Days Like These

Days like these are the best days. I woke up feeling refreshed, awake, ready to face the day. It was gloomy out, but hey, surprisingly it didn’t matter. I was able to get myself up and going, got a load of laundry done and watched an episode of one of my favorite shows. It was good, great even! And then my son woke up, in a great mood. We had breakfast and showered together, scrubbing his hair and letting him pour the water on his head, playing with his tub toys, and got going. Today was a GOAL mom day. It doesn’t happen often…and here’s why:

Facing this world is hard as a young mother. It’s that crazy time in my life when half of the people my age are out at the bars, going to graduate school or are working on graduating from college, or are already working their career/dream job. People my age are still in the dating scene, weaving their way through the complex world of dating, going on different dates and continuing to look for their soul mate. Their schedule isn’t based off of nap times, play times, regular eating times, a set up and very cleaned up schedule like us moms have to have. They can stay out as late as they want, can date when they want, can go to class when they want, and only have to worry about themselves.

Then there’s others who are basically 4  life steps behind me…getting engaged, planning weddings, and then thinking about what it would be like to start a family, or even just announcing pregnancies or just having their first children. Those people are riding this high life, a time in my life which was short, and magical. That time in their life which cannot be interrupted by a child needing their diaper changed or an accidental trip/fall that needs mommy kisses, hugs, maybe a band-aid and more kisses to make it better. But once that family is starting, and I’m not just talking dog moms, but once the real family life is starting, things get extra hard. 

Hard because once those people have their babies, they go into the same style of isolation that comes with young motherhood in this generation. Money gets tight, family always wants you to come to family events to show off your new offspring, and friends get left in the dust. But I mean, you text every once in a while, and Like each others’ Facebook posts, but it’s not the same as before. It’s not the same because you don’t have the spare time anymore. Your time is now filled with washing sippy cups, washing bedding, tying to find a pacifier, picking up toys, and running errands with your child in tow (everything takes a lot longer to do). It’s a completely different lifestyle and it’s a life sentence. People will joke about how if you’re a parent, it’s an 18 year sentence because once someone turns 18, they are a legal adult. But let’s all be honest with ourselves when we say that most of us call our moms MORE after we are 18 and realize how much we still have to learn about life. That’s why us moms have such a hard job. We are supposed to love unconditionally, teach how to do laundry, discipline, kiss boo boos, work a full-time job, manage the home’s finances, keep the house clean, show respect and teach respect, along with make time to visit all grandparents on a weekly basis and make sure to make time for our own sanity. It’s unbelievable what we have on our plate…and you know what? It’s worth it. 

It’s worth it for the good mornings like this when I get to actually enjoy my little man because I got a good amount of sleep and he got a good night of sleep too. It was worth it because I got to take a shower with him and he laughed and it made me smile and laugh too. And I can’t imagine my world without him. He’s is, was, and always will be the BEST surprise I ever received. He is worth it, and days like these mean the most to me. 

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A Warrior

God gave me a beautiful son. He came into this world battling to stay alive. He spent 5 days in the NICU, but it felt like an eternity for me. He fought hard and long to have a wonderful life..and now as I hold him in my arms, I again realize that he was the warrior. He wouldn’t have made it if it weren’t for the NICU doctors who helped him make it and survive after a 36-hour labor process, which could have easily killed both of us. Many people don’t know how lucky my son was to be here…but I do. And I feel so blessed every day that I get to hold him in my arms and rock him to sleep. I feel blessed when he cries for the milk I am able to provide for him. I feel blessed when he pulls my hair, as much as it hurts, because his little fingers are learning to grab and feel. I love when he smiles at me and knows who I am when I call him “My Handsome” because that’s exactly who he is to me…MY handsome and perfect baby boy.

And this baby boy came from my body. My body that I abused for years…unable to see it’s potential. I’ve ate enough candy and drank enough pop to make someone sick…but I have also nurtured my son and myself with this body with good, healthy food so he can eat and get strong. I have gotten lazy and sat on the couch eating bags of chips for days at a time because some dumb boy broke my heart…but I have also worked on my strength so I can carry my son through the mall, or wherever I am, without tiring. I have yelled and screamed at someone for forgetting to put the milk back in the fridge…but I have learned to be patient as my son learns how to hold his own bottle, roll over, see me and know who I am, and smile when I kiss his cheek. I have tortured my body, not realizing its potential and that it is a temple in which every day, life writes on its walls, the inside and out, creating creases, rolls, lines, marks, and scars…all showing me that this life is worth living. And that MY purpose was to give my son a life worth living too…so as I sit here, caressing his body, I know that he will love me, and one day trace the lines on my skin and ask me “Mom, what are those?” and I will tell him stories of where I got every tattoo, stretch mark, scar, and bump or bruise. And I will do it all, knowing it was all worth it, for him, and for me, to love me and my body, with pride and joy. This body is amazing. It created life. A miracle. My Handsome.

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It takes Two to make Three

I choose my husband everyday over my child.

