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Change, transition, the unknown… These are not scary words to me.  Typically, I love the death and resurrection of self, the ambition of a new adventure, the synchronicities that occur and propel my life magically forward.  It’s a potion that makes me come alive.  The unknown is my jam!! When accompanied with chronic fatigue, however, I am learning the unknown is NOT my jam.  It is indeed a graceless jar of shit that tastes like poodley oodley on burnt toast.  The unknown married with fatigue means all bets… are… OFF.   

When I’m tired, I get ANGRY.  I get accusatory.  I tell God and his minion helpers (who so lovingly give me sign after sign that everything is going to be okay, and IS okay) to fuck off and fuck themselves, fuck the cats, fuck the dog, fuck the wallpaper, fuck my camera, fuck my computer, fuck that person, fuck those people, FUCK EVERYONE, fucking fuck the fucking fucks!!! Which is… ahem… concerning.  

I have to keep myself from throwing the cats out the window.  I have to cement myself to the chair when the garbage truck rumbles up right as my daughter is falling asleep. (I do this so as not to stab the driver in the throat with this pen that feels like MY ONE TRUE FRIEND).  Soooo much love for others… 

I’m not my best self when I’m tired.  I know this.  When the doctor told me I had chronic fatigue, I was like– ‘DUH!!! YOU FUCKING IDIOT! FUCK DOCTORS!!!’  

But when I put the brakes on… take a moment to recompose and breathe… OF COURSE, I don’t like feeling like my real self is disappearing or getting lost in the fatigue and mundane of motherhood day to day.  This isn’t who I want to be– for me, for my husband or for my daughter!

And love for self?  OOF.  I can’t even go there right now. 

Surprisingly, I only recently put this two and two together– that being shaken when handling transition during the worst fatigue of your life is not only a new normal but it’s pretty freakin’ understandable!!  It might take a little time to find your magic, girlfriend!  Feeling like a shit pile because I’ve been unable to ground myself, and find comfort in those roots that steady me to the center of the earth and back, I have been beating myself up for the shell that I inhabit.   It’s good to be reminded this isn’t easy.  It’s a deepening of the lesson plan to get me to a new place, which given the day can be totally annoying or exciting… or really, really annoying. 😉 

Rather than beat myself up (or beat up the people/animals/entities around me that love me), I’m focusing on the following…

I won’t always live in a dark house.

Where I live won’t always be decorated with animal heads and fishing reel wallpaper.

I won’t always live on this little sleep. 

The cats won’t always be indoor cats.

The Small Dog won’t always be so jealous or needy.

We won’t always make bupkis money.

Ruby won’t always wake up through the night.

She won’t always need me to feed her, etc. 

I don’t know what’s to come but I know that this time is temporary and I’m doing my best to allow myself a little grace.  What more can I expect on two hours of sleep a night?  

I know there’s a deeper meaning to all of this, lessons I can take from this aside from ‘parenthood= lack of sleep.’ What is the dialogue that runs through my head when I can’t sleep at four in the morning?  What do I tell myself when I look in the mirror?  What are the first thoughts that come to mind when my red eyes are bulging like a Disney villain?  Is that reality or have I also been listening to the worst version of myself while running the worst dialogue? For the love of God, is ANY of it loving??? 

Nothing at all against the word ‘fuck–‘ a good swear can be a grossly satisfying relief when the need to express frustration feels like sickness.  But here’s hoping a deep breathe or two can give me just enough awareness to add some softer words to my vocabulary. I haven’t used ‘shit’ in a while?  Ha! It seems almost godly in comparison to what’s been coming out of my mouth!

*Deep breath*

Here’s to GRACE… Here’s to BREATH…  and Here’s to BECOMING. xoxo

 

 

Like every family that has been created, our birth story is very personal.  Whether you’re a couple, a single mom or adoptive parents, if you have children, we all have lived through a story of chaos and beauty in creating our families.  Despite how much our experience felt like a nightmare, I also know we’re very lucky.  It felt overwhelming and difficult but not everyone has had it so easy.  I’m also grateful we brought my camera.  The experience sits in such a brain fog, I remember everything and nothing. I wasn’t sure if we’d even get around to using it but I put it on ‘auto’ and hoped for the best.  

