Monday, March 5, 2018

The Scoop on Baby #2: Part 1

When I think about pregnancy #2 so far, the first thought that comes to mind is how quickly it has flown by already!

That kind of explains why I have so little of this pregnancy documented. It's been so fast. I remember being pregnant with Emma and the weeks just dragging on in anticipation. The first trimester with Emma felt like 3 years of my life and it wasn't because I was sick or miserable. It just felt long and slow because it was my first time down this road and I was so focused on every little detail. Having a toddler Emma Joy running around keeping me busy probably has a lot to do with why it's been so different for me this time. My attention is on so many other things that I'm not so focused on things week-by-week.

I guess I should start with finding out we were pregnant. We'd decided in August to start trying for another baby and went into it being pretty reasonable about our expectations. Getting pregnant the first time definitely wasn't as easy as we'd anticipated and we wanted to be realistic this time accepting that it could take some time. We knew we'd be thrilled if we were pregnant immediately and also knew that if it took some time, we were okay with that, too. We were in a good place. We went into it not wanting to get wrapped up in the process and just let it happen as it's meant to. I'm glad we did because God blessed us with this gift rather quickly.

The only pregnancy symptom I felt early on with Emma was extremely sore breasts. I remember it wasn't a pre-menstrual kind of sore, but much more uncomfortable. In the first weekend of October, those same familiar symptoms arrived and while I hoped it meant we were pregnant, I also knew I was due for my period in a few days so it could be nothing. I shared this with Jonathan who was immediately convinced we were pregnant. He's typically one to play it cool and not get overly excited in an effort to help manage my expectations. He was convinced, though (and proceeded to share how convinced he was with our friends that weekend)! I have to admit his enthusiastic certainty was contagious and I prayed he was right.

Monday came along and since I'd been tracking everything for a few months, I knew I was a day or so out from my period. I didn't wake up that day planning on taking a pregnancy test, but we got home from the gym and after putting Emma down for a nap, I was about to jump in the shower when I decided I'd go ahead and take one. I had a few stocked up and figured if I was pregnant, it would show up on a test by now. I just had to know one way or another.

I took the test, laid it on the bathroom counter and went about my business shockingly not obsessing over it. When I got out of the shower, I casually picked up the test fulling expecting it to be negative and was so incredibly shocked to see the word Pregnant staring back at me. I couldn't believe it. I sat on our bed for a few minutes in my towel just staring at the test. One word. Just one word with so much emotion attached to it. I paced around for a good ten minutes repeating "OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD." It took everything I had not to call Jonathan and scream "You were right!!!" into the phone but I knew it would be more satisfying to tell him when he got home from work.

When Emma woke up from her nap, we busted out the crayons and made a little something to give him when he got home.

When Jonathan got home, I told him Emma made something for him so we headed to her bedroom and handed him this. We had a handful of friends who were expecting at the time, so his first reaction was to ask "Who did she make this for?' and before he got the whole question out, tears filled his eyes as he realized what it meant. It was such a sweet moment of pure joy.

We know what an incredible gift it is to conceive and for it to happen for us in such a short time is something I could never take for granted. Even as I write this, I'm right back there in that moment of pure shock and excitement finding out this news.

It turns out Jonathan was also right when early on, he was convinced we were having a boy this time. We found out baby #2 is a boy around 12 weeks and since I got the call from the doctor's office during the day, we were able to surprise Jonathan with this news as well!

He came home that day to Emma parading a bunch of blue balloons through the house and his reaction is just another sweet, emotional moment that I will never forget.

This is getting pretty lengthy, so I think I'll end this here and come back to share Part 2 (more about how this pregnancy is going and where we are on a name, nursery, etc). Thank you for sharing in our joy and excitement as we add another little one to the family! In the meantime, we are so looking forward to meeting this little boy and focusing on soaking up the time we have left with Emma Joy as as an only child.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

I'm back after a not-so-brief hiatus!


Holy cow. I did not intend to take several months off from posting here. I may not have a huge following or readers chomping at the bit for new content from me, but I have really missed writing and sharing. If nothing else, this blog serves as an outlet for me and an opportunity to document life as it flies by at a bittersweet speed.

Last time I posted on here, I had just finished a Whole30 (which I still have hopes of writing a post about) and Emma Joy had recently turned one-year-old. I was in the middle of a serious focus on health & fitness, which I posted in detail about right before I disappeared from the Internet.

