Tag Archives: pregnancy

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Tale of a Chiro Convert

We invite our chiropractor to come speak to all of our childbirth prep class students.  If you had told me 7 years ago that this was going to be true, I would have laughed you out of the room.  Here is my story – maybe it will help you understand why people choose chiropractic care if you are on the fence about going to go see one for care.

I was terrified of chiropractors.  In my mind, they were back-crackers.  I have a vivid memory of my childhood dance instructor, who I revered, going ballistic when she saw some of my classmates walking on each other’s backs.  She admonished us to NEVER risk injury to our back, or we would live to regret it when an injury prevented us from dancing, or doing anything else we wanted to do. There was no way a back-cracker, or “chiroquacker” as I called them, was ever going to touch me!!

As an adult, I became a student of yoga.  This study also emphasized the sacred spine, the lifeline of all health. Except, our instructors had a working relationship with a chiropractor and there was a reciprocal discount between the studio and his office. I chalked it up to a crazy idea and I wanted nothing to do with chiropractic care.

Fast-forward to July 2009.  I was pregnant with Charger, and at my 32-week check with our one of our OBs, he informed the student nurse that the baby was breech. No thought to mention to me that I might want to do something to change that.

Before our 36-week appointment, I had growth ultrasound to see how big Charger was. I consented to this because my primary OB wanted to know if she would need extra hands during the birth “just in case” – Night Owl was an easy 11 pound, 1 ounce delivery – surprise! She didn’t want any surprises this time. The ultrasound showed that Charger was still breech!!  The ultrasound tech mentioned that if he was a persistent breech, my doctor would want to schedule a cesearan.

Cue FREAK OUT!!! I was speechless at the idea of a surgical birth and recovery with two toddlers running around. I looked for everything I could on the Internet to see what I could do to get this baby head-down.

At our next appointment, I took the list I had compiled and went through it with our primary OB.  She checked off the ideas she was comfortable with, and I set all my intention on having a vaginal birth with a head-down baby. (Read more about that HERE.)

The combination of things we tried got Charger into a transverse position. That position was still most definitely a cesarean birth – there is no other way to birth a baby who is lying sideways in the uterus. Last on the list of things to try was to have a chiropractor do “The Webster Protocol”.

As things worked out, all three people I asked for a recommendation gave me the same name: Dr. Kevin Ross. So with a wish and a prayer I went to see him.  To my surprise, he was very kind and took the time to explain to me what chirpractic care is, what it isn’t, and what I might expect from The Webster Protocol (click HERE for an explanation of what it is from Dr. Ross).

It wasn’t as scary as I had imagined – my back was still in one piece and I actually walked better after my first adjustment. And, The Webster Protocol worked for us!! I think I had a total of three visits before Charger turned head-down on his own, and then I kept going 2 times a week to make sure things stayed balanced.  He was borh eight days after turning head-down.

What really sold me on continuing care with our chiropractor was the new baby check that we did around 10 days postpartum.  I had a huge and painful learning curve when I was breastfeeding with Puma, and another painful initiation of breastfeeding with Night Owl.  It took 6-8 weeks with both of them for nursing to be less painful. Before that, it made me cry every time I nursed on the left side.  It’s a miracle that we breastfed at all: if it wasn’t for the fact that I had seen it as a child and an amazing support system, we would have quit after the first week.

Charger and I started out the same way – it was excruciating to nurse on the left side.  Dr. Ross did one little tiny adjustment on Charger.  The next time I put Charger to the breast to nurse – flowers bloomed and angels sang. It was a miracle!! Pain-free!! And it never hurt again.

After that, I was hooked.  We continued care all through Otter’s pregnancy.  Being pregnant with my fourth, and having a 6, 4, and 2 year olds to care for was a little daunting given the demands of pregnancy in my body.  There had been days with all three previous pregnancies where I literally crawled around the house in the evenings because walking was too painful.  When I could “walk” in late pregnancy, I waddled. I believed my body did not like being pregnant.

That pregnancy taught me the benefits of chiropractic care as the body changes through pregnancy. It was my best pregnancy ever!! I had more energy, I was virtually pain-free, and I was able to walk from day one until the day of her birth *without* waddling. It turns out my body needed some pubic bone adjustments along the way to resolve that excruciating pain that made me crawl or waddle in late pregnancy. Dr. Ross also did “Webster checks” every session to make sure that my body would encourage a head-down baby. By that time, he had also started using KST in his office, and that allowed me to connect with our Sweet Pea in a whole new way.

