A Better You Is Always On The Way

How could I be away from my blog for so long and then come back and not explain why. Or even worse, not come back with a topic of importance or of substance.

Sure I could just say being a working mother of a now one year old is just busy. That would be completely true.

Something else that’s incredibly true is that I have dealt with anxiety, chronic loneliness and depression my entire life. If you’ve ever experienced depression you know it is a beast. It is a pitch black, suffocating state of mind. You have to force yourself with all your might to lean your body up and swing your legs over the side of the bed, rise to your feet and face the uncertain day ahead.

Depression tells you, you’re worthless. You’re taking up space, speaking words into the air, and walking a top this earth in vain. You do nothing noteworthy,  positive or productive. Rather the opposite. You destroy everything you touch. It’s better you weren’t included, around, in the way, here at all. You dislike yourself. This skin doesn’t feel like home. This mind is tormenting and won’t quiet, you just can’t get away. The piece of you we call a soul is trapped. On the inside of the glass you’re screaming to escape this person you are. That you have become.

Depression tells you, you have no goals. Why? Because you aren’t capable of having them. Because you are not worthy of the success nor the journey there. Because who cares, anyway. Because what’s the point of trying. You’re a failure. It’s hardwired into your very being. Misfortune has clung to your back, and you know better than to drag that around all while keeping your hopes up. What you used to look forward to tackling, is dreaded and maybe not approached at all. You can’t swallow another inevitable defeat.

Depression tells you, you’re dry, uninspiring, plain and talentless. Your hobbies no longer call your name. A blank paper doesn’t speak to you. Your sketch pad is starting to dust. You can’t put anything down. The part of your brain that used to produce color, light, expression, articulation of your heart, is closed. Bullied into silence by the depression. Unable to escape and create again. A melancholy head hung low, there’s no ideas flowing where they once used to bloom wildly without restriction.

Depression tells you to isolate. Because holding a conversation, especially some superficial small talk, is agonizing. You simply have nothing to say. You have no words, only this grey and clouded on going feeling of emptiness. How do you say that? Why would you say that? It is nobody’s burden but your own. Your very own heavy and humiliating burden. You could spend all day with people who mean well, and end up in bed on your side, nearly physically pained by the distance between you and the world. The loneliest feeling you’ve ever had could hit you like a semi truck by bedtime the very same day.

This year, politics made me more aware than ever that I mother a black child. Who will grow into a black man. Politics also constantly remind me of my mortality, and the mortality of the people I love the very most in the world- the most perfect and deserving people I will ever know in my lifetime. This year, I lost my oldest brother in a sudden accident. This year, I started and stopped my attempt at starting up a term of college due to this loss. This year I was confronted with many health issues, which left me with no physical energy to push through my lack of mental and spiritual energy. This year I was initially turned down a promotion I had been bending over backwards for. This year, I continuously fought tooth and nail to take steps forward, only to trip on unsteady ground and end up further from my goals. This year was a breeding ground for my mental illnesses to conjure themselves up and tackle me hard. 

This year, there was a lot of tears. I often said, “I’m fine.” Or, “I’m just tired.” This year, there was a lot of quiet days. There was a lot of days in bed, or up late, looking at the ceiling. There was a lot of confusion and sadness. Most days being a mommy, being a girlfriend, being a friend, being an employee was extra hard, because being myself was a struggle in itself.

Now here we are, and I’m so thankful that my mental space has improved. Very recently actually. That means admitting the majority of this year I’ve been underneath something. But I’m rising through the soil now.

You might be curious what happened between then and now.

Lots of crying. There were ted talks. There was music. Then, I just started to talk to myself. I had so many questions.

“who ARE you? Why the hell are you like this? Why are you sad?” “Why are you dissatisfied?” – “Of these problems, what can you solve, what can you control?” “Why have you given these situations your power? Why have you given this depressionyour power?”

At first, I didn’t have the answers, but I was persistent. I needed the answers. So hours were then days, and days to weeks, and weeks to months. I started to develop some ideas. I started to identify my problems as what they were- problems. Who I am isn’t the problem.  I started to slowly reach for and steal my power back. I craved it more than anything. I realized I needed it. I realized it belonged to no one else and nothing else but me. It was the only key made to open this door- to get out, to get through. 

My healing and growth wasn’t perfect. I’m not perfect. It was messy, it was hard, it was desperate.

I want to speak to those who have heard what depression says.

You are of immeasurable value. Even at your worst. You are a one of a kind being, and without you, the world is missing a piece of light. Your words has changed someones day, changed someones life and are missed when you go too long without saying more. You are a flawed human walking among others of the same condition. Some just hide it better. Embrace the scratches and burns, for this is what it’s like to feel. To lose, so you that value your wins. For trials and errors, so you’re better prepared for your prizes and breakthroughs. You are in progress. Beautiful, messy, sloppy progress. A better you is always on the way.

The depression is it’s own thing. Meaning, it’s not you. Weeping and weak is not YOU. you are a flame that burns all the time, sometimes quietly, subtlety, even when you aren’t a blaze. You aren’t lost or forgotten, you aren’t helpless, you aren’t damned. You are still the bright and brilliant, you are just underneath the soil. This is your harvesting, not your burial.

The only way out of this is through this. You’ll ask, who am I? Where am I? This is a conversation and a search that only you can complete. Engage yourself in expressive activities, even if all you express is this muck you feel. Get it out. Just like the vomit after food poisoning, if you have to sit down and write a shitty poem about the cinder blocks on your shoulders, do that. If you have to listen to the sad songs. Feel and relate. Reflect. Where are you dissatisfied in life? Zone into these areas, and embrace letting go and change. Whatever’s necessary to make your life a beautiful place to you. Often the stagnancy we experience is because we aren’t shedding parts of our lives or ourselves that are necessary to get to the next level.

Although the solitude and ability to hear yourself think you help you break the barrier, so will socializing and being an open person. Share a laugh, pour your heart out, say something to someone you trust. Even if you don’t tell them all the nitty gritty of your situation, realizing you have their ear or their shoulder may help you reinforce yourself. Know that you can create access to support and that you are never alone.

A couple activities I have done recently: I watched a ted talk about self confidence and essentially how it is the key to all the doors you want to open in life. The speaker talked of writing himself a “congratulations letter,” a letter to himself, giving praise for all his accomplishments and areas of satisfaction in life. A place to give credit to yourself, to brag freely. A place to visit when you’re low.

Here’s just the first paragraph of my own:

Katrisha,

 

Congratulations on being an amazing mom even though Benjamin was a sudden addition to your plate. You grew him in your womb and you spilled yourself to give him a life outside of you. You demonstrated inexplicable strength and love throughout that journey. You are responsible for his clean bottom, his full belly, his priceless comfort over the night. The smile on his face, each new word, each new skill or surprise, he’s learning from you and he’s growing in such a place of love with YOUR presence. Take credit for that. You would give anything and do anything for him. Not everyone in his life can say that, very few ever will. You are truly irreplaceable. When he has the words, one day I promise you he’ll tell you how amazing of a mother you are.

Because believe it or not the depression had told me at one point that no one needs me, not even my son. It’s insane how far away from the rational you the depression can drag you. I know I’m not the only mother who isn’t proud of having these thoughts, that’s why I have to air it out. It happens. It’s a thing. Don’t be so ashamed that you suffer in silence or suffer without seeking solution.

Fight, mama.

Speaking of, I have one last thing we say back to whatever depression says.

*ahem*, excuse my mama french.

Fuck you.

You don’t define me. You are separate from me and should never be granted control of me or my life. You are in the business of lying to me, limiting and destroying my perception of the bountiful world I’m in. You steal countless opportunities I could otherwise conquer and fulfill. You are weak and weeping, but I am not. You are a storm, you cannot last forever- and my roots are deep. I will be standing. I will rise through the soil. I will bloom through the darkness. I will find my way home. My flame remains. I am powerful, loved, worthy. I am resilient.I am not afraid of you or your bumps and bruises. They look good on me while I do everything you say I cannot.

Now clap with me,

B****, this is my harvest. A better me is always on the way. 

 

An open letter to my enemies

Now that I’ve got your attention, allow me to remove the term “enemy.” Sorry for the click bait. But it all applies. Let me break it down.

This is a great blog to show y’all I am a human and I get picked on too.

