Monday Mama: I Made It

October 27, 2014 in Love Notes

Today’s Monday Mama is my cute friend Lauren. Even though I’ve only met her once she really is one of my good friends and we keep in touch. Don’t you just love those kinds of people? Love her. She speaks to my soul and her little nugget is the cutest!


Here’s her story (I totally cried when I first read this, she is so real!):
“Hello to all my fellow mama friends! I have absolutely loved being a part of, “The Mamahood”. I love that this group exists merely because one mama out there was seriously overwhelmed and needed support. Because lets be honest, we’ve ALL been that mom. (And if you haven’t… then just pretend for a second how it would feel to literally want to pull out your own fingernails 😉 )

My name is Lauren and I belong to the group of moms who literally felt like she got hit by a train when she realized what being a mama entailed.

My baby is one. His name is Will. And I finally feel like I am starting to get the hang of this motherhood thing. Yes, a whole entire year later. The best description I can give of how it felt, was like running a relay race. Like I was running and running, getting so tired, almost ready to hand off the baton, and never being able to reach the person in front of me. Does that even make sense? I could always see the end of the rainbow, where my baby would be easy, happy, and healthy, but I was never able to catch it. Will had a lot (“a lot” seems like an understatement…) of health issues pretty much since the day he was born. And I think it seriously put him into the worlds hardest baby category.

Looking back, I can see that nearly the entire first year of his life, I was just doing my very best to keep my head above water. And hold onto my sanity. I didn’t have energy for much else.

Until recently.

I am finally in a place where I feel so excited to wake up every day and see what milestone he is going to conquer next. Instead of dreading his constant crying, administering his next breathing treatment, waiting for him to get sick again, etc.. Our days are (dare I say) fun, and we are totally best friends. He makes me laugh harder than anyone else and I’m pretty sure he thinks I’m the weirdest lady around 😉

Maybe newborns aren’t my thing as much as I thought they were.. Because although this whole 1 year old stage is straight chaos and I can never keep up with his path of destruction, I absolutely LOVE it. He’s growing and learning and it is SO FUN to watch. Which is something I don’t think I understood until I became a mother. I used to be so confused as to why people thought it was sooooo oober amazing that their baby had learned to roll over.. Pretty sure a dead animal can roll over.. So what’s the big whoop about that? But all these little milestones are what you live for as a mother.

Changing directions..

I asked my mom a couple months ago, “Do you think I’m still fun?” To which she replied, “You’re probably not as fun as you used to be. But- you’ve got a new life..” In no way did she mean it in a negative way. But it really shook me. I feel like in the midst of becoming a mom, I was losing my identity. Where had that fun, careless girl gone? Am I a boring mom now?

After stewing over it for far too long, I came to this conclusion:

I am a new version of me. I’ve grown in countless ways. Some of which I’m extremely proud of. Some of which I am scared to let myself see (namely myself, in mom jeans). I am learning how to grow into my new self; my wife and mother self. I’m finding old pieces of me and putting them back together, just in a slightly different order. It will probably take some time, and that’s okay.

I’m really just grateful that life is finally normalling out.

A couple days ago, I sat down on the kitchen floor and Will came and laid on my knee. We sat, ate our string cheese together, and had a good heart-to-heart for a solid 15 minutes. (When does a baby ever give you their complete attention for 15 minutes!?) I talked to him and he looked at me like he knew exactly what I was saying. And he would reply just like we were two ladies on a lunch date chatting about the weather. He looked at me like I was the most important person in the world. I’ve realized that moments like that are what make motherhood so sacred and special.

The night before Will turned one, I laid in my bed and quietly cried myself to sleep. Like any normal, sentimental mother would do on the eve of their babies birthday, right? Except I was mostly crying because guess what? We made it. One whole year. We made it through the clouds just in time to see the sun. I finally caught the rainbow. My babe is healthy and happy. In that moment, I knew Heavenly Father was with me, telling me that he was proud of me for hanging in there.

I realize this post makes me sound like I just made it through a year of intense chemotherapy of something. When really, all I did was have a baby.. But that sweet boy just so happened to through me for the biggest loop of my life. But I made it guys, I MADE IT.

And for any of you doubting that the day of an “easy life” will ever come again… it will. Hang in there, and just remember that these days will come and go all too quickly. Find joy in the screaming ;)”


Monday Mama: For the New Mom

October 20, 2014 in Love Notes

This week’s Monday Mama is my cute friend Laura. When I was about to begin labor, our apartment flooded and I had to push through my contractions on a mattress in our living room. Laura came to my rescue, made me a little beanie for my babe, and just sat with me on our mattress talking me through labor and becoming a new mom. I love her for that!

