Life After Baby, One Year​ Postpartum

     I’ve been a mom a little over a year now, such a long, exhausting and beautiful year. Calvin is fifteen months and life after birth has been quite interesting. Between the sleepless nights and long playful afternoons, motherhood has definitely gotten the best of me. It’s nothing that I imagined but definitely is not what most people made it out to be “ the end of my life”. I recall this past year being the beginning of my new life. One that I would choose over and over again.

   When we brought Calvin home for the first time Ruben and I were scared and we had no idea what life would look like for us now that Calvin was here. We were clueless when it came to baby basics like folding a stroller or the fact that you can simply use the car seat in a cab without carrying the base everywhere. Ha! I still laugh at that. The big and small things about parenting transform you, they lead you to make hard decisions and also many sacrifices.

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     Entering motherhood has changed the way I see myself and everything around me. It has set my eyes on things more important and has been a breath of fresh air in every way. Children have a way of teaching you to be present no matter how distracted you are, they challenge and grow you in ways that you never saw yourself growing. People ask me all the time ” how has motherhood changed you?” and as I say said goodbye to 2018, I’ve reflected on some things that have grown me and things I’ve learned this past year, these are just a few of them.

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Words of Affirmation

      I’ve never been someone who felt loved by words, it’s the love language all the way at the bottom of my list. Before being a mom, I was an “acts of service” and “quality time person”, but now words mean so much to me. If you don’t know this already, motherhood comes with lots of insecurities. I think the last time I felt this insecure was when I became a wife. I wasn’t prepared for how emotionally, mentally and physically being a mom takes a toll on you. It seems like all you ever get is criticism. “You’re not doing this”, “ you look tired all the time”, “ you didn’t breastfeed?”, “wow, he’s in daycare?, I would never leave my kid in daycare”. All of these words have discouraged me, but I’ve also had people encourage me in this season. I realized how grateful I am for words now. They have a way with lifting you up, especially in a season where I have no idea what the hell I’m doing. This is one of the reasons I started blogging, I want to encourage other moms and others that could relate to me in whatever season they are in.

Postpartum Depression

    It’s real, very real and very scary for moms. As your body tries to recover after birth, your mind and emotions also try to do the same. According to doctors, Postpartum Depression happens days or weeks after a mom gives birth. It can be due to the hormonal drop you experience after birth but also due to lack of sleep, worry, anxiety, and even lack of social interaction. I can honestly say that my postpartum depression happened right after giving birth. As I shared before Calvin was premature and therefore I only got a few minutes to hold him before they took him away to the NICU. I spent two days in the hospital trying to pump but had very low supply and I spent two weeks going back and forth to the hospital to see Calvin there since he couldn’t come home with us. I cried a lot, my mood would change often and I was mentally exhausted.

     When we finally brought him home I think it hit me harder. I couldn’t handle the lack of sleep, Calvin crying, being alone and feeling like I was failing as a mom by not breastfeeding. A lot of days I would call Ruben crying to come home from work because I didn’t want to be with Calvin. If he would cry for hours, I would go to my room and also cry. I told a friend months after, that during those months I felt like I understood why very often moms are inclined to hurt their babies and it’s scary. When I felt scared of myself I would cry out to God to help me be calm and give me the wisdom to care for Calvin. I was thankful that my family and friends helped us a lot. My mom would sleep over to help me with him so I could sleep, friends would come over to visit and bring food and Ruben did all the night shifts, I really learned to depend on people in this season but most importantly in God. He really kept me sane and covered my mind and thoughts in days when I felt at my lowest.

The Supermom Mentality

     This “supermom mentality” is what I think moms develop after giving birth. It’s the ability to believe that you can conquer anything or smack the hell out of someone who hurts your kid. ( but I got Jesus… so he holds me down) I feel like when you become a mom you feel like you can do anything! It’s like a supernatural strength that you grow and it comes from knowing that you have someone to care for. I don’t have time to complain about what needs to get done, I just have to do it. If I need to go out and have no one to watch Calvin, I still have to go even with the stroller, diaper bag, and a tantrum baby. If you’re a city mom, you know that’s not easy. However, this mentality is why I work full-time, attend grad school, volunteer in ministry with youth, and blog. I feel like I can do it all, but I can’t. I think I’m learning to have balance, it’s great that I’ve developed this sense of strength but it can be difficult trying to do it all. This mentally also means knowing it’s okay if I can’t do everything. I can be a super mom doing what I can and the rest leaving it in God’s hands trusting that He will do what I can’t.