Enemy
ˈenəmē/
noun
a person who is actively opposed or hostile to someone or something.

Note “actively opposed,” and “hostile.” I am neither or any arrangement of those words towards anyone. Hi Jessica. No, not even you. And yes, I know that’s not your real name. Why do I care, right? Even I could say, Hey- Check the Throwing shade: how it hurts you post before I bat an eyelash. It’s about choosing battles, it’s always about choosing battles. It’s about protecting my genuine true spirit. It’s about preserving my peace. “Jessica” The masked keyboard creeper is NOT worth a second of my time.

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However, I’ll get right to it. I have suffered a lot of trauma in my life. I have been emotionally and verbally abused by people I trusted. I have been bullied to extreme levels. I have been harassed. I have been stalked. I have been put into situations where I’ve had to calculate my every move to keep the peace. To walk on eggshells. To dodge toxicity, confrontation, volitle situations. I have always gracefully turned my back while grenades flew into it. I choose time and time again to keep control.

As a human and all, It has not been easy.

When you’re busy taking the high road, you hardly ever get closure. I’ve been robbed of many opportunities because the situation was not healthy enough to gather it. I recognized that in those moments and I didn’t wait around for it. (Go me.) Enough time has passed that I no longer care for any. The dust settles. I have grown light years since then. I am a mother now. I am not a child. I’ve forgiven those who never asked to be forgiven. Even the ones who are coming back with their little daggers, years later.

I just want to make myself clear.

I knew that creating a blog was a risk. I knew, that taking my experiences and innermost thoughts, handing them over to the Internet would mean anyone can say what they want about it. Any of it. I knew that by putting myself out there, I made myself vulnerable. As an introvert, as an owner of a deep layered soul, as someone with anxiety- I knew it was a gigantic plunge I would pay for one way or another.

I also knew my experiences and my innermost thoughts were not to be shared in vain. I know there are young mothers and young women such as I- who may take comfort or understanding in my words. They may delight in my corny humor on a bad day, swell with love crossing a common passion, empathize my crippling heartbreaks, my pure relief and illumination as I- as we arrive at the lesson learned. The moral of it all.  These possibilities were all so much more important than your opinion, “Jessica.”

Girl. I say with so much love- you didn’t creep around long enough for me to be of service to you. I actually state in Throwing Shade,

“Ever notice how saying something ugly makes you feel ugly? It’s like that foul after taste. You look, sound and feel bitter because you are. I mean, it might for a moment put you higher than the other person in your head, but that’s not real. That’s just you taking the most unhealthy route for a quick ego boost.

Comparisons are made when you feel like what you have isn’t good enough. People don’t realize how transparent it is when they don’t like themselves and in turn they prey on others. (Yes, people CAN see through that.)”

Would you like an acknowledgment? I regretfully can’t completely quench your thirst when I say, you are no enemy of mine. I mourn you, because you don’t exist in my world. Your power ends where it began, on a keyboard. I knew about you and your scary cloak of hateful Internet anonymity before you made yourself known. I had already chose to not fear you. I never will. Thank you for your feedback. You should be happy to see it has been considered. Truly.

Also- Just for fun, to call me “fake” would imply you know more about me than what I let on, or that you know me at all. You don’t. Even if you met me yesterday you don’t know me today. My evolution has been unyielding. I can’t imagine how outdated your idea of me must be. Anyone I allow to associate closely with is loving and supportive towards me. Therefore you are not any where near me. Yet you come all this way via the digital world, to bite at my ankles. I imagine that says much more about you than it does me.

Making someone your enemy creates war within yourself. I gave up that mentality a bit ago. Forgive me for my selfishness, but I’ve got much more important things to ponder on.

When it’s about choosing battles, we’ve got to understand some can be won without getting your hands dirty. If you’re looking for me, you can find me not looking for you.  I will continue to share openly, honestly and shamelessly on my blogging journey. I truly wish you the kind of happiness that diffuses your desire to peak over this way. May you create a world for yourself that is beautiful to you. 

Sincerely,

A (Growing) Grown Up.

 

 

#mixed

fun fact: I’m biracial.

Well, to get technical bi would mean two and I’m much more than two. I’m sort of a white, black and Native American soup with a dash of Swedish, a table spoon of German, and a pinch of polish. At least that’s all I can remember from the lists my parents have told me. Generally speaking, however, my mother was a blonde haired, blue eyed white woman. My father was a dark haired, dark eyed black man. Here I am. I look like your coffee when you put just a tad more cream in it than you meant to- and genetic dominance rules stood their ground and I have dark eyes and dark, thick curly hair. I shade in the box that says, “two or more races” with every official form I’ve done in my life.

I’ve never taken a DNA test. So part of me, who knows exactly how much- is still a mystery even to myself. All I know is all I’ve had to work with. To be frank- it’s been more than enough to try to dissect, understand and own.

Being a mixed child has its own set of social struggles. My perspective on who I am has changed so much as I’ve grown. Whether they admit it or not, every multi-race individual kind of goes through this inevitable identity struggle.

Now you’re thinking, I have to choose which race I answer when I get that famous, inhumane, “what are you?” But have you ever thought of what thoughts calculate that decision, though? Who’s asking, what is more desirable, what am I proud of, what have I been conditioned to be ashamed of, what exactly do I want to represent? These aren’t things you process well when you’re five years old. 

I grew the shell of my answer in my thoughts before I knew it was happening.  Through the sting of, “your hair is so big,” and “your hair is so frizzy,” and then trying to control it and tame it, only to hear, “ew. Your hair is so greasy.”

To go home and watch the tv and see black women in roles where they’re in skimpy clothing, speaking recklessly and fighting. To see black men in roles where they are criminalized. To have my name made fun of and mispronounced. To be quickly summarized and described as “the/that black girl” rather than just by my name, a simple privilege the other kids had.

My child brain quickly learned being half black was a flaw.

White acceptance became gold to me. I was so relieved to see my white mother pull up and pick me up from school in front of all my friends. Who still couldn’t believe I wasn’t adopted.

Like any other girl, makeup enters the picture, different clothing, and for me-relaxers. (These are harsh chemical based permanent hair straighteners.) In other words- a perm. I layered and layered these treatments onto my curls. Dissapointented the very next day to see how many curls had survived. In and out of great clips, where the stylists would regularly tell my mother they weren’t comfortable cutting my hair- we’d ask for it to just be thinned. Please, just thin it out. I was inconvenienced and bitter about my hair. I was tired of my frizzy, thick, big hair.

I would bite my tongue and I would be especially polite always, I never wanted to be perceived as loud, angry or threatening. So much so, I regret to say I didn’t stand up for myself when I should have on multiple occasions. I wanted so badly to be loved and embraced by my non colored, non mixed friends, despite my blackness– that I became a lukewarm version of a human being to make sure I didn’t come off as, “too black.” Every move was calculated. Even then, I was met with comments that made me feel like an ‘it.’ Even then, mall security would watch me shop. Even then, the white boy I had the biggest crush on would never pay me any mind. And even if he did,  I was just cute- for a black girl. Too much of a miss match to ever be seen on his arm. Still rejected by my peers, still on the outside, and more confused than ever.

Time went on. I tried something else then. I would go to the few black kids at school. Who all seemed go hang out with each other, and I finally understood why. They knew there was nothing to fear about their blackness. No matter how loud they laughed. No matter what style their hair was in.  Their circle was their own safe space from judgement. I befriended them.

My escapism tactic blew up in my face. I learned, I “talked so white.”  My ass was so flat. I was too sensitive, too weak. Sheltered and inexperienced. I packed more insecurities on my shoulders. The butt of all the jokes. I just wasn’t black enough. Once again, failure. I didn’t fit the mold. I still pondered who I was. In my quiet moments I knew I might always be a loner.

When I finally paid enough attention to detect the resentment towards me, I realized something.

This whole time I was hating myself, I was on a societal pedestal in the black community.

I had the light skin. I had the “good” hair. Soft European features. I may not have had the eyes of the most eligible white boys but I did have the eyes of the black ones. My teachers took the time to trust and get to know me. I had an innocence about me that a dark skinned girl would never be afforded. I was given chances and opportunities with less struggle. I was called back when I interviewed for high school jobs. People generally gave me the benefit of the doubt. The doubt that you are born associated to as a black human being.