I'm currently sitting in a Starbucks on a Saturday, sipping coffee, writing this post. I'm alone. I have a new library book in my bag and my only commitment today is a massage in the afternoon. I've needed this day for a while but we are in the midst of a busy season of life and this hasn't been important enough to me to make happen until now. My in-laws offered to take Emma for the day and since Jonathan was planning on working, I knew I had to get out of the house and do all the things I wouldn't do otherwise. Writing is one of those things. It feels good to be back here and I guess I should probably share a few life updates since it's been a while.

I'll start with the biggest news...

Baby #2 is on the way! I'm currently 24 weeks pregnant and obviously not doing a very good job of documenting my pregnancy this time around...oops! We are so thrilled to add another little one to our family and I definitely plan to share more in a separate post about this pregnancy so far. In the meantime, I will say my second pregnancy is flying by and I've been feeling really good but also really emotional all the time.

An Emma Update

Somehow our precious baby girl is 19 months old. Still precious as can be, but it's all been too fast! This stage is so much fun and so rewarding. Our girl has such a silly, fun-loving, easygoing personality and it is such a joy to watch her be her own little person. She loves walking hand-in-hand with us when we're out and about now, pretends to talk on the phone, loves wearing mommy and daddy's shoes around the house, gives kisses and hugs and thinks fruit snacks are LIFE.

18 for 2018

While listening to Gretchen Rubin's Happier podcast at the very end of the year, I was inspired by her suggestion to do an 18 for 2018 list, 18 things you want to do/accomplish/focus on in the next year. I've never loved the idea of one large resolution and coming up with a variety of small or not so small things for the year seemed like a great way to set some goals and expectations without committing to one large, perhaps too broad resolution. It's actually taken me 2 whole months to even complete my list, but I've really enjoyed taking my time to add things as they come to me and deciding what should really be on it. I'm not going to share the whole list here, but here are just a few items on it:

Create Emma’s 1st year photo book
I actually bought a scrapbook and all kinds of fun supplies to make my own 1st year book for her and after getting one page in and forgetting about it for months, I finally admitted to myself that I was overcommitting. I used to make a beautiful wedding photo book for Jonathan's Christmas gift and decided I would commit to putting together Emma's 1st year book using the same service. 

Follow a weekly cleaning schedule
One thing I didn't expect when deciding I would stay home with Emma rather than going back to work was how difficult it would for me to stick to a routine and manage my time effectively on a consistent basis. Sometimes I rock at time management and keeping up with all the things at home, but there are too many weeks where I feel like I've failed at all of it. I thought a general cleaning schedule would help me stay accountable and keep up with certain tasks more easily so it never felt like our house was a complete wreck. 

I only put things on here that tend to fall by the wayside and I would end up trying to do all at once. It's helped a lot already in making me feel a little more in control of the house chores.

Find my tribe
Pretty sure this one will get it's own post because I believe it's a topic worth digging into a little deeper, but in a nutshell, I want to make more connections, find new, real friendships with women I can call my people.

Continue exercising at least 3x per week through pregnancy
I was in a really great routine when I found out I was pregnant and I've been able to keep it up at some capacity throughout the last few months. I feel like 3x a week is a reasonable goal and one that allows for flexibility as the type of workout and intensity will definitely change as I get closer to the end. 

Get a prenatal massage
Guys, this is happening today. Praise God!

Read at least 2 books/month
I've always loved reading, but like many things in life, the less I read, the less I care about the fact that I'm not reading. I wanted to get excited about books again and create a habit of picking up a book when I have free time at home, rather than scrolling on my phone or turning on the television. This is going so well! I'm way ahead of my goal at 7 books read in the last two months and I'm so happy about it.

Get Emma baptized 
One unspoken goal Jonathan and I both had last year was to find our church home. We'd been somewhat regularly attending a really big church Jonathan had been part of since he was young. We did our marriage preparation course with this church and really loved the pastor, but knew long term, we wanted to find a smaller church where we could make real connections and feel a sense of community. We spent a few months last year trying out other churches in our area and found our home at Summit Church sometime around November. We love it there and we finally feel like we are part of a tight knit community. With that being said, we feel like now is the perfect time (and place) to focus on getting Emma baptized here. 

