Archives for category: motherhood

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Depending on the moment, down to the second, my desire to have a third child has been susceptible to change. Are both boys peacefully sleeping on me? Their dark eyelashes dusting their skin? Chests rhythmically rising and falling with a small snore escaping their perfectly tiny noses? Oh, the urge to create another perfect tiny human radiates through all my bones, sinew, and joints. Are both boys in the middle of a literal knock out fight, screaming, “THAT’S MINE!” and punching each other? My uterus curls up into a ball, holding a small knife out, yelling, “come near me and someone gets cut!” That is how easily I could switch between the idea of adding another human to our brood.

I love my boys. I don’t have a desire to have a girl specifically (people ask that a lot), but sometimes the lure of newborn scent and snuggle is tough to resist. Reflecting on baby photos of my rapidly growing boys can make me tenderly remember those hours rocking them in gliders, nursing them to sleep. Pressing down the memories of desperate desire for sleep and the battles of breastfeeding. The urge pops up every so often, while I simultaneously and loudly lament, “I am definitely DONE having babies.” The thought was there: the consideration then the dismissal. Shooing away my husband as he hugged me and said, “let’s make a third!” But the choice was ultimately mine.

Until last week. Last week that was taken away from me by my own body. Or at least, I learned about this new version of me. Without getting into the nitty gritty details of that, because I am not sure I am ready to, the bottom line is this: my ability to have more babies has become very unlikely. Writing that out sent a chill through my body. I can describe the moment I received the news. I happened to answer my doctor’s call in the middle of the park last Thursday morning. All of the children running around me in slow motion, voices distorted, my head spinning. Knowing when I hit the red end button, I had to turn around, with a smile, and ask my boys if they wanted to go grab lunch yet.

I am only thirty-two years old. I know I have two gorgeous, funny, adorable, sweet, snuggly, happy boys. I know that. I love them more than anything in this world. I live for them, if it wasn’t clear through my countless articles and posts I have written. I am thankful they’re mine. This doesn’t mean a part of me didn’t die last week, literally. It did. Even if I have already produced two amazing tiny humans. That part of my life is dead now, over. There will be no more newborn scents or wails drifting through our halls. There will be no more onesies or swaddles. There will be no more little genetic combos of my husband and myself.

Until last week, It was my choice to make or not make. That was a power piece I held. If two years from now, both boys in school full time, I missed that baby stage so much, I could have added another to our bunch. That was always a possibility. Choice. I had a choice.

I have anxiety, so of course, I have been replaying a lot in my own brain the last few days. Living in my head. Yesterday I let myself breakdown entirely. Today, I have emerged from the fog. I gave myself one day of mourning and now it is back to my usual routine. As I walked to the grocery store, headphones in, I thought about the fact that I started having babies when I was twenty-five. These days, that is considered young. I remember my OB saying to me “you are the youngest woman in my practice, except my teen moms.” This used to annoy me. Today, I am eternally grateful. What if we hadn’t decided to try for Jackson when I was that young? What if I had said no to Jason about trying to have Alex just before Jackson turned three? What if I had insisted on waiting? The thought breaks my heart.

I feel like I lost a little piece of something last week. Regardless of the fact, that at this moment in life, I didn’t want another baby, it was still my choice to make. I had more time to make that choice. Who knows where we will be in a couple years. Maybe maybe maybe. This doesn’t change our family in any literal sense at this moment, but I do feel different. I feel broken. I feel like a failure. I feel trapped in my own body. I feel like I am incapable. Of what? I am not sure. A female’s worth doesn’t revolve around baby-making, I know that. I am so much more than “just a mom.” There is more to me than that part of my life, but it is a part and a big one.

Back to that internal battle, only this time it isn’t over whether I want another baby or not. Rather, it’s that I am not broken because I can’t have another baby. It’s that in time, I will accept this new normal of my body and life. For now, I just look back at the serendipitous moments that led to me having two children before the ability to do so was prematurely snatched away from my grasp.

I have had anxiety for most of my life. Now that I am in my 30’s and have a full understanding of anxiety, looking back, I can see that I have always had it. It comes and goes. Sometimes it is hibernating and other times it has been awake and in control. In the last few months it has been pretty prevalent. There are a variety of reasons I think it has decided to hang out for a while, which would take a few blog posts to dive into, so we will leave it there. What I want to talk about is the fact that I decided to see a therapist recently. This was a hard decision for me, as I always thought I could manage things myself. I have ways of coping and handling it. Exercise, deep breathing, baths, oils, acupuncture, etc. Those coping mechanisms haven’t been as effective lately. This time around I think I need a little extra help. It is what it is. It was a big step and I wasn’t excited to go, but I went.

It was awful. Worse than I could have predicted, if I am being honest. And I wasn’t thrilled to go, so imagine how bad that means. The doctor pulled out her phone at one point and started scrolling through it as I spoke. For an extended period of time. She offered no reason as to why. It wasn’t taking notes, she had paper and a pen for that. At the beginning she asked if I wanted medication. I said I truly would prefer to avoid any medication. I wanted to work through things in a more natural way. At the end of the session she wrote me a prescription and spent 10 minutes talking about her medication plan for me. She told me to take probiotics and not eat sugar. I do both of those. For many YEARS! She told me she couldn’t help me and wrote down some other places and told me to go there. Then check in with her in six weeks. She kept rubbing a strand of hair all over her chin. She charged me $500 and doesn’t take insurance.

Those things were minor compared to the absolute worst part. I was explaining the stressors of motherhood to her. Or at least the stressors I have been dealing with. From Alex’s food allergies to Jackson’s animal allergies and asthma to terrible two’s to whatever else was on my mind at that moment. Motherhood is hard. I am a stay at home mom. I have been doing this for six years. She told me “some people just aren’t cut out for that. Get a sitter 3 times a week for 3 hours at a time and get someone to do your laundry and stuff.” I felt as if I had been slapped in the face. I am not “cut out” to be the very thing I have been pouring every fiber of my being into for the last six years. It was so dismissive and really kind of cruel to say after meeting me once. I felt like total garbage as I left. I felt a million times worse than when I walked in the door, biting my nails and clutching my tea as my anxiety over trying this out punched me in the chest.

