Feeling Unpretty

 Feeling Unpretty?

During Mother’s Day weekend I wrestled with getting ready to go to my mother’s day brunch that my husband had planned for me. I spent two hours going back and forth between my room and closet, and two additional hours trying on clothes in front of the mirror and taking them right off. I could feel my mood beginning to change.

What about my body was affecting the way I was feeling? Why was I letting some baby weight get in the way of a day meant to celebrate me? I was becoming easily irritated, emotionally overwhelmed and the more I changed the more sensitive I became. My husband kept coming into the room wondering what was taking me so long. I don’t remember if he said anything but every time he made a remark about my outfit I felt as though it was negative- and that was enough to set me off and cause me to change.

On top of feeling insecure with my own thoughts, my mother came to visit and I nervously anticipated an insensitive remark from her about my body. She’d probably wonder if I’ve been wearing the underwear she gave me after I gave birth to keep my stomach from bloating or maybe I’ve lost myself in the transition to being a mother.

What I was staring at in the mirror were the extra layers around my body that didn’t disappear after giving birth. My face looked more tired than ever, and my breasts are not what they used to be. For some reason, I felt more comfortable in my pregnancy body because I could hide behind the baby belly.

Like who would dare shame a pregnant woman? I could wear whatever I wanted and still feel beautiful. I could walk with confidence because life was growing in me and that ” glow ” that I had because “ I was having a boy” (according to “baby experts”) brought me more attention and compliments then the natural face I tend to wear. Of course I would feel more beautiful in that skin then the one I’m in now!

The skin I’m in today is unfamiliar, unwanted and unpretty. The clothes that once fit me feel strange to my body,- did they ever really fit? I can’t remember, I have forgotten what it feels like to wear anything that is fit for me.

As I wrestled with these thoughts, I was reminded of a few words I shared before about my postpartum body. “Nothing about my body is the same and it’s even more beautiful,” these are the words I’ve been lacking in speaking over my thoughts and heart every time I lose it in front of a mirror. Those are my words, the ones that remind me of the changes my life has experienced and the beauty I hold before me, not only in my son but in the new me. The mother in me.

Has someone told you that you look beautiful lately? If they haven’t, I want to remind you that yes, nothing about your Postpartum body is familiar to you- and it’s even more beautiful now than ever before. Whether you’ve gained weight or lost weight, we’re so inclined to pay attention to the parts of us that we long to have again that we lose sight of the beauty before us. God says you are beautiful before his sight, no matter what sight you see before you. I hope that on days that we feel like crap; when our pants can’t seem to fit, and we feel unattractive that we would remember that we have not lost ourselves by being mothers. We’ve gained so much more than just weight, we’ve gained LIFE.

Thanks, @true&co for reminding me of my own words and building a community for women to embrace their bodies. This company has wonderful undergarments that I own like three of their bras. 


Dear New Mom.

IMG_9163

Dear New Mom,

Let me affirm you by saying this “you’re going to be okay“.

Giving birth is no joke.  Nothing about it is easy: whether you had a natural birth, a C-section, epidural, or no meds, the experiences might be different, but the pain is a feeling that is inescapable but so is the feeling of joy and love

The wait is finally over and that tiny little baby that once spent months kicking around in your stomach is finally here.

Now I’m sure you’re physically and emotionally exhausted its hard work being a Mom!

Remember: You don’t have to do everything! Dishes? Laundry? Cleaning around the house? That can wait. That may sound crazy but trust me they CAN wait. It’s important to remember that your health and well-being matter too.

You are entering an unfamiliar role. The truth is that no matter how many books you read or advice you get from others, you’re never fully ready to be a parent. That’s why we have Google, HA! I’ve survived motherhood with help from the internet, my mom, friends and calling Calvin’s pediatrician often, maybe too often!

It’s been more than a year now, and there is still so much to learn about Motherhood. Here is one reminder I tell myself every day, “Have grace with yourself and give yourself some credit for all the small and big wins.” Some days will be really great, and other days you’ll be completely exhausted, but even in tough times, there are things to look forward to. There is a tiny someone to look forward to.

