Anxiety And It’s Many Colors

I read this Dr. Suess book to my son at least once a week before he goes to bed, it’s called My Many Colored Days. It’s a poem about the many colors of emotions that he goes through each day. Off the top of my head I can remember this part “…mad and loud I howl, I growl at every cloud.”

Of course my toddler throws fits in anger, sometimes with a little rage mixed in, but me? I’m supposed to be patient, kind, and forgiving. And as a mom, I’m not supposed to be stressed or worried. See, when I was a teenager I had it in my head that my mom couldn’t possibly understand what I’m going through… now that I’m a mom I realize that I couldn’t be more wrong. I have to worry about keeping my kids safe and nourished, and most importantly loved, not to mention worrying about my own needs that I can address when both kids are asleep.

This is STRESSFUL (everything but loving on my babies – this is blissful). And it never stops.

If you’re an anxious momma, like me, then you worry about the worry! You worry about a conversation you just had at the Burger King with a fellow mom who was probably to tired to notice that awkward thing you said. You worry about going to the store or to a crowded place. You worry about money, about the list that is always unfinished, traffic, deadlines…

Lately this worry I’ve been carrying finally built up and it lead to a total meltdown. Yesterday Taylor broke the lid to our trash can and I noticed when I was throwing something away. I immediately turned to him and threw a tantrum, not so different than my sons except I used my words. What was making me angry? A plastic, cheap trash can lid or the mess that was consuming every surface of my house and the fact that I can’t get a break from my littlest one.

The mess and the stress of newborn care, which is non stop because I am the only one with boobs that make milk in this house, was behind the anger. Let’s be real, I’m basically angry at my husband for being able to take a shower or do whatever he needs whenever he wants (and also that he didn’t read my mind about the mess, instead he was burping Ellie – he basically does nothing around here… <–sarcasm).

Anxiety doesn’t just show itself in panic attacks. It shows it’s true colors in how you carry yourself, in how you speak, in your mood… less anxious days? You probably feel more joy.

What negative mood are you experiencing lately? Anger, Sadness, Fear? Maybe instead of throwing an unproductive tantrum like me you can talk to your support person about what’s worrying you. Maybe you can exercise some of the worry and anger away (I can’t yet because I just had a baby, so workout for me, okay?).

Leave a comment and don’t forget to follow my blog. I’m making it a goal of mine to post every other day!

Thank you for reading❤️

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Loving My Postpartum Body

If you’re anything like me, things are looking different…

My belly is extra squishy, my stretch marks are now able to rest (no more stretching), and I’m carrying some extra weight in my thighs and hips.

Since this is my second time around, I figured I would shed a little light into the MIRACLE you were just a part of. Maybe then you will be able to look at what’s “damaged” and learn to revere your postpartum body.

With my firstborn I was shocked to find out that I had been exercising wrong and my belly got so huge that my abdominal muscles separated (diastasis recti). This caused my belly button to herniate… which it still is. I didn’t find exercises to close the separation until I was pregnant again. What I don’t understand is that the doctor during my postpartum visit only mentioned it, but didn’t refer me to see a physical therapist.

Fast forward to now, I was at my daughter’s first doctor appointment when the doctor told me I may be able to fix the hernia by closing my abdominal muscles. If that doesn’t work it requires surgery. Honestly though, I am still struggling with this imperfection. The thing I am almost self conscious about is my belly button! But there are other moms out there that have this problem too.

I have learned to love my stretch marks this pregnancy. But when I was just a few days postpartum I was obsessed with searching #stretchmarks to see if anyone out there had the kind that I do. The ones that are on the center of my belly, not hidden on my sides, but in the open for everyone to see.

Luckily, I found a sense of pride in them after awhile. Most mommas out there have them! We should all see them as a SIGN of what our bodies did. They stretched to create room for an actual human that grows up to speak, learn, and love…

Now the weight that we all gain, this weight is actually stored to use as energy for feeding your baby. Your body was created to use it produce milk and this milk is tailored to your babies needs (colostrum contains antibodies that are transferred to baby)! How crazy is that?