Being an anxious person, I have been repeating her comments over and over in my head since leaving that office. She didn’t listen to what I wanted for myself. She told me she couldn’t (or didnt want to?) help me. She was literally on her phone, which you would think that as a professional trying to help someone with anxiety, you wouldn’t do that to a patient. She told me I was not cut out to be a mom. She told me I wasn’t cut out to do the thing I have dedicated my life to. I just cannot believe that seemed like an appropriate thing to say.

As this has flipped and flopped over in my brain, I have used it as a moment of self-reflection. I am not a perfect mom. Not in the least bit. I lose my temper at times. We all do, even if we don’t post about it. I feel bad when I do. I wonder if I am messing them up. I try though. I spend all day with them and doing things for and with them, thinking about them. Last night my oldest woke up with a 105 degree fever. I massaged his legs until he relaxed as he laid next to me in bed. I put a cool rag on his head. I let him physically lay all over me because it made him feel safe. I have changed poop diapers today. I walked to Target with both boys so the oldest, who feels better, could buy Pokemon Cards and then made a video for Youtube opening them. (It’s all the rage) I have broken up fights today. I have asked them to stop slamming the playroom door, and it has fallen on four deaf ears. I have made meals. I have gotten snacks. I have listened and chatted with them. I have taken interest in their interests. I have been in the trenches all day on little sleep. And that is just today!

Walking home with them I came to a realization. I AM cut out for this. I am because I have been doing it for six years nonstop. The longest break I had kid-free was going to D.C. with my mom this January for the Women’s March. I was gone from Thursday-Sunday. That was the most time I have had off from motherhood. I still thought of them. I facetimed them. I searched for little gifts for them. I talked about them. They are always with me. I am cut out for it. I am also perhaps, a little burnt out. Which I don’t think is weakness or sucking at what I do. I think that is human. I think that is motherhood. I think that is parenthood. Anyone in any career can be working at workaholic levels and get burnt out at some point. Does that mean they are not cut out for it? Does that mean they can’t do what they do? No. Maybe they need a break or to take a step back and refresh themselves, sure. Maybe they need a vacation. It doesn’t mean someone should tell them they are not cut out for what they do. It doesn’t mean a mental health professional should articulate that judgement after meeting them one time.

According to the ADAA 40 million adults in the U.S. have anxiety. Women are two times as likely to suffer from it. This is not an uncommon thing. If women are more likely to struggle with anxiety, then that would mean, many mothers also battle this. I am not some unique special case. It doesn’t mean I am not cut out to be a mom. The fact that I was brave enough to know when my own methods of coping were no longer effective means that I want to take care of my family. That was one of the most unfair and hurtful judgements I have ever had thrown at me. It could probably go unsaid, but I will not be seeing her again. Just knowing that I am not the only woman, and mom, facing anxiety is comforting. I share my little story so that other mothers know, you are cut out for motherhood, even if on your worst day ever some batty lady tells you that you’re not.

 

I have written a few times here about how I feel about the current political climate. I have written about my Women’s March experiences. I wrote about why I marched. On my other social media outlets I have written and posted rather extensively (or annoyingly to some people, sorry definitely not sorry). It is not something I plan to end anytime soon. However, I want to touch on how this is making our children feel. Or rather my six year old in particular.

Let me rewind a bit, to last summer when I was young and naive. When I thought there was literally no way this would be where our country is. Surely, enough people could see and hear what I could see and hear. Well, they did popular vote-wise, but do not get me started about my feelings on that. My then five year old told us at our kitchen table he liked (vomits a little) Donald Trump. We both were very shocked. Neither of us had ever said anything remotely nice about that garbage fire. However, being parents who have an open door policy on discussions here, we asked him why. He said matter of factly, “I think he is funny. He is like a cartoon!” We both let out a sigh of relief, this we could work with. We explained he does look and sound funny, for sure.

Then came the Clinton campaign commercial with women reciting all of the terrible, sexist, disgusting, and misogynistic comments he has said about women. I had him watch it. After, I asked him how he felt about it. I asked him if he thought those were kind things to say about women? I am a woman, his grandmas are women, his aunts are women, his cousins are women, how would he feel if we were the women Trump was speaking of? Would he be ok with mommy being called a fat pig? Making fun of my looks. He said those things were very mean and he would not like that at all. From that moment on his view on the funny sounding orange cartoon character shifted.

Fast forward to this week. During dinner we caught maybe two minutes of a Showtime documentary about the election and Trump’s campaign in particular. During those 1-2 minutes they happened to show the violence that Trump called for at his rallies. He saw protestors. He asked what they were doing. I said they are protesting Trump, like mommy did when I went to D.C. Then he saw one of them get punched in the face by a Trump supporter. Then he saw it again as they slowed it down. He kept asking questions. I frantically urged my husband to turn something else on. This was too much. We didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into. We moved on to something else.

During our bedtime ritual of all reading books together, I could tell something was bugging him. He seemed a little bothered, agitated, just not paying attention to the book. I stopped reading and asked him what was wrong.

“What if Donald Trump does bad things to our country?”

I was a bit startled, as that is not what I assumed was the problem. But I immediately knew, the brief 2 minutes had been burned in his six year old brain. I calmly explained checks and balances to him. That there are other parts of our government around to prevent the president from having all the power. He cannot do whatever he wants. He has other people to answer to.

“Ok. But what if he is sneaky about it?”

I said that is a fair point, but there are a lot of people who do not like him. A lot of people watching him. To make sure that he is not sneaky. Then I said it is nothing he has to worry about. I promise nothing too sneaky will happen. All eyes are on him.

