This morning I walked out onto the back porch & faced the sun beams streaming through the trees. I quieted my heart, asking God what the day might hold. I breathed in the summer air, not yet touched by the humidity promised in the lingering haze. I stretched & smiled because I know each morning, each day is another chance.
If you knew me ten or even five years ago, you may be surprised to see my zeal for God and the Church. Back then I wouldn’t have believed you if you told me that I would be a holy water keeping, blessed candle lighting, novena saying, rosary wielding, joyful Catholic.
Continue reading “I Never Meant to be a Catholic Blogger, or Even a Catholic & Why I’m Staying Both”
We had the first snow of the season here a couple of weeks ago and this year I am determined to change my perspective on the cold and darker months. It really was a lovely snowfall.
My family baked, snuggled and went to bed early. I laid in the dark wrapped in my blanket, basking in the incredible silence that accompanies the flurries. I listened to the flakes piling up and the sound of a plow scraping down the street. The next day I decided to make my Advent wreath and cheerfully clipped and gathered the beautiful things that grow and dwell alongside us in our little woods.
When you’re expecting it’s all about the baby! You’ve spent the last 9 months preparing for and thinking about this huge life change. Now that your little one has made the transition to your arms they are your first priority.
Welcoming a new baby changes everything and the first few months can be brutal. Between sleepless nights and painful nursing its easy to fade into the shuffle of meeting your newborn’s needs. But, if you want to care for them well it helps to care for you, too! Here are a few things that can help you feel more like yourself again as you adjust to your new normal.
My grandmother said to me years ago when I expressed my desire to be a writer that you need to live some life, and have some experiences to be able to write about it! Despite what society may say it’s never too late to go after your dreams, or create new ones.
I recently announced on Instagram my “big news”– I’m being published! I realize that not everyone who reads my blog follows me on Instagram (though you should! 🙂 My IG is like a mini-blog) I am excited to share more about these opportunities soon but in the meantime I wanted to write a post here to share my experience and a few things I have learned along my way.
Yesterday was tough. Really tough. It was one of those days. You know the kind. Where it all seems to be falling apart and you can barely keep it together. Where you run on coffee and adrenaline. One of those days that you just don’t stop. I knew there was a lot to do that day and wanted it to start off with some quiet time with God.
My husband is old fashioned and still likes to buy the paper. One morning as I was reading yesterday’s news over my coffee I saw an advertisement for a grand opening. In a nearby city, a trendy restaurant was holding a round of open interviews. They knew that once they were in business they would have a lot of demand but little staff. “No experience needed! Willing to train!” The ad exclaimed.
While pulling into the parking lot of the pediatrician’s office today I began to strategize. Find a spot close to the entrance, Okay, grab the diaper bag, then take the baby out first since he is in the carrier, then grab Claire and hold on to her squirmy little wrist and when it comes time to open the door to the building? Well…lets just cross that bridge when we get to it!
Adjusting to life with a newborn is a feat in and of itself, and when we threw a toddler into the mix things quickly got complex. Here are a few reasons why.
Naps- 10 minutes after the toddler falls asleep, the baby cries, waking the toddler. So I sit on the floor of the nursery next to her small bed nursing one while patting the back of the other. 40 minutes (if I’m lucky!) later I slink out of the bedroom and carefully close the door only for the squeak of the hinge to wake the newborn, then, repeat.
Too Much Love- If Billy is napping, Claire wants to wake him up to play. She gives his cheek a gingerly pat and says “wake up baby!”. Her love for him is sometimes too strong! She wants to kiss him and hug him and grab his face. We’ve had some fingernail scratches and many reminders to be gentle.
Playtime- My newborn is limited in what he can do physically and my toddler needs me to protect her from herself! One is fragile and still being coddled at the breast in the shade while the other wants to climb, run, jump and play in the sunshine! I’m tethered to one, and chasing the other.
Tandem Nursing- I thought I made it to easy street only nursing Claire for 5 minutes at nap time and bedtime She was practically weaned! Then the new baby was born and we reversed right back to…difficult street. I don’t know at what time it is that you are reading this but I can bet that it is time to nurse at our house! Baby boy feeds round the clock which makes my toddler interested when she normally wouldn’t be.
I only ever nurse them one at a time and she gets jealous when I tell her no. I am trying to nurse her as little as possible, the goal being to completely wean. Often she cries and I distract her with a snack or ship her off with another family member to do something else. Most of the time it works, other times it doesn’t. Still, I’m beginning to learn how to balance the physical needs of the baby and the emotional needs of my toddler.
Mommy, Mommy!- Both kids still require a lot of my attention and with dad back at work I find myself outnumbered. One is crying in my arms while one is clinging to my leg, or Billy is spitting up while Claire squeezes her juice onto the floor! I try to prioritize by need and not want which means asking a lot of patience from a naturally impatient 2 year old. Claire is used to having all of the focus on her and is still getting used to sharing the spotlight.
Having two babies of different stages and needs can be pretty chaotic at times. Two car seats, a double stroller, another set of those annoying onesie snaps, twice the crying, twice the diapers, twice the coffee! But at the end of the day its worth it because we all get to share twice the love.
What was your greatest challenge when you brought home a new baby? Comment below!
Expecting a bundle of joy is one of the most exciting times of your life but all of this change can also bring with it unwanted stress and anxiety. It is very important to keep stress and anxiety in check when you are pregnant because you don’t want your little one to be negatively impacted in any way.
If you suffer with anxiety prior to pregnancy like I did you may find that some of your coping mechanisms such as certain medications are no longer an option. So what’s the good news?
There are many ways to manage stress and anxiety naturally that in my experience work much better than medication long term and can continue to be useful tools postpartum and long after as well.
One of the best things you can do to manage stress and anxiety is to have a self care plan. The things listed in this article are part of mine and I hope they help you form one of your own!
Know Your Triggers.
The first step is to try to recognize what your triggers are. What were you eating, doing, watching or who were you talking to when your stress or anxiety came on? Take note of what brought the feelings on and plan accordingly. Learn to reduce and avoid triggers when possible. We all know that avoiding triggers isn’t always an option but, knowing and preparing yourself to face them can help.
Know Your Comforts.
Learn what soothes you. Everyone has a happy place! Is yours a book? A warm (not hot) bath? A back rub from your babe? Soothing music? Find what you like and do it regularly. Daily even! It’s not selfish! Caring for yourself is part of caring for others and having a healthy pregnancy.
You don’t need to pump iron or run a marathon to reap the benefits of exercise for both body and mind while pregnant! A short walk or gentle yoga flow can regulate your blood pressure, release serotonin, keeps your expanding body loose, and does wonders to clear your mind.
There is a reason the lady on the last flight you took had an “emotional support animal”. Though they can’t verbally communicate animals provide companionship when you may be home alone or on bed rest, relieve stress through petting and snuggling, and can be used to ground you when your anxiety starts to take over (more on that below). Read our adoption story and how my dog helped me through my last pregnancy here.
So many of us suffer from vitamin D deficiency and don’t even know it! An estimated 40%-60% of the entire U.S. population is deficient! Especially in the winter and colder climates with less sunshine. Vitamin D cannot only support your mood but is also important for healthy bone development in your baby. There are few foods that contain vitamin D in comparison to other vitamins. The average prenatal vitamin oftentimes doesn’t provide enough so talk to your doctor about supplementation.
We all know a healthy diet is best but, sometimes food can become an unhealthy coping mechanism (Hi! Stress eater over here!). We can reach for sugar when we feel stressed for that serotonin release. I wouldn’t dream of denying a pregnant woman a cookie but make sure your snacking comes from hunger and isn’t being used as an emotional crutch. If you feel yourself bingeing stop and assess how you are feeling. The sugar rush might help at the moment but, it won’t solve any emotional issues you may be having.
Talk to your partner.
You’re in this together! Tell him how you feel and let him be the glue to hold you together. I know my husband is #1 on my list when I need to vent. There will be many challenges to face throughout life and parenthood and knowing you have him to lean on can be the reassurance you need to keep moving forward.
Talk to your Doctor or Midwife.
If your stress and anxiety is becoming overwhelming there is no shame in counseling. Having someone to talk to can be helpful and a professional with an unbiased, outsider’s point of view can give you a hand in recognizing the reasons for your stress and anxiety, provide you with healthy coping mechanisms and can create a self care plan tailor made for you!
Growing a baby is a 24 hour 7 day a week process but unless you are very lucky it probably isn’t all you have to do! Just say no to the extra chores, extra commitments, and extra activities that you don’t have the energy for. Take time off of work if you need it. Ask your friends to excuse your absence and ask your family to pick up your slack! You can resume your Super Woman ways in a few months.
Do it early, often and while you can! Once baby is here you will wish you took advantage of a midday nap when the house was quiet. For me sleep has always been easier said than done. Pregnancy insomnia is as real as any other lovely symptom and can really stress you out. If you feel yourself tossing and turning don’t freak! Do a calming activity like reading or listening to music until your sleepy again. Avoid the blue light of your TV or phone screen as it can be stimulating and can wake you up instead of soothe you back to sleep.
This is by far the best tool in my self-care arsenal! Peter 1: 5-7 says Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. God is always there and wants us to come to him with our every need, no prayer is too small! Place it all into his hands! Pray for you and your baby’s health, your baby’s future, your marriage, ask God to bless your delivery and motherhood journey, and medicate on scripture. For me, knowing that I could rely on God and witnessing his faithfulness built my trust in him. Read my post here about how my faith helped me overcome my anxiety.
But what if I panic?
Panic attacks are a physical response to stress and anxiety. Your heart starts pounding, your chest gets tight, or your hands could sweat or tingle. Over the years I have been able to feel them coming on and developed some techniques for escaping their grasp.
- Sit Down! If you feel light headed, sit down! We don’t want any falls when we’re carrying precious cargo!
- Breathe! This is the best way to get your heart rate to return to normal. Take full breaths in and out. Practice rhythmic, calming breathing techniques and use what you learn during attacks.
- Ground Yourself! Find a familiar item around you and focus on it. Count the fan blades or floor tiles, go pet your dog or cat, find a family member or call a friend. Distract yourself from your anxiety by occupying your mind with something other than your trigger.
- Talk to Yourself! Panic attacks can put you into a spiral of irrational fear. Find a mantra, something as simple as “It’s going to be okay” can help you remember that everything is okay.
- Get Help! If you feel out of control do not hesitate to call for help!
Share your self-care plan and some of your techniques for managing stress and anxiety below!
Wishing you health and happiness!
*This information comes from my own experiences. I am not a medical professional. Please check with your doctor before starting any supplementation or exercise program!
Photos by: Jessica Dantowitz