56I choose to make sure he has food to eat for lunch, clean clothes to wear every day, a tidy home to come home to after work, and what he needs to take care of our child while I’m away at work. I attempt to go above and beyond the call of being a wife everyday.

“Why would you choose your husband over your child? You MADE your child…your child is helpless without you?!”

I choose to make sure my husband is able to love on our son as much as he can or wants to when he’s home. If he is forced to cook and clean when he’s off work instead of holding and loving on our son, then I haven’t done my job.

My job is to Respect my husband first, Love our son second.

Don’t get me wrong, I also make sure my child has everyone of his needs met, but he wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for my husband and I choosing each other first.

Respecting my husband because he is the bigger provider for the family, Respecting my husband as the head of the household, Respecting my husband as the Captain of our ship…As the wife, I’m the Navigator. I can get us through the storms and can see the final goal ahead, but in the decision making process, my husband deserves the final say. He is not the dictator of decisions because we choose to make those together, so that we are both on board for all of the twists and turns of life that will take place in order to get to the final destination. But my husband leads the way and makes sure we are all in line and get there in one piece. Without him, I couldn’t do this “motherhood thing” on my own. I need him to be there and to hold my hand and rub my back when my son won’t stop crying in the middle of the night. I need him to take the baby when I can’t figure out why he is crying and I’m breaking down also…I need my husband to kiss me every morning and every night before bed so that I know the day has come to an end and we made it another day without sinking. My husband needs to be there to make me laugh when I can’t do it anymore. I need my husband to lead the way.

I chose this when I said “I do.”

If I choose my child over him, then the original Love and Respect we had for one another goes away and we get lost. We become just parents and no longer spouses. We need to keep our Love alive and our Respect for one another at its highest.

So yes, I will always choose my husband first. Not because I love him more than my child. I choose my husband first because he has earned and will always have my Respect and full devotion to him.

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How you know when you’re officially a Mom.

It dawned on me just before the sun came up one morning that my life will never be what it was before I got pregnant. Once you’re pregnant, you’re given a life sentence to caring, nurturing, and being completely responsible for keeping another human being alive. It doesn’t matter what trips you had planned or what your dream job was going to be…you start to realize those dreams may very well never come true. This new life will enter the world when it’s ripe and ready and will change your thinking on everything.

Because you’re officially a mom…when you first see that your pee stick has two lines instead of one.

You’re officially a mom…when the ultra sound shows a small heartbeat.

You’re officially a mom…when you feel that first kick in your belly.

You’re officially a mom…when you’re woke up in the middle of the night to kicks that are no longer small.

You’re officially a mom…when you crave macaroni and cheese more than you sex.

You’re officially a mom…when the baby shower, big or small, makes you laugh until your belly aches and you need three vehicles to bring home all of the gifts from those who love you.

You’re officially a mom…when pedicures become a once a week must-have to survive.

You’re officially a mom…when these “period cramps” start happening every 15 minutes and woah…no sleep for me.

You’re officially a mom…when you tell your husband you hate him before, between, during, and after your contractions.

You’re officially a mom…when the nurse tells you that they will order a C-section if your baby isn’t out soon…and you realize you thought you were pushing hard…but you find it deep within yourself to push harder, longer, stronger, and focus more than all of your energy into this one push…

And then you’re officially a mom…when they tell you “it’s a Boy!”

Those moments only begin to define when you think your a mom for real! Because, if those weren’t enough for you…it becomes completely real when you hold your child for the first time and he latches onto your breast after patiently waiting for you to figure out how to position yourself so he can take his first drink.

And after that…

You’re officially a mom…when you bring him home, set the car seat on the counter, and have to give yourself a minute to think about what next steps you have to take.

You’re officially a mom…when your breasts begin to ache for the first time and your baby is still sound asleep and you have to figure out how to work your breast pump.

You’re officially a mom…when you are mesmerized by the drips coming from your breasts with every heartbeat from the pump. Holy moley…I’m making milk.

You’re officially a mom…when you hear your baby wake up while you’re in the shower, look down at your nipples, and both are dripping…

You’re officially a mom…when you realize you thought you were tired after that night out and had to work in the morning, but nothing compares to night #3 after bringing home your baby and you realize you will not get a full night of sleep for probably the next year…or longer, and that simple thought makes you cry.

You’re officially a mom…when you take pictures of your child more than anything else. Ever.

You’re officially a mom…when a trip to Wal-mart must be planned and strategized.

You’re officially a mom…when you dread looking at the time on the clock when you hear your baby cry because the sun still isn’t up, which obviously means no one else should be either, but yet here you are, sitting cross-legged on the bed, rocking your baby in your arms and hoping this feeding session will only last 15 minutes because you feel you cannot afford to lose any more sleep…and you can feel your head bobbing and your eye lids have never felt heavier.

You’re officially a mom…when the smell of poop is not nasty, or nauseating, or gross.

You’re officially a mom…when you drink more than the required 8 glasses of water a day, for real this time.

You’re officially a mom…during a movie and a baby cries and you let down.