I am sorry that show came on. I really am. I wish I had gotten it turned off a few moments sooner. My husband said to me later “he has to learn about checks and balances.” I let him know I briefly explained that. We also decided we need to be far more careful with our watching of news coverage around him in particular.

Our kids are watching and listening. They always are, we know this. The thing is, we shouldn’t have to feel like our children cannot be privy to what the Commander in Chief is doing. We shouldn’t have to explain to them the leader of our nation won’t be allowed to be too sneaky because we are all watching, but in the back of our minds not even believing that whole heartedly. I was always happy to let them be around when Obama was speaking. I never felt that he was going to make them afraid. My son never felt anxious during story time over something Obama said or did. There are times, during some of the countless mass shootings, that I turned the tv off, sure. That was more to do with the evil going on and not anything to do with how it was being responded to.

I am sad that we have to have these hushed conversations about the current situation. However, I will not stop telling him that I am protesting this. I will let him know that I am being vocal. When he has questions I will answer them and I will reassure him. I will try to shelter him from the worst of it. I will try to make him feel safe. Our children are watching. The next move is ours.

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I have been a mom for just shy of six years now. By just shy, I mean six years ago today I started going into labor. Tomorrow will officially be six years. I have learned, grown, changed, and loved a lot in these last years. These are some of the things six years of motherhood has taught me.

That I want my children to grow up in a world that values love, kindness, equality, social justice, empathy, and generosity. It can feel like an uphill battle some days. When everything around you seems filled with ugliness and hate. That doesn’t mean that I will stop wanting them to live in that kind of world. I will always strive and fight to shape that kind of world for them. I will send them out into the world with those values, hoping they too will be agents of them. 

Perfectionism is a nuisance. You cannot control everything at every moment. Life and children are unpredictable and sometimes you have to let more shit go than you care to. I cleaned up the whole kitchen and living room on Wednesday. Spotless! By that evening they had scattered toys all over the kitchen floor. They are still there. I sighed as I walked by them to start writing this. At some point I will get to it, but I am sure when I turn back around, they will have recreated the same mess. You have to let it go. 

Humility. You are not above wiping a poop covered butt (and even back, cause that shit, haha, can and does get everywhere) You will find yourself in the middle of situations you never thought you would be in. Being urinated on. Catching vomit in your hands. Getting poop under your fingernail. Changing a diaper in the trunk of your SUV in the parking lot of a pumpkin farm. Wiping up a half spilled grande pike roast from the floor of Whole Foods that your two year old knocked over when he moved your cart as you were trying to pick up the box of his minecraft figurines he dropped everywhere. So now you have minecraft toys, a box, and a giant puddle of steaming hot coffee all over the grocery store floor. These things happen on the regular. Stay humble folks, there is no prize for being prideful. You will be wiping up floor coffee in public. Or your own version of that scenario. 

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Generosity. Be as generous as you humanly can. With your love and praise for your tiny humans. With your family. With your neighbors. With complete strangers. I have seen it pay off in these last 6 years. My almost 6 year old has started random acts of kindness. He has asked me why I buy coffee for the car behind me. Why I roll down my window and hand cash to the homeless man with the sign on the street. I explain why in detail. This week at school he brought his Pokecards. Some friends didn’t have any and wanted them. He was planning on trading with another kid. He did. Then he gave out cards to his friends that did not have any. Just because he wanted to, because they wanted some cards too. He received nothing in return. Save for my adoration and praise when he told me the story.

Selflessness. You have to give so much of yourself when you are a parent. At least you are supposed to. We all do things differently. I give a lot. It can be exhausting, but then I think about how if I did things differently. If I wasn’t around to give them 200% of myself and then another piece just to be nice. I would not feel right. I want to be around and be the face in their memories when they look back at their childhood. When it all clicks about the magical times, the birthdays, the random normal days, the dinners, the laundry, the hugs, the books, the kisses, the songs, the errands, the treats, the love. You learn to put other people ahead of yourself. Which can be a hard thing to learn to do.

On that note, you also need to take care of yourself. Self-care is crucial. A trip to D.C. to march for yourself and fellow humans. A epsom salt bath. And yes, lock the damn bathroom door. Pilates in the morning. Putting them to bed a half hour early because they are bat-shit crazy that night. Ordering dinner, even though you have things to cook, they wore you out and you just don’t feel like cooking that night. Order that pizza, and bask in the glory of little to no cleanup. Self-care can be huge things, like 4 day trips, or they can be tiny little minutes throughout the day, locking yourself in the bathroom for 5 minutes. It comes in all shapes and sizes.

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Love. True unconditional heart growing mind blowing all consuming love. It is a love like I have never experienced. Sometimes I watch their faces and I literally feel like my heart might explode with joy. Sometimes I still look at them and think “they are mine! How is that possible? How did I create these two super cool humans?” It still takes my breath away, that I get to have these two dudes in my life. I am not sure I will ever quite get over that. It is amazing.

The value of words. We talk through things a lot here. Taking time to use your words to explain things to your children will really strengthen their understanding of life. Even if you don’t feel it is sinking in in the moment. They absorb these life lessons and they take them out into the world. I tell my boys “everyone is different.” When they have questions about why someone does something differently than we do. I always explain it as best as I can, then sum it up with “that is ok because everyone is different.” When the oldest was four, some kids at school hassled him because he doesn’t like ketchup and wouldn’t eat it. He got frustrated and finally told me that he said “I don’t like it and that is ok, because everyone is different.” Words matter. Words sink in. Talking through things sinks in. They are very intelligent.

To say sorry. I am a firm believer in apologizing to them. Sometimes moms lose their shit. We do. If you say you don’t, you’re lying, sorry. It comes in different forms for each person, but we all get pushed too far sometimes. If I feel guilty that I snapped on them or was short, or yelled over something totally stupid, I will go and talk to them and say I am sorry. This is not every time they get in trouble. Sometimes they do naughty things and they have to be reprimanded. But I can feel it in my heart when I know it was more me than them. Then I do go say sorry. The oldest and I can have real conversations about human emotions at this point, and we do. We talk through it. The little one, a hug with kisses and saying “mommy loves you I am sorry” will suffice at this point.