Here’s our story… 

I was exactly two weeks overdue with Ruby and while my water broke (thanks to a crazy castor oil cocktail), labor just didn’t want to start.  When I got to the hospital on Saturday, we discovered– despite being overdue, I wasn’t dilated at all, not even a smidge. That was pretty shocking. Not to mention, a bit of a blow. 

My mom had been in town the past week waiting, waiting, waiting past my due date like any good Grandma.  In my head, I had always imagined my mom being there for the birth, so I was incredibly grateful that she flew out. Also, being two weeks overdue, I was extremely bored.  We watched a LOT of ‘Call The Midwife,’ which proved to be strangely comforting. 

I happened to get pregnant at my heaviest weight.  (I don’t recommend that route).  The last time I had been weighed was at 38 weeks (below).  At the time, I had gained about 45 pounds.  

When I look at these photos of me in the hospital, I don’t even recognize myself.  The final month my guess is that I gained an additional ten pounds at least, maybe more? To me, I look really, really bloated and unwell.  While uploading photos, I asked my husband if I had actually gained that much weight or if the fluids they had me on caused me to swell.  He said the photos did look like me and that the last two weeks overdue, I got really big.  Jiminy Christmas… 

While in the hospital, they told me my blood pressure was ‘a little high’ so they were going to put me on a magnesium drip. I began an endless bunch of drugs to assist with dilation and after two full days of various medications and painful internal exams, I had finally dilated to 2 cm.  Unfortunately, every time I had a contraction Ruby’s heart rate would dip, and because at this point I had been in the hospital for two days after my water breaking, they thought a c-section was necessary so as not to get an infection or distress the baby. 

Looking back, while the waiting game was annoying, I am super thankful for that.  Soooo many women have had to push painfully and endlessly before having to have an emergency c-section.  This was not the case for me and I’m beyond grateful.

Up until this point I had been working with a wonderful midwife in Loma Linda and we had plans to give birth in their beautiful tub of my dreams.  *swoon* Despite this birth plan, at 39, I was always open to a c-section if complications arose.  Having a healthy baby was all that mattered, as they say.  When we got to the hospital, though, it got really emotional.  Even typing this today, I get nauseous and my heart starts racing.  PTSD is real, homies!

For starters, we had major issues with the blood pressure machine. Each time it started, it would squeeze my arm so hard, it would cause sharp pinching pain so severe I would wince and it would literally take my breath away.  Of course, this made my heart race even faster. Another time, it made my arm swell so much around my hospital wristband, it cut off the circulation in my hand.  My hand grew pink and swollen and my husband had to rip off the cuff.  Another time, it got so tight it just popped off of my arm completely. In these instances, my heart would race from pain and the readings would be off the chart– like 180 and 220. 

While I wasn’t denying I had high blood pressure, some of these readings couldn’t possibly be correct. For whatever reason, the hospital staff wouldn’t listen when we told them what happened during those high readings, like this obese person just couldn’t come to terms with her high blood pressure. No one would take my blood pressure manually even though I asked.  And once, I was told by a nurse that the reason the cuff hurt is because I have high blood pressure.  Ummm… no. 

My poor mom also had nowhere to sleep.  When I was on another round of meds to be dilated, Lliam drove her back home. I think all of us knew it was for the best.  She was able to feed the animals and ‘Mima’ even learned how to work Netflix on her own!  🙂

The nurses were doing all of these really invasive things and I finally asked to speak to the attending doctor. When she arrived and mentioned the reason for the invasiveness was because ‘preeclampsia is pretty dangerous,’ we were blown away. We never knew they had diagnosed me with preeclampsia or that they found protein in my urine. To me, that is a huge deal to not tell a patient because preeclampsia IS dangerous.  I told her if we had known I had preeclampsia, we would have been more grateful for the invasiveness.

