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Faith

    Faith, Remembering Truth

    Remembering Joy

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    “So we’re having another baby, wow.”

    I’ve spent the last few months echoing those words to myself. I think I still can’t believe it but it probably will hit me during labor, that’s for sure.  Don’t get me wrong, we wanted another baby, just not sure about the timing. I guess I’ll explain, in the last year Ruben and I have spent a lot of time growing our marriage. We’re pretty honest about where we’ve been these last four and a half years, it’s been hard. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that God has allowed us to bear children in some of the hardest years of our marriage. Our children are symbols of us fighting to love and enjoy one another. They remind us that God thinks of us in seasons when we feel most forgotten.

    At the beginning of this year, Ruben and I made the decision that leaving his job would bring him some joy after stepping away from being a leader in our church. Our marriage wasn’t in a good place and taking on more responsibilities would have probably broken our family even more. My mental health and childhood trauma has played a big role in our struggles, therapy has given us the opportunity to find answers, and perhaps the hope we’ve been wanting to hear. Marriage is no walk in the park, especially when you add two broken people into it. As I’ve spent the year healing and seeking help, Ruben spent the year picking up the responsibilities at home while also grieving his own losses. We will say this, his love for art has been awakened during this time and it’s shown it.

    My husband is the most wonderful man I’ve ever met and as we’ve spent time in conversations and seeking help I have never been more certain that God desired these last few years to be this way.


    So where did baby number two fall in?

    Well, it surely came during some really good months this year. This time around I didn’t cry in the bathroom like I did with Calvin’s pregnancy, I laughed. I share all the time that when I found out I was pregnant with Calvin, God spoke to me through Psalm 30 but the verse that stood with me was “Weeping may stay for the night, but joy comes in the morning”. I wept as I read that Psalm because I felt like I had been crying for years and asking God to bring me joy not only to myself but to my marriage. I hold that Psalm so close to my heart because I believe that God has more for Ruben and I. Surely, He has given us more this year. It’s not that joy would be found in our children but that joy would enter our hearts through God.

    Our second baby brings forth a promise that God has given us but also one that Ruben and I have given to each other. We will spend the rest of our lives fighting for the joy that God delights in giving us. As I birth life from my body, God is doing the same in both of us. He is healing and restoring the broken parts of each other. For me He is stripping me away of pains and scars that I’ve held on too and although we aren’t fully healed here on earth, I await the day I will be mentally, physically, and emotionally healed in eternity.


    We’re excited and head over heels for this new baby. We can’t imagine what life will look like with a fourth member in our family, it is crazy if I get another boy. ha! So where are we now… well, being home during quarantine has drawn all three of us so much closer. Ruben and I have grown in so much more love and surely Calvin feels it. We finished marriage counseling and I restarted my own therapy. I pray to welcome this new baby into a home that overflows with love and grace. I hope that God never stops growing our family however that looks like and I only desire to remember that healing and joy always come.

    I hope God meets you in whatever season you’re in, hope and joy are near. 

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    Motherhood

    Reflecting on Jesus’s Last Words

        This Friday we gathered to reflect on Jesus’s last words before he died on the cross. I always find it funny that we call this day ” Good Friday”, how is it a good day? like hello… Jesus dies! ha. But we know it doesn’t end with him dying. So many things happen as he hung on the cross and He had a few words to say. Our church always honors His last words by having people reflect on his seven final words. I presented a piece from His forth saying “My God, My God, why have you forsaken?” Those words express abandonment, a feeling I have felt way too many times by God. This saying comforts me because it reminds me that Jesus knows what it means to feel forsaken and it also reminds me that God abandoned Jesus on the cross for that moment, just so that I would never feel forsaken by Him.

    Many theologians say that when Jesus cries out the words My God, My God, why have you forsaken?” it is in that very moment that all of the sins of the world and wrath meant for us came upon Him, which means that at that moment He was separated from God. How crazy is that? God abandon His holy and perfect son for imperfect and unholy people like you and I. In Jesus being forsaken, We are accepted. I pray you may know that God is inviting you into his mercy and love. He is calling for you.

    Here is my reflection:

    Mark 15:33-34

    And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour, Jesus cried with a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

    (God was silent)

    That is the cry of my life.

    In the footsteps of my home where I patiently waited for my father but he wouldn’t show. “ My God, my God, Why have you forsaken me?”

    But He answered me.

    It is in the memories of that touch underneath my garment as a young girl that my heart cries “My God, my God, Why have you forsaken me?”

    But He answers me.

    It was at the end of my broken relationship that I cried “ My God, my God, Why have you forsaken me?”

    But He answered me.

    It was in the hardest moments of my marriage that I’ve cried “ My God, my God, Why have you forsaken me?”

    But He answered me.

    It was in the complicated circumstances of my son’s birth that I cried “ My God, my God, Why have you forsaken me?”

    But He answered me.

    It is in my anxiety and depression that I cry “ My God, my God, Why have you forsaken me?”

    But He answers me.

    For God’s silence towards His holy Son was so that I may never feel forsaken by Him.

    His cry leads to my acceptance.

    Motherhood

    Dear New Mom.

    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 of 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 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 

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    Motherhood

    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.

    words of affirmation

    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 sleepover 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