It is ok to talk to children as if they are humans with thought processes and feelings. I try not to baby things down for them too much. I explain things to them. I am not a huge baby talk person. I have always interacted with them as the red blooded people they are. I think this has shaped them for the better. I can see it in the oldest. He has a grasp on reality. The things he can discuss blow me away sometimes. I encourage him to think through his thought process. I can explain something and then ask him what he thinks/feels/wants from that situation. I have explained to him what is happening if I think he feels anxious. I explained homelessness to him. We have had conversations about dissent. We talk about body autonomy and consent. They know the actual names of genitals. My motto is if I keep that conversation going and trust them with actual knowledge that it will pay off down the road as life gets messier.

Sometimes we cannot do it all. We just can’t. It’s a fact. We want to. We feel we need to. This leads to being burnt out. I know, I have been there. Sometimes you have to take a step back and delete some shit from your life and schedule. Sometimes you have to say no we are not going to do that. Today we are going to be lazy and relax and enjoy one another. There is nothing wrong with taking some time to just be. As a family. I am still working on this. I am not great at taking things off of my plate. It is a work in progress.

Children love their mother so much. Sometimes I can feel their love radiating off of their little bodies. It can be overwhelming. Sometimes moms just need no one to touch them for, maybe, 2 minutes. That would be nice. Then you hear their little tiny human voices saying “mommy” and they just want to nuzzle in and you realize how very loved you actually are.

My favorite most calming thing in the world is when either boy hugs me and snuggles in to the right side of my neck. I call that “the good stuff” and love when they hug me tight, their little cheek against my neck. That is my calm. That is my heart. That is my motherhood.

I am not a perfect mom. I feel like I am failing a lot. I am hard on myself. I always think I can do better (I should reread that perfectionism paragraph, huh?) I am just being honest here. I do know that I have grown so much since having children. I have become a better person and woman because of them. They have shown me where my heart actually resides. They have made me cry. They have made me laugh. They have made me angry. They have made me insanely happy. They have made me stronger. I am thankful for these last six years. I feel lucky that I get to take this journey with them. Even as I shouted to my husband last night “You are getting a vasectomy!!! I do NOT want a third baby, they are crazy right now!” Yes, they were being insane. Fighting over Mario toys, tears and yelling, all as I was trying to make their dinner plates. No one could eat until the fight was resolved. It was ridiculous. It was so loud. It was frustrating. It was all mine. My crazy, loving, obnoxious, kind, silly, frustrating, kind, hilarious, adoring, and imperfectly perfect family.

I am looking forward to where the next six years of this journey takes me. Thank you boys. Thank you Jackson for making me a mommy. Happy start of labor day my sweet boy.

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Wrapping up my journey to D.C. with my mom for the Women’s March on Washington is not an easy feat. I am still decompressing and trying to wrap my head around every experience. I will do my best in bringing these experiences to written word.

We arrived late Thursday morning. Which gave us plenty of time to squeeze in some kind of adventure. We decided to head from our hotel in Virginia to D.C. We were able to see D.C. as a ghost town in some regards. Pennsylvania Ave was already blocked off. People could waltz down the street as they pleased, taking in the overwhelming atmosphere. The soon to be half filled bleachers were already set up. Not looking too different than the photos from the parade.

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The chilling feeling when reading this was incredible. I will hold this close to my heart over the next 4 years. 

We walked to the Capitol Building where there were sound checks occurring. I would say there were a mix of people there for two very different reasons. While we may have elicited stares, as our missing attire of support stood out amongst red hats and t-shirts, things were peaceful. I experienced one of the most thrilling and invigorating moments of my life. Climbing atop a railing in front of the Capitol Building, laying down, and flexing myself into a backbend. My mom took one of my now favorite photos. I felt so energized just doing that. One more place around the world where I have done a backbend.

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Seeing how the country sets up for the peaceful transition of power is something everyone should experience. As much as I loathe the current political situation, it is rather encouraging to see democracy in action. Be that, the peaceful transition of power, or women (and men) taking to the streets to exercise their 1st Amendment rights in a peaceful, productive, and supportive manner, it is wonderful to know at its heart, America stands for those tenets.

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Sad faces on Obama’s last night in the White House. We already miss you!

We had dinner in town and when we walked out we found ourselves literally in the middle of another protest. The energy was a bit anxious and agitated. The vibe wasn’t my kind of thing. We accepted some swag from them, but ultimately we moved on. Eventually we made our way back to our hotel. Later we realized that group participated in destructive protest Thursday and Friday. It is important to open your mind to the vibe of situations. Sometimes your intuition will tell you more than your eyes can discern in the moment. This was no different. We did not come to D.C. to destroy or harm. I strongly feel being vigilant yet peaceful is the journey I want to take.

Friday we stayed away from D.C. proper entirely. We made our way to Alexandria. Where George Washington’s very feet walked the ground my feet walked. If you don’t know me well or personally, I have a degree in History and my favorite president is Washington. The town is beautiful. It was lovely to see the Potomac. We encountered one of the most inspirational people I have ever had the privilege of having a random conversation with. A teenage girl who is Muslim. She was there with her school for the inauguration. We chatted for a long while. She explained her experience in America. She was very detailed and open with us. She plans to go into journalism and politics. I will never forget what she articulated to us. You know the old adage that America is a “melting pot”? She has a better description. She described us as a salad. We compliment one another when we are all in that bowl together. Together we are better. Yet we remain our individual selves. My mom and I continued that conversation over dinner that night. I brought up the fact that if you are a piece of spinach and the tomato next to you is moldy, rotten, and bad, that reflects on you. No one wants to eat a moldy tomato salad, even if the spinach is perfect and crisp. We all need to be good and work together for the salad to be delicious.