Our whole family has been going to see Dr. Ross for 6+ years. Daddy Bruss and I are in the best health – we rarely get sick, and when we do, it doesn’t last very long.  We have also learned much more about natural living with Dr. Ross’s guidance – his wisdom has forever changed the course of our family’s health.

The biggest beneficiaries are our children. From an early age, they are learning that their body is a wonderful machine with the ability to heal itself.  As soon as something is misalinged, Dr. Ross does a child-appropriate adjustment and they are off and running. The same holds true for them: they are rarely sick. For the most part, rest and hydration kick any illnesses in less time than is typical. They are also learning that their body is capable of healing itself. Medication is rarely necessary, so they are not learning that drugs are a panacea for every ache and pain.  First we ask Dr. Ross, and then we usually follow whatever course of action he recommends based on their needs.

In fact, one of our pediatricians thinks we had left the practice since it was so long between visist with them. I chalk it up to saying our prayers, taking our Juice Plus, drinking lots of water and getting adjusted :)

So that’s our story. Please leave me a comment if you have any questions about our experiences.

Find out more about Dr. Ross and his practice HERE

 

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A Blessingway for Baby #2

Blessingways or Mother Blessings come in all different variations these days. Traditionally, the “blessing way” is a Navajo Ritual “created to spiritually support and empower the new mother for her journey of birthing and motherhood.”  They have since been adapted to honor the pregnant mother, honor the baby waiting to be born, or as a more family centered version of a baby shower.

The Sacred Pregnancy book I have been reading describes the blessingway as “a ceremony in which people bless the way of the baby and the mother as she readies herself to birth her baby into existence.”

I worked together with a great mama friend of mine to come up with what my baby and I saw our blessingway as: women close to us gathering for a relaxed afternoon tea, beading a bracelet  for me to wear before/during labor, sharing affirmations/hopes/prayers and participating in cord binding where each woman wraps a string around her wrist one or more times and then gives it to the person next to her, at once making everyone connected. Each women then cuts their cord to create a bracelet they wear until my labor is over. Prior to the birth, when they see their bracelet, they can think of me and send good thoughts. :)

It was such a nice afternoon with friends that traveled from all over the state to be there. They left me with a renewed perspective towards birth and shifted a lot of my tension and anxiety to excitement and joy. I thought I would recap some of the awesome affirmations and prayers that were given to me… for any other mamas to be or women with friends that will be birthing soon, let us share and pass on the wonderful feelings of empowerment and love they provided.

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This one actually came from my husband before we left for the gathering, it is so beautiful and simple, I imagine easy to recite in moments of intense labor and or doubtfulness.

We are the boat, we are the sea. I sail in you, you sail in me.” 

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This Advice From A Tree is applicable in so many different facets of life but I am finding it so cheerful for the rest of my pregnancy, reading through it just makes me smile.

Advice From A Tree

Stand Tall and Proud
Go Out On a Limb
Remember Your Roots
Drink Plenty of Water
Be Content with Your Natural Beauty
Enjoy the View

 

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This provides such a great visualization for me that I can use in moments of weakness and doubt and I know will be useful during particularly difficult moments in labor and “transition.”

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This is especially useful for second or subsequent babies and something that helps focus my perspective that this birth and baby bring with it an entirely new experience that I know nothing about yet. I hope to honor the process with no expectations.

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“My courage is stronger than my fear”

“A women in birth is at once her most powerful, and her most vulnerable. But any woman who has birthed unhindered, understands that we are stronger than we know.”
-Marci Macari

“Breathing in relaxation. Breathing out tension” 

“she believed she could, so she did”

and my favorite of all of them…
“You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star” Friedrich Nietzsche

 

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“I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born, says The Lord.” Isaiah 66:9

“I am not afraid, I was born to do this.” Joan of Arc

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned.” Isaiah 43:1-3

“There is no force equal to that of a Determined Woman.”