She seemed a bit surprised we didn’t know but did her best to downplay it because we were pretty shocked and angry.  And when she was describing my high blood pressure, she–again!!– mentioned the few super high and faulty readings like they were law, partly being taken into account for the diagnosis. Ack!!

This photo was before the epidural.  I toooootally look like my brother.  Ha!

Everyone kept saying how sorry they were that I wasn’t having the birth I wanted like we were upset about not being with my midwife. I’m sure they didn’t mean it this way, but it felt condescending because that wasn’t the case. We were upset because faulty information was used in decision making, and things weren’t being communicated properly. And I don’t know about you, but when I feel I’m not being listened to and I’m not a part of major decisions or conversations involving myself, my body or my baby, my anxiety– and blood pressure– reeeeeally goes through the roof.  It feels like a crazy nightmare, like you’re in an episode of Black Mirror wringing your hands, screaming as loud as you can, and no one will listen.    

Did I have high blood pressure before I gave birth? Yes and no.  At the very start of my pregnancy it was in the low 140’s but when I quit a stressful job, it went down thirty points in two weeks and hovered at 110 for months.  So I know stress and anxiety is a huge factor for me.  When my husband and I moved back to California, I had readings in the 120’s with my midwife toward the end of my pregnancy but at the time we also had no place to live, no jobs, no money, etc.  It was very stressful so we both took that into account.  Another symptom of preeclampsia is protein in the urine and having tested that every week, I was totally fine.  Also, surprisingly, I barely had any swelling in my legs and feet throughout my entire pregnancy so I wasn’t concerned.  Unfortunately, preeclampsia can come on and be diagnosed at any time.  Previous to that, it’s not to say that I didn’t have high blood pressure at some point during my life, I just wasn’t aware of it.  

After two very long days and no sleep, the resident doctor told us we needed to have a c-section.  A very cerebral guy, he spoke like a robot half asleep, showed no emotion and kept giving us information like it was being downloaded.  My husband and I, a little worse for wear, asked him to leave so we could discuss.  We knew it was our only option at this point but needed a few moments together to feel all the feelings.  When he comes back, my husband had changed into a BMW t-shirt.  All of the sudden the doctor’s eyes lit up, he points at my husband’s shirt and says, “That’s a 2002 BMW!”  

He enthusiastically proceeds to talk to my husband about how much he loves working on BMW’s and how it’s probably the reason he became a doctor.  Because… “I figured if I could fix cars, I could fix people.  Except, come to find out, that 24.2% of people react differently to treatment.”  

WHAAAAAAAAT???????????  

For a metaphysical, partially crunchy and super spiritual gal, my jaw dropped to the floor.  Comparing fixing humans to fixing cars, this doctor was literally my worst nightmare.  At that point, I was like “Okay universe, CLEARLY I’m not allowed to have ANY control here.  And that’s cool, I throw my hands up, Jesus done take the wheel already, I surrender!  

“Um… I would, however, like to ask that these people don’t kill me.”  

I wasn’t sure my prayers were being answered as I was drugged, strapped down to my bed and wheeled into the surgery room.  I know this is all routine and standard procedure  but I remember thinking this is probably how alien abductees feel, completely helpless, as a ginormous bright light blinds you from above. I was nauseous and told its okay to throw up if I needed.  But how?  I was strapped down.  Was I just supposed to let chunks drizzle down my face?  

“God, please don’t let me choke on my own vomit and die during my c-section.”

I was so drugged and tired, I fell asleep through the surgery. Lliam had to wake me when they removed Ruby from my guts.  Even looking like ‘Carrie,’ I love her sooooo much. 

They laid her on my neck wrapped up.  All I remember was being entirely uncomfortable and out of it.  I looked up to the plastic separating me from the doctors just in time to see one of them roughly compressing my stomach with their folded hands like they were trying to resuscitate my uterus, or jamming an overstuffed suitcase closed. I could feel it but not feel it. It was insaaaaane. I remember feeling entirely outside of my body and thinking this was the most surreal experience of my life. 

