Why Do I Feel Like I’ve Lost Myself?

 

It’s no secret that moving has been one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my life, possibly the hardest.  Through this experience I’ve almost felt like I lost myself. It’s really weird actually. I’ll look in the mirror and almost not recognize myself. Like most people, I had kind of mapped out my life in my head and had somewhat of an idea of what life would look like for me. That lifestyle that I had created in my head was who I was, it was part of my makeup and when I left that all behind I was completely broken. For the first few months I honestly went through the 4 stages of grief and not just once, but multiple times over again, never getting to that fifth stage of grief (acceptance). I remember just feeling absolute shock and denial when first moving to Mesa then after a while I was so angry. I was angry at Levi, angry at God, angry at everyone around me (especially the people that loved it here) and I just didn’t understand why I had to have the rug pulled from under my feet.  I had never felt such rage inside of me. Every day felt like an intense struggle within. I’ve never been an angry person so it was a very foreign feeling for me and I hated the way that I was acting. I started to bargain with God, I pleaded with him to figure out a way to send us back. I promised Him that if we could just go back to Utah that I would be better, I would give up anything to be back with my family and back where I’m comfortable. I even started bargaining with Levi. I would beg him to bargain with his bosses. I kept making up scenarios in my head where we could bargain our way back to our old life and every time those scenarios got shut down I felt so defeated. That defeat, of course, led me to days of depression.  Let me clarify that through out this process I did have good days and did have bad days. The first four stages of grief all seemed to be entangled together, continually cycling until I just felt like a crazy person. I just did not feel like myself anymore and I hated feeling this way.

Identifying the Cause of Suffering 

While on a trip back in Utah for Clair’s birthday, I was talking with a friend who recommended a podcast called Secular Buddhism, which focuses completely on Buddhist philosophies, not so much on the religious aspect of Buddhism. He mentioned how the podcast had really helped him to look at life differently, almost through a new set of lenses. I decided to check it out and found some of the most enlightening wisdom in listening. There is one particular philosophy that I want to focus on, which has truly helped me to finally fall into that last stage of grief, which is of course, acceptance. This philosophy is referred to as the nature of human suffering. Simply explained, this philosophy states that when we crave for life to be anything other than it is, we experience suffering. The host, Noah Rasheta, talked about how we often times create these expectations in our life, yet the only constant thing in our lives is change. Change can’t conform to those expectations in our lives; unfortunately it just doesn’t work that way. So here we are creating these beliefs about how life is supposed to turn out and change comes along and ruins everything!! The only thing to blame for our unhappiness then, would have to be the thing that changed in our life right? What else would be causing our unhappiness and our anguish? The change came and it made my life different than expected, so it must be the fault of the change, right? Not so.

Here’s a quote from Noah that really turns this way of thinking around:

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A light bulb literally shattered inside of my head when I heard this quote. Ok, not literally, metaphorically shattered inside my head.  It was a very enlightening and painful experience. It felt extremely liberating and horrifically dreadful all at the same time. Liberating because I could finally begin to shift my paradigm and dreadful because I couldn’t blame my circumstance anymore. It was like holding the formula for happiness in my hands but not knowing if I really wanted happiness after all. I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone, but for those of you that have experienced a chronic dose of suffering, as much as you wish that feeling away, it’s also become a part of you and the thought of giving that up is a frightening one.

So here I am, listening to this podcast and realizing that it wasn’t the event of moving to Arizona that was causing my suffering, it was the way I was choosing to interpret and perceive moving to Arizona that was causing my suffering. Because I blamed my circumstance and interpreted moving to Arizona as something hard and bad, I felt that unless this circumstance ended or changed I would always be suffering. It was in the yearning for my suffering to end that the more acute my suffering became. So what am I really saying here? The more we wish our circumstance to change, the more suffering will occur.

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So back to my light bulb shattering analogy, it was super painful to realize that in order to feel happiness again in my life, I needed to be ok with letting go of all the blaming and all of the excuses. That is a hard pill to swallow, and an even harder pill to digest. I wasn’t even sure if learning to live by this philosophy was even valid. Could I really learn to be happy living in my current situation, 118-degree weather and all?

Poison in My Bloodstream

Noah Rasheta explains that in order to shift our paradigm we have to understand, what the Buddhists call, the three poisons, which lead to suffering. The three poisons look something along these lines:

  1. Greed: The things that we want or crave in life, ‘if I could just have this…’ type of mindset.
  2. Anger/Aversion: The things we don’t want in life, ‘if I could just avoid this happening, life will be good,’ type of mindset.
  3. Ignorance: Being ignorant of the greedy and angry mindsets that keep us prisoner.

As I learned about these three poisons, I could identify several greedy and aversion-like thoughts already running through my head on a daily basis. Those thoughts were already becoming a huge part of my decision making.

‘If I could only live where it wasn’t so hot, then I would be happy.’

‘If I could just live in my own house…’

‘If I could lose 10 more pounds…’ 

‘If I could just work from home then I’d be happier…’

‘If I could just graduate from school, then I’d be able to feel more accomplished.’

‘If I could just avoid conversations like (blank) then I wouldn’t be so upset at church’

‘If I could just avoid getting a headache then I’d be happy.’

‘As long as I don’t end up in Arizona, I’ll be ok.’

‘If only I lived by family, I’d be happy all the time.’

Because these thoughts have been a part of my beliefs about what my life should look like, I have been living my life around them. As if they were some sorts of truth or standard to be lived against. Where did they even come from? Why can’t I just be happy with where I’m at right now? Why am I always trying to make up some excuse as to why I’m not happy?

How did I ever let this poison in without knowing it was poison? I felt like Vizzini drinking from a goblet laced with the tasteless, odorless Iocane Powder. It was inconceivable to me that my thoughts were actually poisoning my mind. (Hopefully someone is catching this reference…) And the thing about these thoughts is that I honestly thought that I was doing the right thing in trying to figure out what I was ‘missing’ in my life. I thought I was problem solving. I thought I was taking control over my life. I thought I was trying to make a plan to create happiness in my life, as if happiness is circumstantial.

