Confessions of a Stressed Out 28-year old

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This post will have absolutely nothing to do with beauty. I hope you don’t mind that. Sometimes I need to write about something other than a mascara, ya know? I used to write in diaries and journals daily. I miss those days. Even now if I wanted to write in a journal, I’d be consistent for a good week and then fall off the wagon.

Can I be honest? I mean, REALLY honest? I am crazy stressed out. I could blame the pressures of being a new mom but honestly, I think I was stressed before Elle Belle. I’m just one of those people who happens to always be on the edge about something: finances, job circumstances, weight, location, health. You name it and I stress about it. It’s just who I am. And stress isn’t always a bad thing. But lately, I’ve just been wiped out. Do you ever feel like you work too hard but at the same time you’re not working hard enough? It’s so tough to find a balance.

You ever want to get away? I mean, REALLY get away? Not worry about a thing and just jet to an island where the sun is plentiful and the only disturbance you hear are the waves crashing? I’ve been to Miami, Jamaica and the Bahamas…I know what paradise looks like. And man, how I’d love to visit again. But investing in a trip seems crazy when there are so many other expenses in my lane.

I’m not complaining. I’m grateful for every breath I take. I am thankful for my beautiful family, the opportunities that have come by way and the doors that I know will open for me in the future. I am confident and positive but hey I’m all about accepting ALL of my emotions and sheesh…I’m stressed.

I say all of that to say that posts may be slow and inconsistent. My only free time to really blog is after work and I’d rather spend time with Elle and prepping for the next day. And even after she goes asleep sometimes I want to sit in the dark and do nothing. Think about nothing. I just want to be.

Sometimes we DO so much. It’s as if we forgot how to BE. Be in the moment. Be still. Be quiet. And maybe it’s the Capricorn in me but I love the quiet. I need it sometimes.

Tomorrow I’ll put up Baby Elle’s 5 month update. And then after that, I’m just going to go with the flow. :cool:

 

XOXO,
B

A Message On Mother’s Day 2013

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People think that Mother’s Day is a day just for women who are are Mothers in the traditional sense of the word. I’ve never felt that way. I’ve grown up in a culture that truly believes in the “It takes a village” philosophy. Mamas can’t be everywhere all the time so that’s when other mama-figures step in. Who said you have to physically give birth to a child to help mother them? No. Motherhood is far more than conception and birth. Motherhood is being that safe place, having that nurturing spirit, the tear and boo boo wiper, the comic relief, the support system, the stickler, the teacher and the friend when needed. Motherhood is truly a verb.

It’a commercial holiday, yes, but this is one that I’ve always felt was okay. Why shouldn’t we shower our Mothers with love and affection? Shouldn’t we do so everyday? Absolutely. But we don’t. So if it takes one day to truly pamper, love on Moms and let them know how invaluable they are, well then…I’m all for it.

Mother’s Day is also a day for mourning. Some mourn the loss of their mothers, either in the physical sense or because a relationship wasn’t or isn’t in place. Some mourn the loss of their children on Mother’s Day. Or they feel inadequate because they aren’t Mothers in the traditional sense. Take solace in knowing that motherhood does not determine womanhood or a woman’s value. And if a mother touched our lives for even a short second or a short lifetime, she should be celebrated, even if she has gone on to glory.

So yes, I have always celebrated Mother’s Day by gifting my mothers and friends who are mothers with cards and treats. Being a mother is hard. The constant worrying, the wondering if you’re doing everything right, the sleepless nights, the critics who question your parenting choices but ooooh, motherhood is also a blessing. One of the biggest one’s in my life.

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I thank God everyday for Elle. Yes, Alex and I did the work to bring her in this world (too much info? Ha!) but I truly believe she chose me. I could have never crafted such an amazing being on my own. I’ve babysat and been a nanny to dozens of children so I’ve always had an adoration for children but it skyrocketed when I gave birth to Elle in that small room at the birthing center 4 months ago. Elle is special. I’m sure all parents say that about their children but there is truly something dynamic about this 4-month old who has mastered smiling and stealing hearts. She has been a joy to our family during some tough times. She has given me more purpose and more of a reason to work hard each day. On my first Mother’s Day, I thank my daughter Elle. I thank her for choosing me.

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms. To all mothers, grandmothers, godmothers, mother-in-laws, stepmothers, older sisters, aunts, friends, teachers, caretakers and pet mommies.  Bless you all!