 

In addition to sharing the affirmations, each woman brought a bead to string together on a bracelet or necklace for me, they all had different meanings and sentiments and all represent the love these six other women have for me and my baby girl awaiting birth. It is a bracelet now, but I plan on turning into a long necklace I can easily stare down at.

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Another special gift I received was this Unakite bracelet. I did not know the power and uses of Unakite for pregnancy and childbirth before that day and I have not taken it off since!

IMG_4129You can also see my brown hemp cord in the photo above from the cord binding ceremony.

Overall it was an extremely special day with an energy that I plan to draw on the remaining 7-ish weeks of my pregnancy. The affirmations are all going to be placed on a wall in the room we plan to birth in next to a shelf that will contain an essential oil diffuser, sage, quartz and pearls that were also gifted to us.

I hope any or all of these can be used/shared/appreciated and passed on to other mamas to be,  alone or paired with a blessingway they have been very uplifting to my soul.

Has anyone attended or had a blessing way themselves? What kind of ceremonies took place? If you have any other affirmations or prayers to share we would love to read them!

Love and birth,

Cassandra

Second Pregnancy: Fears & Affirmations

First pregnancies are known to bring about many fears: fear of an expanding body, fear of giving birth, fear of becoming a mother, fear of the unknown, for me personally it was mostly the fear of the pregnancy itself. I was in a constant state of fear that something was or could go wrong while growing my baby. It just seems so delicate, so mind blowing that an entire human was growing inside my belly while I barely felt anything at all. I worked through those and was blessed with the experience of a very successful full term pregnancy and birth at the end so I  have not had many of those concerns the second time around. We sought out confirmation via doppler and ultrasound in early pregnancy and now as the third trimester begins a very active baby in my tummy keeps my mind at ease everyday. I am full of other kinds of fears this time though – surrounding birth, the postpartum period, and my responsibilities within a family of four. They are pretty overwhelming and all consuming sometimes, coupled with the fact that we have done absolutely zero to prepare for this upcoming birth or baby’s arrival I feel like I am often carrying a weight of anxiety too heavy to bear lately.

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the weeks & baby’s growth are both happening so rapidly this time around!

I have employed the help of some visualization techniques and affirmations that I thought I would share here in case any other mamas may find them helpful too. The visualizations can be used to get rid of fears, worries, or negative thoughts we just don’t want around and the affirmations, while some of them are specific to birth, postpartum or new babies, the others can be used anytime during the crazy ride of motherhood.

Visualization #1: Drifting Clouds
This was taught to me during a meditation in a yoga class recently, I really loved it and have found myself using it a lot at night before going to sleep.

Picture a serene, beautiful place with yourself seated or laying down comfortably gazing up at the sky. It is a brilliant, clear blue and there are big, white, fluffy clouds passing by. See your fear, negative thought, emotion, source of tension appear in one of the clouds and watch it drift away out of view. Repeat with each thought or feeling you would like to get rid of until the clouds are floating by empty. Notice how your body or mind feels differently after releasing these into the atmosphere and continue to relax and take in the beauty around and above you.

Visualization #2: Stones in the Ocean
This came from the Sacred Pregnancy book, it was described as an actual physical activity to go do, which I have been intending to and will, but also works great for a visualization in the moment and/or if you do not have access to an ocean or lake.

Visualize yourself at the edge of the ocean. Gather many large stones and place them by your feet. On each stone write in bold black letters a worry, fear, negative thought, problem or the like that you have been holding onto. Walk to the water and throw the stone into the ocean, watching as Mother Earth literally absorbs and carries off this fear or unwanted thought for you.

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I know the postpartum period is not a friendly time for myself, physically or emotionally. I plan on writing these down and placing them somewhere I can see from my resting place in bed.

“There’s value in showing my kids my vulnerability.”

“I am healthy and I will heal.”

“A new baby is like the beginning of all things – Wonder, Hope, a dream of possibilities.”
– Edna J. Le Shan

These below also are applicable to the postpartum period for me but have been helpful at times during this pregnancy and I anticipate will be very useful as we transition to a family of four.

“Now all you can do is wait. It must be hard for you, but there is a right time for everything. Like the ebb and flow of tides. No one can do anything to change them. When it is time to wait, you must wait.”  
-Haruki Murakami

“Not loving every moment of motherhood doesn’t mean I don’t love being a mom.”

