Monday, April 1, 2019

Why I'm Not Afraid to Have More Babies

I get asked a lot if I'm "afraid" or fearful of having another baby. Originally, I thought I would hold off on writing a post like this until I actually was pregnant, but since it seems to come up frequently (and plus our "plans" and futures are never 100% guaranteed regardless of what we think we want) I figured why not now? (Also, just to be totally clear over here - we are not currently pregnant.)

To some, it might seem odd that this question gets asked often, but I suppose it's because of my ongoing openness about wanting a large family/additional children. So it does come up quite a bit.

"Are you afraid of getting postpartum depression again?"

The answer? No. Absolutely not.

Why am I not "afraid"? First of all, I am not a very fearful person. I don't make decisions based on fear or the "what ifs". I don't let fear affect how I live my life. Nothing that I do or believe is rooted in fear-based thoughts. Even when it comes to how I speak to my kids, I have been very intentional about never using fear-based statements to try to influence them. ("Don't do that! That's scary!!" "Don't touch that it's SCARY!" "____ is scary/will scare you!") I won't ever say or feel "I'm too scared to have more children because I'm afraid I'll have postpartum depression again." I truly believe that living like this or making decisions in this way is the enemy's way of robbing us of experiencing so many wonderful God-given things, and His love and desires for us.

I've even had some people really challenge me on this and in a fairly criticizing/judgmental way. "Do you really think that's a good idea?" "What makes you think it's going to be different?" "What if ____ happens again? Then what??" "How can you possibly consider having another baby after what happened to you the last time?"

Here's the thing. Everything is different. Even IF nothing is different "situationally" (which it is) - I am different therefore it WILL be different. All of it. Does this mean future pregnancies/births/postpartum experiences will be easy? Absolutely not. Will they be more sacred? Looked at with completely different eyes? Prepared for differently? 100%.

People EXPECT me to be scared. But the truth is I'm not. There's actually not a single aspect of this that does scare me. It is in fact quite the opposite. I can hardly wait.

So what will actually be different??

There are a lot of ways I plan to handle/be more intentional with my pregnancy/birth/postpartum experiences - and I do plan to go into more detail on this if/when that time comes. I truly believe that pregnancy experience + birth experience (+ community/support) = postpartum experience and I can't WAIT to lay the groundwork. I am SO excited to honor the postpartum period specifically. I have so many ideas and tools that I've learned about. One example of this would be instituting a 15 day "lying in period" post-birth (5 days IN the bed, 5 days ON the bed, and 5 days AROUND the bed). No leaving the house. No going to the grocery store. And certainly no traveling out of town to be a bridesmaid (in heels) in an outdoor wedding 10 days postpartum (hehe). This is actually quite common in other cultures, but even just honoring the postpartum period in general is something that is tragically SO foreign in our society. I believe postpartum (and a lying-in period specifically) is something that can be prepared for and can truly enhance the SACREDNESS and holiness of the immediate postpartum. It sounds absolutely BLISSFUL to me. I do believe that by being proactive you do have the ability to "set yourself up" for a positive postpartum experience.

A few other (brief) ways I plan to create a different (physical) space and headspace for myself in the future:

- My mindset/thought process - changing the way I think about the connections between pregnancy, birth, postpartum (and my physical body), focusing on what I HAVE learned about these intense deep-rooted connections and taking the time throughout pregnancy to sit in silence and honor all of those connections and experiences (see previous post!)
- Intentions - by being more intentional about setting aside time to focus on connecting with my growing baby, my body and our upcoming birth experience (both the physical and mental aspects of labor and delivery) as well as the breastfeeding and postpartum experiences
- Planning/preparation (mostly mental) - preparing myself for the days immediately following birth, preparing myself and my family for what I want that to look like and creating a plan for how that can be achieved

One day, hopefully, I look forward to sharing more of the specifics of these and how I plan to make them happen.

Of course, there are plenty of situations that are NOT in our control (which I am WELL aware of and all too familiar with) and I'm not expecting to have control over everything - nor to ever be immune to LIFE. But over the last year and a half I have learned that there is so much that I DO have control over. I have learned so much about connecting - what it means to connect with myself, with a baby/pregnancy, and connecting with God and His desires for me. I have really explored self-care and gotten really good at it. But even IF POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION DOES HAPPEN AGAIN - we've been through it before. My husband and I know what we are dealing with (to an extent). We have so many more tools and resources and knowledge than ever before. I believe that we would be able to take control of postpartum depression much more quickly and more effectively. I'm confident that (based on what my PPD looked like the last time) it would be so different should something similar happen again in the future - but I'm far from convinced that it will happen again :).