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Alexandria adventure

I am not sure how often we have vacations that help shape us into a better more enlightened person, but I have experienced such a trip this time around. My eyes are even wider now having listened to so many human’s stories. Humans I would never have encountered otherwise. I feel honored to have been given the opportunity to engage them. 

This brings me to the big event. Saturday. The Women’s March on Washington. I have to quote Hamilton at this point, “This is not a moment it’s the movement.” This was not one moment in time, but rather the beginning of an incredible movement. The proof that something was awakened on November 8th is hard to deny.

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Our journey back to D.C. began with a new friend that went on the shuttle to the metro with us. She was making her way down there alone to meet up with a friend and asked to tag along with us so we could help her navigate the metro. Absolutely! At this point we were pros as we used it to go everywhere. From there we met a mother, her son, and his husband. Nate put on thigh high red stiletto boots to march. He said that if we can walk around in heels all of the time, he can for the march. His mother radiated warmth, love, and adoration for her son. His husband had a pair of chucks shoved in his coat pockets just in case Nate changed his mind on his footwear. Unique and open people I would not have crossed paths with otherwise. 

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The train quickly filled up, the energy was palpable. The vibes were happy, empowered, excited, warm, and read to march. Striking up conversations with a person two inches from your face felt as natural as asking your significant other how their day was. Walking off of the train and up to the street came with this pulse of kinetic rays bursting on the scene. Women everywhere. A sea of pink hats. We arrived early in the morning and already we were everywhere. There was no hate. There was no anger. No one was rude. We were all in this bubble of kindness, acceptance, and general patience for one another. We were all there for the same purpose after all. We were there to celebrate and support one another.

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As the rally began you could hear how far the crowds stretched without actually being able to visualize them. You would hear this distant roar that sounded as if it pulsated slowly through the buildings and streets. Then you would hear the crowd around you cheer and clap and shout along. Deafening and empowering simultaneously.

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I feel honored to have been in the presence of such empowering humans. I saw and heard them speak. I was near the stage of the rally. I was moved to tears many times. I was proud to cast my vote for my Senator Tammy Duckworth during the election. My elation at hearing her speak and motivate us at the rally is beyond my descriptive capabilities. I remember shouting to my mom “That’s my girl!!!” Maxine Waters is also an amazing and inspiring woman. Just earlier in the week I had been watching videos and news coverage of her discussing all of this. Then there she was, before my very eyes, speaking to me with her powerful voice. There were so many speakers that moved me in so many different ways. I was brought to near sobbing tears by The Mothers of the Movement. Losing their babies. I was there missing my two sweet boys and they were just a plane ride or FaceTime away. My heart collapsed for what they have gone through. The variety of emotions that flowed through my body is wide. Empathy, empowerment, inspiration, joy, sorrow, anger, fierceness, elation, feeling awake, strength, and on and on.

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The march itself did not begin at the predetermined time. The rally went on and on. And then we finally marched. “Tell me what democracy looks like?” “THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE!” I truly, with all of my heart, believe in that. Democracy looks like exercising your cherished 1st Amendment right. If that means, writing this blog or literally putting my boots on the ground and yelling until my voice cracks, I will not let anything stop me from enlisting that right.

I have been so stressed since the election. I think so many of us have felt that way. I have shed tears many times. More than just on November 8-9th. I have felt despair and utter disbelief that this is what we are stuck with. I get nauseated when I am reminded of the popular vote totals. I cannot wrap my head around that. I am not sure I ever will. I will say, this march was so refreshing. I felt this release inside of my chest. I was able to take a detoxing deep breath for the first time since November 8th. I slept easily last night. I was ready for bed by 8:30pm. I feel good. I think a lot of us needed this.

I also know it is important to not let this be the end. This was not the stopping point. This was not just one giant therapy session. This needs to be the start of the battle. We need to continue to fight in any capacity we are capable of. This may develop differently for each human on this side of history. That is fine. Maybe you talk to a stranger. Maybe you spread kindness. Maybe you write your congress person. Maybe you call them. Maybe you volunteer. Maybe you run for office. Maybe you find an organization that means something to you and you get involved. This morning I felt that I know the path I want to head down. I know the organization I want to get involved with. We are moving in February, and once we are settled in, I will get the ball rolling.

For me and my experience, this was not about destruction. This was about building up our nation through solidarity with one another. This was about cherishing equality for all persons. This was about lifting your neighbor up when they need a hand. This was about celebrating the uniqueness that lives inside each of us. My mom pointed out that it was really neat how all of the pink hats looked alike yet they were all a little different. Being who I am I said “Like vaginas!’” My mom laughed and said “yeah or like, people.”

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And that is the take away. We are all the same in some regard, yet we are all unique in our own right. Our choices, experiences, relationships, visions, and desires are unique. That is what makes this whole world so wonderful. We should embrace that, celebrate that, and respect that. There would be a lot less hatred in the world if we were less afraid of differences and more open to cherishing the opportunity to bump into one another, for a lifetime, a moment, or a movement.

Every year my husband and I usually end up watching the anniversary coverage of 9/11 in some capacity. The news, specials, documentaries, etc. I think that the events of that day impacted us equally as teenagers. We didn’t know one another then, but we both lived through that devastating moment in our nation’s history. I can close my eyes and still picture that day with such clarity. I can come close to remembering every moment, like a slideshow in my mind. I can channel the intense and fluid emotions I had that day. I have shed many tears over the years for the pain and suffering everyone involved and impacted has and will continue to go through.

This year I am taking great pains to keep the television off. A few weeks ago I was on a run/walk with my boys. The oldest is five and a half, so he is not in the jogger, which is why we take a lot of walking breaks. There was a plane flying low over the forest preserve. It was making that distinct landing sound that planes are wont to make. He said “I think that plane is crashing.” I assured him it was not crashing, it was just getting ready to land.

