How I landed this Stay-at-Home Mom Gig


With all the political talk in the past few weeks, this topic hits home most for me during this season of my life. Modern day “feminism” or whatever you choose to call it… has got me thinking a lot about parenthood and more specifically, motherhood. This is my story about being a mom, being a stay-at-home mom.

It’s what makes the world go ’round. In my belief, a man and a woman who love each other and vow to spend the rest of their lives together make love and that leads to a baby, which leads to parenthood. The cycle goes on. It’s where we all came from… a man, and a woman. It takes two to tango. Do you catch my drift yet?

Let me explain the beauty of being a stay-at-home mom. That “label” doesn’t offend me like people might think. I don’t feel any “less valued” like people might think. I could care less actually what people think because  I know most people aren’t politically correct, and I just don’t get easily offended. I think the reason is because I have confidence in my decisions as I take the time to weigh all options, I sit down and write that old fashioned pros and cons list.

For those who don’t know me and my work history, I am confident enough to say I have good work ethics. I am thankful for my parents teaching me the basic foundation of work ethics. Work hard and you will reap the benefits in time! Start from the bottom of that totem pole, swallow that pride, and work your way up. It’s humbling when you find yourself at a more successful place than you once began. You know where you started and you can excel by putting in the time. You might think, “what does this even has to do with motherhood?”

With the basis of work ethics and starting from the bottom, I bring you to my experience. It’s not the coolest and most glamourous life, but it’s real and it’s how I got to this particular season of my life as a stay-at-home mom.

I got my driver’s license when the first opportunity showed itself when I turned 16. I didn’t want to wait years later like I could have. My motive for getting my license was so I could drive myself to work and make my own money because my parents were not the type to just hand me everything without me earning it. So my dad bought a little 1989 Toyota pick-up (stick shift I might add). I wasn’t in love with the fact I had to learn how to drive a manual, but now I am thankful my dad insisted on making sure I knew how! THANK YOU, DAD. I drove that little truck around town to my interviews and landed my very first job at Applebee’s as a hostess. Once I made enough money to pay my dad back for the truck, I gave him that $500 and paid for my little truck. Once I had my income from my job, I was officially an adult paying for my small bills as a high school student. Working late into the night after school, and then finishing high school. I then continued my strides and held on to my work ethics, cleaning tables, seating guests, and being at the bottom of that totem pole. Not glamorous, but getting the job done! After graduating high school and moving on to the community college in town, needless to say, I paid for my own books, and semester fees. I have to give credit to my parents for picking up the tab for one semester of books that one time! It was like Christmas getting those couple books paid for! Later on I saved enough money to buy myself a new-to-me car. I upgraded to my little ole 2004 Honda Civic. It wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t flashy, but I saved money to upgrade my car. I was working up my totem pole all by myself (with the encouragement of my parents). Later, I land at the highest paying job I’ve had before getting married. It wasn’t super glitzy, just better than the previous. I worked with what I had, commuting 30 minutes back and forth from work, to night classes, and then home. I ended up moving out on my own into my little 700 square foot apartment. I felt so proud of myself, but never boasted about it to others. I was the only one out of most people I knew my age who had now paid off my first car, moved into my own apartment alone with no roommates to help with rent and bills, and had a hefty saving account by the age of 22. It was just unheard of in my town and age group. With this particular job, I didn’t make a big fuss (most the time) about working overtime. There was a ton of work for just two girls, so there was opportunity for overtime. I did what I could and worked around class schedules and instead of looking at the overtime as a burden, I looked at it as an opportunity to load up my savings account. I still had my school work, and I still kept a social life. But I put on my big girl pants and just made it happen the only way I knew how. I didn’t live with ALL the thing and materials I WANTED, I kind of lived a frugal life and lived simple.

Fast forward through getting married to my man, and paying for most our wedding, I picked up and moved to a different state. This military wife lifestyle is for another story, but I started from scratch again. Found a job in our new state, met new people and it was back to the bottom of the totem pole. But I didn’t let that stop me, I didn’t view it as a handicap because it’s what I do. I know how to start at the bottom. I rolled with it, and I have confidence again saying I still kept my strong work ethics throughout that season.