Faith

    This one has been the hardest one. As someone who was involved in church so much, not being in the community for the first three months after birth really disconnected me from God more than I already was. I was so exhausted and angry that things were so hard at the beginning with Calvin that reading my word and praying was the last thing I wanted to do. I’ve struggled to make time for God and my spiritual growth this past year and this is the most important piece of my life. Having Calvin has shaken the way I see Jesus and his love for me. I understand it more and value His love but I also see the weight of my responsibility as a mom. If I’m not growing in Jesus, I cannot reflect Jesus to my son. Ultimately if I’m not growing I’m dying spiritually, so it’s easier for me to act on my flesh. Which means I’ll be impatient with Calvin or yell at Ruben for failing at something small, which I’ve seen myself do a lot this past year. I need Jesus more than ever now and I desire to grow more in Him more than anything.

Postpartum Body

    I’ve always struggled with my appearance, after giving birth my body started changing. I definitely put on more weight. I’m constantly changing my outfits and I only wear high-waisted jeans to avoid the stomach pouch that I hate so much. A lot of moms struggle with their body after birth. We all echo the same questions, “what will my body look like after?”, “how can I get rid of stretch marks?”, “will my boobs sag? “, ” will my spouse still find me attractive?”. All of these are real questions and insecurities, I feel all of them. I’m learning every day to embrace my body and be proud of it. Some days I can feel really beautiful, other times not so much. This is what encourages me ” I gave birth to a whole baby!” that’s one hell of a power! If you’re reading this and you can relate, I want to challenge you to cover yourself in truth and affirmation. You are beautiful and honorable. Yes, your body will change, it won’t be the same again and that’s okay, embrace it. I want to increase my confidence through self-care and eating better for this new year. What goals do you have for your self-care? Body? Mind?

Working Mother

    Going back to work felt so strange after Calvin. The night before I went back to work I rocked him to sleep and cried. I was worried about leaving him and who would take care of him, I felt guilty about not staying home with him and transitioning back into the real world was difficult. Adjusting was so emotional that two months after going back full time to work, I went part-time. As a first-time mom, I just didn’t know how to be apart from Calvin, all I thought about was him and it was even worse when he was finally at daycare. I think this transition is so hard because so many factors play a role in it. You might have paid maternity leave or you may not and only have a few weeks with your newborn. If you’re nursing, you’ll be pumping at work and also trying to keep up with your workload, which can become exhausting. Maybe you won’t have a family member to watch your newborn and that will make it hard for you to trust someone else.

     For me it was both, my family was too far and after a while of pumping at work, I couldn’t keep up with my workload and pumping and my supplies kept dropping which means my milk supply was at its lowest. Being a working mom is bittersweet though. I get to be outside my home and talk to adults ( which is something you get very little of when you’re a stay at home mom in the city during the winter) You also get to miss your kids and spend time with yourself. As a mom you need that often, I think that’s how I survived this first year. Work gave me freedom in some way and it allowed me to care for Calvin in a healthy way that meant I needed to trust God more with my son.

Friendships 

      I’ve been really grateful for all the friends I’ve had in this season. I remember moms sharing with me about many of their friends slowly spending less and less time around after they became moms and this can be real for many mothers. Motherhood is lonely sometimes, especially if your closest friends aren’t moms. The truth is life happens and you’re in a different season as them. That’s something we can’t change. In this season, in all honesty, my attitude is this “ if I haven’t seen you in months or heard from you, no hard feelings but I’m not looking for you.” Yup, it sounds salty but I’m just not in a place to seek after friendships that aren’t around. I can’t pick up and go as I please like before, now I have to wait for Ruben to get home or find someone to watch Calvin. Invites to hangouts?, I barely get those and I’ve come to be okay with it. It’s about being grateful for those that are around and understanding that things change. God has a way of providing people in your life when you need them.

    I haven’t lacked friendships nor in people watching Calvin so I can go to school or go on dates with hubby. He has placed specific people to serve me without feeling like I needed to give something back.  I have so much going on that mentally I just don’t have the energy to pursue friendships right now like I once did. Perhaps it’s just a season but I’m learning to value friendships more and desire ones that value my family and build me up.

