Sweet Josephine: A Homebirth Story

I’ve been hesitating on writing Josephine’s birth story because well, it was nothing like I had expected or planned and there is still a lot of disappointment and even trauma there. My Sweet Josephine is now 13 months old. We celebrated her first birthday a little over a month ago. I assumed everyone around me knew the story behind Josephine’s birth, but I keep getting the same reaction when they hear it: You need to write about this. When I sat down to start this post, I had a draft already started but I think it was too hard for me to finish it then- well I am ready now.

I don’t even know where to begin and I apologize in advance because I have no idea how many words this is going to take me.

Here we go…

After I came to my decision for a homebirth, I would drive the twenty minutes every 4 weeks to a rural town dotted with horse farms and cow pastures, toddler in tow. A dirt road led me to a small sign with the image of a mother holding a child and I would meet my two midwives in a cozy two room converted shed with a coal stove as the only source of heat. My two midwives were very different from each other, one authoritative, confident, and a little aloof… the other gentle, warm and compassionate.

My measurements were always normal at every prenatal appointment so I thought I was smooth sailing into a homebirth, however I always would say I just felt off. I was bluey, exhausted, lonely (yet isolating myself), and just blah. I wasn’t excited in the slightest for this new child and felt terribly guilty about it. I blamed the exhaustion of being pregnant with a toddler and all of the aches and pains of pregnancy for why I felt this way. I just kept thinking, as soon as the baby is born: I would feel better. I spent the pregnancy reading books on natural birth (I seriously read them all: My favorite was this one if you are interested: Birthing from Within)doing yoga, meditating, watching documentaries on homebirth, I took it ridiculously serious.

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I Love My Strong Willed Child

Holy Hiatus! It’s been a minute…

I should let you guys in on a secret…. I never enjoyed writing much. Hands down my least favorite subject in school was English & Lit, my most dreaded college course was composition. I think I ended up with a C. So how did I end up authoring a blog?! I just have a ton of feelings in this little body and putting them into words clears my head, helps me organize my thoughts, and is truly therapeutic. Only one downfall though, I could never be a professional writer (and why I’ll probably never make any money off of this blog ha). I have to be inspired in order to sit down and put pen to paper. Or in this case; fingers to keys. So I apologize for the hiatus…I guess life just hasn’t been that interesting lately (which I’m partly happy about)

A lot of my posts in the last year or so have been primarily about myself and pregnancy and the ever so dreadful post partum depression/anxiety. I haven’t written about my first baby, my darling girl; Masilyn Marie in quite some time.

She recently turned three. THREE! And started pre-school, so we are officially apart of the back-to-school grind. I realized for the first time really why people say “it goes so fast” and “don’t blink!”. Because I almost felt like once I enrolled her in pre-school, the rat race started. And from here on out it’s going to be Christmas break, then summer break, then starting a new school year, then graduation, then marriage, then…. okay, I’ll stop. But you get the point. It makes me yearn for the simpler days of life but also holds a lot of fun and joy.

I have made it no secret that my first born has been high maintenance and opinionated since the day she was born. She is stubborn, and at times filled with rage, defiant, independent, sassy, and I’d be lying if sometimes I didn’t think she was the devil incarnate. She is terrible at sharing her toys, refuses bath time nearly every night, tantrums at dinner time, or if she wants a “green” fork instead of the blue one I gave her. She is demanding and bossy. She can make play dates a disaster, car trips a nightmare, and holy hell let’s not talk about restaurants.

But you know what else she is?

She is smart, and compassionate, and wise beyond her years. She is outgoing and hysterical. She is fiercely protective of her baby sister and stops what she’s doing just to run over to me and tell me she loves me. She is imaginative and full of life. But most importantly; she is mine.

She may tantrum over things that are small, but it is my job to remember that to her there are no small things. Every feeling she has is large and all-consuming at three years old. When she is upset because I made fish sticks for lunch and not chicken tenders, my adult brain thinks this is absolutely F-ing ridiculous but then I see the tears in her eyes and the confusion and frustration in her face and body language… and I realize she’s not trying to purposefully make my life difficult… she just feels out of control. And that is something I can relate to.