She is a wife and mother to firefighter/paramedic/personal trainer Brady. She has a 15 month old busy little boy named Emmett. Her profession is being a personal assistant to her toddler and a helpful housewife to her busy husband. She and her husband are originally from Arizona and Oregon but are currently living in American Fork Utah where they want to stay permanently.

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Here’s her story:

“I graduated in Family Studies at BYU and I loved my major. I also wanted to be a smart mama. I feel like it really prepared me to become a mother. I have always wanted to be a mother, especially since that is how I was raised. I am the oldest in my family of 6 kids and naturally, I was the constant babysitter and helper. My youngest and only sister was born when I was almost 16 years old. So transitioning into motherhood has been great for me but still a surprise.

I loved my degree but I secretly didn’t want to tell people what I was majoring in. For whatever reason, I had put a negative stigma to it, thinking that it was just the “Mom” major and it is true that MANY other women go into this major. “What are you going to use it for anyway?” people would ask me. But I quickly realized that I don’t have to prove myself to the world my choice of being a mother with an unused degree. That is my two cents on that.

The major thing that has helped me love motherhood is that I feel like I have an identity. My husband Brady has an awesome career as a firefighter/paramedic and people LOVE asking him about it. I guess I felt competitive and ashamed for not having anything to bring to the table before I had my boy. But now that we have our son, I felt I finally had something to be passionate about. And I have loved that we have finally settled into our much anticipated and traditional roles as a mother at home and a bread winning father. Although, this situation doesn’t work for everyone, it has brought much happiness to our family. But I was also wrong for thinking that my worth was conditional on what I did. Doing my best was all that mattered. I am sure many woman have felt this way too!

And I never needed to compete with him. We are a team and in this together in raising a family. It has been tough trying to get him a fire job. We have moved around a lot and there are many nights where he is away at the station. And the hardest part is when he comes home but is dead tired from being up all night with calls. Sometimes when he comes home I just want to say, “Here honey, take him, clean this and I am going to take a nap!” Being a mother is exhausting, demanding and draining. But overtime, we have established good routines, like letting my husband sleep when he get home, and then he can help me. He has been a great father and partner in all of this and I am eternally grateful. I am sure many women out there also don’t have the best family situations or working conditions as well and I can understand how that feels now.

I also sympathize for the working woman, especially the pregnant working woman. It isn’t easy that is for sure. They whole year I was pregnant, my husband was going through a difficult paramedic program with volunteer overnight shifts, 12-hour clinicals at the hospital and lectures at school on top of that. So I needed to support us with a full-time job and still finishing my schooling, as a part-time student. I was working at plumbing and electric company in the office and felt comfortable. However, when I was 5 months pregnant, out of the blue, I got laid-off and I wasn’t sure where to go from there. We were so scared. How was I going to get a job? Being 5 months preggo? Would he quit his paramedic program? But prayers were answered. It is funny how things work out! I found a fantastic part-time nanny job with a family that only needed me for a short amount of time anyway, while the mother recovered from surgery. It was a much better job anyway since I was going to be a mother soon anyway.  And I also went back to work at my old job as a server at Tucanos Brazilian Grill. It was kind of crazy trying to squeeze into my uniform and serve large trays of drinks while being slightly big but it felt good to know that I was working hard to support my family and have a baby soon! After a while it became too much and I started being a hostess instead. Another miracle through it all, was that I felt great working and being pregnant too.

Lastly, I just wanted to touch on the subject of perfectionism as a mother. THANK GOODNESS I found the book, “The Burnout Cure” by Julie Hanks early on in my life as a mother and wife. It has changed my life. I would recommend it to any woman who feels like she needs to do it all exactly right and then falls flat on her face with exhaustion. We don’t need to complete a new craft every day, look amazingly fit one month postpartum and have a sparkling clean home! It just simply doesn’t work like that ha ha. We need to focus on what is important and be content with our efforts in every step of the way. Less is more! I love how the Author in the book explains it. Instead of just having a “To Do” list we should also have a “Ta Da!” list! This is where you list the great things that you have done that wasn’t necessarily on your original To Do list. Like talking with a friend in need for half an hour, cuddling with my baby while we watch Dinosaur Train together or dropping something to the station that my husband forgot and getting a hello out of it is just to name a few for me. All in all, I try to still do what I love but not get burnt out. If I give myself my time, I will be better able to give more of myself to my family. I hope I was able to speak in a way that was real so that I can connect with other woman that share the same feelings I have felt as a new mother!”