Loving Your Partner 

     Keeping up with your marriage is just as important as caring for your children. It needs to be nurtured and loved. Trust me, nothing about doing that is easy with a baby. After Calvin all I wanted to do was rest, bedtime meant time for sleep. For a while, my husband felt like we were co-parenting or just roommates. Yup, that bad. I slowly realized that it was unloving of me to not make time to love and date my husband. Children should not change the way you love your spouse, in fact, it should increase your desire to serve, love and create spaces for you both to spend time together. I can truly say that I have grown a deeper love for my husband after having Calvin. He is one heck of a father and husband, and I’m grateful to have someone who fathers my son so well. Those late nights when Calvin is crying his eyes out, he’s the one getting up just so I can sleep enough to go to work the next day. I have to constantly remind myself that my husband and I are one together and he also desires to be desired and affirmed.

     I hope to continue caring for my marriage, going on more dates, affirming my husband with gratitude and of course killing the “ I’m tired “ excuse to avoid sex. Sex is a beautiful thing within marriage, God desired for us to be intimate in this way. I truly believe that it’s important for you both to continue pursuing each other and displaying gratitude for each other. Thanking your husband for waking up earlier to stay with the baby and letting you sleep in is something to acknowledge and be thankful for, not brushed off by saying ” well, you’re just doing what you should be doing because you’re a dad now” (which I’ve thought so many times). We were able to survive this by acknowledging that we both were clueless and we needed each other to survive a lot of the struggles of parenting.

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I have so much to say about life after Calvin but I’m thankful I got to grow in each one of these areas and also learn things about myself. I pray that they would speak to you and also prepare you if you’re a mom to be or a new mom. If you’re a new mom, how has that been for you? Leave a comment, I’d love to know.

 

love,

Transparent city mama

Christmas Gift Guide for Mom and Kids

Christmas is finally here! I’m so excited for this Christmas, it’s the first Christmas that Calvin is actively moving around the house and baby talking his life away. I have so many plans for our family this season and of course I can’t forget the gifts. I wanted to share with you guys some of our favorite things in case you’re looking for gifts to get the kiddos or a mommy friend. I’ve chosen Calvin’s top faves and my favorites. 

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Christmas Gift Guide for Kids

1.My B Toys:

This is Calvin’s favorite toy right now, the whacky ball. He loves playing with small items and anything in motion. This toy is perfect for sensory development and repetition. The toy has a mirror background that reflects the motion of the balls through the maze. Can’t forget his favorite plane. My B Toys has so many amazing toys, so be sure to check them out. 

http://www.mybtoys.com/toys/

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2. Hape:

I put this toy on Calvin’s birthday wish list and it’s just wonderful. Calvin loves the small balls, he crawls around the house with them in his hands and has learned about sounds when the balls drop onto the xylophone. They’ve helped him a lot with his motor skills. The other thing he got was this wood bike, I ride him around our home with it and he loves it. I can’t wait for him to learn to ride it on his own. This is such a great gift for toddlers. 

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3. Books:

Right now I have two favorite book brands, ” Canticos” and ” BookRoo“.

If you’re Spanish and grew up singing ” Mi Burrito Sabanero” you are in for treat. Canticos has created their own version in English and Spanish for kids and you can even download the app and sing or read along to the book.

https://www.amazon.com/My-Little-Donkey-Burrito-Canticos/dp/0996995935/?tag=canticosworld-20

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As always BookRoo has my heart, they are a month subscription for children books. I think it’s a wonderful gift for any child, baby and up. The best part? you don’t even have to wrap the books, they’re already wrapped for you! surprise!

https://bookroo.com/

The Jesus Story book: We got this one for Calvin’s baby shower and I treasure it. We asked for the bilingual version and it’s amazing. definitely a sweet gift during Christmas time.

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4. Teepee:

This tent is from Cozy Culture and it’s my favorite part of Calvin’s room. I love that I can change the style of it and love watching Calvin play in it. We spend mommy and me moments in it always. Cozy Culture sells the tent and mat separately. If you don’t have a tent, you want to get one for Christmas!

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5. Puzzles: 

I love these puzzles by Melissa and Doug, their so fun and perfect for toddlers. This is great for teaching toddlers to identify shapes, colors and matching. They have so many different puzzles for kids and cheap too.

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6. Art:

” My first Crayola”  are products by Crayola intended for babies and toddlers. I love both of these products. The ” Mess Free touch lights” is like a light board. so perfect for keeping toddlers entertained while it being mess free. I love that you can just use your finger to create art. The ” Washable Finger paint” kit is perfect for introducing baby to paint. Calvin love painting but that gets messing quickly. The kit comes with paint, apron, and drawing paper. However, you can easly get paper, non toxic paint and any shirt you’re okay with baby messing up.

