If you’re a woman of child bearing age, chances are you’ve been asked if you have kids or plan to have kids. It’s an inquiry that might appear to be innocuous, but could render serious emotional trauma. What you perceive as small talk, could actually be the catalyst to someone’s breaking point.

Sometimes you wake up in a good state of mind, ready to take on the day and all it takes is one mild remark to send you spiraling. And you try to rationalize. That person was just trying to be friendly, they didn’t mean any harm. But the truth is, is that even if that person was just striking up causal conversation, it doesn’t make it hurt any less. What they assume is casual conversation, you accept as a threat to your emotional stability.

It rings in your ears as a reminder that your uterus is still empty despite all of the vitamins you’ve been taking and tips and tricks you’ve implemented in order to achieve pregnancy.

It drives into your heart like a knife, almost mimicking that same feeling of defeat that you experience month after month at the sight of blood.

Or what if you know you can’t have biological kids because you had a hysterectomy due to your crippling endometriosis. Do you let them in on this personal information or do you just nod and smile like you do every other time you are confronted with this stifling question.

Maybe it makes you feel inadequate because you don’t want to have kids, yet society puts all of this pressure on you to fit a certain mold. Are you less of a woman because you don’t want to reproduce?

Or how about the woman who just experienced a miscarriage. The woman who is no longer pregnant, but still feels pregnant because of all of the hormones coursing through her. She still instinctively places her hand to her belly because her body hasn’t quite caught up with her mind and soul. She still feels pregnant, even though she isn’t. That question will surely send her spiraling. If you were to ask a week ago, her insides would be beaming. She wouldn’t admit to being pregnant because it would be far too early to tell anyone, but at least this time she could confidently respond with her generic, “we’ll have kids in due time.”

I underwent laparoscopic surgery on Monday which resulted in the loss of a very longed for pregnancy in addition to my left Fallopian tube. I haven’t even finished my prescription of pain meds and I’ve already been harassed about when I will another baby. The person who struck up this conversation does not know that today was my first day back at work after two weeks of hell. He does not know that I am still passing residual tissue from my surgery or that I’m still experiencing morning sickness because my body hasn’t caught up with itself. He doesn’t know that it took every ounce of courage for me to get out of bed and face the world today. He has no idea that we’ve been trying to get pregnant for months and that highly anticipated positive pregnancy test resulted in the worst heartbreak of my life. He has no idea what I’m going through. Can I blame him for asking? Is it unfair of me to hope that the universe could spare me from that dreaded question while I heal?

You have no idea what a person is battling. And while I know we can’t expect the world to be keen on our sensitivities and triggers, we can try to spread awareness. This is me spreading awareness. Think before you speak. Read the room. You truly do not know the weight of your words. Use them to spread the good, not the bad.

My miscarriage story

Trigger Warning! This article may contain sensitive material. If you are easily provoked by content regarding miscarriage, I would proceed with caution. I want to share my story in hopes of helping others as well as myself. My healing process begins with shared experiences and connections. Thank you for your love and support during this difficult time.

A little over a month ago I started bleeding. This would come as no surprise as I was due for my period. The bleeding remained subdued for a couple of days which is uncharacteristic for my cycle. I decided to take a pregnancy test even though I knew that I would be disappointed when that lonely solo line showed up yet again to taunt me. I sat on the toilet prepared to add another negative pregnancy test to my batch of hopefuls that I’ve collected throughout the months. When I examined the test, I was in disbelief as two beautiful pink lines stared back at me. I didn’t have to shine at light on the test or analyze it from a million different angles, this test was a clear positive.

The next morning, I woke up to a lot of blood. Blood was in my pad and filling the toilet every time I went to the bathroom. I was devastated. It was was inevitable that I was miscarrying. There was no way there was a baby in there anymore.

I called my doctor to make her aware of my situation and she advised me to do blood work. I went for three separate blood draws and each time my HCG levels rose appropriately. I was ambivalent. How could I be bleeding and pregnant?

I wanted to be excited, but I didn’t know how to. Even as the bleeding began to subside, I couldn’t help but to think that something wasn’t right. My doctor assured me that bleeding in early pregnancy is not uncommon and it could be implantation bleeding or just an irritated cervix. I began to convince myself that this was normal and that everything was going to be okay. The more reassurance I received, the deeper my joy and excitement grew. I finally allowed myself to celebrate this pregnancy.