He followed that up with a statement that shook me to my core. “You know that there were planes that flew into buildings? Like an office building. There were people on them. It’s burned into my memory.” Let me repeat his age, he is 5 & 1/2! I stopped in my tacks and gathered my thoughts as quickly as I could. I decided to be a bit transparent and admitted that was true. That did happen. However, it was a very long time ago and it is not something he needs to worry about now. I lied a bit with that last part. The world is arguably less safe now. We have been in kind of a downward spiral of chaos lately. I wasn’t ready to crush his innocence just yet. I wasn’t ready for him to worry about the kinds of things I take into consideration. He is 5. There is plenty of time for him to have a broken heart over another mass shooting or intentional plane crash, but that time is not this year.

Since that day I have pretty much stopped watching the news around him. Which is odd for me, because I am a news/politics nerd. It wasn’t as difficult as I would have imagined though. That momma bear instinct kicked in and I simply didn’t want to expose him to more frightening events if I could avoid it.

So today, the tv will stay off. Unless they happen to get to watch a cartoon. I will also probably try to shield him seeing any social media I am on. He can’t read 100% yet, but he is starting to read. He has some sight words. And then there are the images, those are not something you can hope that your early reader doesn’t grasp. Because our walk in the forest preserve taught me that my five year old understands some pretty scary and heartbreaking things that have gone on in this world. Today, I will try to keep him oblivious a little bit longer. Today I will try to keep him little for one more year. Today I will try to keep the light in the world aglow for him.

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10 days ago I left you behind. For good? I am not certain. For now? Most definitely! I cannot say that it has been tragic or terrible during these last 10 days. As a matter of fact, I feel pretty damn amazing. Incredible. Free. Energized. I would argue that I left you behind and upgraded to a better and more amazing version of you. A version that lifts me up and keeps me going throughout my day.

You always managed to slow me down in the end. Sometimes I would lean on you, hoping for a little encouragement and boost. I wanted you to show me love. I wanted you to pour your energy into me. To let your light shine over me and fill me with an everlasting warmth. A warmth I had hoped I could never find elsewhere. The slow and crawling realization that all I was left with were exhaustion and the dire need for some water immediately, nearly crushed my spirit. I was faced with the reality that I needed to make a choice. Who was more important? You or me?

Who are you?

Who did I leave you for?

These are questions I can answer factually and without reservation.

 

You are Coffee.11008612_10152617806035836_7878154062388228118_n

And I left you for Green Tea.

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I had no set reason for doing this. This wasn’t done to reach some kind of goal. When I would have my second cup for the day, after lunch, I noticed that it actually slowed me down. I often became more exhausted after drinking it. Sometimes even dozing while my youngest napped and my oldest had some quiet time. I traded in my second coffee for green tea. I had much more energy. I didn’t feel so sluggish. I didn’t feel the need for a nap. The change was wonderful. I had energy to stay upright and get things done.

Then I began to notice that in the morning my black coffee just sat too heavy in my stomach. I never add a thing to my coffee, but it just was a touch too harsh. I would wake up a bit from it, but I was just feeling blah. Sometimes I felt a touch acid refluxy. That’s not a real word, but it is how I felt. So then I thought, hm, if it worked in the afternoon, let’s give it a shot in the morning. I specifically chose a Sunday to test this theory out. That is not a weekday kind of test to run! Ha! And low and behold, I felt much much better.

I am not a coffee hater now. Not by a long shot. I almost felt embarrassed to admit that I had dumped my coffee for a new beverage. Coffee is so integral to my existence, that this was hard to admit. My husband pointed out how he had to go buy coffee for the house because he noticed since I quit it, I also forgot to restock it. HA! TRUE! Whoops! I have plenty of tea though. I may go back at some point. Maybe my system just needs a break. Your body changes in your 30’s. ::cringes:: Who knows when we shall meet again.

Both have their benefits. I love them both. Perhaps not equally at the present moment. But they are lovely beverages that can make your day a pinch brighter.

Thanks for all the memories my old friend, coffee, it’s been real. I’ll never forget.

 

Here is a fun infographic. Strictly for no other reason than I love infographics. (And clearly, tongue in cheek blog posts about dumping a beverage!)

Get health and fitness tips at Greatist.com

I am starting to get back to my old level of training. I have really started to push myself again. It has been a long year plus since finding out I was pregnant! One of the most difficult things for me to handle was the way my strength changed. It doesn’t matter how much I worked out while pregnant, the bottom line is, your body changes and with it so does your strength.

After baby arrives you are exhausted. If your child is anything like mine, you spent the first 20 weeks waking up 2+ times a night! Alexander has just very recently started sleeping through the night. When I say recently I mean within the last week! Someone or all of us have been sick once or twice a month since Alexander was born in October. Two bouts of strep. Two strains of Influenza. 5 ear infections. Bronchitis. Several colds. A couple sinus infections. Croup. I was still training throughout all of this. However, I wasn’t pushing myself like I used to. I was just tired. Sometimes sick. But mostly just tired.

Immediately after having Alexander I discovered I could barely do a bridge on my Reformer. I was so frustrated. Bridging is a staple in my training. It is a staple in my teaching. I could bridge until I collapsed. I could have a student bridge until they collapsed. I truly love the way bridging works the entire body. Imagine my complete dismay to discover my core strength was entirely destroyed and I could barely get my tail bone off the mat, let alone keep the carriage at the stopper.

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That was then. This is now. Alexander is 20 & 1/2 weeks old. He will officially be 5 months on the 28th. I have started running farther distances. I have started to push myself while doing Pilates. I shake and drip with sweat. Planking is my best friend. I do some kind of plank every single day. My options are abundant with my mat, Reformer, WundaChair, Bosu, and Pilates ball. I could plank all day long if I wanted to.

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On Sunday I ran over 4 miles. I haven’t done that since my first trimester of pregnancy. It felt amazing. It felt amazing because I pushed myself to be where I used to be. Yesterday I did an incline program on my treadmill. It had a nice plateau of incline. I smelled like a hockey player when I was done. I have never been happier! I ran 3.2 miles entirely uphill. That is the sweet smell of my fitness returning.