Christmas guide For the mama’s:

1.Jewelry:

My amazing and talented friend started a small business along with her mama and their jewelry is to die for. They’re handcrafted made of clay and each inspired by their favorite art pieces and Dominican culture. These are perfect for any mama friend or even for your own wish list. Be sure to check out their website & instagram account.

https://www.agustandambar.com/

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2. Market Bag from Apolis:

I love, love this bag. It’s my go to bag when I make trips to the supermarket or a quick run to Target. I love how much space and weight it can hold. Definitely a bag I recommend any mama to get. 

https://store.apolisglobal.com/collections/bags

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3. Fanny pack:

This summer I purchased my first fanny pack and it’s probably my favorite one ever! I loved that I got to wear it all summer and use it as my goto bag when running errands. I bought mines from Fawn Design, they have so many colors and also have other bags. 

https://fawndesign.com/products/fawny-pack

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4. Spa Date:

What woman does not love a spa date? I definitely would gift any mama a spa date. Right now the most talked about spot is called ” Sojo Spa. Club“. I hear the view is amazing and such a great place to relax. It’s located in NJ for all my city mamas. You can book them a facial or massage also.

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5. Backpack:

So I’ve been trying to get a comfy backpack for school since September and recently I stumbled upon this Nike backpack! And I LOVE IT! I always go for girly back packs but the straps are always so thin and mess with my back! So this has been a game changer for me. I can carry my laptop, books and even carry Calvin’s stuff with me to work and it’s easy on my back. If you’re a traveling mama, yup.. you want this bag.

https://www.nike.com/t/radiate-backpack-b191xP

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6. Coffee Mug: 

I am not a coffee lover, but motherhood has made me one. I had a IG mama introduce me to the ” Keep Cup’ and I needed to have it! It’s super cute, glass and the perfect to go cup and reusable!  Such a great gift for the coffee lover mama.

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https://us.keepcup.com/

7. Essential Oils/ Diffuser: 

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This is on the top of my Christmas list! I’ve been so blessed by essential oils through my friend Sam and learning about all the benefits of using them has convinced me that I need them and a diffuser in my life. I use essential oils for my anxiety, you’ll always find a roll on oil at my desk. Plus you can use them on your kids for their tummies, to help them breathe better and clear the air.

https://www.youngliving.com/vo/#/shopping-cart?returnUrl=https:%2F%2Fwww.youngliving.com%2Fen_US%2Fproducts

 

I hope this gift guide was filled with things you would enjoy and purchase, have more suggestions for gifts? Leave a comment! I would love to add more things to share. 

 

love, 

transparentcitymama

Motherhood and Calling

      I’ve always struggled with understanding my purpose in life. For a very long time I felt without meaning until I met Jesus. The questions I had about life soon began to have answers and the big question of “What do I do with my life?” became clearer. Over the few years that I’ve been walking with Jesus, I have grown to love things that honestly, I didn’t care to much about before Him. When I began to understand the Christian faith and how it would change every area of my life, the word “Calling” was mentioned a lot. That word was just as confusing as the word “purpose”. If I don’t know what I’m called to do in life than what am I doing with my life? (my inner voice constantly asking this question) I still ask myself this question sometimes when I’m filled with doubt.  But over the years I’ve learned that as believer I have one call, to love God with all my heart, soul and mind, to serve him for all my days and to tell others the good news of Jesus. However, God gives us gifts and affections for things that lead us to either invest our time in or he uses them for different seasons in our life.

      I can’t recall the day I knew I wanted to work and serve young girls. I think that desire and vision grew over time. It grew from my own experiences as a young girl but also from interreacting with younger women. I’d like to say that God has allowed me to speak into the lives of women of whom some I’ve known for a season, others I’ve known for a while and some I just met for a moment. Each one of them were always drawn to me and every time I had a moment with them I felt so much joy. I enjoy hearing women share their stories and encouraging them. I enjoy it enough that it inspires me and makes me feel like finally I found my “calling”.

      I have two things that inspire me, my job and my son Calvin. This week I shared with someone why I’m not a stay at home mom, trust me I’ve thought about it. I went part time at work last year after having Calvin and I tried to budget however I could to be able to stay at home. But I didn’t feel that God wanted that for me in this season, he wanted me for something more. I didn’t desire enough to stay home; when I did desire too it came from fear. Fear of someone else caring for Calvin. Financially we also would have not been able to sustain our family and I missed being at work. Sometimes I wonder if maybe God has been keeping me from staying home in order to keep me from making my son an idol or perhaps its only to prepare me for what he has for me in the future. I will never know, but I do acknowledge that he has given me a heart for youth and women. I desire to help them grow, teach them and love them through every experience of life they go through. Most importantly I want them to know about God, the God that saved me of my own self.

