“Self Care isn’t Selfish”

As I rock my seventeen pound angel to sleep, I feel the weight of her little body bearing down in my arms but especially on my lumbar spine.
I cringe as I awkwardly hover over the siding of her crib to place her down.
Her head graces the mattress, followed by her body.
She didn’t flinch and I didn’t fumble.

I proudly exit her room and prepare for my own slumber, thinking, Aw yeah, this is my relaxation time.
Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Bloglovin, Pinterest.
That is, un-apologetically, my current relaxation time.
While all of my loves sleep, I explore various modes of social media…
Finally, after a little too much before-bed screen time, I get ready for sleep.

I close my eyes. I start drifting closer and closer to dreamland and boom, my human alarm clock awakens me with the cries of her people.
After about 2 hours of silence, Baby E is awake.

I walk all the way to her bedroom and repeat our monotonous night time routine.
Cry. Rock. Console. Put down. Repeat.
I walk back to my bed; tired, sore, but still so in love with that little girl that all is forgiven.


I would say that most mothers are givers. We give up so much during the prenatal period that it’s easy to continue that selflessness throughout our little one’s life.
We give up so many different foods, drinks, and activities throughout pregnancy to ensure that our little one is thriving. We give up our bodies (from head to toe) to ensure that we put the growth of that baby first. We spend so much time thinking of our little one that we basically give up a part of our brain, too.  It’s a never ending, selfless love. Even though we give so much, we must remember to give a little love to ourselves too.

About two weeks ago I hit a breaking point, mentally and physically. The physical exhaustion was the worst part. I was sleep deprived and my body felt weak. My back was done. My husband and I discussed my exhaustion and he simply said, “Take a nap.”
(I wish you could see my face as I think about him saying this to me.)
A nap is great, but, in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t going to do a damn thing.
I made this clear to him and boom, being the hero that he is, he booked a nice spa day for me to relax and not think about the house, the baby, or life in general. (#blessed). Did I want a massage? ALWAYS. Did I think that I needed a massage? No… I had too much to do and I didn’t deserve it. After all, I thought, this is just being a mom, right?

Well, during my FIVE HOUR (yes, five hours!!) spa, I got a ridiculously long massage and a pedicure. I drank a perfect amount of champagne, wore a really nice robe, soaked in a hot tub, and ate desserts on the patio overlooking the pool and waterfall. (Okay, Erica, enough bragging). I even put my phone in a locker and completely unplugged from the world (after I snapchatted the pool side view, of course.) You know what else I did at this spa? I wondered about what my family was doing. I thought about how my absence would throw off the daily routine. I wondered if I left enough milk or food for the baby. I annoyed myself with my wondering… I told myself, “Erica, girl, you’re here to unwind! Do it!”  My husband does an amazing job- I honestly don’t know why I wonder or worry so much. “The house, the baby, everyone… they’re fine.” I repeated this exact thought to myself at that moment. I don’t know if it was divine intervention or my 3rd glass of champagne but my mind instantly shut off and relaxed.

Now that I’m done rambling, I want to get focused of the main point of this post.

Self care is not selfish.

I used to think that I was being selfish if I put myself first. I don’t mean the basic needs either; I mean the fun things. I felt like I wasn’t allowed to do pointless things at this season of life, especially whenever there was so much stuff that needed to be done. When I thought about getting a few drinks and being away from home, I instantly felt that wonderful inkling of mom guilt. When I thought about spending money on superficial accessories, I thought about how I could use that money for Baby E. When I thought  about me not holding her or rocking her to sleep when she cries, I felt like a bad mother, and I was disappointed in myself. (Oh hey, mom guilt. Glad you stopped by again!)

After my massage I realized that it is so important for us (as caregivers) to take care ourselves to give the best care to our children. In order for Baby E to be the happiest, healthiest baby, I need to be the happiest, healthiest mama. If that means grabbing a drink with friends, then I’m changing out of my spit-up-stained clothes, putting on some lipstick and grabbing a drink! (Though only 1 drink for me because I’m nursing and ain’t nobody got time for the pump and dump). If being happy and healthy means getting out for a random jog completely by myself (no pup either!), then I’m doing it! During that massage I found an inner peace with myself and my future decisions. We all need to know that it’s good for our mental health to take solo moments to find peace among our daily chaos. The spa day was one of my defining moments of motherhood. It’s a day that I realized that it’s okay to let the baby cry for a minute so I can rest my body. I realized that it’s not okay to let her cries control my every movement (or let her think that she can get her way with her tears). I realized that I am really fond of mimosas and that I went long enough without one. It was a mentally and physically rejuvenating day!