Keep a gratitude journal
I've done this sporadically over the years, but never seem to keep it up for more than a few days here and there. It does wonders for my heart and soul to intentionally take out my journal when I get in bed at the end of the day and jot down a few happy thoughts/things from the day. I want this to become a daily happiness habit for me this year.

What to expect here going forward...

I'd love to say I'll be back more frequently with new content and regular posts, but if I've learned anything it's that I can't commit to anything specific with this space right now. Days like today are few and far between...days where I decide to put a hold on everything else while I sit in a coffee shop and write, but I do know that it feels really good to do this. I want to develop a habit of opening up the computer and typing away whenever the mood strikes me so I don't need to set aside a day away from home to do this. Just like reading, the more I write, the more I am inspired and motivated to write. 

In the meantime, I will be back soon to share a more detailed pregnancy post, some home decor updates, a full update on Emma Joy at 19-months-old and more thoughts on finding my tribe and motherhood in general.

Thanks for reading and following along here! 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Better Late Than Never: My Postpartum Health/Fitness Journey

This post has been a looooong time coming. Over the last year, I've had so many thoughts on all things related to my body after having a baby, but I honestly never found the words to share in a blog post.

Long before having Emma, I just knew I wouldn't be one of those unicorn women who drop the pregnancy weight by breastfeeding or better yet, who literally have no explanation but the weight "just fell right off.." I just knew I wouldn't be one of those people. I was okay with that but I knew I'd have to work to get back in shape and drop some weight. What I didn't see coming was how negatively I would allow it to affect me. 

At any given time over the past year, my emotions would sway from frustration over what I felt like I was expected to do to overwhelming self criticism for not being where I should be physically at any given time to throwing up my hands up in frustration and not doing anything about it.

It was an exhausting and unhealthy roller coaster of emotions that I stayed buckled into for way too long after having Emma. 

I'm sure we all have the best of intentions toward the end of pregnancy. We tell ourselves we'll get into a serious workout routine, we'll reign in our eating to drop allll the weight right away. We'll be back to where we want to be in no time and we will have the motivation, will power, energy and focus to do all of this with no problem at all. I can't speak for everyone, but I did have the best of intentions. Then Emma was born and we came home and that went out the window real quick.

Getting my body back was the last thing on my mind. Instead, I was adjusting to being responsible for this tiny little human. I was recovering physically and emotionally from delivery. I was trying to adjust to a new normal with my husband. I was trying to sleep whenever possible. I was trying to remember to shower. I was soaking up sweet newborn snuggles and staring into our baby girl's precious face. I was nursing and constantly concerned whether or not she was getting enough, gaining enough weight, etc. I was navigating the fun that is postpartum hormones and trying to find a balance between keeping up our household and giving myself some grace because I couldn't do it all (duh).

When I did start working out again a few weeks later, I wasn't necessarily motivated. Looking back, I was doing it because I knew it was something I had to do. I was going through the motions for the most part but I wasn't fully committed and being motivated by things other than my own desire to do good for myself set me up for a lot of frustration. I would have a good week or two of working out and eating right and fall of track for weeks before kicking myself in the butt and starting over again. I was forcing it and exercising just to know I did it, but it wasn't doing me any good being so inconsistent with both food and exercise.

This trend went on for months. I tried a few different things to drop weight - shakes, cutting out certain foods, etc. but I was all over the place and would let one bad day derail me completely. Self sabotage is the only way I can describe it. I wanted to do what it took to lose weight and be where I wanted to be again, but I was looking for the fastest way there instead of doing what is right for me and finding a healthy balance for myself.

The worst part of all this is how much space all of this took up in my mind on a daily basis. I would tell myself I was going to exercise or do this or do that and then when I didn't, I would beat myself up about it so much. I was so all over the place trying to decide what to eat/what not to eat or what I would start doing tomorrow. It was exhausting and not healthy even if I had been dropping weight like crazy. Instead of feeling empowered to take better care of myself, I felt shame for getting to where I was. I felt self-conscious and kind of uncomfortable in my own skin. I wanted to feel sexy again and confident but I felt like I was so far from getting there. On the rare occasion when I allowed myself to just have fun and not be so concerned about what I looked like, something would happen that brought me right back to feeling low.