This didn’t feel like a magical moment.  That is why I am so grateful we brought the camera.  Looking back, I’m able to see the beauty in these moments, though they didn’t feel beautiful at the time…. which is pretty much everything I know and love about photography.

Ruby Clementine Donohue was brought into the world on February 12, 2018.  My sister Jodianne’s birthday.  She is an Aquarius with a Gemini ascendant and a Capricorn moon.  🙂

Being overdue, I was for sure she was going to be 146 pounds with a pumpkin head.  I’m grateful she came out at the size she did.  🙂

After the surgery, we were wheeled into a ‘recovery room.’  On a kind note, my midwife told me they moved heaven and earth to allow me to do skin to skin with her and breastfeed after the c-section.  So I greatly appreciated that!!

I do remember how amazing it was to see Lliam with her, a ‘Papa’ for the first time.  He adores her so much.  

All of the nurses and the doctors (and anyone that has met her thus far) kept mentioning her ‘alertness.’  From day one, she’s always looked about intently, taking in her surroundings.  (Or maybe contemplating why the H she chose us as parents!)

We spent two more days in the hospital.  We really just needed sleep– desperately.  We had some really nice nurses but regardless of the situation, I just don’t understand how anyone expects you to recover while being poked and prodded every twenty minutes. Or less!  We were at a teaching hospital so it could be one nurse, groups of people, the cleaning lady,  people I wasn’t even sure of conducting a survey, etc.  We got NOOOOO sleep. I became depressed, teary and angry. Not to mention, we also had to take care of our newborn.  None of this helped my blood pressure.  I felt jittery like I was on 24 cups of coffee but drugged like a sloth.  Thankfully, we had her…

Ruby was jaundice and had to be under lights for six hours.  (When I imported these photos into Lightroom they were insanely blue.  I’m not sure why because they didn’t look that way in camera.  Regardless, I converted them to black and white and thankfully I like them this way quite a bit!).

I know it’s a pretty common thing but damn, it was hard to see her in there.  

I CANNOT FATHOM how parents must feel with their babies in the NICU.  They are my heroes. I am soooo grateful we’ve had no serious concerns with her, I can’t even tell you. 

Baby feet and hands come out soooo gray and wrinkled!  Like they’ve been waterlogged for weeks.  

I was so grateful when the blue lights were over.  I just wanted to snuggle her and tell her that one day we’d be out of this hospital and she would no longer be poked and prodded… You know, except vaccinations. I didn’t mention that part.  😉

She struggled with breastfeeding which was also stressful.  The overworked lactation specialist spewed information at such rapid fire, we didn’t stand a chance.  We were so tired, it might as well have been in another language. Typically, after a cesarean, recovery in the hospital is 2-4 days after birth.  We were so insanely exhausted that by the second day, with Ruby at 100%, we were desperate to go home. 

The doctors, however, weren’t feeling as optimistic.  My blood pressure was inching back up at 138 and they wanted me to stay and be monitored the extra 2 days. When the doctors kept pushing back, however, my panic set in and I got emotional.  Every time they took my blood pressure, it just got higher and higher. We couldn’t take another day.  I felt so shaky and delirious with fatigue, frustrated and helpless, that I felt like if we didn’t leave then, I might never leave.  It felt like they would always find something else wrong, and I knew I would never feel better without sleep.  Against their wishes, we headed home.  

As soon as we drove up the mountain and walked through the door, I felt SUCH a sense of relief.  It was amazing to be in our own space and in our own bed.  My mom was there to help out and I immediately felt like I could breathe.  It was the best decision we could have made for us. 

The high blood pressure did, indeed, come home with me.  That part of my recovery has been the hardest and scariest part by far, and I’ll be sure to share that part of our journey in my next blog. But in the meantime, I’d love to hear from moms and dads about your own birth story.  Do you remember it?  What was the experience like? Was it what you expected?  How was your recovery?  Being a mom is such a wild and incredible experience… how unbelievable that we come into the world this way. 

