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BREATHE IN, BREATHE OUT. BREATHE IN, BREATHE OUT. BREATHE IN, BREATH OUT.
If you’re breathing better then you’re more apt to move more, which smoothly leads into moving more often. If you’re laughing, your moving. But if you’re not laughing, THEN GET UP AND SHAKE THAT BOOTY!
Simply getting up and moving around gives you energy! Sounds counter-intuitive, right? But it’s it makes sense. Think back to playing sports or being a kid. Even now as a mom. You see your kids and wonder – how are they not tired yet? These kids have been playing all day – running, jumping, swinging, skipping, riding their bikes and scooters… how? How are they still going a mile a minute? Yes, they are young and do have more energy naturally than we do. BUT it’s also because they are moving more often.
YOU CAN MOVE MORE OFTEN, TOO! You can walk. You can stretch. You can shift your weight and straighten your legs out if sitting. ANY MOVEMENT will break a pattern of funk and make you feel better.
Well, I need more sleep. Yes. It’s true. Your body does need sleep and a good night’s rest. BUT how often have you woken up and you’re feeling tired? How about a nap? That may help, but at times you either feel just as tired or even more tired. I know I have. I still love my naps though and they do help me on many days, so I’m not saying no to a nap. What I’m saying is that moving may help more than napping.
Well, I’ve been working all day so am tired AND stiff! THEN GET UP AND MOVE!!! Your body is meant to move. They say that sitting down is more harmful than smoking. How? Because it affects your body more, leading to more stiffness, weakness, shallow breathing… thus leading to more depression, anxiety, aches and pains, cloudy thinking, decreased alertness, etc. Smoking is harmful and there is a good chance of lung cancer in your later years. Do you see how sitting can be more harmful to your body?
I’m not here promoting or supporting smoking habits. I believe it’s bad for your body and you should stay away if you can. What I’m saying is sitting down is not what your body was made for. Resting for a little bit I get and is required here and there. But watching an endless amount of TV or sitting for hours on end at your office is not good for your body and it will create aches and pain in your body; especially with your back, which will lead to PT or medication and restless sleep. Again, what I’m saying is…
YOU NEED TO MOVE YOUR BODY! GET UP AND SHAKE THAT BOOTY!
The simple act of getting up, shaking your tooshie and taking big breaths in is a huge motion that your body will thank you for. ESPECIALLY when your kids are driving you up a wall and you’re feeling close to that freakout moment of yelling at everyone. When you get to the moment, STOP. GET UP. WIGGLE YOUR BUM. AND TAKE A DEEP BREATH IN. AND let your breath out slowly. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. YES! Do it 5 time.
- It will change your state.
2. It will make your kids wonder what the heck you’re doing – it’s ok. They MIGHT join you… OR they might just stare and giggle.
3. It will release negative energy and help you create positive energy.
4. It will help your body both with oxygen and muscles. Movement is what your body craves!
5. Motion creates emotion. Meaning you’ll feel better and can get back to your kids in a more patient and understanding way.
6. THIS IS A TEACHABLE MOMENT FOR YOUR KIDS. It’s ok to get angry, upset, frustrated and allow for your emotions to be emotions. THE KEY is to not stay there and not let your emotions affect your interactions with others. So taking the time to deal with your emotions and DO something to get yourself back on track is healthy for you and helpful for them. You’re showing your kids that it’s ok to get upset, but there are many ways to deal with those emotions so you can continue on about your day, about your project, about your relationship.
SO REMEMBER – MOTION CREATES EMOTION!
Halloween 2020 will be yet another event altered by COVID-19, but I know that all of you mamas will be reaching into your bag of tricks to still make it magical for your kiddos.
And if you need some costume inspiration (or just a good laugh), check out some of your fellow Cincinnati moms and their little ones.
Now and Then
A big thank you goes out to the friends and families that allowed these amazing photos to be shared! I don’t know about you, but I am now officially ready to see the clever and adorable costumes that will be headed our way Oct. 31. Whether your child (and even you) are in a homemade creation or something store-bought, the most important part is having fun and making memories together.