Monday, March 25, 2019

The Pregnancy/Birth/Postpartum Connection

This post might not really "do" much for very many people out there. This one's mostly just for me - as a way of organizing what's in my brain and dumping my thoughts out. BUT I do think there is some importance in not just keeping this to myself, because if it helps one person out there - then of course it's worth it to throw it out there. Even if postpartum depression is completely nonexistent in someone else's journey, there is always a postpartum experience. I do believe that there is value in recognizing how connected all of these experiences are to each other (regardless of whether the postpartum experience is positive or negative). For me personally, it just took actually going through postpartum depression (and all of these other things) to actually realize this. Postpartum depression aside, maybe this will help someone else out there understand and honor these connections (and how they can possibly affect the postpartum experience) - whether on their own journey or someone they are close to.

I have always viewed pregnancy, labor & delivery and postpartum as very separate events. Sure these experiences all have to do with bringing a new baby into the world, but up until recently, I have seen each as a "phase", completely independent and separate from the others. When one chapter ended, the next began, unrelated (for the most part) to the one before or after it. By allowing my eyes to be opened to just how intricately woven together all of these experiences are, I have a much better understanding of my own journey and how all of these "phases" led me down the path towards postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression is very different for everyone. I do believe that for some women is it 100% hormonal, and that there is no getting around it. Medication is necessary and helpful and the only solution. I am confident that hormones did play somewhat of a role in my own postpartum depression, but I think it went SO much deeper than that for me. Let me attempt to sum this up very briefly (feel free to click the links if you are interested in learning more):

Pregnancy - My pregnancy experience was different the third time. I love being pregnant and it seemed that I could hardly get to the point of even just feeling like I was pregnant, let alone focus on or enjoy the experience. I was very sick (colds, the flu multiple times, infections, etc.) and so were my babies! We were in a VERY very hard season of life - which had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I was pregnant at the time. I felt minimally supported during pregnancy - medically, hormonally/emotionally and personally. Every time I thought I was going to be able to reach a point where I could focus and rest and things would get "easier" life would only get harder.

Birth - My birth experience was also very different. This was my first birth without a doula present. The first birth that I was wheeled into recovery feeling ZERO sense of empowerment. I felt minimally supported by hospital staff. Even though my husband's presence and involvement was undeniably and insanely awesome, I still felt very alone. Unheard. There was no one creating that space for me to do my thing. The birth didn't go "how I wanted it to" - even though it totally DID on paper, it didn't FEEL that way - and that's important. (But I also realize that's a totally loaded statement when we're talking about birth experiences as we don't REALLY have "control" over them per say). Every. single. woman. should leave her birth experience feeling nothing but powerful, heard and strong - and I believe that goes for ANY "type" of birth. I had a freaking natural hospital birth with zero meds, delivered a 9 lb. 3 oz. baby vaginally, my husband caught her and I still felt like the smallest person on the planet. What the actual F***?! It felt like such a let down. (Again, not saying that a natural birth is what is required for me to feel heard and empowered - obviously - because that's what I did and still felt deflated.)

Community/support -  This was also very different the third time around. Almost ALL of my closest friends had moved away. Plus, naturally, the more babies you have the less that people care (tragically. This is quite opposite of how it SHOULD be - but I get it.) We didn't really have any support systems in place anywhere, (no church community, no neighborhood community, no other groups we were apart of, only a few friends) so this was definitely one of the more isolating postpartum experiences that I have had.

All of this being said, I believe this equation to be true (in my case) when it comes to all three of my postpartum experiences:

Pregnancy Experience + Birth Experience + Community Strength/Support = Postpartum experience

For me, there is a direct correlation between all 4 of these "dynamics" if you will. The postpartum experience is DEEPLY rooted in the combination/level of enjoyment/satisfaction during these other experiences - however they are also not necessarily mutually exclusive from each other either. They are intricately woven together. Having a strong community/support system can directly affect the birth experience and even the pregnancy experience in my opinion. I think this "formula" is actually the simplified version of what I believe this truly looks like, which is more of a spider web looking flow chart.

