June 29, 2020

Motherhood at a Glance: Thriving Through Self-Advocacy


Happy Monday friends! I am so grateful for today's topic, learning to thrive through self-advocacy. This is something that our feature writer, Sarah Welch, is passionate about, as am I! 

Sarah grew up in Edmond, Oklahoma, studied at Oklahoma University and works as a dental hygienist. She lives with her husband, Stephen, and their beautiful, one-year-old daughter, Rosie, who shares a birthday with our youngest - so fun! Sarah enjoys baking, dance parties, reading (especially Harry Potter) and spending time with her favorite people. Learning about and cultivating self improvement is also something that Sarah is passionate about, which shines through in this piece. 

m excited for you to receive some encouragement from today's feature and hope that you find things that you can apply into your life as well. 


I got married at age 26 after three and a half years of dating my partner. One month into our marriage, I became pregnant. While we were open to the possibility, we thought that it would take longer to conceive, but we were blessed quickly. During our courtship, we talked at length about what our marriage and family could look like and what we wanted to cultivate in our family culture. Even though our conversations acknowledged potential pitfalls or imperfections that could/would probably crop up in our plans, my thoughts would often be filled with daydreams of idyllic scenes of motherhood and family life. As the fifth child in a family of six kids and an aunt to sixteen nieces and nephews, I had several examples of seemingly perfect pregnancies and motherhood, so I expected the same for myself. I was excited to have an easy, healthy pregnancy where I did everything right, continued to work out, ate impeccably, and limited stress. I expected the transition to motherhood to come easily. Sound naive? That’s because it was (for me anyway).

I ended up being very sick for the first half of my pregnancy. I threw up at least once a day (sometimes multiple times) and was nauseated for most of my waking hours. Even after being put on a medication to help with nausea, I still threw up frequently. I had no energy, no appetite and very little motivation. I worked full time and that took any energy I could manage to muster. Gone were my dreams of working out, staying fit, and eating impeccably. After 20 weeks, my nausea subsided, but it was replaced quickly by persistent heartburn even with medication. I had a little more energy, but not much. And all I wanted to eat was sweets. Dr. Pepper was a life line. I tried my best to eat nutritiously, but I often succumbed to treats. Finally I reached my due date feeling stretched, exhausted, and swollen to the max. I was ready to deliver my baby girl, but she wasn’t ready yet. It would take another five days past her due date before she would make her appearance after 18 hours of labor. That was when my lessons in self-advocacy began. 



My labor and delivery went fairly smoothly, but postpartum was a deep dive into anxiety, depressive states, and feelings of complete and utter inadequacy. My idyllic dreams of motherhood were shattered. I struggled with Rosie’s jaundice, extreme nursing difficulties, and the worst exhaustion I’d ever felt. My husband was amazingly supportive, but I still felt such isolation and loneliness. I had family members and friends tell me that I just needed to be patient, nursing would work out, my body knew what to do. I just needed some sleep and to relax. But all I could think was “but what if my body doesn’t know what to do? What if it isn’t cut out for this? And how in the heck do I ‘get sleep and relax’ with a newborn?” 

There were so many late nights/early mornings where I was sobbing, my daughter was sobbing, and I literally felt like nothing was working right. I searched everywhere for answers, for solutions to the problems I was facing, but found little help. I felt like a failure. As I struggled with both external and internal pressures, I realized that I possessed the key to solving the confusion I faced: self-advocacy. And that’s when motherhood really started changing for me. As I’ve gone on this journey of being an advocate for myself in motherhood, two steps have proven pivotal for my growth and my health. Let’s dive in to what those are.









When I was deep in postpartum anxiety and feelings of inadequacy, it was really easy to seek direction from other people. I wanted my friends, my family, my lactation consultants, my daughter’s pediatrician, anyone at all to tell me what I should do. I was drowning, and I needed a life preserver so I could breathe again. And yet, while some suggestions were helpful, it was ultimately my mama’s intuition that proved to know what was best for me and my child. My gut knew that I had given nursing and pumping everything I had, but it wasn’t going to work. My daughter needed formula. I needed that too. Once I let go of my preconceived notions of idyllic motherhood, shook off external pressures, and embraced my reality, I started to breathe again. 