“The decisions made by other moms do not need to dictate mine.”

“I am enough.”

“I am present. My presence is enough.”

I find these are especially helpful when I repeat them over and over to myself while walking or at the playground with T or in some other situation where my thoughts can get away with me. It really does help redirect my energy and like I mentioned before is a great tool to use before I go to sleep.

Are there any other affirmations or visualizations or even other types of activities that have been particularly helpful for you during a time of fear or tension? Anything that stood out as especially helpful during the healing and adjustment phases after birth, I would love to hear anything and everything!

 

 

 

Tuesday Tips: Bare Bones Newborn Essentials

Now that I am approaching past the halfway mark of my second pregnancy we I have started thinking about the “things” we will need.

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hi baby!

I tried to keep the stuff to a minimum with our first, even with our attempt people still bring things, certain things seemed appealing to us when our son reached x,y,z milestones and eventually I ended up giving away a TON of “baby” things when we moved (my son was 10 months old). This time around the attempt to keep things to a minimum is even greater as we know what lasts and what doesn’t and considering that home birth costs roughly 3x more here in central California as ours in Arizona did, we are on a strict budget to save up for birth and newborn care. I also feel that money is better spent during pregnancy on prenatal herbs and supplements, chiropractic adjustments, massages, a birth tub, birth and postpartum supplies/luxuries and the like to give our babe the best start at life even if it means having to sacrifice a few conveniences for ourselves during the first year.

This is what I have narrowed my personal list down to, it isn’t as bare as diapers, wipes, clothes and boobs but it was as darn close as I could come while still considering my sanity of having to take care of two children on my own most days past two weeks postpartum.

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 Sling
I used a ring sling with my son and I loved the ease of use and versatility it provided. I especially loved the cradle carry position during infancy, the option to forward face once the baby gained head control and the ease of breastfeeding while in the sling. I will definitely be getting a Sakura Bloom Pure Linen Sling as everyone I know raves about them and they are made locally in the US in Massachusetts.  I do have an Ergo Organic that I used from about 10 days until now still with my son that I am sure I will use quite a bit too but having the sling for different situations and especially the younger months is a must in my book!

Clothes
Much more of a must this time around in our cooler weather and considering that baby should arrive sometime in January. I am going to keep it very simple and pick up a few organic pieces, onesies, tees, leggings and sweaters. I love American Apparel Baby and Kate Quinn Organics, both organic cotton and made in USA. We will be reusing all of our Aden + Anais organic swaddle blankets we still have from when my son was born.

Diapers
I cloth diapered with my son and absolutely loved it, until we moved to the central coast. We live less than a mile from the ocean in a town notorious for its fog and lack of sunny days. It is always damp here and line drying is completely out of the question. After a few months of drying the diapers in a dryer and coming up with no options for a diaper service I called it quits :( We have been using Seventh Generation pull-ups which I love, but considering the transition from a one child to two child family as well as the trip that is required to frequently purchase these I am excited to try out The Honest Company for diapers + wipes with this little babe (knock on wood, all fingers crossed that in January our then 2 year 10 month old will be completely potty learned!!) The delivery aspect is something I am extremely excited about, I have heard nothing but good reviews regarding the quality of product and delivery service and think we will give it a go for a bit and see how we like it.

Double Jogging Stroller
A jogging stroller is a must for our family as I walk numerous places in a 2-3 mile vicinity of our home, which includes tons of uneven surfaces and hills. I don’t plan on using any type of infant seat attachment with a stroller as we are putting baby straight into a convertible car seat that we already own, so this won’t be entirely necessary until I am comfortable placing baby directly in the seat. I see me using my single stroller for my toddler and wearing the baby for the first couple/few months, which gives us plenty of time to save up for the stroller I want, the BOB Revolution SE Duallie. I use my stroller every single day without fail and have been making due with a decade old completely bare jogger we picked up on Craig’s List for ~$40 for the past 2.5 years. This is a splurge I have been looking forward to for some time! That being said, I will definitely not be buying this guy new and have already seen quite a few in great condition on Craig’s List in my area!