I have noticed something I have been doing that I purposefully and consciously want to stop doing. I have always been self-deprecating and this little quirk has followed me into my parenting. I think I have been apologizing for my daughter’s personality, or making comments like “She is a nightmare!” in settings with other moms for most of her life. I know this is all apart of my self-defense mechanism because it is embarrassing when you have the “bad kid” at the park. Or the kid that won’t share or sit nicely at a restaurant. Because this is one judgmental world we’re living in these days and it’s annoyingly stressful when your kid just won’t behave the way you want them to, dammit! But I realized I don’t want to speak about my child in a negative way or for her to ever hear me speak of her that way. I’d much rather have people judge me for being too soft towards my children than too harsh.

The moms that I would judge pre-kids I know now to treat with compassion. It doesn’t feel good to have the “difficult kid” and to feel like everyone is judging your parenting. As a mom of two, the aunt to a niece and nephew, and someone who has been in enough play date scenarios to last me a lifetime… I have learned that parenting only goes so far. At the end of the day… children are individuals with their own temperaments and personalities.

I lose my patience of course, and I definitely teeter on the edge of being too lenient, but I am trying to navigate this parenting world of a willful three year old the best I can. All I can do is do what I’ve always done since the day I became her mother and that is follow my heart, parent with compassion and hope to God it all turns out well in the end. This is three… holy hell it’s hard, but it’s also a lot of fun <3



Overcoming Post Partum Depression


My recovery since writing my last Post Partum Depression post has been a roller coaster. I would have a month of feeling good and then Bam! I’d wake up one morning and would feel it all creeping back in. The post partum depression/anxiety I experienced was so … textbook. It was like there was a post partum me and a normal me and I could instantly tell when I woke up how I was going to feel that day. When the obsessive thoughts, anxiety, and despair returned- the hopelessness would set in; that feeling that I would never get out of this.

I coped by letting it all out to my husband or mother or best friend when the anxiety became overwhelming. I attended a support group and met other moms that understood the awfulness. I kept busy!!! I made sure I got out of the house and around people (having a planned activity at least once a week really helped – mine was a dance class I enrolled my two year old in.) Anything I could do to occupy my mind- I did. (Now have a completely redecorated house and a high credit card balance to go with it- thanks PPD!) But I also recognized when I could use some help and would see my therapist during the really rough times. She was fabulous and if I could afford the $150/session I would have been there every week! If  you are going through PPD- it makes a world of difference to find a therapist you connect with – she was the third one I met with before really finding that relationship. The tools she gave me were invaluable and really what I feel led me out of the woods. I just recently wrote her a letter just thanking her, because although it was her job and she does this day in and day out, she affected me greatly and maybe even changed the course of my life. I owed her my gratitude.

And last but not least… good ol’ fashioned time. Sometimes the only way out really is through.
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10 Things I’ve Learned After Becoming a Mom of Two

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The transition to two was tough but as with any challenge; it also brought new insight. These are the thoughts that have been rolling around my head after having my second daughter.