6 Things I Wish I Would Have Known About Being A First Time Parent

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It’s been a minute since I’ve done a baby post. I was inspired by the blog Baby Sideburns. If you haven’t read that blog, pleeeeease check it out. I love this lady’s approach to parenthood. She keeps it real and doesn’t care what you think about it. I’d much rather read parenting blogs like hers versus the ones that are all like, “I want to raise balanced children and practice attachment parenting, blah blah blah.” Whatever. I like when parents delve into the positives AND negatives of parenting.

So here we go: 6 Things I Wish I Would Have Known About Being A First Time Parent

 

You really WILL miss being pregnant.

FACT: I didn’t enjoy pregnancy that much. I was practically dying the first 4 months and while 2nd trimester was fun, it flew by. And then 3rd trimester came along and brought back pains, heartburn and anxiety. Don’t listen to those women who are all like, “Pregnancy is soooo wonderful.” They’re lying. They didn’t tell you about the hemorrhoids, spontaneous diarrhea, random rashes, sciatic or insomnia. But the crazy thing is, even after the physical pains of pregnancy and labor/delivery, I actually MISSED being pregnant. It’s as if I forgot about the morning sickness. I missed the lovely things like feeling Elle’s kicks and watching my tummy grow. I missed how powerful I felt. But I really do like my body 1,000x better when I’m not with child because pregnancy will wear your body ouuuuut. Yeah. So while I do want more children (in like 10 years…okay, maybe 5), I want to enjoy my body a bit more before it gets wrecked again.

 

Showers and baths are luxuries.

Actually someone did tell me there would be days when I wouldn’t have time to bathe and I didn’t believe them. But it’s so true! Judge me all you want but my longest stretch without bathing was 4 days. I smelled like fresh breast milk and regurgitated breast milk. And defeat. Yes, defeat has a smell. Sexy, uh? Who really has time for a shower when you’ve got a baby who gets up every hour or two? And when they aren’t sleeping, you’re either trying to stuff your face or you’re standing over their crib watching them breathe. So yeah. For all of you folx without kids and want to know what to get that new mom in your life – save the onesies and burp cloths. Come to her house and watch the baby while she showers. Oh, and bring food. In fact, if you were coming to visit me and Elle during the early weeks, you weren’t allowed in my house without food.

 

A new baby will alter your marriage a bit.

A baby is a new and hard adjustment for a couple. I was physically tired and overwhelmed and while Esposo went to work a week after Elle was born, he was dealing with the guilt of not being around enough WHILE trying to provide for his family. Neither one of us have any family in the area so we had very little help with Elle. Our communication halted because I was an emotional wreck and couldn’t always vocalize when I needed help. In fact, things didn’t get better until months later. So yes, be prepared for what a new baby will do to your marriage.

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 You will adapt to having little to no sleep.

I never thought I could do it. I’ve never been one to function without less than 6 hours of sleep. But honey….I am a pro at sleep deprivation now. I will forever toot my own horn because I not only catered to a newborn around the clock but I pumped every 2 hours, maintained a blog, kept the house decent AND had dinner cooked every night. I’m lying about that last part. Y’all know I married Esposo for his cookin’. :cool: But seriously, your body will adapt to the no sleep thing. Oh, and you’ll never sleep in again. Maybe when the kid is 5 or something but yeahhhh….those days of sleeping until 10am are over. Yeah. I cried about it too.

You officially become one of them: A person with a child.

Parenthood is a club. And it really doesn’t feel like that until you become one. Before kids, I was just a person without kids. But now that I’m a parent, my social life is baby based. When friends are all like, “Ooooh, let’s do dinner at 6pm.” I’m all like, “Um no! Elle has to get picked up from the sitter.” Everything I want to do is surrounded around the bebe. And only friends with kids get this. They understand if I’m running 15 minutes behind because even though I was ready to leave Elle had poop seeping out of her diaper and then spewed milk all over her dress. Friends with kids get it. Friends without kids aren’t always so understanding and I get it because I too used to be like “OMG…do your kids control your life?” Actually they do.

If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll want to eat all the time.

I wasn’t the typical pregnant woman. I never had cravings, gained 9 lbs during pregnancy and lost 12 lbs shortly after giving birth. And although I exclusively pump for Elle, I didn’t think I’d deal with the normal breastfeeding woes. Like the ravenous appetite. That appetite is unreal y’all. It’s like, “Feed me now! Feed me everything in sight.” And I get it – pumping/breastfeeding burns a lot of calories but dang, I never expected to eat insane amounts of food. And the crazy thing is, you don’t even care. Like normally I’d be embarrassed about eating so much. Pfft. Whatever. The first time I went to brunch with a gal pal I ordered TWO meals to eat there and then a meal to eat on the way home. Because the 15 minutes it took to get home, I just knew I’d be starving again. True story.