I began to think of ways to announce our exciting news. I looked up the tentative due date and already started brainstorming cute Halloween costumes that would emphasize my growing belly. I was in disbelief that it was actually happening. I was thrilled to be able to experience pregnancy again as well as to give Beau a sibling. It felt unreal. My dreams were once again becoming a reality.

I continued to spot throughout those first couple of weeks. It wasn’t as alarming to me as I had experienced similar spotting when I was pregnant with Beau. It wasn’t until we got back from our anniversary trip to New Hampshire that my worries and doubt began to emerge again. I was still spotting, but it had evolved to this very distinguished brown color. A color that I’ve never seen my body produce before. It was almost as if my body was sending me warning signals. I started to feel mild pain on my left side, which is not unusual for me as I am prone to cysts, but when accompanied with that disturbing brown bodily fluid, I knew that something was not right.

As much as I wanted to continue to live in this state of bliss, sending Brandon on McDonald’s runs to fetch me more French fries, taking first belly pictures and imagining my complete family of 4, I knew I had to snap back to reality and get help.

I made an appointment for an early ultrasound. I would be 6 weeks and 2 days. My hopeful heart prayed that my instincts were wrong and there would be at least the start of a baby thriving in my uterus, but my mind forbid me from letting my guard down again. I was prepared for the worst. Either I was experiencing a missed miscarriage or worst case scenario an ectopic pregnancy.

I ended up in the emergency room the day before my appointment because the pain on my left side became way too disconcerting. I was so afraid of an ectopic pregnancy rupturing my tube and putting my life at risk. Ectopic pregnancies are a leading cause of prenatal deaths in young women. We sat at the emergency room for hours and still remained in limbo. My blood work showed that my hormones were still rising, but the ultrasound showed no evidence of a baby in my uterus. They couldn’t detect anything in my tubes either, so once again it became a wait and see.

The next day, I went to my appointment with my regular doctor and I’ll never forget the look on her face when she detected a 2 cm fetus in my left tube as well as a concerning amount of free fluid. Not only was my tube threatening to rupture at any time, but I was already bleeding internally. She urged me to go to the ER and get surgery. This was my worst nightmare come true. My fertility was being compromised at the price of my life.

As I laid there in that hospital bed I felt numb. All I ever wanted was to complete my family and to give Beau a sibling. It’s my calling to be a mom and I have so much love left to give to another child. I was torn between, this procedure will save your life and this procedure is taking life away from you. I didn’t just lose my tube, I lost my baby.

I laid on the operating room table looking up at that piercing bright light, remembering that the last time I was in an OR I was delivering my son. Life is cruel with irony sometimes.

I feel heavy, like there’s a ton of lead coursing through my veins, rendering me useless. I can’t seem to peel myself out of bed. I feel like I’m missing something and someone. I may not have been pregnant for long, but that little life inside of me made itself known. I was nauseas, tired and suffered from some of the most unbearable headaches. That little life already had a list of potential names and a tentative May birthday. I had already calculated the age gap between Beau and his sibling. I thought about whether we would be in our new house yet and how sleeping arrangements would go if we were still in our current home. I don’t care how far along I wasn’t, I was still pregnant and it still hurts. My maternal instincts are aching. It’s a mom’s job to do everything in her power to protect her babies.

So here’s to trying again when I feel psychically and mentally prepared to do so. Those two pink lines will never bring me the same sense of excitement they once did. Now those lines bare the weight of worry and the unknown. This experience has robbed me of the magic of pregnancy. I’m afraid. I’m afraid to get pregnant again and to lose my other tube. I only have one tube left, there’s no room for error. I never thought I would be one of those people longing for their rainbow baby, but here I am, just aching to carry one more child to complete our family.

Ladies, please be diligent if you are experiencing something in pregnancy that doesn’t feel right to you. Listen to your body and trust your instincts. It could save your life.

Unseen of Quarantine

It’ll be just like maternity leave, I told myself between tears as I watched Governor Lamont’s press conference ordering all non essential businesses to close until further notice. Luckily for us, restaurants could still conduct business on a take out basis, but it didn’t make me feel any less insecure. What was I supposed to do with all of this down time? Where would I find that temporary retreat from my responsibilities as a mother if I wasn’t going to work every day? How was I going to justify buying unnecessary items like matching shirts for the baby and the dog, when I wasn’t producing any income? We were suddenly in a position to save money and all I wanted to do was spend it to make myself feel better about the coarse realities unfolding in front of me.