You’re officially a mom…when your husband’s alarm clock goes off and you’ve already been up for an hour, feeding, changing the dirty diaper, and then rocking your baby, only to gently set him down in the cradle and then spend the next 15 minutes watching him and listening to him coo at you before falling back to sleep.

You’re officially a mom…when at the restaurant, random people come up to you to sneak a closer look at your baby and you can tell they want to touch him, but are afraid you will physically bite their hand off because your child hasn’t slept in what feels like forever and he just got to sleep and if they touch him, you will have to be paying for their funeral, so it takes all self-control to not yank your child away as they choose to just barely touch their hand…ooooh, they got away lucky this time.

You’re officially a mom…when your child gets hungry and you’re in public and it takes a new level of coordination to get yourself in a good position to breast feed without exposing yourself entirely.

You’re officially a mom…when you finally get that first night out at the bar (tell the babysitter you’ll be home by 10pm) and yet you leave the bar at 9pm for a run to McDonald’s and still manage to make it home by 9:45pm.

You’re officially a mom…when you thought money was tight before and now you’re seriously considering couponing and eating PB&J for the next 5 years to make up for all of the new costs that come with having a baby.

You’re officially a mom…when the mirror becomes your worst enemy. You see all of the shiny stripes that ripple your body, in places you didn’t think anyone else in this world has them. You remember when you were younger and swore that you would never be that mom with the stretch marks, but you now realize how naïve that thinking was, not knowing that it never mattered how much lotion or vitamins you put into your body because those pink and purple marks were going to plague your body whether you wanted them to or not.

You’re officially a mom…when you begin to learn and accept those stretch marks. Not every time that you look in the mirror do you love them, because that day will probably never come, but right now and in this moment, you do love them and can see the beauty of them. These stretch marks helped me to create life. These stretch marks show where my body grew when I grew my little human. These stretch marks are a chapter in my life that ended my chapter of only being responsible for myself. These stretch marks are something to be proud of after going through labor and successfully pushing out a miracle.

And as amazing or annoying as all of those things are, you still get to hold your baby at the end of the day, rocking them back and forth, and have them look up at you with their big eyes, chubby cheeks, perfectly formed ears, little fingers and toes, and smooth skin and wonder how you were able to create such a perfect and amazing miracle.

You can finally see why it was all worth it, why you get the privilege of waking up in the middle of the night to feed, but it’s amazing because even in those couple of hours, it still feels like your little person has grown some more and you wouldn’t want to miss any more time than that.

You’re officially a mom…when nothing else matters to you in so many moments, except how you and your baby are always and forever going to be connected. You realize no matter how big he gets, how strong he gets, how independent he will think he is in 20 years, he will always need his mom. And you will be there for him, through thick and thin, loving him as unconditionally as you did when you held him in your arms or when you cried because he wouldn’t stop crying or when you see his dad play with him and it makes your heart so warm…all of those moments make you a mother, now and forever.

Because you’re officially a mom…when your world becomes his.

36 Hours

All photos are by Anne Warwick

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My contractions began on Sunday evening, around 10pm, just as I was crawling into bed. I had worked during the day, serving guests and waddling in and out of the kitchen. My manager had suggested I get my Monday and Tuesday work shifts picked up. He could see how uncomfortable I was, even though I was in denial. As I laid in bed, trying for millionth time to get comfortable, I began to realize that the normal exhausting pain wasn’t consistent anymore, but was coming in waves. It was close to midnight I realized I was having contractions. As a first time mom, I didn’t know what contractions would feel like; no one had ever explained to me what to expect. For the women out there who don’t know, a contraction literally feels like a period cramp…but they slowly get more painful and longer in length.
I had a moment of panic and nervousness around midnight, where I let myself release a couple of tears. My body was exhausted from working and I couldn’t sleep. I felt horrible because I was worried I was keeping my husband awake, and he was the one who had to work in the morning. I must have caught some light sleep at some point, but around 5am, I forced myself to get out of bed and go to the living room, where the exercise ball was. I laid my chest on the ball, its coolness felt amazing on my skin. I swayed back and forth on the ball for a while, rocking by body to sleep. When I was finally as relaxed as I could be between contractions, I moved over to the couch, still kneeling on the ground, but the couch was a more sturdy object, so I thought I could catch a little more sleep there.
Eventually Austin’s alarm went off and he came out to the living room, seeing me kneeling on the floor. He was instantly concerned, but I told him that he needed to go to work. If things were progressing, I would call him and have him come home from work. I knew I needed to be the calm one until I couldn’t keep control anymore, and then he would become my rock. Once he left for work, I called my mom and let her know things were changing and I thought Baby would be coming. She also went to work, but sent my aunt over to spend time with me, making sure I wasn’t alone all day.
She came over to my house around 8am, and we started tracking my contractions, which were sitting at right around 15 minutes apart. We even went for a walk and kept timing the contractions. My contractions slowed a little after the walk…but then quickly began changing things and speeding up.
I called Austin around 1pm and let him know my contractions were at around 5 minutes apart and staying pretty stable right there. He made his way home and I also called my mother to let her know that we were planning to go to the hospital once she got to our house, which was going to end up being around 2:30pm. By the time Austin got home, my contractions were still around 5 minutes apart, but the pain was intensifying. I wasn’t going to wait at home anymore. My fear of being sent home was overpowered by my fear of dealing with this pain alone, without the supervision of the midwives. We told my mom to meet us at the hospital and we made it there before 2pm.
Once we were checked in, the nurse decided to check to see how dilated I was. I was only 3 centimeters, but my cervix was completely thinned. When she went to feel for it, she accidently broke my water.
“I’m sorry!” she exclaimed as I started to cry.