I have actually come up with a mathematical equation and scale to represent these factors, but I'm not sure I'm quite ready to share it yet - mostly because I'm just a random person and no professional in any way, shape or form. (But I'm kind of tempted to do a little study to see how accurate I am!) And OBVIOUSLY this doesn't take into account any physiological aspects either - aka hormones.

Anyway, I do believe that for myself being conscious of the correlation between ALL of these experiences and being aware of just how connected these things all TRULY are will help me moving forward - whether it be in my own future journeys or by helping me to better serve other expecting mamas in my life! Maybe it will do the same for you.

Thanks for sticking with me :)

Sarah McKenzie Photography

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The 10 Year Challenge

So there's this trend going around on social media right now "How hard did aging hit you!?" Have you seen it? You post a picture of yourself from 10 years ago and then next to it a current photo. Some people look shockingly different and others look amazingly the same. I've seen some people reacting positively but also a few negative responses from people about their changes as well (though I assume the people that are truly unhappy with the differences in the photos wouldn't participate in the first place.)

(There really was no reasoning behind me choosing these two photos other than convenience!)

I definitely don't take these kinds of things super seriously and I think it's fun to see how people (myself included) have changed! But this little "challenge" got me thinking: I don't ever want to look at my own physical aging as a negative thing. This isn't the first time I've written about this, but lately I have been feeling extra grateful to have made it long enough on this earth to even HAVE wrinkles/lines/age spots/"imperfections" whatEVER you want to call it. That in and of itself is such a blessing. There are people that I have known that aren't so lucky. People that I wish were still here to gain another line on their forehead or wrinkle on their neck.

But also - I EARNED every single one of those "imperfections" on my face, and I refuse to ever try to erase, cover up, hide or change those. Finding joy in my age/aging is something that is a priority for my own health/happiness but also for my kids. It's JUST as important to me that they grow up seeing a mom who embraces her face/body for what it is and what God created it to be. What the world might see as "imperfections" to me are the physical results of the things that have made me who I am today.

When I see the tiny creases starting there on my forehead or a little laugh line starting to form, I think back to all of the AMAZING beach trips I took with my friends (and didn't wear sunscreen - oops!), laughing non-stop with a friend over a cup of coffee or glass of wine, or my face ugly crying and holding on tight to a friend going through something difficult. One day I'll have grey hair from worrying about my babies and my husband and my friends. My boobs certainly aren't what they used to be (ARE ANYONES?!) but I GOT to grow and birth and FEED 3 babies with this body and those boobs. And I don't want to erase that. Not that erasing the wrinkles or changing my body would erase the memories or undo what has been done, but when I'm (hopefully) 90 years old - I want to LOOK like I have really lived 90 years...lived them SO FULL of life. (And honestly, when I'm 60 or even 50 or 40 years old I'm 1,000% sure I will look back to photos of myself from now and think "MAN I thought I started looking older THEN?!")

This actually isn't the first time that I have thought about my own "aging" actually. Here is an excerpt from a previous blog post I wrote 2 years ago that digs a little deeper into to how I still feel now, and what has led me to this place:

"I was recently at a church event with a group of women where the conversation essentially led to "what kind of plastic surgery do you want/what part(s) of you body are you unhappy with". Those weren't the ACTUAL initial questions but the conversation had basically turned into that. So many women - ALL of the women - were talking about Botox and wrinkles and boob jobs. It just blew my mind how each and every one of these women were insecure/unhappy with the way they looked or hated at least something about their body. Some of the girls even said that after they undress to get in the shower they shield their eyes from the mirror as they walk by so they don't have to see their own bodies. My heart absolutely and completely broke in two for these women. I also can't tell you how strange it felt to literally be the only one at the table who didn't (doesn't) have a desire to change anything about my body, my face, the way I look or how God created me. But it definitely got me thinking. WHY do I feel this way? Why DON'T I want perkier boobs or plumper lips or a smooth forehead? Part of it might be that I do work hard (and God has blessed me with a lot that allows me to do so - a healthy body, a double stroller to take the kids on runs and a husband who watches the kids so I can go on a long run by myself). I also have gotten to a point where I never want to fight the aging process. My time/energy/emotions are better spent elsewhere and I think I will be much happier if I just accept that I'm going to get wrinkles and grey hair. It's going to happen. I've accepted it and I'm okay with it. I don't know how to tell anyone else to get to that place but I promise if you can get there you'll never regret it.