One night in particular stands out to me still. My husband and I were at my friend's wedding back in March. My parents had taken Emma for the night and we booked a room at the wedding venue for the night. We'd had an incredible day together and by the time we made it to the wedding reception, I was feeling relaxed, joyful, beautiful and confident. We were in line for a drink talking to another couple we didn't know when the husband asked me when I was due. I was completely caught off guard and while I wanted to walk away and go cry in the bathroom for the rest of the night, I somehow managed to gracefully respond telling him I wasn't pregnant. As a sidenote (and this topic probably deserves a separate post), can people everywhere just know that you should never, under any circumstances ask a woman this question? It blows my mind that this happens along with so many other things that just shouldn't be said to a woman ever. Questions like this are so well-intentioned that you can't help but shrug it off because the person didn't know any better and didn't mean to be hurtful but enough is enough. You could literally ask me a thousand other questions that don't have the potential to (1) make me want to murder you, (2) make me feel self-conscious and uncomfortable or (3) make you look like an ignorant jerk.


I let that one well-meaning but completely out of line question from a stranger tear me down and almost ruin our evening. Thankfully, I moved past it as quickly and gracefully as I could and we had a really fun night dancing together and enjoying our night away but I had given so much power to everyone and everything outside of my control that I forgot how much stronger I am than that.

I projected so many negative feelings onto my husband during this time, convincing myself that he felt these same things about me I felt about myself. I subconsciously wanted to shut him out of this inner struggle I was having. Men tend to have a habit of trying to fix things when we just need them to feel things with us. With good intentions, he would suggest things I could do or try to help motivate me or something. I took this as pressure from him rather than support because I felt so self-conscious. My problems weren't because I had a lack of knowledge about how to solve them, they were all about me getting in my own way.

I've honestly been incredibly happy being a mother and everything that's gone on in our lives this past year or so, but this inner struggle was going on the whole time in the background and it was stealing some of my joy.

I think back in May, Jonathan and I had a serious talk about a lot of things and we got a lot of this out into the open. I really let him in on how I'd been feeling and we came out of this conversation being much more open and transparent with each other about a lot of things. I was able to let go of all these things I'd convinced myself he was feeling and from there, I felt like I could open up more about all of this and knew he was there for support in any way. I had been having this inner struggle for a while and was trying to fight it on my own. When I finally opened up about my feelings and struggles, it was almost like a weight was lifted off my shoulders and I could see everything more clearly.

By June, something had really shifted in me and I really felt emotionally strong and capable of staying on track. Somethingjust told me it was time to do this for me. I had just seen my older sister finish a series of weight loss challenges in which she had to check in and share progress on social media. I remember how exciting and motivating that was for me to see. I started thinking about the accountability factor and how I love connecting with people online, how I love sharing with people and how cool it must be to be able to track progress in such a visual way. I'd been getting into a better fitness routine anyway so I went ahead and created an Instagram account specifically for my health and fitness journey. I made it separate from my original account so I didn't flood my friends with post-workout selfies and pictures of food. My goal with this was exercise 4-5 times/week and share a post-workout photo after each and every workout, I also wanted to share healthy meals I was making and anything else that related to my journey. If people wanted to follow along, they were more than welcome and I loved seeing so many friends start to follow along and even better, engage with me!

A few weeks into this journey, as it got closer to Emma's first birthday, I was reflecting a lot on how much I'd struggled just months before and I couldn't put my finger on what had finally clicked for me. Why was I finally able to find such a healthy outlook on all of this? How did I suddenly find a way to stay motivated? How was I finally able to eat more consistently healthy without obsessing so much? Why did I feel such peace with where I was at/how far I have to go/the struggles of getting there?

My answer was this, which I posted on my Instagram account the day before Emma's 1st birthday:

At this time last year, I was in the hospital getting ready to deliver my sweet baby. This body of mine carried a child for 9+ months. This body of mine endured 2+ hours of pushing to get that healthy and happy girl out into the world. This body of mine can do incredible things. I've been thinking lately about what has finally clicked-- why I'm finally able to stay focused and motivated and as a result, finally start to see some real progress. I figured it out. I've been really mean to myself since having Emma. I gained more weight than I should have during pregnancy and didn't stay in shape. My body didn't effortlessly transform back to its pre-baby form. I wanted to want getting my body back to be a top priority, but every time I tried, I was just going through the motions. I was doing it because I HAD to. Because I was disgusted with myself. Because I felt shame. Because I didn't want at several months postpartum for another stranger to ask me when I was due. Something shifted in me recently and I started to do all of this for me, because I love me. I started to do this because I wanted to have something that is just mine. An outlet. A period in the day where I'm not cleaning, cooking or taking care of anyone else. I'm doing this now because my body and mind deserve love. Doing any of this to punish myself for getting to where I was or doing this because I'm expected to is not what's going to give me satisfaction and I'm glad those days are over. I'm being kinder and more patient with myself. I'm enjoying the process where before I could only focus on how far I have to go. Most of all, I'm celebrating and loving my body and the incredible things it can do.

