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Today is International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Being such, I had opportunity to share the following at my MOPS group this morning. I hope it reaches those that need to hear it. <3


I remember holding 6-week-old Canaan, looking down at him and weeping. I had never loved a person like I loved him. He was perfect. But looking into my son’s face, I felt a whole new emptiness and it stung. Naively, I thought getting pregnant again and finally having a baby would heal wounds. I was shocked to feel those wounds sting with such intensity while cradling my precious newborn.

I wanted Canaan. But I also wanted “her”. But the realization that having both was never an option hit me like a ton of bricks. I couldn’t understand how joy and grief could be so deeply entwined.

I had what I wanted, a baby. But I also had the scars losing our first baby made on my heart. Those scars forever changed me and who I am as a mother and as a woman.

I was in control

Before my miscarriage, I thought I was in control. I got to decide when we were going to have a baby. But losing our baby showed me I was literally just a vessel and that God was weaving together our family, not me. With each loss I am reminded that had any one of those babies lived, I wouldn’t have Canaan. Rylann. Hadley. And as much as miscarriage hurts, the thought of not having any one of those amazing kids makes my heart hurt. So I just have to trust that God has the vision for our family and it’s not mine to create, it’s only mine to accept His gifts with open hands.

Not me

Before my miscarriage, I thought I was above losing a baby. My family was fertile. My mom never lost a baby. So no way would I lose one. But I did lose one, then three more. I thought for sure I’d have my one miscarriage and get to move on with other healthy pregnancies but that’s not my story. Instead my story is that of a woman that gets to teach three babies the love of God and four who are already enjoying that rest with Him we all long for.

Not so free membership

Before my miscarriage, I had no idea that after losing a baby I’d get membership to a club no one wants to be in yet somehow embraces new members in ways unimaginable. Fellow loss moms rallied around me. They showered me with gifts but most of all of understanding. We are a strong group of women that not only love babies here on earth, but love babies on the other side of earth. We know all of our babies ages, even the ones who didn’t get to celebrate their birthdays with us. And only we know that gut wrenching emptiness felt when your body fails to do the one thing it should do, protect your baby. None of us want to be here but we’re so thankful we get to be the ones to help new members of our club.

Dark Clouds

Before my miscarriage I had no idea that every future pregnancy would have a dark cloud hanging over it. Those early weeks were spent with bated breath. Each bathroom trip brought a sense of dread. Every day brought questions of whether or not we should fully love this baby or if we should protect our hearts in case this one didn’t stick. But I try to remind myself that even if their time here is short, I’ve played a small part in helping their souls be with Jesus. So of course I should love them and celebrate them!

Forever Changed

Before my miscarriage I had no idea that someone so small could change not only the course of my life but also the very fabric that makes me, me. I’m not above stress and frustration of daily child rearing but at the end of the day I look at my sleeping children and praise God that He saw fit to finally and completely grant me my heart’s desire. Remembering those feelings of emptiness and desperation helps me feel a little more grateful when these tiny people I’m raising invade every bit of my personal space because I’m thankful I have them here to share space with.

They all matter

In a lot of ways, I wish I didn’t know what this was like but in a lot of ways I’m thankful God entrusted me with this experience and ministry of sorts. At times I feel unjustified to mourn the loss of babies so early in pregnancy. Satan would have me think that because we never saw a heartbeat or never felt them move or never saw their face that my grief and my story does not matter. But just in preparing this for you all today, I am seeing that my story does matter. My pain mattered and most of all MY children matter, all seven of them. And your children matter, all of them.

 

Have you experienced a loss? Do you want to speak their name? Can I pray for you?

 

 

None of us want to be the “hot mess mama” but in these years of littles it’s just bound to happen at least time to time. Babies, moves, job losses, new jobs, losing my dad, new churches and regular life stuff have kept me in survival mode for my 10-year mothering career. I’ve been the very definition of “hot mess”!

But mama, lucky for you, I’ve learned a few things. I’ve learned how to cheat the system. And I know how to “fake it ‘til I make it”!

1. Drink LOTS of coffee!

Or at least some hot tea or water…something that gives you LIFE! My chosen poison is coffee. And oh, how I adore coffee. Stick around…you’ll see this theme a lot!