    It’s been hard finding a balance between being a mom and my calling. I spend a lot of time at a high school working with youth and often that can be overwhelming. I find      myself a lot of times being too exhausted to even have the energy to play with Calvin. Weeks like these really make me ask God whether it’s worth being away from my him. But then I have weeks that are amazing, and I have a break through with a student or they ask me a question about God, that’s when I remember why I want to do this, whether it’s for a season or a life time. As a mom I fear that ministry would keep me away from Calvin and that he would resent me for it. Our family is all about ministry, (I did marry the guy that wants to be a Pastor. Ha!)

       My hope is to invite Calvin into what I love to do, and I have. I bring him Around my students, I’ve brought him to the times I’ve led devotionals for young girls and the girls I invest in get to spend time with him. That’s where I think I find balance, when both of the things that inspire me collide. I have the oppurtunity to disciple young people and also the responsibility to care for my son and his soul. Both equally important but I don’t believe I should neglect my responsibilities with my son and family over my calling. They are my first ministry, what good would it be to spend all my time working with youth and helping them grow, if my home is not growing?

       I pray that my time away from Calvin isn’t in vain, I hope that this season would be a time of growth for myself as a mom and a follower of Jesus. Nothing about your calling is easy, it’s sacrificial and takes time that often we don’t want to give up. Trust me, I would often much rather be with Calvin than at work, but this is the season God has called me too. I want to be able to use everything I do to honor him and to encourage others, it’s one of the reasons I started blogging. This season has brought me so much joy but also hard circumstance, praise God that he is faithful enough to walk us through them.

     My encouragement to you, whatever season God has called you too right now embrace it. You are in it for a reason, it serves a purpose whether you see it or not. Nothing about your calling right now should make you feel like you should be doing more. It’s about what are you doing with where you are right now?  If you’re a stay at home mom, you are doing something impactful and investing in your home and children. If you’re a working mom, you’re providing for your family while managing to serve and love them. If you’re a blogger, use your platform to honor God and allow your voice to be heard by others. Whatever you’re doing right now, is exactly what you should be doing.

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The Muddy Puddles Project

Last week I decided that I needed a day to spend with Calvin. Being a full time worker and student has been very overwhelming to say the least. I’m either at work or anxiously at home waiting for him to go to bed so I can start homework. I feel like often I’m too tired to give him the energy he needs from me, he’s crawling, standing, grabbing everything insight and I’m just sitting on the couch trying to catch a breath of air to let go of the emotional load I carry from work often. A few weeks ago I was invited to an event taking place in “The Little Gym” which is located on the Upper West side. They were having an event to celebrate the the launch of Peppa’s Muddy Launch Party. But before I tell you about the party I have to tell you about the charity behind it called “Muddy Puddles Project” 

The Muddy Puddles Project is a celebration of children and childhood, it is the shift towards letting go of the everyday stress and finding the fun in all the messy things.

( Lord knows I needed to hear the story behind this project. I’m always freaking out over messes! Just keeping it real with y’all. )

” It was inspired by Ty Campbell, a little boy who absolutely LOVED Peppa Pig and dreamed of jumping in muddy puddles just like her when his cancer was cured.  The project embodies the act of kids being kids in honor of those who can’t. Ty passed away back in 2012 and he is finally free to jump on muddy puddles and be a kid.

At its core, The Muddy Puddles Project is a vehicle to remind parents to stop sweating the small stuff; but it is also a fundraising platform for the Ty Louis Campbell (TLC) Foundation in support of childhood cancer research.  In 2017, The Muddy Puddles Project became the official charity partner of Peppa Pig, enabling the nonprofit to meet more families, far and wide, and raise awareness for childhood cancer.” ( Taken from their website)

At the event we got to meet Ty’s mother, what a brave woman she is and I admired her courage to start something so amazing that speaks so profoundly to parents. I’m constantly complaining about Calvin’s messes or avoiding putting food in front of him so he won’t through it everywhere. And here I was being told to embrace those messes because the reality is that many children don’t even have the chance to be just kids. I think as a new parent I’m learning about picking my battles wisely. Do I really want to stress over peas being all over the floor? or the fact that Calvin got his shirt dirty? When I get the chance to watch my son be a kid, make messes, laugh, jump, cry and give me a million kisses throughout the day.

This event reminded me why I needed this day with him, yes I love my job and I’m enjoying school but I want to take in every part of Calvin for as long as I can. I don’t want to waste my time with him stressing over things that I can’t control without controlling him. I want him to be a kid for as long as he can and I want to enjoy it.