“Thank you!” I breathed simultaneously…I was so relieved because I knew I wasn’t going home.
Once we were admitted to the hospital, my contractions again began…after my water had broken, I got a break in the contractions. When they decided to come back, they came back with force. It felt like hours and hours of contractions with people coming in and out to check on me. Lots of family came into the room to see me. I didn’t mind because I was covered up. During my contractions though, I had to only focus on myself. The most comfortable position for my contractions was kneeling on the bed, head in the pillows. The thing which made them even less painful was when Austin would stand behind me and press heavily on my hips. I don’t know what it was doing, but it felt great to have extra pressure there. I couldn’t figure out why I had so much pain in my back for so long…but once they did an ultrasound while we were waiting for my body to dilate more, we learned Baby’s head was down like it needed to be, but was “sunny side up” so his face was facing my stomach instead of at my spine, which made for me to have back labor.
At one point, they asked me to get into the tub, hoping to help the contractions and to take weight off my spine with the counterweight of the water. It did feel good to be in the tub and to be in a different position. After a while, things took a serious turn. I got a contraction which started and got to be extremely painful. I tried to breathe through the pain…until it got to be unbearable…and by then, it also dawned on me that it was the longest contraction I had up to this point. I thought maybe this was my body’s way of trying to make me more dilated, but the pain never subsided. I started to panic. The contraction was staying consistent, but it was not stopping like they should. I tried to stay calm, but I couldn’t. Austin leaned over me in the tub, trying to get me to relax, but the panic took over. Through my tears, I knew I needed something to change before I could be calmed.
The midwife suggested moving me to the bed again and I reluctantly started trying to get out of the water with the help of my husband and the midwife. I don’t remember walking over to the bed, if I was dressed at all, if I even used a towel to dry off. I think I may have even walked with my eyes closed over to the bed. Once I was in the bed, the midwife started to put on her gloves to see if I was dilating more. My contraction was still going…it may have only lasted a total of potentially 10 minutes, but it had felt like an hour. Through my tears, I begged them (anyone…the midwife, the nurse, my husband, God…) to get it to stop. The midwife had me move my legs so she could check me. I remember feeling her fingers slide inside me and the biggest relief came over my body, along with a wave of amniotic fluid leaving my body. The midwife had slightly touched Baby’s head enough to move it out of the way, which had been blocking the way for the fluid to easily exit my body. My body relaxed and took a breather, which made me allowed to catch mine and to get my tears to stop. At this point, I knew that as soon as they offered me any sort of drugs, I was going to take it.
One moment that sticks out to me was when they gave me Nubain, a drug  used to relieve moderate to severe pain…but to me, it felt like Heaven. If I could describe what it felt like to have that medication running through my body, I would. Basically, the pain was still there, but for me, it took my mind to another place. I was able to relax and although I still felt every contraction, it didn’t seem to matter. I could actually have conversations with people during my contractions again. If you were to ask Austin about the experience, he would most likely say that I couldn’t hold a conversation and would also mess up my train of thought, but I don’t remember that being the case; I was in a different world. Nubain lasts anywhere from three to six hours after being administered. I’m not sure how long I got relief from the pain of the contractions because of the medication, but I do know I was able to catch some sleep for a bit.
After I was given Nubain, I completely lost my sense of timing, but there are moments that stood out to me, like certain contractions and the reactions of those around me. Like the moment my mother had to leave the room because she was overwhelmed with emotion, watching her daughter go through this much pain, for so long, and not being able to help.