Yes, you read that right. There are eight people in our family, plus a dog. Allow me to introduce us… Me, my husband, 13-year-old Aramis, 9-year-old Gabriella, 6-year-old Lillian, 2-year-old Arabella, 3-month-old twins Madisen and Maylen, and our 3-year-old Morkie named Chloe.
To sum it up, we have five girls and one boy, each of whom has a drastically different personality.
Our family was a circus attraction before twins but after having them, we may as well be Barnum and Bailey. There is never a dull moment in our house, I can assure you of that.
We are both lucky enough to mainly work at home and while we’re not millionaires, for us, there is nothing like being able to spend the extra time with our children (whether good, bad, or ugly, and believe me, there is some of all of it). We’ve learned and are continually learning how to be frugal with our funds and our time, and I’ll share those tips and tricks with you in another post.
Children will be children, and not to brag (okay, maybe a little), but I often get complimented on how well-behaved they all are and asked how I do it. It is not unusual for me to take all six of them out by myself, from long car rides and grocery store trips to opening bank accounts and going to my doctor’s appointments, and everything in between.
My aunt once told me, “I watched you say ‘Let’s go,’ and they all instantly got up and followed you to the car like little ducks in a row. How do you do that?!”
I can’t say that it’s always perfect every time and without tears, the mommy voice, or stare of death, but it usually doesn’t come to that. I wouldn’t say that we fit into any one kind of parenting style but it’s more a balanced blend of each.
I have many relatable stories to tell and useful tips to share. In addition to being a big family, we have lots of unique life experiences from modeling to home births as well as everyday experiences, too! I love my big family; they make me crazy but they also make me sane!
I can’t wait to share more with you.
I remember the first time I cried after delivering my oldest child. I stared at my taco salad and burst into tears. The intense wave of sadness came out of nowhere. To be elated over the birth of my daughter and the sorrow, at once, was odd. My nurse walked into my room during this moment. “Baby blues,” she said, offering sympathy in her voice.
I knew “baby blues” were normal. Dinner time was the hardest. The overwhelming sadness seemed to hit when I would sit down to eat. The second I looked at my baby, in her swing, the tightness, in my throat, swelled, and my eyes burned with tears. My hormones were a mess, and I knew, at some point, they would regulate.
The crying eased up, but nothing prepared me for the postpartum anxiety that followed.
My expectations regarding postpartum depression were that I would cry more than usual and withdraw. The initial sadness would linger into something much bigger and darker. I learned a little in nursing school during my labor and delivery semester, a couple of slides on baby blues and postpartum depression. I never heard of postpartum anxiety or learned about thoughts and feelings beyond sadness. I have a history of depression, and I knew it would place me at risk for PPD.
I’m not exactly sure when the thoughts started. I was exhausted, stressed over everything, and worried about my daughter’s health. I knew something was wrong, and there was no proof. I would find out months later that she had a stroke during my pregnancy. Everything was a blur.
The best way I can describe the thoughts is by watching a movie that I could not pause in my head.
I had no control over the images of my daughter, images of violence, and harm inflicted on her. I frequently had visions of someone taking her out of my arms and throwing her into traffic. I could not watch the news. Any story regarding violence or catastrophe triggered unwanted thoughts.
On the outside, I appeared to be doing alright, but I was crumbling on the inside. The tears I shed were an easy coverup as I could blame my hormones for being out of balance. I was terrified. I could not believe my mind was capable of such horrific thoughts. I was supposed to enjoy my newborn, not live in fear over the unthinkable.
In addition to my thoughts, I developed a fear of the world ending, through a massive blow-up or everyone disappearing except for my daughter, who would lay helpless and suffer. Nights were the scariest. I did not want to be alone. My anxiety started affecting my job. I was a registered nurse, working 12-hour shifts on an inpatient oncology unit. I doubted myself in every area of my career and worried I would kill a patient.
I knew my thoughts were irrational, but my mind convinced me talking about them out loud would cause injury to my baby or the world to end. This was something I was not willing to risk. I suffered in silence.