I come from a line of working moms. The joke in our family is that you give birth and two weeks later you get back to work. I defied that tradition by taking three months off after I had my son. I didn’t want to deny myself of that special bonding time. I knew that I had my whole life to work, while those intimate moments with my fresh newborn were due to expire.

When the time came, it wasn’t easy for me to go back to work, but I was ready. I thrive off of a schedule and life with a newborn didn’t necessarily cater to that need. I was looking forward to reclaiming a little piece of the person I was before I had a baby. In a way, my job defined who I was and that part of me became even more important as motherhood threatened to dissolve my identity.

A year later and it seemed that I had finally established a sustainable balance of being a working mom. I was waking up each morning and finding the time to make my bed and prepare a breakfast for Beau that wasn’t entirely out of the freezer. I would come home from work with renewed excitement to read “The Pout Pout Fish” 27 times in a row and armed with the patience to watch my clean living room become inundated with trucks and toys that never shut up. I would even find time to do the dishes and cook dinner in between diaper changes and meltdowns. I was feeling a little bit like I had my shit together and then COVID 19 came along and nearly threw my life out of orbit.

So there I was staring at my phone holding on to each and every word the Governor said. The thought of losing my job with no idea as to when I could return was a crippling feeling. Sure, we could manage financially off of my husband’s income, but how was I supposed to occupy my days? What was there to do from 7 in the morning to 3 in the afternoon? How was I going to be the best mom I could be, when I never got a break? Who was I going to have adult conversations with? Conversations that ironically always ended up talking about my kid, but still. It felt like my little bit of my me time was being taken away. I was being robbed of the part of my day that allowed me to be more than just a mom.

The first couple of weeks of quarantine came and went and while everyone else was organizing their closets and taking up a new hobby, I sat on the couch watching All-American while stuffing my face with Pirate’s booty. I was grateful that I didn’t have to homeschool, but somehow Facebook served as a source of pressure to be productive with my kid. We tried the paint in the ziploc bag and all of the sensory bins. Turns out my kid would rather eat crayons and play in the Tupperware cabinet. It serves the same purpose, doesn’t it?

The laundry piled up and the living room really need to be vacuumed, it seemed that even the dog was feeling unproductive and couldn’t be bothered to eat all the puffs off the floor. I realized I needed to stop feeling sorry for myself and to start getting in a groove again. I would do little things each day to instill a sense of accomplishment. I would start by my making the bed or doing the dishes and that would help set the tone for my day. Eventually, I did get back to my old ways and although my days weren’t occupied with work, I found myself back on a schedule.

I learned to utilize Beau’s nap time efficiently. Instead of rushing to get the laundry done before he woke up, I would spend the duration of his nap curled up with a book or an adult tv show with swears in it. I decided to dedicate nap time to myself. That was how I would replace the “me” time that I wasn’t getting. “Me” time translated into being able to enjoy day after day with my son without feeling burnt out.

It’s gotten to the point where I prefer this new schedule. I enjoy being home with Beau all day. I’ve learned things about him that I wouldn’t get to experience other wise because I was at work. I got to witness Beau try to spell his name for the first time. He now counts to three and knows at least 5 different animals. He climbs on the couch with unnerving confidence and will stop whatever he is doing when “sweet child of mine” comes on Pandora. He says close to 200 words and one of them just so happens to be my favorite; mommy. I’m not sure how mama evolved to mommy, but it’s the title I hope sticks even throughout his teenage years. There’s something so special about being someone’s mommy.

I know that Beau and I have grown closer throughout this quarantine. I’ve also grown as a mother. I’ve learned how to take care of my son while still prioritizing my well being. I’ve become more self aware as to when I’m starting to feel burnt out or like I might explode if I stub my toe on one more Tonka truck. I’ve found my balance again.

Tomorrow I will start back at work full time and I’m sad. It feels like I’m coming back from my maternity leave all over again. I’m not emotionally prepared to emerge from the safety of my current reality. I just want to be able to stay in my pajamas with Beau and soak him in for a little longer. I’ve become attached to the extra time we’ve been able to spend together and I feel guilty for ever taking it for granted or wishing it away.

In the beginning of quarantine, many people had claimed that some good would come out of this. Initially, I had a really hard time seeing the bright side of the current predicament, but I think as we all begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel, it is possible that our thought process has shifted. Quarantine was implemented to help save lives and I think it has done that in more ways than one.

