It's been awhile since I have updated you guys on Winter and her dreaded Breath Holding Spells. If you don't know what they are, you can read about them in our first post describing what they are and what they look like for us HERE.
I have had this lingering feeling that unsettling thoughts and emotions about returning to work are in my near future. I know that I am beyond blessed to get the opportunity to stay home with Winter during the summer, but once I begin to get so used to it, it seems like I am already staring at the end of summer on a calendar. Before I can even blink, I am back to work; 10 weeks is not long enough.
I have written a few blogs on the topic of being a working mother (which I will link below), but this blog feels so much heavier, less optimistic, if you will.
When I wrote this post, my view consisted of the beach, waves, and people enjoying the sunshine and beautiful palm trees. There was absolutely no reason to complain. Except, I keep sitting here thinking what could have been and romanticizing the video clip I had imagined in my mind. You see, about a month ago, I looked over at Winter and something came over me. This emotion that I had never felt before, the longing of another baby. Before, when people would ask, I would cringe at the thought of another child. The idea of it all made me feel sick to my stomach and full of fear. Postpartum depression hit my family like a banshee out of hell and I could not, would not, risk putting myself or my husband through that again. Fear would win in my mind, and for the longest time, I thought our family size of three could be complete.
We are just a few days from our Hawaii trip and couldn't be more excited. Perry has always wanted to go to Hawaii and for his birthday, we decided to take the plunge and book a trip. The timing is perfect because Winter still flies for free. Despite her free flight, it's crazy to think that we are essentially paying the same amount for a two week vacation as we did for a six week one when we went to Cambodia and Thailand back in 2014. It's a tough pill to swallow how much our trip is going to cost, but we know that it will probably be a once in a lifetime trip and we couldn't think of a better time to do it.
In December 2016, I decided to take Love & LaRock on with full steam. I post to Instagram at least six days per week, put a blog post up twice per week, and shoot content every Friday. I have noticed that while Insta-Blogging brings so much joy and has connected me to many wonderful people and brands from all over the world, it’s also had some negative ramifications on my mental state.
I have always been quite the worrywart. It’s probably my least favorite personality trait of mine. I have always heard that worrying can become even more in the forefront of your life once you have kids and that has undoubtedly been proved to be my experience thus far. I have been working very hard to squash the worry bug because I while I think some fear serves purpose, letting it dictate your daily thoughts is not a way that I want to live.
I got my first tattoo when I was 18. I have always loved them and kinda thought I would end up with a sleeve or married to someone with a lot of tattoos. Turns out, I didn’t get as many tattoos as I thought I would and Perry doesn’t have a single one! There was a moment when I thought he might get one. It was right after we got married and were traveling in southeast Asia. He got a rash underneath his wedding ring. It bothered him so much and he teased me that he was allergic to marriage, saying that he may end up getting a ring tattoo. Within a few weeks, the rash cleared up and I haven’t heard a peep about a tattoo since.
I am almost through my entire first bottle of antidepressants. This is a big deal for me. It’s like getting down to the final pills in the first bottle is some type of symbolism that the depression I felt beforehand is just a speckle of dust lying at the bottom the floor, almost entirely obsolete.
Father’s Day is right around the corner and I wanted to do something homemade and super special for Perry. For Mother’s Day, he surprised me with this amazing plant stand out of his grandfather’s old barn wood (view the stand, here). So to keep with the theme, I knew I wanted to do something plant-related.
Perry and I have had our fair share of stressors when it comes to raising Winter. She has breath-holding spells (read more about our experience, here), she has already entered into the tantruming phase of her life, and recently, we ended up completely stuck and lost on a bus in the middle of the redwood forest with a very car sick,puking child without cell reception. I know when difficult parenting situations arise, the panic, pressure and chaos can easily take over, and it’s hard to keep your cool whether you are alone or with your partner.
Every day that I leave for work, I wonder what Winter is doing, what it must be like for Perry to get to work from home and if I am doing the right thing for my family. I’ve opened up before (here), that while I would love to stay home, it’s not a reality for me right now (dang those student loans). Being a working mother means that I have limited time with Winter and the last thing I want to do on the weekends is run errands with a toddler in tow.