“Are You Nursing?”

   Breastfeeding was one of the most discouraging parts about being a first-time mom for me. My supply was low, and Calvin wouldn’t latch on correctly.  I often cried from the pain and my nipples were sore from nursing and pumping. I felt of shame for using formula, because I felt like my body failed my son. Which meant I failed him. (But that was not true)

So, how’s nursing going for you? Are you seeing some of the same difficulties of breastfeeding as a new mom?

I’ll tell you this, if you’re breastfeeding exclusively, or just pumping, or decided on using formula you’re killing it! Whichever way you choose to feed your baby do not let the opinions of others or social media make you feel ashamed.

You know what’s best for your baby and family. Remember that everyone’s situation is different. Our bodies are unique; some moms overproduced milk, some can’t get a drop. Some moms have inverted nipples, some have babies that are tongue tie, and some have babies who refuse boob.

    I wish I would have embraced my situation, I’d like to believe that I would have enjoyed Calvin more. I was exhausting myself, mentally and emotionally, just to meet Calvin’s needs, making myself miserable in the process. The reality was that breastmilk was not something I could fully provide my son with. I was attached to the pump machine most of the day, hoping to get enough milk and always felt like it wasn’t enough. I am proud that I exclusively pumped for seven months straight, but if I could do it again, I would have stopped way before that.

“Take Advice with a Grain of Salt”

    I’m sure during your pregnancy a lot of people gave you advice, so prepare yourself for the same, endless stream opinions, suggestions and commentary even when you don’t ask for it. Some advice will encourage you and be beneficial, however, some well-intentioned counsel can cause stress and insecurity. As a first-time mom, I had people speaking into how I was caring for Calvin and most of it made me more anxious than relieved. I had to learn that I can listen, but I don’t have to take it as a judgment on my motherhood. I had to learn that it won’t always apply to me. Sometimes, the wise “tips and tricks” that worked for one person, won’t apply to you, your baby or your family.

You won’t please everyone, and you don’t have to because it’s your baby. But yeah, you get the point. People will make thoughtless comments. Don’t let those comments bother you, they do not define the kind of mom you are. Over time you will learn to pick and choose what advice to take.

Asking for help”

You don’t have to always be supermom, so be okay with asking for help.

You’ll need it.

   Many times, I didn’t ask for help because I didn’t want to seem inadequate as a mom. The truth is as a first-time mom, I didn’t know what I was doing, and it was silly of me to think I didn’t need help.

I was exhausted, I had to pump every three hours, I barely showered and cleaning up was the last thing on my mind. I’m so glad our family helped us in the first four months. They would do our laundry, clean, cook, watch Calvin while we slept, and we had friends bring us food. People want to serve you, especially those that love you. So, tell them what you need, and don’t be afraid to say, ” Today I need help”. (If you’re not a parent, please reach out. Make yourself available to your friends.)

“Self-Care”

   What does that even look like when you have a crying baby, you haven’t showered, and you have spit up all over your shirt? It means that you take time out of the day or week to care for yourself. It means you acknowledge your mental health and emotional health.

As I’ve mentioned before in my last blog post “Postpartum Depression” is real for many moms. Every morning check in with yourself.

Ask yourself,

How you are feeling?“, “what thoughts have you been thinking about?“.

There came a time when I was so drained that I didn’t shower, get up from the couch, I cried a lot and I was anxious around Calvin. Have you felt that way lately? If you have, reach out to someone or share this with your spouse. Ask a friend to pray for you.

This is self-care.

    Remember your body and hormones are trying to get back to normal, you’re trying to figure out how to care for someone else that is fragile and tiny with no experience. So, take walks, find time to eat or go to Target, I spent so many days there during my maternity leave that I just loved it. It gave me fresh air, along with that spending time alone did me well. It’s okay to say you want to have space from your baby and mom duties. That’s completely normal, some days I feel like waiting at the door while holding Calvin for my husband to get home just so he can take him and when he does, I often feel like I can rest.