20 weeks postpartum

20 weeks postpartum

I can be very hard on myself. I pride myself on being and feeling strong. So when I struggle to do exercises that I used to be able to do without blinking, I can really feel defeated. I hear a lot “you just had a baby!” I recently asked my husband “Exactly how long is that excuse applicable? How long do you get to say that? I think you get a couple weeks” He told me I was crazy. Maybe. But I also don’t see anything wrong with expecting more from myself. I don’t see anything wrong with pushing myself to be the best I can be.

Lately I have noticed my strength returning. I am able to bridge much better. I can plank rather well. I can move on my WundaChair with greater ease than right after birth. I have noticed my C-scoop improving. My biceps are looking more toned again. I feel I have a lot of work left to do. My hips. My low belly. It will take time though. I am aware of that. I do feel that as I am getting more rest and making the conscious decision to make sure my workouts really work me out, the strength I want will trickle back in.

IMG_7983It is one of the hardest things in life, growing a baby and birthing it. It really changes you emotionally, mentally, and physically. I have done it twice now. It is not easy. You have to be strong in so many ways. For me, my physical strength and fitness helps keep everything else in my life strong. It is all so intertwined it is hard to see where one thing begins and another thing ends. Feeling strong and being strong keep me happy and significantly less stressed. As I am peeking at the end of the exhaustion tunnel, I can see glimpses of my old life and strength returning. And I am positively giddy about it!

Tomorrow Mr. Alexander will be exactly 12 weeks old. A couple days after Christmas he officially turns 3 months old. In our current state I live my life in hour by hour increments. I am still breastfeeding him and on average he eats every two hours. This is the average time. He has longer spurts and there are even times where he eats in under two hours.

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I am always checking my little breastfeeding app. How long has it been? How long-ish do I have? What can I get done before he cries out for me? Can I run to the store and be back in time so my husband isn’t trying to calm a very hungry caterpillar? Can I run to the store with both boys, putting Alex in the Ergo, get our errands done, get him back in the carseat and home without him wanting to eat?

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Sometimes the answer is yes. Sometimes the answer is I have lots of time. This afternoon has been one of those times. It is 3 and 1/2 hours and counting since he last ate. He is napping though and well, tick tock.

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There are times where the answer is no and Jackson and I are scrambling to drive home while Alexander is presenting us with his lively chorus of hunger. We live outside of Chicago. It is the end of December. It is in the 30’s. We are all always bundled up and stopping to nurse wherever can be tricky with several layers of clothing on! I have stopped the car a couple times and pulled over, climbed in the backseat or brought him in the front seat to nurse him. Especially when we have been very far from home.

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2 hour increments. That is life right now. It isn’t bad. It can be tiring. Say he eats for 20 minutes. I hold him for a little while after and we cuddle. I finally put him down and get up to do something. He decides he is hungry in under 2 hours. The 2 hours begin the moment he began nursing. There are times where I literally have 20 minutes to do something.

With Jackson I lounged around so much. That sweet boy and I would sit on the couch all day, drifting in and out of sleep and breastfeeding. Sometimes when Alexander is nursing I am thinking about how much I have to do and is he even done yet?? There is SO much laundry, toys everywhere, dishes galore, and I need to do something about some of it. I put him in a contraption much more often than I did Jackson. Sigh. The poor second child. I feel so guilty sometimes. But things have to be tidied up or we will be living in filth. I have to wash and dry laundry or we will run out of things to wear, and did I mention it is winter? Jackson needs to poop and needs me to wipe him. Jackson wants something to drink. Jackson wants to cuddle with momma.

2 hour increments. They really do fly by. There is no way it can be time to eat again already? Oh look, my app says it has been 1 hour and 58 minutes, so it CAN be time to eat again. Where did those two hours go? I swore I just finished nursing. I still have more dishes to load.

Then there are those moments at 3am, because he wakes up at 3am like clockwork. He stops nursing and I am holding him in my arms. He is sound asleep, ready for me to gently place him in his crib. I take a moment to breathe him in. I resist kissing his sweet little mouth because I don’t want to wake him. I settle for his little fingers instead. I try to focus on his sweet cherub face with what little light there is in his room. Those cheeks are so full. He looks so peaceful and content. He has really filled out since being born. His cheeks are so squishy. I see a little double chin. I know under his sleep sack and jammies there are two thighs that have several little rolls in them. His new jammies are 6 months.

I did that. In 2 hour increments, I did that. For now, those moments bring me back to what really matters. 2 hour increments can really accomplish more than I imagine.

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I am on day 4 of being a mom to two boys! On Sunday, September 28th, at 4:38pm Alexander was born. 7lbs 2oz and 20 inches. He is pure sweet shiny new perfection. 19-DSC_6613

I was not planning on having a baby on Sunday. I had a long to do list of things. I definitely wanted to go grocery shopping. I was going to call a spa around 10am to see if they could fit me in for a prenatal massage. My shopping list was ready to go before 8am. I decided to not workout that morning. I was feeling pretty tired and realized I could use a rest day.

The day before I walked 2 miles on the treadmill. I even threw in a couple jogs. Very short and slow jogs. Nothing crazy. I did a touch of arm work after the run and a lot of stretching. We all went to Apple Fest with my mom, sister in law, and niece. We walked around a ton there. I started having contractions. Not just tightening but enough to stop me in my tracks a few times. They got down to about 7 minutes apart. We decided to head home and see where this took us. In the car I had one last one and then they stopped. Later in the evening I had a few more, but again they stopped. I figured just more false labor. I went to sleep, not knowing in less than 12 hours I would be in active labor!

Around 8:30am I hopped in the shower and I was having even more painful contractions than the day before. They were closer this time. I ate some breakfast and got ready for the day. I was still not convinced. Around 9:30 they got even worse than they had been and were coming 2-3 minutes apart. I walked the staircase in our backyard over and over until I reached 10:30 and they had been happening for an hour. Jackson spent some time walking with me! I called my OB. She told me to head on over to the hospital. So much for that massage.