I was on antidepressants before pregnancy. When I found out I was expecting, I stopped taking my medication. I never thought of starting back up. Mentally, I was okay throughout my pregnancy. I figured I would go back if needed after delivery. I don’t know what the turning point was, but I made a well visit with my primary care physician. I brought up going back on medication without going into details. My thoughts slowed over time. I began to feel comfortable verbalizing my fears.
Moving forward, I was proactive.
I had a conversation about postpartum anxiety with my OB during my next pregnancy. We made a plan that we both agreed was the best. When I delivered my next child, I was on a low dose of my medication. I was vigilant about my symptoms and thoughts. Although I did not have intrusive thoughts, I felt more anger than usual. I had no hesitation in reaching out this time around.
It is still hard to talk about. I hate to verbalize what was going through my mind. The nature of my thoughts was graphic and disturbing. Who wants to admit to such horrible thoughts?
Putting yourself out there is hard. Being vulnerable is scary. We fear judgment, and when we face blank stares or no words, we wonder if we said too much. What if nobody can relate?
It is still hard to talk about, but it is important. Opening up is scary, but so is what many women experience following birth. Even with basic knowledge and understanding of potential hardships, there is still a multitude of symptoms that are not widely discussed. Postpartum anxiety is not one size fits all. As a new mom, I wish I knew more. We can’t change our darkest moments but what can do is use our experiences to reach others.
As a new(ish) writer of Cincinnati Mom Collective, I have been taking it easy on what I write about. Why?
I’m afraid to say the truth.
I’ve been taking it easy. Softball topics about my life as a mother of three kids three-years-old and under.
My last story talked about how tough it was to be a mother of twins. Writing the story was difficult. I tiptoed my way through how difficult it was to manage twins, but “I was still blessed.” How I struggled with infertility and felt guilty for not appreciating my ability to have children. Some women don’t get the chance, so I made sure to be inclusive and sensitive to the feelings of anyone reading my work. However, I wasn’t truthful. Not completely.
After my story posted on Cincinnati Mom’s Blog, I found an article on Twiniversity (a website, etc. for mothers of multiples) that said the exact thing I should have said. I Hate Having Twins and I Feel Horrible About it. Why couldn’t I admit that? Because the internet can be a harsh place for truth. With our world being so polarized, I think it is difficult for mothers to admit their truth, for fear of mom shaming. I rewrote my twin mom story over and over because I wanted to tread lightly on others’ feelings and thoughts about me.
But here it is, plain and simple: I hate having twins and I feel terrible for saying that out loud. I wanted one baby at a time. I don’t know why I was chosen as a twin mom. I am not good at it. You know what I’m also not good at? Having three kids three and under. Seventeen months after the twins were born, we had a bonus baby. I spent most of my pregnancy depressed that we were in a situation where we would be outnumbered by babies. Three cribs, all in diapers, all babies. Some days, I have no idea how we will live to see the next day because it is tremendously difficult. I used to look for Facebook groups for mothers who regretted having children. Isn’t that horrible? No. It’s my truth.
This paragraph is where I would give readers an uplifting message about being “blessed” and “grateful” for my kids. While feeling grateful for the chance to experience motherhood, I am allowed to feel how I feel. Even if it doesn’t make everyone happy. Even if people don’t understand.
Thank you for letting me share my truth – and I will be sure to continue. Because if I can do it, you can do.
(Are we able to link my previous story to this? Also, should I give “credit” to the article on Twiniversity?) I am not sure how to handle this.
“Now THIS is what we should focus on,” declared the comment on the post promoting awareness of sex trafficking. Most would likely overlook her words as cheering on the cause. Unfortunately, her likes on other posts condemning or downplaying current social issues, as well as a few “I couldn’t’ agree more” or “YES!” on messages stating “If you followed directions, force wouldn’t need to be used. Take accountability for your actions.” left me with a feeling that the eight words had a deeper meaning than surface-level cheerleading.
As per usual, I typed out a novel and then erased the whole thing.
Opinions are not changed on Facebook. After much deliberation, I still felt the message is reflective of a state of mind and misses genuine awareness. Weeks since the post, I notice very few shares of missing children statistics or Amber Alerts, despite proclaiming to care for the cause. Because of this, I am retyping my original response here to “THIS is what we should be focusing on.”