My privilege finally looked me in the face. A privilege I never would have seen if I hadn’t caught a glimpse of the world through the eyes of the other side. The things I complained about, that I could almost erase with a flat iron- they could never escape from. This was the game changer.

When I saw the light skin pedestal the world created, a seat warmed and reserved only for mixed individuals with magical light colored eyes and small noses, looser curls and fairer skin- I wanted to kick the pedestal over.

By idolizing only European beauty, by buying into negative black stereotypes from the television, fearing and judging my own, for trying to erase every detail that led a clue to my other half, by reminding everyone I was mixed so I could be seen as something better than a full black individual, like I was some sort of exception for this, like I should be rewarded for not being entirely black– I realized I was a screw in the machine that destroys the confidence of beautiful dark colored people everywhere. How dare I take daily advantage of a bias that is so twistedly dangerous and detrimental to the well being of my people, their acceptance in society and diversity itself. Contributing to the very cycle that keeps full black girls under water, so I could breathe at the top.

This is why I do not advertise that I am mixed like some others do.

I can’t speak for every other biracial persons reasoning if they do paint this across all of their social media profiles or include it in every self description. I do know typically it is used as an insidious bragging right that has no actual bragging right. An all exclusive competition club where we see who got the best of both. The curves of a black girl, the hair or eye color of a white one. I’m no less-than-full-black unicorn. I’m just me. I’m not any better than a dark skinned girl. Do not compare me to one. I won’t tolerate being used to put one down. I am not picking and choosing what black/white features I want to benefit from today.

Heck, If natural curls weren’t making a trendy come back right now, would I have stopped relaxing my hair? I honestly don’t even know. Do I benefit from my ability to do or be both depending on the sway of the fashion season? Yes. Absolutely. However I’m estatic we are currently creating a wave that embraces natural black beauty when it has been shunned for otherwise the entirety of history. I’m here for it. If you follow my Instagram, you’ll see I’m on my own natural hair journey. I want to be my truest self. That is the biggest and most important milestone I’ve made yet.

These days, I live my life transparently and I aim to bridge the gap that still exists between people of different races. I am not the perfect “medium,” I am just one of many combinations of a human. And as a human, as aly to all humans I want everyone afforded the same chances and rights as others. I want beauty to have less freaking  stipulations. I want us to stop treating each other like “its” just because we are different. I want girls of all colors to share a damn table in a high school lunch room.

We wont get there tomorrow. We probably won’t even get there by the time my son sits at a high school lunch table. Or the the first time he is pulled over for s traffic citation. Tears well in my eyes at the thought of society labeling or rejecting my beautiful child. Although black passing- with rich brown skin, He is mixed too. I’m just grateful I can be there for him to help him gain a rounded perspective on who he is, all of who he is, before he is burned by his own limitations and traditional ignorance taught by the world around him.

Oh and my answer? Easy. I identify as black. My hair, lips and tanned skin tells any stranger I’m black before I do. I walk through this world as a black woman, with some privileges of a white one. Somehow I feel the need to clarify-Is my white side the devil? Of course not. Not at all. That’s not the message. It benefits me in many ways, and I wouldn’t choose another mother for anything. But do I need to filter the telling of my reality to make everyone comfortable? Of course not. Not at all. Comfortable doesn’t equal change. I share my story in hopes of it being a constructive contribution to the conversation, and a screw in a machine that works to benefit all of us humans- no matter our recipe. To work on the grand common goal…

To stop the useless prestigious tone in these #mixed hashtags, duh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Year’s Resolutions that I find hearty and realistic

I told myself I wouldn’t do this. Because I don’t like letting myself down. I don’t like fads. I don’t like deadlines. I don’t like pressure.

I more so enjoy just randomly accomplishing goals and then being happy for each separate instance than to confine myself with unnecessary pressure to do things on top of the daily things I already have to do. I’m busy. I need all the mental calm I can get.

Aside from that I believe- I know, we are constantly evolving. There are changes we may want from ourselves that will only come from the concoction of time, practice, random chance and/or experience. We can’t demand certain things from ourselves or from anyone else by certain days and times we find convenient. I mean we can try of course, which is all we do our entire lives, but I’m just saying- I acknowledge that’s just not the way it goes down. Sometimes I don’t trust myself or my schedule or my energy so much- I trust the universe. That’s okay I think. Sometimes that’s okay.

But I can’t help but look at this fresh calendar year and have the human urge to plan. To know what I’m getting into. What I’d like to get into. What I would like to complete, or just do more often. Things I could incorporate into my life to take better care of myself than I did the last calendar year.

No pressure, though.

So my list isn’t a, “lose 10 pounds before February 8th.” Or “get a perfect 4.0 my first semester of college” or anything like that. Those would be ideal, but truthfully those sort of goals only hover over you. That’s not what I’m going for this time around.

I want to just sort of implement good habits that will naturally help my body get to a place where I like what I see. Good habits that will naturally help me get back into a school brain and be efficient in my studies. Introduce positive and creative thought processes that will help me be more inspired, confident and proactive in my life. It’s not so much the results I’m zoning on but just the techniques I use to achieve results. The root of my efforts. I want to water those roots. If I do, better things will come of them. It’s an, inside out type of year.

So no measurements, no due bys’, no minimum or maximums. No superficial goals.

This is what I’ve come up with. like anyone else I’d like to take care of my body, my mind, and my soul. I want to create successes in my personal, educational and professional life. 

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  • everyday I want to be active. If the weather permits, I want to go on a walk with my baby. If it doesn’t, we’ll stay inside and have a dance party. Mama has to do sit ups in her dance routine though, if she ever wants to see her belly change. Also- squats are a good dance move. We’ll do some of those too. This is a daily aim. Even if it’s just a few before the busy day’s over.
  • I want to drink more water. I want to use one of my reusable bottles in the kitchen cupboard and fill it with ice water and finish it multiple times a day. Even if I have to add lemon wedges or tea bags when I’m being picky. My skin needs water, My digestive system needs water, my livelihood is water. Fill ‘er up.
  • I want to have less fast food, processed food and dairy. I intend on cooking more often. Even if it’s just tossing some chicken in the oven with some greens. It’s better than a burger and fries, half a bag of chips, etc. Introducing myself to more healthy snacks such as nuts, seeds, dried fruits, granola, fresh fruits and veggies etc.Helping my taste buds adapt to healthier treats and cravings. Where I have the most milk intake currently is in my coffee. I am an iced coffee addict. More and more often I will substitute coconut, almond and soy milks until I find my fave. Then I will drop dairy milk from the equation. I will be proactive in searching for dairy free recipes, or just “vegan” to be on the general healthier side. I know there’s good stuff. Pinterest is bursting with it and I’m ready to health up my “Yum” board.

in doing above things, I know I will begin to feel physically better.

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  • I will use a planner for my work schedule, key days etc. I have already started doing this. So far, it has helped my anxiety to write down my work schedule and appointments there rather than only in my phone. Cause we all know iPhone calendars be playing games. I keep my planner and a pen always on hand. So far this has been positive to my organization.
  • I will make daily goals no matter how teensy tiny, I will give myself the satisfaction of completing a couple tasks each day that are beneficial to myself and my family.
  • I will nurture my hobbies and creative outlets. I will make time for me. I will never tell myself to “grow out of” drawing, painting, playing with makeup or writing. I will embrace my imagination and use these activities as healthy outlets to express and enjoy myself.
  • I will play with my son. Not that I need a reminder, but I forget that when I play with the little guy, I have fun too. It’s learning for him, and good times for the both of us. May I never forget that play is important.
  • I will spend time with the people I love. Because a hug is better than a ‘like’ any day. I will also remember to love myself, and that I don’t need everyone to love me.
  • I will find and create positive affirmations to help steer my mind to a better place each day. In doing this, I will increase my capability and my positiveness. I will try and make my mind a sunny resourceful place as often as I can.
  • I will say no when I know I am passively agreeing to overwhelm myself. Which I have a history of. I will calm my anxiety in knowing there will be other opportunities, I will be forgiven, I will get to it all.
  • I will approach my goals with a consciously confident outlook no matter how big they are. ‘Cause I’ve had some big ideas lately. I will kick fears butt. I will try, try again.
  • I will minimize physical and emotional clutter by letting go, by asking myself what is valuable and what is not and to be conscious in the way I rid of things. To clean out my closet and stop buying cheap clothes just because they are trendy for this five minute increment and they create clothing waste because they are virtually un-reusable. To have less stuff. I don’t use a ton of stuff so I have no good reason to have such a mess of it. To take the spring cleaning into my head and heart and dust off those less than happy memories I return to because anxiety-anxiety-anxiety. Letting go is very key this year. Time to clear the cache and whatever I can to keep it clear as possible.