Monday Mama

October 13, 2014 in Love Notes
Today’s Monday Mama is my cute friend Sam. She is 26 and currently living in Lehi, Utah. She just had a little baby girl named Rachel who is now almost 3 months old. Aren’t they so cute?
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Here’s her story:
When Ken and I were first married I thought that after 1 year we would start trying to have a baby. When our 1 year mark hit, I was not ready, and would have been very surprised if a baby came our way. We both went to BYU and were settling into our careers. Ken is an entrepreneur and I was teaching 2nd grade. I loved my job, and I wanted to spend some time focusing on my career and on our home with just the two of us.
When we entered our 2nd year of marriage, I was already a couple weeks pregnant, and absolutely thrilled. I had been teaching for 4 years, and was having the best year. My students and I were in sync, I had a great relationship with all the parents, and I got along well with the people I worked with. Ken and I decided that after the school year ended I could put a pause on teaching to stay home with our girl. (She came only two weeks after school got out!) I was pretty excited to enter a new chapter of my life, but as the school year came to a close, I was nervous. I remember thinking over and over again that I didn’t want to leave. I had become so comfortable and loved so many people at my school. It was a confusing time because I wanted to become a Mother and take time to be at home with my girl, but I felt so conflicted leaving something I had spent hours working for.
On the last day of school I tried to hold it together, but the last hour I lost it and sobbed. My students probably thought I was crazy, but it was hard leaving. Everyone I ran into in the hall, I just hugged and cried. I couldn’t believe that this day was actually here and my life was getting ready to dramatically change. As I got in my car to drive away everything felt surreal. I sobbed the entire way home. At one point I remember patting my belly and saying, “Well girl, it’s just you and me now.” Right when I said that she gave me a couple kicks. It reassured me that this is what I feel is right for our family at this time, and made me feel so close to my girl. It was such a special moment, and she has been my bud ever since.
Leaving was hard, but I’ve been able to go back and visit. As I walked back into my school it felt like I was coming home. Right now it’s just a place a bunch of my friends work, but it may be my school again, or it might not be. It’s ok. I’m happy with my decision now. I loved teaching students in a formal setting and being able to help them grow and progress. As an outlet, I started a blog about education activities you can do with your child. It’s been slow going, but it’s a way for me to share all of the things I did as I worked with my students. You can read some of my ideas at
There have been a couple of things that have been difficult for me as I’ve transitioned into motherhood. The first, and the thing that is the most difficult, is my weight. I exercised 5 days a week while pregnant, and still gained a ton of weight. You can’t really help how your body does pregnancy. I have really struggled the last couple months feeling ok with my appearance. Sometimes I look around and it seems like everyone else around me looks so good, but I know I’m not alone. My body has changed after having a baby, but I’ll continue to work hard and my weight will change.
After Rachel came, I felt like things went really well. (Except that no one told me walking would be really difficult after child birth). We left the hospital and I was full of promise. She was latching well, she slept well, and she was pretty dang cute. I had a lot of family around to help, and I was ready!
The first night home was tough. Much tougher than I expected. At the hospital Rachel would latch and breastfeed just fine. It’s hard when you leave because your milk isn’t quite in all the way, so it seems like things will work, but you never really know. The first night she would get up every hour to eat. My husband and I were so confused. I tried hard to feed her, but she kept falling asleep. At about 4 am, we thought we should try some formula because maybe she wasn’t getting enough to eat. We had a couple samples the hospital had given us before we left. After giving her 2 ounces, she slept for a couple hours. We realized that she was waking up so much because she wasn’t getting enough to eat.
We started supplementing and I continued to breastfeed the best I could. After a couple of days I knew was milk was in, and so I thought she would be ok with just what I could produce. I bought a pump as well so I could get an idea of what my body was making. I would feed her and then try pumping. I remember the first time I used the pump. I pumped for almost an hour and got about an ounce. I started thinking that maybe my milk supply was low. Now, I would breastfeed as much as I could, but would give her a bottle right after. She always drank 2 ounces of formula after breastfeeding. My pediatrician recommended that I start taking Fenugreek, so I did. I started to smell like maple and figured it was working. One morning, about two weeks after I had Rachel, I woke up and my milk was completely gone. It was the weirdest thing. I was no longer leaking, and I look visibly different. Since then she has been completely on formula.
I wanted to share a little bit about why my baby is on formula for a couple reasons. First, I couldn’t help what my body did. I tried, but it didn’t work. I felt an extreme amount of guilt for not being able to provide my baby with the food she needed. I felt guilty that we were going to have to spend a lot of extra money on formula. I felt guilty every time someone would ask how she was nursing. I’ve had so many people ask why she’s on a bottle. It’s embarrassing and makes me feel like I need to explain myself. Don’t feel that way. It’s doesn’t matter. My girl is growing healthy and putting on weight just like she’s supposed to.
Second, I felt guilty because I felt a small amount of relief when I couldn’t breastfeed. It was hard. Really hard. I did my best, but felt so inadequate. When my milk supply was gone, I felt relieved that I wouldn’t have to keep trying. And then I felt guilty for the relief. Don’t let yourself feel guilty. Things are what they are.
Now, having her strictly bottle fed has been really convenient for us. We travel a fair amount, and it has made traveling easier. For us, it works. I wish she would have been able to get some more breast milk, but it didn’t happen.
Just remember that you need to do what you feel comfortable doing for your family. I’m happy with how things are. I’m happy that the weight is coming off, even if it’s slow-going. I’m happy to be home now, even though leaving my job was difficult. I’m happy that my girl eats well and my husband can help feed her. I’m happy to be a Mom, and I’ve accepted the things that have happened a little differently that I expected, and that’s the best thing we can do for ourselves.