It's truly incredible to me how much your mindset affects everrrything else. How when you decide that you are worthy of your best, you often give it to yourself. How when you stop worrying so much about what others are thinking and focus on making sure you are thinking good thoughts and sending positive vibes, you conquer every battle you've been facing. How it's so much easier to stay on track when you aren't obsessing over what to eat/what not to eat/what exercise you should/shouldn't do and you just do what is right for you in the moment and find a healthy balance between all of it, you see the results you want.

It's now been 3 months since I created that Instagram account and while I won't credit it for the progress I've made recently - physically and mentally, it has been such a an awesome outlet for me to use in this journey. It's also been an incredible motivator being able to look at photos from just a few weeks ago and see how much progress I've made. It's progress I wouldn't necessarily notice otherwise, but having the daily photos to compare has been incredibly helpful!

I'm 20 pounds lighter in the photo on the right but more importantly, I'm stronger, happier, more energetic, more playful, more confident and so much more at peace. Jonathan came in while I was putting the finishing touches on this post and helped me put those comparison photos together. He asked me how much I'd lost since that first photo. I told him it 20 pounds and he left the room without saying a word. He came back in with one of his weights and handed it to me saying "This is how much you've lost. That's incredible." I held the weight for a minute -- actually, I lifted it over my head in defeat because I was being a goofball but it was cool to acknowledge how much I've lost. This has become so much less about the number on the scale and more about feeling good and treating myself good but holding that weight just reminded me how much (physically of course, but more emotionally) I was carrying around before.

It's a vulnerable thing to do putting your emotions and thoughts on the Internet, not to mention sharing photos of the journey (sweaty and unfiltered as they may be), but it's made all of this about so much more than my journey to get healthy. It's made it about community and lifting each other up. It's made it about being open and real about life which isn't the norm with social media at times. It's made it a place of positive vibes when the world is full of a whole lot of negative. It's made it about letting your guard down and letting people in on your journey.

In August, I'd felt like I really found a great balance and routine with exercise and wanted to turn my attention to changing the way I think about food. I'd already made a lot of progress getting my diet more balanced and was more consistent with eating healthy but I wanted to do something more intentional to help me let go of cravings, learn what does good for my body and what I can do without and overall change my outlook on food completely. I started The Whole30 on August 14 and if you follow my Instagram account, I shared a lot of the journey there. I'm planning a big recap post now that it's over, but it's been an incredible experience for me.

No shake program, calorie counting or obsessive fitness routine would have ever gotten me the peace I feel these days. I have a ways to go before I reach my goals and when that time comes, I'll still have work to do to stay there but I'm not thinking so much about all the work I have to do. Instead I'm enjoying the journey and focusing on being true to myself and most of all, good to myself. I still have days where I almost beat myself up for skipping a workout or making a not-so-great food decision but I catch myself now and reign it in. I'm giving myself more grace and being patient with myself. It's a beautiful thing when you can be kind to yourself, laugh at yourself and also have self-discipline and motivation to stay on track. Everything just plays off of each other and you kind of feel on top of the world. At least I do lately.

I don't have all the answers (in case the thousand words above didn't already prove that to you) and I won't ever claim to. I know I'm not the only woman who has struggled with her postpartum body/emotions/etc. so I'm not sharing anything unique here in that sense. I also spent so much time writing this only to nearly avoid sharing it out of fear. Fear of exposing the not-so-pretty, fear of judgment, fear of pity, fear of criticism. 

The thing is, I'm figuring all of this out as I go along, as I know we're all doing. I didn't just share all of that tough stuff up there because I want you to feel sorry for me or because I have any advice to give you. It's the opposite, actually! It's been therapeutic for me to reflect on all of this and share it. If I've been reminded of anything lately, it's that sharing the ups and downs of your journey can be liberating, fun and maybe even inspiring. I want to share more, lift up others more and connect more because sometimes when you open up about your journey and let others in, you let go of what was holding you down.