In doing above things, I will feel emotionally and mentally more strong, balanced and joyful.

To create success in my life,

  • I will make time for my friends, I will put myself out there to making new mama friends IRL (in real life) and do play dates so Benjamin can get in on the fun. I would love to go to a baby and me class. Will be researching for local stuff like that. Giving Ben and I that one day a week to hang out ’cause we just deserve it.
  • I will nurture my romantic relationship by being a better listener, practicing better patience and understanding, showing my love and support on the outside and more often, and finding ways to make ordinary moments extraordinary. May I never forget my man is half my family and my whole heart. I will always be searching for ways to make time for us.
  • I will text and call and visit my family more often. The hour and a half drive is enough distance. I will do my best to keep us squeezed close otherwise. To remind them I love them just as hard every single day from wherever I’m at.
  • I will be attentive to my blog not just because I love it and I love my readers but because it has potential. There’s no limit to how it could grow. I will give it what I’ve got and get more young women and mothers to it if they’ll find enjoyment in it. I will embrace this idea of entrepreneurship and know this is something I can be successful at.
  • I will take school seriously and I will organize study times, use my planner and ask for help when I need it. Ya girl is bad at math. but. not. for. long. This one is harder because I haven’t started school just yet. Will be coming back to this.
  • I will actively get outside of my comfort zones at work in order to grow myself and be myself. Watch out social anxiety, you’re going down. To always do more than the bare minimum, because that’s a nasty habit that will continue to bleed over other places in my life. To become an expert at whatever I do, good day or bad day-to try and try again.

in doing above things, I see myself being more successful in my personal, educational and professional life.

Of course I will add more as I go, I will learn, there are plenty of days to be had this year, 365 to be exact- I’m just saying I will try to make the best of each of them.

I hope some of these are things you can take with you or pass along to help us all be the best versions of ourselves this year. xo

 

 

 

 

What It’s Really Like After You Have A Baby

Scrolling along on your Instagram feed and you see your favorite makeup artist pop up. She looks gorgeous as always, she just had a baby 2 weeks ago and she looks UH-MAZING. Mirror selfies show her flat tummy, nice and toned already, resembling no evidence of her pregnancy.  Her hair is styled to a T. In the mirror you see just a small glimpse of her fabulous home, clean and trendy. Not a dust bunny in sight. She looks vibrant and gorgeous, her baby looks happy and sweet. Without a second thought you gush at how great she’s got it. You can’t wait to be a put together, glowing super mother yourself.

Then you see a friend of a friend. A gal from junior high maybe. She’s got a 2 year old. Always in the most thoughtful outfits. That baby is the cutest thing you’d ever seen. Seems to always be giggling. Mommy looks great as well and clearly has a happy booming social life. All of their adventures are well documented. You gush yet again. Being a mother will be so fun. 

Fast forward. It’s two weeks postpartum for you.

You still look 4 months pregnant. You have to move slowly as you’re still sore. You roll to the side before sitting up because your abdominal muscles are completely separated straight down the middle. You approach the restroom slowly. Inside there’s a squirt bottle waiting for you and witch hazel pads for cleaning and relieving your torn and tender self. Once your done you set yourself up with a new giant maxi pad almost resembling a diaper to catch all of your insides you will shed and shed and shed for at least a few more weeks.

Your baby is screaming and you aren’t sure why. You are counting your baby’s pees and poops to make sure they are on track. You’re obsessing waiting on them to poop in this 24 hour cycle. You wince as you bring your dry, cracked, aching breast to your baby’s mouth. You pray and pray for a latch because you’re home alone and there are no nurses to ask for help now. OUCH. Baby’s on there. GOOD!

OUCH!

OUCH.

Baby falls asleep and you aren’t sure what you’ll do now. You haven’t eaten since yesterday. You haven’t showered in almost 3 days. You haven’t gotten more than two consecutive hours of sleep yourself since you gave birth. Not to mention your house is a complete and utter train wreck.

As much as you want to do everything you can while your baby takes a questionably short nap- you instead nervously watch your baby sleep. Because you are scared to death they will stop breathing.

Between watching their chest rise and fall you torture yourself and open Facebook on your phone. Dear god. Another SIDS article?? Better read that. SHIT. I’m never leaving this room.

Old friends!! They went out! Look at their drinks! So pretty. Little drink umbrellas! Awe! Oh wow they look so nice. Oh wow they look so skinny. Oh wow. They look so…. free. And well rested. And happy.

The posts keep coming. One after another. You can’t help but realize they haven’t spoken to you like you’re a individual human as opposed to just being pregnant person since you were-pregnant. Some of them haven’t spoken to you at all.

You don’t know if your furious or heartbroken. You’re a little bit of both.

Your stomach growls. Maybe a pb&j? Anything to fill this painful void in your gut. Just as you begin to pull away, your baby’s cry makes it’s way out.  You feel the weight of your exhaustion. You cry with your baby.

Fast forward a bit more. Now your 6 weeks postpartum.

The doctor said you were supposed to be done bleeding now but you’re not. Diaper pads are still your friend. Breastfeeding is still a challenge. You were supposed to be done relying on your nipple shield but you still need it. You still need your stool softeners too. You’re still a strung out mess, only sadder now. Only lonelier.

You haven’t left the house and you’re afraid to. Afraid to be out in public with a crying baby and fumbling around with your shit clearly not together. You’re afraid the baby will get hungry and you’ll have to breastfeed. Then people will stare at you and judge you. What if you accidentally show the whole produce department your nipple while you wrestle to get the baby on? What if the blanket slips off your shoulder and an older couple scowls their faces at you. What if your confronted and asked to “do that somewhere else.”

But you’re craving daylight so badly. You want to experience a sliver of life outside the front door. But you just can’t bring yourself to do it. Every time seems like a bad time. How are you supposed to get ready to show your face out there when you are still having trouble bathing yourself regularly? It’ll take so long. And then you have to get the baby ready. The car seat, the diaper bag, the stroller or the baby carrier? Both? How are you going to carry all that? And then get groceries too? The baby is always fussy. The baby will just scream and you know it. So it’s “never mind.” For a while longer. You’re not ready.

You bump your baby’s head on the car seat the first time you try to leave the house the next week. You cry. You tell yourself your a shit mother and you were stupid to even try.

You wonder what you’re even good for sometimes. Then it gets worse. Then it gets so bad- you don’t tell anyone what you’ve been thinking.

You tell yourself it’s just the “baby blues” and grit through the manic episodes.

All the while you type “good” and “great” when people casually ask you how the mom life is going for you. You put on some makeup one time in 3 weeks and that’s the time you take a picture with baby on your chest. You smile for the camera. You try to tell the world you’re doing well even though you’re questioning everything and falling apart.

Then you realize you’re now a participant in the cycle. You and your perfect picture have some other expectant mother blissfully oblivious to the obstacles that are headed her way.

It’s not about instead showing your crazy tired sad self and saying, “having a baby sucks!” That’s not the case. Having a baby is awesome. But it’s a humongous adjustment. It’s severely hormonal. It’s hard. And it requires a ton of preparation. Not only for baby- but for YOU. Why don’t we talk about preparing ourselves? It is much more than a setting up a nursery and buying packs of sleepers and diapers. Where are the warnings about postpartum anxiety and depression?  The loss of your social support? The extreme isolation? Where is the open support when they hit?

In retrospect thinking about people in your life, there will suddenly be two categories. ‘Before I had kids,’ and ‘after I had kids.’ You’ll realize people you thought would stick in your life for a bit quickly see themselves out once you’re pregnant. You can’t drink, you’re eating differently, you’re sleepier, slower- you’re still you but- you’re not their kind of fun anymore. You’re a mom now. They aren’t parents.

Months go by. After being pregnant for 9+ months, having a newborn turned 1,2 and then 3 months. It’s now been a year. They thought you’ve been so busy being pregnant and a mother that you could have hardly noticed they drifted from you without an apology of parting words. But you noticed. And it hurt. 