 

This is a really gorgeous picture of me, right?  Now I know you’re not going to believe this… but YES!  I DO wake-up this way! Now before you hit the ‘envy’ button on your Instagram (because I know how icky one can feel comparing yourself to other mom’s feeds), don’t worry!  Today I’m going to share with you ALL of my tips and tricks so that YOU, awesome reader, can not only look as feed-worthy BUT!  You can also watch your Instagram follower numbers go through the roof.  THIS is how I increased my followers from 504 to 515 in just one year!  And guess what?  You can, too!  

So, let’s get started!  My top ten ways to look THIS good in the morning:

  1.  Keep Your Make-Up On From the Night Before

What??? I know!  With a newborn, I always want to look as fresh as possible for my husband or the public if I have errands to run that day, and the best way for me to do this and still not miss a beat is to keep my make-up on.  This way, when I wake up, I’m all ready looking beautiful and ready to go.  And hello!  TIME SAVER.  Smiley face!

     2.  Wear Flannel

Now I’m not talking about the cute fitted flannel that is hanging in your closet that you can’t fit into anymore.  (Be kind to yourself, Momma!  Wear what’s comfortable!)  I’m talking about the flannel your dad sent you when you first started living in the mountains and you were 86 pounds lighter.  At the time those flannel shirts were fifty sizes too big and you looked like a truck driver, but ever since you got pregnant at your heaviest weight and gained an extra 45 pounds, they look magical!!  You will be warm and comfortable, and the best part?  They’re long enough to cover your yoga-pants-wearing, still-look-pregnant ass!  Now if anyone has yet to see this trend on Instagram, just tell them ‘Large Marge Sent Ya!’  and only the hippest on-trend moms will get the reference. #WearFlannelPeeWee

       3.  Wash Your Hair and Shower Only Periodically

By now everyone knows that a little oil is amazing for your hair!  But I’ve got the no-shower time frame sweet spot:  three and a half weeks!  By the end of three and a half weeks, not only will your hair curl naturally but the scent of your hair will begin to cover up the sweaty musk of the rest of you.  A total win-win!  And newborns= high expenses, so saving daily on shampoo and deodorant?  BOOM. See? You’re already crushing it!  Yay-sies!  

       4.  Continue to Wear Your Maternity Pants

Many women are under the misconception that after giving birth, you should try to fit into the clothes you wore before you were pregnant.  I’m here to tell you,  take your time!  By wearing extremely large maternity sweatpants, you wake up every morning feeling like you’ve lost a ton of weight!  “And when you feel good, you look good!” So true.  #YoureATen

        5.  Drool!

Now that I’ve given up my maternity pillow (lovingly dubbed ‘The Marshmallow Man’), I’ve been snuggling with my husband again.  (Gotta keep the embers burning!)  This has been awesome as I’ve been able to use him as my drool mat.  Unfortunately, my honey just nabbed an awesome, new full-time job so he has to get up every morning by 4:45am.  This has cut drastically into my drool time.  So what to you do? Drool on YOU!  Scientists working with baby pandas in China have discovered that drooling on one’s own skin can not only moisturize but crust the surface of your skin.  

We all know what moisturizing can do, but crusting’s benefits are by far superior to its moisturizing predecessor!  When drool crusts the skin, it keeps all toxins, dirt and oils on the OUTSIDE of the skin as a protective barrier. I’ve begun to use my drool on the daily in place of cover up and you wouldn’t believe how many heads I’ve turned!  Not to mention fast, affordable and convenient.  Truth!