Wean it and Weep

My breastfeeding journey began the same day I became a mother. Nursing Beau is one of the first moments we shared together as mother and son. It became an experience that was exclusively for us. Everything from the quiet, intimate mornings and milk mustache smiles to late night colic and sore nipples, forged a bond that could only be shared between him and I.

At times, it felt as if Beau was literally sucking the life out of me. Long days of cluster feeding and inconsolable fussiness left me feeling depleted. But it was those tender moments that we shared quietly among the soft glow of his nursery that made it impossible for me to give up. Occasionally I would look down to find Beau’s chocolate brown eyes gazing up at me with a warm intensity. When he noticed me looking at him, he would break the trance with a bashful smile and bury his face in my arm.

Breastfeeding not only created a bond between Beau and I, but it also redefined my relationship with myself. Breastfeeding united my mind, body and spirit in an intricate harmony. It makes me feel loved and needed which consequently fulfills my maternal instincts.

Immediately after Beau was born, I felt a visceral emptiness. My body abruptly evolved from a precious vessel serving as a home to my unborn child to a hallow cavity assuming no purpose. Although, I was emotionally prepared and excited to finally become a mother, my body was mourning the loss of a baby it had nurtured the last 10 months. Breastfeeding helped my body transition into postpartum by allowing it to still take part in providing for Beau. In a way, it connected my prenatal body to my postnatal body. Breastfeeding is like a rite of passage into motherhood, when you shift from nourishing your baby from the inside of your body, to the outside.

As Beau marches into toddlerhood with a fistful of goldfish in one hand and a sippy cup in the other, it is apparent that breastfeeding is no longer imperative to his survival. My milk is no longer his sole food supply, which means we breastfeed because we want to, not because we have to. I know it and my body knows it.

Beau doesn’t long to nurse like he used to and it feels like a stab in the heart. Like quite literally, my chest is on fire. I can sense my body surrendering to that feeling of emptiness. Biologically, my sole purpose as a woman is to bare children and to feed them, and without either one of those needs being fulfilled, I’m left feeling futile. I guess this is what weaning feels like and nobody warned me about the physical and emotional pain it would render.

Each morning that Beau doesn’t try to burrow his face into my chest and latch on to me, feels like another step away from me that my baby is taking. I became a mother the same day our breastfeeding journey began and I can’t help but to correlate the two. The more Beau resists breastfeeding, the less I feel like a mother. I know that’s not the truth, but it is a reality that all mothers face, our babies grow up and become independent of us.

This is a big step for me as a mother and Beau as an individual. I rely on breastfeeding as a way to help me reconnect with Beau after a long day of work or to magically make everything better when he’s upset. It’s so easy, so natural. Now I feel as if I’m in a position to find other means of strengthening our bond. This is new territory for me. I’ve always had breastfeeding as a crutch since the beginning of my motherhood journey. It’s always been the handy dandy mom hack in my arsenal. The lack of breastfeeding will redefine me as a mother as it will force me out of what has become my comfort zone.

I feel like a new mother that has just given birth. My emotions are delicate. I cry in the middle of doing dishes or driving down the road. I can sense the postpartum anxiety lurking again as my mind becomes inundated with intrusive thoughts. These are the same thoughts that consumed me during the first couple months of Beau’s life. Thankfully, I had breastfeeding as a way to combat my anxiety with feel good hormones. Now I feel like a drug addict that is just longing for one more feed. I’m craving another hit of that oxytocin that I’ve grown so accustomed to. My mind and body are in a state of chaos as the foundation of who I am as a mother had been ripped out from under me.

I look back and think about all of the support there is for breastfeeding moms. Whether it be from the nurses in the hospital after delivery or from a stranger in the grocery store, there is such a community for breastfeeding moms. For this reason, I embarked on my breastfeeding journey without fear. If I could do it, great. If for some reason it didn’t work out, well I had other options. Now here I am after 16 months of breastfeeding and I have no idea how to navigate my way out. I feel isolated and alone. I feel as if I don’t have any other option as the choice has been made for me. My son is growing up and I won’t stand in his way.

Now I know why people say that breastfeeding is one of the most challenging things you will ever do as a mother. And it’s not just because of the sleepless nights and physical demands. It’s because it’s the first time your child will ever truly break your heart. I wish I knew that the hardest part of breastfeeding would be not breastfeeding.