I thought I was trying to make a plan to create happiness in my life, as if happiness is circumstantial.

These thoughts have been extremely limiting and extremely false because the truth is, all conditions are bound to change. In other words, I can’t control everything about my circumstance, despite how hard I might try. Change will come into my life and the more I try to idealize my life, the harder it will be to accept those ‘curve balls’ that are thrown to me.

Change is the only constant in our lives.  The way to find true happiness and to essentially end our suffering is to accept these conditions of change. When you find yourself able to accept change, in all its forms, it’s not like the suffering ends but that our fixation to end our suffering ends. The craving and fixation to change our current circumstance or create a different scenario ends. We are finally living in the moment, accepting of each moment, grateful for each experience. Instead of constantly dreading certain things that might come into our lives or wishing we could change things, acceptance and contentment will fill our hearts and minds.

I do wish to clarify that I do believe it’s ok to want to change things in our lives. However, the intention of our hearts with seeking change is key. What I am beginning to learn, and what this podcast has helped me to see, is that when I am seeking to change things to further my own happiness, it will most likely lead to suffering because at what end does that seeking come to? At what point will I feel ‘happy?’ Will that thirst ever be quenched? The cycle of greed and aversion will begin and those poisons will start to feed into my bloodstream, slowly killing my happiness.   If my intention for change was to make the world a better place, or to better my marriage, or to serve someone in need, I think then, a desire for change is appropriate and helpful, but again, make sure those intentions aren’t falling into the 3 poison categories.

Sarah the Square

Through coming to understand this philosophy I’ve, in turn, been able to answer my own question of ‘how did I come to lose myself?’ Well, I’ve lost myself because I’ve only known the idea of Sarah, not the real Sarah. I’ve spent so much time making decisions based on this idea instead of allowing myself to be. So sure, I’ve lost the idea of Sarah, and that’s been painful, but I haven’t lost Sarah because she’s never been found. I’m not sure if I’ve even met her. I think maybe, as a child, I had to have known her but I’ve forgotten that girl. I am not a lost cause; I am a cause that hasn’t been discovered yet. 

I hope I can get to a point where the idea of a ‘curve ball’ being thrown in my life doesn’t exist. I hope I can get to the point where I can abandon my ideas of how life should be and instead just let it be. Maybe the Beatles truly did understand these words of wisdom. Wow, that song suddenly has a much more deepened meaning for me. But seriously, my hope is that I can start to develop an awareness of how things truly are instead of how they should be, according to Sarah. I love how Noah describes his view of us as human beings in saying,

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Simply put, our idea of who we are, is not who we are. There is the idea of Sarah and then there is Sarah. My goal is to unlearn my beliefs about Sarah and to unlearn my beliefs about what Sarah’s life is supposed to look like. I think the first step to take in unlearning these beliefs will be to ask myself the ‘why’ behind everything I hold as truth. For example, and I shared this story in a past post, I used to believe that I could only be beautiful if I had blonde hair, not my strawberry hair. This belief took such great hold on me that I bleached my hair for 10 years. It wasn’t until I married Levi and he helped me to finally ask myself why I believed that, that I was able to unlearn that belief and make steps towards accepting my natural hair color. I know that there are so many beliefs just like the example I shared, lingering inside of me and silently crippling me. I think this process of unlearning will be a life long process, but along this process I know that I will experience liberation, freedom and happiness. Not only all of those things, but I will learn to be content in whatever circumstance life throws my way. I won’t be shocked or completely destroyed through change because I wasn’t expecting life to be anything other than the unexpected.

So, this blog post is sort of my opening statement to the beginning of a long journey. My hope is that as I begin to look at the way I see things, the way I see things will change and I’ll be able to be Sarah instead of constantly seeking to become this made up idea of who Sarah should be. When that day comes, it will be a beautiful, beautiful day indeed.

 

xo

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Bringing Up Bebe, Part 1: The Sleep Miracle

While pregnant I learned of a book called “Bringing Up Bebe,” by Pamela Druckerman. My boss (at that time), had mentioned that his baby had been sleeping through the night basically since he was a few months old. That idea sounded very appealing since all I had heard previous to that was horror story after horror story of sleepless nights-those nights, lasting for years at a time. Not appealing. I asked my boss the secret to their magical baby and he said his wife read a book called “Bringing Up Bebe,” or what I now like to call the Baby Bible. The book isn’t your typical parenting book of instructions, this book is actually a novel. It’s a story about a woman that moves to France with her boyfriend, who then becomes her husband and eventually has a baby in the city of love. Because the parenting culture is wildly different than America, she decided to figure out the parental “philosophy,” you could say, that the French mothers follow. The thing that led her to start this journey was her fascination with the way that children, babies included, behaved in public. She never saw freak-outs at the restaurant, she never saw children talking back to their parents, and most of all, she always saw them eating everything that was placed in front of them-and not only that, but enjoying it. We are talking adult food here, which from what I’ve seen is very uncommon. I’ve mostly just seen super picky children eaters here. Anyway, the point is-Pameal Druckerman wanted to figure out the “french secrets” of raising a disciplined baby & child. There were so many amazing things I learned from this book, but today I am solely focusing on sleep tips and principles.

A lot of the principles in this book are similar to the principles found in Baby Wise, which I think more people are familiar with. Baby Wise basically sets up a foundation for learning how to keep your baby on a feeding schedule, which in turn, helps the baby sleep through the night. Both books teach an underlying principle that strict adherence to a schedule is what makes the biggest difference in helping babies sleep. One of my biggest goals as a new mommy was to help my baby to sleep. I really don’t do well without sleep (who does?) and I knew that in order for me to be a sane and happy mother I needed to help Clair establish a schedule. The following are a few principles that I took to heart from Bringing Up Bebe, aka my Baby Bible.

Nudge Babies into a  Feeding Schedule

The French have a cultural phenomenon where they all eat around the same time every single day. Usually those times are 8:00 -breakfast, 12:00-lunch, 4:00 snack (or as they say, “le gouter”), 8:00-dinner. When I first read this I could not wrap my brain around the idea of a world where there wasn’t a free-for-all snacking environment. I’ve always been a snacker. I come from a family of snackers. The idea of only have one snack a day? Impossible. Again, this is where we have to remember the principle here. So the important thing is that YOU as a mom have some sort of consistence schedule for eating. If your schedule is in place, your children will then have a schedule in place and will be synced with your eating times. More convenient for everyone.

Anyway, more of that for another day, the reason I am talking about eating is because when babies have a consistent feeding schedule, their sleeping schedule is more consistent too. The Baby Wise book talks about following the schedule of eat, wake, sleep. I personally have followed this pattern it has been amazing to see Clair follow that schedule all on her own. She is now at the point where she is eating, waking and sleeping all around the same times every single day. I love this because it helps my life to become a lot more predictable and manageable. Here is an example of my schedule for Clair (she’s almost 6 months old, so this schedule might have to be adjusted, depending on how old your baby is)

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6:30-7:00 am  wake & feed

7:00-8:00 awake time

8:00-9:30 down for nap

9:30-10:00 wake & feed

10:00-11:00 awake time

11:00-12:30 down for nap

12:30 wake & feed

12:30-2:00 awake time

2:00-3:30 down for nap

3:30 awake & feed

3:30-4:30 awake time

4:30-5:15 cat nap

5:15 awake & feed

5:15-7:30 awake time/bedtime routine

7:30 final feed and down for the night

It can be a bit hard to nudge your baby into this schedule, but my advise is to be patient and persistence! There are some days where the times might be off a bit, so I just roll with the punches. I try not to let the schedule control me or get stressed if she isn’t following exactly. As long as I am roughly following this, she really does do the rest of the work. It’s amazing! I really think babies thrive on schedules. Also-putting her down early has helped her to sleep all the way through the night. I’ve noticed that if I put her down later, she wakes up a lot more frequently.

The Pause

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Now, in an ideal world, Clair would stay asleep after we put her down at 7:30 and we wouldn’t have any interruptions with our couples time. Honestly, that rarely happens. She usually will cry a couple of times after we put her down. A principle that has helped me to get her to get back to sleep & self soothe is called “the pause.” In reading about this principle in Bringing Up Bebe, I learned that babies often cry when they are learning to connect their sleep cycles. The French do “the pause” every single time they hear their baby cry. They understand that babies are loud sleepers and sometimes will cry even though they aren’t awake. Basically “the pause” means that you pause (big surprise there) before rushing in to your baby. I usually pause for a minute or two, depending on the cry. Sometimes I know her cry is urgent and I rush in there to help her to burp or something. But most of the times she is fussing to get back to sleep. I have been trying to help Clair learn to self soothe so when she cries after we put her down to bed I will wait for at least a minute, go in and put her binky in, pat her back and slip out the door. If she continues to cry I wait another couple of minutes, go back in and put her binky in one last time, pat her on the back until she calms down and leave. She normally goes back to bed after this and will sleep through the night. A few things to remember with this is to try  not to pick up your baby unless you need to. When I go in to give her the binky I do it quietly, I keep the lights down low, I pat her and whisper I love her, but I do not pick her up. I think doing this helped her to learn that she needs to learn to soothe herself. Be patient with this principle!! Sometimes I just give in and pick her up. She’s just so darn adorable. Know that it will take a couple of days, maybe even a week for your baby to learn to self soothe, but it will happen eventually!! Be persistent and patient. We are now to the point where she will cry once or twice after putting her down, but she only cries for a few minutes and will go back to sleep.

Get Baby in the Mood to Sleep

Something that I felt was really important was setting a bedtime routine for Clair. The book teaches that a bedtime routine is important for babies because they will feel more secure in their separation from mommy and daddy. Bedtime routines help them to be calm and relaxed and ready for bed, instead of being randomly put to bed at different times of the night. The unexpected is probably unsettling for babies. My routine almost always looks like the following: bath with mom & dad-sorry not WITH us, just both of us present while she bathes. That would be a big tub (haha), lotion time & jammies, singing lullabies, reading a story, saying our prayers, cuddle with mom & dad, final feeding, put her down when she’s sleepy but not all the way asleep, tell her goodnight. For me, I felt it was important that we were both present during this routine because she doesn’t get to see her daddy as much during the day. By the time he gets home she only has 2 hours with him before bed. I let Levi do as much of the routine as he wants to, but I’m always there just so she feels completely loved and secure.

 

Sleeping Well is Better for the Baby & the Family

I believe that statement with all of my heart! Sleeping is so essential in babies learning and development (just like adults), and when they aren’t getting enough sleep it isn’t healthy for us or them. I know how easy it is to believe that mothers should sacrifice anything for their children and I do believe that to an extent, but I don’t believe that mothers have to sacrifice their mental and physical health when it isn’t benefiting the baby. Babies need their sleep too. I’ve noticed that Clair has been much happier and alert as she gets her sleep in at night. She eats better, she plays harder, and she takes her naps during the day. Everything is happier and brighter when she gets her sleep at night.

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A favorite quote from the book says, “Sleep contains an important symbolic lesson for babies: learning to sleep is part of learning to be part of the family. Babies eventually need to adapt to what others need, too.” I love that! There is so much more that babies learn when learning to sleep-they are learning that it isn’t all about them. Parents need time together to work on their relationship, and for Levi and I, that time is at night-after she’s asleep.

I know how hard it can be, and I’m not saying you have to do things the way that I’ve talked about, and maybe these principles won’t do the same for your baby. I just wanted to share them because of how much they have helped my baby girl. If you have any other questions about what worked for me, feel free to comment below.

xo

photography credit: Emmy Lowe & Copper Pearl  

Individualism & Motherhood

Can we just all agree that last week was a rough one? I don’t know what it was exactly, but it felt as if there was just something in the air, looming above us all. Ever since the rain this last weekend, it is almost as if things are clearing up and we are gearing up for a better week, baby girl has been much happier.