8 TIPS: Becoming an Early Bird

October 8, 2014 in Lifestyle / Other

One of my goals in life is to become a morning person. I remember awhile ago, my dad used to take me to high school on his way to work around 7:30 in the morning. I was a dead beat. My dad would laugh sometimes because I would only nod or say one word responses (which if you know me, a one-word response is VERY odd). I was a zombie, and I felt like one. I hated being awake at the butt crack of dawn and would only dream about going back to bed. That’s all I would think about. Oh and anyone that was happy in the morning I probably could’ve slapped. I hate to admit it, but I was that bad.

Then… I had a baby.

A few things change in your life when you have a kid, but this one was a big one for me. No matter what time my little goes to bed, the second 7AM hits we are all up for the day. And this is actually pretty good. It used to be 4AM and has slowly moved to 7AM (hallelujah).

So, the past few weeks instead of complaining that it’s early, I’ve tried to look for ways to LOVE the mornings. Granted, this is me BECOMING an early bird. I’m still working on it. But here are my tips and tricks that have helped me so far:

1. ACCEPT THAT IT’S EARLY: Yes. It’s something I have to actually think about every day and accept it. It’s early but I’m healthy, the sun is shining, and it’s gonna be a good day! (repeat)

2. WAKE UP BEFORE YOUR KIDS: This doesn’t always happen at our house, but I have noticed when I wake up first I feel more prepared for the day instead of having a baby as my alarm clock. Even if it’s just a few minutes before they wake up, I feel like I have a jump start.

3. READ AND PRAY: I read the scriptures (find out more HERE) and pray in the morning. Sometimes it’s a quick moment, but I find it totally steers my day to a more joyful and productive one if I put that first.

4. EAT: Self explanatory.

5. PUT ON YOUR TENNIS SHOES: K. I know this sounds dumb, but have you ever bought a pair of brand new tennis shoes and you all of a sudden got the urge to run? That run maybe only lasted a day (probably once around the block for me) but it still is a little motivation right? We usually go for walks in the morning and I feel like JUST putting on my tennis shoes is the farthest thing from thinking about going back to bed. It helps. Don’t knock it til you try it;)

6. GET OUTSIDE: Whether it’s burning hot or freezing cold, bundle up and get outside! This one is HUGE for becoming a morning person because you realize that the world is awake and there’s nothin like a good sunrise. Even if you only make it to your front porch. Get. Outside. It’s so good for all of us to get fresh air and there is something empowering about getting outside and moving the body that God gave you!

7. MOVE: This ties into #6.  I used to hate working out in the morning. I still hate working out in the morning. Breaking a sweat is easier for me to do at night than in the morning. But I still find it helpful to just move. Whether it be a walk in the canyon, or a walk around your house. Just move. This helps me a ton to NOT want to go back to bed.

8. SING: I’ve found that the happiest people sing! (I mean really… have you ever seen a grumpy person sing? ha!) So whether you can carry a note or not, sing. Outloud. Find music that moves you. Sometimes when I’m taking my baby for a walk down a street that isn’t very busy I just plug in my headphones and I sing out loud to him. People may or may not have passed and think I’m completely crazy, but for us… we’ve had a great morning and maybe made someone else’s day with a good hit (or ruined it… but either way)

All of these (including the obvious of showering and getting ready for the day) I’ve found to be helpful so far on my road to becoming an early bird.

What are some of your tricks to help you love mornings?

 SIDE NOTE: If you are looking for tanks or work out gear, Costco never disappoints.

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Monday Mama: Birth Story

October 6, 2014 in Love Notes / Monday Mama

Today’s Monday Mama is the beautiful Michelle. She is from Sandy and is living in Provo, Utah. She studied advertising at Brigham Young University and is currently an amazing piano/voice teacher and the best mama to her sweet boy. She is the cutest girl from the inside out!


Here’s her story:

From the beginning of this pregnancy, everyone would tell me, it’s all worth it.  It was so hard to convince myself it would be.  Many of you know that I was sick until about weeks 23-24.  I was throwing up a lot, getting IV fluids constantly, trying to take my prenatal every night without throwing it up, etc.  After that, I felt fine as long as I was eating a snack.  Everything seemed normal with the baby at our anatomy scan, his head was down, he looked great!