My labor walking partner

My labor walking partner

By the time I arrived to the hospital I was 5cm dilated. 6 days before I had only been 1cm! I said “I am not going home today, am I?” The answer was no. It was time. I wanted a natural birth. That was my plan. I declined the epidural and fluids. I agreed to a port during my blood draw just because it is easier to do it then instead of during an emergency. I also agreed to letting my Dr. break my water because she explained it progresses things faster and she hates to see people in pain longer than they need to be. That is when the party got started. My husband took some photos during my labor. I was initially pretty mad because I had no idea. Now, as I write this, I am a touch thankful.

This was before things got exciting. And before my parents arrived to help out with Jackson. See, I am still smiling. That changes fast.

This was before things got exciting. And before my parents arrived to help out with Jackson. See, I am still smiling. That changes fast.

As contractions are wont to do, mine progressively got worse and worse. The pain was incredible. The downtime was heaven. But then, my downtime started to disappear.

They had me on my side because his heart rate dipped. If I was gripping, things hurt.

They had me on my side because his heart rate dipped. If I was gripping, things hurt.

The contractions kept getting closer and closer together. Totally normal. Then, the downtime started to vanish. I would be on my way down from a painful contraction, never quite hitting 0, and another contraction would start. It would spike off the charts again and have to work its way down. Sometimes I was having 3 minute long contractions. The break in between those would be a minute or a minute and a half. IMG_8931

My Dr came in and asked for me to consider agreeing to a fluid IV to try to hydrate me. She thought I was dehydrated and that could be why these contractions were overlapping. She wanted to get me a break of 2-3 minutes in between each one. I agreed to the fluids. They ended up not helping much. She came back later and said I still wasn’t always getting a break and when I was that they were only maybe a minute and a half. She mentioned I still had the option for an epidural. She hated sitting out there at the desk watching the monitor knowing what I was going through. I hadn’t dilated past 7 at this point. I was frustrated but I held off.

The contractions started to exhaust me. I just wanted to sleep after each one. I felt like I was at the end of a long hard day after every single contraction. But I never got the rest time. It was boom boom boom. The pain was in my back, uterus, and would shoot down my quads into my knees. I tried all kinds of labor positions. Kneeling almost made the leg pain worse. I found nothing that worked in helping me work through it. There were contractions where I couldn’t even breathe through them. I was trying but even breathing hurt. My mom was trying to remind me to breathe. Jason was having a very hard time seeing me in such pain.  I started to get worried that I wouldn’t be able to push. I was so tired. So so so tired.

At my next check I was 8cm. At the check after that I was still 8cm. The epidural was mentioned again. I asked how long I had to decide on that. The nurse told me as long as I liked. I could get it whenever. She left the room. I had another long contraction. I told Jason to go tell her to get the anesthesiologist. I felt as if I were caving. This wasn’t my plan. I am a strong person, I should have been able to do this. I was just so tired. I know I am a great pusher. I know I have the core strength to push him out, but my energy had been depleted. I was really worried that when it came down to it, during those long contractions, I wouldn’t have the energy to push. Which could result in a C-section. I knew that was number one on my ‘I don’t want it” birth list. So my decision had been made. I weighed my options and went with the one that I thought would still result in the birth I would be most satisfied with.

After the epidural I was able to relax. It wasn’t long before my next check. My Dr said I was just about 10. Asked me to give a little push to try to get a part of my cervix to complete its disappearance. She said “oh you are a good pusher. His head is right there. I was going to have you push one more time but never mind. It is time to deliver. I am going to get ready.”

My mom left the room at 4:26. The doctor and nurses finished getting everything all ready. At 4:30 I started pushing. At 4:38, Alexander John entered this world. He entered with the cord around his neck and he was blue. My husband said that my Dr got that cord off so fast it was amazing. In one swift movement she unwrapped it from him. The cord was also wrapped around his leg, which I got a glimpse of. When they put him on my belly he was blue and not crying. My brain was racing “why isn’t he crying. He should be crying.” It was a blur. A nurse (who happened to help deliver Jackson as well!) started to fuss with him and he started crying. My life was complete in that moment. They put him on my chest and I held that sweet boy for the very first time. They took him away to get him ready for some more snuggles.

My first photo with my sunshine face

My first photo with my sunshine face

We were able to go home the next day, per our request. We wanted to get settled into our home with both of our sweethearts. We hate hospitals. Don’t most people? He is mostly healthy. Very tiny and a little jaundice. So his pediatrician is monitoring that. He has lost 8% of his birthweight. We have a follow up tomorrow to see if we packed some ounces on him. I have been nursing on demand all week. He eats close to every hour over night. If he even whines I offer him a boob! Ha! Time to chunk this little monkey up.

Jackson is over the moon for his baby brother! He is wonderful with helping. Jason and I are doing a great job being partners and making sure Jackson gets some one on one attention too. Family time and one on one time with each boy. We definitely got this. IMG_8785 IMG_8889 IMG_8957 IMG_8990

We are in love and I really do feel like my life is complete. I am so happy to have two children. I am enjoying the balancing the needs of both. I truly feel like I was born to be a mom. I do other things. I love teaching Pilates when I am working. But nothing gives me joy like being a mom first and foremost. I easily throw all of my energies into my family. I feel satisfied and content with that role. My heart is warm and overflowing with joy. Even if I haven’t slept. Even if Jackson was asking for Cheerios while I was trying not to pee my pants and make him a bowl and Alexander started crying at the same moment and I realized my husband put the old almond milk I wanted to toss back in the fridge and now I can’t tell the difference between the new and old. Which was this morning. It lasted 3 minutes and was chaotic, but it was home, it was life, it was uniquely mine and I wouldn’t trade it for a thing!

Welcome to the world sweet boy. Welcome to our family. You were made especially for us and you are perfect. 12-DSC_6563 11-DSC_6558IMG_8966 IMG_8979 IMG_8980