I felt less of a burden weighing on me. I was listening to my mama’s intuition, and it wasn’t failing me. I wasn’t a failure. I could figure this whole motherhood thing out after all. Feeding my baby her bottle became a time for us to be close and cuddle instead of a time of exasperation and dread. Listening to my mama’s intuition gave me a unique voice in the realm of motherhood. It allowed me to take ownership of my choices for myself and my child. Instead of listening to other’s opinions (which were often contradictory), I could advocate for what I knew was best.






After I had Rosie, my body was so foreign to me. I had gained 50 lbs in pregnancy, battled constant swelling, and had carried her for over 40 weeks so it took a toll on me. I lost initial weight from having her, but started gaining weight slowly after I stopped nursing her at 6 weeks. Now, I’ll be up front that my diet still wasn’t perfect, but I also hadn’t drastically changed anything from what I was normally doing, so I thought it was odd that I was gaining weight. At first I thought “well, you’re stressed, sleep deprived, and you just had a baby. Give yourself a break and some time.” And I did. But something continued to be off. 

My periods were all over the place. Some months I would have two periods, other months I would bleed for weeks at a time.  I was getting acne in weird areas (neck, under my armpits, etc). And even after months of Rosie sleeping through the night (which means mom and dad did too), I was still continually exhausted. I blamed it on being back at work, but at the same time, I knew that wasn’t right. I messaged my doctor back and forth for a few months detailing my symptoms and seeking help. He initially prescribed me some medication. When that didn’t quite work as expected, he prescribed two more. I didn’t want to be on three medications to mask my symptoms, so I sought a second opinion with my nurse practitioner. 




After blood tests and an ultrasound, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, really bad insulin resistance, under functioning thyroid, and very low vitamin D. Luckily, my NP knew a lot about PCOS and quickly worked to help me learn how to manage my condition. There are very practical steps I have been able to take to feel better, and it’s amazing how much change I already feel even after just 2 months. By not settling with initial opinions that didn’t sit well with me, I got the help my body really needed. 

If I had chosen to listen to others (“that’s just how you feel when you’re a mom!”) instead of advocating for myself, then I wouldn’t be experiencing the empowerment and greater sense of control I’m now feeling. Before, it was so easy to feel overwhelmed and like I had no control over anything. Now I know that’s a lie. By listening to my body, I have learned how to better advocate for its needs and care for it even with its limitations. That knowledge has helped me to view my body in a kinder light, and I’m learning how to love it for all it can and does do. I’m hopeful that I can teach my daughter to do the same.




Through learning to listen to my “mama’s intuition” and listening to my body, I have started to experience more confidence in myself and my abilities. I know that I’m the best mama for my baby. And I know that I can’t continually put my needs last in the name of sacrifice. I will not thrive and my family will not thrive if I don’t take care of and work on developing myself. I do and will make mistakes, but I am not a failure. As I advocate for myself within motherhood and as a wife, I am creating a happier, healthier self and, by extension, and happier, healthier family. Everyone benefits from us mamas stepping up and advocating for ourselves and our families.

I want to leave y’all with a quote from a new favorite of mine, Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife. She says “Seldom are we broken. We just haven’t yet learned what we need to be free.” As we are advocates for ourselves, for our desires, and for the life we want to create, we can experience that freedom. We can not only be healed; we can soar.



Thank you so much to Sarah, for this vulnerable and incredibly relatable insight. I love the message to learn how to better advocate for yourself in order to better thrive in your motherhood! As a recap, some ways you can cultivate this strength are:

Listen to your "mama's intuition" and do what works for you

Listen to your body and recognize your needs






June 28, 2020

i n d y : t w e l v e | m o n t h s



Well, the inevitable happened. My baby turned one last week! It wasn't as hard of a milestone as it was with my first. Maybe because I knew what to expect and I'm more busy with two of them but even then, it's still a weird feeling seeing your baby turn into a toddler. 

We were able to do a little celebration for Indy with our family and some friends over zoom! Thanks, pandemic. It was still fun and really, this is a great time for this to happen because she won't even remember it. 






 full-blown walking!

 loves giving kisses and just started doing hugs

 screams while chasing her sister around the house! 

⋒ loves chicken, mac n cheese and peas

⋒ starting to be more aware at night and doesn't like it when we leave the room

 has 6 teeth!