As beautiful as your bundle is, you can’t have a conversation with cries and passing gas. The baby isn’t going to ask you how you’re doing, if there’s anything you need. But there’s so much that you have to say. Your body is completely different. You aren’t warming up well to the extra skin or the stretch marks, the shedding of your hair. Your confidence has sunk. You feel friend-less. You’re having trouble accepting this new normal with open arms.
Although every woman has a different experience, nearly 1 of 5 new mothers suffer from postpartum depression. If you are like me- someone who has battled anxiety and depression before, you are likely to be more prone to falling down the rabbit hole.

I ask some fellow mommies who’d recently given birth to offer their postpartum experiences.

“I had high anxiety for a while. I was at a loss because this was my first child, I had no one to turn to for help, and I was alone for the most part during the first month because my husband was scrambling to get things together last minute […] I definitely get lonely staying home all day with no car, and just YouTube, FB, and prayer to keep me sane. My main outlet is going to every church function that I can get a ride to, which I get great joy from.” -Keosha G.

Even second time mothers like Kristina,

“After having a baby, emotionally I was all over the place. I thought it would be easier the second time around but I was WAY more nervous about germs and other people touching the baby. I mean a total nervous wreck. The only thing I was depressed about was my huge blubbering body and the difficulties of breastfeeding. Very happy to have a new healthy baby, especially cause I didn’t think I could love another baby like I did with my first born. The first 4 months were really really hard emotionally. My family dynamic changed because I needed more help. Because of pain and lack of sleep I needed my husband and eldest to cook, clean, laundry, and all the other things I did for them. They sort of had to fend for themselves for awhile. […]What bothers me most is staying home alone, with no car, 5 days a week. 12 hours a day with a baby and no adult contact is very lonely and a little madening. Cabin fever much?..”-Kristina D.

When the high settles and you start to wonder if you can really do this,

“After having a baby there definitely is a grief that it’s all over. Giving birth is such a climax, there’s so much anticipation and after you’ve snuggled and breathed in the newness, all the nosey family members are gone the struggles are there. You have the nights where you wonder if you are going to be able to do this forever, what if you screw them up?”-Stephanie M.

Everything makes you feel guilty.

“I feel empty. My arms are full and so is my heart but I still feel empty. I hate that I can’t have my baby with me all through my day like I did before, but I also get frustrated that I never have a moment of peace.When I am by myself I feel guilty and miss my kids. It’s a terrible cycle. “-Katie I.

Prepare yourself for the hormonal dive. It just may end up being more than the “baby blues.” Which are only supposed to be a couple weeks after birth.

  • Find your support. Mom, sis, good loyal friends, spouse, grandma etc. let them know you will need them to watch you and check in with you from time to time. Let them know you appreciate a regular visit. No matter if your house is a mess or you haven’t brushed your hair in a week.
  • Tell your friends to keep you in the group chat. Ask them to invite you anyway, and let you decide whether or not it’s something you’d like to participate in. Ask them not to assume you don’t want to, or can’t, or won’t have the energy to.
  • Prepare a few solitary hobbies when you are home with baby. Get yourself some painting supplies, baking ingredients, some good books, new nail polishes or self care items for the down time. Make sure that within the madness, you are incorporating little moments that make you feel good.
  • ASK FOR HELP. If someone lets you know they are willing to help- don’t take it in vain. “You know what? I’d actually love it if you came over and helped me fold some laundry! I’ll pay you in iced coffee and a pizza!”
  • If someone offers to babysit- LET THEM. Go get some air. Go for a drive, stop by your favorite store.
  • Put on the gosh dang baby wrap and go check the mail. Go for a walk. Go to the mall. Anything. You’ll be glad you did. 
  • Let your freaking spouse know what’s going on in your head. They are around you the most. Help them make sense of your outbursts. You aren’t being irrational. There are reasons you feel defeated and upset. They can’t help you if they don’t know.
  • Keep a journal for all those things you are struggling to say to others. If you feel like you are getting bad- let someone read your journal. Ask for help. Always ask for help.

Trust me, though. Your baby gets funner and funnier. They get more independent. You will find your groove. You start to mom it up. Your partner still thinks your gorgeous and enticing. You’re a new kind of beautiful and a new kind of strong. 

Peace the hell out to your old friends. This is just one of those things in life that tests a friendship. If it stands, it’s the real deal. If it crumbles, it just wasn’t. They were temporary. File them under, ‘Before I had kids.’ Then keep it positive and keep it pushing, mama. 

Embrace the new you. Your locked and loaded with potential. Be patient with yourself. Being a mother grows you exponentially. Sometimes you will feel the seams splitting. But trust the process. 

New people will enter your life. People who take you the way you are- a mother. Let those people come to you. Open yourself up. 

And if not anything else, hang in there. Even if you have to take it day by day or moment by moment. And know you’ve got lots of mommies to back you up. All you need to do is ask. 

And cheers to you. Because you’re out here raising little humans and bearing the process. Cheers to your new strength and new beauty. 

“We The In-betweeners” 

Ever since I suited up in cap and gown and accepted my high school diploma, I’ve been a bit anxious about where I’m going in life. 

There’s much to consider. I need to make money. Good money. I want to live comfortably. I want to give my future children everything they want. I want to be able to stand on my own feet if I ever become a divorcé or a single parent. I want to drive a car I’m proud of and own a home that’s warm and roomy enough for all my family and all my friends. I want a closet full of clothes, shoes and accessories that are high end and just my taste. When it comes time to get my child their first car I want to be able to help. When my mother grows old I want to be able to help. When it’s time to put my children in basketball or cheerleading or even college I want them to not worry about the side costs and where they will find the money to participate. When I’m older I want to retire peacefully and gracefully grow old without my family stressing on the costs of my sustaining. 

Then- I want to enjoy what I do. I want to crack a smile at the thought of my contribution to society. I want to be passionate and talented and tireless in my work. I want to be respected in my work place and independent. I want to feel as though my schedule fits my life, and I have time for for career and my duties at home. To not hate mondays. To feel not only be financially but emotionally rewarded by my work. I want to expand and spill over with all the potential I have without anyone capping me. To never have someone hold my job over my head. I don’t even want to call it a job. I want to genuinely call it a career

I just need enough in my pockets and enough in my heart. Then maybe- I can go on living the stretch of 70, 80, 90 years in this life content. 

Except, I’ve gone over and gone over it. I’ve changed my mind I don’t know how many times. I wanted to be a lawyer- too much school. School equals time and crazy debt. I wanted to be a cheerleading/dance coach. Too little money. How will I support myself or my family? I wanted to be a beautician. Not all it was cracked up to be. I wanted to come back and work my way up the corporate ladder in banking. Never happens or takes too long, not a easy work culture to drive through. 

I’m an artist, though. But if I just decided one day to quit my day job and indulge myself in my writing, drawing or painting- We’ll starve. As much as my memory could be romanticized by my art, my son won’t be left with much. How will we ever afford the things we need if I cannot help my spouse? A single income just doesn’t cut it for a family anymore. Unless that single income is a huge one. Let’s be honest-most of us don’t have that “huge” income. So both parents need to work. 

That brings us here. To the in between. 

Right now. I’m a barista. Because I’m going to start school once again, and like much of us, I can’t only go to school without some sort of income on the side. Because I’m not living under my parents roof. How I would love to continue working somewhere I’m qualified to make probably 2-5 more dollars an hour, I’m making cents above minimum wage because these are the only jobs that have any sort of schedule flexibility. Even when you ask for that, you lose hours because you’re being accommodated. Nobody likes to accommodate. You learn that when you get on your own too. 

You could say I’m “in between things.”

I’ve been like this for a while. It doesn’t sit right with me. Come to think of it, I haven’t quite been sitting right since I did suit up and accept my high school diploma. 

I know what you’re thinking, ‘oh shut it. If you can’t do something you love, do something you like. Compromise. Go to school for something, at least you’ll be making good money later.’ 

You know what I hear? SETTLE. 