BUT. I think the absolute BIGGEST reason that I do not share those same thoughts is because of my mom. My whole life I have NEVER not once heard my mom complain about her body. As a child or adult, my mom has never complained - at least to me - about any insecurities that she may (or may not) have about her body or the way she looks. She's never talked about boob jobs, or having a flatter tummy or her wrinkles. This realization has been so eye-opening to me as a woman and also mother to my own daughter. Even if I start to get saggy grandma "bingo arms" that jiggle when I wave, or my midsection is soft and fluffier than I'd like or my boobs look like some flat-ass pancakes or WHATEVER it is - I NEVER want to let my daughters OR sons hear me complain about that. I want all of my children to see a mom who is confident and happy with the way she looks - however that might be. A mama who has love and respect and appreciation for all of the MANY things my body has done and is doing for me and for this world." (You can read this entire post from 2017 here.)

My goal is never to make others feel guilty for the way they feel or the choices they make. But since a lot of my personal beliefs/thoughts/decisions go against (what I feel is) the norm, I feel like a lot of times I need this outlet. I want to put it out there in case someone else out there feels like they are the only one. Please don't take my own thoughts personally - I'm just sharing what I feel is right for my own body/life. You are, of course, entitled to the same.

I make a point to not complain about my body when I'm around other women and/or my children (at least I TRY not to). It's not about faking acceptance, or pretending I don't feel insecure sometimes, but it's about ACTUALLY not having anything to complain about! It's about working towards that when I do have those off days. When I do have those days where I'm feeling insecure about something or unhappy with my body (I have been there before for sure) I talk with my husband or a close friend about it and work through my feelings. I have never dyed my hair or used an anti-wrinkle cream and I have no intentions of starting anytime soon. I hope I live long enough to look 90. Hopefully I will actually BE 90 when that happens but if not, I'm also okay with it. Bring on the grey hair, crow's feet, saggy boobs, jiggly neck, vein-y hands and creased-up forehead - I'm ready for ya!! I'm 32 years old and HAPPY to look it. I hope when I'm 40, 50, 60+ I feel the same way.

"I am the only one who can give my children a happy mother who loves life." - Janene Wolsey Baadsgard

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

On Getting "Cut Out"

Jesus calls us to be in relationship with lots of different kinds of people. We ARE without a doubt called to be in this world (but not OF this world). 

Do not feel brought down by someone who cuts you out of their life (real life and/or social media life) because you don’t fit THEIR idea of a perfect mold or because you do something for yourself that doesn’t have a place in their life. That’s not how Jesus (or Christianity) works. 

Can you imagine if Jesus pushed someone away because they didn’t fit a particular mold or meet certain criteria? Or maybe because they did something that he didn’t see fit for his own life?

“You do you” can only get you so far as a Christian in this world, because frankly “you do you” isn’t really a Christian mindset at all, but quite the opposite. 

I realize what I’m saying might be very elementary, (and I can’t say that I’m all that good at this 100% of the time) but I get so sick of hearing “you do you” when it comes to how we connect and relate to other humans. Relationships take work, sacrifice, and sometimes can even be a little uncomfortable. You might not always agree. But one way to end up very alone and with no true friends is to only allow a certain group or type of person into your life and heart. That’s called ignorant (and very “un-Jesus” if you ask me). 

I am grateful to have many deep and meaningful relationships with a lot of people who I love and love to support and who also love and support me. I may not agree 100% with some of their choices or lifestyle choices (and they probably feel the same about mine), but I LOVE them. And I love my people who love me in spite of our differences and imperfections. Thank you to my people. I am grateful for you 💗. 

Friday, November 30, 2018

Self-Care November


Can you believe it's almost December?? I know I can't! If you follow me along on Instagram, you know that during the month of November I made it a goal to practice self-care every day of this month. Some days it was as small as just doing a 10 minute meditation or a face mask before bed, and other days it was spending a few hours alone in Starbucks or getting a pedicure. I made an effort to try some brand new things, as well as include a wide variety of things for myself - in both time and cost! (PLEASE check out my original post on IG for a little more of my thoughts back at the beginning of the month!) As someone who is an extrovert 90% of the time, I enjoy and feel filled by social events and connecting with friends - I NEED that! But only occasionally do I actually consider that "self-care". Sometimes it can be.

As I am searching for my "new identity" as a mom and a human (and have started to include therapy again in that journey) my therapist encouraged me during a session to really try to make self-care a priority. Following the session, I made an effort to keep self-care at the front of my mind as much as I could. After waking up one day and realizing that I had made it 9 WHOLE days in a row (starting Nov. 1) doing ONE thing for myself each day - I felt super motivated to continue and made it an actual goal to take it a step further and practice self care every single day during the entire month of November.