THIS is one of the many things the world needs to be focusing on… and has been for years. The world is able to fight many battles at once. We don’t need to trivialize other issues because one is awful, also.
Check out Darkness to Light trainings. They have a free one going on right now. It is disgusting, necessary, and eye-opening. You will likely not want anyone to watch your kids for a while. Honestly, I feel their trainings should be given to anyone who has children.
Please research Nadia Murad’s initiative. The first time I heard of it, I was dumbfounded by the tragedy she and her community faced. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 due to her work in awareness of this issue.
What I am about to quote is an important stat. It echoes what I wrote at first of being able to care about multiple causes at once and not trivializing others. Many times, the whys are interconnected and wrap around each other. They are complicated and require compassion in the approach.
“According to the US. Department of Justice, more than 2/3rds of human trafficking victims are people of color. And because the health and economic impacts of coronavirus are disproportionately harming people of color, that puts disadvantaged people of color at greater risk of targeting.” – United Way
Deepening this information is an Urban Indian Health Institue report: “According to the National Crime Information Center, 5,712 American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls were reported missing in 2016 alone, but only 116 of those cases were logged with the Department of Justice.”
Learning the stats of human trafficking and sexual abuse matter. This often isn’t the scary person on the street. It is a calculated, thought-out plan of manipulation and control. Memes going around promoting this as simply to be afraid of these strangers dismisses the real statistics.
The Polaris Project’s myths page dismantles some of the untruths around human trafficking, including human trafficking being solely strangers and smuggling people across borders. Darkness to Light’s statistics shatter preconceived notions, such as the stranger concept, in sexual abuse. Especially shocking is the 90 percent of children who know their abuser.
If THIS is really what matters, then it becomes abundantly clear the factors affecting the issue must be addressed.
They cannot be downplayed because they are not a non-controversial topic to place a “like” on. One cannot simply say others plights are unimportant because they do not make sense to a person who has not personally experienced them.
Further, if you really honestly care, at the very least, start sharing information on missing children, all children, no matter how annoying it may seem to others. When Amber Alerts go off on your phone, instead of grumbling about them, screenshot and share the information for those who may not have alerts turned on. Seek out training so you are informed about real risk factors. Speak up when you see something is not right. Learn about the signs of sexual abuse and trafficking.
When you do this, I imagine writing “Now THIS is what we should be focused on” will become unimaginable, because it is impossible. When you really take the time to care, you realize how deep and twisted the issues are, splintering out into various social platforms and tearing open the thin skin of one issue being above others.
That is what I wanted to write… but did not. I felt the intent would be lost to the reader. For real change to exist, it must extend beyond a meme likely created not for the true purpose, but division.
Stats and figures are boring and inconvenient. They challenge our preconceived ideas of order and balance. Look deeper into gotcha-memes. A well-marketed meme that stirs the “now THIS is what matters and all-else-is-less” emotion is likely leaving out important and necessary dialogue.
It isn’t a “this is what is important;” it is all important. Thankfully, we have been given the capacity to care for more than one thing… after all, we are moms.
One in eight couples struggle with infertility, one in four women have experienced a miscarriage, and one in 100 pregnancies end in stillbirth. The odds are that you know someone who falls into one or more of those categories, and you may fall into one or more of them yourself.
These are not clubs that anyone wants to be a part of.
And while you don’t want anyone else to be in the club with you, you probably feel a bit of relief when you learn that someone you know is in the same boat because you become a bit less alone. I was a member of the infertility club for almost nine years before conceiving my first child and became a member of the stillbirth club with my second.
Speaking from experience, I’ve probably felt most of the feelings that you have if you’re a fellow member. You feel the ache of the hole that can only be filled by the baby that you’ve hoped and prayed for. Social media posts about pregnancy announcements and birth announcements are like stabbing pains in the heart. Gatherings, where friends, relatives or co-workers have their new babies (not to mention baby showers), are unbearable. Over in the stillbirth club, I’ve discovered the new pain of seeing pictures of siblings together, knowing that my son will never even meet his sister. And then there is the guilt you have about all of these feelings. Why can’t you just be happy for others?
Trust me when I say that all of these feelings are typical and normal, and nothing to feel guilty about. Loss mamas and hoping-to-be mamas – you deserve some peace. And while everyone’s experience is different, here are some things that have helped me to find some and may help you.
There are support groups available to you all around the city, whatever club you are in. If you are struggling with infertility, the doctor or clinic that you are working with may have a group associated with them. One group I can recommend is offered by Parental Hope, a nonprofit that works to support couples emotionally and financially on their journey to parenthood. If you are dealing with a loss due to miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss, the hospital or health group you delivered at likely has a group. For example, Tri-Health offers a monthly group. Something really helpful I’ve gotten from the support group I attend is the knowledge that how I’m feeling is ok and nothing to feel bad about.
Find answers, help or just distraction in books.
There are myriad books available regarding infertility and grief, and you are sure to find one dealing with your specific area. These can help with providing some next steps and some hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Additionally, reading for pleasure can provide some much-needed escape. A new true-crime story, a motivational/self-help book to boost your spirits (I highly recommend the author Glennon Doyle), or just some juicy fiction… it’s all good.
Take a step back.
Sometimes, you’re just going to feel too overwhelmed and you need to allow yourself that space. Take a break from social media. If that’s too hard, mute or snooze people that you know may post things that are triggering for you. If possible, decline invitations to events (the aforementioned baby showers, for example) where you know it’s just going to be too much. If you have to attend, excuse yourself to the restroom when necessary to cry, have a panic attack, silently scream, whatever you need to do. Nobody will judge you for these acts of self-preservation, and if they do, take a step back from them as well.
Volunteer or find other ways to help in your community.
Helping others makes your soul feel good – that’s just the plain truth. This is hard to do during social distancing, but once things return to a new normal, find something. Help a refugee group, donate to a food pantry, volunteer at a fundraiser for your local school district… there are so many ways. Your community may already have a women’s group that you can join to not only help others but make new friends.
Lean on friends and family.
This may seem obvious, but you may be someone (like me) who doesn’t always like asking for help or sharing your feelings. However, the loneliness you’re probably feeling can so easily be relieved, even just for a short time, by texting, calling or emailing your mom, your sister, your best friend, your favorite cousin, etc. You probably have people who have already reached out to you, but you also probably have some that are just waiting to be asked because they don’t want to intrude. The potential downside is that you may discover that some of your relationships are not quite as strong as you once thought they were. The silver lining is that you will more likely than not strengthen other relationships. Additionally, lean on your partner and allow them to lean on you. They are going through the same pain, and who better to share your pain with than the person you’ve chosen to share your life with.
Give yourself some grace.
This is the hardest one, at least for me. Don’t give yourself a hard time because you think you should be over things by now or that you shouldn’t get so upset in certain situations. Your feelings are nothing to be apologized for. You are going through something that is incredibly difficult and you are doing the best you can. Keep telling yourself that over and over. Write it on a post-it note and stick it to your bathroom mirror if you need to. You’re stronger than you think you are.
Is there anything I’ve left out? What has helped you that you think may help others in the same situation? Remember, you are not alone in this.
As moms, it’s always hard to find a few minutes to ourselves. But add in a pandemic and quarantine and it’s basically impossible. Everyone always needs something from you, whether it’s the kids, your partner, or your pets! I want to remind you that you do not have to love being with your kids 24/7 in order to be a good mom. It’s ok to want space from them. It’s ok to want to be left alone. It’s ok to need a break.
If we can’t find ways to get space and take breaks, our bodies will eventually force us to.
A few weekends ago, I hit a wall and ended up with a massive migraine and dizziness. I couldn’t do anything but lay in bed. It was SO frustrating. I had a lot that I wanted to get accomplished that day, but my body was literally forcing me to chill.
So I want you to think about some ways that you can build in a break for yourself. Here are some simple things that you can start doing immediately:
- Go on a solo walk in the evenings.