        6.  Chapped Lips Mean You’re a Good Mom

You may have seen gorgeous moms with full, lush lips on Insta and thought maybe you need to catch up on those make-up tutorials.  I’m going to nip those thoughts in the bud!  Imagine this… you’re running around all day– feeding, changing your baby, pumping, on diaper duty– not to mention, all of the household chores.  You’re bound to get a little dehydrated, am I right?  Well, what’s a little dehydration when you know you’re putting your perfect, adorable munchkin first?  When you have chapped lips, this shows you’ve made no time for yourself and other moms will be in awe at how devoted you are to your baby.  Awww…

         7.  Let Your Breasts Leak

Girl Power! That’s right.  When you accidentally sleep through pumping sessions and you wake up to a wet, milk covered t-shirt, don’t hide it.  We live in a patriarchal society that is geared toward the desires of men.  Anything that women have to deal with– periods, leaky boobs, postpartum emotions are ‘icky things’ to men in power. By letting your breasts leak free and naturally, you’re showing your male counterparts that you’re not afraid of being a woman and deserve to be seen.  (Also, as we learned in college, there’s nothing sexier than a wet t-shirt! Am I right?)  #SexyHotFeminism

          8.  Don’t Bother With Manicures

A gorgeous color on nails looks great, I’m not gonna lie.  But when our nails are covered, we can’t see what’s under them. By unearthing what the crud is under our nails, we get to relive what we’ve experienced the past week.  You might be forgetting about the chicken tikka masala you made the night before while you’re little was sleeping, or the dirty diaper you just changed. Like a paleontologist discovering a new set of dinosaur bones, don’t lose your history! Our babies grow up so fast, that every moment counts.  

          9.  Don’t Sleep

This one’s pretty obvious.  The less sleep you get the more time you have to spend with your baby.  And when you spend time with your baby, you have that natural glow that women envy!  And if you’re worried about the bags under your eyes?  No worries. Revisit rule #1!  

        10.  Be Original

And finally… Be YOU!  When you scroll through those #InstaMoms with perfect feeds and all-white branding, how do you plan to stand out?  If you look at the photo above, you’ll notice I took this picture in the bathroom of a house we’re renting.  The lighting is harsh and bathroom is covered in busy wildlife wallpaper and old elixir advertisements. How often do you see THIS on Insta?  Exactly.   AND!  In the photos below you’ll notice how my flannel shirt is plaid like the bathroom wallpaper is plaid.  Coordinating with your background always makes a photo stand out!  Something you don’t see very often.  While you may not get every sponsor or endorsement like the other moms, you’ll get the ones that count and THAT will make all the difference to your pocketbook! 

 

That’s it!  See how easy?  And just to show that you can use these tips in ANY situation, here are some other shots:

 

Pleased With Ourselves Look

Sexy Look!

Excited Look!

 

Thanks so much for reading, you guys!  And if you liked this post at all be sure to subscribe to MandiCrocker and share with all of your friends! Kisses!  *Mwah!*

There is something innately drilled into the core of my being: EXPECTATION.  Especially during the holidays! Whether it’s baking or hosting, going to all of the events, wearing Christmas attire or having a perfectly decorated home, I have had a crazy elf-like compulsion since birth to be Martha Stewart (except if Martha were Ina Garten).  I want ALL Norman Rockwell, ALL the time… in my mind. 

Reality, on the other hand, is an entirely different thing.  Reality is the crazy number of hours put in and the guilt-ridden financial costs spent on hosting holiday dinners for 20. It’s the astronomical number of cookie platters you make for everyone you’ve ever met in your life and the devastation they’re not enjoyed due to special diets, eating vegan or gluten free. It’s the panic of going to every single function in the name of Christmas and never allowing yourself an opportunity to breathe.  BUT YOU LOVE IT, RIGHT???  And like a wing nut, in many ways I do.

But oftentimes, rather than be filled with inspiration and the real joy of the season, it can become a quiet comparison– a festering comparison to the instagram Martha Stewarts of the world that are nailing it, leading me to question all of my life choices.

And the worst part?  Even when I do get it ‘right’ and my life looks like a Pier One commercial for exactly 30 seconds, I’m usually let down.  I can control everything until I can’t.  People are late. There is weather.  Health emergencies.  Car accidents. Job losses. And the kicker?  FAMILY.  Oh, the joys of family! Don’t we all just have the PERFECT FAMILY???!!!  