My whole point is that you may not love your body right now, even I struggle sometimes, but you should. My body will never look like it did before my babies, my boobs sag, I have extra skin, tiger marks, belly button probs, but I created TWO HUMANS (and only a sperm was donated to make this happen – sorry guys, mommas do the work and deserve all the credit).

Dalton – 1 Month Old

Ellie – 1 Month Old

And isn’t the body more than just skin? We are living and feeling beings (that too is a miracle). Guess what? Our bodies get old and break down, eventually everyone’s skin begins to sag. Don’t waste a single breathe stuck in comparison, love your body now.

The truth is, we all have scars that tell a story. Your story is miraculous, that you created life.

What My Life Has Been Like Lately…

Love, I’ve felt this emotion the most.

Anxious, this feeling is second (which annoys me).

Excited, must be third.

Exhausted and frustrated (at times), are tied.

Lately I have been feeling all the emotions, which isn’t unheard of for motherhood. Someone compared their experience with a toddler and a newborn as keeping their head above water and I would have to say this is accurate.

Ellie sleeps pretty well at night so I know that if it weren’t for this I would be barely making it through. But here I am, making it through. During the day I usually don’t have help, but when I do have help (shoutout to EVERYONE who has helped me hold a baby or two) it really makes a world of difference. Yes, I have two arms, but I need both of them for a newborn, BUT I also need both of them for my toddler. So here I am, trying to get out of the house, while battling anxiety and trying to keep two babies safe.

My secret to making it all work:

-Keeping my house clean when the babies sleep because a clean house, an empty sink, and no clutter works wonders for my stress levels.

-Getting dressed in the morning, putting on my makeup, and having a plan for the day.

-LISTS (organization in general).

-And as always, facing my fears.

What do I have to worry about lately now that I have given birth? Well it can be really stressful between toddler tantrums and Ellie needing milkies and constant diaper changes. I have set a new goal for myself, to get out of the house with no help. I try to do this every other day, or maybe even everyday. And I have been doing pretty well! I even went into Target by myself. Granted, I spent most of the time in the clothes section, but I walked the WHOLE store (Mossimo is my fav brand and I bought a Stranger Things T to celebrate). Fun fact, I saw my therapist for the first time and he told me that I may have a sensory processing disorder, which can go hand in hand with anxiety, so it explains why my brain freaks out when I walk down an aisle… (fun stuff).

Social anxiety… this isn’t new but I am extreeeemely anxious to socialize right now. It has a lot to do with mom brain and with feeling judged as a mom – especially a young one. Am I doing it right? Is someone thinking to themselves that I could do it better somehow or that I am incapable because I look like a 12 year old (if you add 10 to that then you get my true age)? It also has to deal with baby number 2 – my toddler is on the go and I am tethered to a newborn. So I basically need 4 arms and 4 eyes…. or a nanny. I am also really exhausted and it’s hard to keep up with other people’s lives when I can barely keep track of my own.

Y’all motherhood is HARD! I had no idea, so thank you mom (and Happy Mother’s Day). And anyone who has been through this, is in the thick of it now like I am, or has been in a similar situation knows. You have to feed, cook, clean, change diapers, bathe, clothe, soothe, teach….. THE LIST GOES ON. And I’m not even a single mom (thank you Taylor, you’re a great daddy to our babies). And to those judging – yes I put myself in this situation and as hard as it is, I have no regrets. I actually want you to know, those that are in tears because it is all too much, this doesn’t last. One day your kids will be in school, they will be able to drive themselves around town, make their own food,  and even move away and start their own lives. Right now it is 24/7, but rejoice in this time. Every blow out diaper, every tantrum that lasts 30 minutes, find the joy in it. One day you will look back and wish that you hadn’t wished it away. I carry this perspective throughout the day and it helps me to find peace and patience when I need it most. I love my kids, I love this job, and I am so blessed to be raising children of God.