“Comparison is the Thief of Joy”

DO NOT COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHER MOMS!!! 

Did you hear that?

DO NOT COMPARE YOUR BABY TO OTHER BABIES!!! 

    I still have to tell this to myself every day. Trust me, I know it’s harder than it sounds. It’s so easy to get wrapped up with what other moms are doing or what milestones other babies have accomplished that your baby has not, that you rob yourself of the joy you are experiencing.

   Every time I looked on Instagram, I felt disappointed, thoughts like ” I wish I was that mom”, “wow, she’s getting so much breast milk, I wish I was,” and “she must be an amazing mom staying at home with her baby.” Telling myself these things weren’t wrong, but they were deadly if I used them to identify myself as a failure of a mom.

   Every mom experiences motherhood differently. You will not always have the house cleaned up or make arts and crafts every day. You know what most moms do, they spend time smelling their babies, trying to catch up on sleep or binge watch on their favorite show while they pump and attempt to eat something. Don’t worry, on days when you have the energy, you’ll work hard enough to leave the house without a dirty diaper or crying baby and if you can do that… that’s a win!

    The worse one was comparing Calvin to other babies born around him. I spent so much time comparing him to other babies and wishing that he would be at their level that I robbed myself from enjoying the milestones Calvin was achieving. The truth was that Calvin was premature, he was going to be delayed and yes it sucked like hell but that was my reality. I could either be miserable about it or embrace it and be thankful that he was doing just fine. He was like no other baby, He was Calvin my son and he would grow at his own pace. So, sit back and relax, enjoy your baby. Watch him or she grows before your eyes, don’t sweat the little things. Our kids are brilliant in their own way, this is the first lesson I learned about being a mom… it’s one I have to remember for the rest of my time raising Calvin.

“Working mom – Stay at home mom”

    Whichever one you are, be proud of it. Each title comes with its own responsibilities and struggles. As a working a mom I find it hard to balance my roles between being a mom and worker. When I was home on maternity leave for three months, I had a hard time adjusting to always being home and caring for Calvin alone. I love the working mom and the stay at home mom because they both are working towards the same goal, to care, love and provide to their children in their own “unique way. I had so many people question why I didn’t stay home with Calvin and making remarks as if it was an easy decision.

It wasn’t, it was the hardest decision I had to make as a mother.

    Two factors played a role in this decision, I never intended to stay home and as a family, we couldn’t afford for me to stay home. I’ve read so many moms judge working moms on social media for having their kid at daycare or going back to work, it’s discouraging. Am I less of a mother because Calvin is at daycare? No. I’m a great mom and no one can tell me otherwise.

    Interesting enough, the stay at home mom also gets judged. Do you really think that the stay at home mom stays home, sleeps in, takes a bath, her kids all well-behaved and her day is perfect? It’s not. She wakes up when the baby wakes up, whatever time that is. Her child is by her side 24/7 and she spends most of the time interacting with her kids than adults unless she goes out or maybe gets a visit. As you can see, they both have different struggles. So, mama, whichever one you choose to be…

It’s the one you see fit for you to be.

“Your Partner is your teammate”

Your partner is as clueless as you are.

He is on your team.

    It’s hard to acknowledge that when you’re both sleep deprived, the baby is crying nonstop, you haven’t left the house in days and you’ve probably been miscommunicating over small things. It’s been a rough season for us honestly. I’m not sure we’ve mastered this area yet. Balancing marriage and parenting can be really hard, and if you can relate know that you are not alone. I guess I can say that we’re on a mission to remembering that our marriage comes first, and we need each other to survive. I’ll get back to you on this one.

But, remembering He is on my team.

 

 

I hope this letter encourages you and reminds you that you’re not alone. Many women have been in your shoes, we want to love, encourage and stand with you.