- Take a solo car ride (that doesn’t involve running errands).
- Lock yourself in your room at night to read a book, watch a show, or listen to a podcast.
- Fit in an early morning, or late evening, workout.
- Swap babysitting time with a friend. She takes your kids one day, and you take her kids another.
And I know this is annoying, but you are going to have to spell this out for your partner. You’re going to have to express your need for a break. Sadly, they can’t read our minds or our body language. You’re going to have to say outright, “I’m going to take an hour to myself on this day, I need you to take the kids”. And you SHOULD NOT FEEL GUILTY ABOUT IT. You are allowed to take care of yourself!
So remember, you are allowed to want a break from your kids. You are still a good mom if you don’t love their company 24/7. No mom guilt, or shame, allowed in these parts!
Dear me before I became a mom,
You’re in for the adventure of a lifetime. Your baby isn’t the only one who was born today. You, as a mother, were born today, too. This is just the beginning of a whole new way of life. Having a baby is going to change you in all the ways that matter. It will change you for the worse and the better. It will cause you to reach deep within and become more than you have ever been. But the changes won’t happen all at once, and some will be so subtle you won’t even notice them happening. If you do notice, just rest in knowing that change is okay.
Everyone will tell you to enjoy this time. They grow up so fast. Please, mama, don’t worry about how fast he’s growing. Don’t fixate on how his clothes fit today compared to how they fit last week. Learn not to listen when people tell you how big he is. Don’t mourn the last time you swaddle him or the last time he sleeps in the bassinet. There are so many beautiful, sweet firsts still ahead. The first giggle, the first time he falls over while learning to sit up, the first time he grabs your hand and touches your face. The first open-mouthed slobbery kiss. The first adorable words and first choppy, haltering sentences. Just be there with him to see, hear, and feel it all. Find a way to be okay with and celebrate his growth.
Give yourself grace.
You’re not going to be able to capture every moment. And that’s okay. The important part is that you are there! Every photograph you take of your child is one less moment they are in your arms. It’s okay if you don’t have perfect monthly photos with belly stickers (what child cooperates for all 12 months anyway!?) or a video of every first. Learn to remember with your heart and be content.
You’re not always going to make the right choices. You won’t always “win” at being a mom. But that doesn’t make you a bad mom. Sometimes you might yell when you should have knelt down and just talked to your toddler. Sometimes you might spank out of anger. Apologize when you’re wrong and forgive yourself. Maintain a childlike, teachable spirit. And remember, your child will teach you new things every day, just as you teach him.
Some days you might feel like what you’re doing doesn’t matter. All the time spent sweeping the floors, wiping down the counters, doing laundry is futile because it’s all waiting again tomorrow. But your child sees you. He sees how hard you’re working, and the hugs and kisses, the “good job mommys,” the snuggles, and the running into your arms with big smiles will make it all worth it.
You will struggle. It’s not going to be easy. You won’t be able to get it all done every day. Being a mom is hard. You weren’t meant to do it alone. You may develop postpartum depression just as you feared. But it will not break you. You are strong and nothing that is truly rewarding comes easily. The nostalgia will be thick, and you will often find yourself clinging to the little quiet moments, willing them to last just a little longer. Bringing life into this world is painful. Raising and shaping a child and watching him constantly change is painful. But it is every bit as beautiful as it is painful. This child is yours. And no one else gets to be this child’s mother. Only you get to have this divine calling, only you will be “Mama,” the most beautiful word you will ever hear.
Don’t compare yourself. Learn to distance yourself from other moms who put on the pressure. Do not go into this journey with too firm a picture of how you want to mother. You will learn as you go, and that’s okay. It’s okay to be the hot mess mom as long as everyone is happy and healthy. And if they’re not, it’s okay to ask for help. You don’t have to be the best in every way. If you have to make frozen meals for dinner in order to keep everyone fed and be present, then do it. Don’t worry about the dishes in the sink or the dust bunnies multiplying under the couch. Rest, hold your baby. Snuggle him to sleep and don’t you dare feel guilty for a second. Don’t let anyone (even yourself) steal your joy.