(People, I adore my family but we’re all so different we ain’t never gonna be Norman Rockwell.  We’re more like you’re 12 year old niece’s watercolor version of Thomas Kincaid you bought at the family garage sale). 

This year especially– being eight months pregnant, the expectation doesn’t stop at owning Ina’s ‘Cooking For Jeffrey.’  Following the baby forums online, every post is about “Show us your nurseries!” or “Look at my maternity photos!”  The nurseries are adorably painted and themed, and– oh my God– these maternity photos are out of control.  Many of these goddess moms look like magical unicorns with their fresh flower crowns, big bellies and ethereal see through robes, walking through rivers, so connected to Mother Earth now as pregnant women… 

Having just moved from Washington to California at the start of my third trimester (and the chaos/reality/energy that comes with making major life decisions based solely on faith and trust), your expectations about pretty much everything are OBLITERATED.  

 

When reality set in and the angels whisper-screamed, “We are well aware of what you want, Martha, but you might want to pray to Mother Mary about what you need,” it put things in perspective right quick.  

We were magically taken care of in every way possible.  Within a month, my husband had his pick of jobs, we found a doctor, we got insurance.  Thanks to a young man my husband works with, we found a place to live for an amazing deal.  It was an emotional rollercoaster of a month, and of course we still have very real and legitimate fears and concerns, but when so much is taken care of for you so fast, you trust the journey.  You trust the angels.  You’re grateful your friends made room at their inn, your donkey is a Mazda Tribute and you’re grateful to not be pressured with a Christ-child.

It has made me think A LOT about expectations… and how not a single one friggin matters.  I kinda knew this already but I didn’t.  Never to this extent. 

What does motherhood really mean?  What does ‘successful motherhood’ look like?  What is a nursery? What is actually important? When all the popular and materialistic pregnancy bells and whistles of our culture are stripped away, as they have been for my husband and I in many ways, what does being pregnant really look like? 

Maybe it’s not about unicorn maternity photos.  Maybe it looks like stretch marks and duck fuzz…

Maybe we’re not branding our baby on Instagram or shopping for baby clothes at Ralph Lauren but we have a nursery!  This is what it looks like: 

The simplicity of having no expectations, makes what you have feel sooo abundant. It makes six bags of gifted baby boy clothes over-the-top exciting to put on our little girl.  

It has me thinking about the holidays… Without money for gifts or the energy for the bells and whistles of decorations, dinners, family or festivities– things that aren’t guaranteed for my husband and I this year, what does Christmas look like now? What does it mean? Is it the worst holiday ever or does it still get to be Christmas?  

Maybe it’s not about having your own tree.  Maybe it’s being grateful for a night with your seester, who does have all her delicious and magical bells and whistles up this year:

Maybe it’s not about a table with family and all the fixings. Maybe it’s an old school shout out to the very first Christmas and what that might look like today:

And if you’re really stripped of everything you’re accustomed to, maybe it’s just the audacity and hilarity of a cat’s butt on your neck while you were trying to write a blog about Christmas:

I think it’s worth a ponder…

For me, once I let go of all the white knuckled expectation about the holidays and pregnancy, it’s been a relief. Suddenly, we’re no longer behind. We’re right where we should be. To have people around that love us is enough. It’s sooo much more than most. Every gift you receive becomes a free fall of emotional gratitude. And at the risk of sounding overly sentimental, the situation itself truly becomes the biggest gift of the season. 

 

 

When I found out we were pregnant, something resonated in me:  “Do it differently, Amanda.”

As I’ve previously shared, I’d always been terrified I’d end up the neurotic mom from ‘Modern Family.’ Was I going to lose myself?  Would I become a high maintenance control freak? Would my life revolve around my children?  Would I end up trying to keep up with the Jones’ like our American culture demands? Would financial constraints turn me into a resentful monster?  