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Another moment that really stands out to me is when they decided to give me the epidural. Everyone had to clear the room, except for Austin, who got to help me get through the process of them inserting the catheter in my back for the epidural. They had me sit on the edge of the bed and basically told me to just not move. I practiced my breathing and the anesthesiologist administered the shot between my contractions. Once he got it put in my spine, he taped my back up so it wouldn’t be able to be moved. Slowly, relief again hit my body and my lower body went…numb? It wasn’t a fully numb sensation because I could still move my legs and I could still sense people touching my legs and feet, but I didn’t have the normal sensations. I could watch on the monitor the contractions going through my body, even though I couldn’t feel them. Once I got the epidural, I was able to catch some more sleep and rest up for the marathon of pushing.
On the monitor, they could see both the size and length of my contractions, as well as monitor Baby’s heartbeat. I had been intently watching that monitor during my entire labor process. Before any drugs, the line that went up and down for my contractions only showed going up about a quarter of the way. I don’t remember ever feeling pain in my lower abdomen though…it was all in my back. My back labor was so painful, my pain tolerance maxed out at around a 4/10 compared to what normal women feel during contractions. Once I got my epidural, my contractions would go way up to 8/10 or more and I wouldn’t feel anything. It was amazing how a drug can make pain completely subside, even though I still felt some discomfort.
At around 3:30am on Tuesday morning, the nurse came in and checked to see how dilated I was. I was measuring 8cm, so they planned to start me pushing around 5:30am and also were going to call in the NICU doctor, which is protocol for when a baby has meconium in the amniotic fluid. We found this out when my water broke, and the nurses weren’t super concerned about it, but because a baby can get bacteria in its body and can cause infection or other symptoms, they planned to have a NICU doctor ready when my baby was born, in case he/she had ingested any. It is more common than people think that a baby will produce meconium (poop before it is born), so the nurses had me convinced that everything would be okay.
It was around 4:00am that I got this sense of needing to push. As a first time mother, I still can’t describe what that feeling is like. It does not feel like when you have to poop and your body wants to get rid of it. It does not feel like a cramp in your stomach from indigestion. You just…know. And when I started pushing, that’s when things started to get real. I had already been in labor for 30 plus hours and my body was exhausted. But I wasn’t allowed to give up. Austin had been by my side continuously…I don’t even know if he went to the bathroom! I wasn’t going to allow myself to give up. And so it began.

And continued.
And kept going.

It was an eternity. Every time I had a contraction, I pushed as hard as I could. The pushing felt like it wasn’t doing anything. I tried different positions and different techniques. Every time, I felt like I wasn’t getting any further.
It was about half way through the pushing process (I didn’t know it at the time.) when the midwife began to reach in and try to help me with the pushing process. What was happening was Baby’s head was sunny-side up, along with coming out in a way that was going too far back and was making his chin hit his chest with every push. The midwife had to reach in and push his head back in a slight bit to get him to come out correctly. It was horrible and it was multiple times of her reaching inside me, trying to turn and adjust my child’s head during my contractions. It was so painful and terrible because I could feel myself ripping slightly with every contraction.

About 9:00am, I was past the point of exhaustion and also scared. I had already had moments of panic and had needed to be calmed down by Austin. He was more than concerned about me and the baby. I was ready to throw in the towel because my child was stuck in my birth canal and I had given up hope that I could push him out myself. One of the midwives came over me and asked me if I wanted a C-section. I instantly said yes and begged for it. Austin had to be the one to calm me down and tell me no. He knew that deep, deep down I didn’t want that if I didn’t have to. I knew and he knew that we had come this far and as long as I could hold in there and just finish this out, give it all that I had, I could get our child out if I wanted to. Him and I buckled down for one last round of pushing and let nature take its course.

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A Whale Sighting.

I am officially 33 weeks pregnant and it has been more than a whirlwind of a pregnancy. It has been a rollercoaster, with whiplash and a lack of a seatbelt. I haven’t had many, if any, medical problems with it, so I am blessed in that respect. But the physical toll my body has taken was never explained to me when I took health class. Also, they never told me how much my emotions would change and how much I wish that the mirror didn’t exist, but at the same time love seeing my body morph into something new and special. The body of a mother.

Before I was pregnant, I weighed around 130ish pounds, depending on how many cheeseburgers I consumed recently. The first part of the pregnancy no one prepared me for is that my weight was a normal thing to change first. I didn’t mean to, but with the first trimester being the most hormonally different, I ate more and tended to sleep more often as well. This results in weight gain happening before I was “supposed to”. I can’t explain how hard that was to hear from the midwives that I needed to watch what I ate and even more, try to physically exert myself more. I have never been one to work out all of the time, but even the most mildly physical activity took twice the effort in half the time.

The second trimester for me brought both happiness and hidden depression. I finally started seeing my little bump forming, and even later, the first kicks. That’s such a disturbing and yet magical moment. You feel as though an alien is consuming your body…but you love it. You want it to stop right away because it’s uncomfortable and foreign, but at the same time, it is so reassuring and comforting as well. Although I found that reassuring, I had such a hard time with the “lull” in my pregnancy. I wanted nothing more than to sit in my bed and wait for the holidays to come and my baby shower. I felt as though I had nothing else to look forward to. It was exhausting to me to think of how long my pregnancy was going to last…what most women think is the “best” trimester was my least favorite (thus far).

My third trimester has really been the most physically exhausting. My baby is continuing to grow inside of me, but I feel every day that I am running out of the room for the growth. I have been in constant physical pain in my ribcage, which feels like I just got done doing an intense abs work out, but just in my ribs. It’s horrific to feel helpless and like nothing is going to sooth the pain, because nothing will. Nothing can be done about my rib cage expanding…and it’s not something I can ignore. It drains me, physically and mentally. Along with that, moving and getting around is difficult. I can’t fit into the tight spaces I used to and rolling out of bed is exactly that: rolling in whichever way your body allows you to in order for your feet to hit the ground. I can only imagine that I look like a beached whale helplessly rolling around and grunting.