 

love,

transparent city mama 

IMG_901610737525184_img_2017IMG_9022

 


A Marriage That Endures

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

 My husband and I will make three years married this November. The last few years have felt like the longest years of my life! People weren’t joking when they said that marriage ain’t easy. I think that Ruben and I can agree in saying that this marriage has been hard work, with an emphasis on the word HARD. We’re a very honest couple, and we don’t shy away from telling people how we feel- and especially letting each other know how we feel.

For the last three years, I’ve cried, yelled, cursed, slammed doors, and have had every tantrum that comes with a wife who’s used to running when things get tough. Marriage teaches you a lot about yourself and reveals the things you hide from others.

But in this covenant, there is no hiding. I can’t pick up my bags and run, I can’t fake the funk because my husband knows me. He knows the good, ugly, happy, and sad parts of me- yet he has chosen to love me.

     The crazy part is… I hate running! I get all sweaty, I get tired, and it’s just not something I like doing. But when it comes to confrontation- oh man… I can run. I spent most of my youth running home just to avoid getting into trouble with my mom. At seventeen, I left home trying to avoid feeling the shame of failing to meet my mother’s expectations and when things got hard in relationships, I avoided them or ended them. At the age of 20, I left home again, in order to live a life away from accountability. Till one day I decided that I was tired of running from hardship, and ran straight into God’s arms.

I call this “the surrender”.

       But then I met Ruben, and we started dating. And I thought “ I love this man, I’m in a safe place and he knows everything about me. I’m done with running” ha! and hardship began.

Ruben and I were great friends before we started dating. He’s actually one of the people who spoke into my life when I ended my six years long “on and off” relationship, and became a Christian. Eventually, we started dating and he decided he wanted to marry me, but in between our dating life and marriage, came some difficult trials.

I was scared of getting hurt. I carried baggage from my old relationship, and I was trying to figure out who I was. I also consider myself to be a very independent, strong-minded woman- which can be great sometimes, and terrible in others.  But much of my past played a huge role in our relationship. When Ruben and I would argue, my response would be “I’m done”. If I didn’t “feel” right about our relationship “I’m done” would be my way out. Many insecurities came to light, that I had been holding on too from my past. Ruben then became very insecure about our relationship and himself. Which eventually all led up to us having sex before marriage- and that was one the biggest hardships we’ve had to endure as believers.

    That significant moment only gave me more reasons to run. I wasn’t running because I didn’t love Ruben, I was running from shame. The shame of having sex before marriage when I had vowed to remain pure again until my wedding day. I was angry, and I felt like Ruben did not lead me away from falling into temptation. So I blamed him for all of it, not realizing that the reason why I was angry that my pride had taken a hit- I wasn’t this “ perfect” Christian. I was broken, and God was using this moment to expose much of the ugliness that I had tried to convince myself wasn’t there- but it was.

       But- by his grace, we made it to the altar. We got married… and yet I kept running.

We were both miserable. Our first year was a nightmare set on fire. But God has been in the midst of it all. He’s been present in the times I’ve said I would much rather be alone than married, he was around the times Ruben was knocking on our bedroom door while I wept inside. I know that this marriage has been able to endure hardship because of Him.  I think I’m able to understand the meaning of endurance because of my husband. He’s fought a lot for this marriage, he’ll always be fighting for it and God has shown me true and raw love. The kind of love that chases you as you’re running through the woods into the darkest place you can find and when you get there that person wants to go into the darkness with you until your ready to see the light.