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I came to some realizations about myself last week and wanted to share. It has been super enlightening for my personal growth and I feel like it can benefit others in their own personal journey. Any mother that is going through the infamous postpartum battle” can attest that it is extremely difficult to bounce back to the woman before the baby. In fact, I argue that it is impossible to bounce back to that woman because that woman really doesn’t exist anymore. That can be a hard pill to swallow for some women, me included. Like I said earlier, motherhood came faster than I thought and after Clair was born I felt like I was grieving the death of Sarah while trying to rejoice in the birth of Clair. I can honestly say that before having a baby I was pretty okay with my body, along with who I was becoming as an individual. Both of those things changed after birth and suddenly I was embarrassed of both my body and my individualism. I truly believe there is something to becoming a mom that makes you feel like you are suddenly categorized into one lump and type of people. It’s almost as if people are saying to you:

You are no longer individual. You no longer have hopes, dreams and ambitions, you’re a mom for crying out loud! You have to sacrifice everything you once wanted for your child. Your child is your life. You shouldn’t be focusing on anything else. They need your undivided attention or they will grow up feeling neglected. 

You get the picture. But really all of this is false.

False. False. False.

As mothers, we are individuals. We shouldn’t be lumped together as one. We shouldn’t feel like our dreams, hopes and aspirations should be swept under the rug. In fact, I would argue that doing so actually hinders us as mothers. I just don’t believe it is healthy to throw away who we are and what we desire for our children. I think it’s more healthy and inspiring for children to grow up with a mother who is following her dreams, who is working hard for what she wants to accomplish in life, who is working hard to keep her individualism. Children will learn that they too are individuals and they too have hopes and dreams, and they too can work hard for what they want to accomplish in life. Of course sacrifice is required as a mother, that’s a no brainer, but I don’t think sacrifice of complete self is required. I think that is something that somehow we’ve grown to believe is heroic. Rather, I see juggling hobbies, education, careers, or whatever it may be, along with motherhood, is true heroism.

The Struggle is Real, People.

Now, with that said, I wish to address the issue of self and individualism in becoming a  mother. Something that I found after having Clair was that I wasn’t quite sure who I was anymore. I would look in the mirror and see that I was still me (besides some new bodily features), but I didn’t feel like me anymore. My perspective on life had changed, along with a lot of goals, motivations and opinions. Quite frankly, it scared me how much I had changed and I was (and still am) embarrassed  to let people see the real me. In fact, all of my life I have struggled to let people see the real me, and becoming a mother somehow heightened that struggle.  Maybe it is because I now feel like I have to defend my mothering decisions to others, or that I feel more observed and judged. Maybe it’s because of social media comparison. Regardless, the struggle is real in letting myself be content with who I really am. 

I think this struggle has been so hard because I started believing I was someone I wasn’t a long time ago. I remember when I was around 11 I started feeling insecure about my strawberry hair color. People would sometimes call me a ginger and I didn’t even know what that meant, but the way it was said made me feel labeled, and not in a good way. When I was old enough to bleach my hair I begged my mom to let me bleach all of the red streaks out of my hair. I remember looking in the mirror after bleaching my hair and had the distinct thought, “Hmm..I don’t like it. It isn’t me.” I immediately replaced that thought with, “I don’t want people to see the real me. They will make fun of me.”  From then on it was as if I believed I had to be somebody else to be pretty and accepted. I just wanted to avoid any comment on my hair at all costs. Silly, right? But this experience has had a ripple effect on me for the rest of my life thus far. Emotionally I feel like I have to hide the real me.

In C.S Lewis’ allegorical story The Great Divorce, there are a bunch of people that have essentially died, referred to as “Ghosts” being lead into heaven by “Spirits.” Spirits are previous Ghosts that have let go of all self-absorption to experience a fullness of love, joy and peace. There is one particular Ghost’s experience that shed a lot of light on this subject for me. This Ghost, a woman, who in her life on earth was consumed with her appearance and how she appeared to look to other people. She was terrified of being “outshone” by others and was constantly comparing her appearance to other people. When her Spirit guide attempts to help her into heaven she is embarrassed to go with the guide because she notices how bright the other spirits shine in comparison to her…

The Spirit then invites her to fix her mind on something other than herself, but that only makes it plainer to her that the Spirit cannot understand the embarrassment she feels. “But they’ll see me,” she protests. “What does it matter if they do?” the Spirit asks. “I’d rather die” is her response, not realizing that what she really needs to do is die, which is to say, to give up the fictional self she has always portrayed herself to be.

Bonds That Make Us Free, C. Terry Warner

If we look closer, C.S. Lewis’ story is not really about the afterlife at all, but is about the potential that each of us have to peace, happiness and joy in this life if we would simply give up our self absorption and just see ourselves and others as we truly are.

How does this relate to my struggle as a new mom? I am so terrified to let others see me as I really am, that I am giving up my chance at peace, happiness and joy in this life. I am sometimes so absorbed in trying to cover up who I really am, to paint this false image of my life so that others wont see my reality. I think all women, to some degree, do this. And I guess what I’m trying to say is that we shouldn’t be doing this. It robbing our peace and happiness as women and as mothers. If having Clair has taught me one thing, it is that heaven is on earth. I see heaven in the way Clair smiles at me, in her bright beautiful blue eyes. I see it in the way Levi talks to Clair and cuddles her. I felt it in myself as I delivered Clair and held her in my arms for the first time.

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As we learn to let go of absorption, or self awareness and just be okay with being seen for who we really are, we will see and feel heaven in our lives. We will feel love for ourselves, which is something that I have struggled with my entire life. We will be ok with our dreams, aspiration, hobbies, career ambitions because there won’t be embarrassment or guilt. We won’t care what other people think of us, we won’t care about being judged. We won’t care how we appear to other mothers, or how we look on social media. We just be ourselves, and we will be okay with that.

We will be individuals.

I’m no where near perfect in loving myself and being ok with who I am. I struggle with feeling that I am beautiful in my postpartum body, just like every other mother. I struggle with letting go of facades and being myself and honestly this struggle will probably be an ongoing battle. But there are little victories that make the struggle worth it. Little victories like going one day without worrying about how I appear to look to other people,  sharing my opinions with family, signing up for fall semester classes because I want to finish school, going after my creative passions, etc. I’m not sure if we can fully overcome the struggle, but I’m telling you, those victories are sweet and they are worth it. They are truly heaven on earth.

xo

Photo Cred: Sarah  http://www.toadventureblog.com/

5 Newborn Essentials

The first couple of months can be extremely overwhelming for a new mom. I can’t believe that I have been Clair’s mommy for almost 3 months! I didn’t think I could survive one month, honestly. But there have been some items that have been very essential in helping me to get through these first couple of months. Most of these items are affordable too, which makes the purchase even sweeter.

1. Pacifier Clips

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When Clair was born we weren’t so sure if we wanted to go the whole pacifier route. After a couple of days we realized fast how big of a life saver the pacifier is and we are diehard fans of it. However, there was one morning when I literally thought I was going insane! I had put Clair down for a nap and walked away. Next second she was crying. I came back. The paci was GONE. I looked everywhere and lifted up everything and I couldn’t find it. It was only then that I started to believe in magic because that thing literally disappeared out of thin air. I was frantic because it was the paci that Clair loved, and my frustration soon turned into tears. It was an awful experience people. Long story short, I found the pacifier UNDER THE FREAKING CRIB. Ok?? I have no idea how that happened. For this reason, I feel like pacifier clips are ESSENTIAL. Check out Madelines Box  or Ryan & Rose Co for some adorable clip options. 

2. The DockATot

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This item will be the most pricey item on the list, but I cannot say enough about these magical beds. Whilst pregnant, I saw a lot of talk about DockATots every single day on Instagram. My husband and I live in a one bedroom apartment right now and have a tiny little nook in our living room that we converted into Clair’s space. However, thinking ahead, I realized that we wouldn’t be able to watch TV without interrupting her naps since the crib is basically in the living room. I wanted Clair to have a safe bed to sleep in while taking naps. Our bedroom isn’t super big either so I wasn’t sure that a bassinet would fit comfortably in our bedroom. The DockATot solves all of those problems, and more! Seriously. We decided to invest in a DockATot and it is one of those purchases that I haven’t once looked back and wondered, “did I really need to waste money on that?” It has been a complete lifesaver! When Clair was a newborn we would place the DockATot on top of the dresser in our bedroom and she slept there for the first weeks of her life. When we visited my parents house we would take the Dock with us and she had her bed where she could nap pretty much anywhere. Clair is now 11 weeks old and she still sleeps in her Dock all of the time. During her nap times I will put her in my bedroom in her Dock. When she goes down for the night we let her fall asleep in the Dock in our bedroom and then are able to move her to the crib easily when we are ready to go to bed. You guys it is super convenient and an investment! I will use it for all of my babes. 

3. Swaddles & Bibs

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Ah, the lovely game of finding the perfect swaddle. Believe me, I have tried all different types of material and brands trying to find the best. I personally was looking for a material that was stretchy, breathable, soft, and a material that would keep Clair swaddled through the night. I just found that with some swaddle materials she would easily escape, thus making the swaddle pointless.

The good news is that I have found the perfect swaddle. Copper Pearl swaddles have hands-down been the best swaddles, meeting all of the wanted criteria. They are super big, super stretchy, incredibly soft and the best part is that Clair can’t get out of them! I have seen a difference in the nights that Clair is swaddled with them, and when she isn’t. She sleeps a lot better because she isn’t waking herself up with her reflexes. I highly, highly recommend these swaddles. 

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Copper Pearl also sells  Baby Bandana Drool Bibs that are adorable and super soft. They come in packs of 4 and have different themed colors and patterns in the packs. I love them because they look cute over the outfit, almost as if they go with the outfit. They are also extremely absorbable, it takes a lot of spit up to get them completely soaked. I don’t have to worry about her ruining her outfit anymore after a feeding. I’ll just slip a bib on her, let her do her business, then take it off and her outfit is safe and sound.

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4. Nursing Covers

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It’s no news that new mommies nurse around the clock. It makes it easy to do so when you are literally home all day, every day. But what happens when you want to go out to visit friends or family? Let me tell you, it gets really old having to go in a separate room and be secluded from everyone. Nursing covers, particularly from Covered Goods and Copper Pearl are a dream come true! They have full coverage so you are trying to hold up a blanket, among other things. They are also super soft and breathable so baby isn’t suffocating or dying of heat while nursing. They double for a cute car seat cover too. 

5. Binxy Baby 

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Once I was finally to a point where I wasn’t being brought food anymore and felt well enough to go to the store, I had very interesting experience. I went to Smiths and obviously wasn’t going to take Clair out and hold her while shopping, so the only other option was to take her car seat in with me. When grabbing a cart with a carseat holder in it, I realized how extremely awkward it actually is to push those things around. First of all, it makes the carseat really high and RIGHT in your face so you literally can’t see anything while you are pushing. You have to keep looking around it and to the sides of it. It is absolutely ridiculous. Secondly, I felt like an idiot trying to figure out how to even get the carseat in the holder. People just stare, it is such a joke! I wanted to be like, “hello, can anyone help me figure this stupid crap out??” haha. So after that experience I never wanted to go shopping again. Of course, I had to, and I decided to put her carseat inside a normal cart, but that left zero room for groceries. Long story short, I discovered the Binxy Baby. It’s basically a shopping cart hammock for the babies to lay in while you shop. It is totally safe, comfortable, and leaves a lot of room for groceries or other kids. I have absolutely LOVED having it. It has made shopping much, much easier for me and I love being able to stare at her while we shop. They are super affordable too, and worth every penny. 

xo

Photo Credit:

http://www.emmylowephoto.com/

Sarah, http://www.toadventureblog.com/

A word about breastfeeding & allergies.

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Since week 6 things have been a little bit stressful. Clair broke out in a rash that covered most of her body and was starting to become extremely fussy. I started asking my friends and family their opinion and I mostly got answers that the rash was just “heat rash” and the fussiness was the dreaded collic. Those answers just didn’t set right with me for some reason. Clair had never showed signs of being a collic-y baby before, and why would she have a rash to go with it? In talking to a friend about the rash she remarked, “usually a rash is the last thing to show when dealing with an internal issue.” I then began to wonder if Clair was having an intolerance or allergy to something I was eating.

After countless hours of research I came to the conclusion that Clair was probably intolerant to cow’s milk, or dairy.  I decided to cut dairy out of my diet and see if any changes happened. It took over a week to see improvements but slowly her rash went away and she stopped being as fussy. Now at week 9 Clair has been very happy during her awake time and is sleeping through the night! Her rash is completely gone too.

3 THINGS I’VE LEARNED FROM THIS EXPERIENCE

1. Trust your intuition

Mothers have an amazing sense of intuition, and I am only beginning to learn the art of listening to it. I think there is something to be said about the insecurity that women face and feel in daily life. I know for me, growing up, I felt insecure about different things depending on what age and stage I was in. As a grown woman I have found myself feeling pressure to dress as I see in my Instagram feed.  However, and I really want this emphasized, mothers should NEVER feel pressure to be like another mom. Trust your own instinct and intuition. You will always be right, and it will always be perfect for you child. What one mother experiences with their child will be completely different from you. If there is one thing in your life that you can be confident and secure about, it’s your role as a mother. Believe in yourself because if you just take a moment to listen to your gut, you will always know what to do.

2. Me and Clair are inseparably connected

I have seen a sort of spiritual connection and parallel to the dairy experience and my relationship with Clair. It was really interesting to realize that whatever I was eating was directly affecting my sweet baby. Breastfeeding literally transfers the vitamins and minerals I have built up, along with defense systems against disease to Clair! Starting before she was even conceived, what I decided to eat before getting pregnant affected the growth and health she experienced.  So, choices before I was even pregnant were affecting her. Similarly, who I choose to become as a mother will impact Clair, regardless if I’m aware of that or not. How I choose to spend my time during the day, what I pursue as a career, what music I listen to, my language, how I interact with Levi, etc.. All of that is connected to Clair and will affect her.

Now, I don’t mean to sound overwhelming or anything of the sort. Rather, I want you to see the beauty and responsibility of that fact. Knowing this has helped me to choose differently during the day. I put my phone down and disconnect for a while during the day. I go outside and help Clair to appreciate nature and beauty. I talk to Levi with love and respect. I pursue my passions and hobbies. I am working towards graduating from school. It truly is a gift that I am so inseparably connected to Clair because she reminds me to choose better.

3. Don’t trust the system

Times are different than they were for you mom or your grandma, obviously. But really, try to remember that as a mother! I guess what I am learning is that I can’t eat the way I used to eat and I can’t trust mainstream society to tell what what’s healthy for me or my baby. I personally don’t think that cow’s milk is good for my baby. That’s totally fine if you feel differently, but what I’m trying to say is that other people don’t know whats best for your health and for your baby’s health, YOU DO. Trust yourself, not just the FDA.

CLAIR’S BLESSING

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In other news, Clair was blessed this weekend. Due to Levi’s parents being in town we decided to bless her at my parents house Friday night. It was a small group of people, we just wanted it to be a small, quieter event for Clair. Something that I’ve observed about Clair is her want and almost need for quiet and peace. When she is around a lot of people and noise she gets really stressed and is fussy. Most blessings take place inside a church on Sunday in front of a congregation of people. I wanted it to be small and I wanted the blessing to be heard by her and her family. I just think baby blessings are special and intended for the baby, not just a bunch of random people.

As Clair was held by her father, uncle, grandparents and two great grandparents, my eyes filled with tears as I realized how many hands it truly takes to raise a child. I cried as I realized that Clair wasn’t even really mine. She’s God’s daughter and He is simply loaning her to me to help ME become a better person. It’s not even because I’m going to be this amazing parent, God is mercifully giving me a chance to become more loving, patient, kind and understanding. Obviously I will be her earthly mother and guide, and there is a huge sense of responsibility in that, during her blessing I just felt peace knowing that I wasn’t going to raise her on my own, God cared just as much, even more so for her and He was going to help me raise her, along with the amazing family members he has placed in our lives. Their hands will help raise her, just as much as mine will.

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When Levi began the blessing the most amazing thing happened, and because I was at my parents house I was able to run up to the top of the stairs and look over the banister while she was blessed and see it.  I could see her face fully and before the blessing began she was distracted by all the people, lights and new sights above her. Right when Levi began blessing her, she stopped looking around, she stopped moving and looked right into Levi’s eyes. Levi blessed her for a good couple of minutes and the entire time she was looking right at him, smiling. It looked like she understood everything he was saying and that’s because she did understand him. It was such an amazing scene to observe. Clair’s demeanor was full of understanding, happiness and content. It was in that moment that it finally sank in that I am a mom! I know that sounds crazy because I’ve been mother for almost 10 weeks now, it’s just that before that moment I just felt like Clair was another human that I was taking care of. Now I finally feel that she is my daughter, I am her mother. I am a mother. I am a mother. I am a mother.

Weird. But awesome.

xo

One Month with Clair Bear

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This is our face too Clair. You are growing up way too fast and we aren’t sure if we like it. Also, life is rough when you lose all of your hair. Please hair, grow back soon.

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I must admit, life has been much easier now that I’m getting the hang of a routine. The first couple weeks were some of the most emotional weeks of my life. I didn’t even know that I was capable to be that emotional.

The absolute hardest thing for me is letting go of my old life. The first 2 weeks I would start crying anytime I would think about my old life, meaning my life before Clair. The biggest triggers were Levi (obviously), Coldplay songs, Mumford & Sons songs, M83…Okay, lets be honest, pretty much ANY song would make me cry. Provo was a trigger (not ok because I live in Provo) and don’t get me started on wedding pictures. I just felt like my life was SO different WAY too fast. I wasn’t sure how Clair was going to change our lives and it gave me a lot of anxiety. As much as Levi understood how I was feeling, life wasn’t that much different for him. He was still sleeping through the night and going to work every day.

My sister in-law really shed some light upon my feelings on a day when I was trying to explain how I was feeling. She said, “You have to let your old life die.” That just sounded absolutely miserable to me! I don’t want to let my old life die, I love my old life! She continued, “I know it’s hard Sarah, but if you allow yourself to die, Christ will make a new life for you. It’s almost like He resurrects you from the dead. Death is scary and unknown to us and unless we allow ourselves to let go and trust God, we will be living in fear of  it our whole lives.” Brilliant, right? She is amazing. Her words just rung so true in my heart. After hearing that I prayed super hard for the next few days for strength to let GO. (Insert overrated Frozen song here)

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People always talk about how much better their life is with a baby, and happier. Don’t get me wrong I am happy, but I don’t think we need to be concerned so much with if it is better than it used to be.  I think that’s the competitive nature inside of us to want things to be better than others, better than before, etc. But I think the danger in being worried about if life is better now, or happier now, is that we are much to focused on the wrong things. That idea suggests that if life isn’t “happier” or “better” then life isn’t good anymore. I believe that life can still be good when we are sad. Life can still be good when it is hard. Life can still be good when we are frustrated because our baby isn’t sleeping after 6 weeks. Life can still be good when we haven’t showered for a couple of days and have spit up on every single shirt left in our wardrobe. Life can still be good when deodorant doesn’t seem to work anymore. Life is still good even when your baby poops on your brand new white sheets (yes these are all true stories).

I guess what I’m trying to get at is that  I realized that comparing my “old life” to my now “new life” wasn’t helping me to focus on the good presently. Yes my life is different, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good. I feel like in letting go of my “old life” I have given God the green light to come into my heart and help me to see the good in my life, to resurrect my life.  That is why it is happier, because I have been able to let go of the past.

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3  THINGS I’VE LEARNED IN 6 WEEKS

Crying isn’t a sign that you are a bad mother.

Clair has, what I like to call, a “five o clock freak-out” every day. Basically she just gets super tired but fights sleep. Thus the “freak-out.” One of these freak outs happened while I was at the mall and it was so hard not to cry out of frustration and embarrassment. I felt all the words I had ever whispered under my breath about moms who had screaming kids come back to bite me in the behind. I have learned that sometimes babies just cry and it isn’t a reflection on me as a mother.

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Observe, rather than obsess.

At the beginning, I was really obsessed with helping her fall into a routine and schedule. I would have these expectations like, “ok it’s time for her nap and she should nap for at least an hour,” or “I really don’t want to feed her yet because it hasn’t been exactly 3 hours…” etc. However, what I have learned is that I was too obsessed with controlling her and not concerned enough with observing her. What I mean is that instead of me dictating when she should eat and sleep, why not just observe her and fall into a schedule that matches more of what she is feeling? After realizing this, I decided to observe her for a week straight, writing down each time she would eat, how long she was awake, and how long she would sleep. What I have found from doing this is that Clair is actually on a pretty good internal schedule as is. Her body knows exactly what she is needing! Yes there are times when she wakes up too early from a nap and I help her to go back to sleep, but I have found that I haven’t had to intervene near as much as before. I am not as stressed either because she doesn’t have to live up to any of my “expectations.” Mom and baby have been much happier and we are on a good schedule. Win, win.

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There is true joy in motherhood

If you read my last post, you might be wondering how I am feeling after 6 weeks of motherhood. I wasn’t so sure about the whole mom thing, and honestly I still have no idea what I am doing, but I can say wholeheartedly that motherhood brings joy. I’m not really sure why to be honest,  I just feel more fulfilled and content with my life. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything in life. I don’t feel like I am wasting away at home. I actually feel renewed and invigorated. I feel like I have a new zest for life that I didn’t have before. Clair just brings more life into my life and I am so grateful for her. Although it might seem like Clair is the more dependent one, I think I’m much, much more dependent on her. Thanks Clair bear. ❤

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xoxo

 

 

 

 

 

Clair Olivia Birth Story

I now understand why people use the phrase “life as we know it has changed.” My life has changed dramatically the last week, which I knew it would, I just wasn’t prepared for the emotional strings attached to that change.

Becoming a mother has a huge leap of faith for me as I have never been the type to want to be a mother. It’s not that I don’t love babies and it’s not that I don’t have a loving maternal nature, it’s just that being a mother has always looked extremely daunting to me. I grew up in a religious culture where starting from a young age I was taught that being a mother was the most important thing I could ever do. I remember thinking, “Well if that’s the most important thing I will every do, what if I’m not good at it? What if I don’t like being a mom?”

Levi and I got married in December of 2014 and I had every intention to wait a while before even thinking about having a baby. A few months into our marriage I started having these dreams about a beautiful little girl. The dreams would feel so real that I would wake up feeling like I was missing something in my life. I told Levi about my dreams and he said, “Oh, that’s Clair.” Right when he said her name I knew that he was right. That was Clair! She was my baby and imperfect little me was supposed to be her mother. I was terrified at the thought and tried to push it away, but the feeling wouldn’t leave. Levi and I both knew that God wanted us to try for a baby. A few months later I was pregnant with our daughter.

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I have never felt so vulnerable in my entire life than in the decision to become a mother. As a pregnant woman you are so exposed to the world. Everyone that passes you sees your tiny bump and can immediately categorize and judge you. They feel entitled to ask you personal questions such as “Are you going natural or epidural?” “What are you naming her?” “How far along are you?” They then feel the need to push unsolicited advice my way such as “Enjoy sleep now,” or “Life will never be the same.” All of these comments instill panic instead of faith within me. Why are people saying these things?? After my due date passed I felt as if I was going to be pregnant forever. As each day passed my anxiety intensified. Sure, I was scared to feel the labor pain, but I was even more scared to think about it and deal with the unknown for one more second. I wanted my baby out, but I also didn’t want her out because that would mean my life would be changed forever. What if she doesn’t like me? What if I didn’t know what to do with her? What if I didn’t feel that unconditional and instant love for her?

Three days after my due date I woke up to labor pains. It was 4:45 in the morning and I started to time the contractions. It was consistent. 6-7 minutes apart. The pain went on consistently for 2 hours and I decided to call my midwife. She told me that until they were 3-4 minutes apart it was best to labor at home. The rest of the day I continued to have contractions. They slowed down during the day to the point that they were 10 minutes apart but by the end of the day they were starting to pick up again. From midnight to 3 in the morning they began to be more intense and were 3-4 minutes apart. After an hour of them being 3-4 minutes apart I decided to go to the hospital. On the way to hospital Levi and I listened to Clair de lune. It was one of those moments where I realized that things were about to change and even though I was scared and I felt a lot of pain I felt peace and love. I jokingly said to Levi, “Watch, I’ll go in and only be dilated to 2 cm.”

Turns out that wasn’t a joke. “You’re about a 2,” said one of the nurses. I felt the tears of frustration start leaking onto my face. How could I only be a 2 after almost 24 hours of labor? “We’ll keep you and watch you for an hour to see if there is any progression.” An hour passed. Levi laid in the tiny hospital bed with me while my mom watched the monitor. “That was a big one huh?” My mom would ask occasionally. All I could do was moan. After an hour there was no progression. They sent me home with a pain killer. The next day the contractions were back in full gear. I decided I wasn’t going back to the hospital until they got so bad that I couldn’t stand them. I didn’t want to be sent home again. After my bowels cleared up my contractions got extremely painful. Levi was trying all of the different pressure points-pushing on my knees, hips and lower back and it helped, but I still couldn’t help but cry out of pain. The pain got so bad that I decided it was time to go back in. There was no way I hadn’t progressed right?

Wrong. I was a 2.5 dilated. After another hour of monitoring there was no progression so they gave me a shot of morphine in my behind and sent me home again. For some reason the morphine wasn’t helping with the contractions, it was only making me feel completely out of it. I got home and after laying down for a little bit the contractions started coming every 1-2 minutes apart and these ones were the worst I had ever felt. I tried laboring through the pain for as long as I could but at 3 a.m I woke Levi up and told him we needed to go back to the hospital. Of course I was afraid they would send me back, but I didn’t know what else to do.

By the time I got back to the hospital I was ready to give up the ghost. At that point it was 48 hours of labor pain. I was now dilated to a 3. The nurse left the room and I just started bawling thinking that I would have to sit through an hour of horrible contractions just to be sent home again. A minute later the nurse came back and said the midwives wanted to admit me due to the little progress I had made. It was a straight up miracle!!!

An hour later I had the epidural and was on cloud 9. Over the 48 hours of labor I had only been able to sleep a total of 3 or 4 hours. Sleep felt good. Dilation progressed as soon as I had the epidural. It was almost as if my mind needed to be able to relax for my body to do it’s job. By noon it was time for me to start pushing. Delivery was my absolute favorite part of the entire process. I decided to have Levi and my mother hold my legs while my Dad sat on the couch. My midwife sat on the edge of the bed, the lights were dimmed and it was peaceful and quiet. As I pushed I felt so empowered and strong.  It’s hard to explain how beautiful those 30 minutes of pushing were. Those moments are sacred to me and can only be described as a “labor of love” for my sweet daughter. Looking back I couldn’t have made it through the labor process without my sweetheart and my mother.

Our beautiful daughter Clair Olivia Rasmussen was born a week ago today. March 21, 2016. 12:23 pm. 7 lbs, 3 oz. 18 1/2 inches long. Sheer perfection. 12748017_10153919926900435_2929665170358250815_o

I really didn’t think I would cry when I held my daughter, but the flood gates were opened the moment they laid her on my chest. She was absolutely breathtaking! All of my worries left me as I realized I would love this child forever. She was half mine, half Levi’s and there was nothing more beautiful to me than that.

Pregnancy and delivery has helped me to view Jesus Christ in a whole new light. I’m convinced that the way our bodies work and function is just a symbol and type of the Messiah and his glorious work. Regardless if you are a believer or not, listen to how beautiful this is. In Isaiah 46 it reads:

Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, which are borne by me from the belly, which are carried from the womb.

And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.

To whom will ye liken me, and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be like?

I love the question at the end where Christ asks,  to whom will ye liken me and compare me to be like? Looking at the words he uses such as being carried from the womb, bear, deliver we know he is talking about a mother. Of all of the ways that Christ could describe his work he used the work of a mother. What is that saying about motherhood?

Even though the last week has been challenging and has brought my emotions to a place that I have never felt before (probably a combination of sleep deprivation with hormones) I take comfort in the fact that Christ believes in the work of a mother. In fact, He sees that work just as holy as His work. How beautiful is that?

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Labor truly felt like hell, but brought heaven into my life. (As pictured above.)

So to every mother that feels overwhelmed, discouraged, fatigued and worn down, remember that Christ felt all of those things too and he believes in the importance of motherhood. Our work is holy. Our work is sacred. I am so grateful for this opportunity to be a mother, hard it may be. I love you baby Clair! Thank you for coming into my world and giving me the opportunity to become better.

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