My sweet Indy girl, you are now one. Looking through old pictures of you reminded me how quickly this first year went by and it's crushing my soul, just a little. ;) When we found out we were pregnant with you, it came as a big surprise as we had just experienced a loss a couple months prior. Pregnancy after miscarriage was difficult to navigate but you proved to be our rainbow after the storm. 

You are the sweetest, chunkiest little bean and I love all of your pieces. Your deep, growl-like laugh brings me so much joy and your open-mouth kisses fill my heart. I feel so grateful to be your mama! I'm excited to see what this year brings and for all the fun we are going to have! I love you so much, my little rainbow! 




June 22, 2020

Motherhood at a Glance: The Quality and Spirit of Grace



I'm so excited for this week's feature writer, the sweetest Amber Hurley! She is currently in New Jersey with her husband and their two daughters, ages two and four. Amber is a stay-at-home-mama and a full time blogger! She absolutely loves what she does and is always striving to do the best she can to be the best version of herself! 


Amber's message today is all about cultivating the ability to give yourself grace and avoiding the "perfectionist" mindset! The simplicity in today's message provides a perfect opportunity for us to remember the bases and to create a strong foundation in our motherhood!





I used to be such a perfectionist and always so critical of myself. I felt that I had to be organized all the time and had to have everything together 24/7! I would overthink everything and make a huge deal out of things that were really NOTHING! Being a mom to 2 toddlers had me going crazy at one point and I was doing it to my own self. I was stressing my own self out and causing unnecessary worry. I had to cultivate the quality and spirit of GRACE! This strength is important in motherhood because you are doing the very best you can, and then you don’t have to be perfect all the time! You don’t have to have your crap together all the time! I’ve seen this saying so many times: Your kids don’t need a perfect mom, they need a HAPPY one. No matter how unorganized or how far on the hot mess express you think you are, those little amazing humans you are raising don’t think that at all. When they see you, when they look up at you, all they see is a mom who cares and loves them more than anything! They depend on us for that LOVE, not for perfection! 


This strength helps me be a better mom because instead of me yelling all the time at my kids due to me being edgy and running around like a chicken with no head, I’m able to be calmer and just RELAX! Nothing is that serious where I need to be going crazy and taking it out on them, or even my Husband for that matter. It helps my children because my 4 year old is not constantly asking me, “Mommy are you happy now?” I would feel so bad when she would ask me that because she knew when I was not happy and when I was edgy and stressed. That’s not good for our kids to see at all! So I needed to change that and again, cultivate the strength of grace so that I could thrive better within my household. 











Some things that I have done, and my fellow mamas can do as well is get some SELF-CARE! Don’t forget about YOU! So from the simplest things like doing a face mask and having some wine, to going to the spa and getting a mani pedi, TAKE CARE OF YOU! It’s okay if you don’t feel like playing with the kids at the moment if you’re tired and your back is killing you. It’s okay if you don’t make those fancy chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast and give your kids waffle cereal out of the box for them to eat from because you didn’t get enough sleep that night. Give yourself some GRACE. It’s okay to leave the kids with your significant other for a while and get out of the house by yourself and get in the car, roll down the windows and blast your music and rock out! 


You cannot serve from an empty glass. However, don’t feel pressured to be at full capacity ALL THE TIME! 











Give yourself grace! What do I mean by that? It means give yourself the kindness that you DESERVE! Are you a perfectionist all the time? Are you often very hard on yourself when trying to juggle motherhood along with everything else? Are you just winging everything besides your eyeliner and still don’t know what you’re doing? It’s OKAY! 










What also helps me is the tremendous support of my Husband. I couldn’t do this without him. He often takes a load off of my shoulder and I couldn’t be more grateful. So to my fellow mamas, please lean on your partner and don’t be afraid to ask for help. That’s what they’re there for! If you unfortunately are a single mom, please call out for help from your friends, parents, etc. YOU have to make sure YOU are OKAY! 




So never feel that you’re inadequate. You’re not going to do everything right, and you’re not going to be perfect. Your house will be a mess, you’re going to look like hell, but it can wait. The dishes can wait, the house can wait, and frozen meals are okay! Don’t be so hard on yourself. You are a MOM and you are KILLING IT! Remember, “there will be so many times when you feel like you’ve failed, but in the eyes, heart, and mind of your child, you are SUPERMOM!” – Stephanie Precourt 




The cutest fam!! Thank you so much to Amber for sharing your strength in motherhood and giving us a little peek into her family. I love simplicity in her message and the reminder of how important it is to exercise grace, especially as a mama!