      I remember once hearing a sermon called ” Jesus wants the rose.” Matt Chandler, who was preaching this sermon was telling a story about a time he listened to a pastor preach at a conference and the anger he felt about what he was saying. The pastor started by throwing a rose into the crowd and everyone had to touch and pass it until it got back to him. When he got the rose he held it up and said: ” who would want this?”. The rose was falling apart, damaged, and it looked worthless.  Matt Chandler said, ” I wanted to scream, Jesus wants the rose!”. He continues on with telling his audience ” He wants you!” He wants the rose that’s falling apart and feeling worthless. I remember weeping when he said that. After ending my longtime relationship I grew super insecure about myself and guys. Accepting love from people is very scary, it makes you feel vulnerable and fearful. And if you’re a runner like me,  you’ll start to run. But why are you running? Why are you so afraid of being loved? I think these are questions I often felt like God was asking me. I think for me it’s the part of being real and vulnerable and maybe having someone not embrace you and not endure with you. That is scary.

But God, he knew what he was doing when he allowed Ruben and I to get married. I think that’s the only part that brings me comfort. He chose us, and he is the only one that can keep us together. So if you’re very much like me and you’re still running… stop. God is trying to catch you, embrace you and love you. You know what’s crazy? God loves me more than my husband does, but he loves my husband just as much as He loves me. Because my husband is as broken as I am, we both are runners. I’m not sure I would want to spend the rest of my days running with anyone else but him. I pray that as we enter a new year into this marriage we would grow more in love, endure well, grow in patience and sacrifice more for one another.

You are not too much for anyone, not even a Perfect God. 

Stop running. ( note to self ) 

 

love, 

transparent city mama 


Fear of Being an Anxious Mother

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetOne of my biggest fears as I was preparing to welcome Calvin into my world was how well would I handle my anxiety around him. The thought of that made me weary. How will I explain to him my random breakdowns or the picking of my hair? Will I make him anxious? Nervous? Or worse, would he try to take on the burden on my anxiety on himself? For a long time, I felt shame about my anxiety, it was hard explaining to people why I was losing the front of my hair or telling my hair lady that I needed bangs just avoid picking at my hair. My anxiety has often ruled over my life, it’s a stealer of joy. After being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder while in College, being on medication and going to therapy for it, it’s felt like I would never get rid of my anxious heart and mind. I felt that the more I wanted to stop being anxious the more I became anxious. It’s hard being married and always feeling like you have to be cared for or even feel like your to much trouble for someone else. I can say that God knew exactly who I needed as a husband. Someone that is calm, understanding, loving and caring. I’m not sure I would want anyone else watching me have an anxiety attack other than him. But now someone else was coming and he will be around for all my moments, that was the scariest thing to think about.

        I remember once crying to Ruben after having one of my many episodes and telling him how scared I was about Calvin watching me have an anxiety attack and maybe him feeling scared. How would I explain to him my anxiety and the root behind it all? I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to explain it, but what I can say is that God has walked me through my anxiety. I’ve heard so often people say “ if you trusted God more you wouldn’t be anxious” and although there some truth to that, those words aren’t comforting. And that’s not how mental health works. That’s also not how God deals with anxiety. The verse from 1 Peter 5:7 “ Casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you”, has been the verse I cling too since being diagnosed. It reminds me that God cares about all the things I get anxious about, even when I can’t explain it to anyone else. He knows my thoughts and heart deeply, he wants me to bring all those fears, and thoughts to him. He will bring healing, he will continue to walk with me and he will be the one to cast away all my fears. So as I wrestle with my anxiety, I pray that I would show Calvin that anxiety will not overcome me and even when it does that I know who I can run too; the Father that cares for me and him. 

For the anxious beloved, know that God cares about your mental health. He wants to walk with you, heal you and free you of your worries. 

 

love,

Transparent city mama. 

 

Casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you – 1 Peter 5:7


Mom Guilt; The Working Mom.

     Mom guilt, oh man. I thought guilt was bad, but mom guilt is so much worse. Well, at least that’s what it felt like for me. While I was pregnant with my son Calvin,  I remember telling my husband that I would never be a stay at home mom. I didn’t feel like I was built for it and I struggled with the idea of having to stay home with a baby. It’s just something I wasn’t sure I could handle with my anxiety. 

