Values, Hopes & Parenting Styles.

Since becoming a mother, I have become more in touch with my “critical thinking” side. I’ve also become more of a “mind wanderer”. And recently I found myself crying over a values.com commercial. Yeah, a commercial. It was about this husband and wife who had a daughter (like I now do). The commercial made it clear that they had a tradition during her birthdays. The candles on the cakes started to increase in number, the daughter continued to change and grow, and eventually she decided to head out to celebrate with her friends instead of at home with mom and dad. Mom and dad “cheers’d” forks, ate the cake together with the realization that their baby girl was growing up and celebrated at home on their own. In the next scene the parents were getting grey, their daughter walks in with her husband and a big ‘ol pregnant belly and they celebrate the same tradition they had so many years before. (Insert tears here haha). Why was I crying? Maybe because I could picture that life and imagining that as my daughter changing through the years and it made me emotional? Maybe because it’s not really the reality I’m familiar with as it appeared on the commercial but it’s something I desire to have with my daughter? Who knows… but it got me thinking about so much – values in general, my childhood, my parenting experience this far, my hopes and dreams for the future….

See, when I was younger, I had developed (and held on to) a certain set of values. I had created hopes and dreams for what I wanted my life to be life. Some of them changed and evolved over the years but the main ones stuck. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I always felt that I was meant to be a mom. A big, fancy career was never my main focus. Having a family of my own? That I could serve and nourish? That was the dream for me! I wanted the ever faithful, loving, wholesome, family-man husband. I wanted the beautiful, kind, healthy, respectful but playful kiddos. I wanted the stay at home mom lifestyle that allowed me to be the “PTA Style Mom” I always hoped to be. Church. School functions. Family dinners every night (and weekly, once the kids were grown). The close, loving, accepting relationships with one another. I wanted to have the marriage my children admired and aspired to one day have. I wanted to be the mom that my children fondly remembered as the glue that held it all together – always patient, always calm, always accepting, always gentle, and always respectable.

Life happened, circumstances changed and I let those hopes and aspirations fall to the wayside. I did my own thing, came to terms with the fact that maybe I wasn’t intended to have those things, and I portrayed something a lottle different in my life. And no, that’s not a typo. But the truth is, those values and dreams were still very much alive within my heart. It just took some time to pull em back out.

My husband and I have very different backgrounds. We were raised very differently. But it seemed like we ultimately both wanted the same thing. And honestly, for the most part, we do! It works! But when he met me, he had to overlook quite a bit just to see the potential in who I was. He pulled the real me – the “normal” me, the better me – out piece by piece, little by little. Eventually he was able to see through my… difficulties…. to the wifey material that I eventually became (and continue to work on). And eventually we began our beautiful little family. I started to see life differently and focus on the future I’d always hoped for.

The thing about having kids is that it changes your perspective on a lot of things. You begin to analyze situations differently. You begin to see, step by step, potential outcomes of each interaction and behavior and the affects that it can have on your children. You start to remember things that you made a point to put out of your mind just to remind yourself that your decisions as a parent shape your children. You begin to look at your surroundings and the people in your life and imagine the impact that their presence could have on your children. You begin to find value in healthy living because you realize your children will mirror your lifestyle. For me, everything has become a math problem – how will “x” and “y” affect “z”? It can be exhausting.

One of things that I was told at my baby shower was to not be afraid to do things differently than others and to not be afraid to stand up and say “that’s not how I choose to do things with my child”. At the time I thought “yeah, right, like I’m gonna have the nerve to be that assertive”. But boy did that change! And I’ve noticed people, in general, somehow get offended when you choose to do things differently…. why? I’ve had people in all areas of my life (literally, all areas) get offended at one point or another over, not necessarily a decision I choose to make as a parent, but that I verbalize how my parental choices differ from theirs. And, of course, my favorite – the friends who have seemingly stayed the same, not choosing healthier decisions (which, to each their own) but then proceed to mock the very fact that you are evolving as an individual to better suit your personal opinions of what is best for your own child and the environment in which they grow up in. That, too, can be exhausting.

I think the reason I was given that advice at my baby shower is because people tend to steam roll if not slowed down. I’ve had friends and acquaintances who had been parents for about two minutes longer than me that just couldn’t wait to push their parenting “tips” on me. The tips sometimes felt more condescending than helpful. Assuming I need/want to watch you bathe your baby to know how to do it? Telling me not to give my child the breast so often? Advising me that tummy time is a mandatory 60 minutes a day? Trying to convince me that the “cry it out” method is the only way to go? I mean, come on. Some of it was good intentioned but never is ONE way the ONLY way. But if you say that and you’ve offended someone. You distance yourself from something you view as unhealthy and you’ve offended someone. You live differently and you’ve offended someone. Somehow, my differences have offended your sensibilities?

Well I’m a firm believer that, as parents, evolution is a beautiful thing. Your parents could have been overall good parents but does that mean it was always perfect? No. You take the things that formed who you were and you change them, tweak them, throw them out all together – do whatever you have to do to help shape the reality you hope to create for your child. Your friends could have had a season in your life, showed you some good times, been there when times got tough but does that mean that they are conducive to your lifestyle as a parent? Does that mean that 100% of them belong in your future? No. You put your family first, realize the environment you are willing to raise your children in, visualize what your children will be soaking in, hold on to the memories and let go of the toxicity. It’s just life. It’s not offensive or wrong to grow. It’s not offensive or wrong to want different things than you may have experienced. It’s not offensive or wrong to choose a better reality for your children. And it’s never offensive or wrong to put them and their happiness first.

I know this whole learning thing will be a lifetime experience. I’ll mess up. I’ll make mistakes. I’ll look back and realize I should have done things differently. I think we all will. But if I’m not trying my hardest to create the best possible life for my child then what am I doing? I can’t be worried someone will get their panties in a bunch every time I choose something different. And I can’t be afraid to stand my ground.

I always want to teach my children to be kind. I want them to know it’s okay to be different. I want them to speak to others with respect, even when others don’t deserve it. I want them to know what it feels like to be accepted. And I want them to accept others. I want them to be God fearing individuals. I want them to be curious and know it’s okay to ask questions. I want them to respect themselves and expect respect from others. I will care more about who they become as individuals than the letters on their report cards.

For me, the moral of all of this is that it’s okay to acknowledge differences from others and assert your values, hopes and dreams in your own life. It’s okay to have a parenting style or expectations that others don’t agree with. It’s okay to terminate negative or toxic relationships for the sake of environment or even just your sanity. It’s okay to make decisions as a parent that feel right as opposed to what someone else suggests. It’s okay to be lost sometimes. It’s okay to cry at commercials!

Life is messy. That’s part of the beauty. But if we start to worry about who is judging us or begin shaming others or make decisions as parents just to avoid offending someone then we lose part of the beauty in the journey. Our values and hopes and dreams are important. And we should hold on to them and strive to achieve them at all costs. If not for us, for our little ones.

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In Spite of Negativity

I took a break. From my blogging, from a lot of things I was working on. From my happy place. From what brings me peace and a sense of accomplishment – all because of other people’s negativity. And in doing that, I went against the very foundation of what I hope to instill in my daughter. Never again.

I’ve gotten some slack over some things I’ve written. I’ve gotten backhanded compliments from those who think my dreams are just “too big” but find themselves too small to be honest. I’ve also gotten some “are you sure” and “but” statements about my breastfeeding boutique I will be opening soon. And I’ve certainly had some judgment passed on me based on the version of “me” that people used to see. Quite frankly, none of it should have mattered to me.

When I started the Blissful Breastfeeding brand, it was primarily for me. It was a way for me to openly document my breastfeeding experience in a judgement and negativity free space. I had spent so much of my life being a “negative Nancy” (not realizing that until a year ago or so) that I had surrounded myself with people who seemed to feed off of that energy. There was so much criticism, immaturity and judgement from seemingly EVERYONE that I knew that I realized I was outgrowing a majority of the people from that previous chapter of my life and few would recognize the beauty in what I was now focused on. I was also realizing that even trying to introduce these positive moments of my life opened the door for people to spew their negativity and unnecessary opinions my way. So I quickly found a way to disengage, share elsewhere and simply enjoy life.

Once I realized how much support and positivity from ladies I didn’t yet know in the breastfeeding community, I was hooked! Women were supporting one another, mothers were lifting each other up, and it was completely void of any negativity. I realized that my struggles and triumphs were valued and appreciated, what I had to say mattered and I was able to help others. The passion that I had already found in doing something so natural and primal proved to be an outlet that allowed that passion to blossom and flourish into something much bigger. The opportunities became endless and I found such joy in connecting with other women. I was allowing the real me to shine through because I was supported and loved by women who all had the same outlook on life. I continue(d) to evolve. And that feeling is addicting! I listened to direction from other ladies who wanted to see me succeed and decided to start taking some chances!