Here's my takeaway: IT. WAS. AWESOME. 

So there's the obvious: doing something for yourself clearly sounds good. Buh-duh. But the consistency I believe is what made it so awesome. Doing something (anything!) consistently removed the pressure for perfection. In the past, self-care happened for me so rarely that I would build the experience up in my head SO much. There was too much weight placed on ONE certain experience or that ONE pedicure or that ONE splurge or whatever it was. When it's not happening regularly, and when you don't know when you'll get another chance for yourself again, it actually makes it really hard to enjoy those times when you DO have an opportunity for self-care.

(I also want to add that I never felt like it was a burden or a chore trying to come up with something to do each day, but that part was actually really fun! Even my husband got into it and was super supportive. He would ask me what I wanted to do or encourage me to do something like take a bath or do a v-steam or go out of the house alone for a bit.)

I don't think you have to practice self-care every single day for an extended period of time to reap the benefits of it. (Do I think it's an awesome idea and everyone SHOULD try it? Absolutely!) And there IS something to be said for "forcing" yourself to practice self-care THAT frequently, as it opens up a lot of opportunities to try new things and get creative! BUT what I have learned is that consistency trumps frequency. I personally believe that when it comes to self-care it should be something that is practiced regularly. Whether it's every single day or just every Tuesday - when you know what to expect or know when time for yourself is coming again (and it's already on the horizon) it's okay if the experience/pedicure/coffee/meal is not 110% perfect. There is so much to be said for the stability and peace that I felt when I was making it happen regularly.

I feel happier. I feel like I matter more. My mental well-being IS a priority! Even if other people feel this way or tell you these things, it's difficult. to convince yourself of this. That's the hardest thing. I HOPE my little project has INSPIRED you to make yourself a priority. Not in a selfish way but in a "living a full life"kind of way. And if you're a mom (or a friend or sister or partner or whoever!) you can't pour into others if you yourself are empty. I can't fill my children if I have nothing to give. Wouldn't it be nice to actually FEEL that fulfillment? I still have a ways to go but this month of self-care has been a huge stepping stone for my personal journey to...wherever I'm going.

Here's a little list of what I did each day. (If you want MORE or want some visuals refer back to my Instagram and click on my "self-care" highlight! It's way more fun that way!!)

November 1: Went to a yoga class
November 2: Listened to a meditation on my phone before getting out of bed for the day
November 3: Took a bath (including candles, music and a book)
November 4: Vaginal steam with candles and calming music playing
November 5: Picked up some coffee, took the kids to the playground and listened to a podcast while I pushed Cami in the stroller and walked back and forth next to the jungle gym
November 6: Went to Starbucks alone after hubby got home from work to read/listen to a podcast/journal/write a blog post
November 7: Ate dinner on the couch with headphones in while hubby took care of feeding the kids at the table
November 8: Had a coffee date with a church friend/mentor
November 9: Laid in bed while the kids napped and played on my phone/checked social media/enjoyed the silence :)
November 10: Went to bed early and got 8 hours of sleep!
November 11: V-steam followed by a quiet bath
November 12: Woke up, put on a meditation and went back to sleep for 30 minutes
November 13: Spent the evening alone at Starbucks after therapy was cancelled
November 14: Laid in bed and read a book while Heidi was at school, Cami was napping and Wells got some iPad time
November 15: Mani/pedi followed by boxed brownie mix with some Andes mint chips thrown in
November 16: Rubbed my Eden's Garden "Anxiety Ease" essential oil on my wrist and laid down in bed while the kids napped. I put on a meditation and listened while I fell asleep.
November 17: Ran a half marathon (self-care was just making sure basic needs were met!)
November 18: Got my very first facial ever at a place I've been meaning to try for a while
November 19: Bought myself some new clothes while spending the day out of town with my sister! (Lots of alone time listening to music and podcasts in the car during the 2.5 hour drive to and from!)
November 20: Extra long mid-day v-steam with meditation while the kids napped
November 21: Put a few drops of essential oil on my wrists and laid down to rest. Not quite enough time to nap but still used the time to enjoy the quiet
November 22: 
November 23: Face mask before bed
November 24: Tried an "Aqua Massage" for the first time!
November 25: My birthday!
November 26: Quick 10 minute meditation
November 27: Therapy session (plus listened to a podcast in the car to and from the session)
November 28: Hair mask
November 29: Coffee and alone time at Starbucks while hubby handles bathtime/bedtime at home
November 30: V-steam followed by Mom's Night Out with friends