 

Those with anxiety, my anxious buds, face your fears or they will control you. You can do it. If I can, you totally can. I still carry that fear on my heart, its pretty heavy, but one day it will lighten and continue to lighten until I am weightless. I am scared to leave my house, but I still do it, because I will not live my life chained to comfort (and my kids will not suffer with me).

“Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the MAKER of Heaven and Earth.” -Praise You In This Storm by Casting Crowns.

Remember this: the Maker of the ground you walk on is also a healer, one who strengthens you and keeps you. How powerful is that? He is just a prayer a way, ladies.

Happy Mother’s Day to all who read this! Thank you for your support.

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Special thanks to this guy too, without his support I would be lost.

 

Ellie’s Labor Story

I woke up on April 6th at 8:30. Dalton had slept in and I felt pretty well rested for being 9 months pregnant. I was feeling mildly anxious because I had a doctor appointment at 9:50. All three of us walked into the room and the nurse took my blood pressure, which made me panic. It was 140/90 ish – thank you, white coat hypertension. The doctor walked in and asked me if we had thought more about induction, to which I replied, “I don’t want to be induced unless it is medically necessary.”

“It is medically necessary due to your blood pressure. I’m writing you a slip, go get labs done first and then go to Labor and Delivery and see if they have a room for you. Sometimes you have to wait a few hours. Good luck!”

I walked out in a hurry, trying to get service on my phone so I could call my friend Caitlyn (she watched Dalton for like 5 days – so grateful for this girl). At this point I was in tears, my blood pressure at home was PERFECT my WHOLLLEEE pregnancy. I felt defeated, my battle with my fear of getting it taken in a medical setting was enough to change the course of my labor. But I was at a higher risk of developing pre-eclampsia because I had it after I delivered Dalton so I understood the doctor’s decision and keeping Ellie safe was our ultimate priority. I called my mom too, but I could hardly talk because I was crying.

Taylor and I walked back inside and I handed the slip to the nurses at the desk. For the next two hours we waited in the waiting room for a nurse to come take me back. At this point we had called everyone to let them know we would be meeting Ellie soon.

I had some time to think and accept what was happening. I didn’t want to have to decide to be induced (she gave us the option the week before, my BP was good so she didn’t pressure us). I had also slept really well that night and one of the things I was anxious about was going into labor late at night or early in the morning. I had also taken my maternity pictures the day before (we almost decided to schedule the session for Friday night). God was IN control, it was evident in the way that every detail was unfolding.

Caitlyn picked up Dalton, Taylor grabbed us Subway, and eventually I was walking back to room four with two nurses. Taylor decided to go home to grab our things after I got settled… great idea, right? They started the admission process and explained the risks of induction. I had a little anxiety and then a little more when they started the process *without Taylor there*. The first thing they tried was a bulb thingy, I don’t really know what it is because I wasn’t listening (anxiety again). All I remembered about it was that they would pull on the bulb and it would only come out if I was 3-4 cm dilated. About 30 minutes later a nurse came in and tugged on it, it came out and I had my bloody show. Then I started to feel mild contractions, so labor officially started at 2 pm. They got a little stronger but after an hour they started me on the lowest dose of pitocin so I would make more progress.

*Side note, my nurses were exactly what I had prayed for. One provided essential oils and a diffuser to help me get through my anxiety, the other was super sweet and accommodating.*

Taylor walked in a few minutes after they started the medicine. Two hours later they upped the dose. My contractions were a little more intense but they weren’t getting any closer together. At this point, my stomach was GROWLING, but I could only eat Jello, popsicles, and chicken broth (it was like drinking a Ramen packet – YUM).

For my second cervix check, around 10 or 11, they told me I was 5-6 cm dilated (I came in at a 2). I talked to the nurse and told her that I thought it was a good time to break my water but I wanted an epidural first. The anesthesiologist just so happened to be the SAME guy that did my epidural with Dalton! This time around it seemed like such a long process because I wasn’t in much pain… he was done within 10 minutes though and I was basically terrified for NOTHING, because it was a great experience.