Overall, ladies (and maybe even gentlemen), take care of yourselves! The only way to be the best is to feel the best. It’s completely evident to you and your baby that you are absolutely infatuated with them. Just take time to remind yourself that you need to be infatuated with you as well. Don’t let society make you feel guilty or as if you aren’t doing enough. Girl, do your nails, soak in a tub, grab a drink. Don’t feel guilty about taking a little bit of time to yourself to do whatever you want (You still have responsibilities though…don’t get too crazy).
After everything these babies (and life) put us through, we more than deserve it!

(Note: Later that week, I let Jon put her to bed. He let her cry for about 30 minutes and guess what? She put herself to sleep! That night, without my rocking, she put herself to sleep AND slept for 13 hours. We haven’t really rocked her to sleep since that night. I guess Daddy knows best?)

The Birth Story of Baby E

I love, love, love birth stories. Most of the internet usage in my 3rd trimester consisted of creeping on any and everybody’s birth story. I heard, read, and saw (at work) the beautiful triumphant highs and scary, intense lows of childbirth. Regardless of the ending, I enjoyed hearing these stories. So here is ours:

I think all birth stories have to start the week before or at your last doctors appointment.

August 24, 2015

My last appointment was on a Monday. I was 39 weeks and 1 day. I was already dilated 3cm and about 80% effaced. I was having BH contractions steadily throughout the week but nothing major I guess. I worked my last day the Sunday before my appointment so I felt ready. Each appointment, the doctor would say “I’m sure that the next time I see you, you’re going to be having a baby!” Why do they do this?! I was really expecting to have a baby before each appointment! My doctor told me that I was SO close to 4cm but not quite enough. He then asked if I wanted to schedule an induction date so that he could be there. He basically said they would just admit me (since I was so close) and they’d take it from there! I reluctantly agreed that I would come in on August 31st at 7 am.

August 29

My due date… Full of contractions and fatigue but no baby yet

August 30

We went to our fave Tex-Mex restaurant and celebrated our last night as just us two. We dropped out dog off at his parents and headed home. We packed our bags and got all of our outfits ready for the next day. We felt incredibly prepared and decided to go to bed early since we’d have no clue about how long labor would last.

August 31 

I hadn’t been sleeping well for about a week straight now. Baby E became outrageously active between the hours 1-4 am and the pain/discomfort always kept me awake (oh hey, Netflix marathons). This morning around 2am, I couldn’t sleep because of the pain, my bladder, and most likely my anxiety! I went to use the restroom and waddled back to the bed. As I laid down, I heard a pop noise… And my entire lower body was soaked. Instead of being excited or nervous, I almost cried from embarassment, haha. I cried, “babe, I think my water broke” (2:30am) and J shot up instantly questioned my certainty. I previously told him the statistic of women whose water actually breaks without medical assistance prior to delivery… It’s not actually very common. So we were both shocked. Thankfully, we mentally prepared ourselves for her to be born on this day, so everything was ready to go! I took a super fast shower- to clean my amniotic fluids off of my thighs (not really even comprehending how disgusting I would be during labor). Jonathan decided to eat a bowl of cereal, which annoyed me to no end at the time because my contractions were somewhat starting and I have ZERO patience. Jonathan (who sprained his ankle and was in a walking boot and crutches at the time) walked our bags to the car (which was parked in our apartment parking garage about a 4 minute walk away… if you’re not on crutches). He finally pulled the car around and picked me up and we arrived to the hospital around 315am! We get checked in… which took a while and they took me to a room to check and make sure that I was on active labor! At 345ish, a doctor confirmed that I was in active labor and 4 cm. Then, the contractions began… while the nurse us starting the IV and I am freaking out. I was being really weird initially because it was a strange pain at first. They were about 3-4 minutes apart. Jonathan came to the back after about 15 mins with the nurse. After she put the IV in, came the annoying admission questions. I think this took about 20 minutes but I began to feel crazy pain and begged the nurse for the epidural. My face was hot. My contractions were about 2 minutes apart. I guess I’m a sissy but that pain was terrible. Suddenly I couldn’t take the pain anymore and asked (yelled) when I was going to be out of triage and into a room… The nurse said soon and when I was in more active labor. Note: she also laughed after I asked and said, if you think you’re in pain, just wait”. Real reassuring haha. After she said that, I told her that I was in awful pain and asked if she could assess me and she didn’t. Then I told her I felt the urge to push and that lit a fire underneath her. She checked me and I was 7 cm. it was about 440am. So they put me into a labor room and got me all checked in. I asked for an epidural AGAIN. And they said soon… The next hour is a blur. My IV got ripped out because I was spazzing in the bed. Note: I had no medication AT ALL during all of this. The nurse had to leave the room several times. I was screaming through contractions so people kept coming in to check on me. (I was so embarrassing). I made Jonathan fan me because I was burning up. He checks again at about 515 and I’m 9 cm. STILL NO EPIDURAL OR IV. and I’m crying. At about 540, he checks again and tells me it’s time to start pushing. And I was like HOLD. UP. I need an epidural. They tell me I’m too far along and basically too out of control. And I freaked out. After putting up a fight and convincing them that I’d be still and good, I got my epidural… At 630ish… At 10 cm. I also finally got my IV. Several things could have gone wrong during this time but thankfully nothing did. After that epidural, I was soooo relaxed and happy and just feeling the moment. I wasn’t scared anymore! I asked Jonathan to get me my makeup so I could start freshening up (yes, I’m one of those people…) and then they tell me it’s time to push! This was all happening so fast that we barely had time to text our families so instead of getting cute, we focused on letting everyone know what was going on.