Portable Swing
We borrowed a full size swing from a friend with my son and he used it non stop for months. He liked the motion, had a hard time sleeping, had reflux and liked to be upright and it was a lifesaver. I know all babies are different, but I would like to be prepared. It is also nice to have a safe place to set baby down away from a crazy toddler or if I need to attend to the toddler for whatever reason. I am pretty set that the swing is going to be a must. I have my eye on a 4moms, their products are all breathtaking to me! I haven’t decided between a rockaRoo or mamaRoo yet but love the compact, portable nature of both – a definite necessity for our small living space.

Ergo Infant Insert
I mentioned we used the Ergo from about Day 10 with my son but we never actually had an infant insert. He was born in March in AZ and it just seemed to hot and sweaty and I had quite a few moms show me how they used swaddle blankets to secure baby instead. This time around because of the time of year and weather the snuggly coziness of the infant insert seems very appealing, especially because I am much more “on the go” chasing a toddler these days. I will probably try to borrow or buy one off of a friend!

I haven’t quite decided if I absolutely need a nursing pillow or baby lounger pillow or if they are something we can do without this round. I already have a breast pump and I am not really sure if we will even bother with bottles, so that is about it! Baby will sleep in bed with us or next to our bed on a crib mattress on the floor, I mentioned we already have a convertible car seat for him/her, we have tons of flat cloth diapers to use as burp rags, etc. and although I would love a new diaper bag, I am sure my old one will do just fine :)

Anything bare bones, absolutely necessary that I am missing? What newborn “essentials” did you have on your list??

Carnival of Natural Mothering: What I Wish I Knew

We are excited to participate in this month’s Carnival of Natural Mothering from Growing Slower!

What You Wish You Knew

Remember when you got your first positive pregnancy test? What do you wish that woman knew? Write a letter of love and encouragement to that awesome mama just starting her journey.

Read more at http://www.growingslower.com/p/carnival-of-natural-mothering.html#BLyjPcmFfALHIW9e.99

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I found out I was pregnant one Friday after a long week of work and travel, I was so tired at my desk late that afternoon that I called my husband to come drive me home – I honestly thought I might fall asleep at the wheel because my eyelids were so heavy. I was wearing a long, loose, beach-y tunic with tights that day because I felt so bloated… I did not have even the slightest idea that I may be with child.

It was June 17th, 2011 and one trip to the bathroom, pee stick in hand, dramatically changed the course of that evening and every single day since. I was going to write a generic letter to any/all mamas that had just received that positive test but the real love and encouragement comes from addressing the very specific things I have experienced and/or struggled with throughout my journey, maybe some of you have or will encounter similar and can find a little solidarity that I was once there too, and came out the other side better than I could have imagined.

what I wish I knew

Dear Cassandra,

You will wake up tomorrow and the next day and the next day and the next day for many, many weeks and not believe or feel you are pregnant, don’t worry, really don’t, you are. You are and you will stay that way, pregnant, and then really pregnant until the very end. You do not have to worry about what is beyond your control, you are doing everything you can to stay healthy and happy and that is all that really matters. You will take great care of yourself and subsequently the baby growing inside of you during this journey that is pregnancy, no matter how other people make you feel: other women that have come before you, people at work, anyone, it is so very important. You will be extrememly grateful for every moment you spent stretching, every chiropractic appointment, every massage, every walk, every herbal tea, every green drink concoction, every yoga class, heck even every pedicure, when you naturally deliver a healthy baby that continues to grow into a very healthy child, while simultaneously taking up all of your time and energy leaving self care a distant, but fond memory :)

You will be in amazement the entire process, just because millions(?) of women have grown and birthed babies before you do not let it take away from how utterly miraculous the entire process is. You will think about pregnancy and birth 100% of the time, it is a lot, but do not fret. You will be prepared, prepared for birth yes, prepared for motherhood, no. There is nothing you could have done differently though, it truly is something that you can never be prepared for. It is instant and it is permanent, you will often feel like you are barely hanging on, but it will pass, and then return – it is one heck of a roller coaster that is for sure.