Although every day I feel like I look more and more like a beached whale in more aspects and angles that one, I wish someone would have been more open and honest with me about what to expect when expecting. Yes, you can read the books and you can read the blogs, but until you have experienced pregnancy, you can’t explain all of the little things that you battle as a woman on a day to day basis.

I battle looking at myself in the mirror. I want to look at the changes and see my baby sticking our from my body, but at the same time, the stretch marks, the tiger stripes, strip me from that happiness. It isn’t that I don’t love the new look…I’m sure I will eventually love them…but right now, I am almost brought to tears looking at them and feeling the little ripples on my back. The idea of wearing a swim suit ever again nauseates me.

You battle the scale. I have refused to look at the scale since I started my second trimester, only because I know it will just torture me. The only time I get on the scale is at my doctor appointments…and I refuse to look at the number at this point. I know I’m not ballooning ( I feel as though my face looks about the same and my arms and ass aren’t huge), but at the same time, if I look, I will only overanalyze my number. I know I’m supposed to gain weight in pregnancy and as long as it’s a healthy amount, in my head I know I’ll be okay. It’s the emotional part of me accepting that I can gain weight and it be okay that is the true battle.

I battle my husband. We don’t mean to argue over stupid things, but the emotional toll a pregnancy takes on a couple is insane. I try hard to not be overdramatic or do unnecessary complaining or crying, but even he knows it’s inevitable that I am going to be more emotional and going through more internally than what he can understand. He does try, and that’s what I have to give him credit for. Even more, we battle in the bedroom. I have a hard time falling asleep and getting comfortable and he wants to stay in bed longer every morning and hit the snooze button 800 times before leaving bed, which leaves me restless and upset. We also battle because I don’t feel as attractive as I used to be. I want nothing more than to be touched and loved, but at the same time, I don’t ever want him to see me naked. It’s a strange feeling that the person I should feel the most comfortable with, I also feel the most disconnected from at times…I am truly thankful that at the end of pregnancy, we will together go into battle, him and his whale wife, into the delivery room and come out with a child that we created.

That’s what pregnancy is all about. Giving up yourself, your emotions, your body in its entirety, your thoughts, and in the end give life to a new creature that you created from your own flesh. It’s an amazing miracle that not only makes me want to vomit thinking about (the pain of delivery and then also the responsibility that will come after) but also makes me get the biggest butterflies in my stomach. This whale is going to be a mother. This whale is creating human life and will never be the same…I will forever be a mother, a nurse, a guardian, and a wife. I am going to be the best whale I can be now and hopefully a more dolphin-like graceful creature in the end.

The Hunger Games

 

Classy title, don’t you think? Yeah. I came up with it all on my own.

“The Hunger Games” is what I call as part of my daily battle. My daily battle with food. The cravings, the need for it, the desire to always dress up my fruit intake with chocolate or frosting, my body’s plea to constantly eat more, even though I’m already full. This is because I’m a food addict.

Haha, yeah laugh it off. But it’s true. I am. I may not look it nor have as bad as a problem as someone I’ve seen on the TLC television show “My 600-pound life.” I’m far from being 600 pounds. But what I do weigh is affected by how my life is going and having the self-control I need to be truly satisfied after a meal.  But just because I don’t weigh a lot doesn’t mean I have a problem. Honestly, it’s something I only discovered recently about myself. I have no self-control, except with things I already know are going to make me sick.

I have Celiac’s Disease, where I can’t eat gluten. If you don’t know what that is, it means I can’t eat bread, pasta, pizza, chicken nuggets, brownies, cookies, drink beer, drink malts, have certain candies…unless those things are specially made to specifically not contain gluten. If I do, my body hates me. Bloating (to the point I can look 4-months pregnant), diarrhea, cramping, nausea, potential vomiting, tired, sweaty…all of these are symptoms. It doesn’t always happen, because if my body hasn’t had to digest it in a long time, it can usually take care of the problem without any side effects. However, if I have too much, too often, I can really hurt myself over time.

Because of my disease, it has become normal in my life to always look at what I eat. Which would make you think I would eat healthier. But that isn’t always the case. I still have the nasty cravings of wanting to eat that greasy McDonald’s burger or ordering Casey’s to-die-for pizza. But instead, I get depressed and I will find things in my apartment that I’ve already bought, GF (gluten free), and will just begin eating. The sad part it, I’m feeding a craving, and not my hunger. I might not be hungry at all, but knowing that just down the street is something so tasty and so close to reach consumes my mind sometimes. It’s similar or worse when I have groceries in my fridge for my boyfriend. He isn’t GF and so he can eat whatever he wants. I usually keep his munchies/goodies out of sight. Out of sight, out of mind, right? That’s the idea.

A friend of mine is going through the similar dilemma I am. We are now sister’s in this when it comes to our eating addiction. Here’s how the vicious cycle works:

  • Our body craves something unhealthy. Example: a non-GF cookie.
  • I tell myself no, I’m going to eat something healthy and sweet instead. Example: a can of peaches.
  • I tell myself I did a good job. But I’m still having that craving…
  • I drink something to fill myself up more, still sweet, because that’s what I’m craving. Example: apple juice.
  • I have now subsided the craving. I’m now full.
  • I am proud of myself! I celebrate and reward myself…………with a cookie (which is GF).