Bonus: Baby blues are real.

I like to consider myself emotionally stable. Haha. Just kidding. I’m a woman. But seriously, I’ve never dealt with depression so I just knew I wouldn’t have an issue with the baby blues. Please. I was an emotional, hot and cold, crying mess for 3 weeks straight. It felt unreal. I’ll never forget the day Esposo and I were chatting and I just burst out into tears. He’s all like, “What’s wrong?” “I don’t knowwwww.” I’m telling him. I was literally crying for no reason. None. This happened frequently. In fact, when I noticed that I hadn’t cried for an entire 3 days, I felt like throwing myself a party. Being a new mom is haaaaard. It just is. You are physically and emotionally overwhelmed ALL the time. You adore your baby but you kinda miss the free life too. You want more help but you want to do everything yourself. You want to be the perfect mom but baby won’t stop crying. You want to poop but that whole “just had a baby” thing makes it difficult. Too much information? Whatever. These things are important to know and I wish someone would have told me. I was glad to know that several other girlfriends also dealt with baby blues and got over it. And those that didn’t went and got professional help.

But through it all, being a Mom is awesome. And fun. Any first time parents out there?

Event: Meet Me at Naturals In The City!

Hey girls…hey! It’s my first speaking engagement of the year. Woot! I haven’t done a local event since last November so I am super excited to be hosting and sitting on a panel at the Naturals In The City event in Tampa, Florida.

Loving My Natural Self VIEW

Focused on natural hair, beauty, fashion and wellness, this is THE event to be at this season. Tickets are only $15 and you’ll get to check out several vendors, listen to panels regarding beauty and hair and have a great day out in the beautiful Tampa Bay area. If you think you’ll be in the Tampa area, purchase a ticket and meet me out there. I would so love to see you! For more information, visit the event website.

Weight Watchers, here I come!

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Guess who joined Weight Watchers?! Meeee! And the cool thing is, I’ll be blogging about my experience the entire time. I actually started last week but that was more of a dry run. It was hard, y’all. I’ve been on many weight loss challenges before and this is proving to be the most difficult because I am a breastfeeding mother. I express on average 60-70 oz of breast milk (through a breast pump) a day and aside from it being draining, it makes me incredibly ravenous. Breastfeeding burns a ton of calories and in return, moms HAVE to steadily nourish themselves. Weight Watchers is the only weight loss program that I’ve ever heard of that actually has a track for nursing moms.

I actually gained a pound from last week. Opps! I’m not worried. There will be up’s and down’s and I’m ready for ‘em. I will even unveil my current size and where I’m looking to go.

So I’m 213 lbs. This is NOT baby weight as I was actually 216 before I gave birth to Elle. I only gained 9 lbs during my pregnancy and quickly lost it all. I am not embarrassed at being 5’6 and 213. Is it an ideal weight? No. But is it fixable? Absolutely. I am human and of course I have insecurities but I have always felt that I looked like I weigh less than I do. I toggle between a size 12/14 but I just happen to have a solid build. I will never be a small girl because I’m an amazon woman. I’ve got big thighs and legs and so when it comes to loosing weight, I like to set realistic goals for myself. I recently had a physical at my midwife’s office and my BP and cholestrol numbers are in healthy ranges, so really it’s just my weight that’s an issue. I have no intentions of being a size 2 and I don’t think my body would let me be a size 2 anyway.  But weighing less would put me in healthier ranges and in a happier disposition so I’m all for it!

This will be the biggest weight loss challenge yet. Trying to find the time to workout, battling the cravings and trying to stay satiated through breastfeeding will be tough but I can do it! I will also be giving you the ins and outs of the very cool Weight Watchers online program. Stay tuned for next week’s update!

Got any healthy snack or workout tips for me? Moms who have breastfed and tried to loose weight, I would love some advice from you!

 

*I have received a free 3-month pass to experience Weight Watchers online. I am not being paid to use or endorse Weight Watchers and thoughts are my own. People following the Weight Watchers plan can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week.

Giving Back Is Awesome

 

Coke

I miss college sometimes, y’all. I really do. I graduated from the University of South Florida in 2007 and while I spent most of my college career stressing over money or grades (pshhhtt, or both), I had a lot of fun too. And I’m not talkin’ drunken kind of fun. Girl no. When I wasn’t in class, working, hanging out with friends or trying to catch some Z’s, I was involved in some volunteer organization on campus. From the moment I stepped on campus until the day I graduated, I made it my duty to “help” in some way. I focused on different organizations each year but one of the most influential events that shaped me into the person I am today was that time I went to Philadelphia to volunteer at a school.