However, once I started my blog, I realized my blunt honesty had the potential to rub people the wrong way. And it did. I wrote one more post and then stopped for a month. I then started my business plan for Blissful Breastfeeding Boutique. In addition, I started a Go Fund Me because, hey, I’m a stay at home mom (thanks to my hubby) who wants to start a business – I should be able to find some support from fellow mommas. I shared that Go Fund Me and within minutes of sharing on my personal page I received a message from a “friend” asking if that was really a smart business idea…. ummm, salty much? I let that one sided conversation halt my plans for about a week and a half. And last but definitely not least – acquaintances of mine (friends to a family member) messaged me with judgmental assumptions about who I am as a wife and a mother, neither of which aspects of my life have they ever personally experienced or witnessed of me participating in. Their unfounded, awful (and dare I say hypocritical) words were on repeat in my head daily. I had allowed a virtual stranger to cause me to question the two things about myself that I hold most dear and pride myself in. But how was hitting the pause button on moving forward going to help me grow? It was time to put on my big girl panties and remind myself of why I started.

Not everyone is going to like what I have to say or agree with the decisions that I make. And my truth is going to be different than someone else’s. But that doesn’t have to be a negative thing. In fact, isn’t that the beauty that a lot of us miss out on? That everyone is so very different and unique and no one view or insight will be the same as another’s. I think that’s part of what helps us grow as individuals. Once we get past the point of being offended when someone’s opinion is different or blindly judging someone’s life, it opens the door for us to see something that maybe we hadn’t seen before.

Is my blog going to be blunt? Maybe sometimes it will be. But I will always be honest about my truth and always share my experiences from a true place because that is what I set out to do. Not only for me, but for anyone who reads anything that I write. I will always be truthful because my experience/insight/opinion may be one that someone else values or needs to hear at that time.

Is my business a risk? Sure. But when you are so passionate about something that it literally lights you up, aren’t you supposed to use that? To light a fire? To ignite your soul? To drive you to be a better you? I could do something to help women in a place where there is quite literally no support like what I’m able to offer. Think about that, I could do what literally has not been done. And I will.

Are your opinions going to differ from mine. Probably. But do you know me? Probably not. Were your opinions formed based on half truths and molded by what other people have told you? In some instances I can say with certainty that is the case. If you haven’t spent time with me in the last 6 months to a year, I can tell you now that I am most definitely different in almost every single way and all previous knowledge about who you think I am is null and void. I’m literally rewriting all of who I am into a better, healthier version of myself. I like to call it: Life (:

Why does any of this matter? Because I spent 99% of my life doubting myself. I spent 50% of my life worried about what other people would think or say and the other 50% of my life basing my decisions on those judgments and assumptions. And that is not the message I want to send to my daughter. As cliche as it sounds, I want my daughter to believe that she can do anything she puts her mind to. Because I didn’t. I missed out on so many opportunities and so much beauty in this world because I didn’t take chances and I didn’t believe in myself. For most of my life, I was unsure, insecure, and had a chip on my shoulder. I somehow felt that if I was gentle and genuine I would be seen as weak. No one ever got to know the real me. And as I continue to emerge, I realize that people probably would have liked the real me. The one who is uplifting, kind, positive, joyful, and loving. The dedicated wife. The patient mom. The woman who believes that she can truly do good things. The one who is passionate.

I recently posted this status as a reminder to persevere:

“People. Are. Mean.

When people don’t know who THEY are & what they want, they get easily offended by someone who does.

Some will say your dreams are foolish, dream anyway.

Some will say it can’t be done so why even try? Try anyway.

Some will tell you to stop taking risks (because they are afraid to take risks themselves). Take risks anyway!

Your own mind will play games and tell you you’re not strong enough. You are.

When people can’t control you, they’ll try to belittle you.

Sometimes those who should be the most proud of your successes will intentionally ignore them, making you question your progress.

But that’s no reason to falter or stop.”