Then, the third trimester started.  No one told me about the uncomfortableness I would feel during this time.  My hips hurt.  My sciatic nerve would hurt occasionally.  My bladder was getting, what I thought, punched at all the time.  I was going to the bathroom constantly.  My feet swelled up no matter how much water I drank.  Every pregnancy “con” I experienced during pregnancy.

It wasn’t until Sunday, August 25th, that our little man gave us a little scare.  I started bleeding a little bit and that whole weekend was experiencing some back pain.  By Sunday, the back pain felt worse.   With the small, yet constant bleeding, and the back pain, I had a feeling to get checked out.  We went to labor and delivery, I got hooked up on monitors and was apparently having contractions.  I couldn’t feel the contractions at all.  I was also dilated to a one.  We also found out that our little boy was breech.  The nurses and midwife gave me some medicine to stop the contractions and I was sent home to be on bed rest.  It wasn’t strict bed rest, but I was ordered to take it very easy.

On Tuesday, August 26th, I went in to my check up.  I learned at this appointment that because of my partial bicornuate uterus, I couldn’t have an inversion to have the doctors try to flip the baby.  It would be too dangerous for them to try it as my uterus could tear during the process.  So, we scheduled a C-Section for September 15th.  My goal was to take it easy so baby boy could stay in until that time.  I followed the instructions and took it really easy.  And, I also started preparing myself emotionally for this surgery.

We were (and still are) taking a hypnobirthing class to learn breathing and visualization techniques to get me through a natural vaginal labor.  I always expected to have perfect births.  For Derek to be right by my side, holding my hand through it all, or whisking my arm with his fingers while I mentally push through contractions.

The next few days, baby boy was kicking me very hard in my bladder.  It was so hard that I would wake up in the middle of the night because it hurt.  On Thursday, August 28th at about 1:00 AM, I woke up to him kicking.  As I was laying in bed, I felt him kick me really hard and my water broke.  I knew it wasn’t urine because I couldn’t control the gush.  I woke up Derek and I walked briskly into the bathroom.  Sitting on the toilet, I kept thinking, this is it.  We are going to have a baby today and I’M NOT READY.  I hadn’t had time to prepare myself for this.  The baby’s room wasn’t even fully organized or ready.  It was too early.

We got in the car, drove to the hospital, and the calling of the parents began.  I tried over and over and over again to call my parents and let them know my water broke and we were having the baby.  They didn’t pick up their phones.  I called Derek’s mom, and both her and Dad Nielsen had just taken sleeping pills.  They couldn’t drive from Ephriam to meet us at the hospital.

Because of my scoliosis, I have 15 vertebrae fused, I knew that an epidural or spinal might not work. I was probably going to be put under generally and not be awake for the birth of our son for the surgery.  I wanted so badly for my mom to be there, for anyone to be there with me when I woke up from surgery.  I told Derek no matter what, you go with the baby and hold him so you can bond with him.

I finally, after trying to reach my parents so many times, got a hold of my little brother, Nate.  He lives close to the hospital and came right over to give me a blessing with Derek.  There was only like a 10 minute span where they could do a blessing since the prep for the C-Section was going so fast.  After the blessing, I had a thought to call my parents next door neighbor to go wake them up.  She answered the phone and was able to knock on their door and wake them up.   They got there after the baby was born, but before I woke up.

Derek came with me to the operating room and the anesthesiologist tried doing a spinal.  I sat on the edge of the operating table and was shaking because I was nervous.  I put my head on Derek’s chest and held his hands, due to nerve damage from previous back surgeries, I didn’t even feel the prick of the needle.  It’s sad that I get more nervous for the needles than actual surgeries.  Sadly, the spinal didn’t work and while got moved to the operating table, I had to watch my husband bravely walk away, holding the I love you sign with his fingers, and tears in his eyes. 

The anesthesiologist put oxygen over my mouth and I started hyperventilating.  I was scared.  It wasn’t just me having to go through the surgery, it was the baby as well.  I would be put all the way under, having no control of the situation.  I then started doing my calm breathing, that I learned in hypnobirthing, and I felt the presence of my grandfather (whom our little boy is named after) and my great grandmother around me.  I knew they were watching out for me and little boy.

When I awoke from surgery about an hour or so later, my little brother Nate was right next to me to feed me ice chips.  My parents got to the hospital about 30 minutes after the baby was born.  They showed me pictures of him, though I was still a little out of it.  I remember Derek coming in the room and warning me of the IV’s in our baby.  He had low blood sugar and needed a little boost-this is very common in late pre-term babies. 

Then, the miracle happened.  Our little son was brought into the room, IV and all.  I held him for the first time on my chest and everything miserable about pregnancy and everything difficult about how I gave birth went completely away.  The morning sickness I encompassed during the first 20 weeks or so, the discomfort in my hips in the third trimester, the no sleep factor with getting up to use the bathroom in the last weeks of the pregnancy…it was all worth it.

No matter what way babies come into your family (IVF, adoption, C-section, Natural, etc.).  No matter how hard it may seem to get them here, it is all worth it to hold that little baby in your arms the first time and staring into their eyes.  I thought I knew what love is, but it’s so much more.  I’m so glad that my birth went well.  It wasn’t was I expected and I didn’t give birth how I wanted to, but I did get the most perfect son.  We love him so much.

Meet Dexter Ronald Nielsen.  Dexter is a mix between Derek and Derek’s father, Rex.  Ronald is after my Mom’s dad who passed away a few years ago.  He was 6 pounds 14 ounces and 17 inches long.  We are smitten and in love as every parent should be over their children.  (And we are exhausted too.)

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General Conference

October 2, 2014 in Love Notes / Other

Guys. I am SO excited for General Conference this weekend! If you don’t know what that is click HERE. It is so inspired and very uplifting for everyone to listen to. I look forward to it every April and October. Especially as a parent, I eat every word up. Check it out!

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Monday Mama: Ashley’s Story

September 29, 2014 in Monday Mama
Today’s Mama is the beautiful Ashley! She is one of the sweetest girls I’ve met and is as down to earth as they come. She is from California and currently living in Utah. She has a smile that will brighten up anyone’s day and her hair is naturally AMAZING. She suffers from Postpartum Depression and I love how honest she is about it. I think it’s good to read other’s experiences and not feel like we have to suffer alone when we go through trials. Thanks for your words Ash! You are such a good Mama!
This pic of her and her baby just melt me:
Here’s her story:

“I hope you will read this post as if we are having a frank, but heartfelt conversation. I have spent months wrestling with how to write this. I have difficulty doing many things since Blake arrived. The first 6 weeks were really hard. Aren’t they always!? Then we learned our wailing, grumpy baby had acid reflux. We got him on some medicine. Things got a lot better. Everything was starting to feel brighter, except for me. Life was in fact, getting harder.

I did not enjoy life as a mom. There, I said it. 

I did not recognize that sentiment for what it was until I lay in my living room with my three month old, sobbing in the fetal position and praying my life could end. Not only was I suffering in silence, but I assumed being a new mom was supposed to be this hard; I just wasn’t handling the adjustment well.That’s what I thought.

I have postpartum depression. For each woman, this disease may take on a different face or manifest in varying ways. Many women I know have not had severe symptoms as I am about to describe, while others experienced much worse. My Postpartum Depression (PPD) symptoms have included anxiety, rage, restlessness, inability to concentrate, apathy, dizziness, insomnia, depression, suicidal thoughts and feeling overwhelmed, irrational, worthless, “out of control” and resentment towards Blake, Trent and God. I have felt on edge for so many days in the past 9 months, feeling despair, and mourning my former life as a normal, happy person. I have spent hours on my knees crying, begging, pleading to have the strength to make it through another hour with Blake because my sanity was hanging by a thread. There were days when I wished I could leave this earth. There were days when I longed for the freedom to make that choice. They are feelings that are so heavy, dark and real. The scariest part is that those feelings did not always terrify me. They were a welcome relief and escape. They would haunt my mind and linger until a priesthood blessing could finally free me of the cankering weight that day. I have felt trapped in my own crazy pseudo-reality. 

In a word, I have been living in my own private hell. The mind is a wonderful, glorious thing. When physical chemistry is off and the body is sick, this affects the mind in ways I had never before imagined. I would never wish this illness on anyone. I have been unmotivated, stagnant, and almost childlike on some of my worst days. I needed to have someone there to hold my hand and walk me through the motions so that I could make it. I have been so grateful to those along the way who recognized my suffering and loved me all the more. I have never accepted so much help, from perfect strangers even, in my entire life. 

You’re reading this and thinking, “Now, wait a minute! I’ve seen Ashley. She gave me a big hug and a smile and we had normal conversation. She cannot be serious!” I am fabulous at putting on a happy face. Plenty of people are, actually. [I served as a full-time missionary, where I perfected that unhealthy adult trait.] Many days I need to put that happy face on to get a semblance of normalcy and control and cheer. It’s draining, but I can do it. So if you’ve seen me any time in the past 9 months, please don’t think of me as disingenuous. I have been struggling to reconcile my craziness with the real world around me. This is not uncommon; It’s uncomfortable in our society to discuss and share our personal experience with mental illness. You don’t want to be labeled a “psychotic”, “crazy”, “unstable” person. You may as well be a social outcast! And yet, here I am.  

 I have had dozens of people comment on what great joy I must be feeling as a new mom. “Sure, it’s hard, but it’s all worth it“, they say. Well, to be honest, I’m not there yet. I have not and do not yet enjoy it. I do not celebrate my new motherhood. To be perfectly honest, I feel guilty because we do not have any pictures of Blake in our house. Not one. Until I can stand on my own two feet (so to speak) and have restored mental health, I am quite incapable of fully embracing this new life. And it’s unfortunate because it has affected my relationship with Trent and with Blake. I love them DEARLY. SO MUCH!!  However, I struggle daily to bond with both of them in a healthy, appreciative, loving, enriching way. I don’t say this to be dramatic or for pity. I am being frank because my story needs to be told. I feel the need to share with you how real this disease is.

Upon hearing of my struggle with PPD, one relative said:
“You need to spend more time around other people and get out of the house.” So this disease is my fault… I’m just not taking care of myself? Brilliant… 

I have had friends tell me that they, too, suffered from PPD:
“Yeah, I had that for about three weeks…and then it went away. It’s manageable.” As if I one simply waits PPD out and in a few months feel like a new person again. [By the way, what this friend described is likely “baby blues”, not PPD, although baby blues are truly awful and jarring to a new mom.  PPD is akin to having a broken leg or any other physical malady; it requires rigorous treatment to properly contain and eradicate it.]

But this response from a close friend scared me: 
I did not realize until well after my second baby that I had experienced postpartum depression since my first child. Anytime I was left with both kids alone, my heart would race and I would have panic attacks and symptoms of depression. I felt that I had no control over my life. I couldn’t change it because I was a mom dealing with the growing pains of having two little kids. I just dealt with it.”  My friend, like so many other women, suffered in silence because she did not know she had the right to have help! There is no shame in asking for help with anything you feel is bigger than you are. Period.  

I have been to counseling for the past few months and will continue for some timeI have had multiple blood tests to determine which course of action would be the best with my bodies’ chemistry. I have been on a strict diet to maintain the best chance possible for having a healthy body to work effectively through this labyrinth of raging hormones, chemical imbalances, and new-mom fatigue. I am doing everything I possibly can within my power. Physically, spiritually, mentally. I am still looking for answers and still hoping and working towards being “myself”. 

I am open to questions. I am open to hearing your words of encouragement and support. I am open to your concerns. I would love to hear your personal experiences. I know that in keeping this quiet for so long, I have only perpetuated the problem we see with this and many other mental diseases: that it’s largely misunderstood and  socially “taboo” to discuss. But please know this has been an incredibly raw, painful and seemingly endless journey. I have not conquered it yet. We have not conquered it, yet. 🙂 I have great medical professionals cheering me on, a network of family and friends, a tender, loving husband and a beautiful little boy who gives me daily glimpses of the pure, unselfish love that exists in this world. I am getting better and slowly seeing improvement. The days aregetting lighter and the future less bleak. 

I know that I can and will be Ashley again. I can enjoy my new life. I can be whole. I hope you will take this experience and look to the women in your life. Offer support. Tell them how real motherhood is, not just the joyful, fun moments. Tell them of your own struggles. Share with them about postpartum depression. Not to scare them, but to let them know who they can trust if they are unfortunate to experience such a thing. No one should suffer in silence because they are afraid and feel misunderstood or ashamed. We need more love, more acceptance and more understanding for these diseases. We need to hear these stories so we can better love those around us.” 

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Tuesday Truth

September 23, 2014 in Family / Other

Well kids…. I’m back at it. I’ve been in school for as long as doctors go to school and I have only an
Associate’s Degree to show for it. BUT…

I can clean your teeth, cut your hair, teach your kids, and help with your family because of all the different majors I have experienced:)

I’ve come to learn it’s not about the destination but always the journey and so many people in the world don’t even get the opportunity so I consider myself blessed to be able to finish school.

I’m completely embarrassed to tell people that it’s my 7th year of my 4th college but as I’ve been taking this course I’ve learned that it’s okay to have that help from the Man upstairs and others around me.

One thing for sure is I won’t give up… (I’m stubborn about it). Even if I don’t “finish” til I’m 99 I will have a lot of lessons in my life to talk about.

So, cheers to another year….and busy nap times.

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#MondayMama: To the Working Mama

September 22, 2014 in Love Notes

Yay, it’s that day of week again! I’ve decided to chop off the name “Monday Mama Moments” to just “Monday Mama’s” and spotlight our Mama’s from The Mamahood group on Facebook. (Join HERE)

Today’s Monday Mama is cute Brynn. She has been a member of the group from the very beginning and had her little nugget in May. She is 24 years old from Salt Lake City, UT and has a darling daughter named Nova who is 4 months and sweet husband Jordan. They’ve been married for 5 years now and even though they waited awhile to start a family, she wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Aren’t these two so beautiful!? (I’m secretly dying over her leggings and moccs!)