And while you’re at it, invest in an Ember mug. Need to poop mid-coffee? Maybe your toddler needed to poop mid-coffee? Forget where you put your cup? No worries! Ember keeps it your perfect temp so when you do get another moment of peace (do those really exist?) your coffee will still be as perfect as when you left it!

2. Meal Plan

I’ve done this so many ways. You can ask your family to make suggestions, you could keep a running list of ideas or you can just have some staple meals. That’s honestly how I’ve handled things most. I know what we like and repeat meals a couple times a month. This makes grocery shopping easier too!

Recently, I did splurge on an eMeals subscription. Their app has greatly improved since the last time I subscribed! I favorite meals so I can save them even after the menus expire. Then I add them to the week’s meal list.  And my favorite part? You can go directly from eMeals to your grocery store’s website! Which brings me to my next point…

 

3. Order Online Pick-up!

When I was pregnant with my third, the grocery gods shined down on my locale and gave us moms the gift of all gifts: Online grocery pick up!

I personally love Kroger because I can use my Plus card to earn fuel points. With Kroger, you can also add e-coupons to your Plus card and if you’re a loyal shopper they even give you personalized coupons! Annnnd, you can link your card to Ibotta to get even more bang for your buck! (I am all about stacking and saving the money! Get a $20 bonus by using code: wnapoox at sign up!)

But whatever store you shop, this has revolutionized grocery buying for our family! Lately I’ve been meal planning and then grocery shopping on Thursday evening after the kids are in bed. Then I choose a Friday afternoon pick up for us to grab after our weekly library trip!

Before you lament the $5 service charge, let me say, IT. IS. WORTH. IT! For one, who really wants to lug 3 kids to the grocery? Never mind that I have consistently spent at least $80 MORE any time I’ve opted for in person shopping! I will gladly pay $5 to save $80! Still not convinced? You get the fee waved for your first 3 orders. I guarantee you’ll be hooked after that!

No Kroger (or Kroger family stores) in your area? Here’s a coupon for $10 off your first Walmart order!

 

4. Get an Instant Pot

Have you hopped on this bandwagon yet? I got my first IP in 2015….before they were super cool because I’m apparently a trendsetter. HA!

Anyway, I use mine several times a week. It was especially helpful when I wasn’t on my menu planning game and would without fail act surprised at 4 pm that I had to cook dinner yet again. Except all of our meat was frozen. But with the IP that wasn’t a problem! We went from frozen to cooked in as little as 20 minutes!  It also saved us from so much take out!

And we really love how tender the IP cooks meat. This has been huge for the picky eaters that live with me!

Needless to say we love it and it’s no surprise I asked for a new one for Christmas! The new one even makes yogurt! I had planned to sell my older one but guess what, I find plenty of opportunity to use both!

 

5. Use Paper Plates

I know, I know, it’s not very “green” of me to suggest this. But during my third pregnancy we starting eating on paper plates. This makes kitchen clean up super easy and leaves room in the dishwasher to fit in the pots and pans too. It saves so much time!

Bonus tip: Line your baking sheets with parchment paper too!

6. Let your kids sleep in their clothes

Around here we live in comfy clothes. So it’s really no surprise that the kids often settle into bed in the clothes they wore all day.

Why does this make my life easier? Two words: less laundry! But I also use it to my advantage sometimes. On mornings we have to get up earlier than usual and we also have to leave the house, I’ll have the kids put on suitable clothes to wear out the next morning! Then they can roll out of bed, eat some breakfast and hop in the car. No more nagging to hurry up and get dressed! Revolutionary!

 

7. Invest in Capsule Wardrobes

Speaking of clothes, this fall I decided I wanted our entire family to not only have capsule wardrobes but to have coordinating capsule wardrobes. I chose a tight color palette and only bought things that fit that palette. It was life changing!

Our colors for fall and winter were gray, black, burgundy, blush, olive and navy. I tried to make sure things could be mixed and matched. The girls had dresses and shirts to match each pair of leggings. (I shopped mainly at Old Navy for me, Kohls for the girls and Target for my son. Hubby had enough clothes, many of which were in our chosen colors.)