They waited an hour to make sure that my blood pressure remained stable and then broke my water – around 12 ish (LOL – my bp was mostly normal when I was alone and had time to calm down and HIGHHHH when a nurse was in the room). I could still feel my contractions a little bit, I could tell they were INTENSE – so I had the anesthesiologist come back in and give me more meds. Then around 1:30 they came in to check my progress. The doctor looked at the second doctor (it wasn’t busy so they were both present) and smiled, then she turned to me and said I was complete! Within like two hours I had progressed 4-5 cm!

I had a full team: my nurse, two doctors, and a doctor in training, AND a midwife, not to mention the doctor that was there for Ellie. I started pushing and within 5-6 contractions, 10 minutes later, I had Ellie in my arms (1:41 am, 12 hours total)! I didn’t tear, thank goodness. I delayed cord clamping for 2 minutes and was able to hold her skin to skin for an hour. She weighed 6 pounds and 4 ounces and was 18 and 3/4 long (Dalton – 7 pounds 5 ounces, 19 3/4, basically she was one behind all his measurements).

Overall, my labor was AMAZING. My anxiety tried to creep up and ruin the day but God was right there with me. I thought I would panic, maybe I would have if I hadn’t gained a little perspective about the power and majesty of the Creator of the universe. I also had a great team of supportive nurses and doctors… I am so thankful because I was truly terrified that something horrific would happen. I was also really uneasy about the risks of induction, such as failure to progress which means a c-section. I also found out that the labor wasn’t the scariest part.

The real battle with my anxiety began when I least expected it, in the time we spent recovering in the mother and baby ward, and even then I was able to find peace. Stay tuned for that story. Nonetheless, I am always amazed at the strength I am given by Him when I face my fears.

*I did a horrible job of keeping track of time, sorry:)*

Terrible Twos And Nearing the End of Pregnancy

As I’m writing this I’m having a Braxton Hicks contraction and I’m almost positive that Ellie has dropped because my back is cramping like crazy. Lately I can only stand to eat carbs (lots of rice) and I’ve been craving sugar like crazy; vegetables are not my friend and I feel really guilty about what I’m eating. But I know pregnancy is to blame, as soon as I have Ellie I will be back to craving vegetables and getting all the nutrients I need. I’m going to have a difficult time closing my separated ab muscles which didn’t completely close before I got pregnant again. My belly, this time around, is so much smaller so hopefully there hasn’t been too much damage done. My heartburn has reached an all time high, which happened a few days before I delivered Dalton, so fingers crossed that it means she’s coming soon.

I was told by my doctor that I am 2cm dilated and 75% effaced. I’ve been facing my fears and leaving the house almost everyday with Dalton so I’m hoping that all the trips to MOPS meetings, church, the store, and to take Taylor more food at work, not to mention the trip up and down the stairs where I’m carrying my hydroflask, diaper bag, and all the gear I need, has dilated me further. I wish I could tell you I have been working out, or at the very least, riding my bike for 15 minutes a day, but I’m not. I do plenty of housework regularly, not something I kept up with this whole pregnancy because I had less energy, but I feel like it’s keeping me in shape. I didn’t work out much with Dalton because I wasn’t motivated to at all. After labor, I waited 6 weeks and then I was back to working out 4-5 days a week.

Pregnancy really changes me, so many hormones and symptoms. I get lazy, I can’t find it in me to clean or workout, and I just have no motivation. I’m blessed to have a job that accommodates my lazy needs – I can lay on the couch while Dalton plays, which is mostly what I did when I was suffering from crazy morning sickness in the beginning.

Needless to say, I am ready to not be pregnant again. At this stage, it is so uncomfortable. Back pain, trips to the bathroom, a basketball sized belly that makes every move more difficult… I am soaking it up though in case we decide that this is the last biological child we are having. The mental game with this pregnancy has been rough, and as much as I say that I’m ready to go into labor, I’m really not. I’m still very much terrified, but I have done my best to keep myself busy so it’s all in the back of my mind. Sometimes I will start to think about all the “what ifs” but I try to stop immediately. The truth is is that I will probably panic, but I can’t be alone in that.