Here’s her story:

“So far my transition into motherhood has been pretty smooth (knock on wood). My pregnancy and delivery were both normal (I almost said easy, but anyone who says pregnancy is easy is a liar, and we all know it) and I’d like to say for now I have this whole thing down (Ha! Just kidding). There is one thing that hasn’t been the easiest transition for me though, and that has been working. Now let me preface with this. I love my job. Can I say it again? I LOVE my job. I’m a (newly) registered nurse and I worked hard to get my job in the newborn nursery and NICU. I also love my kid. Do I need to say that again too? I LOVE MY KID. I also worked hard to have a kid. See where there’s an issue?

For most of my life I’ve been taught and told that a mother’s role is in the home. Now I’m not a traditional girl, and I never really aspired to be a mom. Is that bad to say? Because if it is I’m sorry, but it’s the truth. You know those girls that said “I want to be a mom when I grow up and have 10-20 kids and cook dinner for them, and sew all their clothes, and be awesome.” That wasn’t me. Not that any of those things are bad to want in life. In all honesty had I known what being a mom was like, I probably would have wanted the same thing. I now know that being a mom is amazing, but kids were the furthest thing from my mind when I thought of my future. For me I had always wanted to be a nurse. It was always something that was in the back of my mind, and when the opportunity arose to take a CNA course in high school, I jumped on it, I excelled at it, and I knew I wanted to go further. When I was 18 and fresh out of high school I got a CNA job on the mom/baby unit at the hospital. For 6 years I worked there learning, taking pre-reqs for nursing school, and eventually getting in and finishing nursing school this past May. If you were paying attention you will realize I had my baby in May as well right? Nova was a pleasant but unplanned surprise for us 9 months almost to the date I was to graduate nursing school. I’m not going to sugar coat it and say I wasn’t upset. I cried when those two pink lines showed up. I bawled because I was equal parts happy and terrified at the same time. How was I supposed to finish the hardest thing I’ve ever done and do it pregnant? What will people think?How will I stay on my feet during 12-13 hour clinicals and work 12 hour shifts? And the biggest question of all, how will I start two brand new jobs… being a mom and being a nurse at the same exact time?

Here’s the dilemma I faced. I had worked for YEARS to become a registered nurse. I had a plan, and that plan was to have kids after I had settled into a job as a nurse. Maybe work a little full time to get used to it, and then cut down my hours so I can stay home with my kid. That’s what moms are supposed to do right? Be home with their kids so daycare, grandparents, etc aren’t raising them. But we all know that life doesn’t happen according to plan. Babies don’t follow plans. Sometimes plans have to change. To be honest it still hurts a little bit when I read things on Facebook/internet along the lines of “I love being able to stay home with my kids, I love being able to be there for their first moments, I love bewing able to just be a mom and not worry about leaving them for work.” The Instagram pictures of kids at the park, the aquarium, or even the Del Taco play place during work hours stings a little bit. The well-meaning comments from people that say “Oh that must be so hard to leave your baby” Or “I don’t know how you do that, I would die if I had to go to work and leave my littles.” The little mom guilt voice in the back of my head makes me feel sad for having to leave my baby home while I go to work. Makes me feel guilty for loving my job so much. Why do we do these things to ourselves? Why as mothers do we feel horrible about ourselves if we have a title anything other than mom? I’d LOVE to stay home with my baby 24/7, and I applaud and am jealous of all the mothers who do because it’s definitely harder than my day job, but I also love being a nurse. I love stepping in and taking care of those sweet sick babies in the NICU when their mamas can’t take them home quite yet, or are too exhausted to be in the hospital another minute. I love going and helping other woman do the single most amazing thing a woman can do, give birth. I love being one of the first people to hear those sweet new cries as a new little person enters this earth. I love making sure that sweet baby is doing well after birth, and wrapping and handling him to the eager arms of a new father. I also love coming home and pulling my beautiful girl into bed to cuddle after a long night at work. I love those days off when we giggle and play all day and wait until dad gets home. I love knowing that my time with her is limited and precious until I go in for my next shift, so we go out and explore this world together, both of us having new eyes to everything around us.

So I guess what I have to say is…to the working mother, don’t let that nagging voice in the back of your head get to you. If you work because you love it, because you have to, you are in school, or any of those things lie ahead in your future, know that you are still an amazing mother. Know that you can do hard things. Know that for whatever reason this is your plan for now. So whether you stay home with your kids or you are a working mother, we are all in this together. We are all amazing. And working or staying at home we are The Mamahood.

If you’re curious to know more about our life feel free to visit our blog here (like that tasteful plug?) and thanks for reading!”

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