Category: motherhood

Your Baby Is a Good Baby

Your Baby is a GOOD Babyhttp://chasingayden.com/your-baby-is-a-good-baby

Motherhood is a strange place, (yes place), that truly cannot fully be described to someone who hasn’t experienced it. You cross over, not only in to this incredibly life-altering new role, but also in to an alternate Universe. In this Universe there are all sorts of opinions and ideas and expectations orbiting around you. This isn’t like a gradual immersion in to a new lifestyle, either; oh no. The moment that baby is birthed, there is a shift and you are now a permanent resident in this new world.

A protective, mama-bear-esque instinct accompanies this new territory, and your baby cub is instantly the most beautiful, incredible and precious creature you have ever laid your eyes on. So naturally, you want the world to receive this tiny being with the same adoration.  I think this is especially true for first-time moms.

After I had Ayden, I remember people asking me almost immediately, ‘Is she a good baby?’ My knee-jerk response was, ‘yes, she’s soo good’, subconsciously validating myself via my newborn.  I then started to notice more and more, other moms praising the ‘goodness’ of their babies, but not talking so much about common hardships that accompany the arrival of a newborn.

I struggled with postpartum anxiety, and found myself often comparing me (and even my baby) to others, especially via social media. I started to experience the woes of a baby that liked to party throughout the night, and who almost instantly fell asleep while nursing, thus rendering me a human pacifier. Sleep deprivation had me in its death-grip, and slowly but surely, I started questioning the ‘good-ness’ of my baby, and in turn myself. It wasn’t pretty, but it’s what my truth looked like.

6 weeks post-baby, I finally had enough of my noisy head, and called my OB, who without hesitation offered a remedy for my PPA (postpartum anxiety), and almost instantly, sanity returned to me. This is when I had an ‘a-ha’ moment that would shift my perspective in a much-needed way.

All babies are inherently good. The idea that a baby could not be ‘good’, (regardless of how much or little they sleep, cry, nurse, barf, fuss, fart, spit up, etc), is absurd. The question itself, ‘is she a good baby?’, is kind of ridiculous if you stop and really think about it. Does anyone really ever answer, ‘no! She’s a terrible, bad baby!’ So why then do we continue to ask and answer this question?

I am not even sure I have an answer to this question other than humans really like to categorize things as ‘good’ and ‘bad’. And I am not in the business of making people wrong for being human. All I am saying is that language is a powerful thing, and whether you are on the asking or receiving end of this question, it’s something to consider. You don’t have to take in and digest things that don’t fit for you. You do not have to categorize your baby, unless you want to. This is something I think I might have appreciate hearing when I was a new, first-time mom, so here I am passing it on.

This post felt important for me to write for the new mom out there, who maybe feels less-than, because her baby isn’t living up to the unrealistic, (often posed/staged) baby photos that flood our social media feeds. This is for the mom who when asked, ‘is he/she a good baby?’, thinks about her sleepless nights and fussy baby, and begins to question the very good-ness of her baby and herself. I want you to know, deep down in the pit of your soul,

your baby is a GOOD baby. 

 I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences with this; your comments and feedback are always welcome and appreciated!

xo, Em

Things You Might Learn About Your First Child, After Having Your Second Child

Hello my beautiful friends! As most of you know by now, we welcomed our sweet baby girl in to the world on March 30, 2017. Frankie Grace is made up of the purest form of sweetness you could ever imagine. We are all so very smitten with her; no one more so than her wonderful big sister, Ayden.

I knew that adding another member to our family would come with some changes and even some growing pains, but all of the anticipation in the world couldn’t have possibly prepared me for the explosion of love that has happened in our family. It’s seriously a beautiful thing. However, and this is an AND statement, bringing a new child in to the mix, definitely came with some fun(ny) discoveries about our first child. Maybe you can relate:

Child #1 Suddenly Has an Instant Growth Spurt

My first born baby-child was a cute little 5 year old the day before I gave birth to #2. But somehow in the span of 24 hours, she became a Giant KID. I am being 100% serious. Her face changed, her eyebrows changed, her hands grew–everything! 2 months later, and I am still staring at her trying to figure out who she is.