This helped when laundry wasn’t caught up because there were multiple options to wear with each item. It also made me feel really, really together when we ALL coordinated with each other without even trying! Coordinating as a family just makes my heart extra happy!

Going along with this, we also keep our shoe choices super limited. Most of us have 2 or 3 pair that can go with multiple outfits. With 5 people in our family, that’s still a lot of shoes but it’s a whole lot less  than it could be!

 

But wait! 

I know I said 7 but I want to share one more thing that’s been helpful but it  just be the most “together” suggestion so it’s a bonus tip, when you’re ready!

Ignore all of the super creative, super artsy, over the top beautiful journals on Pinterest. Instead, grab you a notebook and make it yours. This is your book to write EVERYTHING in! And I mean, everything! Calendar, grocery list, reading list, budget, next week’s to do list. Every.thing!

You don’t have to focus on it being pretty, though I have found that I enjoy practicing lettering and making the pages pretty. Instead focus on the fact that every single thing you write down will go in this book.

Why is this helpful? Have you ever jotted down sometime important only to misplace it? Yep, me too. Not anymore! Now everything is in a single, albeit, messy notebook. Also I figure if I die, hubby will have half a clue of what’s going on with our finances! Ha!

Your Turn! 

Tell me what things you have done to simplify life and help you feel more together? I can’t wait to learn some new tricks!

 

 

The smell of coffee wafted down the hallway. As I approached the door, quiet chatter spilled out from the dimly lit room. Stepping inside, a feeling akin to coming home washed over me. The day I had waited for all summer was here.

 

I grabbed myself a cup of coffee. Coffee I had not made myself which is the very best kind of coffee there is. I filled my plate with the brunch spread laid out before me and made my way to a table.

 

The Choice…

I chose an empty table. I’m really not sure why other than in the moment, my old ways took hold. I found myself questioning if I had made the right choice. If I had sat at an occupied table I might have made new friends, but I may have also taken a seat that they had hoped someone else would sit in. I didn’t want to subject others to my presence. So, I sat at the empty table and immediately regretted the decision. I wondered if I would be seen as unfriendly or worse yet, a snob. Then “what if no one else came and I had to sit here the entire time by myself”, also popped into my head.

 

I quietly picked at my food and sipped the hot coffee. Soon a new face appeared and asked if she could sit at the table. “Yes! Please do!” Relief washed over me. But the very next moment I began to realize that while having someone to sit with is nice, especially when I was the only one sitting alone, it also meant that I would now have to manage some sort of conversation. See, if you sit with a group you can sometimes fly under the radar and just be a silent observer. Even still, the relief of not sitting alone, of being worthy of someone else’s company, was greater than any unsurety and anxiety.

 

Old Habits Die Hard

I don’t know that I will ever truly feel comfortable in a room full of people. I don’t know that I will ever shake the feeling of being an outsider. I doubt I’ll ever NOT over analyze every social interaction I ever have. But I do know one thing, being able to get out of bed, get myself and a couple kids ready, drive to the next town over and walk into that room of other women is something I’m insanely proud of because it wouldn’t have happened before a year ago!

 

In the moment, I am more than happy to stay at home. It’s my safe cocoon. It’s the place of unlimited coffee, far too many afghans and of course my fireplace. With six of us living here, it rarely, if ever feels lonely. But then it sometimes hits me, I can’t find my tribe if I never leave my house. I long for coffee dates, strolls through Target and trips to the zoo. More than that, I know that once this season of full time motherhood passes, the house will feel lonely. I will need that tribe more than ever.

 

An Answer

This is why when someone suggested I find a MOPS group (Moms of PreSchoolers) to join, I did. I didn’t and still don’t know if this will be the place I find my tribe. But I do know that those two mornings a month we spend together have done so much for me! Life changing is probably not even an exaggeration.

 

I recall one of my first meetings. I forget the exact conversation, but we were supposed to talk at our table about a certain question the leader had asked. It came up that every single woman at that table felt that same uncomfortableness when they walked into the room. I realized then that I’m not the only weirdo. Others feel like they don’t belong too. Knowing this made it easier to go to the next meeting and the mom’s night out and the play date at a local farm. Sure, there were moments at all of those that I felt insecure, uncomfortable and couldn’t wait to get back home to my cozy sofa. But I also knew that every other mama was feeling the same way.

 

A Change

What would it do for motherhood if we took the time to have these conversations? If through those conversations, we were able to close the gap that we imagine is between us and every other mother. What if, what if, we found a way to rid ourselves of judgment, competition and ever other ugly thing that stops us from being able to bond with other women that are walking out this same journey with us. What if we actually celebrated differences? What if we took the time to learn more about those differences and maybe, just maybe, we could come to have mad respect for every mother who is just trying to do her best.

 

This motherhood gig isn’t easy. But friendship can be. Or at least it can be easier. So mamas, let down your guard. Go meet some other mamas. Drink some coffee together. Be awkward together. Find that tribe that will cheer you on and keep you doing through the hard! I promise you, you are worthy of friendship and someone is waiting for someone just like you to walk into their life! Go find her!

 

 

Find Your Tribe!

Do you feel like you’ve found your tribe? Where did you find them? If you haven’t, have you be courageous enough to look for it?

 

Interested in MOPS? Click here to find a group near you!

As I sip my afternoon cup of coffee, I glance around to see my living room in all its messy glory. There’s leftover snacks on the end table. A doll car at my feet. My husband’s shoes are in the same place they landed when he kicked them off last night.  The sofa is for once, surprisingly, not covered in last week’s art projects but I don’t even want to think about the “trail mix” that’s under it! This scene is probably expected considering that I’m a mother.

 

Perfectionist

But what if I told you I was a perfectionist? Would you believe me? Or would you laugh in my face because after all, a true perfectionist would have a spotless home despite of her three children.

 

I can’t believe I’m sharing this!

But believe me. I’m a perfectionist. You see, I had the luxury of growing up alone and getting to do things MY way. This let me cultivate some pretty strong perfectionism qualities. Need more proof? Somewhere buried deep in the depths of my mother’s basement there are pictures in which ever strand of hair in my bangs are equally spaced and sprayed in place. You could also probably find evidence of my graduating college Summa Cum Laude. My childhood toys still have lots of life left in them and any that are broken, met their fate at the hands of my children (little savages!).

 

Plot Twist!

But as with any good story, this one has a plot twist. In my case, his name is Marshall and I stole his last name. He’s far from perfect but somehow has perfectly taught me the beauty in letting go, loosening up and going with the flow. Because of him, I, now, consider myself a recovering perfectionist. I’m learning to embrace this crazy unplanned adventure we’re living together and am beyond thankful this man came into my life!

 

Still though, in my dreams, my house is spotless. My kids wear perfectly coordinated clothes and never get dirty. I never yell, I read to my kids all day and plan elaborate craft projects. And I always cook delicious, organic meals that everyone eats and loves every last bite. I’m a size 8 and have a well toned body that doesn’t even hint to its history of growing three humans. I have lots of friends and we all take turns planning perfect parties in our perfectly maintained gardens.  I also enjoy every moment I spend with my husband and can’t wait until he retires so we can spend every moment of every day together.

WAKE UP!

This is not reality! And if you are still living in the world of trying to be a perfectionist, you’re only setting yourself up for a life of disappointment and self-loathing. Perfectionism is not about your success in doing things perfectly. It’s about equating your self-worth with your failure to live up to your own ridiculous standards. Oh, mama, you are so much more than your success and failures.

We live in a world of social media. Our world is bigger. We have more people to compare ourselves to and people have more opportunity to white wash their own realities. Even outside of social media, we tend to only show the world our best selves. This hypocritical existence leads to judgement, unhappiness and sometimes down right cattiness among other moms who are walking this same journey as we are.

Revolution

I say we do something crazy and start a revolution! Let’s start being real with each other. How about we support each other instead of tear each other down? What if you started owning who you are, that perfectly imperfect woman that you are? Free yourself from your own ridiculous standards because I promise you, the rest of us truly don’t care about the beautiful mess that is you, my dear. Stand tall, sweet sister, take my hand and let’s be recovering perfectionists together!