I hear, spend years going to college for something that grows increasingly uninteresting as you go. Take and pay for a spew of classes that are irrelevant to the trade, then finally, just take your diploma and your bill. Your life-long bill that will cut into your income until you actually die. Hopefully I’ll take care of it before my son has to. Then I’ve got to be a new graduate finding a job where the positions call for a minimum 5-10 years experience. Hm. Better take an internship huh? Unpaid. No benefits. No promise of a job after the fact. 

Wouldn’t you be excited at the thought as well? 

No? Well here’s your other options: Make cents above minimum wage for the rest of your life, try to work your way up the slippery narrow corporate ladder, or work for yourself- which is non existent or no guaranteed income for a good while if ever. Take your pick. 

Is it really a wonder why we never know what the hell we are going to do with our lives? 

The story may be different for you if you come from a family of means. Even a little bit. I mean, I’m speaking from nothing. I mean it. My whole adult life I’ve actually made more than my mother per hour. She’s a CNA, has been for 20+ years. It’s a gritty, hard, thankless job. Do you know how much it irks me to see her go through what she goes through for maybe a dollar or two above minimum wage? To still live paycheck to paycheck after all the blood, sweat and tears? To have crappy benefits and to not even be able to retire until she’s in her 70’s? 

She’s a first hand example of what could happen out there. I want to go a step further. I want to make her proud. The sooner she has to stop breaking her back the better, right? But how do I help when I can barely help myself? 

You have to bite a bullet. Maybe a couple. But you’ve got to choose. Debt or passion? Family or work? 

This economy and this education system aren’t easy for us to navigate. They are about as unharmonious as they can be. That’s okay to say. It’s true

This isn’t a blog where I’ll pull the magic solution out of a hat, I haven’t got one. In fact, I can’t even tell you what I’ll do because I don’t even know what I’ll do exactly.

This is a more so- it’s okay to be where you’re at. It’s understandable. Gravity will pull you along where you should be soon enough. Until then, do your best. Learn, learn, learn as much as you can. Develop yourself with whatever you can get your hands on. Make choices for yourself- and be brave. Be a good friend. Ask and tell. Network. We all know something the next person doesn’t. We all know we could use a little help. 

Now I just need to take my own advice.

Let me remind you on the side, for us humanitarians-For all of us in fact; we are tomorrow. I’m hoping even if I personally can’t be, that some leaders come out of us that can level the playing field and capitalize our sense of togetherness and community. We are good at talking about things, we should be good about doing things, too! We ought to reach towards these responsibilities we are passionate about. That’s always something to consider when you start to wonder where you can make a difference. 

Sending my love and good vibes for everyone’s 2017!! 

Quoting an excerpt from a classic movie, White Chicks-

 “Time to totally kick ass.”

The Story of Benjamin Pt. 5: Meeting Ben 

James and I got the jitters as the nurses went off to prepare us a room for the delivery. While I was still able I was calling and texting my mom and my sister. James told his family and his coworkers. (We were so used to getting sent home he actually thought he was still going to work that day. )

Our labor plan was very simple but exclusive. We just wanted it to be James and I for the active labor and delivery. It was our first child. We wanted to keep the environment as calm and private as possible. We thought the more bodies in the room, the more talking, the speculation, advise, (as well meaning as it would be)-it’d make for more confusion, chaos, stress, and hyper self awareness or possibly anxiety flares for me. The last thing I wanted to do was be a grinning host, concerned with what I look like or how I’m coping to a room full of people while I’m giving birth naturally. Even I knew that wasn’t going to happen. I did not want an audience. Shit was going to get real. 

James’s mom stopped in while I was still cognitive which was fine with me, but the whole process was so enveloping I can’t even remember her leaving. She was there and then she wasn’t, I remember saying hello and exchanging a few sentences, but then it blurs. The discomfort turned to pain and that pain turned worse and worse. Quick. 

I went from the bed to the tub to the bed. Moaning, groaning, crying, gritting, grimacing, screaming. It was the hardest work I’ve ever done. 

I was stark naked. Sweating. Delirious in pain. Screeching as each contraction radiated through me. Blurry eyed peaking around through my tears. Eyeballs heavy and sore from sobbing and sleep deprivation. 

The nurses understood my plan but saw I was really going through it here. I was offered fentanyl and I accepted it without hesitation. It is a medication administered through the IV that was supposed to “take the edge off.” Allow some rest in the quick minutes between contractions. It lasts about 30 minutes at time. The 30 minutes goes by nearly instantly. 

I was depleted. The fetynal allowed me to actually doze off for a couple minutes in between my contractions. Then I was jolted awake when the next one arrived. I was howling. I called it the Blair witch project. I was screaming bloody murder. I hoped those walls were sound proof.

I was being asked and directed by my nurses and midwife to labor in different positions to help Benjamin naturally find his way to the exit. I hated it. I did not want to get up. I did not want to be spoken to. I did not want to be told what to do, because I did not want to move. I wanted to curl in a ball and die. I wanted it all to stop. I wanted the contractions to stop. 

While on my elbows and knees, screaming a top my hospital bed, holding tight through another cinching contraction, I felt an unbearable pressure. I heard a pop. I had my head ducked down and I watched as water fell between my legs like a waterfall. 

“I THINK MY WATER JUST BROKE!!!!!” I shouted.

“Okay, Katrisha!” My midwife sort of chuckled. 

I remember thinking, did I just pee??? I don’t usually pee that fast, or that much- did I just announce that I peed on this bed naked infront of everyone?? Are they laughing at me??? There was no time to rationalize. Everything kicked up a notch. 

After my special announcement I felt the energy in the room spike. Everyone started to sort of prepare it seemed. I felt their excitement. 

It wasn’t long before I was begging for more fentanyl, but I was sorely denied. I was fully dilated. Full on, Benjamin was right there. 

“No, he’s on his way now. It’s too late for that. We are going to start pushing now.”

*THERE’S MORE TO THIS?! 

Here specifically- I said inside myself, ‘You are so dumb. You are a dumb girl. Natural? What the F*** were you thinking!?

I pushed and pushed and pushed. I pushed until my eyeballs rolled back. I pushed until it felt like I was going to explode. I pushed until I was speaking jibberish and everyone had to refrain from laughing at the insanity I was displaying. (James likes to joke and say I was speaking in tongues. Which makes me want him to push a baby out.) 

 I thought the contractions were intense, well pushing while having one is just an immeasurable amount of pressure. The only good thing was after a certain point my body began to push by itself when I got contractions, I was instructed to not push though (premature pushing can lead to hemmorage and tearing.) So being allowed to push with my bodies instincts was good for me. Cause fighting the overwhelming urge was a whole other evil. 

Speaking of all this pushing- Yes, there’s this rumor about women going to the bathroom while in labor. -For the record, I don’t know if I went during labor. No one told me I did. That’s the way it should be. And I don’t want anyone to ever tell me. Trust- however, a babies head is so hard and solid, it has to “flatten”everything in its pathway. (This is what my midwife told me in labor, because I told her I felt like I had to go) Baby yields to nothing. Everything moves out of the way for baby. 

With that being said, I do- however, have mad respect for my midwife. Because it’s quite possible I pooped in her hand. 

More screaming. Have you ever heard of crowning? That’s when the baby’s big head has to wiggle its way out. Definitely the peak. The stretch of a life time for you. My mom calls it, “The ring of fire.” It’s quite fitting. Nothing compared to that part. Luckily, it is all down hill from that. 

I’ll tell you. I wished I could have just gave up. I felt emptied and ran over and everything else. I was struggling for my breath, I was compulsively shaking, I was delirious and dizzy. I couldn’t even comprehend the amount of pain I was feeling. This was hard. It was fourth quarter and I was ready to shut down. 

My midwife saw I needed some refocus took my hand and had me reach down. 

“That’s him! There he is! Do you feel his hair??” She was smiling. 

I went for the reach. I felt his soft hair, all the little curls. I realized my hard work was not in vain. I was just moments away from meeting my little boy. 

James cupped his mouth. The emotions flooded into the room. 

Benny’s big head was right there. My midwife told me one last good push is all it would take. I told myself I was done. I was ready to finish this. 

I consciously felt the contraction started to creep up like a wave. I buckled down. When it crashed down into me, I gave it my all. This was where I was going to pass my own test, this was where I was going to find my inner badass, this was my time to flex my mental muscles. I found my alpha woman. I exhilarated.

I heard the gasps and praises of everyone at my bed. I looked between my knees I saw a beautiful, slippery baby fall into my midwives hands. 