Child #1 Becomes Louder than LOUD

Have you always been this loud?! Seriously, child. Why must you YELL when you speak? Why must you speak at such volumes when the itty bitty baby is asleep? In fact, why must you speak at all? Just kidding… sort of.

Child #1 Does Not Know Her Own Strength

Do you remember Lenny from ‘Of Mice and Men’, when he loved the baby mouse so much that he actually squeezed it to death? Yeah… Fortunately my first child loves (and I mean LOVES), the new baby. Unfortunately, she hasn’t quite figured out that she’s got a good 35 pounds on her baby sis. Can you say aggressive hugging?

Child #1 Has an Incredible Capacity For Love

I knew this kid was a lover, but this new baby sister unlocked an entire new world of feelings for our first. It is quite miraculous to see the instant love and care that our oldest had for her baby sis. Cue allllll the feelings.

Child #1 Wants to Help with Everything

And I mean EVERYTHING. Only it’s not exactly helpful to have an extra little body and set of grabby hands, trying to assist in every little task.

Child #1 Becomes a Monkey Gymnast

Suddenly, every baby contraption and piece of furniture in our home has become a potential jungle gym. I honestly don’t remember if my first born was climbing the walls (quite literally) prior to the arrival of numero dos, but I am sure as heck aware of it now.

Child #1 Has Way too Many Dolls

Speaking of baby contraptions… I am pretty sure that my oldest thinks that all of the baby equipment and swag is for her baby dolls. In fact, I did not realize just how many dolls this child even had in her possession. I can tell you that there are enough to occupy every single baby chair, swing, car seat, basket, bassinet, carrier and changing table, simultaneously.

Child #1 is Incredibly Resilient

As with most things in life, no one can really prepare you for monumental changes, like adding another human to your family dynamic. There will be a transitional period, and it will  make you question your life choices. The good news is, it passes. Child number one will not only survive it, but might just knock your socks off with her resilience through it all.

Does any of this ring true for you? I’d love to hear about your experience!

xo, Em

Birth Plans, Expectations and Motherhood

Well, some time has lapsed since my last post, but you’ll have to excuse me as I have been busy growing a human. 😉 So here I sit, 39 weeks (and some change) pregnant, and all backed up with stuff I meant to write about. However it’s hard to think of much else other than pregnancy and the anticipation of a new baby at this point, to be honest.

Birth Plans, Expectations and Motherhood

I tend to like to write about the secret truths that aren’t always talked about as openly as I believe they should be. And lately I have become present to some doozies.

A couple of months ago, my doctor asked me what my birth plan was. I consider myself a pretty easy patient, as I don’t have many demands or plans about my delivery, (or so I thought). My response was, ‘Well… I’d prefer not to be induced, and not to have a c-section.’ He was pretty confident that we could achieve those two goals, especially because I was able to go in to natural labor with Ayden. I didn’t think too much of that conversation again until recently.

My first labor experience was not the most ideal of situations. I had a very long labor (36 hours), and by the time my contractions were full-force at 1 minute apart, my body was stuck at 2 centimeters and not progressing any further. As I understand it, typically by that time, you would be pretty close to push-time (and close to 10 centimeters dilated). There were some scares during labor, with the baby’s heart rate dropping, and I was closer to an emergency c-section than I ever knew. It was a dramatic scene, and drama is really the last thing you want in your delivery room.

So, cut to present day… 39 weeks with baby number two and desperately hoping for a different labor experience. Last week I geared up for my 39 week appointment. This pregnancy has been different than my first in several ways–for starters, it has been more physically grueling. But on the upside, this baby dropped a few weeks ago, and Ayden never dropped until labor. I was super confident that I would leave my doctor’s office finding out I was 2 or 3 centimeters dilated. I was excited to get checked! But to my dismay I was 0 centimeters dilated. 0% effaced. 0, 0, 0!