Part of me also couldn’t shake icky feelings from my days as a server in Los Angeles, waiting on moms who expected everyone’s existence to revolve around their very special children.  A-very special children.  Or rather, audacious moms and dads, that expected you to be a babysitter, allowing kids to play in the middle of an aisle with an entire backpack of sprawled out toys while you’re serving hot coffee in a tight diner setting.  UGH.  It can leave a bad taste in your mouth for sure.  

But when a friend recently asked what I meant by wanting to do motherhood differently, I was dumbfounded to be at a loss.  What the heck did I mean?  Where does this idea resonate from? Am I just totally full of shit?!  My kid is sure to the color on the walls– I’m not that naive, but how do I want to do it differently?  

In the brief moments I have to actually connect with Baby Soul, I let this idea marinate.  I asked my friend Stacer (now Aunt Stacer!!!) to send me articles about unconventional parenting and like the pro that she is, she has supplied me with articles and podcasts about living minimally, or selling everything to travel the world.  Thus far, I’ve hinted to my sweetie, nothing says good parenting like zip lining through the jungles of Africa and he wasn’t having it.  HE NEVER LETS ME DO ANYTHING!!!!  *hogs remote to watch 127th hour of HGTV* 😉

Before getting pregnant I watched ‘Captain Fantastic.’  SUCH A GOOD MOVIE!!  It’s such an unknown, little independent gem.  If I had the Harvard education and insane physique, I would be over the moon to raise my kids off the grid in the mountains.  Well, “Power to the people!” minus the plot twists.  😉  

Talking with my BF (now Aunt BF!!!) about our shared love of this movie, she suggested I read some queer parenting literature.  After scratching my head for a minute, she mentioned it’s Unconventional Parenting 101.  DUH.  Very true! That’s kind of a brilliant idea. 

I also began thinking about parents I did admire.  Friends that have traveled to Mexico or Italy with their newborn and haven’t let being parents stop them.  Parents that brought their kids to every social party their friends were throwing because having kids wasn’t going to stop them from a social life.  Parents that are still making music videos or auditioning despite being moms and dads.  Parents where the mom brings home the bacon and dad plays Mr. Mom.  Etc, etc, etc… 

In a podcast, I remember Elizabeth Gilbert (now Aunt Liz!!!!)  sharing a story about her mother going into her room and shutting the door behind her two kids.  They knew that for an hour every day, it was mommy’s writing time.  Soon, mommy’s writing time became Liz’s writing time and she still recalls the impact that had on her as a young girl.  She didn’t view it as selfish or mean, it’s just what mom does and it taught them to play on their own and develop their own creativity. WHAT A GIFT!!!

In my ‘Psychic Teachers’ podcast with Deb Bowen and Samantha Fey (LOVE THIS PODCAST!), Samantha talks about doing the same.  Once nap time was over for her girls at a certain age, she introduced ‘alone time.’  The girls would spend an hour a day doing their own thing alone in their room.  They write, they listen to music, etc. This allows their mom to spend time mediating or having the alone time she desperately needs as a psychic to cleanse and get her work done. Not to mention the girls have learned to love it as well!

Obviously, I’m still figuring it out (and have a sneaky suspicion I will be for the rest of my life 😉 ) but what I do know is that I don’t want to live in fear.  I would love for my kid to backpack through Europe after high school. I would love for Baby Soul to learn to fix cars and ride motorbikes like her dad.  Why not a Mother/Baby Soul photography adventure through Brazil?  Maybe a culinary adventure through Paris?  (Nothing says ‘Make mommy dinner, kid!’ like French cheeses!)  Maybe hiking the PCT?  Maybe it just means we don’t let our (potential) daughter watch Disney princess movies because there’s more to life than finding a man.  I don’t know! 

Painting an elephant in Jaipur would be pretty cool to do with Baby Soul? (Ten year visa!) The men who take care of these elephants in India literally live with them in their cement ‘houses.’ The elephants are so well loved, they are practically family members.

But I will love this adventure…  🙂  And I would LOVE to hear what ‘doing it different’ means to you.  Any ideas you’ve had or stories you’d like to share, it would be a LOT of fun to brainstorm.  Not to mention would help a sista’ out.  xoxo