I want my daughter to grow up proud of her mom. I want her to stand in the face of adversity and negativity, turn it into a positive, and push harder. I want her to fight to accomplish her dreams. And I want her to see her mother for someone strong yet gentle, determined yet thoughtful. She won’t be able to have those views if I allow negativity to dictate my world or hinder my successes or find a home in my life. It is my job to work harder than I ever have to define what “success” means to me. For her. It is my duty to teach her kindness and love all while pushing past the nay sayers to pursue my dreams. For her. It is my responsibility to be the best version of myself and continue to grow and evolve into a better me. For her. And if I allow anyone else to get in the way of that, I am doing an injustice to my daughter. I will continue. I will succeed. I will. For her. ❤️

Blissful Breastfeeding…. Eventually.

Today I’m writing about my experience with breastfeeding for many reasons. One, because it is the thing that gives me such passion. Two, because it is a healing and beautiful experience that other moms can relate to AND, those struggling with breastfeeding may find helpful. And three, because today, I could use a little extra sparkle and happiness in my day and breastfeeding does just that 🤗

My breastfeeding experience didn’t start out blissful, but it certainly became that! Breastfeeding was never really something I was interested in doing. In fact, I had never planned on breastfeeding my children. I selfishly had worried about it “feeling weird” or “hurting too much” or, as awkward as it is to admit, I was worried it would be too close to a sexual feeling and that made me uncomfortable. But my husband told me he wanted me to give it a try because there were so many benefits and if I decided I still didn’t want to after trying, he would support that. After agreeing, I started to worry about then “having” to breastfeed in front of people for the first time and worried I would look like a fool for not knowing how. Little did I know it was going to be the most natural and magical thing I had ever done. Once she latched, just minutes after being wheeled into the recovery room, it was like the world stopped turning. It was such a feeling of powerful love that one couldn’t possibly put it into adequate words.

Only a couple weeks into my breastfeeding journey I had come to the difficult realization that I couldn’t produce enough milk to continue exclusively breastfeeding unless something changed. This broke my heart more than I expected it to. All of the sudden I felt as though I was failing at the most basic and natural task of motherhood. I had been getting direction from others to explore supplementing with formula and although I do not see anything wrong with it, it was just something that my husband and I simply had not wanted to do for our family. So I kept fighting. With the help of my family, we began searching for any solution. The one thing that kept me pushing forward was the support from my mom and my husband, but especially my mother. She would constantly tell me what a good job I was doing and how proud she was that I wasn’t giving up. It was the support that kept me going and kept me hopeful that we could find a solution.

Hundreds of dollars were spent on supplements as we continued to try everything from lactation tea, lactation cookies, oatmeal, fennel oil, fenugreek and everything in between. If you can think of it, I tried it. Eventually I stumbled on Legendairy Milk products and I was amazed! The supplements allowed me to almost immediately see an increase and have since maintained my milk supply. And it’s not like they are magic, although they are pretty close ha ha. You still have to drink enough water and eat enough protein but it sure makes all the difference!

Once my milk supply increased, the worry and stress started to fade away. Any momma who has struggled with supply knows that the stress and worry can CONSUME you and cause you to think of nothing else. But let me tell you something, if you are struggling with supply, that does not make you a failure as a mother. There is so much more that goes into being a mother! It’s just the way that things happen sometimes and although it is unfortunate, it means nothing about your ability to be a good mom! So because I knew what it felt like to go from feeling hopeless to feeling on top of the world, that is why I started my Blissful Breastfeeding Instagram page. Actually, I started it for two reasons. It started as something simply for me to record and share my breastfeeding journey with other like-minded individuals. I didn’t feel that I would be supported in my breastfeeding journey the way that I was hoping to. I mean let’s be honest, unless you are a breastfeeding mom, you don’t really have the desire to talk about it or think about it all of the time and I understood that. But the second reason and definitely the most important reason was because I started to see how many women benefited from the support of other breastfeeding moms. When I was going through my struggles, I only had the support of my mom and husband. Thankfully that was enough for me but plenty of people don’t have that kind of support and I wanted my page to be a place where women could find encouragement, support, and also seek out answers to help them with their breastfeeding experiences. So I started doing homework and I learned everything that I could to help other mommas. Because of my personal experience and because I’ve seen what the support can do for other women, my passion for breastfeeding EXPLODED in me! I finally felt a sense of purpose, something that I had never felt before.

I was finally able to fully experience the joy the breastfeeding could bring. Because I was no longer focused on my milk, I was able to focus solely on my daughter. The experience brought me such happiness, joy, peacefulness, and the overwhelming feeling of love would just take over at times. I would find myself crying happy tears because I almost had felt myself become complete. When I was breastfeeding my daughter I was not only nourishing her but I was bringing her comfort. I was giving her love. Nothing beats the moments that she looks up at me while eating and smiles, it’s like nothing else in the world!