If I look at my calorie intake, or my sugar intake, I have almost doubled the amount…because of a craving. The peaches, apple juice, and my GF reward of a cookie are all now my enemies. BUT I tell myself it’s okay because I won’t be sick…but the long term affect of this is that I’m gaining weight. Not much, but enough that I’ve noticed…and I don’t know how to break the cycle…

I have lots of family members and friends who fight addiction…but I think mine is the worst. Why? Because although smoking or chewing tobacco, drinking alcohol, shooting up cocaine, etc. are all things you can get addicted to and have to go through a detox process with. But they aren’t things needed for your survival. Food is. At some point, all of those people still have to eat. Myself, I can’t “detox” myself from food…I still need it to survive.

This is why I call my addiction “The Hunger Games”. Because no matter what, I lose. If I don’t eat, I could die. If I do eat, I can’t stop. This vicious cycle has begun consuming my life while I consume food in my stomach. The more I think about it, the more it makes me sad…and that makes me want to eat.

The hope is that I do have a sister in this. She does know what I’m going through and we are both trying to lose the weight we don’t want and are trying to keep one another accountable for what we consume. She knows what I want in my life and how I can be successful. I know how she can do it for her. We just can’t see the light for ourselves. Finding that buddy and working together will help to keep us from having to choose to eat the poison berries and die unsuccessful. If we work together, eventually we will be pulled from the games and be victors.

 

An opened letter to the boy that walked away.

I just want you to know that you have changed my life.

 

For the longest time, I could not sleep in my bed. Yes, it has always been my bed. I bought the damned thing. But the day I let you into it, I let you into my heart. The day I bought a new comforter, one that was less feminine and more your style, was the day I gave it the title of “ours”. When you walked away, I closed the door to my bedroom. I don’t think it opened unless their was clothes in that room I needed. Otherwise, it remained shut. I didn’t want to look at the way you had made it before you left that morning.

I now sleep in it peacefully.

For the longest time, I spent hours looking back through messages you sent me. The long texts, the hearts you typed, and how quickly they changed. So quickly that unless I look back at them now, I didn’t notice any difference at the time. But, I also saw how you didn’t show me emotion for a lot of the time, emotion that I deserved when I was trying to treat you right.

Those messages mean nothing now.

For the longest time, I t̶h̶r̶i̶v̶e̶d̶ survived off the love of my friends. The real ones. The ones that stayed with me at night when I was scared to be alone. The ones that went out to dinner with me or at least made sure that I ate…the ones that helped me safely consume alcohol and not text you…or call you, because that’s all I wanted to do.

I have no reason to speak to you now.

For the longest time, I blamed myself. I thought it was all my fault that I was left. I should have told him I loved him more. I should have tried to be more careful about what I ate with my disease…and not showed you the ugly truth about it. I should have let him play his video game more.  All of these thoughts ran through my mind, constantly, like a need for a drug. I wanted nothing more than to take back some of my actions. I thought I could have changed your choice to leave.

It was not my fault.

But I know that nothing I could have done would have changed your mind. It was already made up. It had nothing to do with the fact that I had Celiac’s Disease and I wanted to still feel human and eat what I wanted occasionally. It had nothing to do with the fact that we moved in too quickly and I wanted us to live happily ever after. It had nothing to do with the fact that the last words you said to me while we were dating were “I no longer find you attractive.”

YOU didn’t find me attractive because you couldn’t look past my flaws, my needs, my insecurities. YOU only saw what you wanted to and didn’t want to see anything else. And because of that, YOU left. YOU walked away..and the best part: YOU found another girl while you were with me. Yes, I know you cheated. Yes, I also know it’s not my fault; it’s yours. I did nothing to make you leave. I did everything I needed, showing you how I felt about you. YOU simply walked away.

 

You changed my life. I now am more accepting of others and their flaws and mistakes. I am now happier and healthier being who I am. I am now better about being open with those around me about who I am, where I am at in my life, and what I expect. I am so much better without having someone in my life who did nothing but point out my flaws, mistakes, and short comings. I found myself.

And I live for only myself now.

My dear ex, I hope that you find happiness and find peace with your decisions from your past. You are in mine and I am in yours. I hope that you can look back and be happy how you left your past relationship with me. I hope that when you think of what we used to be, you have no regrets. I hope that you don’t regret hurting me and you don’t regret hurting my family also. Along with that, I hope you feel it was worth it. To walk away and be a coward. To never give me a good explanation and to let me discover everything for myself.

Discover how much of a piece of shit you really are and knowing you’ll never amount to anything more than a liar and a poser.

And as for your new girlfriend, I can say that on my own time, I have typed countless messages to her, sharing with her how I hope she knows that you are fake and that nothing you do is for real. That at any moment, you can walk away and say nothing–leave her with no explanation, like you did to me. However, I have chosen not to. Many times. And I never will. She can figure it out on her own.