After pushing for about 45 minutes, little baby girl was born at 730am! She was 7 lbs 5.8 ounces and 20.5 inches long. She was so clean compared to most fresh babies.  The epidural was so good that I didn’t even feel it. Jonathan had to tell me that she was out. She didn’t come out crying. She was very silent and they immediately put her on the warmer for stimulation. I knew that these things happen so to distract myself, I awkwardly asked to look at my placenta… So weird but it was pretty cool.  She finally cries and they give her a wipe down and place her on my chest! We took out first family picture and I instantly started nursing. After an hour or so, we moved to the postpartum unit where we waited for our parents!

Baby E’s birth was very fast and sort of a blur. For a first time mom, everyone kept telling me that my labor was incredibly short (especially without any medication). It was only about 5.5 hours! Fortunately we had a lot of things ready because we anticipated that she would be born on that date! But as much as we wanted to have it all planned, it was completely out of my hands. I told myself that I didn’t want an epidural and a bunch of other things but at the end of my experience, I have no regrets! We were so blessed to have a smooth, uncomplicated delivery and a healthy baby girl!

  

 All about Bone Broth

“A good broth will resurrect the dead.”
– South American proverb.

I have heard tons of good news about bone broth recently. Apparently it’s good for you from head to toe! I’ve attached a link here that puts it in simple terms of why you should try bone broth.

I tried it for a week and here’s my story.

Read More

Pregnancy, purpose, prayer, promises. 

As rewarding as motherhood is, it’s the journey that really sets up the story.
No matter how you receive your little blessing, through your own pregnancy or surrogacy, fostering or adoption; it is an incredible, stressful, tear jerking experience. Each experience different than the other. Each story with some sort of tumultuous twist but hopefully ending in a God strong moment. I know that I can’t speak for every mother in the world but from my own experience, I must say that the journey to motherhood was paved with lessons in pregnancy, purpose, prayer, and promises.

Pregnancy
I hate to admit it but for me, pregnancy was hard. I want to use a better word than “hard” but that’s really the best way for me to put it.
No, it wasn’t difficult or intense, it was simply “hard”. Not in a physical way; it was 100% emotional. Now, bear with me as you read this… It does get a lot of better. I seriously hate to say all of the things that I’m about to say because they’re such “first world” problems but, it is what it is and I want to share my testimony.

