Posts in Motherhood
untitled-identity crisis.

The last few weeks I feel like I’ve been having an identity crisis. Am I being a good mom? Who am I as an artist? Am I being the best wife that I can be? Where am I in relation to my community? I think that since finishing school there’s been the constant question from others, “so what are you going to do now?” I don’t know, I’m still figuring that out and taking it day by day. I have passions that are pulling me in all directions and I don’t know where to go. I’ve had family emergencies that brought me back and forth to California, inevitably leading to the passing of my grandpa from his medical complications. I’m unsure where I want to take my business and I simply haven’t given myself enough time to sit down and really think about what I want. 

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The stresses from the last few weeks, especially from being away from home more than being home have been driving me crazy. I like things to be neat and I hate clutter. I haven’t had time to clean and don’t even remember the last time I scrubbed down our shower. I often find myself measuring my worth of being a good wife against my abilities to keep a clean house. While sewing something for my grandpas funeral I turned on the Risen Motherhood podcast series to play in the background. I soon found myself playing my fourth episode, soaking in all the wisdom that I could from those wonderful women. As Jasper gets older, I find myself thinking about how Grafton and I are being examples for Godly parents. Are we teaching him to be a caring person, someone who wants to be a part of their community? Are we teaching him biblical lessons that he’ll hold dear to? One episode I was listening to gave me encouragement to start small, reading stories that are easy to digest and general rather than reading some obscure Bible passage his little mind can’t comprehend just yet. It also made me think about my own relationship with God and the church.

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In Boise we were super involved in our little church, Grafton did worship and I worked in children’s ministry in the nursery. I loved being connected to the people in our church. These relationships weren’t formed because everyone was the same age as me, had the same interests, or even similar personalities. I connected with my church body because we all had the desire to serve God and love on our community. Moving to Spokane, I lost that. I became so focused on school and found it difficult to find a good group of friends that I liked spending time with. The last few weeks of my university studies made being connected even more difficult, we have a small group that meets “every” week, but even that has dwindled from being so busy. I’ve been so discouraged that I can’t set aside a half an hour a day to study the Bible or do a devotional, but I’ve come to realize that a daily half-focused time in prayer is way less important than one or two times per week of fully devoting myself and meditating.

Actually looking into my heart and listening to a few Risen Motherhood podcasts made me realize that all my other relationships and heart issues are a direct reflection of my empty relationship and pursuit of God. It’s not that I don’t love God or desire a relationship, I’ve just put it on the back burner because I’ve put a higher importance on everything else. I believe in spiritual warfare, and have this sense that I’ve been attacked. School, something that is a good thing, became the cause of high amounts of stress for me. This stressed my relationship with my husband and gave me a short temper with Jasper and not being able to get things done around the house.  All of this stress has taken a heavy toll on my body. I think most women can relate to holding stress in their muscles, particularly their backs. I started having severe back spasms, feeling tired almost always on top of constant headaches, poor appetite (both nonexistent as well as an overactive appetite).

While acknowledging my triggers for stress I am also trying to find better ways to cope as well as preventative measures to take. I’m hoping to better my diet and make healthier choices. We do eat pretty healthy, but I’d like to be more conscious of my food intake. Gut health is the jumping off point for so many other things, from mental health to overall wellness. My acupuncturist also suggested that I eat more fermented foods or drink kombucha to aid my gut in wellness. In addition to food choices, I also use essential oils daily. I use products for cleaning that I either make myself or buy that are clean and free from harmful chemicals. I’m in the process of cleaning out my beauty products from toxic materials to pure ones that actually help my body. I’m looking forward to promoting the health of myself and my family in any way that I can, and using essential oils has been the easiest part so far. If you’re interested in learning how you can incorporate essential oils into your own life you can email me or find me on instagram. 

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I’m not expecting change overnight because I have acknowledged the issues. But it is making me conscious of what I want to do to better myself. I’m really looking forward to getting back into the women’s study I’ve done a few times and being part of a community of women that encourage, challenge, and support me to grow in my relationship with God.

It’s been a long time coming

I’ve been incessantly checking my student account and email to hear from the admin about graduation. I guess because I had so much trouble with transferring, not just from one school to another, but also from a school on a semester system to one on a quarter system, that I have become worried that my college career would once again be elongated.  

The past five years have been anything but easy, making me want to quit at several times. Ended friendships, heart break, the death of my dearest friend, financial burdens, and the birth of our son have complicated this area of my life in so many ways. But I wouldn’t take it back for anything.