My husband and I both wanted our children to grow up by our side. We both wanted to be involved as much as possible, and that decision of me staying home to raise our first child has been agreed upon. I get joy out of motherhood and all the crazy things that come along with it. I am so thankful my husband is on the same page as I am with family values. You might think we must make a ton of money to be able to pull off living on one income, but that’s not entirely true. Why I take so much pride in the fact I get to be home during this season of life is because we work hard at finances. We sit down and look at our numbers so often it’s just annoying sometimes. It’s not EASY giving up some luxury things. It’s not easy to window shop and not buy that thing we have our eye on every time we want something. It’s not easy spending money on baby formula and bills and rent instead of new clothes, expensive dinners, and fancy things. We do have our nice cars, but we worked hard for the big down payments and low interest rates. We shop smart and plan our big purchases. We still have nice things, just not all the time and not the most fancy things. But, we have learned that we value our family above all during this precious moment of parenthood. We value the things that don’t cost money too,  the things like family, and our love for each other. This is just a season, and we won’t get the beginning months and years of parenthood back. I am proud of our little family for starting at the bottom of the totem pole and not expecting to be handed anything. I am proud of my husband who works his booty off for more than the average 40 hour work week to provide for our family and not complain about it. He also started at the very bottoms of his totem pole in the military and has worked very hard to get promoted to the next rank each time. My husband and I both work hard for what we have, it’s just in different ways. We both respect each other and the ways we contribute to our family. We both appreciate what each other does during the day. We both come together in the evenings after work and continue the rest of our day helping each other. I love that about us, we see eye to eye and we don’t tally up who we think does “more” in a day. We both are in the kitchen, we both clean up, and we both treat each other. And most off, I am thankful for his chivalry towards me, he is gracious in his role as my husband, our baby’s father, the protector of our family, and the provider.

These are the reasons I am not offended when people look down on me for staying home with my baby. For thinking I’m not living my “fullest” life, or not doing more with my life. Believe it or not, I actually still get to do things I love, like graphic designs, and artsy stuff. Things take a little longer to accomplish, but I still get to enjoy things other than “mom stuff”.

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This is just another season I am in and I surely worked hard to get to where I am. I value every single day and I have such joy that I am able to raise my own baby. It not only fills my heart, but I feel so accomplished, again! Keeping a tiny human alive is fast paced. There is no handbook or training for this job. It’s hard sometimes when you have to learn by trial and error and not knowing what to expect. Being a mom requires full attention and taking complete care of someone else. You have to put their needs above your own for most of the day. You have good days and hard days. But every day that I get to take care of my own baby, I feel rewarded by her innocent and precious love. I am so thankful for this season and I do not feel any sense of degrade from my job right now. Our baby and future babies will not be small forever and neither will my “stay-at-home mom job”, I will move back into my next totem pole and my next season of life when the time comes.

I respect my husband even more now that we are parents because he leaves his paid job and comes home to the parenthood job. Parenthood is the job that is 24/7, that has no lunch breaks, that has no clocking out, that has no vacation time off, and that pays ZERO money. Motherhood is no less work than any other job, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Being a stay-at-home mom doesn’t define me, but if I could pick a word to best define it, I’d pick the word “selfless”. My hope is that this perspective sheds light on the beauty of motherhood and for those women who feel the need to prove themselves to everyone else. Just work hard at every role and be proud of accomplishments you worked for. Jobs don’t define anyone and I hope no stay-at-home mom ever feels degraded by their huge selfless act of putting their kids before “success”. At the end of the day, those babies we take care of and raise grow up and we eventually go back to the work grind. Our time comes back around just like it once did before.

YOU GO GIRL.

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Thrifty. Thirsty. Thursday.

We made it over hump day this week!

We shall call it thrifty, thirsty Thursday because today was full of antique shopping with a little (or a “latte” hehe, see what I did there) coffee on the side—after lunch at the café that is. It doesn’t get much better than that on a cloudy day like today!