Moments you can’t put into words

Beau is my first born, yet the state of his baby book reflects that of a second or third baby. I imagined myself being the mom that vigilantly recorded weights and heights after every doctor’s appointment. I envisioned Beau’s baby book to be at least 6 inches thick already with pictures, hospital bracelets and ink footprints. That’s not to say I haven’t saved locks of hair or thought about preserving the crusty piece of his umbilical cord.

It seems that time passes by and before I think to update the baby book, Beau has more teeth than I can confidently count and he’s already on to his second hair cut. I tell myself that I won’t forget how Beau is obsessed with strawberries right now and can say close to thirty words. One of those words would be his first swear and of course it was the product of my own F-bomb. This was when I had approached my first, “how do I not laugh even though I know this highly inappropriate” parenting moment. Is counting “fuck” as one of the 30 words amongst my child’s vocabulary highly inappropriate too? Either way, I’ve come to terms that I officially need to watch what I say and gangster rap may not be a viable music choice anymore.

Beau and I are growing simultaneously. He’s learning how to use a fork and to say please and thank you, while I’m learning to be patient with him as he repeatedly throws that fork on the floor and never says thank you when I pick it up. Beau has said please and thank you a couple of times, but they’re not at the top of his list.

His favorite word at the moment is “ball.” Although, he pronounces it “doll.” I’m not sure if his obsession with the “doll” evolved from watching his older cousin play basketball or if it’s just an innate appeal. Beau bounces the ball and pretends to shoot it, but he prefers to play fetch. I would consider that learned behavior, if only Max actually retrieved like he was supposed to.

The only thing that can match Beau’s fondness of his basketball, is his love for books. Often times, he can be found planted in the corner of the living room next to the coffee table with an open book in his lap. This is when I can really see his imagination thriving, as he animatedly brings the pages to life with his own words. Brandon and I used to read the same books to Beau while he was in the womb, and it’s kind of poetic that he has been enjoying these stories from the inside out.

Another one of Beau’s favorite things to do is to be chased by Max. He normally initiates this game by asking for a snack, only so he can then bait Max into going after him. Beau throughly enjoys playing this, until Max prevails. As soon as Max is successful in retrieving the snack, Beau immediately gets upset. They embody a sibling dynamic like no other. They fight , they play and they love. Beau shows his love for Max in the form of table scraps and Max returns the favor with his unyielding patience and tenderness. It truly makes my heart soar to experience two things that I love, loving one another.

Beau’s kind spirit is not limited to animals. He loves people and typically greets new faces with a “high five?!” He will give you high fives until your heart crumbles beneath the complete and utter cuteness of it all. Beau will befriend just about anyone who is sucker enough to pick up his sippy cup 27 times in a row. It shocks me how manipulative such an adorable little boy can be. How does a sweet face like that possess the capacity of such deceit? Beau has this devilish smirk that when united with his chocolate brown eyes, I’m rendered completely defenseless. There’s times I look at him and wonder how I’m ever supposed to discipline him, despite his defiant nature.

Beau is so much more than I could ever depict in a baby book. A list of his weights and heights will one day be fun facts, but they will never convey his gentle soul and kind spirit. The only means of capturing all of the beautiful moments unfolding during this season of our lives will be in my memories. Even as I sit here and try to illustrate the person he is at 14 months, there is not enough words. The best I can do is to hold on to every moment and keep them close to my heart. I hope these words can serve as a glimpse into this beautiful time of Beau’s life.

Boy Mom

I’m one of those self proclaimed #boymoms. Like, it’s in my Instagram bio and I have the t shirt. Truthfully, I’m just trying to figure out how to be a mom in general, never mind a “boy mom.” In fact, I’m not even sure if I’ve earned that badge yet. That was until today.

I had a moment where time froze and I was transported to a future me. I was getting ready to fold and put away Beau’s clean laundry when I noticed that several of his onesies still had stains on them. I brought the shirts downstairs to launder them more thoroughly. I got the word launder from the back of the Shout bottle. Yeah, I had to read the directions. It’s been a while since I’ve used the stuff. Honestly, I think the only reason I have a bottle is because that’s what all adults have, right? As suspected I’ve been using Shout wrong throughout the brevity of my adult life.