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Who Am I? My Identity Crisis

This is officially the longest I have ever gone without being pregnant or breastfeeding since I conceived my first baby back in 2013. It's so nuts to think about! My last "body break" before that was in 2015 and that was 9 weeks long. So that's 5 years total of pregnancy/breastfeeding with a single 9 week break in there. That's a looooot of years of growing or feeding another human with my body (and sometimes at the same time)! It's pretty strange having my body all to myself right now after these last 5 years!

I've always heard/read things that talk about women losing their identities when they become mothers. I feel like for the first time in my motherhood journey I'm experiencing this "identity crisis" I've heard so much about. (It also doesn't help that our family has been in SUCH an extreme transitional phase for quite some time now and I'm not sure when that will end.) It's just crazy that it took THREE babies for me to feel this way.

I don't really feel like this "losing my identity" was something that I faced after the births of my first and second. My transition into becoming a mother and figuring out "who I was" was relatively easy overall. I hadn't worked since very early in my first pregnancy so I think that helped a lot too, as I was already used to being at home most of the time. Of course there were SOME things that were hard and I did have to re-learn how to be a person and do normal day-to-day things like go to the grocery store, but overall my IDENTITY was not that different I just added the title of  "mom" to the pot. Then along came Wells. Roughly 5 days after he was born I felt like I had always had 2 children. Life marched on. Our routines didn't really change that much. Everything happening in my life was essentially unchanged so there was hardly any adjustment period at all, going from 1 to 2 kids. I was still me. (Not to mention, my supernatural birth experience with Wells only strengthened an already deep and fierce connection I felt with pregnancy, birth and motherhood. In many ways, I felt even MORE "me" than before I gave birth to Wells.)

But finding out you're pregnant when your (second) baby is still very much a baby...whew! In MOST ways I really feel like I went from having 1 child to very suddenly having 3. By the time Wells wasn't actually a tiny baby anymore I already had another one. (18 months still mostly qualifies as "baby" in my book!) I had barely adjusted to having two toddlers/kids by the time the third showed up. And really, if we're being honest going from 0 to 1 to 2 to 3 kids in less than 3.5 years... that's kind of already a lot! It's hard for me to put into words just how much more change has occurred, and just how little I have in my life to define "who I am" right now. I essentially went from having 1 baby with a solid group of mom friends that I was deeply connected to, a church community, a bible study I was apart of specifically for mothers of littles, lots of friends, a social life and still having time to focus on myself... to suddenly having 3 babies and none of the things I just listed. We currently have no physical community, no church, no Bible studies, no other activities or things that we are involved in... that's insane. Who the heck am I??

Additionally, SO much of my identity and who I AM is wrapped up in pregnancy and birth and postpartum and breastfeeding. There's a big part of me that wants to run back to all of those things right now because that's literally all I know (see first paragraph). I feel MOST myself when I'm pregnant. (Is that crazy? Perhaps it is but not to me.) I want to feel like ME again, but I also know that this time of figuring out who I am is so needed (not to mention giving my body a chance to chill out for a bit is also necessary). I don't really feel like a "me" exists outside of pregnancy/birth/breastfeeding/postpartum. I need to be none of those things for a while (or at least longer than just a few weeks/months anyway...) so I can figure out who "me" is away from that. Or perhaps "in addition to", because those parts of my life will always be apart of me.

Now that my baby is 1 year old (and the postpartum depression fog has lifted) I'm left to try to figure out what the heck I'm doing here. There is a BIG "pause button" that's been pressed on what feels like everything in our lives right now. My whole life is one big pause. We're waiting on a new house, a new community, a new church... all of these things can't/probably won't happen for at least another 6 months. I feel stuck. My identity as a Christian has also been a struggle lately, as I question so much of my faith and God through this season. The only thing I really know at this point is that I know I'm supposed to be a mom and I know I'm supposed to be here at home raising my babies. Both of these are extremely big-picture thoughts and not quite so helpful during the day-to-day chaos, making it easy to lose sight even of those roles.