So if your like me, stop sweating the small things, let your children make a mess. Join them in the mess and enjoy it.

These are a few pictures I took of the day, we also got a really cool gift bag filled with goodies.

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Also about “The Little Gym” 

“The Little Gym is the world’s premier enrichment and physical development center for children ages 4 months through 12 years. Programs offer children a Springboard to Life’s Adventures by using movement-based learning and imaginative play to help build the confidence and skills needed at each stage of childhood.” Be sure to check out their website for more info.

One year later…#Nicumom

September was #Nicuawareness month and also Calvin’s first birthday. I spent a lot of time reflecting on his birth story. Since it’s been a year, I felt like I could share a few things about my experience as a NICU mom. For a first time mom, I often wish this wouldn’t be my pregnancy story. But it was and it was painful. So here is a bit of my story with Calvin.

   I had a few people ask about whether we had planned to get pregnant and the answer is no, we didn’t. It was a rough season for us in our marriage and getting pregnant was the last thing I thought could occur. But God thought otherwise. Each time we got new pictures of Calvin reality would hit us, we were about to be parents no matter the condition of our marriage and the bigger reality was that God was in control of it all. Watching each sonogram reminded me that God was knitting Calvin in my womb and did not require my help. He just required that I trust him. He had planned this moment even before I was born and He had planned for Calvin to be born for this exact season whether we were ready or not. I’d like to think now that God’s plan was perfect, I had it wrong when I thought that Calvin would be the joy we needed for our marriage because what God was going to teach us was that we needed Him more than ever. Our joy alone could only come from Him and only He could heal what sin had broken.

“Perhaps you were born for such a time as this.” – Esther 4:14

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Part Two

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During my 18 week appointment, I really got to see Calvin’s growth. We got a perfect heartbeat and even got to see a little hand. What was such a beautiful moment quickly got tainted by fear. The sonogram technician finished taking a look at Calvin and said: “ your cervix is a little short, I’m gonna run this by the doctor”. I could feel that that wasn’t good. The doctor shared that my cervix was a lot shorter and I was at high risk of going into preterm labor. I’m not sure I really understood what she meant and I didn’t know what questions to ask. So when I got home I did the one thing I was told not to do ever, I Googled. I started googling what it meant to have a short cervix, reading about moms that had miscarriages later in their pregnancies and some said that their babies were born too early so they had to stay in the NICU for a while. I could feel my heart fill with fears of that being my case. I had this whole thing planned out and right now it wasn’t going according to my plan. I became frustrated and upset. I wasn’t understanding why things weren’t going my way. For six weeks I would have to get checked and be on a treatment to make sure my cervix was growing instead of shortening. Those weeks were the most miserable weeks of my life but I did get to see Calvin every-time, which gave me something to look forward too. At the end of those weeks, the doctor would determine if I would need to get stitched or continue the treatment hoping that I would make it. Eventually, my cervix grew enough and everything seemed clear. I mean she even said it “ if you were to go into early labor, it definitely wouldn’t be because of your cervix”. Welp, at 33 weeks I began having contractions and I was definitely going into labor.

During this time I felt like God was going to allow this pregnancy to play out the way He wanted it too and this is where I couldn’t say that no matter what happens He was still good.

But God is still good no matter how I feel towards Him, my affections for him at the moment don’t change who He really is good.

Part Three

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      At this point we had spent two days in the hospital, I was monitored all day and given shots in order to delay my contractions but nothing was stopping them. Calvin was coming and I was under extreme distress. The doctors really encouraged that I take the epidural in order to be able to have a vaginal birth. The hours before the delivery time were a little crazy, my body was exhausted, I couldn’t eat food and I was connected to so many wires that I could barely move. Right before giving birth, there was only one nurse helping between two delivery rooms and the doctor had only a few mins to deliver Calvin and move on to the next room.

After my water broke and my cervix dilated from 3 cm, 5 cm and quickly to 9 cm, at this point it was time. The doctor put on her gloves and she said “ it’s gonna be okay, you’ll do great. When I say push, you push and hold. Push and hold.” Those 15 minutes felt like hours, the doctor was cheering me on the whole time, my mom was a hot mess and my husband, he was recording, crying and talking a lot. Lol

But then we heard him. We heard his cry for the first time. That’s the moment when you feel like the whole world stops, what was once growing in you was now physically here. Calvin was slimy and dirty, his shiny black hair filled his head and back and everything about him was wrinkly; he was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen. This was truly love at first sight. I got the chance to hold him and tell him how much he was loved over and over.