All pain ceased immediately. There he was. 

Everyone was smiling and saying things all at once now, but I couldn’t hear a word. All I saw was Benjamin. He was on the other side. 

I reached for him and they gave him right to me. Skin to skin. He curled onto my chest. His little cry made its way out. I felt the weight of his body, the contour of his curved back and the softness of his flushed warm skin. His heart pattering against mine. He quickly contented himself with me. Like he knew I was mommy. 

I looked up at James, who was bawling. 

“I can’t believe you’re finally here.” I kissed Benjamin for the first time. 

9 hours after arriving at the hospital, Benjamin was born June 23rd at 3:11pm. After being up all night, and yes after getting sent home from triage a whopping 3 whole times. (Yes I did infact go 3 times.) 

I had my baby. 

I felt like superwoman. I swear I stayed up the next 48 hours just staring at Benjamin. He was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. He was all mine. He was the best thing I’ve ever done. 

I watched James hold him. The love I saw as he gazed at Ben. Watching Benjamin hold James’s fingers and look up at him. Just like that; we became a family. I had never had my heart so swollen with love. 

I had worried for over 9 months, how am I going to be a mother. How will I be a good one? I had been handed the biggest responsibility in the universe. I was petrified.

But when I looked at Benjamin, I saw his twinkling kind brown eyes. Peering up at me. I saw someone who loves me. Admires me. Believes in me. Has patience with me. He told me without a word- it’ll be okay, mama. The heavy feeling of belonging wafted over me as I cradled my child in my arms. 

Everything in my whole life, every moment good or bad- I was grateful for it. It led me here. My heart was proudly humbled.

Nothing could have prepared me for that tender moment I became my son’s mother. 

The story of Benjamin Pt3: It’s A Boy 

“Charlize? I love that name.”

“No.”

“Ezra!!”

“No.”

“Elliot. Boy or girl! It’s unisex.”

“No.”

I can’t tell you how many times James said, “we have __ weeks left, let’s not talk about names right now” and I can’t tell you how much that used to piss me off. 

We couldn’t agree on anything. 20 weeks pregnant, (to everyone who hasn’t been pregnant- that’s halfway through the pregnancy or just over 4 months pregnant) was approaching and our little human had started to grow some definitive parts we could see over the ultrasound. Finally an answer was on the way-boy or a girl? I was obsessed.

It was so exciting. James has 7 nieces and he swore we’d be having a girl. I wasn’t so sure. As obnoxious and hands-on as I am, I always had a feeling I would be a boy’s mother. 

We went through all the wives tales. Chinese gender calendar said it was a girl. Cravings said it was a boy. Belly bump was low- said it was a boy. James said it was a girl so often I started to believe him a little bit. I wasn’t really hoping for one particular direction or the other. I still could barely believe I was going to have a kid at all. 

We were actually so anxious we spur of the moment went to get an early ultrasound at 18 weeks. The monitor searched around our baby’s little body. Which looked much more like a person than the last time we saw. Then I saw it. A little weeny. 

“It’s a boy!” 

My cheeks got warm as I imagined a little boy with brown skin, a big smile and head of curls. I cupped my mouth and felt my eyes beginning to tear. I looked over at James who undeniably was a little emotional too. A father who was going to have a son- I can imagine that’s a pretty big deal. I was happy. I was happy he was experiencing these crazy new feelings too. 

It all sunk in even more. Now I had pictures in my head. Wrestling this little boy on the couch, cuddling him to sleep, watching James show him how to ride a bike, or racing him down the street. I suddenly saw our family. 

“Benjamin.” James said as we got in the car from our ultrasound. 

“What!! I told you that name in the beginning and you didn’t like it!!”

He swears I only said Benson. No. I remember I said Benson AND Benjamin. But oh well. It just felt right, and I saw it felt right to James too. But guess what his middle name is? 

Elliot. Benjamin Elliot. 

If I don’t get any other credit- it’s for picking his middle name. It’s perfect and we can credit my brain for it.

Each day was a count down. From that point on, day in and day out I was waiting to meet my son, Benjamin. He loved to kick. And he kicked hard. And late at night. We talked to him all the time. Soon he was big enough that we knew just where his feet were, his little bum, and his head- which was dove down and ready to go. 

I always knew when he was moving his head too, because I would get a sharp, hard, electric pinch in my crotch that would make me want to both scream and collapse where I stood. I had to start sleeping with a pillow between my legs. The bones in my pelvis were starting to separate preparing for birth and the pain made it all too obvious. 

I started going to the doctor every two weeks instead of every month. I started to feel contractions- Braxton hicks. Those are when your whole belly goes rock hard. It’s a “practice contraction” as your body prepares for the big day. The suspense kicked up as my appointments started to become only one week apart each. 

I was due in less than a month and our eyes were peeled for any signs of labor. 

Trying to refrain from being one of those women who go to triage 3 different times before they’re actually in labor, I had an impressive rate of only 2 times before I actually was. The first time I thought my water broke but I peed my pants, and the second time I was dehydrated which gave me contractions that actually hurt. So I guess I was justified. I was, however, embarrassed. I did not want to go there again. Not until it was time. I did not have a good reason to know those nurses on a first name basis yet. Problem was- we had no idea when that time would be, or what it’d be like when it was real. 

“Real labor is like a train. It just won’t stop.” The doctor said to us. 

Enlightened in the obvious, my new plan was to hold out until I couldn’t possibly take it anymore. Then- I’d hope that would be true labor. 

I started to strategize. How did I want to do this? I needed more information to create a labor plan. 

All I had known about labor was the movies- a woman is in the middle of the grocery store or at a fancy restaurant and her water breaks. She starts screaming and she’s hauled away to the hospital where the screaming eventually climaxes and she has the baby. That’s scary. Didn’t exactly sound like a good day. 

Testimony from other women was only helpful to an extent because I started to realize they all told completely different stories; having me realize birth is a different experience for every woman. I realized, hearing about a great birth won’t make mine great, just like hearing about a terrible one won’t make mine terrible. All I could go for was the facts of the process. Hope for the best and just do it.

I asked my midwife and my doula everything I could. (Side note-I had state insurance and it took care of my doula as well! Talk about amazing right?) my midwife suggested birth class. Since James and I just clearly didn’t know what we were in for. I signed us up. 

Our birth teacher was wonderful. We spent 4 Sunday evenings practicing labor positions, learning about anything that could go down during labor so we could make our own birth plans, and yes- even watching those graphic birth videos. (They aren’t so bad.)

She got her message across to me. This is a woman’s primal area of expertise. It doesn’t have to be a bad day. This is an empowering and beautiful experience. I’m going to own this. She even debunked all the body shaming we hear about birth. So yes, my precious jewel was going to go right back to size. Because it was made for this. She made me feel like a stretchy resilient queen. 

Since she embraced the badass in me-I talked myself into going for this rodeo aunatural. As crazy as it sounds, I really wanted to know what it truly felt like to have a baby. I wanted to feel it all. I knew the pain could be managed by mental discipline itself. I wanted to prove to myself I could do it. Because I’m psycho.

40 pounds heavier than I was that day at planned parenthood and 39 weeks pregnant now. That means I was entering the week I was due. Even through due dates are technically only general estimations of when a baby arrives- the fact that I had already went to the hospital twice and sent home, was painfully wobbling around like a penguin, and was otherwise overwhelmingly uncomfortable, I was counting on this freaking due date. 

I was doing everything. They say walking, sex, pineapple, spicy food, bouncing on a fitness ball, whatever. Even though my bubble was constantly pried by, “That baby will come when it wants. It doesn’t matter what you do.” I’d smile and say, “I know.” And then I’d go home, I’d walk, have sex, eat pineapple AND spicy food and then bounce away on my damn fitness ball. It helped passed the time, and James was content with his part of it. So hey. You could say our efforts were in full force. 

I was done. I was done hearing I was SO big. I was done hearing I was SO small. (I’d hear both in the same hour.) I was done being asked if it was twins. (Mothers in this century get enough ultrasounds to know they’re having one child so your basically pointing out her large size negatively FYI.) (in a time where self esteem is low and her hormones are HIGH, FYI.) I was done with the unwanted and irrelevant advise and comments. I was done obsessing over labor. I was done with the peeing every half hour and the pain of moving around and everything in between. I wanted to meet this baby and call it a day. 