      Fast forward to 3 months postpartum, I had experienced an early delivery, my son was premature, I spent two weeks in the NICU with him, he was later diagnosed with Pyloric Stenosis ( it causes a blockage of food at the stomach outlet) and he had to get surgery, I was depressed and extremely anxious and after experiencing all of this I had to start preparing myself to go back to work. I had no idea how I was gonna possibly go back without feeling like I was choosing my job over caring for my son. Guilt is a feeling that if you allow it to sink deep in your heart and mind it will paralyze you. So I decided that I wanted to stay home and I took back every word I said every time my husband asked me if I wanted to stay home. Unfortunately staying at home was not an option anymore because we couldn’t afford it. I felt more guilt and bitterness, I felt like the worse mom ever. 

53651519476__880ff941-1092-44f5-84f6-d838800e2a0c.jpg

I took this picture the day before I had to go back to work.

   The time came when I had to head back to work, find Calvin a daycare and figure out how was I going to go about my life moving forward. I remember the night before my first day back to work, I spent the night rocking Calvin to sleeping and crying my eyes out. The next day I got up, got ready and went to work. I could already feel the tears coming the farther I was from him. As soon as I entered the room one of my students greeted me with a hug and an “ I miss you”. She sat at my desk while I put my stuff back into place and she was sharing the latest news on her life. For a moment I forgot why I was sad and remembered why I even wanted to work from the beginning. I love my job, I enjoy working. You see my reason for wanting to stay home came from fear and guilt. Fear that no one would be able to care for Calvin properly and guilt that I was choosing my career over my son. Being a working mom is very often look down upon by society ( one of the many things mom’s judge each other about, but that’s another story) I believe that God has given each one us different gifts and talents to use on this earth. He has given me a heart for youth and working with young girls. Working at a High School gives me that and I love it. Why should I feel like I have to choose between my son and my career? I can have both equally and share my career with my son. I want him to know I value the lives of teenagers, that I want to teach and help them grow. I know that working might keep me from missing out on important moments in my son’s life, but I hope that I would inspire him to pursue whatever makes his heart happy and may he be proud of the work I do.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

One of my beautiful High School Students.

      So to the working mama feeling guilty, you got this! You are no less of a mother because you work. You are no less of a mother because you love your career. You are no less of a mother because you can’t see yourself staying at home. You are no less of a mother because you enjoy alone time. You are no less of a mother for doing something for yourself that inspires you. The working mom and the stay at home mom should be met with praise, two mom’s choosing different ways of working and caring for their families, both making a sacrifice hoping that one day their children would say “ Thank you, mom, for all you’ve done and all that you do.”    

 

love,

Transparent city mama. 


Dear Mother in the NICU

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetDear NICU mother,

Can I tell you something? You are so strong and you are not alone. I know all the tears you’ve been crying, wondering why things just didn’t go the way you planned it out. Seems like you’ve been robbed from having the birth story you’ve been envisioning these last few months. I know, I felt it too. I know your probably angry and it’s okay.  I know you’re tired of going back and forth to the NICU, and I know you’re heart breaks every time you leave. It would take me hours before I walked away from my son’s incubator, even then I would leave in tears. I know you desire to hold your baby close, maybe even feel his or her heartbeat. Going back home empty-handed just looking over at the baby crib hoping soon enough you’ll glance over and baby will be there. Perhaps you’re waking up every three hours just to bring back liquid gold to fill their tummy up,( I’m rooting for you!)  but how you wish you’d be waking up to the sound of a hungry baby. Perhaps you’re anxious every time a monitor goes off even when it’s not your baby or when the neo-nurse calls. I know you have many questions but although there may be weeping, I surely can tell you that joy always comes. God is embracing you right now and He is with you in this season. Trust that He sees you and He knows your pain. Can I tell you something? You are one of the bravest mothers and you have a fighter just waiting to finally be home. I’m praying for you and your little blessing. How I hope you have someone encouraging you in this season, and if you don’t, know that there are many mothers who know what you are feeling.

                                                                                                  Love,

A once NICU mama