Finally, the anticipation was over, he had arrived. We got our first family picture but just as quick as that shot was over, Calvin would be taken away to be cared for at the NICU. That night there was no private room available for Ruben to stay with me. So I stayed alone sharing a room with a mama that had her baby. This would be the loneliest night of my life, still a year later that night leaves a sting.

All you saints! Sing your hearts out to God! Thank him to his face! For his anger is for a moment, but across a lifetime there is only love. The nights of crying your eyes out give way to days of laughter. Psalm 30:5.

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 After a week I was done. I didn’t want to talk to God, I was bitter and honestly, I didn’t want to hear that “ God had a purpose for this” because what I was feeling was abandoned and unloved by Him. I remember Ruben once saying to me “ I know this sucks, it hurts and it feels unfair, but we need to find things to be grateful for so that we can survive this.”.

And there were things to be grateful for:

•Calvin’s condition wasn’t so complicated. He just simply was early.
•We were never, ever alone at the hospital, people stopped by to bring us food and keep us company.
•We were learning to care for Calvin from the nurses who were attending us.
•Our home was not set up for Calvin yet, so this gave us time to prepare for our little boy.

 

We had things to be grateful for and I was not seeing them in midst of our pain. No matter how angry I was with God at that moment, He made sure to remind me that He was near. He is always near to the broken in spirit.

For my amiga Roberta, I thank her being a warrior mom and giving me strength during this season. Her story and her son’s Kayden’s life will always remind me that God listens to our prayers. He knew I needed someone that could say “ I know boo, I know how it feels”. He is a God of miracles. #nicumomstrong.

Part Four

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I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to perfectly describe my experience in the NICU, But if I can sum up the way I felt after being cared for by the wonderful staff who helped us at every step of the way- it would be “hopeful”.Everyone is hopeful that each baby there would eventually be healthy enough to go home. Because the reality is- not every baby that is in the NICU will make it back home.

I can describe the sounds you hear: Tons of monitors going off, babies and parents crying, doctors whispering, families talking. For me, the monitors were what broke the silence of being with Calvin, and scared me the most. You just never know which monitor is going off and even when you’re embracing your newborn baby, you can’t help but worry about what those beeping monitors mean- both for your child, and the other babies. I think if you stay at the NICU long enough, after you leave, it feels like you’ve developed PTSD. Even after coming home, I could still hear them.

I spent two weeks in the NICU traveling back and forth- early morning to past midnight. Some days I just sat in front of Calvin’s incubator weeping, and other days I was given the opportunity to hold him for hours. When I wasn’t with him, I was in a room pumping to get at least one or two ounces of milk. Calvin struggled to eat, which is why he needed a feeding tube. He wouldn’t latch on to my breast, and my milk supply was so low that it wasn’t enough to feed him all day. That was depressing and exhausting.

But out of all those things, the hardest part was going home empty-handed.

That’s what breaks you…

     I think that even a year later it still hurts, but I have hope. So, Nicu mama I’m praying for you. May strength and comfort be upon you. May your baby keep fighting and may you not lose hope, be hopeful. 

Love,

Transparent City Mama

Calvin’s 1st Birthday Party

      One year down! These past two weeks have been overwhelming but filled with joy. I can’t believe that my once newborn is officially a toddler. Why does time go by so fast? I just want him to stay tiny forever. Ruben and I spent the last few weeks preparing for Calvin’s first party and also reflecting on everything we’ve experienced this past year as parents. It’s been quite the adventure and we’re so excited to continue to watch Calvin grow.

     So here’s a glimpse into his first party! Of course, the theme was “Calvin and Hobbes”, Calvin is named after this comic. Ruben loved them growing up and that’s where we got the name from.  I also wanted a party that allowed the kids to use their imagination. I think everyone else was having fun but Calvin, he is cranky and sleepy! Poor kiddo wasn’t having it. I guess people were right about first birthdays being for the parents, ha!

    Anyways, I had tons of fun DIY’ing everything for his party along with the help of my friends. Ruben designed our shirts, cake topper, drew our Hobbes poster and guest book. He’s a beast at drawing! One of our great friends Adalis helped create props out of boxes for the kids. I found this idea on Pinterest since the theme of Calvin and Hobbes is imagination and adventures. She did such a beautiful job painting and creating them. Our birthday banner was created by my co-worker. She loves DIY projects! All other items I bought on Amazon! (my best friend) for super cheap. Play ball pin and tunnel was fifty dollars total, this was a must for me. For party bags, I wanted to keep it sensory kid friendly. I bought sensory balls, cymbal shakers, playdoh, play foam, bubbles, silly straws, and some candy. I found a great deals for all of these items. Our cake was designed by @cakesbymilagros best Dominican cakes hands down. So be sure to check him out if you’re in the NYC area.  I hope you enjoy these pictures!

