be put to sleep. My mom was there, dad comes running in in the end about two hours after the baby came, but I
didn’t know anything; I was asleep, I missed everything. I had a bad experience with the epidural and ended up being a healthy delivery and the baby was fine. It was just one of those things where you can’t plan for it – you never know what’s going to happen.
Nicole: Were you able to breastfeed while you were in the hospital? Did you have complications?
Sharonda: Yes. As soon as – you know they take the baby away for a few hours to clean them and do the testing – as soon as they brought her in, I remember it was about four hours in between me delivering and seeing her for the first time. It was crazy. It was four hours because I was put asleep, but as soon as they brought her in, she went on. She didn’t latch on right away, but you know, the lady was there; she was like, “Just keep trying.” I actually did put her on, it was uncomfortable, she wasn’t having it, I had to just wait and they wouldn’t give her any formula or anything because I did have a… the doula came in and she was like, “No, you have to keep trying. You have to keep trying.”
I kept trying and every time they would let me, I would just keep trying and finally, by the end of that night was when she latched on and it hurt. I remember it hurt. I was like, “Oh my gosh.” She latched on and after that, it wasn’t easy after that, but you know, I learnt and I learned her; and I did have a little bit of help with the lactation consultant. She helped me in the hospital I remember those two days I had to there for three days but she came in every day to see if I was doing better, if I understood… you know, to try make it as comfortable as it could be with the C-section. It was really hard but we survived.
Nicole: So you had baby; you had this kind of plan but unplanned C-section in the hospital but through it all was she was able to latch on your breastfeeding in the hospital. So now you’re home; what does home life look like for you for you as this wife of a major league baseball player, because he’s on the road a lot. Describe how the feeding went – your support system.
Sharonda: Well, there was a support system mentally, but as far as physical support system, there was nothing. We were home; my husband had to leave before we even got home from the hospital. I remember he drove us home and literally had to fly out that next morning.
Nicole: Oh my gosh!
Sharonda: Yeah, it was bad, but thank God for my mom. My mom stayed with me, she helped me for about two weeks; she stayed with me and helped me with the meals and the doctors and checking up everything. She was there. I was like; I’m really blessed to have my mom so active and hands-on. Yeah, the feedings – everything was on me; getting up in the night time for that first month was really just… My mom would come in, she would help me take care of myself as far as… cook, giving me food and letting me run and take a shower while she’d go hold the baby and stuff like that, but as far as the nigh time feedings and changing the diapers and the little sponge baths and all that stuff; I was like the single mom although I was married—
Sharonda: … because of that lifestyle.
Nicole: I’m sure like army wives can kind of relate to that, you know, by no fault of their own, he’s not here but he’s taking care of his family and that’s why he’s away. Like you said it, it all kind of fell on you. Did you find yourself going through any sort of post- term depression or anything in those following weeks after?
Sharonda: You know, with my first child – because I’m a mom of three – with my first child, I really didn’t remember experiencing any depression, but I remember kind of feeling guilty. A couple of times my husband would call, he was on the road and we were still in Miami and it was like he was going out, hanging out with his friends and I was home. It was like two or three in the morning feeding the baby and can’t sleep and then he’s calling me like, “Oh, we just left town” like these crazy cool places we used to go to and I’m like, “It’s not fair.” I remember I would be crying because I was like, “I’m home and they’re in New York [inaudible 0:09:40.5]” That was the only kind of guilt.
Now with my third child, I had more of a little bout with depression because things didn’t go as planned and it was harder so I do know… I did experience a little bit and it’s real and if you don’t have the right people around you—
Sharonda: … for help, it could be a real problem but I know it’s real because I did have a little bout of it with baby number three.
Nicole: I know that you were able to exclusively breastfeed; you breastfed exclusively all three. How were you able to accomplish that?
Sharonda: I remember with the first baby, Sheila, that… my best friend was a mom before me and she was like, “You just got to do six months. You can make it to six months.” So that was always my goal; I want to make it six months because Aisha said, “Make it to six months.” I had looked up to her and after I got it and the baby got it and I realized how much it helped her and it helped me lose the baby weight really, really fast. It was just easy because we were travelling. You know, who has time to make a bottle?
Sharonda: I mean, I was known as the milk mama. I would take my little wrap and I would be in the airport, at the baseball field, at the mall – it didn’t matter. I would go find me a corner with my wrap and make sure baby was happy. It was easy for me maybe because I was home, you know I was a stay at home mom, it was a little bit easier, but the mentality kind of changed and I was like, “This is easy, I don’t want to wash bottles, I don’t want to make bottles, I’m travelling, I don’t have time to go sterilize anything; it just worked, and it worked for a really long time.
Nicole: Did you co-sleep at all?
Sharonda: Yeah. I co-slept from the beginning, well, not in the hospital because they don’t want you to, but after she got home I had the bassinet by the bed and I think she may have slept in it for like two days because I was so sore from the C-section, I couldn’t get to it. I just made sure there was no pillows or nothing and kept it safe for her. I believe in co-sleeping. That was, as a half single mom, it was kind of like the only way that I would get any sleep. I will recommend that you do it safely, make sure there are no extra blankets or pillows or somebody that’s intoxicated that could roll on top of the baby, or a hard sleeper. I firmly believe in co-sleeping.
Nicole: I can’t recommend for people to do that after lactation I can’t say, “Yes, you should co-sleep.” But whatever level you’re comfortable with, as much as possible, I recommend it because one, you’re going to get more sleep, and you’re more alert and you can hear baby as they’re starting to stir so you can get to them before their full-out cry and now you can just feed them milk. It also decreases your risk with [inaudible 0:13:03.4] and also it helps with you hormones- keeping your levels up where they need to be in order to exclusively
breastfeed, so I recommend it but with moms, you don’t want to put baby on the bed. I always tell them… they have cold sleepers; they have like a bassinet in the room or next to the bed and as close as possible, keep baby next. As close as possible.
Definitely agree with that. Out of everything for you – I know you were into exclusively breastfeed, baby stayed with you all the time you were on the go, you were at the games, in the mall, in the airport baby was always with you. That part was very easy for you. What was the most difficult thing for you as it relates to breastfeeding?
Sharonda: Learning when to wean, because different people have their opinions Oh, she’s still on the boob, let her go. Listening to other people, that was kind of hard for me, but I nursed my first child till she was almost 18 months. I had nursed her till I was pregnant again. I did, and then once I was pregnant again with my son, I was like, “Okay, I have to stop because now he needs the nutrients. He needs that.” I was like, “I’m drained. She’s 18 months, she’s talking” She never drank milk; she still had never drank cow’s milk. Now, at 8, she’d drink… she has ice cream and she’ll drink chocolate milk but I never gave them milk as kids – as babies. They didn’t really like it.
Nicole: Sharonda, one more thing. If you could give a brand new mom one piece of advice, what would that advice be?
Sharonda: To try your best. All we can do is try our best; if it works for you, great. If it doesn’t work for you, it’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up over it. It’s really good to have a support system too, if you can’t, have a lactation consultant in the beginning to help you, or a friend that’s experienced to help you but everybody is different. I have a lot of friends and all of us treated it differently, got different results but in the end, it’s about being a good mom, doing the best you can and trying to provide the healthiest start to your baby’s life.
Nicole: I think that’s like a reoccurring theme I think I’m going to see with everyone who I get down and interrogate. That notion of just doing your best and not beating yourself cleptic; as women sometimes we try to be super women, super moms for everything, for everyone and you definitely want… set a goal, like yours was six months, and do the best to try and make it to that goal. But realize, just like you said, if you don’t make it, okay, oh my gosh in two weeks short of six weeks, hey, it’s okay.
Nicole: It’s okay. Thank you so much Sharonda for—
Sharonda: Thank you.
Nicole: … sharing these gold nuggets with our listeners. I know they’re definitely going to benefit from it. Again, thank you.
Sharonda: Thank you, good luck.