If you are someone who is anyone in Clarksville, TN then you should already know of this fun, quirky shop called Miss Lucille’s Marketplace. They have a super yummy café inside with a comfortable picnic style patio area. This place has it all! You can go for lunch in the café, grab a cup of coffee at their coffee shop, or just wander around their warehouse. Miss Lucille’s has a HUGE, I mean seriously big you guys, warehouse full of individual consignment booths with all kinds of merchandise. Each booth is different than the next, from crafty homemade décor, to baby items, to furniture, to man cave stuff, to real antiques! You could seriously spend hours just walking around from booth to booth.

 

I wish I snapped more photos while I was there, but I didn’t have my camera. My favorite item on the menu at the café is the Italian Job Panini, its loaded with ham, pepperoni, salami, spinach, provolone cheese, tomatoes, and Italian dressing. Then its smooshed and grilled into the crunchy panini style that I love so much.

Then, it gets better, the coffee shop is so good! I mean, any place that has good shopping AND coffee wins my heart and can call it a day. Today I got a January Special drink called Cinnamon Coconut Latte for the road.

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They have a different “Specials” menu each month and they’re seasonal flavors. Umm, yes please and thank you! 

On top of all that cool stuff already mentioned, they also have a wedding venue that’s called The Belle Hollow, and it’s got that gorgeous rustic type of vibe. SO PRETTY. 

Anyways, that’s the general lowdown on today’s gloomy weather adventure for today. 

 

What to Expect When Expecting? The Unexpected Pregnancy, Labor + Delivery

This is my story throughout my first pregnancy, labor, and delivery experience. It is raw and it is super real—this might be considered TMI, but I know I wish I found real stories of this journey when I was researching these topics while trying to prepare myself for what was to come.

PREGNANCY:

Due to the military lifestyle, my husband and I tried to time this pregnancy so he would most likely be home for the whole process. I was worried that we wouldn’t conceive quickly after being on birth control pills for several years. I got off the pill a couple months before my husband got home for deployment so my body could regulate without the pill. Every person responds differently with this stuff, but seemed to run smoothly for me. We actively tried for our baby only one week and then played the waiting game. I took my first pregnancy test a couple weeks later (the longest few days of my life). The test was negative! BUMMER. But, I was still hopeful, so I re-took the test a couple days later… Just. In. Case. The dang line was SO faint, but it read positive! We were still on pins and needles wondering if it were real or not, so of course I got the digital test that either read pregnant or not pregnant. Yep! The digital tests read, “Pregnant”.

The weeks flew by as I took the weekly bump photos. I didn’t have any morning sickness, but I did have a pretty mean sciatica phase during the entire pregnancy. I craved Sonic’s Half Sweet Tea/Half Unsweet Tea Route 44 drinks with the crushed ice in the hot and humid summer days in Tennessee— oh yeah and Spicy Chicken Chick-Fil-A Sandwiches until heartburn kicked in. Other than that, the pregnancy was smooth sailing, I was that really annoying girl who had the perfect pregnancy while others were suffering from puking their guts out and having horror stories of their bad experiences.


At the end of week 38, things got more uncomfortable and very interesting. I knew I was nearing the end of pregnancy and the beginning of Labor and Delivery. Before, I dreaded the delivery, sounds terrifying! But towards then end, it’s more like, “I can’t wait to sleep on my stomach, get this baby out of me” feeling.


At the doctor appointment a couple weeks before my due date, I found out I was 3 cm dilated and 50% effaced. My mom was thinking it’s go time soon but doc didn’t seem concerned. I went on a steroid called Dexamethasone to boost my low platelets so I wouldn’t hemmorage during delivery. We unfortunately planned and scheduled an induction a couple days before my due date so my platelets were at the peak of height. I prayed and prayed that our baby girl would come on her own, naturally, so I didn’t have to be induced. I just felt guilty and reluctant about it.