I began to “launder” each shirt and while I was doing so, I tried to diagnose the stains. Some were outlines of milk that most likely dribbled down Beau’s shirt as he chugged from his sippy cup and simultaneously spit milk out. Others looked like the remnants of his favorite foods like pasta sauce and blue berry pancakes. Although, a mild encumbrance, these stains tell a story of a little boy. And they will only evolve. Some day they will be grass stains and blood splotches from scrapped knees and elbows. This is when began to see my life unfold in front of me. This is when I truly saw myself as a boy mom. And then fear sunk in, I realized that I really need to learn how to do laundry better in order to successfully combat boyhood.

My boy is blossoming and experiencing the world around him and I have a dirty hamper of clothes to prove it. Some how I feel as though doing Beau’s laundry will always keep me connected to him. Maybe this is why Moms know everything after all.

The 10 Year Plan

If you were to ask me a decade ago, where I see myself in ten years, I’m certain that my answer would reflect my current circumstances. Of course it wasn’t easy getting here.

I graduated high school 7th in my class with a 3.9 GPA. I was the ideal prospect for college and would be one of the first in my family to go. I went to college for two semesters and completely lost my identity. I developed a dangerous relationship with food and began using it as means of self infliction. Initially, I was in denial about how much damage I was doing. I assumed because I was strictly consuming healthy foods, there was no harm in my eating habits. I spent most of my time in the gym. I isolated myself because I didn’t want to be forced to eat outside of what my mind deemed “healthy.” I remember lying to people and telling them I had diabetes, so I wouldn’t be put in a situation where I had to eat pizza or ice cream. I dropped so much weight, that my body started shutting down. I was completely out of control. It wasn’t until one of the customers at the diner told me that I looked like an Ethiopian that I became self aware of how much damage I was doing.

Although, this was progress, it wasn’t the end. After depriving myself of brownies and donuts and sugar in general, I began to binge. Everyday after work I would sit in my mom’s kitchen shoving as much food as I possibly could into my body. I remember putting maple syrup on everything. I barely tasted the food because I was eating it so fast. After about 30 minutes of barbaric indulgence, I would go upstairs and sleep for two hours because I was so disgusted with myself. I gained 30 lbs in less than two months. I was ashamed and embarrassed. I finally got to a point where I wanted to get better, but I was too afraid to go to the gym in order to do so. I was so afraid of what everyone would think. I remember calling out of work,”fat.” I begged my sister to work for me because I felt too uncomfortable in my skin to even be seen in public. I bought some loose fitting clothes that were forgiving on my softer, curvier body. This motivated me to finally gather the courage to get back in the gym. At first it was awkward. People stared at me as if I was a stranger. I went from this 110 little figure with a six pack to a 170 lb potato sack. I remember a guy I would regularly see there asking me if I was pregnant. Although, it was painful to hear, I couldn’t blame him. I had literally gone from one extreme to the next in three months. I got better. I went to the gym regularly again and avoided my “triggers.” I accepted the fact that I had an addiction to food and I needed to find some balance.

It was right around the time that I was establishing balance that the man who would later be my husband asked me on a date. I hastily said yes and it wasn’t until an hour before the date, that I bailed on him. I was finally figuring myself out again and becoming comfortable with who I was, but I still wasn’t ready to date. About 6 months later, my future husband persisted and asked me out on a date again. This time I did not bail on him. It was history from there. I continued to practice healthy eating habits. I enjoyed pizza with him on Saturday nights and could eat a salad without feeling like I was going down a dark path of restricted eating again. Brandon was the one who fortified my quest for balance. He completed me in every way that I wasn’t. He loved me for the person I was, even though I was healing from an ugly version of myself.

A couple years later we moved in together and got a dog. This would be my first dog ever. I always wanted a golden retriever and my mom continually shut me down. She said when I moved out, I could get a dog. That’s what I did. Max filled in a part of my life, I never knew was vacant. I never knew how much I needed a dog, until I had one. About a year later, Brandon exploited Max’s cuteness with an adorable proposal. Max practically sealed the deal. How could I say no to those chocolate brown eyes? A year and a half later we had the most magical wedding outside of the Stonington borough. I knew that I had found the guy who completed me and loved me without limitations.