I honestly didn’t even realize the weight I was placing on those numbers. I didn’t know that I was using them as a scale to determine whether I was doing things ‘right’, or whether my body was doing what it ‘should’. And finding out that there was no visible progress, I made it mean that my body was wrong, and that I had failed.

It took a few days of processing, (and me being cranky), to realize the full impact of thinking this way. And when it hit, it hit hard. Thankfully, I got honest with my Mama-tribe, and when I heard my own words sort of repeated back to me, I realized how incredibly untrue these perceptions were. When I thought of my friends birthing stories, I did not rank them in order of meaningfulness, importance or legitimacy based upon how they brought their children in to the world. In fact, it didn’t even cross my mind. I respect and admire each of these women for the mere fact that they are incredible, aware and loving mothers. So why then, was I placing this burden on myself?

In mulling this over for a few days, I realized that I was letting some strange, imagined, social media-imposing, societal expectation dictate how I felt about my own body and labor story. And I realized, it is total bullshit. You don’t get extra credit for delivering your baby with or without drugs, surgically, naturally or induced. The reward isn’t any less sweet, and you certainly aren’t a failure for not doing it someone else’s way. It seems logical when I write this all out, but the pressures (real or perceived), of bringing a life in to this world, are hardly logical.

The past few days have been emotionally intense as a result of this realization, but I am grateful to have uncovered this about myself at this exact, perfect time. It has cleared a path for acceptance, and I am left with the mantra / affirmation, ‘I trust my body; I trust my baby’. I wanted to write about this, because I can’t possibly be the only mother-to-be who has fallen prey to this thinking-trap. And I will be completely honest, I still hope that my body will naturally go in to labor, but if it doesn’t, that is ok too. I am still a mother-freakin’ rock-star. I prayed and waited for this miracle-baby, provided a strong, healthy vessel for her to grow, and soon I will bring her earth-side by whatever means necessary.

As moms, we have the power to break these ridiculous stigmas, together. We can empower one another to let ourselves off the hook, and show each other grace by first showing it to ourselves. Motherhood leaves so much room for judgement, and I will be the first to admit I have at times been guilty of it myself. But that judgement is almost always a reflection of how we feel about ourselves. In taking a stand for myself, I can better stand for you. And so the journey of learning  continues, and this unborn baby has already made me a better human, just by her very existence.

xo, Em

30 Day No-Yell Challenge

Recently, my husband (gently) let me know that I am ‘a yeller’. I don’t like admitting this or sharing it publicly because who wants to be a yeller?! (Not me). But the fact remains that sometimes, when I feel frustrated or unheard or backed in to a corner by my opinionated 5 year old, I raise my voice. It is effective in that she typically submits when I reach that point, however, it is also met with fear. And then her fear is met with my own guilt. Kind of an ugly cycle.

If you struggle with yelling at your children, take on this 30-day, No-Yell Challenge with a community of other mamas. http://chasingayden.com/30-day-no-yell-challenge

I grew up in a loud house. There were 4 of us, and we are all talkers. Things often got loud-very loud. It was almost as if in order to be ‘heard’, you had to be loud. No one is to blame for this, it is just the way things were. After Mike pointed out my yell-y ways, I started reflecting on this. I am not in the business of pointing fingers and placing blame, but I do have a genuine interest in understanding why things are the way they are. I find it to be helpful in breaking less-than-desirable habits or patterns.

At a baby shower on Sunday, I sat with a friend I trust, and admitted to her that I am a yeller, but that I no longer want to be a yeller. To my surprise, she disclosed that she too is a yeller. I was kind of relieved, because this is a fellow mama who I admire and respect. I felt like less of a schmuck to be in such good company. It didn’t change the fact that I still had this character defect to sort out, but it did remind me that I am not alone in this. We pinky-promised that ‘just for today’, we would not yell at our children.

On Monday I realized I hadn’t raised my voice once, on Sunday. It got me thinking about the power of accountability. It also got me thinking about how I was going to potentially break myself of this yelling business. I started thinking of ways I could divert myself from yelling. Here are a few ideas I have come up with:

  • When I feel like yelling, I could actually say “I feel like yelling”. Sometimes labeling the behavior takes the power out of it.
  • I could find ways to be accountable to my family, by letting them know that I don’t want to be a yeller anymore. I could employ them to help me break the habit.
  • I could sing out instead of yelling–like literally sing. (A suggestion from my fellow yeller mama on Sunday).
  • Instead of repeating myself to the point of anger, I could set an immediate consequence for my child, thus averting the need to yell.
  • I could employ other mamas to take on a 30 day, no-yell challenge with me. 😉

So this brings me to that final idea… After learning that a mama who I have often placed on a pedestal, was actually struggling with the same issues as me, it made me realize there are probably a lot of us who don’t like how we feel when we raise our voices in anger. I heavily rely on my mama community for so many other areas of support; why not this too?

‘They’ say it takes 30 days to create a good habit, so I have decided to challenge myself to a 30 day no-yell challenge. And I am inviting anyone who wants to, to join this challenge. My only rule for myself in taking on this challenge, is to forgive myself when I fall short (because it is bound to happen), and to continue with the 30 days no matter what. Awareness leads to willingness, and willingness leads to the ability to change. If this speaks to you at all, I hope you will join me!

See you on the quiet-side!

xo, Em

 

A Letter To New Moms

Dear New Mom,

Hi. It’s me, your future self. I come in peace, but even better yet, I come with something maybe more valuable than peace; hindsight. I want to talk to you about this Mr.-Toad’s-Wild-Ride-of-an-experience that we call Motherhood. And I want to tell you that while you really, really may not believe it in this very moment; You got this. (I promise).

A letter from one mom to all new or expecting moms. Words of wisdom, experience and inspiration. Http://chasingayden.com/a-letter-to-new-moms

I want you to know that regardless of what social media might have you believe, every new mother struggles. I mean that–every last one of them. Regardless of how ‘easy’ or ‘good’ a baby is, it is still a baby. Which makes them 100% dependent and unable to meet their own needs. That is a lot of pressure, even for the rock-starriest of moms. Pictures say a thousand words, but pictures also lie. Remember that the next time you get caught up in a social media scroll-a-thon.

I want you to know that I see you struggling to just make it out of the house so that you can feel like a sliver of a human, despite many, many lost hours of sleep. Has anyone commended you today for even attempting to leave the ease of your nest? I am here to say, kudos to you. The reality is that the tinier the human, the more stuff they require. It may not ever get easy to leave the house with your child, but the load will eventually lighten.

Transitioning, (let’s call it what it is) in to motherhood is a spiritual and wonderful experience, but it can also be incredibly lonely. (Have you noticed that?) I used to wonder why women didn’t ‘warn’ me about matters like this before my baby came. What I have concluded is that I wouldn’t have heard them, even if they had. (Maybe they did!?) I want you to know that you are not alone. Call it a right of passage, if you will.

Perhaps physically you are alone with your baby in the middle of the night, while the rest of the people and pets in your home sleep peacefully. (I’m campaigning to change the saying from ‘sleeping like a baby’; to ‘sleeping like a husband’.) But rest assure, you are in fantastic company. You are part of a Mama Wolfpack, many of whom haven’t truly slept in months, (maybe even years). Thoughts of self-doubt and even feelings of mourning your ‘old life’ (before baby), are completely normal, but ride it out mama, because it will pass.

Speaking of self-doubt, I want to talk to you about the way you’ve been talking to yourself lately–especially the way you talk about your post-baby body. Knock that off. That very body we speak of grew and housed an entire other person. Just marinate on that for a minute. Pretty incredible, right? What is more important than bringing a life in to this world? I honestly can’t think of one thing; not a flat stomach, smooth skin, sexy bikini, narrow hips–none of it. So when your mind wanders to that dark place of self-criticism, (because let’s be honest, it will at times), remember how fantastically capable and beautiful your body is.

The last thing I want to say to you is this: Forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for being imperfect, but also know that there is no one more perfect than you, to be your child’s mother. Forgive yourself for learning as you go, because that is what motherhood is. Forgive yourself for losing your patience sometimes, because we all do. Forgive yourself for the hard moments and celebrate the beautiful ones. Forgive your messy house, dirty dishes and mountains of laundry that seem to accumulate faster than you can fold. Forgive your husband or partner for also being imperfect, (they are learning as they go, too).

The days are long, but the months are fast. Just as you think you have it all figured out, your sweet baby will change the plans on you. Expect it. Embrace it. Laugh about it. Celebrate it.

Motherhood may not be or look exactly like you though it would, but this is it. You have arrived. You were meant for this. But most importantly, you got this.

 xo, Em

How Motherhood Made Me More Creative

When I was a kid I loved to draw. I loved to sing. I loved to act. I loved to dance. And the beauty of it all was that I did so with reckless abandon. I had no fear about being judged, I just created because it was what I loved to do. It’s part of what makes children so pure, I think. The complete lack of awareness that anyone might be watching or worse yet, judging.

How becoming a mom made me a more creative person, and reconnected me to my authentic self. Are you blovked creatively? This is a blog post about how I became unblocked, and about how motherhood was the channel that allowed me to become my creative self. http://chasingayden.com/how-motherhood-made-me-more-creative

As I got older, [insert puberty], the perils of insecurity and self-doubt began to take their toll on my ability to create freely. I continued to create in the ways that I loved, but I did so in secrecy and in the confines of my lavender-painted bedroom walls.

As I emerged in to adulthood I became busy and preoccupied with silly things like paying the electric bill and holding a job. I found some creative outlets like working in film production and joining an improv / sketch comedy theater group, but eventually drifted away from it again and stopped creating with the reckless abandon that I once had.

Enter motherhood. For me, early motherhood looked like a lot of ‘down-time’, something I was not used to. Nothing could have prepared me for how much downtime and alone(ish) time I would have as a new mom, and at times I felt a little crazy-town. Also, when you are home a lot, you begin to critique and dislike everything about your house. Which led me to the endless tail-chase of home improvement ‘projects’.

In a sense, I began nesting again. I would find little projects on Pinterest, and do them. I would try to do the projects while Ayden was asleep, but she would inevitably wake up mid-crafting sesh. I started to notice that when I was creating, her energy was super calm because my energy was super calm. It was like my creativity was soothing for both of us, so I started allowing myself to create in ways that I hadn’t in years.

What has happened is that in allowing myself to be the creative being that I was always intended to be, I have gained a deeper understanding and appreciation of who I am at my core. It has also allowed me to see others as creative beings, and to appreciate their abilities rather than feel threatened by them.

I firmly believe that my creativity is directly related to my spirituality. When I create, I feel connected to the Universe. When I feel connected to the Universe, I am at peace. And when I am at peace, I am a better human.

So I started this blog. I started doing little DIY projects. And in creating this space in which I allow myself to be vulnerable and imperfect, messy and reckless; I have found a wonderful little creative outlet. I urge you to find an outlet, if you haven’t already. I urge you to let go of whatever holds you back from being the creative being that you were born to be, because we are all artists in our own right.

If you feel like it, drop a line in the comments below sharing how you create with reckless abandon. Or about what holds you back. Or about anything really; I would love to hear from you.

xo, Em

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