After taking a while off from therapy, I've started back with regular sessions to get some help with figuring out who I am/who I am supposed to be (and also to start laying the groundwork for preparing for another baby however near or far off in the future that might be). I am also focusing a LOT on taking care of myself and figuring out what self-care REALLY looks like. During the month of November, I'm making it my goal to practice self-care every day. Sometimes it's as simple as 20 minutes of meditation or a 30 minute bath alone and other days its going to a yoga class of spending the evening alone at Starbucks. Of the many benefits of self-care, I hope that by spending some time doing this for myself I can start to feel more of a sense of self

Since I am by nature a Type-A "do-er", there is a huge part of me that is hoping I can just read a book or join a group or club or something and just magically feel like I am myself again. But I know a lot of this is just about allowing this process to play out by giving it a lot of time and even more patience. Easier said than done.

Thank you for sharing this space with me :).

Monday, November 5, 2018

A Little Update

Hi there!

It's been a long time. Things have been very quiet over here this year (at least as far as this blog goes)! I just haven't been in a season where blogging was a priority. And I'm okay with that. I have in fact been very at peace with it happening that way and was really happy to just take some time off, indefinitely. I've continued sharing about my life (not that it's particularly riveting) on my personal Instagram, but blogging just sounded like too much effort (/time/energy/thought/etc.). Something that I'm learning about my life as a mom of a thousand kids (okay jk it's currently "only" 3) is that sometimes things just get put on the back burner. Sometimes it's intentional and sometimes it's not. BUT that doesn't actually mean I'm quitting them forever. Or even quitting them “until my kids are older”. "Not today" doesn't mean "never again". I've temporarily stopped selling burp cloths on my Etsy shop. I just felt like in this season that wasn't something I wanted on my plate. However, I'm not saying I'm done with that forever, or even a long time. It's weird but also insanely peaceful feeling released from so many of those things. I'm just in a place now where I can say "I'll do that when I feel like it".

Anyway, blogging is something that I love to do. Mostly as more of a journal for myself. But also because I think being open and honest (yes even in online/social media world) can really help us feel less alone in this world. I truly believe that social media gets a really bad rap, unnecessarily. Sure there are things about it that can be unhealthy, but I have really enjoyed the connections and community that I have found through Instagram and blogging. I really think it is what you make it. You have the ability to choose that for yourself. (And shout out to those women out there who make my social media feeds super authentic!)

SO. All of that being said. I think I'm coming back to a place where I would like to start documenting a little more, sharing a little more. I've also been struggling with my identity and I hope maybe this will give me a little direction. It's also an amazing excuse to get away for a bit and just be in my own head - something you don't really get to do much of when you are at home with lots of littles.

It seriously took me a year and a half of HELL (see here and here if you'd like a little taste) before I realized "Ooooooh this is a SEASON. THIS is what people mean when they say they went through a 'hard season'". It was really strange, that moment. I can't believe it took me that long to come to that realization! In a way, that brought me some comfort, because it gave me hope that life won't always feel this "off" or hard/weird/isolating. But becoming aware of this season we are in... didn't change the fact that we are still in it and we don't really know for how long. I'm still hopeful that greener pastures are ahead, however far off they may be.

We've made some big changes in our lives. We've come a long way but still have a long way to go. After these last 2 years, I needed a change. A BIG change. (At one point, we were actually looking at potentially moving our family to Montreal. So insane.) We were looking to do something drastic, clearly. We ended up not going THAT extreme, but we decided to build a new home in a new community. We sold our house, put our stuff into a POD, and moved into a 2 bedroom apartment. What a HUGE weight off of our shoulders that was - leaving that house forever. To say I needed a change of scenery after what we've been through would be an understatement. There was just so much baggage associated with that house and it hadn’t been what I wanted it to be for a long time. I like our new little temporary home. I like where it is and what it is. I'm using this time to focus on myself and find peace. I've been training for some half marathons, focusing on self-care and exploring what that means, making new friends, and dreaming about what the future holds for our family. There's still some hard parts, and I have to figure out just who it is that I am now but I'll get into that another time.

I want to keep this little update semi-short and sweet, so I'll cut myself off here for now. I'm really looking forward to sharing some more little thoughts and updates from this season that we are in and also a few things (pregnancy-birth related) that I've learned from my experiences in this season so far. (And maybe I'll even get to some of these drafts that I've had sitting here for years and years.)

Thank you for sharing this space with me. I am grateful for you :).

Our new (temporary) home. This blue front door is especially meaningful to us :).