A couple months after being married, we decided we wanted to start a family. It felt like forever before I saw two pink lines appear on a pregnancy test. Month after month I would get discouraged that it wasn’t happening. We’ve been conditioned to believe that pregnancy can happen so quickly. Although that is true for some people, I was beginning to think it wasn’t our fate. A few days after my birthday, I sat on the toilet with Max at my feet trying not to look at the pregnancy test on the sink. I got up and prepared myself for defeat. It was to my surprise that the test read positive. That moment in time was pure euphoria. It has burrowed deep into my heart and will always be one of my favorite memories. I enjoyed being pregnant. My mind, body, soul and spirit have never felt more in harmony. I treasured every day I got to be a vessel to the greatest gift my body would ever give me. Our beautiful baby boy was born on December 14. I had an eventful labor and ended up getting a c section which would be my first surgery ever. Days after bringing beau home from the hospital my c section incision opened. This would prompt some of the most trying times of my life. I was so tired I was having hallucinations and pain radiated throughout my entire body with every move I made. I had to be a mom to this vulnerable little boy, when I myself, was weak. I began to have intrusive thoughts. I dwelled on the thought of dying and it robbed me of some of the most precious moments with my son. Slowly, I emerged from the depths of the newborn stage. I started to find a rhythm and Beau surrendered a couple hours of sleep here and there. I got better. I evolved into the mom, I always wanted to be. I love my son, but I also love motherhood. I feel so fortunate to relish in the purest form of love there could ever be.

Amongst all of the excitement of being new parents, Brandon and I bought a lot of land. Initially, we were looking to buy a house, but we were having a hard time finding our “dream home.” We are so excited to embark on the exciting and stressful endeavor of building.

This past decade has been an era of growth for me. I’ve hit rock bottom. I’ve been stripped down to the most vulnerable version of myself. I’ve convinced myself that I’m not cut out for this life. I’ve faced my demons from the inside out. I’ve accomplished dreams I used to fantasize about as a little girl playing with Barbie dolls. I’ve evolved into a woman that I’m proud of. I’m comfortable in my skin and so completely happy and grateful for the life I’m living. The last ten years has molded me into the person I was always meant to be. The good, the bad, the ugly. It all led me to this point. I can’t wait to see where I’ll be in ten years.

Growing and Glowing

It’s that time of year again and the Christmas tree is up. As I sit in the living room nursing Beau, the hue of lights on the tree surround me with a familiar warmth. The gentle glow of the room reminds me of those first couple of weeks after we brought Beau home. I “slept” in the living room because after a c section it was easier for me to get on and off the couch, rather than the bed. I tucked Beau’s bassinet beside me and kept the Christmas tree lit. I told myself that I kept the tree on because it provided me with sufficient light to keep an eye on Beau’s breathing and to safely take him in and out of the bassinet. But truthfully, I believe I left the tree lit because it was a beam of light during those lonely and hopeless nights.

There were many nights I would wake up soaked because my boobs were overproducing milk and I didn’t know that breast pads were even a thing. I could barely call my husband’s name into the next room, because pain would radiate throughout my entire body any time I engaged my core muscles. I was on pain medication that made me feel like my house was a spaceship and the lack of sleep produced an unequivocal level of delirium. My c section incision ripped open, rendering me even more fragile and helpless than I already was.

During that time, our tree stood proudly and served as a a symbol of peace and happiness. It reminded me of all of those warm and fuzzy feelings I get when its this time of year. It retained a sense of hope for me during those long nights in the living room.

As I sit here rocking Beau amongst that familiar glow, I find myself reflecting on how much has changed this year. Last time the Christmas tree was up, Beau was a delicate newborn. He could barely see far enough to appreciate the lights and decorations and I didn’t have to think twice about him trying to climb up the tree or eat the bulbs. Beau has flourished from a tender infant, to a fiercely spirited little boy.

While Beau has been accelerating physically and mentally, so have I. Motherhood has gotten easier, although the worries and trials have only just evolved. My body has recovered and I finally feel in control of my thoughts and emotions again. I feel as though people can take me seriously as a mother now, and I don’t look like I’m playing “house.” That is until, I take Beau’s sippy cup apart and can’t put it back together. With every triumph as a mother, there’s been a hand covered in poop or a melt down in public to mildly humble me. I’ve learned to tread lightly and to take each day as it comes. I wish I could tell the me that stood in front of last year’s tree how far I would come as a mother. Last year’s me would be so proud.

The Christmas tree has always served as a beacon of hope in my life. From when I was little girl, running down the stairs on Christmas morning to now as my first year as a new mom comes to an end. The tree reminds me of how far I’ve come and how much more I have left to go.