June 22nd I bled in the morning. I quickly opened google. 

The Story of Benjamin Pt4: Baby On The Way

Sitting in the bathroom examining my used tissue, I’d started my quest for information. 

“Bloody show…Yuck! no, NO IMAGE results… Bloody show…how long until baby comes… Bloody show- signs of labor.”
It looked promising. Everything I read was saying only days at the very longest. I was finally close! 

I was so excited I nearly tripped over myself putting on stretchy pants and tennis shoes racing to our apartment’s fitness center. I wanted to do anything I could to help my body along. I got right on the treadmill and committed to two miles. I provoked contractions- YES! Although I didn’t want to get too excited. These weren’t entirely new. I kept timing them, although they never stopped- they fluctuated, and so did my hopes as a result. They slowed down. 
I was sweaty, defeated and 9 months pregnant. So I took a nap.

James came home from work and I had to deliver the disappointing update. No action. 

We ate and then curled up in bed, argued over who’d pick something to watch- he chose something horrible, fell asleep right away, and then I had to watch it. It was a pretty normal evening at first glance. 

I looked down at my hugeness. My belly was contracting and had been since dinner. (All day really.) I pulled out my timer and thought I’d check in with it again. 

Hey… 5 minutes apart. In pregnancy world, this is the golden time. I felt a twinkle of excitement return. I remembered my midwife telling me, “5 minutes apart for over 2 hours, come into the hospital.”

Knowing full well these suckers were going since dinner time, I decided to wait still. Was it worth the humiliation in triage again? I didn’t think so yet. I gave it some time. 

It was 1am and I was still sitting up in bed contracting. Wide awake wondering if I was finally in early labor. James was beside me obliviously passed out. Missing out on all the fun. I leaned over and whispered in his ear, 

“I’m going in. You can stay here. I’ll probably get sent back. I’ll call you if I end up staying.”

“Yeah.” He said. Good enough for me. 

Suited up in my leggings and flip flops, I grabbed my keys and headed out. Was it time? Please, I’d been waiting long enough. I’d been pregnant for a decade. I wanted to not be pregnant anymore. 

Before I knew it was taking off my pants for the nurse. 

Cold gloves. 

“Can you arch your back for me?” The nurse asked. “You’re still at a 2. Listen honey, it’s late. You’ve got time. You’ll go soon enough but not right now. I think you should go home and get some sleep.”

I wasn’t surprised in the slightest. 

No need to wake my drooling boyfriend or anything. 

Drove home. Parked the car. Not knowing whether to laugh or cry. 

Wait. What the hell is that? I was having a contraction, but I felt it in my back. Then in my thighs. I exhaled instinctively as another one pressed into me. I couldn’t believe the irony. I refused to believe that my labor chose to start progressing the moment I got sent out of the hospital. 

Wobbled myself up our 3 flights of stairs and got inside. I immediately started to drink ice water. Ya know, just in case I was dehydrated. They kept on though. 

Still sitting up in bed, I started to dread the next pesky contraction. I couldn’t get comfortable for the life of me. I was tossing and turning. They were beginning to hurt and really radiate through me. I groaned with them. I winced and winced until I started to tear up. 

I started a warm bath. I sat in there for almost an hour. Aboslutely no decline. 

James woke up to me half dressed pacing our bedroom crying. 

“What’s wrong?”

“They won’t stop and they hurt I’ve done everything.”

“What’d they say at the hospital?”

“They said to go home!” Tears streaming down my face. 

We were both lost. I know we took the childbirth class, but we weren’t prepared for this ordeal. I’m sure when that nurse told me to go home, she probably didn’t mean go home for 3 hours and then come back. 

I was beyond frustrated. So much so I account my crying more to that than the contraction pain. 
“Aghhh!” I leaned over the bed and rocked my hips. Another contraction was piercing me. I was doing what I had learned to cope on my own.

“Call them. ” James- with a genius suggestion. 

Circling our balcony, I explained to the on call doctor how I’d already made a trip in that night. Pausing to bear contractions and sniffling between my words, she told me I should go back. She asked us to bring packed bags this time. 

As miserable as I was in that moment, that assurance was so relieving. 

Back in triage. The sun was starting to light the sky. I had been up since the day before. The nurses were doing a shift change and the nurse coming on looked familiar. Hey-She was the one who nicely told me I’d peed my pants and my water hadn’t broken a couple months before. It was comforting to see her. I knew she was kind. She’d forgive me if I messed up again. 

She checked me and found I had progressed from the 2 to a 5 at home and had completely thinned out. 

“You two are having a baby today.” She smiled wide as she removed her gloves.

My heart fluttered. I looked over at James. His eyes shined of happy tears. We oogled at each other. 

We couldn’t believe it was time. 

 

Yes I had a baby young- Don’t feel sorry for me

I can’t help but notice the “awe” bottom lip pout people give me when I talk about how I got pregnant with my little guy at 21, unmarried and I’m now pursuing my educational and career goals while raising him. 

Let’s go ahead and get it out there that no my pregnancy wasn’t planned at the time- neither are like 80% of all pregnancies. I wasn’t planned. Were you? 

Usually that’s how it goes, you don’t choose fate, it chooses you. You’re in between birth controls or whatever and the grand higher power is like, “Hey, this is actually the exact time I want to expand this persons internal capacity to love. I trust them to figure this out.” And then you’re a parent. Nothing’s the same, but it’s better than before in a lot of ways. 

I got to thinking about that the other night. I was laying in bed. Smushed between James and our Benjamin. Benjamin was curled up on my right. His body cuddled onto me, his little arm reaching up and around my side. (Which is as precious as it sounds.) James on my left, also turned and reaching around me. I’m lying there and I realize how lucky I am. To have a family. To go to sleep in the middle of my greatest loves. To love and to be loved. 

I started to remember my life before James and Benjamin were even thought of. 
My life was chalked full of superficial relationships and toxicity that seeped from them. Natural cause and effect- the toxicity infected my mental health. Life was dark. My internal dialogue was negative and self detrimental. I had never felt so alone, misunderstood and unloved. As much as I tried to be motivated, I couldn’t see passed the clouds I walked under.

 I couldn’t find my joy and I started to search for it in the wrong places in the wrong company. That wasn’t too long ago. 

Now, with my son, I am his instinctive complete comfort.

 My son feels safe and content when he sleeps curled into me. Where he can smell my scent, feel my warmth, listen to my heart, have the assurance of my voice and my embrace. My son values my presence more than I can understand right now. He’s new to this big, loud, bright world. I am his only familiarity. I’m his safety. He’s knew me long before he took his first breath. He’s heard my voice and my heartbeat from the inside before he heard any other sound. He’s known and loved me before I ever held him in my arms. 

I have divine purpose as his mother, I am so loved, I am understood beyond what words could ever say. I am never alone. He has saved my life in many ways. He has filled the aching gap I had in my heart. He has illuminated my life. He has given me the gift of humility, forgiveness, selflessness. Every single day, I don’t have to look any further than his big gummy smile to find heaps of sincere joy. 

Everyday, I have someone who counts on me. I have someone to come home to. Someone who reminds me of the bigger picture. Someone who keeps me focused, on my toes, and stokes my ambitions. Helps me picture a bountiful future. 

Someone who keeps me from being cynical and selfish, someone who invites my inner child out to play. Someone who maintains my faith in humanity. Someone who keeps me company when I need it the most. 

In exchange, yes my money goes other places. I change diapers. I lose a little sleep. I have to plan things differently. I have to consider this person. I have to prioritize him. Plan for him. 

I can assure you, he’s well worth it. I would never go back. 

It was through my experience having him that I found my gravitation to helping others. The desire to participate in something bigger than myself. My goals feel more right for me than they ever have. This baby did that. He put me on this path. 

He showed me a piece of who I was I didn’t know existed.

I’m not saying go rush off and have a kid before you accomplish your goals. Of course not. That’s unconventional.  Just know- It’s not impossible. Yes it has hurdles. But you grow tremendous mental miles and muscles you never knew existed. Mommy’s can do anything. We really can. 
I’m better than the old me. 

The universe saw I was fit to be promoted. I’m now in charge of a little human.

Such a gift doesn’t call for pity. I’ll take a congratulations, though.