My breastfeeding journey has only been a little over three months (so far) but I have grown more in this three months than I have in my entire life. I plan to breastfeed for longer than some would probably choose to but I’m excited and motivated to do so! And it’s not to say that this has come without struggles, believe me when I say there have been struggles! And there’s always going to be hick ups and bumps in the road and I know that. But what I am doing for my daughter also has incredible side effects for me and those two things are what keeps me so motivated.

My motivation is now fueling a petition to get Breastfeeding moms in Idaho some protection and support. I don’t who is the only state in the country that does not have laws to protect a breastfeeding mother. In Idaho, if I feed my child in public I can be asked to leave whatever establishment I am at and in an extreme situation, I could be arrested for public indecency. How insane is that?! Not only that, but employers in Idaho are not required to give you adequate time to “empty your breasts”. The legal language in some other states specifically uses that verbiage. And the reason for that is because our milk will only continue to produce if the breast is emptied which in turn signals the body to make more milk. So because of the lack of support my Idaho law, mothers, like myself, are sometimes having to choose between feeding their children and providing income. Because of this backwards thinking I am determined to get changes made. I shouldn’t be thrown out of a restaurant for feeding my child. No woman should ever have to worry about the consequences of taking care of her child in the most natural and basic way. Our breasts have been sexualized by society and society says it’s OK to show our breasts for sexual reasons but society also tells us that it is indecent or inappropriate to expose portions of our breasts in order to feed our children.

My passion comes from an honest and loving place. I love my daughter and I want to be able to feed her by breastfeeding her. There are unlimited amount of reasons that this is beneficial. And I want to protect my rights, and every other breastfeeding mother’s rights to nurture her child in this way without fear of repercussions. I want to be someone that women can come to and find a safety, compassion, and helpful information in their breastfeeding journey. Prior to having my daughter, I honestly did not see the need to have other women in my life. I didn’t feel that female to female friendships were really all that beneficial for me. But after I had my daughter, I realized how important it was to feel supported by other women and to provide that same support to other women. It truly does take a village. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. So I am making myself available anytime for questions, support, or encouragement.

Breastfeeding is beautiful and I can honestly say that it has transformed my life. There’s always going to be struggles, but it will always be worth it! ❤️

Expectations: Unmet or Unknown?

I found myself frustrated with my husband tonight for the first time in a long time. I walked out of the bedroom after having spent nearly 2 hours trying to get our overly tired daughter down, excited to finally spend some time with my husband and he was sleeping. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, does it?

My husband and I rarely see each other these days. He works two full time jobs and most of the time he is gone by the time I wake up and home long after I’ve gone to sleep. He has two days off – split – and spends his week day off running errands and spending the day making even more money for our family with odd jobs. Sunday, his weekend day off, he often spends with me and our daughter at my parents house, sharing our beautiful daughter with my family. So needless to say, we don’t get much time to ourselves. He never complains about how he has to spend his days off and often times doesn’t even know what the plans are until they are happening.

Today we decided to spend the day at home – no plans with the parentals, no plans outside of our home. I figured today would be a day of uninterrupted time, just my husband, daughter and myself. But instead my husband vegged out and my daughter and I went grocery shopping with my mom. Once I got home, I put away the groceries, did some things around the house, and my favorite activity – loved on my little girl. My husband and I briefly discussed getting a movie and sitting down for dinner together as it is such a rarity. Finally 6 o’clock approached and the day without naps reared its ugly head as my daughter hit a wall. Any parent knows that an overly tired baby is the hardest to get down. I went to put her to sleep, assuming that when I was done my husband was going to be ready for “us” time!

Two hours later I finally emerged from the bedroom only to find my husband asleep on the couch. I immediately got frustrated because dinner wasn’t made, the kitchen was a disaster, no movie have been picked up, and I was out of my (alcohol free) wine. As I stood there trying to decide whether not to wake up my husband, allowing myself to get more and more frustrated, about to throw myself a party of the pity variety, I realized something. All of these expectations that I had – for the day, for the evening, for my husband – they were all expectations that I had. And they were all expectations I had kept to myself. That got me thinking…

My husband is sleeping because he’s exhausted from working two full-time jobs so that I could stay home with our daughter. My husband is sleeping because he never gets a moment to himself, not one. My husband is sleeping because even on his days off, he never really gets a day off. Too often I find myself disappointed, frustrated, or let down by expectations not met but expectations that haven’t even been set or shared. I set myself up for failure when I expect my husband to be a mind reader. Too often I fail to remember what my husband does on a daily basis, the decision that he makes every day to work hard for his family to allow his wife to be a stay at home mom. Too often I fail to remember all that he sacrifices so that we don’t have to.