If you would like more info on the items mentioned, let me know!

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My Journey; #worldbreastfeedingweek

        It’s been 4 months now, Calvin has been growing beautifully and gaining weight. He’s exploring more foods and his high chair never fails to be covered in crumbs and tiny fingerprints of leftover avocado. It’s been 4 months since I stopped pumping. My breastfeeding journey wasn’t easy, it’s one of those mother things I wish could have been different for me. But eventually I acknowledged my reality and after 7 months of pumping I transitioned out. I’d like to say that I became more emotional and physically health. But every so often that little lie in my head sneaks up.. ” you should have tried harder”. While Ruben and I were away on vacation we had a moment where we realized we were running out of formula and that was a big issue. We were in a different country and Calvin can’t just take any formula. And as I stood alone in the kitchen area staring at that almost empty can of formula I said to myself, ” if only I was breastfeeding, this would be much easier”. That’s the first time in a while that I felt like a failure, but if I’m honest I feel that way every time Calvin is pulling on my shirt and someone say ” you want boob ? “ or “oh he must be hungry” and I hear those words and dismiss them with a quick ” Yup” and smile. With this week being #worldbreastfeedingweek I’m sure I’m not the only mother watching all those beautiful mamas displaying their proud pictures of themselves feeding their baby! It’s a beautiful sight and one that many probably wish they could have. I’m sure I’m not the only mother struggling to believe that their decision to stop breastfeeding, never breastfeed or not be able to breastfeed makes them feel less of a mother. But my value as a mother or woman is not determined whether I was sucessful at breastfeeding or not. It does not determine my love for my son or whether I am fit to make good choices for him.

I think very often women (mothers) believe this lie that their journey has to be the same as every mother that meets the “standard” of a good mother, but what really is a ” good” mother ? Or what gives a woman more value than another woman ? I don’t think anything from this world can determine my value as a mother, my value alone comes from Jesus. I am worthy to be a mother because he saw fit that I would be Calvin’s mom. That my decision for not pumping anymore does not determine my love for him. I am a mother of great value and I consider myself to be a great mother because that’s who I believe I am. 

To the mama struggling this week looking at all the wonderful breastfeeding photos, your journey is just as beautiful as any other mom. Whatever your breastfeeding story is doesn’t define how great of a mother you are or how much you love you kids.

I shared my journey 4 months ago, every time I need some encouragement I read it. 

IMG_4192“I’ve been exclusively pumping and supplementing with formula for 7 months now This whole breastfeeding experience has been such a struggle. I remember after giving birth having to pump consistently so that I could bring milk back to Calvin at the NICU. Every drop was celebrated there. While pregnant all I ever heard was how formula shouldn’t be my first option ever. ( never tell any mom this please, it’s often the only option for many women for multiple reasons) The first time the NICU doctor asked me permission to give Calvin formula since my milk wasn’t coming down quick enough I refused it because of all these formula comments, two days later he asked me again hoping for a yes just so they wouldn’t continue pinching Calvin with needles to give him IV and it took that to get me to say yes. I felt shame that I wasn’t producing enough and just kept thinking about other people’s opinions. But my case was different, every baby is different. Then I remember latching Calvin to my boob and crying of the pain, every time I tried I cried. It was until he was two months when he had surgery that the surgeon made me aware that he was tongue tie and that was the reason it’s been so painful. So we clipped his tie and guess what? He wouldn’t latch and my supplies continued to be low. So I bought lactation pills, cookies, teas, oatmeal, pumped non stop and no matter what my milk still what’s enough. Calvin was growing and I wasn’t meeting his milk needs. Honestly, if I didn’t believe in the benefits of Breastmilk and Calvin wouldn’t have been premature, I don’t think I would have tried this hard for this long. So many times I tried to give up, I was emotional and exhausted, I felt like I failed Calvin as a mom. But man, I’ve had one heck of a team cheering me on, my husband, family, C.J’s pediatrician and mommy friends. I am so thankful for them. Calvin is finally eating well and I’m back at my normal routine, which means I can’t spend much time pumping anymore. So this month we are saying goodbye to Mr. Pump and embracing this new way of feeding. “
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To the new mama struggling with breastfeeding, you are a supermama no matter how you feed your baby. 

love, 

Transparent city mama