Alternative Spring Break is what they called it. Instead of jetting to Cancun, Mexico or taking up a weeklong stay on their sofas, college students involved in Alternative Spring Break jetted to another city and volunteered their vacations away. I joined a group of 15 fellow students and we bused our way from Tampa, Florida to Philadelphia. We bunked on the floors of a church in an area of North Philly called the Badlands. Each day we worked on various projects. From street clean-up to volunteering at the neighborhood school, we not only got to help out a community in need but we had a great time doing it.

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Coca-Cola is launching a Pay It Forward campaign that’s all about giving back and experiences like mine in Philly have totally convinced me to continue to pay it forward. Since that trip I’ve been volunteering as much as a I can through various organizations.

Because a great mentor can make all the difference, Coca-Cola has teamed up with Magic Johnson, Common and Debra Lee of BET Networks to give four young people the apprenticeship experience of a lifetime. Visit MCR.com/PayItForward to nominate an aspiring youth and help pay it forward to the next generation. You’ll also be automatically entered for a chance to win $5,000 for
each nomination you make (up to five nominations per person).

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Coca-Cola via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Coca-Cola.

 

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Elle’s Birth Story

[NOTE: I omitted a lot of the squeamish parts of labor and delivery but if you have any particular questions, I am so okay with answering them in the comments. Like, did I really encapsulate my placenta? Sure did!]

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I feared a lot throughout my pregnancy. It was ridiculous, really. I am naturally a very anxious person and pregnancy only heightened that for me. My decision to go with a midwife instead of an OB/GYN didn’t help the situation either. The midwifery philosophy means trusting the woman’s body to do what it needs to do to nurture baby in-utero without much intervention. While some women may get ultrasounds at every prenatal appointment, I had one at 20 weeks. I was in the dark throughout most of my pregnancy. Instead of trusting my body, I questioned if everything was okay. If she didn’t move, I’d freak out. If she moved too much, I’d freak out. I was in panic mode 24/7. The crazy thing is, the only time I really trusted my body was when I was going through labor.

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My water broke when I was polishing my nails. But of course, right? I flew out of the beauty room to Esposo. My pants were to my ankles and I was running back and forth like some maniac. We decided to call the midwife and they recommended that I come in ASAP so they could test me to see if I was leaking amniotic fluid. I just knew I was wasting my time. Because obviouslyyyyy, my water didn’t break. I just peed on myself. That’s it.

But we hopped in the car and drove the midwife and within 20 minutes I had my legs spread all open for the world to see.

“You’re having a baby today.” said the midwife.

I tossed myself in Denial River again.

“Wait, wha?…no. No. Like..not today. How do you know? Is this real life?”

We were told to go back home so that I could labor there and to come back in 4 hours. I tested positive for Group B Strep and had to have an antibiotic. Which also ruled me out of that glorified water birth that I wanted. Womp. We got home and I threw myself in the nook of the sofa and then labored on my labor ball. Esposo kept glancing at me and was steadily asking me if I needed anything. He was so calm. So so calm. I was fine. I couldn’t understand why people said labor was sooo hard. If these were contractions (mind you, that hadn’t started yet), I was doing amaziiiing.

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10 minutes later I was on the floor on all fours moaning and groaning. I’d go from the floor to rolling on my yoga ball. The contractions were in, ladies and gentlemen. And those mofos hurt. The only respite I got was the few minutes between contractions. Those minutes were glorious. I timed my contractions. 3-4 minutes apart. I got so uncomfortable that I crawled up to the bed. The contractions got worse. And worse. And worse. I hummed throughout them. I focused on my breathing. I got that from reading Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. That book spoke to my hippie soul. It is chock full of birth stories where the women were having babies in cabins and in the woods and all of that craziness. That’s so me. I’d have a baby in a cabin. Yep.

Esposo began packing up the car. He told me I should try to eat something before we left. Good idea. Each step I took killed me. I winced in pain. I continued to hum. Being upright was the worst. I somehow made it to the car and we took the 15 minute trek to the birthing center. Each bump made me want to hurl. I kept timing my contractions. 2 minutes apart and there weren’t many breaks in between.

We made it to the birthing center and they got us settled in the room. The midwife checked me and I was already 5 centimeters dilated. This baby was coming. And I was dying. My Mom was nowhere to be found because earlier that day she told me that she had gotten dreadfully ill and that I simply couldn’t have the baby today. How could my Mom not be there through this? My doula was on her way but I just knew she wouldn’t make it either.