On another note, Dalton has decided it’s time to ramp up the ole attitude, just in time for us to welcome a newborn baby into the world! The timing could not be more inconvenient, but I know I will miss this age and stage so I have to be patient and see the good in the struggle. He has started to do this thing where he screams while he’s crying, not the whole time but just a few frustrated screams here and there. He loves to throw his food on the floor or just take the whole bowl and drop it. He’s also trying to get into EVERYTHING… the fridge, the cabinets, playing with the buttons on the dryer, and when we are out and about he wants to grab everything. But I know it’s curiosity and his way of learning, he has probably broken a lot of candy bars at the check out line though.

There are so many things that bring me joy about this age, like listening to him talk or teaching him a new word. He basically repeats whatever word you say as long as it’s simple enough. He can use a spoon to eat even the most complex foods (rice). He is learning to clean up and put things back if he got them out, which doesn’t work for cleaning up every toy but he has the concept down, as long as I’m sitting beside him saying “clean up” like 500 times. He makes the most precious face when he is intrigued by something such as a plane or helicopter, or when he sees birds fly, his mouth forms into the shape of an “O” and his face elongates. Tonight when I put him into bed he grabbed his blanket and turned onto his tummy with the blanket covering his face, surrounded by all his lovies. My most favorite thing is the kisses, he just randomly decides it’s time for a kiss and he purses his lips and sticks his neck out.

I really am in love with motherhood. Some moments are very hard, but it’s times like these where the house is quiet, there are toys and remnants of our day that I haven’t put away yet, and all I can think about is my son, the day we had and how I miss him even though I just put him down for bed.

A Texan Living In Hawaii

It’s really interesting to think about how culture impacts the human race. From childhood, the people you are surrounded by and the place you live shapes your experience and your habits.

I’m from Texas. We like our tea sweet, our food fried, and we pride ourselves in southern hospitality. I was taught to say yes ma’am, no sir, and have manners. Not saying this isn’t true of other states or is true of everyone from Texas… I am more conservative, I believe in second amendment rights, and I love camping or floating the river.

Texas is a huuuugeee state. If you go on a road trip (especially if you live in south Texas) you will spend the first day trying to get out of Texas. Now I live on an island that is smaller than the size of Houston. That transition for me was rough and it still is. There are things that I miss, conveniences that I took for granted living on the mainland. But there are also some really special things about living on Oahu.

The things I miss are endless. I miss the food, the sweet tea, Chick-Fil-A and Cracker Barrel, being able to find a parking space, looking out into the endless grassy fields that are everywhere at home, and I miss the weather – super hot in the summer and a little cold in the winter. I miss the Texas spirit, the southern way of living, and the cost of living (the apartment we live in is worth a decked out two story house in my home state). I really miss thunderstorms and the intensity of the rainfall. I miss family most of all. It’s really difficult to raise babies without the help of family, particularly Dalton and Ellie’s grandmas. It would also be really nice to not have to buy a plane ticket to go home or to travel.

The things I love about Hawaii haven’t come as easy to me as I thought. When we first moved here it was the most exciting adventure for Taylor and I, and it still is to a certain extent. But we aren’t beach people, the sandy mess that comes from one trip really sets off my obsessive compulsive tendencies. We also decided to live off base and have quickly come to realize that we really want a house (but here we couldn’t afford one). I miss air conditioning and I really want a dishwasher, a driveway, a backyard, and more than a 900 square foot space to live in.

The things I do love… The sushi, our amazing church family, the sunsets, the views, sometimes the beach, it’s always shorts weather, and it’s always sunny. It really is amazing to be immersed in a culture that is so different than my own. Here they take life slowly, they care more for the environment, they love fish and rice, and they really value family. There are a lot of great hikes (we aren’t hikers). You get to see clear water with beautiful fish, massive sea turtles you can swim with, you can go to luaus and meet some really amazing people. There are some things I have done here that I won’t be able to do anywhere else.