Well, it's official. We are going to Hawaii this summer and we couldn't be more excited. The travel day is about 10 hours from Colorado to Hawaii (including one layover). We have made several airplane trips with Winter since she has been born and have definitely learned what keeps her busy without the use of screen-time.
Take a peak at the list below to view my favorite tried and true travel toys for toddlers.
A few months ago I would have given anything to be able to say that I was happy. Now, a week before Mother’s Day, I finally can. I remember during one of my meditations a random thought bubbled up about how on this Mother’s Day, I didn’t want anything else in the world other than to experience a true sense of contentment within my heart. A card, flowers, candy or even a special meal prepared by my loving husband just wouldn’t do. In that moment of clarity I experienced while meditating, I decided that for this Mother’s day I was going to love myself and do something that I probably should have done months ago.
Today, you are a year and a half years old. I am having a hard time starting this letter because I have so much to say, but I am not entirely sure I have the vocabulary to convey it.
I remember writing you a letter the day before you were born (you can read it, here). I was so eager to meet you, little one. When I wrote it, I wasn’t feeling apprehensive about the labor or delivery. I remember the words just pouring out of me. While I typed, I experienced this cool, calm, and collected ease and energy pass through my body. Now, here you are a year and a half later, and that easy-going, serene-like energy is passing through me again as I am typing this today.
Next month is National Mental Health awareness month and after experiencing my own struggle with depression/OCD I wanted to help bring light to this topic in every way that I can. Over the next month, I will be highlighting ways that you can get involved to #normalizePPD. This post features my new friends Ziraffe, who are helping me to raise money to donate to a charity I believe in with my whole being. It’s alarming that “1 in 5 Americans will be affected by a mental health condition in their lifetime and every American is affected or impacted through their friends and family” so keep reading to learn more about Ziraffe and how you too can get involved. (Source: NAMI:National Alliance on Mental Health).
I was a much better mother before I had kids because my imaginary children were so much better behaved and more predictable in my mind. I have a higher degree in child, family and school psychology and, while I learned how complicated little ones really are in my studies, I thought that I would be way more prepared to deal with any obstacle or curveball that came my way. As a psychologist who works with kids on a daily basis, I have never pretended to have it all figured out, but I did have some ideas about how to approach difficult situations. When I was around other parents observing them deal with tantrums, whining, or irrational behavior, I would think, in a non-judgmental way (or maybe with slight judgement), oh, if they just did this or this, that would quickly solve the problem.
I get this knot in my stomach when people ask me if we are going to have another baby. It’s that forward thinking type of question our society asks anyone who has made a major life decision, such as “Have you set a date for the wedding?” after someone gets engaged or “What are you going to major in?” after someone has graduated from high school. I’ve been asked these types of questions my whole life so you think I would be used to it by now, or, at the very least, come up with an automatic response that I could say to appease someone when asked a question like this.
When I was 14 I dreamt about owning a Ford F-150 truck. I’ not entirely sure why I wanted to own one but I know it had something to do with the good ol’ American nostalgia I experienced as a kid riding in my grandfather’s truck. I loved being seated up high with the windows down and the music blasting on the open Oklahoma country roads. To make this dream a reality, I got a job as a lifeguard and saved every nickel and dime I had. By the time I was 17 (with the help of my generous parents) I was living my teenage dream and driving my F-150 around town with so much pride. It wasn’t red like Winter’s little Ford push cart, but it was mine, and I can recall feeling a sense of girl empowerment, a feeling that I don’t think I had ever been attuned to before getting my truck. It wasn’t because I had a truck per se, but because I had a dream, worked hard and achieved it. Plus, it helped that I burned the stereotype down in my town that trucks were only for boys, because, hello, NO they are not!
I am trying to find the balance between paying attention to my thoughts and the source of these thoughts. I have been consistently practicing mindfulness, taking time to pause, breathe and truly slow down.
But out of nowhere, I have been feeling a lot of pressure located around my heart and feeling faint of breath, almost as if I am drowning. It's puzzling to me that I can't quite pinpoint the root of it all. I know it will pass but for now, I am getting by simply by visualization my happy place which happens to be in greenhouse, surrounded by beautiful plants with Winter.
We've had a few questions about Winter and her breath holding spells, so I decided to write a little bit about what we've been experiencing.