As soon as I found out that I was pregnant, I was in disbelief. Honestly, I was in disbelief up until my water broke. I had always planned on being a mother but never really had a time frame in mind. That’s clearly when God came in and decided for me. So immediately after discovering that I was pregnant, I was thrilled. Jonathan and I had a little secret that we carried around for 12 weeks and always spoke of the baby as if he or she was already there. It was cute. I was already experiencing some nausea and fatigue but nothing major. I, overall, felt like myself, just with a cute little seed planted in me. Jonathan was so eager to announce to everyone and I was excited as well (just not as excited as he was…). Once we made the announcement, we received a lot of support, love, and well wishes. Unfortunately, it was at this moment that everything became so different.
From my personal experience, once you announce that you are pregnant, you lose your identity in the eyes of society. I was no longer just Erica anymore. I was pregnant. I was no longer overlooked and now completely gawked upon. If I wanted to go unnoticed or be completely left alone, it wasn’t possible. When I found out that was I pregnant, I was barely discovering myself and my identity and instantly, I lost it. I know during motherhood, a lot of women say that they lose their identity. For me, this occurred during pregnancy.
After I announced it, I noticed that people barely looked at my face anymore. It was always directly at my stomach. Then, the questions came.
“How far along are you?”
“Is it a girl or a boy?”
“Have you had any morning sickness?”
“How much weight have you gained?”
I know that everyone had their best interest in mind but it was infuriating. No one ever actually asked me how I was doing. No one ever wanted to discuss me anymore; it was always small talk about the pregnancy. (Note: I’m not good at small talk…)
Once my body began transforming, that was the new topic of discussion. I was already insecure about it and completely disappointed in myself for not having the physical strength to continue working out. I can remember “hiking” throughout multiple parts of northern California, trying so hard to keep up and prove that I was pregnant and able. Then during a walk to beach, I felt a terrible pain in my lower abdomen that basically crippled me and I tried to push through it. Why did I try to push through it? Because that’s what the old, non-mom Erica would have done. After being on the verge of tears, I said that I couldn’t do it, went back to the house, laid in the bed and cried.
I felt bloated (obvi, I was pregnant… I know). I felt weak. I felt tired. I felt emotional. I felt insecure. I felt sad. Occasionally, I even felt lost.
(I literally have never felt any of those emotions in my life.)
Work also became especially hard for me. Not only was it physically demanding, it suddenly became an emotional battlefield. I watched so many women have babies. I saw their fight, their struggles, their aftermath. Around my last trimester, I saw a lot of grief; a lot of sad stories. I can remember, in particular, sitting with a patient, who had the exact same due date as me, and crying with her as her baby was life-flighted from our NICU to another hospital. She wept on my shoulder, with her hand on my stomach, asking what she did wrong to do this her child and I felt sick.
I felt guilty over something beyond my control. I felt afraid to go to work. I felt remorseful. I felt pretty damn bad.
I did not feel like myself.
These feelings terrified me and I began to feel unprepared for motherhood.
The more that people talked to me about motherhood and pregnancy, the more annoyed I felt about literally everything.

Basically, I always thought that pregnancy was easy. I thought that the hard part and the emotions came afterwards. I was young and naive, y’all. I always thought that I would only gain 25 lbs, work out every day, feel and look great. I thought that I would be “glowing” and would look like all of the other beautiful model like women during pregnancy.  I thought that life would be exactly the same as it was before. I thought that I would love all of the attention. I had completely unrealistic ideas of what it was to be pregnant and I guess that’s because no one ever talks about the emotionally difficult journey that you must endure. This is why I’m doing it right now. Fortunately (because there is always a brighter side to everything, right?), I learned several life lessons along the way and they’ve made the mom that I am today.

Purpose
Why was it a hard journey?
Why did I feel so emotional?
Why was it so hard for me to feel like myself?
Well, I believe that the journey into motherhood is difficult because it needs to me. Being a mother is so rewarding. And as many times as I’ve taken Ellie to the park, I can tell you that motherhood is actually NOT a walk in the park. It’s hard. It’s emotional. You will always question yourself. You will always worry. You will always try to do what is best for you, your child, your family. From the moment, that you find out that you are welcoming another life into your world, everything changes and so should you.
Pregnancy changed me and I’m okay with that. Currently, after a little over 6 months of being a mother, I’m still trying to find my identity. I know that it will take time and I’m okay with that as well. Jonathan likes to tell me that I can continue to do some of the things that I did before and that I don’t have to change.
For me, it was all intrinsic. It wasn’t about feeling like I had to change. I had no control over it, honestly. But, I know that I needed to change. I need to go through that emotional stress. I needed to be humbled by my body and forced to slow down. I needed to understand that as much as I want to plan things and control things, that I am not in control and I won’t always be. I needed to be reminded to open my hands and lay all of my problems out in His. I needed to let down my walls. I needed to be vulnerable. I needed to grow.
And I have grown.

Prayer
I prayed constantly. Initially, I think that I was praying for strength. I was probably asking God to make me able to do physical things and to feel better. Something super shallow, I’m sure. Right before her anatomy scan, I began to pray for her development. I prayed for a healthy baby girl. I prayed for constant movement from her. I prayed for the Lord to watch over my overall well being every day. Pregnancy really helped me come back into my faith and I’m so thankful for that guidance.
One day, when I wasn’t having as many kicks around her usual “kick time”, I started to panic. Pregnancy can have moments of worry and fear. I waited a little bit, poked my stomach a couple of times and… nothing. I drank orange juice and still nothing. I wept and prayed for a sign that she was okay, then she kicked. Just one sweet little kick. hI don’t know if it was divine intervention, or if Ellie was like, “mom, chill…” but it was a moment of complete release to God. After a little prayer and a little kick, I felt connected to Him and to her. I felt good. I began to incorporate quiet time into my day to pray almost everyday. I was grew thankful for my journey. In that silence, I grew into an understanding of (my opinion of) pregnancy’s purpose. I asked for forgiveness for my attitude and for anytime that I seemed ungrateful. I had an incredibly healthy pregnancy and I wasn’t even paying attention to it because I was so focused on the past and the future, not the present. I asked for forgiveness in regards of my feelings towards others… I know that people ask because they care or want to be polite but I was still caught up in my own insecurities that I couldn’t see that. I prayed for growth. I prayed for continued health. I prayed for guidance. I prayed for all of the mothers; old and young, grieving and joyous, the ones who were constantly trying and the ones who were putting their child up for adoption, the adoptive, the foster, the surrogate. I prayed for all of the women who were enduring their journey to motherhood. I prayed for their journey to be watched over as well as mine. I prayed for my patients and especially, my NICU mom patients. I prayed for myself.
I prayed for open eyes, an open mind, and an open heart.

Promises
Clearly, I learned a lot! Now that I’ve been through that emotional roller coaster of pregnancy and have been a mother for a little bit now, I feel much more prepared for the next time around. With that revelation comes the promises… Promises to God, my family, society, my unborn child, and my self.
I promise to let go and understand that I’m not in control.
I promise to have an open mind.
I promise to be patient with myself and others.
Whenever strangers, friends, or family, make comments about my appearance or create small talk, I promise to remind myself of their good intentions.
I promise to try to find joy in every pregnancy difficulty that comes my way.
I promise to be strong and understand that it is only a season and that that season will pass.
I promise to come back and read this post for clarity.
I promise to stay true to myself. My identity is still a work in progress and will continue to mold as I grow and I know that now.
I promise not to have any expectations, to have open hands, and to go with the flow.
I promise to leave my expectations at the door and enjoy the moment.
I promise to be thankful and prayerful and love that future little peanut as much as I can.
I promise to be me.

Pregnancy was “something else” but I know that I was blessed so I don’t want to focus on my mild grievances. It was long and intense and emotional but the end result was incredible. After learning so much about myself and life and adulthood, I realized what is truly important to me. I’m so blessed. I’m happy. I’m a mother. But most importantly, I’m feeling like myself again… A newer, more understanding, wholesome version of myself. And for all of that, I am so thankful!

Welcome

welcome to aiming for august

Hiii! I’m Erica and welcome to Aiming for August! This is my first blog post on my first real blog (the other one got deleted?) and I’m so excited to finally start this writing journey.

So if you want to know a little about me, please go to the menu to see my links or just click here to know more about me and here to know why I chose the name “Aiming for August”.

I decided to finally start doing this for several reasons. The main one was to capture my life and have ownership of an online journal so that I could look back on all of my family’s memories. I also realized that I enjoy writing/journaling. I have a dream journal, a personal journal, and I’ve been journaling for Baby E since pregnancy. I know that one day these moments will be very distant memories and although the pictures can show me what was happening, my words can elicit emotions. Lastly, I want to share with people. I want to share what has and hasn’t worked for me during motherhood, health, fitness, and I guess just life overall. A lot of people ask me about what I eat, what workouts that I do, my breastfeeding journey, etc and I want to help other people/women/moms as much as other blogs have helped me.

So, I’m really anxious to share my life but very excited at the same time! Welcome to my page. Hope y’all enjoy!

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