  1. I forgot how hard having an infant was.
    • I remember during my pregnancy saying I wasn’t worried at all about the newborn phase when people would ask me “are you ready to do this again?”. Of course I am! It’ll be easy – They just sleep all the time right? Yeah- that sleepy newborn phase lasted maybe two weeks. Some things were easier this time around- like breastfeeding- but I forgot how much attention newborns needed and how demanding it was. They need to be close to you at all times (which I fully embrace and really believe is important for so many reasons). And Thank God for babywearing; but boy- between nursing around the clock AND taking care of my toddler- there was no time left for anything else. I remember circling my kitchen, passing the refrigerator a hundred times holding her yet not having a chance to make myself lunch. When that phase was over- we entered the “I want to move and put every choking hazard I can find in to my mouth” phase and I’m already anticipating the “I have no self preservation and this staircase looks like a great place for a suicide mission” phase. The first two years you are basically “on” all the time- which is needless to say; exhausting.
  2. Every baby really IS different.
    • I also remember hearing this from other mom’s of 2+ but naively thinking, they cant be all that different? While their basic necessities are the same (food, love, sleep, cleanliness), my second is very different than my first was as a baby. My first never teethed and I was convinced all of those “teething” symptoms were a myth- my second is a teething nightmare. My first hated the car seat, my second is asleep within minutes. My first was and is still temperamental, and my second is easy going and mild-mannered. Who knew?
  3. Milestones and “rules” seem way less significant.
    • I just fed my 6 month old greasy fries at a brewery we were at the other night. Her first food may have been a Popsicle. I wouldn’t be caught dead feeding my first anything but organic whole foods her whole first two years of life. You loosen up and realize a fry here and there is really not a big deal. As far as milestones, I remember being so paranoid when my first wasn’t babbling at 6 months. I googled for hours thinking she would be speech delayed and believe me- at almost three- that girl can talk. I don’t think I’ve tracked anything with my second (the plight of the subsequent children). Not because I don’t care- but because I know that I will know if something is off that needs evaluation. We know our children, and we know better than anyone if something is amiss. Personally, I want to savor the baby phase- I am in no rush for her to grow up.
  4. I am way more confident.
    • I remember being terrified to take my first out in public when she was an infant. Where will I breastfeed? What if she cries? What if she cries in the car and I can’t pull over? I am so much more confident this time around. I breastfeed anywhere and everywhere with the help of babywearing and when both kids simultaneously have melt downs at the grocery store; I just smile politely and say “Oh I know they are” as sweet old ladies tell me I sure do have my hands full.
  5. I expect a lot out of my first born.
    • When the new baby comes, you will need your first born to be a little more independent than they were pre-sibling- probably before they are ready. All of the sudden I was asking my 2.5 year old if she could please hand me a diaper and to tell me if the baby started crying while I tried to cook dinner. What?! She was 2.5- a BABY by all means and I was practically asking her to babysit. But I needed her help and in comparison to my helpless newborn, she was the one most capable of being self sufficient.
  6. Building off of number 5, I realized some things about myself.
    • I am the eldest of three. I have a brother (20 months younger)  and a sister (4 years younger). I am hands-down the first born stereotype. I left home after college and never went back. I started my career early, married early, bought a house in the suburbs and had children early. I’ve always been motivated and (cough cough) somewhat “bossy”. As I started to see how I treated my first born out of necessity (#4), I realized why many of us fit that “first born” stereotype. Independence is learned pretty early on.
  7. My youngest will always seem more of the baby and my first will always seem wise beyond her years.
    • I remember at 6 months old with my first, she seemed so much older than my second appears to me now. Because she was- compared to the primitive creature she was when she was first born. But just how my first seemed way more mature in comparison to my infant, my younger child will most likely always seem more of the “baby” compared to her older sister. All relative I guess
  8. The love really did multiply, but I was all about my new baby for a little while.
    • Our first born’s are our everything for so long without anything else to distract us. We are in awe and mesmerized by everything they do and are still trying to put into words the amount of joy and love and exhaustion we are experiencing by newfound motherhood. I remember my sister in law telling me- well somewhat warning me- that I may be all about the new baby when they arrive. I remember thinking no way- my first is my everything! I’m afraid of the opposite! I wouldn’t say I favored one more than the other and I loved my first born more than I ever did; but just as I did with my first, I fell head over heels in love with my new baby. I remembered how special and sacred the baby phase is and became infatuated and entranced all over again. My instagram feed may have only consisted of pictures of my infant for a little while – but you know what I decided- this was okay– and probably even normal. She was the new little love in my life, and I allowed myself to drown in her- she will be right next to my toddler talking back to me before I know it. I found time when the baby was sleeping to spend some one on one time with my toddler, and we all survived.
  9. Hot Button parenting issues started to seem trivial.
    • Through experience, I realized as mothers we are all out here doing our best and making the best decisions we can based on the information we have. I still am super passionate about breastfeeding and instinctual parenting. I still devote my time helping other mothers navigate the scary and sometimes overwhelming waters of new motherhood; but whereas I may have been judgmental about a mom’s decision to formula feed two years ago, I now have had enough conversations/experience with all types of mom’s to know that most parenting decisions have a reason and a story behind them and everything we do as mothers is well intentioned for the benefit of our children.
  10. It is worth it all.
    • The surge of love that runs through me while my toddler tells me she loves her baby sister “times six” (apparently a VERY large amount) or the butterflies in my stomach I feel when my infant lets out a big belly laugh she only reserves for her older sister assures me the long days, the hard days, and the straight out of the exorcism days; the transition, the adjustment, the tantrums and meltdowns (for all of us) were worth every moment. IMG_8997