As a quick recap, her three takeaways are:



Exercise self care, whatever that may look like for you


Give yourself grace and remember your feelings are valid


Accept support and don't be afraid to ask for help




You can find Amber on instagram at: 
and on her blog:
















June 15, 2020

Motherhood at a Glance: Finding Joy in the Messy Middle



Today's Motherhood at a Glance Feature writer is my longtime friend, Brittaney Peterson! She currently lives near the ocean in historic Charleston, SC with her sweet husband, their two boys, Ezra Michael (2.5-years-old) and Whalen Richard (6-weeks-old), as well as their angel babies, Baby P, Eloise Faye and Everly René!


Brittaney is a writer, creator and photo-taker who believes that though life is wild, it is meant to be enJOYed! She is passionate about cultivating a fulfilling life with simplicity, optimism, wellness and creativity. This is just a peek into Brittaney's motherhood journey and what she has learned but I know you are going to learn so much from her, as it has resonated with me!





It took two years for us to get our first baby earth-side. To some that may seem short, and to others it may sound like an eternity. For us, it was more like a rollercoaster time-warp – sometimes fast, sometimes slow, and sometimes just straight up backwards.


Before our sweet boy got here, we said mournful goodbyes to our first two babies. Our first goodbye was on our first anniversary, and it was over almost as soon as we realized it began. Our second was different. It came in the form of early stillbirth, and we buried a perfect tiny girl with hurt, hope and slow, steady healing in our hearts.


At the time, things like friends’ pregnancy announcements and my 9-to-5 office job reminder that I still didn’t have a baby in my arms didn’t feel like a huge blessing, but in true “life” fashion, these experiences were teaching me exactly the lessons I needed to be able to experience ULTIMATE joy each wonderful and difficult day of my life.




By the time our first baby boy came into the picture, we were hesitant but hopeful. We were overjoyed when he arrived safe and healthy. Motherhood! I had finally arrived! Though it was (and is) full of ups and downs, I was (and am) just grateful to be experiencing them.


Gratitude, baby. That’s the good stuff.


We suffered another miscarriage before our second baby boy joined our family, too. With each subsequent pregnancy, I have only gained a deeper understanding of what it means to let go and enjoy the journey. Joy and sadness can and should coexist! They are NOT mutually exclusive. This was the first of many lessons I have learned so far in motherhood.




Life is wild, but it’s meant to be enjoyed, ya know? This part we’re in is what I like to call the messy middle, and though it’s often hard to feel this way, it’s really where the best stuff can be found.


Joy is an essential part of a fulfilling life. It’s made of the deep, wide, forever kinda stuff. It’s not necessarily the light, fluffy, fleeting happiness we sometimes chase, though that’s important too. Joy is a pure, constant state that I believe can always be found within.


I’m going to have you pause here for a minute, and on your phone or a piece of paper, write down your recent moments of pure joy. Do you notice any trends, themes or gaps?


When I do this activity, I find that joy usually comes to me in consistent ways. So consistent, in fact, that I’ve been able to come up with a handy little list of my top 10 joy-bringers (and boy, do they bring it):


  1. human connection (family, friends and self)

  2. connection with a greater power (a.k.a. God)

  3. actively seeking and engaging in passions

  4. being in the present moment

  5. physical movement

  6. humor – letting loose and laughing OFTEN

  7. giving and receiving service

  8. optimism and hope

  9. inwardly and outwardly expressing gratitude

  10. honoring your authentic self + self-compassion


If you take nothing else away from this post, I hope you’re able to find those little areas in the canopy of your life that that joy is able to burst through. These little inklings, as I’m sure you know, can be easy to lose track of in the busyness of being “mama”, but boy do they matter.


So how can you possibly find this joy on those hard, dark, overwhelming and/or monotonous days of motherhood?


I tell you, when you focus on the good, the good gets better. There is one surefire way to bring yourself out of a slump, to make an off day better, and to flip the script on “this moment is bad, so this day is bad, so this life is bad”. It is your ticket onto the bullet train to bliss. Wanna know what it is? Gratitude.