I then decided to put on my big girl panties and clean up the house, make dinner, make his lunch so he doesn’t have to wake up extra early in the morning to do that, and start some laundry. I could have (and in the past would have) woken him up, complained, and turned right around and walked back into the bedroom to feel sorry for myself over the expectations not met. Why didn’t I?

Because I realized that often times it’s so easy for us as wives to think of all the things that our husbands aren’t doing. And then to complain about it. “Nag” as my husband would say. But he’s right – sometimes I do nag. And then I’ll have a moment of clarity and think “Really? That is what I was choosing to complain about? That’s how I chose to speak to my partner?”

It’s easy to get swept away in the moment by tiny things that don’t really matter. I was just telling my mom the other day that whenever my husband does something that I would normally “nag” him about, I think to myself “I’m a stay at home mom. I have time to clean that up” or “I’m a stay at home mom. He deserves [said thing]”. The things I was about to allow my night to be ruined over are just superficial and dare I say selfish. This adjustment in my mind set made me feel grateful and humbled. My beautiful daughter was safe, asleep in her room, my husband was home with me, finally getting some much deserved rest, we have food in our bellies, a beautiful home, a beautiful life!

I could have ruined a perfect Sunday over unexplained expectations. But a quick reminder to myself of how lucky I am made me instead feel incredibly lucky to have the life that I have and excited for the opportunity next Sunday to do the same thing all over again. ❤️ I guess the moral of the story is to appreciate the important things more often and let go of the insignificant moments – in the end it doesn’t really matter. And you don’t want the moments you remember when you’re old and gray to be the moments you spent complaining and being negative. You’ll want to remember the moments spent gazing at your sleeping child just a few moments longer and kissing your sleeping husband on the forehead as you enjoy the quiet, appreciating all that God has given you.

Baby After Adoption

11 years ago I got pregnant and placed my daughter for adoption…. Wow. I never really got used to that sentence. I’ve spent a lot of time bitter and angry over that decision. If I’m going to be completely honest with you, it really wasn’t my decision.

I was dating this guy who was nothing but trouble – abusive, druggie, you know the kind. When we found out I was pregnant we had basically come to the conclusion I was going to have an abortion but once I was educated more on the subject that was no longer an option for me. My “sperm donor” disappeared and my family immediately started talking about adoption. The option to keep my own child was never really given to me. I went through the motions of finding a family and found the most deserving family! (The one thing that has allowed me to forgive myself over the years is the fact that my first born has the most incredible life now because of her adoptive family!) I spent all those months truly bonding with the little being that was growing inside of me. My relationship with God got stronger, my outlook on life was changing, and I was truly happy. But in the back of my mind I CONSTANTLY feared the decision I was having to make.

The day of delivery, especially the moment of birth, I remember so clearly. I had a c-section and although I couldn’t see them pull her out, the moment I heard that newborn cry my heart was flooded with love and emotion. But I felt like I almost wasn’t allowed to cry joyful tears in that moment. I was so conflicted because what I wanted to do and what I had to do were two very different things.

The couple of days that followed were surreal and serene. I was able to hold her and love on her and share my heart with her. I shared her with loved ones and finally, her new family. I remember feeling genuinely happy watching them welcome her into their perfect little family. At that moment, I wasn’t angry or upset or sad. I was truly happy. However, once reality set in, things changed. I was no longer willing to give up this beautiful little girl – she was mine. But I was quickly reminded that was not the case. I had created her. I had carried her. I had loved her. But she was not mine to keep. I was helpless. I pleaded to keep her. People have children everyday when circumstances are less than perfect and they make it happen. Why couldn’t I?