The first time it happened, Perry, Winter and I were in the bathroom while she was taking a bath. She had just turned one a few weeks before. She was overtired and we could tell she was a bit agitated. Winter kept tossing out her toy boat and after the tenth time of retrieving it, I simply put it behind my back because it was clearly becoming a source of frustration. This sent her over the edge. She let out a yell but then looked like she was silently crying, held her breath, arched her back and her face and lips began to turn blue.
At 16 months, Winter is beginning to add new words to her vocabulary on a daily basis. We are trying to raise her bilingual in Spanish and English and just the other day she said her first Spanish word, "Auga" which means water. My heart melted into one giant puddle. I love that she is learning two languages. Winter has also learned how to voice when she disagrees with you by saying, "No, No" (sometimes even with a sassy head nod and finger shake). I may be in big trouble over here guys. :)
Since posting about my postpartum hell on the blog (here), I found out that the number one leading cause of death in the first year of mothers is suicide (source). This statistic shatters me. We have to change this! We have to speak out.
I never in a million years could have imagined the amount of women who not only read my postpartum experience but also personally reached out to me through direct messages, emails, texts and comments.
I really want to respond to each of you. You deserve to hear that I see you. I hear you. In the meantime, here are some common questions that I have been asked since that post.
It’s taken me one year, three months, twenty-nine days and 7 hours to finally write about my postpartum experience. I know that every type of funk that comes with postpartum depression is equally as awful due to the anxiety, extreme sadness, fear and rage that accompanies it. The type that showed up for me ultimately shook me to my core and it’s gut-wrenchingly hard and embarrassing to talk about. Hence the reason it’s taken me so long to even be able to type it on paper.
Negative self-talk surrounds me. I am not immune to it but I am fighting to oppose it viciously. I look into the mirror and see flaws, things I want to chance, things that make me feel less than. But do I dare verbalize them, no? I have a duty you see. My duty is to expose the tiny ears around me that love will always win. Love for yourself, your body, your beauty and even more, all your perceived short comings. My daughter grew inside of me and now I have this beautiful baby, this tiny beacon of hope that is relying on me to help her to fill it up with light, positivity and self-worth.
We tried to take Winter to a local restaurant this past Friday. When we showed up, I thought it would be a blessing that it wasn't too crowed when we arrived. Nope, I was wrong. By the time the appetizer had come, Winter had played with everything in my purse, climbed on top of every empty seat, grabbed the squirt bottle from the server's station and screamed in protest a few times. Needless to say, we chugged our beers, pounded the app and bailed as quickly as we could with a huge sigh of relief when we made it back home. Some moments, I feel like I am raising a wild animal.
Today is my one year anniversary from returning to work after my maternity leave ended. I was able to stay home for 14 weeks in total, one week leading up to the birth (she was nine days overdue) and 13 weeks after Winter was born. Of those weeks, I got paid for a whopping two weeks (which is a different story to share). But now, my toddler is sitting in her new Skip Hop high chair (that fabulously converts into a toddler chair by the way---more on the high chair at the bottom of the post), and I can't help but think back to that first day that I left her at home to go back to work.
There have been far too many blog posts featuring Winter and I playing on my bed. I can't complain, the cuddles while looking outside to our very own snow globe have been amazing this season. Yet, Perry and I can't seem to stop talking about our plans for this summer.
Her personality is blooming each day. There are so many things I want to remember about this time so I decided to post a series of snaps that Brittany got while we were just hanging out by the stairwell in our house. She kept playing peak-a-boo with Brittany and would hide behind the plant and jump out while saying, BOO! These photos really sum up my baby girl right now. She is playful, confident, sweet as can be and oh so feisty!
It seems like everyone I know is having a baby this spring and the baby showers this month are in full swing. I practically cried through my entire baby shower (I blame the hormones!) because I received some pretty meaningful gifts. I thought I would share some of my favorite shower gifts or "just because" gifts for your mama friends. Happy Saturday everyone!
From painting, to learning piano, and now with writing, I am always trying to push myself creatively. When I became pregnant with Winter, I began posting to Instagram frequently and it opened up a whole new world. Being one of the first out of my friends in Colorado to get pregnant, it was refreshing to connect and talk to other mamas, while honing my newfound joy and creative endeavor, photography.