 

I had to, and since you walked away, I know that if you ever come back into my life again, I can too.

100 Grand

My beauty is no longer defined by how many likes I can get on social media, by how many times I can get a compliment from random strangers at the bar, or by how much make-up I can cake on my face.

My beauty is not about how I look on the outside. It’s now defined by my acts of kindness and seeing the smiles on the faces of the strangers’ lives I have touched.

The other day, I was walking aimlessly through the aisles at Hy-Vee and I had just had a decent night at work. I like to take around $20 of my earnings after work (I’m a waitress) and buy my groceries for the week I need with that. It’s not always easy, having to buy healthy food on a budget, plus having Celiac’s Disease, but it’s doable. I always choose carefully, but it helps that my boyfriend is simple when it comes to what he likes to eat, so I don’t always have to worry about feeding him. Anyway, I had all of my items I decided to purchase, all healthy, all gluten-free, all under $20. I was hungry, but in no major rush to get home.

Of course, as I get towards the front of the store, so does every other shopper in the building. The lines stretched half way down an aisle or two. Again, I didn’t mind, so I leisurely walked into line, and waited.

I enjoy people watching, so I noticed mothers with small children, holding onto the one item he or she earned by being good in the grocery store. They all clutched hard onto the small piece of chocolate, or tiny toy. I rolled my eyes, noting how my children won’t be spoiled for doing things they should already be doing. I also saw two or three couples, giggling over some joke that made me nauseous, but also happy to see them unable to keep their hands off one another. Not a care in the world. I saw older women and men, impatiently waiting, obviously counting the seconds that it took each check register clerk to ring in each item from a person’s cart.

But one man caught my attention. He stood directly in front of me. His rough, gray and white sprinkled hair was going 35 different directions, and a small bald spot was beginning to show on the back of his head. His clothes were not torn nor old looking, but he had a small bleach stain on the right side seam. His jeans were very dark and his shoes were loosely tied. I nonchalantly glanced into his cart, my creeping skills peaking, noticing he had two bags of chips, a frozen pizza and lastly, two bottles of cheap vodka in his cart. His demeanor, leaning on his cart, was not of annoyance, but more of carelessness. He didn’t mind waiting, but wasn’t enjoying his time in public either.

As soon as I finished looking around at all the random people that lived in the same city as me, all waiting in line around ten at night, I then began looking at the tired employees. They weren’t moving quickly, except for the one manager that quickly noticed the lines gaining more people and the public’s annoyance. He called back twice to other departments to get more people on the registers. Gradually, more employees gathered, typing in passwords to the check-outs, and called to the random people in lines to come to their aisle.

The man in front of me looked at one another and I smiled at him. The seams of his lips tipped upwards, but the smile didn’t touch his lips for more than a second. The lady in front of him pushed past his cart, going to a different line. My line moved forward. The man, still leaning on his cart, shifted forward. Before him was just one other man, around 30 years old, getting feminine products and band-aids, probably two things his girlfriend or wife demanded he get after some argument. He shuffled his feet under his weight, impatient as the sales clerk typed in buttons on the coupon he handed her.

The man in front of me turned around as the person at the register grabbed his bag.

“Go ahead darlin’. You don’t have much anyway.” His voice reminded me of a smoker of 50 years.

“Are you sure?” I asked, staring deep into his eyes, their rich brown color surprising me.

“Sure thing. You ain’t got much.” He said, glancing at my few items I caressed in my hands.

“Well thank you!” I took a step forward, shimmying past his cart. I quickly placed my items on the little black runway thing and got my dollars out from my pocket, anxious to not make him wait too much longer. The register, of course, got angry at the clerk and I waited patiently for manager to come by with the magic card.

As I waited though, I glanced down at the candy that always tempts all customers waiting in line. The “100 Grand” bar stuck out to me, so I grabbed it and placed it on the small pile.

Then I let my beauty stand up. After all my things were bagged, I grabbed my change, reached into my bag, pulled out that bar, and handed it to the man now behind me, carefully lifting his bottles of vodka out of the cart. I placed it in his hand, looked into his dark brown eyes, and said, “thank you sir. Your kindness goes far. Enjoy and have a good night.” His single-toothed smile spread across his lips…but he had nothing to say.

I think I made him speechless.

I didn’t have to flaunt myself to make an impression on this old man, I didn’t have to comment about how vodka doesn’t help whatever he may be going through, and I made sure I thanked him for letting me cut him in line, but I did have to let him know that it made a small difference in my life for him to let me go in front of him and let me get home sooner. It made a difference for him to be compassionate and I had to return it to him.

Yes, it was only a small candy bar. Yes, he probably won’t remember what happened that late night in Hy-Vee. But it made me feel good and feel beautiful, from the inside out, to help someone and to maybe make his night.

Beauty is not how many people tell you how pretty you are and it’s not about the sexiest outfit you own. It’s not about who you know or the model-like shots you see of those girls in magazines. It’s about showing compassion to someone who doesn’t see it often. It’s about making yourself feel good because of things you’ve done to help others. Beauty is in the acts of kindness that not every person on this earth would do.