As I write this now, all these years later, tears still stream down my face because what happened over the next day was nothing short of the worst heartbreak I’ll ever experience. After 4 days with my daughter, I kissed her goodbye. She was removed from my arms and I was wheeled away. The car ride home was filled with silent tears. My “home” felt empty and lonely. I felt more out of place in my own life than ever before which was hard to achieve because I never really belonged. My pain seemed to annoy some as I was told to maybe remove the many pictures I had of my daughter so that I wasn’t thinking about it as much. But my daughter was already taken and the pictures were all I had. I’d spend hours smelling the blanket she was in, laying in bed as my heart crumbled. I will never experience such a devastating pain again. And that pain began to birth anger. And that anger fueled many years of my life.

Fast forward to several months ago. I’m married, pregnant, I’m grown – life is now my own. But it sure didn’t feel like that. I spent endless nights crying to my husband, fearful that someone would take my child. I was bonding with my daughter that was in my tummy but had a constant nagging that I should hold back parts of my heart because I was sure that my whole world would shatter once again. I didn’t know how, but I was convinced I was going to lose her.

Now fast forward to the day of delivery. My husband and I sat in prayer in the car for a moment before walking in. Although it didn’t seem like it on the outside, I was paralyzed by fear. I walked the same steps I had before. Entered the same hospital, walked through the same doors, experienced the same prep, only this time with my husband by my side and MY daughter about to arrive. Once in the delivery room I was a mess! My husband sat next to my head, holding my hand tight, coaching me the whole time and finally, once more, I heard that newborn cry. That first breath of air and the beautiful sound that followed. I burst into tears thanking God for what he had blessed me with and in that moment, I felt like the richest person on the planet! Isabelle was placed on my chest for skin to skin and I just couldn’t believe she was mine! The joy and love that I felt was infatuating and satisfying. But while they were stitching me up from my c-section my husband and baby had to leave the room and that fear of losing my child crept back up.

I didn’t want her out of my sight. And once we were reunited I was determined to keep her with me at all times. Over the period of the next couple of weeks I dealt with some medical complications. My family had to help A LOT with the baby until the complications subsided. And every time she was taken out of my room, even just by family, even as I was in and out of consciousness, I was stricken with fear. I spent a majority of the first month of her life constantly worrying. A lot of joy was stolen by those never ending fears.

As time has gone on I have learned to let go of that fear a little bit more every day. I don’t panic as often or need to constantly be holding her. The progress I’ve made to “let go” is only acknowledged by my husband because people simply don’t understand. I catch a lot of crap from family and friends about my overprotective nature with my daughter. People fail to understand that because of my adoption experience I feel like my daughter could be ripped from my arms at any moment. And it might not make sense – I’m now a responsible adult with no reason to ever lose my child, but what happened 11 years ago has had lasting effects. Effects that I didn’t anticipate it having on this part of my life. I feel like I always have to be on the defensive when it comes to my child because I have to be ready for anything. Even now, 3 months later, I still reveal these fears to my husband. And every time he assures me that nothing is going to happen but there’s always that voice in the back of my head telling me to watch out.

It’s frustrating to be questioned all the time by family about my decisions as a mother when it comes to my overprotective nature because I feel like nobody connects the dots. It’s as if nobody remembers what happened 11 years ago. And it’s frustrating to feel like I’m not taken seriously as a mother. It’s hard because I’ve gone through some incredible changes over the last year and some of the biggest changes have happened over the past few months. I’m not the same woman that I was before. I’m not ok with the chaos and the yelling and the drama that may have previously ensued in certain areas of my life. I crave calm and my daughter has made me calm, grateful, patient, and a whole lot more tender. And although my attachment parenting style is constantly questioned and constantly poked fun at, there is no other way it’s going to be.

Having a baby after going through an adoption experience is hard to explain. I feel guilty for only having one of my daughters with me. It scares me to think my first born may ever question “why did she give me up and keep Isabelle?” Having a baby after adoption is also confusing. On one hand it’s terrifying because I’m fearful of losing the most incredible thing on the planet, yet again. On the other hand, it’s an incredible blessing because it makes me appreciate my daughter on a whole different level. I never find myself frustrated or wanting a moment to myself because I cherish every single second with her. She is my stress relief. As crazy as it sounds I literally thank my daughter, my three-month-old baby, for being so patient with me as I constantly shower her with overwhelming kisses because I know my affection is pretty intense. It comes from a grateful place.

I’m sure things will continue to evolve as they naturally do and hopefully people will start to realize that the person I am post baby is not going away, and I certainly don’t like to be reminded of the way things used to be. I can only hope that people will start to take me seriously as a mother. But the biggest thing that I wish people would understand is that my adoption experience shaped me. Like I said, having a baby after adoption is extremely complicated but it made me this incredibly grateful mother who cherishes every single moment and that – I wouldn’t change for the world! Isabelle continues to heal my heart and Jessa, my first born, inspires me to make her proud as I hope when she’s older she sees me as an incredible mother to Isabelle because I spent 11 years trying to get it right.

Arriving

When I first considered starting my own blog I tried to find some inspiration by reading other “mommy blogs”. I read and searched for something, anything to connect to. I had a few laughs here and there, found a couple moments that I would nod in agreeance to but honestly, I found myself worried that other women wouldn’t find a connection to my writing – that my thoughts, my opinions, my views wouldn’t be relatable. That’s because in most of the blogs that I read, fellow moms were expressing how stressed, overwhelmed, tired and even resentful that they felt. I just couldn’t quite relate. And when you read a blog, you want to find something you connect with, right? Something to keep you coming back because you had found someone who felt how you felt and you felt connected! So if I don’t feel the same way will anyone really be able to relate to me? I guess we’ll see….

In June of this year I became a mother for the first time and what an incredible journey it has been so far! The sleepless nights quickly turned into fairly restful nights, the constant diaper changes have yet to cause me annoyance, and the unavoidable changes in marriage that people warn you about? Beautiful! I have friends who tell me motherhood isn’t all they hoped it would be. I find myself completely disconnected when I hear that. I have acquaintances offer unsolicited advice constantly telling me “it’s ok to feel overwhelmed and take some time for you”. I don’t disagree. I know it’s ok to feel that way… I just don’t.

But let me be clear – it’s not like I’m some robot with unconditional positivity flowing through my veins. In fact, people who knew me years ago would tell you I was a pretty anxious individual with a realist-to-cynical outlook on a lot of life’s intended beautiful experiences. So what changed me? Isabelle.

From the moment she arrived my heart softened. I suddenly felt the desire to love harder, forgive easier, and give more. I knew what it felt like to find my purpose. It was like I had finally found myself. I had become what I was always destined to be – a mother. The pieces of my broken heart from years of destruction and loss were put back together in an instant. I immediately noticed beautiful changes taking place that could only be attributed to her arrival in my life.

There are many reasons that I don’t relate to some of the more common complaints of motherhood. The exhaustion? Sure, it has its moments, but the excitement of bonding with her gives me energy that wipes out any hint of exhaustion. The crying? Minimal. And even on the days that it’s not, it gives me such a sense of purpose when I’m able to calm her and bring her peace. The diapers? Expensive. But so worth it! The lack of time to myself? I literally have never spent a more valuable moment in my life than being a mother. No I may not have time to do my makeup everyday or get a pedicure as often but I found appreciation in the quiet moments during naps or while her daddy holds her. The stress? She taught me that it’s ok to let go, focus on what’s important and NOT stress so much. And I know what you’re thinking: ‘it’s only been a few months, just you wait.’ I don’t foresee this changing for me. But there’s a reason.

I became a birth mother when I was 17. One word to sum up my experience of adoption: BRUTAL. I used to always refer to that experience as a beautiful blessing but in reality it was the most painful experience in my life. I’ve been conflicted and tormented by “my decision” for 11 years. But the one thing I knew from the moment I held my first born in my arms – I was meant to be a mother. But after that experience I spiraled and my dreams of eventually becoming a mother slipped further and further away. Honestly, that’s another story for another time but there’s a reason it relates…

Even though I could give in to being stressed, overwhelmed, tired or resentful I don’t. Because what a blessing motherhood is! These tiny little beings that we created rely on us. We chose them. We owe it to them to give them our best selves everyday. We have the beautiful opportunity to shape them into incredible human beings who give kindness, patience, grace, and love. All of our shortcomings can become teaching opportunities. We now have the unique opportunity to see the beauty in all of life’s messes and to receive them in a positive way. We have someone looking up to us, watching every move we make and taking it all in like a sponge. So why not make it count? Instead of spending our energy in negativity why not brush off the stress of our busy lives, push through the exhaustion, and breathe through our anxiety and show our children our best selves?

I want to be relatable. But more than that, I was a be a positive force in my daughters life. Someone she will look at and be proud of, feel safe with, and aspire to be like. The person I was 3 years ago? Not who I want my daughter to see. The person I am today is a completely different story. Some of us take longer to “show up”, but when we do – we don’t just show up – we arrive. And that’s the me I want my daughter to see.