Beautiful Chaos

My living room has become inundated with brightly colored blocks, an entire collection of Dr. Seuss books, and variety of toys that make noise even if you just look at them. This is not including my dog’s emotional support teddy bear that is the size of a large toddler or the countless number of other dog toys that we’ve accumulated from our BarkBox subscription. I can’t walk to the couch with a glass of wine without stepping on something that squeaks or recites the alphabet.

Since he’s started crawling, Beau’s line of sight has expanded and many of my low lying house decorations are now rendered in the danger zone. My book shelf is becoming more and more bare by the day and I’ve considered removing the coffee table all together, because all it seems to do is invite trouble.

My shower is starting to resemble the living room on a smaller scale. Some of those brightly colored blocks have found their way into the bath along with a rubber ducky and a waterproof xylophone. You’ve got to be kidding me. Why does my kid need toys that make noise in the bath too? I realized I took my husband’s three in one body wash for granted, when I was forced to share my shower caddy with Beau’s bath stuff. Of course he needs normal soap for day time baths and lavender soap for nighttime, (like that makes any difference). And even though Beau has less hair on his head than both of my eyebrows combined, he needs his own shampoo. We recently put a little whale over our bath spout for safety purposes, which so far all it’s done is further reinforce that this house is no longer run by adults.

My car now has presets to stations that play kid friendly music. There’s small toys in just about every nook and cranny and I don’t leave anywhere without my shopping cart cover. I wouldn’t say I have a full on mom mobile quite yet, but we are a few stale McDonald’s French fries and a sticker family away from approaching that status.

Everyday I am reminded that my life is no longer just mine anymore. Beau’s stuff has taken over our house, but I find comfort in these things as they emit so much innocence and nostalgia. Having baby things around the house reminds me of my childhood and brings me back to a time when life was simple. I embrace my messy living room and the juvenility of the shower because they serve as a reminder that I’m exactly where I want to be.

Picture This

Yesterday, I stepped out of my comfort zone and volunteered with five other women to be photographed while breastfeeding our babies. A local photographer had posted on Facebook looking for breastfeeding moms with children ranging from newborn to over a year old. A few people tagged me in her post, most likely because I am pretty vocal about my gripes with breastfeeding as well as my devotion to it.

Although, I am comfortable enough to talk about my breastfeeding journey, I am still very unsure of myself when it comes to feeding Beau in public. I try to avoid situations where I’ll have to feed him around strangers. If I find myself in one of those situations, I’ll usually retreat to the car or bathroom. I give all of the praise in the world to the woman who are comfortable enough to feed their babies in public, but I’m not sure if I will ever be one of them.

I have been wanting a professional photo of myself breastfeeding Beau, but I never gathered the courage to make it happen. This opportunity seemed too perfect not too take up though, so without further thought, I reached out to the photographer in search of breastfeeding moms. I immediately got great vibes from Olivia. Her passion for the vision she was trying to create excited me for the photo shoot.

I was one of the first people to arrive to the location where we would be taking the photos. I saw one of the other moms get out of her mini van and shake hands with a woman who I presumed was Olivia. I got out of my car and introduced myself and Beau. I immediately felt secure with these women. I guess knowing that we all had a common interest, especially one as intimate as breastfeeding, kind of bonded us.

Shortly after the rest of the moms and babies joined us and I felt like I made five new best friends. It was so comforting to be surrounded by woman who understood me without having to say a word. Olivia requested that the babies be in diapers for the shoot. I absolutely loved this idea. As I was struggling to take off Beau’s onesie, one of the other moms came over to help me without hesitation. I was so grateful to be in the presence of such supportive, nonjudgmental women.

Olivia did some individual shots with the moms and their babies. Initially, I was nervous because I had never breastfed in front of someone I barely knew other than the nurses in the hospital. My fears were quickly subdued by Olivia’s easy going personality and gentle demeanor. She made everything feel natural, despite the fact that Beau and I were so sweaty we were sticking to each other!

The last thing we did was the group shot. I’ve never felt more united with a group of strangers than I did at the moment. There was some serious girl power flourishing between the six of us and our children. It was a force so palpable that even when Olivia was done taking the pictures, we all kind of lingered in our spots and held our babies a little longer.

I am so grateful for the opportunity Olivia presented to us. The experience ignited a shade of confidence in me and my breastfeeding journey. It made me realize that breastfeeding in public is a natural beautiful thing, that no one should be ashamed of and women are a lot more supportive of each other than people might assume.

Photography by: Olivia Drew Photography