LABOR:

I went for my routine doctor appt a few days before my induction date and all was well. The doc only did an ultrasound, didn’t check my dilation progress. At this point my mom and dad already flew into Nashville just to stick around town in case I wanted them near. My military ID was about to expire in the next couple weeks, so I decided I would do my hair and make up the day of my appt and knock out both the appt and the renewal of my ID while I was on post. On my way home, with my shiny new ID card, I started to feel like I should have already had my hospital bag put in the car. I get home and was texting my mom seeing where about they were because I felt a nap coming on and obviously didn’t want any interruptions haha! I got into the house and grabbed an ice pack to cool down and help my fatigue, wrapped it in a paper towel and sat down on the couch. GUSH. That couldn’t be my water breaking… COULD IT?! I dropped to the floor in hope that I wouldn’t make a mess on the couch, grabbed that paper towel from the ice pack and soaked up what I could. BAM. Contractions were hitting hard and consistent. Okay, they weren’t joking around when they say that you’ll know when you have real labor contractions (and not those Braxton-Hicks ones). They hit hard! I couldn’t move, think, or breathe. But oddly I was so stoked it was finally happening! Timing them on an app, well trying to.


I called my husband at work and just said, “my water just broke” and then click. Hung up. Haha! In between contractions, I texted my parents and called the L&D to tell them I was coming in! Perfect timing, my parents arrived at the house, then my husband came in. Had the hospital bag and car seat in the car, then grabbed a plastic trash bag to line my seat (gotta keep that car clean, duh). Got through the gate on post very quickly because we had that awesome scene like in movies when the guy says to the officer, “my wife’s in LABOR!” So cool. As I was being pushed in a wheel chair up to the second floor of the hospital, I vaguely remember people looking in excitement and one person saying, “someone’s about to have a baby!”


It hit me, OMG I am about to have our baby!!! I didn’t even get to go have my mani/pedi, ugh. While still in horrid, unimaginable pain, I had some excitement inside that I couldn’t share due to the fact it would require breath to speak out loud. Which I could just not do.

DELIVERY:

My prayers were answered, since my water broke naturally without being induced, I was clearly admitted into L&D without that whole being sent home because your contractions are too far apart thing that some girls have to hear. They ask a series of questions I don’t even remember before stripping down to enter the delivery room.

Unexpected things happen at this point in the whole process. Both my parents were in the delivery room along with my husband of course. You see like a hundred different nurses come in and out of the room. You have your favorites, and you love them, and you want to send them Christmas cards, then they disappear and you have a new person. But you just have to roll with it. I luckily got an epidural, which you have to sit very still for and they make it sound really scary, so that was cool. But in reality it was the LEAST of my worries. I don’t recall feeling any of that needle injection. THE HEAVENS OPENED. I’m on cloud nine with this thing. I give some very extravagant applause to those women who have babies naturally. Contractions are totally not cool. At this point, I’m snapping pics with my husband and giving thumbs up and napping and feeling so good about this!

No. Wrong. Uh-uh. I get checked, the dilation process took a bit to get to push time. When push time came I wanted to die. My husband is there holding one of my legs THE ENTIRE TIME mind you. Everyone is saying, “push, push, push harder, good job, almost there, push, push, you’ve got this” blah blah blah. If I heard the word, “push” ONE more time… I swear. I will cut you.

After 3.5 long hours of p-u-s-h-i-n-g, it was time for some assistance. My lovely doctor whom is my ultimate favorite ever— suggested we try the vacuum assist. We agreed to try it with no hesitation after learning about it and the scary, weird forceps spoon things in a delivery class we attended prior. POP! The baby has too much hair, so it kept popping off! Once again, if I heard that vacuum pop off one more time… I swear. I will cut you, doc. POP! Didn’t work! So the next suggestion, was of course those scary, weird forceps spoon things. Ugh, I would do anything at this point to get this baby girl out of me! It was better than an emergency C-section in my opinion, so we agreed. I don’t even know how long they tried those for, but the forceps did the trick!

Baby girl came out! I felt a huge relief on my body and heart and soul. She’s here! She’s safe! She’s healthy! She’s perfect! I was drained. This is where the bad stuff happens, for me anyways. They scraped out the placenta, and all the other gross stuff. I lost about 800mL of blood (about 2 pints), I had a 4th degree laceration (a tear from one hole to the other if ya know what I mean), too many stitches to count, and I swear I got a bruised tailbone from pushing. My whole body was swollen and felt like it was going to just pop! But the good thing was that I was now on the road to recovery. After the most awesome sight of my husband, now AKA daddy, holding our sweet baby girl skin to skin… my heart was so completely full! I let him do the first honors of holding her, and wiping her down for her first “bath” while I got stitched up.

Seriously, I wish we had the Go-Pro strapped to my husband and  rolling the whole time. I so wish I had that whole 14 hours on video because it’s like the wedding day (how you can’t remember any details about it because of all the activity).

More unexpected things after that side of the process:

Breastfeeding was challenging even after reading all about it and feeling so confident. My baby wasn’t latching very well. Bummer. I kept trying and trying and trying. She did well using the nipple shield. I was not giving up, I did NOT want to use formula. I’ve got this! Lactation nurses kept coming in to help me with techniques and all that stuff. She latched here and there enough to be satisfied for a bit.

JOURNEY HOME:


After getting to come home 3 days after being admitted to L&D, it was time to get used to this tiny little human. Continuing to try to get her to latch, it was frustrating each time she cried bc she couldn’t. It was frustrating feeling like I was failing. I ended up pumping to at least keep up the dreamy amount of colostrum and breast milk. It was like striking gold with the large supply I had! I envisioned my freezer stocked full of milk with the amount I was producing. So the pumping was working very well for the first couple weeks. My mother stayed and my dad flew back home. During this week, I had fevers, so my mom and husband insisted on taking me to the ER, I ended up getting mastitis (an infection in the breast). My milk supply took a beating so I took Moringa and Fenugreek herbal supplements to boost my production again. I was still trying to pump and pump, but no luck. I was still very tired and could barely move from my stitches and swelling of my legs. But, I kept pressing on. I couldn’t fail! After all my hard work and remedies, I could not get enough milk to feed my baby. I had to give her formula. I hated myself. But what a dumb thing of me to feel, she’s thriving and is her most healthy self, and that is ALL that matters. So forget the sad feelings about pathetic failure, my baby is doing great with formula!

My mom and mother-in-law left, and our little family started our first week alone.


My husband’s two week paternity leave now came to an end and I was home for the very first time alone with our sweet baby girl. I was in so much chest pain, I was sleeping on the couch each night so I could stay sitting upright, which was the least painful way to be. I ended up going to the ER again (good thing this place was like a fancy hotel, it was the nicest ER ever). Pneumonia. What?! How do I have pneumonia after mastitis, seriously annoying. I’m trying to learn how to be a new mom here, can I catch a fever less break please? Okay, antibiotics for the win again. Mom finally goes home and we are on the road to recovery again. A week later I was still having chest pains and sleeping on the couch with unbearably sharp pains STILL. What the heck dude, it hurts to breathe. So one night I hesitantly tell my husband I might wanna go into to the ER (after I refused to when he suggested it days ago)… oops, okay maybe you’re right hubby. I was scared I was going to straight up suffocate it hurt so bad. My poor husband was being such a trooper, taking care of both his girl while dog tired. We are sitting in the ER while he’s feeding the baby, falling asleep in the most uncomfortable chair ever. He had a 24 hour shift that next morning, so he was not stoked about this situation. The doc ordered a CT scan and asks me if I would be okay with being hospitalized if needed. I said, “uhh, not ideal, I ain’t got time for this!” But obviously would if needed. Results came back, I had multiple bilateral pulmonary embolisms. Otherwise known as blood clots in the lungs. I sure enough was admitted to the ICU on post. My frantic mother got on the next flight out to help.

*Side note, she’s like the best super mom in the whole world and I hope to one day be half as awesome as she is.


My grandparents were already on their road trip to come meet their brand new first great grandchild. Luckily the timing was perfect because little did we know, my husband was about to need all hands on deck to help with the baby. I was transferred to Vanderbilt ICU the next day via ambulance. I was in Vanderbilt for a week and away from my baby girl the whole time. Total suck fest.


My blood clots most likely formed in my feet and was said to be caused by postpartum clotting. Blood clots are common after birth, but these were a little more dramatic. I had several very large clots that travelled through my heart into my lungs without killing me. No wonder I felt like I was going to suffocate. I am thankful, so very thankful for surviving. I have to give myself a blood thinner shot called Lovenox twice a day for 3-6 months to break down the clots. I’m nearing the end of month 3 now and will be scheduling another CT scan to see the clots and their progress.


Future Pregnancies:

I will most likely do a C-Section because of my laceration, and blood loss. Unfortunately I’ll also have to do the Lovenox shot during and after pregnancy for a total of 12 months minimum— to prevent the possibility of pulmonary embolism issues next time.

It has been a crazy journey that I never could have even imagined since the day I found out I was pregnant. I would not have expected or even known to research some of the things that happened. The complete raw story is to share in hopes that I can help encourage anyone who might end up having a story similar to mine. I cried A LOT. And I felt like a failure before my baby even turned 4 weeks old. Not the easiest or best start to motherhood, but I believe it made me stronger, more thankful, and more inspired. This event changed my life and makes me so glad to be ALIVE!


If your made it all the way to the end of my short novel (oops), thank you for reading. I appreciate everyone who said a prayer or kept me in their thoughts, believe me it helped. This was a very hard thing for me to go through, especially living on the other side of the country from my friends and family.

Always remember everyone has a story, so continue to be encouraging because you never know their whole story.

I leave you with this: 

1 Thessalonians 5:18 | “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”

Moms Don’t Take Sick Days

Y’all know what I’m talking about when you hear the phrase, “moms don’t take sick days” and how truthful it really is when you’re under the weather. Parents- moms, or dads can all relate on this subject. I am not a full blown health addict or anything as much as I’d like to be. But, I do like a good piece of good ol’ natural remedies! 

We have a family friend who is really like my “aunt”, and she ALWAYS has an answer for any health advice and questions. This time around it was how to battle the common cold. 


At the beginning signs of a cold like the sore throat, followed by a cough, or pressure headache— pour a cap full or 1/2 tsp of 3% hydrogen peroxide in one ear and let it sit for 10 minutes. It will be kinda cold and bubble up, but it’s normal. Then drain it on a paper towel and repeat with the other ear. The hydrogen peroxide kills bacteria in the ear which a lot of the time is where a cold originate! Who knew?! 

As for the sore throat remedy, you can either have a hot mug of water (or chamomile tea) with 2 tsp of raw honey. I also opted for using emergen-C packets—not a natural remedy, but loaded with vitamin C. 

These might not be as effective if you’ve waited too long after the first signs of the cold, but totally worth a shot! 

Ringing in 2017

Happy New Year!


I cannot believe how fast time flies when you’re havin’ fun! 2016 was literally the quickest year of my life. Seems just like yesterday my husband and I were planning our babymoon trip to Cancun and praying for our little miracle baby. The week before Christmas ’15 was an exciting time for us!


My husband was deployed and came home right before our Christmas vacation, so we planned our Cancun trip and started our baby plan! 


Our prayers came true when we found out I was pregnant on January 6, 2016. Since I was pregnant for most of 2016, you can imagine why it went by so quickly! It’s one of those events in life that feel like it takes forever day by day, but really goes by like lightning speed! Then we had our sweet little baby girl in September, and that pretty much wrapped our awesome year of 2016! 

I cant wait to see what 2017 brings our little family. I have set a couple goals for myself to meet this year. Those goals include: 

  • Document my creativity more often.
  • Get back to my pre-baby weight so I can fit back into my wedding ring without getting a blister (some postpartum things that are never talked about)! 
  • Inspire and uplift women, not compete (not that I compete ever, but always a good reminder).
  • Make wise financial decisions on the daily basis, live the frugal life! Be thankful for the things I have, not the things I want. 

Cheers to 2017, I hope y’all make the best of this year! 

Do What You Love

I dug out and dusted off my old college art supplies the other day because I was feeling creative again. I forgot how much I loved art and typography! Being a stay-at-home-mom, you tend to lose track of time and forget to do the things you love. It’s easy to get caught up in being a mom, but there is time to set aside and take advantage of free time to do what you enjoy! This might have taken a couple quiet lulls to accomplish, but it’s a start! If you find yourself not doing what you love in weeks, months, or even years… go do it! This is just a doodle for today, but I enjoyed doing it and made a point to sit down and get creative. 

I obviously love my daughter, and I love being able to stay home and take care of her, but I also would like to keep my enjoyable outlets dust-free! 

What are you doing sitting here reading this ramble blog?! Go do what you enjoy with your spare moments!