In my head I was cursing up a storm. Out of my mouth, all I could do was hum and say, “Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouuuuuuch.” Over and over again. The sweet nurse brought me ice cold water.

“I’m going to throw up.” I told her.

She brought me a pan and I threw up. I knew I was probably going through transition and that shortly after barfing, the pain would only intensify. I tried to stay calm. I asked Esposo to rub my back.

“Get off of me.” I tell him seconds later.

I was loosing it. The pain was out of control. Now that I look back at it, the contractions were painful but manageable. I suffered from painful menstrual cramps my entire life and so my pain tolerance is pretty up there. The real pain came from the perineal massage that my midwife gave me during those contractions. I wanted to kick her in her chin each time she told me to relax as she tried to massage the nether regions. I knew that she was only doing this to help prevent me from tearing but I was an animal at that point. I just wanted that baby out and I didn’t want anyone touching me.

If you’re not familiar with childbirth, when a baby is ready to come out, you push as if you have to take a poop. It’s the weirdest feeling because not only are you dealing with the pressure from baby bearing down, but you’ve also got those contractions kicking. It’s hard to focus and stay calm but I pushed and pushed and pushed and Baby Elle was born into the world at 5: 27pm. I was in active labor for 5 hours and I pushed for 17 minutes. My labor went so quickly that I didn’t even have a chance to rip my shirt and bra off.

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My labor and delivery is considered speedy for a first time mom and quite frankly, after everything was said and done, I felt like I deserved an effing award. Soooo many people told me I was crazy for having a baby in a birthing center without the option of an epidural and pain meds. If I had to do it all over again, I would not have changed anything. Because Elle was considered small at 5 lbs, the birthing center recommended that we go to the hospital (uggghhhh) to have her fully examined. We were hesitant to do this because her Apgar scores were already high at a 9 and 10 and we just knew the hospital would give us a bunch of run around. And we were right. We spent hoursssss at the hospital. Just for them to tell us what we already knew. Our baby was healthy. Just small with a touch of jaundice. This detour to the hospital prevented Elle and I from really practicing her latch when it came to breastfeeding. It also resulted in two overwhelmed and fatigued first time parents who wanted nothing more than to just take their baby home.

So yes, while my labor and delivery was “perfect”, the events that followed were not. But it doesn’t matter. Baby Elle is here and she’s happy and healthy.

I always considered myself to be a strong woman, both physically and mentally. Giving birth to my daughter gave me a new badge of honor. I left that birthing center so so soooo proud of myself. Yes, I was terrified that my baby decided to come 3 weeks early and I was soooo sad that family members and friends couldn’t make it but the pride I had in myself trumped the sadness and fear that enveloped me during labor.

And not to sound like some superwoman, but pregnancy, labor and delivery are all easy compared to the struggle that came with breastfeeding and dealing with those postpartum hormones. THAT’S the part that people don’t tell you about. Stay tuned for more posts on life with baby. I know Clumps is a beauty blog but I think it’s important to normalize conversations like breastfeeding and the not so bubbly parts about being a first time mom. And if you could care less about that kind of stuff and would rather read about cosmetics, then hey, it’s all good too. I promise not to overload the blog with baby stuff. Maybe once a week or so. :wink:

Baby Clumps is here!

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…I mean, woooooow. I am just as shocked as you are. Elle came 3 weeks early and surprised us all.

By the way, it’s pronounced “El”. Not “El-ly”. Ellie is cute but you wouldn’t believe how many people have pronounced it that way. Which kinda sorta boggles my mind.

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I’m so in love with her. Everything she does amazes me. I’m pretty impressed with myself too. And Esposo. I’ll share her birth story in the coming weeks but there really isn’t much to say. Water broke. Active labor for 5 hours. Pushed for 17 minutes. Birthed a babe on January 7th…5 days after my birthday and in a comfortable birthing center.

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Baby girl was born only weighing 5 lbs so we’re working hard to get her to gain weight. She has to go to the pediatrician every other day or so. I’ve got a dream team of a midwife, doula, pediatrician and lactation consultant. And honestly, having the baby was the easy part. Breastfeeding is a whole ‘nother beast that is challenging but I am so dedicated to get down.

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I am beyond sleep deprived but whatever. Baby Clumps is here and she’s healthy and some kind of awesome. She’s so tiny but so strong. She motivates me. Life is even more amazing.

Posts will be slow around here but for good reason. :cool: