Wow! It’s really been a little while since I’ve sat down and write out my thoughts. Happy New Year, btw. As you may know already (lol) I launched my holiday collection in November at the Love Letter Co and it was busier than I planned for. Enjoyable is how I should explain it first hand though, it really is FUN! It was a really exciting time of year and I cannot thank you enough for all of your support! Not to mention, the holidays were so special this year seeing my precious 22 month old enjoying the magic of everything about Christmas!
So something that I wanted to share with you all is about our sweet Eleanor. About 6 or so weeks after Ellie was born, she had a small blemish like spot that appeared on her forehead. At the pediatrician we asked them about it and they suggested that it was the "start of a hemangioma" and we should keep an eye on it. I should have trusted my motherly instincts in that moment and went straight to the pediatric dermatologist but in the midst of my new motherhood fog, we stayed put. It grew pretty quickly and we decided to go for it and speak to the dermatologist after seeing its rapid change despite the pediatrician's recommendation just to monitor it. When I spoke with the dermatologist, she mentioned that hemangiomas are definitely something to get ahead of and address quickly (I was so annoyed with our pediatrician!) Essentially all a hemangioma is is a cluster of blood cells that just didn’t know where to go and is common to appear just a few weeks after birth. It is nothing harmful or dangerous, it is truly vanity. But Ellie’s is RIGHT in the center of her forehead and I will honestly admit to you that I HATE IT! Don’t get me wrong, I tell Eleanor every single day how perfect and beautiful she is because she truly is (inside and out)! She is a STAR! But we couldn't imagine her going through her life with something right in the middle of her face in fear that she'd be questioned, or made fun of. Statistics show that hemangiomas will be 20% gone by the time she's 2 years Old and 90% gone by the time she’s 9. NINE YEARS Old! That feels like an eternity to Us. In the next seven years, Ellie will go through so many changes as a little girl in some really pivotal years. Not to mention other kids start to notice differences in each other at such a young age and then school age kids and can be so mean! We dreaded the idea of Eleanor's confidence dulled for even one second over a comment made or someone questioning it. We never want her to feel embarrassed or ashamed. We reasoned with ourselves reminding each other that if she needs braces down the road, that too is cosmetic and something we would take care of.
Fast forward to early December 2020.. we took Eleanor to Children’s Hospital to have an evaluation done at the vascular anomalies clinic. This is after 5 other consultations with children’s pediatric dermatology in Pittsburgh and also through Allegheny General Hospitals dermatology. We made made the decision to have her hemangioma treated with a pulsed dye laser procedure. A similar treatment you may have if you have blood cells or capillaries in your face. This is not something they would really consider prior to her turning two years old. So we knew timing was right for us on a lot of Levels. We even wrote Eleanor a special letter that's sealed and in her memories box letting her know how difficult of a decision this was for us but that her special mark wasn't meant to be part of her story forever.
The procedure required Ellie to go under a light anesthesia, similar to a twilight, because even though the procedure was minutes quick, it would have been too painful for her to be awake. We were so anxious leading up to everything, all the what if’s. With a 5:30a wake up call to be there and on time for 6:30am, we soon realized that she was in absolutely incredible care. Children’s hospital of Pittsburgh is world renowned and they treated her small procedure just like a big one with all of the precautions and team of people. Eleanor had her stuffed Dalmatian with her (Spot, in case you were wondering) and the nurses treated Spot like a patient too. It was actually precious. The anesthesiologist was beyond reassuring and said "let's have the most uneventful morning we possibly can have" and it truly was. J.R. went back with her for the few moments while she was going under the anesthesia and the second we sat down in the waiting room, the doctor came out and told us it was all finished! It took girlfriend 15 minutes to wake on her own and she was back to her normal little self on her feet and jumping up and down pretending to be a frog. It was amazing.
I've posted a few photos of her bruise (including the one at the top of this) and we knew this was as bad as it was going to get. The doctor told us within 7-10 days, Eleanor's hemangioma would look on completely faded and it totally has. We are 5 days post procedure and it's changed so much.
I’m just sharing part of my motherhood journey to say, it's okay to make a decision for your child and to advocate for your little one and to go against the first opinion you get! It’s something that everyone can see on Ellie's face and I'm sure has wondered "what kind of birth mark is that" so I wanted to shed some light on it, because it's pretty common in new babies and you may see one appear on yours. I just ask that you be kind the next time you see a little one with a “boo boo” on their face at target, don't be that rude stranger who makes a comment. Most often, mom is way more self conscious than the little one but it doesn’t make room for you to ask. I’ve had a couple mamas reach out to me asking questions about the stages of her hemangioma and I’m happy to help if you have any questions or think you see one developing somewhere on your babe. This is a long winded story to tell you, trust your instincts as a mom!! Sometimes pediatricians don’t take us as serious because we’re new in the game, but we have these gut instincts that tell us better sometimes. I would have taken her to the dermatologist much sooner than I did had I just done that from the beginning to have gotten ahead of it sooner.
This is your reminder that you're doing amazing mama!
Happy Weekend Everyone!
It's been a little bit since I've put my thoughts on here.
In my previous post, I mentioned moving with a toddler. Well, We moved! We're officially moved into our new house and we love it here. Lot's of "Whys" from people... of course. Well, because it was good for us and timing was right! Truth be told.. we dream of siblings for Eleanor but we aren't quite ready to add to our team. But we were ready for more space. We were so nervous about how Eleanor would transition though. She saw me packing her toys and books, taking things off the walls and I was so worried she thought her world was crumbling and would be so confused. But, to our surprise, she was great! She was so resilient. We kept her routine exactly the same despite the changes and it was a smooth transition. Unpacking and getting settled was a whole other discussion but a huge shout out to our friends who not only offered to help but actually helped. And in multiple ways! It's a really good feeling having people in your life who you would trust your little one with, without you there. And sometimes not just physical help but also sharing the excitements that have come along for you. So yinz guys... if you're reading this. Thank you!
The whole move has been a really good indication for me and how far I've come with working on myself. Eleanor has a Sesame Street book that we read at bedtime called “love on Sesame Street.” It’s such a cute book and each page has a sentence that is truly a nice message. The one page speaks to me... Oscar the grouch is on the page and it says “love is, accepting life when when it’s messy.”
It’s no secret now if you’ve ready my posts that mess is a huge struggle of mine. Especially when it came to Eleanor I feared what other people would think if she came across as messy in the slightest. Which is why I hesitated for so long giving her actual food or even purées in public and even in the privacy of our own home I would cry when it was on her face and hands or even on the floor. It caused my heart to race and I couldn’t take it. After a lot of work... I’ve really come to terms with it. I’m proud to say that Eleanor is thriving with trying new (messy-ish) foods like pasta (with a little bit of sauce).... I never said I wasn’t a work in progress lol. But she LOVED watermelon this summer and boy is it messy!
Over the past couple months, we celebrated Ellie's half birthday and girlfriend lived her best life and had a cupcake after dinner! I sat there and smiled at her little face and hands covered in icing. She was so happy. She ate every last bite and proceeded to put her hands on her face to play peek a boo after and some of it got in her hair. It was such a huge success for me... I was so proud of myself. Old Brittany wouldn’t have let something like that happen let alone let her have such a messy treat.
People on the outside didn’t necessarily see me struggle here.. in some cases I wasn’t even comfortable letting anyone know that this ate me up inside.. and I guess it’s only the people that genuinely ask “how you are” are the ones that really want to know.
We went on a little vacation in August, and actually made it down to the beach even after I dreaded the mess of the sand. Ellie of course threw a few tantrums and threw herself into the sand. I mean COVERED! Did I love watching that moment happen right before my eyes? Hell No! I was cringing and couldn't wait to hose off. But she loved the feeling of it and we loved watching her play on the beach. I never saw my self accepting this normality. Going to the beach and letting her play and explore and getting enjoyment from it vs. sweating with anxiety.
The message here is progress not perfection. I’m not perfect, even though I wish I could be. I’ve come a long way accepting the mess and life "even when it is messy." It’s more than just food mess though. It’s life's “mess” like not being on time, or having things not go as planned. Not having everything unpacked, living out of your clean clothes basket. Setting boundaries and saying "NO" if it doesn't work for our family or for Eleanor's schedule. It's accepting life with a toddler and not everything is going to be sunshine and rainbows. If you’re “type A” like me; that can be really hard to accept sometimes. But If there is something you’ve conquered or come a long way with.. celebrate it! Celebrate the small wins... like smiling when your LO is exploring and enjoying every single bite of her messy dessert, or when there's sand on every little crevasse of her body. Celebrate the "oh whatever" response to not putting away the laundry Or celebrate a moment that didn’t go as planned or when you made lemonade with lemons. Celebrate making the appointment to talk to someone about your anxiety, even if you haven't gone yet. Celebrate talking to your spouse about what's actually going on and what your triggers are. Celebrate that unfollow on IG that makes you feel like crap about yourself. Celebrate the realization of who sticks by your side when life IS messy. Celebrate the smallest effort you put forth into whatever it is that needs tweaked in your life. You can't get to where you're going without giving yourself credit for taking the first steps. What's your small W for the day?
Eleanor just turned 17 months last week. These days can feel so long but the weeks fly by. During the week I don’t know what day it is and then before I know it it’s Sunday again.
There was a time where I spent 17.5 hours a week in therapy at the Alexis Joy center for women's behavioral health at West Penn. The center offers an intensive outpatient program that's 3 hours a day, 3 times a week so, between those groups, evening classes and one on one therapy.. my planner was full. I remember carting Ellie with me to West Penn sometimes 4 or 5 times a week thinking when will I get through all of this. When will I find the light. I kept thinking "I wish I didn’t have to work my play dates around this. It's not fair to Eleanor, but my friends were so gracious and always made it work for us. I then realized it was even more unfair for Eleanor to have a mom that wasn't her best self.
Almost a year later... it’s been such a different vibe! And it feels damn good. I feel level headed and confident as a mom (most days.) I guess I mean... I don’t get so frazzled when a cucumber drops on the floor when Ellie is eating her lunch. Or, it’s okay with me when she makes a (little) mess. That used to trigger me like you wouldn’t believe. Truth moment, I’ve gotten up from the dinner table to go upstairs because I couldn't handle the mess she was making. I struggled hard with feeding her anything other than crackers and dry foods. Lately, I’ve found myself with a packed lunch with messy foods at the park for her or even a week ago when she double fisted two pieces of pizza without a shirt on at a friends house. She's eaten watermelon (so messy!) with such joy on her face and it's brought me so much happiness seeing her try new foods without the overwhelming anxiety on my end. I’ve made positive strides and this one is to remind myself how far I’ve come.
It feels good to be so much more in control of myself and the emotions that used to knock the wind out of me. Ellie is a still a baby (to me). She’s going to make a mess and play around and explore and get dirty. It’s not her job to accommodate my feelings and be tidy. To understand everything I say. I’ve learned that that’s okay. I’m absolutely a work in progress still but I’m so proud of the work I’ve done. As a parent I want Eleanor to have good memories of her mama and not that she won’t see me cry or show emotion but I want her see me as an example of positive living. That mission alone keeps me going.
I hope this inspires you to take a step back and reflect on something you've come along way with. Weather in motherhood or in your day to day. Mental health is so important to give time to and it has so much to do with self care. Take that time for yourself even with the chaos of your life everyday. Find what fills your cup and brings you joy. I think by now, you all know what fills mine.
On another note, quarantine boredom got to us and we bought a new house!! I’ll return with updates on “moving with a toddler.”
Thank you for continuing to follow along, it means so much to me!
To all the dads,
With Father's Day right around the corner, it feels even more important to give you a little love. While this blog serves as mama empowerment, we see you. Sometimes we're so consumed by the heavy load that we carry as a mom that we forget it takes two to tango and that we wouldn't have these little miracles without you (even if it all started with a back rub lol) You're the only one who is up and sees us at 3am with a crying newborn. Or with a teething toddler who needs another story. You get how hard it is adding a new roommate to the picture or even when you're adding another to your team (or even going for triple trouble and beyond). You see us and love us even at our absolute rawest moments (and love us even without a bra on- God bless you). You listen and we thank you. You cheer us on and we thank you. Please keep telling us we're beautiful even when we roll our eyes and that you're there for us. Please keep asking how we are... it goes further than you know. You play such a huge role in parenting and we couldn't do this without you.
I lost my dad to esophageal cancer in 2016. He was diagnosed with in April 2016 and died that October. Almost 4 years later... still seems like yesterday. When you lose someone so special to you, your heart never really recovers. You go on living your life hoping that everything you do makes them proud but it's forever an empty void. You question meaning in your life and why things happen and there's no real explanation and then you're just expected to "accept" it. It's a hard reality to face even still, life can be so unfair. Of course I don't remember my dad being up with me at 3am when I was a newborn, but the bond that we formed after 27 years is a huge piece of my heart. So poppa bear- when you think you may not be forming the bond quite like mama, you are.
When we got pregnant it was almost a year and a half after my dad had passed, of course we had to find out what the gender of our little babe was and sure enough- it was a GIRL! I told the story of "Eleanor" a few posts back... but as a name we loved and talked about while he was alive... we wondered if he sent her to us more so to show J.R. the love between a father and a daughter... and he sure showed him.
While I still feel like mom's NEVER get enough credit for how bad ass we are, I think we too forget how critical the role of dad really is. For me, it is so many things. J.R. is the glue in our little trio. I truly feel like Eleanor hit the jackpot! J.R. is selfless above all. He's kind and even tempered and grounded. During my pregnancy, he carried the weight as much as I did and now with our new roomie; J.R. is all those things and more as a dad.
To the single dads- you're amazing. I think of my friend Steven D'Achille often. A dad who tragically lost his beautiful wife but raises his sweet Adriana with his whole heart. We believe nothing is sweeter than seeing the love you can give to such a little person, at every age and it's absolutely amazing. You are just that, don't ever forget it. Mom's everywhere are grateful for YOU.
And to the moms- when Dad didn't step up, You're more of a Bad Ass then we can ever imagine. Treat today like it's your very own. After all, you are playing both parts!
J.R., Thank you. For being a piece of me I could never live without. Thank you for being Eleanor's daddy and loving your girls with your whole heart. You're everything in every way. We love you.
Happy Monday friends and early Father's day poppa bear. See you next time.
I thought this was a perfect time to reflect on the last several weeks...
The month of May is Mental Health Awareness Month, if you didn’t already know. But anyone that struggles with their mental health reflects everyday vs one month out of the year. Mental health isn’t a joke guys. It’s not “in your head” or "being dramatic" or something that people make up for attention. It’s so many things and different for so many people. I think people are afraid that others will think it is "for attention" or "dramatic" which is why so many people let it harbor. For me, it’s anxiety and depression and most recently how I struggled with Postpartum after I gave birth to Eleanor. If you know me personally I’ve got a big personality and its no secret. Being outgoing, vibrant, (mostly) confident comes easy to me. I like to make people laugh and feel good about themselves. I try to spread sunshine. I’ve always done a good job at putting a face on so when I first shared my raw and real story in my first blog post, I think people were surprised and kind of relieved to know that my life isn’t always the social media highlight reel or sunshine in rainbows. I"m not sorry that I love a good filter and funny caption to go along with my posts... I think we all do. But we all go through stuff, right?
Everyone has mental health. Just like your physical health... it’s part of us. When we’re sick, or injured- we seek medical attention. We don’t think twice when they give us pain medication or a z-pack. So why should it be any different if you see a therapist when everything isn’t aligning “upstairs.” What’s wrong with Zoloft or Prozac or Lexapro? Nothing. The answer is absolutely nothing. It's a STIGMA! We aren't supposed to talk about it because we aren't supposed to make people feel uncomfortable about the way we're feeling... BS!
I was on Zoloft my entire pregnancy so I didn’t have to struggle through it and I'm so glad I was. I knew it would be selfish for me not to be on something to help me cope with the 40 weeks in front of me (well 38) and and then after. I’m glad I did. That’s part of MY story and may be different for you but that’s okay. The point is- there’s nothing wrong with that. It takes a lot of strength to admit that things are hard in pregnancy and motherhood when the spotlight is on to look perfect, all together and back down to your size 27 gap jeans (hi!). But it also takes a lot of strength to admit that you’re struggling in general. Weather it be interpersonal relationships (hi again!), how much this pandemic is affecting you and your family... how work gets on top of you that you can’t give your family the 100% you wish you could. How mess makes you cringe (hi!) or that the idea of being out in this pandemic has you scared for your life or your little's. Whatever it is that keeps you up at night when you can't shut your brain off. Whatever it is that keeps you from being productive or worrying about in a time of heightened anxiety.. talk about it!
Admit it! Talk about it! Break the Stigma!
You don’t have to be perfect. I mentioned in my first post how I struggle with perfection. Nothing's changed. In this crazy, chaotic time when we feel so alone, it’s easy to be so hard on ourselves for not being "enough". Talk about how the fear of failure is killing you right now. How you're afraid to feel good about successes in a time when things are out of control. Talk about how the idea of germs makes you cringe and you're afraid to step out your front door. Talk about how you're feeling so isolated and so alone, what's making you feel so out of control. This is mental health. Your story is YOUR mental health...and if its weighing you down, you deserve to get it off your chest. Be the example. Whoever is reading this and needed the boost and reassurance ...this ones for you!
PLEASE! If you know someone whose pregnant or just had a little one, check in on them. Send them a text or try and Facetime. Send them snail mail and let them know they’re amazing and we will get through this time.
Note: If you or anyone you know is suffering mentally during or after pregnancy, there is help. The Alexis Joy D'Achille Foundation for Postpartum depression offers help to women and their families so they don't have to suffer alone. Please reach out for help.
PS. My best friend of almost 19 years (right, Ang?) tagged me in this quote from one of the most impactful pages that I follow on Instagram (MotherhoodUnderstood). When you read small factual blurbs like this when you're scrolling it makes you think for a second. Check in on people- let them know you're there for them to talk. Thanks best xo
Hi Pals! Happy Hump Day!
Have you ever seen the Christmas movie "The Santa Claus" with Tim Allen? (Cute flick if you haven't). So random I know... but this morning a quote from the movie came to mind and I thought of the connection it could have with PostPartum depression and anxiety.
Charlie (young boy): "Have you ever seen a million dollars?"
Charlie (young boy): "Just because you haven't seen it, doesn't mean it doesn't exist."
Ah! How true. Just because you don't have a friend or a family member or even you yourself, that's ever struggled from postpartum depression and anxiety or even those two factors alone- doesn't mean it doesn't exist. The stigma on mental health makes it difficult for someone who hasn't seen it first hand, to comfortably admit that it's even out there. Maybe it's because you've had this idea of that person in your head that you never want to associate something *negative* with or maybe you just don't have the words. Maybe you've offered support or said "I cant even imagine, but you'll get through this" but unless you've felt that heaviness or seen it - you may not wholeheartedly understand. I guess i'm trying to say THAT'S OKAY!! But also remember that this chapter in someone's life may be very valid. And with this movie line in mind... it doesn't mean that anxiety and depression (postpartum or not) doesn't exist for so many people. Let's break that stigma!
I've mentioned this before... we live in such a society where the stigma says it's almost unacceptable to look "bad" physically or mentally without feeling like someone (or everyone) is judging you. Like, is it even acceptable to go to the gym without a coordinated gym outfit... or take a quarantine selfie if you're not in cute lounge-wear *(lol who has time for that)? Your mind may not feel that way. Those thoughts may not even cross your mind- but for some people- those ideas exist. The idea of not being "enough." I think we are more uncomfortable accepting someone elses honesty than we are our own sometimes. It makes us feel like we cant approach them or we're not even sure how to, once they've shown such an authentic version of themselves. I"m here to tell you (from absolutely no expert experience whatsoever- except living my own life) that your own authenticity (whatever that is for you) is more important than every person around you accepting it. (I guess something I've learned in quarantine lol)
Anyway- just getting thoughts out on *paper*. I"ve been working on a few projects in my "new office" (the kitchen table, since the dining room table - my old office- is now covered with the 1500 pieces of puzzle). I"m excited about a few things that are going to come to fruition in the next couple weeks and some progress that the Love Letter Co. has made. (insert smiling emoji)
PS. To everyone that's trying to get work done, be a parent and a teacher all at the same time. Give yourself some grace.. you're doing an amazing job. Pause, read some quarantine memes and get back to it!
Talk to you soon!
It's a rainy, dreary day in Pittsburgh today but I honestly feel like it's the perfect day to stay inside. Instead of staying in because of being quarantined, I decided that I am CHOOSING to stay inside and be cozy because of the weather. It's helped me have a better outlook for starting the week. It's making me feel a little more in control..
I told my husband I didn’t think I was going to survive quarantine! I am such an extrovert. Always out and about (while still abiding by the queens nap schedule) but we always have plans. Even to just make returns at the mall... we leave the house everyday. Now we are watching Sesame Street on repeat, quickly going through all our k-cups and then wondering if we actually do have enough Charmin. One week in, we're stir crazy and even the idea of running errands just sounds amazing (I know you're with me here!) We’ve tackled a few organizational projects around the house (our pantry has never looked so good!) and we’re on our second puzzle (1500 pieces of hot air balloons). Eleanor is still alive and well and is our thankfully pure entertainment- as long as she's fed (God Bless America!)
Okay- what does Pause mean? I have this stone that I’ve kept in my wallet since I got it... probably 9 or so years ago. Someone gave it to me when I thought the very worst thing to happen to me was when I didn’t get accepted to study abroad in Milan. The person who gave it to me told me to be reminded that there are so many other things in life that are going to happen beyond this disappointment (boy was she right) and that I before I overreact about something or before I let my mind spiral everywhere, just to “pause.” I'm sharing this because the word alone has really helped me this past week. Honestly, it helps when you say it out loud (or just in your head) before you actually take the moment. But In a time like right now, when we have all the time in the world to “pause," let’s just do it.
Being reminded of our warm cozy home, a full fridge and pantry and a healthy trio inside is a good reality check. Being able to and just take a second to remember that in a time that feels so out of control, uncertain and unsettling- we need to keep ourselves in check and reel it back in. Today when you're about to go crazy as we start another week, just try saying the word. Take that deep breathe in and know that this is out of our hands no matter how many times we wash them. Remember that by doing our part and staying home as much as we possibly can IS doing our part. Remember to be mindful of your mental health and your spirits as we are an example for those around us. Taking a second to pause and do the next mindful thing to *fill your cup* will put you in a better place. Also remember, that the quarantine memes are giving us life and saving sanity right now- so keep sharing them!
& for my next blog post- surviving quarantine with a 13 mo. old #lol
Since I’m hoping this blog/online journal turns into something really relatable and special about a motherhood journey- I figured I should introduce my pup, Eleanor!!
It’s been a journey with her, as you’ve read… but boy have things changed! I’m to the point where I miss her when she sleeps. It’s true what they say though…during the day you’re ready for them to go down for their naps (and you pray they are nice and long) but when their little head hits the sheets and the door shuts, you’re like…”Awe man! Now what do I do?” (Essentially wanting to avoid all things housework related, but lets be honest, you know you’re on the clock so you try and get as much down as you possibly can).
To sum her up, she’s so damn cute!! She has one of the biggest personalities I’ve ever seen in a baby/toddler. We call her smile “mega-watt” because it seriously is so epic (see the couple pics above)! She smiles over almost anything (unless she’s tired, but lets be serious- its hard to fake a smile when you’re tired). She’s kept us on our toes since she started crawling at 6 months and officially walking at 11.5 months! Her hair has not given up on trying to grow and we are hopeful for a longer pony tail but that her curls stay forever. J.R. and I both have naturally curly hair (fun fact about me- since I always straighten it). She is fearless and super independent. She plays so nicely by herself until she’s ready to be clingy again. An avid Sesame Street watcher and blows kisses to total strangers; what’s not to love? I’m seriously obsessed with the girl.
So many people ask us if Eleanor is a family name. It’s not at all. Although, I guess it is now! J.R. and I have ALWAYS loved the name Eleanor even when we first started dating. Well, once we were seriously dating and the talk of kids’ names didn’t scare us away. We just loved that it was a classic and not as common. We used to pretend we had a “pretend baby” (to each other only so people didn’t think we were crazy) and we named her Eleanor. We’d pretend she was asleep upstairs or that she was in the backseat of the car when we were driving. We even told my dad years before he passed away in 2016, about “Eleanor.” He’d play along with us and ask where she was or how she was. It was the best. So, when we found out that we were expecting a little girl- we knew we had to name her Eleanor. We felt like it was a little gift he sent us and that he knew her too before she was even here. We also imagined he sent J.R. a little girl so he could learn the love between a father and daughter and how precious that relationship is.
Eleanor Grace *Fills My Cup*
My husband sent me this text the other day..."The Love Letter Co. is beyond just lettering or handwriting on things. It is telling a story through creativity to inspire and impact people to embrace their feelings and to understand *things* will pass so you can soon appreciate the sun and blue skies ahead. So proud of you." -Thanks J xo
Tear jerker & perfectly put..that is what this little business and online journal means to me. I couldn't sleep the other night. The anxiety about a *to do list* and a few extra mind racing thoughts kept me wide awake (ever been there?) I went down stairs, sat in *said studio* (aka our dining room) and starting lettering on some jackets for a client. It was quiet and I soon began to feel so calm... like none of the stuff I over-analyzed even came to mind. I realized how freaking awesome it was to finally find something I wanted to practice at that really "filled my cup." I felt excited knowing that it was something someone wanted from me, with my own touch. My own style. (Thanks for your endless support & for supporting my little biz, AF)
Above the dining room is Eleanor's nursery. I could faintly hear her little sound machine playing "Rock a bye baby" (over and over and over-- poor girl! I swear shes probably SO sick of it. But she sleeps 12-14 hours overnight though, so "if its not broke don't fix it"- right?!) But it was such a sweet sound knowing while I was "filling my cup" & having some me time (at such a crazy hour) my sweet little lady was dreaming sweet dreams. It was so awesome. I was reminded how important it is to find something fulfilling for YOU, No matter what that means, no matter what time of day or night.
If "filling your cup" means literally pressing start on the Keurig, heating up your hour(s) old coffee or finding something fulfilling for a positive mental space...YOU time.... give some time to finding it. I didn't see myself doing this a year ago, but a leap of faith gave me that boost I needed and it makes my heart happy.
I cant publish post No. 2 without acknowledging all of you after my first.....I cant find the words to express my gratitude for the overwhelming love, support, kind words, comments, messages, texts, uplifting stories (not even sure if this covers it all) from so many people over my very first stab at a blog post. I didn't realize what sort of impact it would make or thoughts it would provoke. So many of you were sweet enough to share your own relatable experiences during your own journey and even moms to be- who expressed this topic being their biggest fear. Thanks for sharing with me. And who am I? Just your average "yinzer" sharing HER story. So cheers to the strong a** women who were brave enough to share, be vulnerable and to everyone who took the time to read my journey when you all have enough going on in your own busy lives. Thank you for thanking ME for "strength, vulnerability and bravery"... I guess something I didn't even consider what I was doing. I am just using this as a separate outlet from social media to share some thoughts.. Thank you to the 99.9999%, your love and positivity went further than you know.
Okay! Now, asking for a friend...... how many times a day is it acceptable to "fill your cup" and reheat it in the microwave?
I have this insanely amazing mom crew that I've been lucky enough to get to know over the past several months. Kind of a tribe....an ongoing group text and endless play-dates that I never get sick of. Our one friend mentioned not being able to find her coffee ANYWHERE! Even questioned actually making said cup. Found it in the closet hours later. We died. Relatable anyone? Okay- just a funny mom story to make you laugh on Friday Eve! Heart you, AS!
Thanks for reading! See you next time.
** Also, for questions about the mug pictured (lol) Target Dollar bin.. spring haul. You're welcome (insert winking emoji)
P.S. I re-read this a million times. Hopefully there is less than 5 grammatical errors and you found it worth the read.. I'm new at this blogging thing, don't forget.
This is the ONLY photo of me after delivering my daughter, Eleanor in February 2019. I even cropped it because I couldn’t even face what my right arm looked like in the photo. No raw or real moments captured for me in the delivery room on that chaotic day and I feel guilty about that. I've been struggling to find my way this past year. I've continued on a journey to make sense of my purpose in my new life as a new mom. It was the furthest thing from what I expected and (shamefully said) I hated it.
I feel like anymore we spend so much of our time trying to please everyone that we forget who we actually are. We become this person dictated by social media or reality TV and we spend so much time wishing we looked "like that" or wishing we "had that" (whatever THAT is for you) instead of being okay with what we *do have* or what *we do look like*. It's truly one of my biggest struggles. I’ve become so obsessed with painting a mural, of a feeling that want to have about my little girl that I think I forgot to enjoy so much of her during her first trip around the sun. I feel like I forgot to be in the moments where I was meant to be so in love with her little fingers and toes because I was feeling guilty for the moments not looking perfect to me,
I want to share my postpartum journey with you and share what that looked like for me. Everyone’s story is different and that’s a good thing. There are so many take-aways from each one. It’s important for you to share yours and know that it too, is credible, Whatever that looks like for you, do it honestly. You could be saving someone else's life.
Finding out I was pregnant was such a surreal feeling. As a mom, we’re always the first to know and it’s up to us how we want to share with our partner and those closest to us. You pray and hope for a strong healthy baby with a thriving heartbeat the whole way. I was lucky enough to have a little girl growing on the inside for 38 weeks (and two days). My pregnancy was ALOT for me I didn’t love it. I honestly hated it. I didn’t find joy in all of the moments and I felt guilty about that, I still do. But I always told people I felt great when they asked. I tried not to seem ungrateful or like I was taking for granted what miracle I was creating or that I couldn’t handle it. I continued to put on weight. over the next 38 weeks. Alot of it (50lbs, since we're being real here) and my doctors made sure to give me a guilt trip at every appointment which sucked hearing. I'm someone who has been obsessed about everything I’ve ever eaten and feel guilty in every bite, good or bad (though my body has never reflected that obsession to something I was proud of) 50lbs for me was horrifying. I began resentment early on of this new life I was creating. I felt like I was creating something that was already taking so much from me. I was embarrassed to go out, even to work. I felt ashamed about how I looked. Being pregnant felt like a burden. Soon enough (almost 364 days ago) though it felt like an eternity, my water broke early (God bless America) and a healthy baby was born at West Penn hospital after a fairly easy labor and delivery surrounded by an incredible team, support and my absolutely amazing husband.
I didn’t know what to think as soon as she arrived. While I felt so empowered and amazing during the labor and delivery as soon as she was on my chest, I felt so unimportant. I felt so overshadowed, so underwhelmed. During my entire hospital stay in recovery, I felt replaced. My husband who had taken such incredible care of me during my pregnancy...the responsibilities around the house, picking up all the slack and putting my shoes on for me every day (to say the least) was just as amazing to our newborn in the overwhelming hours in our hospital room. He was taking such wonderful care of her while I often found myself in hysterics for the dark place I was in. Eleanor was always crying, hungry, she was unpredictable and restless. The pressure to breastfeed was on and it was damn hard. With a newborn that wouldn’t latch and a less than ideal milk supply was an awful combination. I remember in our recovery room passing Eleanor off to J.R. And saying that I hated her. That she was not what I expected and I didn’t even think she was cute. I was hysterical and hated myself even more for feeling that way, it was a true nightmare to me.
Getting released and heading home the feelings continued. J.R. assumed the role of mom and dad in the late nights and early mornings and picked up all the slack in between. I truly felt incapable. We gave into formula right away to fill her belly but I continued to hook myself up to a pump for less than 5oz of breastmilk a day because I didn't want anyone to think that I was trying to do the "absolute best thing for her." I felt defeated and so useless. How could I make a baby and not be able to provide for her? I felt like she didn't need me, that I wasn't enough for her. She was always crying in my arms, it felt like she didn't want me at all. In these same moments, I was feeling the guilt for not loving every second of my newborn baby and it was a downward spiral. What was wrong with me?
While tired and delusional, I continued felt disgusting as the weeks passed. I kept asking myself why and telling myself “this is your new life.” I hated it. I didn’t want to accept it. I continually felt selfish in sleeping often and not finding a way to bond with her.. It felt like J.R could do everything I could do and even better and so I truly wasn't needed. I thought about running away too often.... the idea of a whole new life far away would free me from this anxiety and would make everyone happier... I told myself she’d be in better hands with J.R. than with me, a mom who hated her new life. My feelings of inadequacy were so overwhelming I felt like I had reached a point where I truly couldn't face it anymore.
Weeks and months passed and *don't worry* I didn’t forget to take a monthly photo for instagram. I didn't forget to fill out her baby book with all of her milestones and the things that made us laugh. I didn't forget to start compiling photos and Pinterest boards for her first birthday inspiration. I wanted to make sure all of the things that I could control, were in line. So many of my friends truly gushed over their little ones and motherhood and here I was.... not loving it. I felt like so unfit. I felt like such a liar.
Fast Forward a bit...
Because of my hardworking, selfless husband- I’ve had the opportunity to stay at home full time with Eleanor. Something I always dreamed of but It felt like a curse? Something that was supposed to make me so happy just didnt. Soon after realizing how much it was emotionally for me is when I reached out to the Alexis Joy D'Achille center for women’s behavioral health at West Penn. I felt relieved and guided to have professional help scheduled in my planner. The center was made for us; for new moms and for moms with more than one... it was beautiful. I was able to change Eleanor on a changing table stocked with diapers and wipes in more rooms than one. I was able to go in and be myself and be seen for what I needed help with. I didn't have to look like the mom that had it all together. My postpartum struggle undoubtedly looked so different from the next mom walking in, but we were all there for support. Never once did I ever feel like I wasn’t a priority, no matter my story. I was listened to and I was guided. I was recognized and taken seriously. So much support was provided In every appointment, every single week.
I’ve taken advantage of individual therapy and group therapy sessions for the majority of this past year. Most recently “circle of security” on Thursday nights with a group of other moms lead by researched professionals. It helping me to understand Eleanor's exploration of the world as she continues to develop and that it doesn't mean that she doesn't love me or need me. I've been able to reflect on my own struggle with women around me and find peace in not being alone.
(BTW, thanks J for handling Ellie's bedtime routine solo on these nights. How could I even do life without you?)
So here I am, almost one year later to the day.... a stronger woman and a different woman. I’ve continued to work on finding the “new me” without feeling like I’ve sacrificed the old one. I feel loved and supported by some incredible women and by the man that I married who never gave up on me. I know he feels like the help I've been provided has given me my life back. I hope he feels like t's given him his wife back and most importantly it's saved my life so I can be able to be the mom that Eleanor deserves. I will say, it does help when Eleanor says "mama" here and there... it cuts the edge off occasionally.
So in my new journey with sharing openly, I'm hoping to use this as a positive outlet for providing a genuine and authentic voice in regards to a postpartum journey and motherhood unfiltered. I want to be an open book about my *almost* toddler and share things we can all relate upon. I want to talk more about what's filling MY cup... what I've found to be therapeutic when I feel like runner up. I'm hoping it'll inspire you to take a second to make sure you know what's filing yours.
We can do better for our families, our husbands, our babies, our friends and for ourselves just by not being afraid to talk about it. By being real and being right where we need to be and not thinking twice. They all need us and we are not alone..
That's "My Why"- what's yours?