To be honest, I have spent way too much of my time being pessimistic about the time we have left on the island. I still have my days where I can only focus on moving back to the mainland, we have spent two years and two months here. I am ready for a change of pace, to live in a place that may not be home but it is more similar to it. But I am really thankful for this experience and I want to soak it up as much as I possibly can. Here in Hawaii, Taylor and I have learned to live by ourselves and have learned to lean on one another for support; our marriage is really strong because we only have one another (and Dalton/almost Ellie, but I’m talking about adult relationships). The support we do have comes from our brothers and sisters in Christ that will make it hard to leave when it’s time. If we didn’t have kids and if I didn’t spend 18 months of my life here pregnant I know I would have been able to experience more which would probably result in more thankfulness (but I wouldn’t have it any other way). I know I will miss the beaches, maybe not the sand but definitely the crystal clear water. Overall, it has been the best experience to live in such a culturally rich place as our first duty station. Yes it is different, but now we can take this experience and learn to find positivity in the nature of our surroundings that will change every few years.

But Texas will always be home. I will always carry a sliver of homesickness when I’m away and it serves a purpose, to remind me of just how grateful I am to have grown up in such an incredible place.

A Few Anxiety Hacks

I’m less than four weeks away from giving birth to my daughter so I’m doing all that I can to prepare myself mentally.

I wish I didn’t have to put this much work into coaxing my thoughts away from fear, but I’m basically doing it all.

So let’s talk about these hacks (some I have mentioned already, but they are just THAT good):

  1. Find a good book. Think Good and Live Fearless are my favs. I am halfway through Think Good and I am loving the mind/God connection I am growing.
  2. Breathing deeply for at least 5 minutes. I was watching this Youtube video on how to lower blood pressure immediately which I will need throughout my stay at the hospital because of white coat hypertension. My goal is to try this at least twice a day and anytime I start feeling uncontrollable anxiety.
  3. Crack open that Bible and pray over your fears-EVERY TIME. Look up keywords such as peace, faith, love, hope, joy, surrender… AND every anxious thought that pops up in your head or every time you feel your heart beat faster and your chest tighten, send a prayer to the Lord.
  4. A good podcast.
  5. Songs, peaceful songs that speak to your fears.
  6. Positive thinking. A bad thought pops in your head, what do you do? Speak some truth over it!
  7. Get out in nature. I have been meaning to go to the beach and the pool for weeks but it’s been rainy or too cold, which I’m not complaining. The longer it stays cold here the better because it gets verrryyyy hot in this apartment (85 degrees).
  8. Find a good distraction such as uplifting friends, cleaning and decluttering, exercise, playing with your child… Cleaning to me is usually very therapeutic. Right now I’m a little lazy and unmotivated so most days it isn’t, but that’s just me as a preggo.
  9. GET SOME SLEEP. 7-8 hours. For me it’s like 10-12 but I get up to pee like every hour so it doesn’t truly count.
  10. Eat some veggies, some fruits, some whole grains or legumes. Your body runs off of food, makes your blood and cells from food, so make some healthier choices for your next meal.

Things to stay away from:

  1. Google.
  2. Web MD.
  3. Social Media… I list this because I try to escape with a screen. I am really trying to not do this. Yes I posted that blog about a change in my life but the truth is is that I have fallen into the screen trap again. Trying to get out. Send prayers. But really, I am actually trying a 7 day social media cleanse. You should try it out with me.
  4. OVERTHINKING ENDLESSLY. This is my struggle. This is where I get all of those voices in my head telling me that I can’t face my fears. The truth is is that you have to face them or you will be giving the power to fearful thought that is probably not true and that will keep you from living a joyful life.

I just want you to know that I am praying for you.

Please share this blog post, leave a comment, follow my site so that this can reach as many people as it can. You aren’t alone, there is hope, and I am proof. Why you ask? Because I am still finding joy in my struggle with fear and because I am learning to live my life to the fullest no matter how hard anxiety tries to stop me.