Adding a human being to your family who is entirely dependent on you every second he is not asleep (which in his case will not be often) is not like you imagine. It will be more exhausting, more demanding, more physically and emotionally draining, more trying, and more compromising then you can even wrap your brain around at this point. You will hate everyone who says that being a parent is hard, but SO WONDERFUL, you will feel lied to and you will feel frustrated with yourself for rushing into something you could not have second thoughts about. You will be mad that all you want is time alone but then do not enjoy it because being away from your baby makes you uneasy, you will be more tired than you could ever imagine yet unable to fall asleep because there is a small but heavy head cutting off the circulation to your arm that you would rather let lose blood flow permanently than move it and risk waking up the baby. You will wait for things; your body, your life, to feel “normal” again and constantly wonder how you missed the memo that once a baby comes out of your lady parts they are forever changed.  You will become a night owl, your body and brain will literally adapt to the fact that if you want to get anything done it will have to take place between the hours of 10PM-1AM. You will cry, a lot. And then cry some more and some days you will wake up and cry because all you want to do is go to the bathroom and brush your teeth by yourself. And then you will spend the first night away from your child, and you will wake up in the morning and cry because you miss him, and then cry harder because you don’t want to cry, you want to enjoy yourself gosh darn it and now you’re crying!

You will know that becoming a mother made you 6,567,943 times better as a person, you will know you would not be where you are today without embarking on this journey, you will know that every thing happens exactly as it should – but it will still be hard, too hard, and some days you will wonder how you can possibly live another day with no sleep, no alone time with your husband, carrying 25 pounds on a hip that definitely notices it, cleaning someone’s else’s extremely smelly poop, pushing a Cozy Coupe around the block 13 times and literally not having 10 seconds to drink water before it was seized by miniature hands and dumped on the floor.

You will wait to forget what it was like to stay out all night with your husband and how amazing all day Netflix marathons on the couch are, you will hope that the sadness you feel when you see a person reading in a coffee shop or while admiring someone’s nice, unwrinkled, unsoiled, new clothes won’t always be there. You will wonder why it is taking you longer than everyone else to use words like awesome, amazing, wonderful, joyful, and rewarding in relation to parenting.

You will know deep down that having a young child IS difficult no matter what, but that it is also temporary, a fleeting memory in the entire journey of parenthood and you will remind yourself of this, but it will not always help.

There will be times when you feel like you are losing, losing your mind, losing at marriage, losing at life.

You will wonder when you will ever be able to “do” anything ever again, and if there is re-emergence from the crazy, dirty, messy, chaos of your current daily survival called motherhood. And then one day, one day far away yet so close, you will realize you have in fact, surfaced.

You will make dinner multiple nights in a row, your son will be happy to spend hours with babysitters, you will be working again and able to feel good about getting yourself a few things just for you that you need/want, someone will say to you & Eric that you look young and in love, and when you tell your son that you’re going to put on makeup and do your hair in the bathroom and he can play with his kitchen/tools/legos in the playroom until you are done he will nod and *gasp* do it.

And the moment will come, the moment you are at the ocean’s edge on a beautiful day standing with your husband seeing your now toddler intently watching and listening to the waves crash, smiling and laughing profusely when some ocean spray gets his leg, running wildly, entirely carefree and lavishly happy that you will know that this moment would be nothing without him. Your capacity to feel the love, gratitude, overwhelming joy, happiness, reward and peace right then would not exist if he did not. His hugs, his kisses, his laughter, his stories, witnessing his connections with others,  they make life something it would not be otherwise.

Everyone’s children are different and therefore everyone’s experience of parenthood is vastly different. You may never not miss how much time you used to spend on yourself or with your husband, it may take you longer than the “norm” to describe parenthood as joyful and awesome, but you will arrive. You will take your son somewhere just for him, class, the park, the aquarium, a play date at least once everyday during the week, you will squeeze in emails during walks and work into the night, you will shop for healthy food and even if you don’t make dinner every night health will always be a priority for your family. You will share information, clothes, and baby gear with other mamas, make dishes for new families, get dressed up for work dinners despite a small person hanging on your leg, your hair will almost always be messy and your house even messier but you will be so happy. There will be shiny days, and hard days, days that fly by and days that drag on and you won’t be happy all day every day, but you will be happy every day. And most of all you will be grateful, grateful for the profound experience that is parenthood, grateful for the opportunity to grow and change into a mother and person that you are very proud of. Be easy on yourself, each day is a new opportunity to do better and be happier than the day before <3

Love & Mothering,

Cassandra, March 2014