Within the past five years I have grown into a person that doesn’t take shit from anyone. That doesn’t mean that I don’t get hurt or emotional, because sometimes I do. I speak my mind and I speak the truth. I cherish friendships that are deep and meaningful (although there are few) and I have learned that it’s okay to focus on myself sometimes. One of the most amazing women that I have ever met was my co-teacher from when I was at Montessori. She and I had similar personalities; she encouraged me to be who I really was, she hugged me when I needed it, and encouraged me to take care of myself in order to take care of our students. Going into motherhood I have kept this close, and I still struggle with it. I doubt myself as a wife and if I’m being good to Jasper or doing enough for him. I get frustrated when I can’t get things done that I have on my to-do list. I’ve been overly tired and worn thin. It’s been pointed out to me several times that I can’t do everthing at once. But I sure as hell try.

It’s been a long time coming. This afternoon I checked my student account for the third time since this morning. I’ve officially been awarded my Bachelor of Arts. An overwhelming sense of accomplishment acme over me as it finally hit me that I’m finally done with my undergrad career, and even after everything that’s happened I’ll be graduating Magna Cum Laude. I’m proud of myself for how hard I worked and that I was persistent in wanting to graduate. 

Even more so than before, and even though it’s only been a week since I turned in my last paper, everyone wants to know what I plan to do now that I’m graduated. I think it’s expected that if you graduate from college you pursue a career. But I already have one and I’ve had that same job for over a year. I’m at home with our baby. I’m not quite sure why it’s not okay to go to college just because you like learning. I never intended to go into a real career after college anyways, I wanted to do freelance art. And you know what? That’s what I’m going to do.

life update

Holy smokes! My little boy is already six months old, how did the time go by so fast?? If you follow me on instagram you might have noticed that I am way better about updating things on there than I am on here. Most of my instagram is filled with Jasper anyway... The little man rolls like a champion and spins around in circles to move. He's quite the giggler nowadays too, fills my heart up every time he laughs. He's trying to pop out a tooth, he's chewing on anything and everything. We've also started giving him some purées usually once a day, so bring on the stinky diapers. 

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I've been insanely busy with school since the beginning of last month, and on top of that I have a morning women's group on Tuesday's and we hold another small group in our home on Tuesday evenings, so you could say I'm a little busy. I've been trying to keep up on homework and laundry, if I don't get to mop my floors at least once a week I go crazy. If you have been to our house since we had Jasper you might have noticed that there is baby stuff pretty much everywhere. Clothes, diapers (clean ones!), binkies, toys, etc. It's not necessarily that our house is messy, it's just a little cluttered. In efforts to battle against the clutter, today I cleaned out Jaspers room (that he never sleeps in btw...), packed away tiny little 0-3 month size clothes <insert crying mom face here>, moved one of the ottoman's to his room and started to clean off my desk. While it isn't all the way cleaned up yet, I already feel so much better-cleaning and rearranging always settles my mind. Plus++, I got to mop today too, I have Thieves goin' in my diffuser and my house smells a m a z i n g. I'm one happy momma.

Now that the house is partially cleaned and my brain is at ease I can finish one last homework assignment and I'm done for the weekend! Tomorrow is mother's day so I actually want to be able to enjoy my FIRST mother's day with the rest of my family. On Thursday I turned in my application for graduation, it was one of the most nerve-wracking things I've had to do in a while. I only have to take 4 more classes and I am finished!!! GO ME! It's been a long and hard road to get to this point, but by the grace of God I'm almost there.  

my iud experience

While I do always want to keep some aspects of my life private, I thought this topic was something I should share, as I was googling the experience of others often.

Grafton and I definitely want to wait a bit for the next bébé, so birth control was on the radar the weeks following Jasper's birth. I hadn't had good experiences with "the pill" before so I knew that I wanted to avoid that. Additionally, since I am breastfeeding that limited things somewhat as well. This brings us to the IUD; I decided to go with the Skyla since it's only for 3 years and a little smaller than the Mirena.

I googled a lot of "side effects", "placement experiences", and "horror stories" (naturally). For the most part, people really liked their IUD's and it seemed like a good fit for me so I made the date to get it at my 6 week postpartum checkup. 

Skip this next paragraph if you're not okay with TMI or cursing.

Holy shit, it hurt to get it put in. I'll spare the full anatomical procedure explanation-google it if you really want to know. Lucky for me (emphasis the sarcasm), my cervix was already closed so my midwife had to get real crafty with her instruments. Seriously, it was more painful to me than childbirth. Not even joking. This kind of pain had no purpose, there was no bundle of joy making an appearance from this, nothin'. I used to get TERRIBLE period cramps, like puking-my-guts-out-in-a-ball-on-the-floor kind of cramps. Everything I read online said it would be like a bad cramp. F*CK THAT. WRONG. Luckily I took an Ibuprofen before hand so the cramps while driving home weren't too bad. The few days following, I got my period (yippee for ovulating so early after giving birth), had some minor cramps, but otherwise felt okay.

I had an appointment scheduled 4 weeks later to make sure it was still in place and everything was okay....fast forward to then: SHE COULDN'T FIND THE STRINGS. yup. gone, missing, not there. couldn't see it. She was a little concerned because I hadn't noticed any pain, so she scheduled me for an ultrasound to make sure it either a) fell out, or b) was still there and it just moved a little.

Well, my ultrasound was clear (I got two different kinds: ladies, you can figure it out), as in it was clear and they couldn't find it. They said it most likely fell out...like what the hell? Wouldn't I have felt that?? When I got home I scoured my house, all over the bathroom, in and around my bed but still couldn't find it. I went outside and was shoveling snow thinking "what the hell? with my luck it's probably lodged in my uterine wall". WHAT DO YOU KNOW-my midwife called me at that exact moment and said she wanted me to get an X-Ray because she was super uneasy about it. I have to tell you- KENDRA JOHNSON YOU ROCK. Seriously the best care provider I have ever had. So, I went to the clinic down the road from my house and got X-Ray's. The next morning I got a call that they found it... floating outside of my uterus by my pelvis.

Because it obviously wasn't where it should be, this meant I needed to get a laparoscopic surgery to retrieve it. Last Thursday I went into the outpatient clinic-it was a fairly easy surgery that I was anesthetized for, only taking about an hour. BTW, that anxiety juice they give you before going into the OR is always entertaining. I was cracking up laughing from the time the anesthesiologist accidentally ran my bed into the wall until I got to the OR doors, then I don't remember anything.

It was a low risk and non-invasive surgery that I had prepared myself for by once again, googling/youtube-ing videos of...the medicine side of all this stuff interests me if you couldn't tell. Anyway, I got one incision about 2 inches long in my bellybutton and the other near my lower left pelvic area. I was sore for a few days, mostly from the gas that they use, but other than that-my incisions are healing well and I'm glad to have this whole ordeal over with. 

Would I ever get an IUD again? Probably not. My experience from the get-go was not great, and I chose the arm implant Nexplanon instead. So far I'm super happy with it and haven't experienced any negative side effects, plus the placement was super easy. Maybe a few months from now I'll have an update on how I like it.

 

I want to stress that this is my own opinion, I am not trained in a medical field and am simply expressing my own experience with an IUD. Perforation from an IUD is rare, your doctor should be your source for medical advice.

squeezing in lunch

As I mentioned in an instagram post a little while back, it's pretty hard to find time to make myself lunch while simultaneously trying to hold Jasper. Usually he's okay for a few minutes if I lay him on his little bear rug, but this also means I have to make something that's super quick and can be hand held. 

This last Sunday I finally decided to make extra quinoa and chicken to use throughout the week, and let me just say-I'm pretty happy that I did! I've made a couple different wraps with it that were super delicious, easy to make, and I could eat while holding Jasper.

I have a few favorite go-to lunches when I'm in a rush, and usually try having my veggies chopped before hand. 

  1. Smoothies- A couple weeks back I bought 'Power Greens' from Costco in the big pack, along with a pineapple, strawberries, and kale. In ziplock bags I added my greens, the fruit, and a few dates. I made about 15 of these baggies and popped them in my freezer, when I'm ready to use one I just blend it with either milk or some greek yogurt. I like to add granola or chia seeds on top as well for added flavor.
  2. Salads- I LOVE a big salad. I could probably eat salads for every meal. I always make sure I have a big container of the 'Power Greens' I mentioned earlier on hand. I usually just add some cucumber and tomatoes on top, but I also like an asian style salad with chicken, mandarins, almonds, and wonton noodles. Goat cheese is another one of my favorite toppings.
  3. Curry Wrap- With the extra quinoa and chicken I made this week I made a super delicious wrap that tastes delicious hot or cold. In a tortilla, I add a spread of a ready made curry sauce, either homemade or a jarred one from the store. I top this with chicken and quinoa. Super good, easy to take on the go.
  4. Quinoa Bowls- YUM!!! I really like these bowls with roasted veggies and topped with garlic or turmeric, sometimes chicken if I want a little more substance.
  5. Tuna Avocado Sandwich- I love tuna. I'm not sure what it is about it, because I normally don't like fish, but I LOVE tuna. I like it with tortilla chips, but I really like it on a sandwich. In a bowl I add a drained can of tuna, a little mayo-emphasis on a little (I hate mayo), and garlic powder. Mix that baby up and put it on some whole grain bread and top it off with avocado.
  6. Hard Boiled Eggs-I try to keep a couple of these babies in my fridge, they're a quick and easy snack that requires little effort.
  7. Zucchini or Banana Bread- Every couple of weeks I make a big batch of zucchini or banana bread. I have 4 mini loaf tins that I bake them in and usually make muffins as well. I keep a couple in the fridge and wrap and freeze the rest. They freeze super well, so when I'm ready to defrost them I just pop it in the fridge.
  8. Apples + PB or AB- Thanks to WIC, I have a whole lotta peanut butter in my cupboard, and sometimes I have fresh ground almond butter from our local Huckleberries Market. A super easy snack that you'll most likely already have the ingredients for.
bed-sharing with baby

I've been wanting to share a little insight on the topic of bed-sharing since Jasper was born and why we decided to share a bed with him.

The day we brought Jasper home we put him in a little bed next to ours at bedtime. Twenty minutes later, he was awake and crying. We put him back to sleep in his bed, only to wake up again and again. We tried the same thing the following night; but by the middle of that night, I was so exhausted I gave in and pulled Jasper into bed with us. I have always known of SIDS, and the dangers of sleeping in "unsafe" environments, so the next morning Grafton and I knew that we needed to have a discussion about it and be on the same page. I didn't want to wake up constantly throughout the night and be so tired that I accidentally fall asleep with him while sitting on the couch.

We have a crib in Jasper's own room, and he occasionally sleeps in there during his naps (even though he doesn't sleep as long as he does in his swing or our arms) but I wasn't ready for him to be all alone at night, and neither was he. The first night we slept with him, he only woke up twice to eat and he went right back to sleep. 

When Grafton and I were talking about it, I figured it best that Jasper sleep on the outside on my side rather than in-between us. Grafton is a pretty heavy sleeper, and even if I wake him up in the middle of the night to change Jasper's diaper he's pretty delirious at first-so I make sure he's really awake before he even takes Jasper out of bed. 

It's pretty incredible how hyperaware I am when we are sleeping; I know exactly where Jasper is, I find myself waking up if I feel like he's being really still. When he wakes up to eat I just roll him enough to latch on and usually fall right back to sleep. 

Another reason why I was okay with having him sleep with us was the emotional aspect. For 9 months, our little Jasper was close to my heartbeat. It's the inborn need for a baby to be touched and held and cuddled. And for me as his mama, I want him to feel safe and not alone at night. I love snuggling with Japer at night, and it's been so rad to watch him grow: he used to just cry at night when he was hungry, now he'll kick up my belly and scoot up to my face to say "FEED ME MOM" and in the morning I get to cuddle with a happy and smiling baby who talks right back to me. Sure, some people might see that as silly-but that's their opinion. I have had several people tell me how we are spoiling Jasper and he won't learn to sleep on is own. <insert a passive aggressive smile and a nod here>. Yeah, OKAY...I'm spoiling my two month old baby by caring for him. Aren't babies supposed to be dependent on adults for a while? 

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Whatever you think of bed-sharing, that's okay, it's your opinion. But we shouldn't be telling one another how to raise our children. Advice is always welcome when asked for, but honestly, I've mostly found the comments made on our decision somewhat insulting. Grafton and I didn't just make an ignorant decision about this. It's a serious decision and we went through all of the variables of bed-sharing or not. For our family, we decided that Jasper sleeping with us was best. I have found many encouraging articles on SAFE bed-sharing or co-sleeping from organizations such as UNICEF and the Lullaby Trust. We don't use drugs and we don't smoke, we don't use sleep aids, and if I have a drink it's usually just one with dinner. I also tuck the blanket that's on me between my legs so they are never on Jasper. 

I think the biggest part of our decision was knowing that we are safely sleeping with Jasper, and we are happy with our choice.