We’ve all heard of gratitude journals, and though I am a huge fan of the idea, I sometimes struggle with being consistent (#mombrain #cantfindmypen #whohasthetime #whatevenistime?). You know what only takes a second or three, though?


Say it out loud!


Yes, even to yourself.


Yes, seriously.


Just utter aloud a little “wow, I’m so grateful for ____________” (this weather today, fuzzy socks, my strong work ethic, junior’s help in the kitchen, my ability to see color, etc.).


Offer up a quick 5 or 15-second prayer of gratitude to God or to your higher power.


So often, we hear about how motherhood is a thankless job, and while that may ring true, one thing we can control as moms is expressing thanks ourselves. At most, we lead by example, and at the very least, your brain will get a drop of sunshine with each thankful thought you think. (Getting Seuss-y over here :’))


In the name of the feel-goods, expressing gratitude to others is just about the best simple win-win you can find. Bringing joy to others through gratitude will bring you joy. Joy is contagious! And on that note…













Healthy connection will always bring simple, lasting happiness. It is important to foster this connection with God, with others and with yourself.


Connecting with God has always come relatively easy to me, and I am so grateful for that. As a mother, I often feel overwhelmed with the task of raising up strong, kind, gentle, courageous little people. In my connection with God, I have been able to find peace and answers to some of my hardest questions, and in so doing have been able to let go of some of my most difficult trials.


Connecting with others has been much more challenging for me. I have always found it difficult to get outside of myself and my own head, and since becoming a mother it has been this way even more so. What I can say for sure is that when I do make that effort to make connections with others, be that family, close friends, or my squad of rock star internet mom friends, I feel an innate peace and happiness that can’t compare to anything else. I find it especially fulfilling when these connections are service-oriented. 10/10 would recommend THAT if you’re looking for gold joy status.


Lastly, you want to make sure you make time to connect with yourself. So often, we get lost in motherhood and the constant state of being needed. Even 30-second check-ins or quiet pantry breaks of breathing exercises make a world of a difference in restoring peace and revealing specs of joy in your heart. Check in with yourself. How are you feeling right now, and what do you need? Which reminds me…






 








YOU ARE HERE  This present, precious, delicious, never-going-to-be-here-again moment.


Let GO of your distractions. (Social media, smart phones, comparisons, worries about the future – I’m looking at you!) These babies don’t keep, and before you know it they’ll be taking care of you while you daydream about the days you were taking care of them. When we fully open our eyes to the beauty in our life around us, it becomes easy to spot those little flecks of joy in the average day-to-day.


Really, fully relish in this moment. Breathe it in and plant your feet firmly in the now and squeeze your babies and close your eyes and smell their hair and gaze in awe as they learn new things or watch quietly as they play, even just for a moment.


Romanticize your life!!! Another smudge-y handprint on the window? More like a beautiful mark of your motherhood for the sun to literally shine through. Ordinary carpool or trip to the supermarket? More like an adventure waiting to happen. Woken up before dawn by a crying baby (again)? More like an opportunity to watch God paint the sky for you and send you sweet, secret messages.


Simplicity, gratitude and mindfulness - these things will take you further than any podcast, self-help book or inspirational YouTube video as they propel you out of your own head and straight into this moment. Stop consuming. Stop living in the past or worrying about the future. Just be. Embrace this beautiful now, sister! I promise you’ll find the magic.





Mama, you matter. This life of yours matters. You deserve to feel this joy that I promise is undoubtedly woven deeply into your being, right at the core of who you are, no matter your circumstances.


As you express gratitude openly and often, find time to connect, and embrace the present moment, I know that you will find peace amidst chaos, joy alongside sadness and appreciation for even the mundane.


And don’t be afraid to visit your joy list every once in a while. It might just spark something.



Can you even handle those sweet babies!? Thank you so much to Brittaney for her sweet message on finding joy in the messy middle! Brittaney has always been a source of inspiration for me all throughout our teenage years together but especially during our motherhood journeys. She is pure sunshine and I'm so grateful to know her! I hope you felt the power in her words and found things that you can apply in your own life! 

One more quick recap so you can jot these down: 

Express gratitude openly and often, to yourself and to others

Find time to connect with God, with others and yourself

Embrace the present moment and let go of distractions




You can find Brittaney over on her website:
and on Instagram at: