Social Media Break

I am completely addicted to all my social media handles! I have FOUR Instagram accounts, one for my personal life @yunggracie, one for all the food I cook and all things food @saygraceandeat, one for my son Cooper @coopdoggydog, and one for this forum Connected Mommas @connectedmommas. I also Have my personal Facebook page and a Connected Mommas Facebook page. It’s a lot of work and takes up a lot of my time an mental energy. I am officially exaughsted.

It’s been a few weeks since I deactivated my Facebook account and deleted the Instagram App on my phone to help with my lack of will power as I usually just find myself mindlessly scrolling. To help my addiction I’ve transitioned into Pinterest, however, I find myself using that way less and also having the barrier of not really connecting with anyone. More of building my own mood boards for various interests I have.

I’ve done many Social Media Detoxes as a way to cut my habit of oversharing to over 800 Facebook followers and over 400 Instagram followers on my multiple platforms that I handle, feeling pressure to be show ready and how posting starts to become my part time job with no benefits.

I knew it was time for me to take another break because I was starting to let the outside news, people, random posts all effect my inner core. That is a huge red flag. I also felt that it was taking time away from me being present with my son. Another red flag. And I saw that my husband was getting grumpy with me being on my phone more than making time with being present with him. Another red flag.

As much as i know the negative impact that Social Media has on my overall mental health, I also know how lifesaving of a tool it was when I was home with my son as a newborn baby. I was able to connect with so many people in such a short amount of time and in the comforts of my own home. It’s funny since doing these Detoxes so many times I have realized that I have my real life friends that have my actual number and call and text me. And my online friends who have all become distant acquaintances but feel closer from the constant likes, comments and online presence and support we create for each other.

I’m the type of person who needs social engagement as a way to feel uplifted and energized. I also need alone time to recharge from my social time. That being said, I am always up for Social Media because it’s a great way to have my cake and eat it too. Meaning that I can still connect with people socially while on my couch! Or if I’m feeling anti-social for the week but still want to know what I’m missing out on! I have fear of missing out. Which always seems to be photos of people living it up in Miami, Las Vegas, New York, Asia and always being on their grind. Obviously I follow the usual people who make me feel like I’m constantly not dressed in enough local and neutral colours, like my son isn’t dressed in enough seasonal and ethically sourced onesies, that I’m not eating enough food that makes my insides glow, that I lack in making my son an eight course bento box meal, that I’m not getting enough hustling done, that I’m not happy enough to be a mother, that I’m not happy enough in my marriage, that I’m not going out enough solo with just my man, that I’m not fit enough, That I’m not successful enough, that basically I’m just not enough.

Since taking Social Media off my phone I have felt a huge sense of peace and calm. I’ve felt as though I’m taking a mental vacation from all the “should’s” and “what will people think of my post?” and “who on my friend list is actually pro trump, racist and or a corrupt white feminist?” I basically needed to slow it all down and also see who I naturally gravitate to in real life. Turns out I only choose to speak to a handful of close girlfriends on the regular. I’ve also taken more conscious time to check in on friends and family, rather than scrolling, posting or comparing. It’s surprisingly been my best break. I did have major withdrawal for the first week. But I’ve since traded it in with reading articles online, reading Harry Potter with my hubby, Pinterest, more walks with my son and contributing more to my self care and domestic side of my life.

Until I choose to add Social Media back on my phone, I will continue to find inspo in real life and tactile ways with reminding myself that its all real -even if I didn’t get to edit it, filter it and post it for all eyes to see.

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The Challenges

Sleep training. Again.

 

Ugh I hate this part of being a new mom. Making decisions. It's so hard. I'm more of a let my son intuitivley decide what's best for him and if I'm tapped in enough I'll be guided on how to parent him in the ways he needs guidance. Bullshit. It's not working so far and I fear that I'm raising a self-entitled 15-month old son and lord know we do not need any more dickheads in the world. I.e.) Trump. Ewe that felt gross to type out. 

 

So. Here I am again. Feeling extremely powerless in terms of doing the right thing for my marriage and hopefully for my son’s brain development. Fuck. All that aside- why do I feel so neglectful letting my son cry it out? We've been down this road before. And Iike all things motherhood it doesn't get any easier building structure, disciplining, and creating strong boundaries and. ewe- rules. Ha! This part of being a parent frankly sucks. It sucks because it doesn't feel natural to me to hear my baby protest, wail, cry and scream to get us to pick him up and have him snuggled in the middle of my husband and I in our bed. But co-sleeping is running its course and I'm exaughsted and my marriage is suffering due to this child being in our bed separating my husband and I from any physical touch.

 

It's tough. Just like my birth experience and the disappointing outcome of how I didn't get the orgasmic birth that I planned and visualized in my head, this whole letting my son gallivant about his day with no schedule is turning out to not be sustainable. For him, for me and for our family. I guess I just didn't want to follow the norm and I wanted to do this raising my son thing differently. I wanted to really trust and use my and his intuition to help guide us in all the ways that are meant to be. The problem is the need for structure is starring us both hard in the face. 

 

Many issues we're experiencing will ideally be elevated should this sleep training work again as it has in the past. I just have a hard time doing something that may result in failure. Ha! Ain't that the truth! Like the challenge of sleep training the first time was brutal. The outcome was magical. We had our evenings back and they were ours. We had our bed back and that was powerful for our marriage. But then he got sick and it all washed away. And I wasn't strong enough to attempt sleep training again. 

 

One more emotional and hurt heart issue I face with the whole Cosleeping vs. sleep training is completely and utterly selfish. I feel robbed and guilty for not having the birth experience I expected so badly. I also didn't have the immediate love and bond for my son in the early days. It took a lot of tears, fear, and professional help to go forward with owning my process and trusting that one-day loving and caring for my son would feel easy. My first 6 months were rough and scary. I was anxious and I didn't trust my abilities to be a natural mother. He was tiny and a fragile little newborn. 

 

All that being said I finally felt a sense of pride and enjoyment the minute I decided to take an additional year off to care for my son. He's 15 months and he's my sidekick, my helper, my errand runner assistant, my best friend, my calm Buddha and overall a lot of fun! I am finally in a place where I feel like a natural mother and my bond with my son is stronger than ever. Also he's growing so fast and every morning he wakes up he's grown more and more. So I feel this guilt from the difficult beginning that I had with post Partum depression and I feel a need to make up for lost time from the beginning and for the future how lightening speed fast he's growing. Ugh. It's so hard. This mothering thing.

 

What I find even harder these days is feeling inadequate at times with not having a noteworthy career, making money and having people's opinions for how I'm raising my son. 

 

I'm lucky AS FUCK to have amazing girlfriends surrounding me. Some are mothers and some are not. But they are all supportive of me and my process as a new mom. Thank Christ for them. They seem to ex out all the other know it all pricks out there that share so much unsolicited advice to me. 

 

Society, people, family, friends all seem to know what you should be doing and how your parenting is lacking and how you're falling short here there and some days feels like everywhere. But one thing remains the truth. If you don't take yourself seriously as a mother, how can you expect the world to take you seriously. I learned that at a recent Mother Circle I attended.

Being a mother is all consuming and so many changing transitions and phases that our body, our mind, our emotions and our spirit endure. That being said the post birth experience needs the utmost patience, care and room to regain a sense of never ending healing.

The birth experience is traumatic. I need time to breath. Some days more than other days. The daily responsibilities and never ending decision-making is not quantifiable. The amount of emotions that our child expresses is exaughsting. Having to use our mother brains and make quick decisions if we are going to react or not react is guilt inducing. The strain raising a child for the first time has on our marriages is the biggest challenge yet. The times I want to scream in public that I'm doing the best I can and wanting applause in response from society is ridiculous.

But then my son calls out "mem mem" (thats momma) and reaches out for me and gives me endless hugs and knows how much I love him and I know and feel in my whole being how much I love him- That's everything.

I'm in the process of shutting out the noise; allowing opinions not to define my process and surrounding myself with supportive women that get it and most of all get me. I'm in the process of unlocking the deep seeded center of unworthiness and building a worthy center that holds my self-respect and my self-love.

Because when I start believing in myself as a capable and worthy woman, as a good mother and most of all as enough- that's when the shift will take place where dumbass opinions and comments won't hold any weight. And I can move forward with myself and my family as good enough. 

Remember to say it with me. I am enough. I am doing enough. I am worthy.

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I MISS CLOTHES SHOPPING

Okay, So its been officially 4 months and 15 days and counting of NO BUYING CLOTHES for a year challenge with between me and my husband.(only 7 more months and 10 days left!)

It seems it's been easier for my husband as he has kept so many more clothes so he has a lot to work with. I did a huge purge before our challenge and made a minimalist capsule wardrobe the best I could with the clothes I already currently owned. I feel that knowing that they are "old clothes" and also having extreme hot and beautiful summer weather has got me feeling a bit limited in terms of what clothes I currently have to work with mixed with an innate want to go to a fast fashion store and pick up the latest trendy look that captures the sunny vacation vibes that I'm feeling. But the reality is since we're only working with one income we have no choice but to cut clothes buying out of our budget.

That being said I have amazing friends that send me supportive words and reminders of how happy we will be once a year rolls around and we've stayed true to not spending money on clothes.

It's just been 31 years in the making that I've been conditioned to buy new trendy fast fashion pieces for each season change. It falls under the same category of grabbing my favourite holiday starbucks beverage to get me in the seasons spirit! I absolutely love each season the world has to offer! I love holidays and everything in between! I'm that girl! I am used to literally BUYING into each season.

So summer, also the season of my birthday, I'm just used to "treating myself" extra with wild prints, summer jumpsuits, sandals, sunglasses, bags, hats, and all things bright summer-y colours.

This summer I'm working with one pair of jean shorts with rust splatters from cleaning the backyard, a pair of army green linen shorts that are comfortable but I feel a bit frumpy in, and a pair of Nike running shorts. I have one chambray jumpsuit from Old Navy that I bought three years ago because I felt "like an artist in Brooklyn" Ha! And I never got any wears out of it until now and I've gotten so many compliments on it! I can dress it up or down and I love how versatile it is.

It's a constant reminder that when I am back onto buying clothes (still keeping my budget in mind and not spending beyond my means) I will be absolutely searching for items of clothing that are easy to maintain, stain proof somewhat around my baby boy, versatile in being able to dress up with nice shoes or dress down in sandals or sneakers, and I will be looking for plain textile and no trendy prints and a classic shape that can be worn in all seasons and decades.

My solution for wanting to buy more clothes so early into my one year challenge:

-organize a clothing swap

-Clean out my closet and re organize the clothes that I do have and be grateful for that.

-search summer looks and recreate a similar vibe with the clothes and accessories that I already own

-think outside of the box

-vicariously live through my friends and their new purchases! ha!

I may be getting a bit extreme in terms of no buying clothes. My husband and I discussed that if someone gave us a gift certificate for a clothing store or gave us money that we could treat ourselves to a new article of clothing. But I've since accrued some money from side hustles like catering gigs, birthday money, selling some of our old appliances and I've decided to continuously place that money in the bank. For example as mentioned before I have bought a value pack of panties from Costco since my pregnancy underwear didn't fit my post pregnancy body (I think this challenge has been extra difficult because of me being in a size thats hopefully temporary and me wanting to go out and buy a bunch of clothes that fit my current body at 15 months post partum) On my birthday I got my boobs resized and bought a brand new strapless bra. Wow! What a good bra does to my self image! I feel tighter and put together! A good exercise to be mindful in. Dressing well does make you feel much better about your body image. I'm still figuring out ways to work with the clothes I own and make them work for me until this challenge is over. But after I bought the bra I felt super guilty for spending that money on myself and on clothes. Like a failed the challenge somewhat. But as my friend reminded me underwear is a necessity. For the record I chose a black, seamless strapless bra, with straps for another option and it will be my only bra for now. Apart from my old bras.

This challenge has got me translating my experience into other parts of my life and learning to withhold spending so carelessly and having control over my approach to spending money in general. I am proud of myself so far and I have been able to save money through the process! Thats a great motivator!

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UPDATE: no buying clothes for a year!

UPDATE: NO BUYING CLOTHES FOR ONE YEAR

 

Wow so this is still currently happening and let me tell you its gotten easier in many ways, however, the challenges I face on a weekly basis do occure.

I find that my body is in such a weird shape and weight with being almost 14 months post birth and let me tell ya, some body parts are tighter, looser, fatter, chubbier, stronger, leaner and saggy AF-er.

All my current cothes that I own are perhaps not the most flattering or current fitting pieces. That is the reality of my decision not to buy new clothes for a year and work with what I currently own. Which is a constant reminder in the future to choose clothing that I can invest in for form, quality and durability.

 I get super jealous when I hear some of my mom friends saying that an immediate way that made them feel better about their post birth weight was to go shopping and buy clothes that fit them NOW. That makes total sense. But with me on the tightest budget ever and with me not contributing financially for a year, I really cannot use buying new clothes as an option to help elevate my attempt at a positive body image journey.

I must say that my husband and I started this challenge in April and it has been almost three whole months of not buying new clothes for ourselves. It’s been hard AF when it comes to wanting the trendy looks, being bored, and missing the joys of instant gratification when shopping. 

That being said, I am also in love with how few choices I have in my closet and coming to the realization that I don't stray away much from my favourite outfit combinations that I happen to consistently feel good in. I love wearing in a black top. I enjoy a versatile and comfy bottom- it’s June so I mean jean shorts. I live in them. I get super hot ever since I was pregnant and I am still always super hot! Temperature wise people! Lol

I used to have all sorts of ill fitting cheap and trendy tops and bottoms that didn’t go with anything. They were either on sale or an impulse buy.

Since my wardrobe cleanse, I notice that I do my laundry more often, however, all my clothes generally match and it’s faster to get ready.  I, now, have around 30 items of clothes total.

Since our decision to not buy any clothes for a year, I was in need of new undies. Nothing sexy, but functioning-so I bought a 10 pack of high wasted full bummed panties from Costco.

If I were to choose to buy new items of clothing to replace the ill fitting once in my current wardrobe, I would choose my underwear hands down! I feel so ugly and sloppy in my underwear at the moment.It probably doesn’t help that I’ve been wearing my BIKINI TOP as a padded bra!

I need two new bras that help lift my post breastfeeding breasts to revive my inner sexy woman. Because right now I feel like a slob wearing old sports bras. Lumps all over. I need some wonderbra from Victorias Secret to help harness all the loose ends of my boobs and side boobs to a place that feels more familiar to me. Perky and round boobs. Ugh! I miss my old boobs! So, being the flexible person that I am (hahaha not so much these days.) my husband and I decided that underwear is a MUST, is a NEED, and is the base of your wardrobe.

In my case, I will feel better about myself with better fitting underwear. My clothes will hang better on my body and I’ll feel sexier. As much as the perfectionist in me feel like I already failed when I bought my jumbo pack of panties from Costco, and to now realize that I need to replace my bras and panties,,,it’s hard to do. BUT it’s more important that I feel better about my body than it is to stay rigid with our fun challenge we started to initially save money.

I have to celebrate the small wins. And that is that in three months I’ve only bought discount panties and in the near future I will be buying two new bras and a few lacy numbers to elevate my sexy self. Or lack there of at the moment. I have still chosen to buy what I NEED. That is the goal and we are kicking ass!  

 

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ZERO WASTE LIVING

ZERO WASTE LIVING

 

Wow, I can’t even believe that I’m writing about this topic because I feel like an imposter. I grew up with a single mother that struggled to make ends meet, ate processed foods, learned at a young age what it was like to be a consumer without thinking of the environmental impact.

 

I remember my childhood, and young adulthood living as though the planet and I were invincible. Is it because I’m home with my son and I have extra quiet space to think about anything and everything? Is it because I’m so jaded with how I left the cooking world? Is it because I’m a grown ass woman and this is par for the course when you age to think about cause and effect? I think it’s because I’ve entered into the minimalist, saving money and wanting more experience rather than things lifestyle. Am I there yet? Am I a true minimalist, money savvy and zero waste? Absolutely not…yet.

 

The process of becoming a mother also has transformed the way I think, act, and see EVERYTHING and EVERYONE. I want to make small changes in my life that will create positive change socially, environmentally and within myself.

 

Staying home I am able to observe and reflect on how my husband and I live our lives with our 13-month-old son. Since he’s been born we have been taking out loads and loads or trash, recyclables and compost. It’s insane how much waste my tiny family of three (plus a cat) go through each week let alone a DAY!

Diapers, wipes, more diapers, a shit ton more wipes, plastic packaging, plastic coverings, food waste, processed food containers with in containers, birthday decorations, paper plates, plastic cutlery, plastic cups, all things dollar store disposable, plastic toys, plastic cold cups, coffee cups-TONS of coffee cups, coffee lids, empty wine bottles, empty beer bottles, la Croix cans-so many la Croix cans, take out Styrofoam-ALL.THE.TAKE.OUT.CONTAINERS, pastry bags, one use make up remover towelettes, shampoo and conditioner bottles, soap boxes, PLASTIC shower puffs, ugh. The list goes on.

 

Who am I? Ever since I became pregnant I felt so much heavy responsibility to be better. When I gave birth to my son I felt discouraged, exaughsted and low energy. I took all the short cuts I could just to get by. Meals were mainly from McDonalds, Wholefoods, and anywhere in between. Having a chef background and being a Holistic Nutrition Student I felt even more critical and disappointed in myself that I wasn’t prepping glory bowls and avocado toast on the regular.

 

Fast-forward a year and now I’m getting the hang of staying home, raising my son, and doing all things domesticated. I’m actually in a good place in my life that I feel content with where things are at the moment. I’m finding creative new ways to find self worth with my new job as stay at home Mommy.

 

My old self needed a screaming, insecure, male chef breathing down her back to instil a sense of either worthiness or worthlessness. I placed ALL my worth in my performance as a young cook. I sacrificed my happiness and health to please others. I was stressed and unhappy near the end of my cooking career until I said life has to be better than this. I must be happier than this.  So, I quit cooking and made the decision to be a student again and go to Holistic Nutrition School where I would feel like an imposter in my pregnant body. Learning how processed food and dairy is the devil while I ate my wonder bread cow butter sandwich while being in my first trimester of pregnancy. I am, however, can’t wait to continue my studies as I started school to learn to become a Registered Holistic Nutritionist for a reason. I wanted to provide a healthy life for me and my family with the basis of Let Food Be The Medicine. I want to regain a sense of ownership of my health and live in a preventative way. I want to be a better version of myself so that my family can reap the benefits.

 

So how does all this have to do with my interest in Zero Waste living? Well I think when you evolve so does your curiosity. Everything is within reason with how I see things. I’m not a rigid person. I’m flexible person who cares. So with that I want to make strides in living with more intention in every aspect of my life.

 

I noticed in the one year I stayed home with my baby how much garbage and waste I leave at the front door for my husband to take out. I want to know if we can reduce that one step at a time. I want to step out of my comfort zone and buy bulk in my toiletries and groceries. Stay tuned. My domesticated life is about to get interesting. In a less waste, use your own bags and containers to buy food kind of way!

 

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NO BUYING NEW CLOTHES FOR A YEAR CHALLENGE

In March of this year my husband and I made a decision to stop buying clothes for one year. We stopped getting my EI Maternity Leave cheques that month and we had also made the decision that I would not be going to work for another year. Leaving us with only Stanley's income for a whole year. WOW. What a reality check. (Not Cheque lol I wish!)

 We wanted to start saving money where we could. I started with our new budget. I took a glass jar and kept it in the kitchen. That jar is for all receipts. I use our online banking in addition to counting all our receipts at the end of the month. Why keep receipts you ask? It's almost like a physical reminder after I've purchased something that "YES YOU SPENT MONEY ON THIS". I'm a visual learner so this is quite a mind changing exercise for me in terms of little reminders to me mindful of how I'm choosing to spend our hard earned money.

We've been doing this since March, it's now May so we've only been actively making drastic changes for three months. Not a long time, but long enough to leave me feeling hopeful that we've completed one quarter of our one year challenge to not buy new clothes.

Now we have some set rules, but I want to share with you the flexible part of this challenge. If we get gifts in money, certificates to specific clothing stores or we make fun bets during this year we can get a new piece of clothing. That way it's a more indirect way of consuming more stuff. But still drastic enough that we won't buy a copious amount of clothes for each new season or new event. That also being said, We've been maintaining a minimalistic lifestyle since January of this year. Again, in a way that works for us and our family.

For example, I won an UNO game and the loser had to buy the winner an article of clothing. I WAS SO EXCITED! But with my new mindfulness of not bringing any money this year, only living off Stanley's income, our new minimalistic lifestyle and values, and not buying new clothes for one year challenge-well...I did not take advantage of my prize and get the most trendy, flashy and expensive piece of clothing like I naturally would've like to.

Instead I was at our monthly Costco haul and I sensibly picked up a 7 pack of high waisted bikini cut full bottom panties. I came home and Stanley insisted that I treat myself to an actual piece of clothing instead of a necessity of panties that I so desperately needed, but I declined his kind offer as I was completely satisfied with my prize. That's right people I have changed! I bought something that I knew I NEEDED rather than WANTED. I was extremely proud of myself. It was a small action that I made in a direction of a life that I want.

I've been keeping a log in my journal of how I feel throughout this experience of not being able to buy clothes. The first two months were the absolute hardest. I think it also stemmed from feeling inadequate that I wasn't bringing in an actual tactile cheque to prove my worth in our family puzzle. My first year off with him, I spent money every single day. I knew that I was bringing in my Mat Leave Cheques each month so I felt entitled. It was "MY" money. Wether it was a coffee, or two, or a whole shit load of crap from Winners, London Drugs or WholeFoods. 

It's been a process to decide to stay an extra year with my son and raise him. It's been a real transformative experience with my identity. Perhaps doing this challenge and living more minimalistically gives me control over my non earning money side of life. Which, to be honest, leaves me feeling a LOT LESS entitled to spend Stanley's pay cheques. (I am still learning to call it our money...) Not buying things we don't need, specifically 'No Clothes For a Year Challenge' presented itself as extremely useful in how I am raising my son on a day to day basis. I contribute my time, my energy, my emotions, my patience and my raising of my son and budgeting our money to my family now, instead of a pay cheque. And that is absolutely priceless. And exhausting! 

I'm really proud of myself because in doing this challenge, it requires a discipline that I usually gave into my work. Now I can see the benefits it has on my home, family and reducing financial stress. I certainly do miss the emotional spending and frivolous shopping, but it forces me to be creative with my time, my energy and how I choose to spend time with Cooper, my 13 month old son.

I've been blessed to send my non spending energy out into the universe and pick up on resources that have already been out in front of me. Wether it's financial REAL talks with my girlfriends, or tips and tricks from Instagram or YouTube. I am not at a perfect budget yet, But we have definitely been making differences each month.

I find that I'm experiencing the beauty of simple things more and being grateful everyday. Money can't buy you happiness. But it certainly can buy things you need, things you want, and a better life. I'm choosing to be extra mindful of what a dollar means to me and my family this year. Stay tuned for more stories on my new mindful financial life!

 

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THE MARRIAGE CHALLENGE

THE MARRIAGE CHALLENGE:

 

I’ve been home all day with my son. He’s just turned one and it seems that he’s growing at a rapid speed. He’s appetite is growing, his formula is being weaned in transition to cows milk (something that I’m just doing because most mothers I know have done it and my doctor advised it. Similar to choosing to give him formula-I could have done more research but I wanted tried, true and tested and nothing more or less, so I went with a Nestle product and judged myself for about 6 months and then let that shit go.) And he’s eating more food.

 

His needs are changing and I’m noticing that I’m more physically tired from running around, carrying him and doing my best to keep him safe in our house that still needs to be child proofed professionally. Neither my husband nor I are handy people. We would like to think that we are and our to do list keeps growing. Today, however, changed that and I sent in a request to Vancouver Baby Childproof Company- there only seems to be one business and one man that does this service in Vancouver- don’t get me started. Cooper isn’t at all satisfied with being in his little playpen we ordered from Amazon. He’s growing and so are his needs to roam free like the little growing animal he is. So leaving him roaming around our house is causing all sorts of mini panic attacks within me. I feel completely out of control and I already have an inclination to expect the worst-case scenario. It’s kind of in my paranoid self from having a very traumatic childhood. I am willing to unlearn that horrible trait, as I know it drives my husband crazy and it’s a complete waste of energy. Unfortunately when I'm in the heat of the moment my first reaction is to- react. My son thinks it’s a funny game. I try saying no in many different tones, faces and even succumbed to finger waving a no. Sigh. I feel like I said no about 25-100 times today. I hate saying no to my baby. I feel bad. But I know that he needs to learn that pulling the cord to the vacuum, drinking the cats water, touching the fire place and playing with the toilet is all a NO. But he’s only a year old. It’s my husband and my responsibility to protect him from as much as we can in our own home.

 

So what the hell does all this talk about my son growing at rapid speed have to do with the title of my blog post: THE MARRIAGE CHALLENGE (which by the way I could not spell marriage at all and finally on the FOURTH try I allowed spell check to assist me. Is that a fail if you’re married and you can’t spell the very thing you’re in? AHHGG.)

Well the fact that my son’s needs are changing means that in turn my needs are changing from what I need from my husband. I really do expect him to read my mind. I come from a long line of women that taught me it’s completely acceptable to expect people to read your mind. And if they don’t, they suck. Ya. It looks ridiculous typed out-but that is another poor character trait I admit I have that I am willing to unlearn-but again in the heat of the whole "day in day out grind" I find myself expecting more from myself and also being disappointed with more of what I cannot control around me. It’s like when I don’t get to vacuum the mess of the floors we have, or keep EVERY surface tidy, or actually get the organics, recycling and garbage that felt like such a challenge to even organize (cue crying child in play pen wanting his mommas every ounce of attention) actually outside in the dedicated spots…I feel like I’ve failed at the whole ‘stay at home mom/wife’ thing. It doesn’t help that my mother has it ingrained in my head that I should basically tend to my “working husband” and keep the house clean, laundry done and a hot meal ready for him. Fuck That. This shit is hard. My number one priority is to keep my son well fed, dry diapers (sometimes I dread changing his diaper because he twists and turns and cries. I feel like a horrible person and I would avoid doing it to make him happy-but what he doesn’t understand yet is a diaper full of shit or pee is more terrible than momma cleaning that crap up and awarding you with a clean and dry diaper. You're welcome. I sweat, get outta breath and wipe my forehead EVERYTIME. The diaper change struggle is real.) Well exercised (currently just trying to get him outside and crawling- another thing on my to do list- get baby enrolled in toddler gymnastics) and happy. I want to make sure he feels loved, cared for and most of all that he has my attention. Above that there are all the task in between that I give myself a hard time for if it “wasn’t from the heart” or “natural”. Like, I’m not a huge reader naturally. When I was a kid no one read to me and I hated to read. I think that it's linked. So when I pick up a baby book, baby Grace feels sorry for herself, and in turn makes me feel like an inadequate mother. So I over compensate but pushing myself to finish each book even when the baby is over it. Another character flaw I have is to looking at my flaws, imperfections all as inadequacies. I read so many self-help books that shine a light on loving yourself no matter what. It’s tough when you feel like you need to be this perfect person for your baby. But what brings me back to earth is that it’s JUST as important for Cooper to see me in vulnerable and imperfect states and see how I overcome the challenges that life will always throw at you. He needs me to be authentic, real, honest and imperfect. He needs me to be myself in every situation to learn that momma trusts her own voice and choices. He needs to see that when I make a mistake I know how to admit it, ask for help, learn from it and then MOVE THE FUCK ON.

 

Okay so back to my title: THE MARRIAGE CHALLENGE. UGH. My marriage is suffering from all the transitions and curve balls that is new parenthood. We need to book a session with the counsellor my husband found ASAP. Our gap is growing and it sucks. Like we are a great team when it comes to Cooper but we are so short tempered with each other. We have no alone time that we make matter. We have hit a spot in our relationship that feels very neutral and I hate that. I’m a spontanious, enthusiastic, passionate, excited individual. I feel like during my pregnancy and after our baby was born that entire time and now we put our needs as a couple on hold. Things really became about me but mostly about the baby. Neither one of us had parents that taught us how to interact with a spouse. We learned how to do us and our thing over time and with a shared sense of humour. Where are the challenges in our marriage? Where do I begin, how much do I share? Who’s actually reading my blogs? Fuck. I’m going to share what I would with a complete stranger. EVERYTHING. I’m a sharer. Sometimes it’s a god thing and sometimes it’s a bad thing. Being an over sharer is something that I’ve gone back and fourth on- basically wanting to please people by not sharing every minutia of my self, my experiences. But I’ve come to realize it a major good and bad trait that I own and that I’m NOT willing to unlearn. I believe that with the personal information I share explicitly with people-it WILL help someone along the way. And I believe that my over sharing is part of my purpose on earth. It’s easy for me and I know that I have a gift to deliver it with humour and GRACE while hopefully sharing my lesson learned. However, my marriage is teaching me all sorts off lessons that I’m having trouble keeping at the forefront when I’m just feeling completely disconnect from my best friend. My husband. My partner. My laughing, eating, loving partner. We lost how to have fun with each other along the way. And it sucks. It feels like every discussion, conversation, is missing something. It’s missing what we used to have for one another. I think it’s called patience and understanding. We don’t understand each other anymore. We communicate but we don’t articulate in actions. We do our routines with the baby together but we don’t feel a cohesive energy. We do all the tasks but we don’t have fun while on the journey. We have intentions to make the best out of our new lifestyle but we haven’t yet found a satisfaction with it. We are fucking grateful to be parents to one thing we can wholeheartedly agree on the unconditional love we have for our beautiful son, but we can't find that same love for each other at the moment.

 

Having our baby was a traumatic experience for us and we still need space and time to get through it. We haven’t found the words to describe how were feeling as a couple now. We’re not present with each other. We’re not on the same page. We need help.

 

It’s not a hectic and violent and dramatic situation that we're struggling with. But we seem to disappoint each other more than we want to. We seem to say things in an argumentative tone but in the end mean the same thing. We have become completely defensive towards each other and I hate that. I want to get back to loving on my husband the way we loved on each other when things felt lighter and not loaded. I want to appreciate my husband the way I want to feel appreciated by him. I want to reconnect with him.

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12 Things I Learned in 12 Months

MY MOTHERHOOD JOURNEY:

12 THINGS I LEARNED IN 12 MONTHS

My son, Cooper will be turning ONE in April! Where has time gone? The first three months felt like one long ass day...the next months to come started to feel like my new normal and everything felt better spaced out. The growth I experienced as a woman was tremendous. From the lowest lows to the highest highs. These past 12 months have really pushed me to accept my birth experience, it has given me time to absorb some pretty poignant life lessons, it has taught me numerous ways to love myself in order to love my family and my life. Here is the top twelve things I have learned in my new role as "Mommy, Mama, Milk Lady, Nurture Woman and Emotional Rollercoaster Woman..."

 

1. TRUST YOUR GUT

I remember when I got transferred from the hospital to home with our new baby I wasn't feeling "right". Sleep deprivation, post birth blues and shock aside- I had a heart dropping "homesick feeling" that was strong and hard to ignore. I made an appointment with my midwife ASAP and was able to be truthful in my worries and make an urgent plan to help support us in the first few months. It was easier said than done, but I knew it was crucial I get the help I knew I needed fast because it wasn't just about me-I had a baby to care for in addition. I trusted my gut feeling that kept coming up-the only way I can describe it is a homesick feeling- as a result, I am stable and in a consistent positive mind frame. Getting intervention and the support I needed in the early stages was what I personally needed at that time. Trusting what you specifically need for your journey and what works for you is the most valuable way of giving yourself support.

 

2. ASK FOR HELP

This is a discipline. There is nothing harder that for me to ask another human for help. It makes me feel vulnerable and that I've failed at be self sufficient. But thats just it. Becoming a mother is not something you conquer alone. It's not a new job that you worked your ass off for and in turn need to prove yourself to your coworkers. This is much more important than a promotion or something you get paid for. It's the birth of a mother in you. It's very layered, complicated and contradicting in every way. All the mental bullshit and unrealistic expectations of how you think you should, could and would be is irrelevant yet tends to take up so much of our energy. So, with internal struggles and the physical pains of post birth healing, you need to practice learning how to delegate. Learn to let go of control and allow people to come into your space and provide for you as you need done. Delivering food, doing your laundry, cleaning your bathroom, taking out your garbage, bring you copious amounts of coffee, allowing you your own space to shower, sleep, eat, poo and pee...those are acts of love and kindness new moms actually need. Visits can wait. Actions of actual domestic help is what is needed wether you hire out or ask of your friends and family to do. It's uncomfortable but temporary.

3. RECIEVE HELP, AND NOTHING MORE

Receive the help and be grateful for it. No need to go out and try and even out the help and work to show appreciation. You BIRTHED a BABY. That is intense. You are allowed to accept the help given and sit with that. I've always felt guilty when receiving help and felt I needed to one up the gift giver to show my appreciation. That. Is. So. Not. Needed. What goes around, comes around. When you are in a better place to give you will give. Post partum care is a minimum of THREE months to fully heal. I was shocked and relieved when my midwife told me this. It made me a lot more forgiving of my limits post birth. Now is not the time to give a shit about how others feel. Now is the time to do what makes you and your new family comfortable. Fuck the rest for the time being. Everyone else is a grown ass adult and they can tend to themselves. This was a hard learned lesson for me.

4. THIS TOO SHALL PASS

No matter what. Good, Bad, Evil...this too shall pass. A good girlfriend of mine has this exact quote tattooed on her arm. Such a powerful message. It helps with lifes challenges and also keeps you savouring the good. This too shall pass were words that helped me through the early stages.

5. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH THOSE WHO SUPPORT YOUR JOURNEY, NOT THE JOURNEY THEY THINK YOU MUST HAVE

This is the time to be as picky and selective as fuck about who you choose to have in your life as a new mother. Seriously, you need to let go and Fuck what other people think of you. It's about you and your journey. It's not about how palatable it is for people to understand and accept how you choose to handle your life now as a new mother. If you don't lean into understanding your own process and accepting your own needs- you will AWLAYS be ruminating about if you're doing the right thing in other peoples eyes. You've got this. You know you better than anyone else what you need, even if you don't recognize yourself in the mirror from the sleep deprivation, the rush of every emotion, the shock of having a new baby to take care of-the list goes on-the transition can be rough. You still know what makes your soul feel good. Go with that. Trust that the rest will follow as needed. 

6. AWKNOWLEDGE THE SOCIAL SHIFT IN YOUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH EVERYONE! MOST IMPORTANTLY WITH YOURSELF. 

Acknowledging leads to accepting where you are at now. Living in the present. Giving yourself permission to spend time with people that you feel good around and energized around is all you can do for you and your baby. Everyone else that isn't on the same page as you will be on board eventually, but for now it's not your role to take care of their egos. Again, your relationships that are meant to be part of your current journey will be. The rest of your relationships will ebb and flow. Allow that to happen.

7. GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO HEAL- MENTALLY, PHYSICALLY, EMOTIONALLY

Whatever that looks like. Each need will be different. Each act of self kindness will be appreciated. Rest and sleep was my way of being able to handle the demands of my healing journey. I am still on my healing journey. Seeing my psychiatrist at BC Women's Reproductive Mental Health, seeing my counsellor and giving myself moments of alone time are acts of self kindness that help me cope and give me the guidance to be a good mother, woman, wife, and friend.

8. SELF CARE, IN ORDER TO CARE

Again, whatever that looks like. A soak in a candle lit bath, a yoga class, a coffee with a friend, a passion project outside of your family, eating you fave foods, a walk on the seawall, a cuppa tea, a funny binge on Netflix, masturbating, having sex, showering with pricey bath soap, listening to music, singing, saying "NO" to the shit that no longer serves you.

9. MAKE NEW FRIENDS THAT YOU CAN CONFIDE IN AS A NEW MOTHER

Allowing new friends in to your life that are also mothers in order to feel normal again. It's okay to make new friends and still hold your original friends in high regard. But this is a crucial time where you need all the understanding, reassurement, and sharing of stories that pertain to this specific life stage you are in now as a new mother. It is a free, uplifting and community driven resource that is so valuable to me and my son.

10. YOU DO YOU

My Momma BFF says this. It's true and an important reminder. As my husband says, if you don't put your oxygen mask on first- how can you help or tend to the baby? Do you. No need to explain yourself.

Thank you for your support! This year has flown by. May we continue to advertise togetherness and acceptance. You are enough. You are doing enough and YOU GOT THIS.

LOVE & LIGHT,

Grace

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New Year, New Experiences

Happy NEW YEAR Mommas! Can you believe it's 2018? WILD!

I, however, was absolutely, positively READY to start a fresh and brand new year! I felt like 2017 was kicking my ass hard and I needed a break! From life transitions, to personal career disappointments, missing my "old me" and my "old life" and having trouble navigating who the hell I was, I needed something to look forward to with a more flexible and brighter perspective. I want a little less catastrophic mentality and more calm and "go with the flow" type intentions this 2018.

I am a classic worry wart. I always need "time to prep" in order to protect the end result. With the first 3 months entering motherhood being a complete emotional shit show, many times falling and seeking help, guidance, support, a listening ear, a warm comforting hug and most of all learning to love myself on a whole new level in order to start my healing journey-you could say it's been a heavy year. Emotionally, mentally and physically. I was drained out.

December was a time for me to embrace all things cozy, Christmassey (sp?), and give myself space to reflect and listen to my needs. I was able to get come much needed advice and guidance from my counsellor, increase my dosage to my anti-depressants eventually without guilt, and reeping the benefits from being honest with myself and having an action plan to feel better.

That all being said, know that Cooper is 8.5 months old and it's taken me time to process it all and come to a point of pure contentment and gratitude. I'm in a really good place and feel so thankful to finally start to feel like myself again.

I really believe in the energy you put out is the energy you will receive. If you are open to giving and receiving. That power is amazing. There is already so much self doubt engrained in us that showing acts of kindness, love and gratitude seems to be such an outstanding chore at times. But I've been mindful to start with myself and really start learn to accept and love the body that I'm in now. Mind, Body & Soul. I try and do things that make me FEEL loved and act off self compassion in order to be kinder to others.

I am so grateful for the timing of Christmas and New Years in my life- It came at a time where I was ready to place the hardships, depression, anxiety, sadness into a box and store it along with my other challenges I've faced in the past. Don't get me wrong, I still have down days, but they don't feel unbarable. 

I have a new perspective on my life, my role as a mother, as a wife, as a friend, as a sister, and as a daughter. I need to do ME before I can do the above. How do I do that? Well, to be honest, I'm still figuring that out as I go along. But I will list the things that have been helping me feel supported in being able to feel fulfilled in "Doing Me":

1. MINIMALISM:

I've started following, almost religiously, Youtubers that have insightful and realistic ways to live a more minimalist lifestyle. ( Instagram: @pickuplimes, @jennymustard ) Not only does living with less sound like a mental clarity dream-I'm also in a place in my personal life where I feel inclined to fulfill this desire to only have in my home what is useful or beautiful to me. I have purged my heart out, mentally and physically this 2017 and damn it feels good to live with less, donate things we no longer need and also recycle or trash the rest. A very great physical way to set myself up with knowing exactly what the contents of our house contains, display the things I want to do more of-yoga mat, pens and sketchbook, alternative diets cook books, and no extra clutter. My daily motivation? If I want to be clearer in my mind, I must have a home that SHOWS me clarity and peace. I do this once a week with my fridge too- and it helps with keeping me motivated to stick to my health goals.

2. SOCAIL LIFE

As much as I wanna stay in bed, in my PJs and Youtube and Chill-I know that cannot be my lifestyle with Cooper. I allow myself days to do just that and me and Cooper will wear our PJ'S all day! But for the other 80% of our week- I continue to see other people in my life that can help support me and Cooper daily. Simple things like meeting a friend for coffee, visiting a friend, or doing a fun adventure with a friend can really help me stay accountable to living an authentic life. I'm able to show Cooper different familiar faces, get a break from just me and him, have Cooper join me on our daily adventures to socialize and listen to a friend and also be heard from a friend. I feel like it helps break up our day when Stanley is at work. And I find being social is like going to the gym but for your mind, heart and soul. You never regret being there for a friend and having that friend reciprocate being a listening ear or helping hand for you.

3. TREAT YO SELF:

Wether its meal prepping to set yourself up for a healthy week ahead, buying a quality body oil wash to feel silky and pampered in the shoer (yes it exists and it's amazing!!! Jen, if you're reading this you are an angel for introducing me to this liquid gold! I use L'Occataine Shea Bath & Shower Oil) getting a new beauty product that helps speed up your beauty routine or just makes you feel that extra zing! (I am loving my new eyebrow pen in Medium by Stila- I look like I've had microblading, its way faster that my pencil, and it feels cool and looks amazingly real! Whatever you do to make your day a lil easier and more enjoyable it's not how much it costs-It's the act of love to yourself! The process in which you mindfully hook yourself up! Thats what its about!

I wish you an amazing New Year that gives you even better soulful experiences.

You are doing a fantastic job momma! 

Lots of love, light and comfort:

Grace

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GRIEVING A PART OF ME

This picture. Says it All. A free spirited 20 something year old girl, in a flouncy summer dress, tanned from being on a girls trip for one of her best friends, Megan's bachelorette celebration, make up did, hair did-well kind of-(its down and not in a bun lol), and nothing to worry about other than herself. Who is that carefree girl? Holy shit- it's ME!

I feel so guilty for missing her. Like, I look at my life and its so rich with value and meaning and most of all stability. I'm currently a grown ass woman, with a grown ass life. I have a husband who loves me unconditionally and a 7 month old baby who looks at me like I'm a goddess. I have yet to teach him that I'm not a goddess...rather, I am a QUEEN B. lol

Anyways, I love my husband and my son to the moon and back. There is absolutely no question. I am forever grateful for the family that we are and the lessons we are learning along the way. My life values are surrounded and are my family. I think growing up without a father and seeing my mom struggle as a single parent really resonated with me and forced me to want a different life. Experiencing that I have an amazing partner who co-parents to the fullest and a thriving son, I feel like I have it all. BUT- theres the but, sometimes I still feel incomplete. There - I said it. I, lets stress the I feel incomplete. Not to say that my husband and son do not, in a way, complete me- they absolutely do. I find huge amounts of purpose being a wife and a mother. It is both two roles that I do not take lightly. I know from experience that a complete family is nothing to take for granted. But lets get into the part of me that feels incomplete at this moment.

I admit that I'm a selfish person. I've grown a lot in a short span of time. I was fortunate to meet my husband as he has taught me a lot about respect. In my teens and morphing into my 20's I did me to a T. (again is "TO A T" even spelt right? ugh- don't judge me- ah well, if I'm posting all details of myself on this blog I guess you're already judging me- ah, frick, who cares, omg I can't stop babbling-ok Grace focus-whew.)

OK, lets fast forward to getting our first home, getting married and then having our beautiful son, Cooper. That. Is. A lot. A lot in a way that there's a part of me, as seen in this duck face picture, that got lost along the way. Having a baby made that extremely prominent. It's not that I want my 20 something old life back, it's definitely not that I want that self centred, ill planned girl back- it's that I did something very well in those times. I went for brunch. No, seriously though- the thing I felt I did really well was stay connected to myself wholeheartedly and I honoured what I needed without question.

Now, as a wife and mother, I feel like there way more to negotiate with how I stretch myself. Do I go to that yoga class? Or will my baby have a complete meltdown while I'm gone? Should I go for dinner with my girlfriends at night? Or will my baby have a meltdown while I'm gone? Should I go for my run? Or will my baby have a meltdown while I'm gone? You get the picture.

I feel like I'm a snake. Not a slithery evil snake. Like a snake that has just shed one layer of her coat. It's a lethargic experience. It's almost like I get flashbacks to parts of that layer. it all falls into am I enough, am I doing enough, Will I be enough?

I miss the girl that wore tight ass pants in a waaayyy smaller size, that wore tank tops in December and only owned one jacket- a badass leather jacket, I miss the girl that made plans last minute and didn't have to visualize her day ahead to make sure she had a change of clothes, bottles, diapers, wipes, toys, rain cover for the stroller and a packed lunch. I miss the girl that carried way less shit around both physically and emotionally. I miss the girl that didn't have so many voices in her head saying that she's not accomplishing enough in a day. I miss her.

I am definitely working past some things. As you can see from above, lol. As much as I miss her, I am determined to stay focused on the present moment. Whatever that looks like. I know from years of counselling and to this day, that looking back in the past and looking forward to the future does nothing positive for my mental sanity. That the beauty in acceptance in yourself happens in the present moment.

In the presence of grief, depression and doubt, there seems to be a dark cloud. In order to shine some light into that darkness, you must be grateful. Gratitude diminishes fear. Period. I read a lot of self help books. It's my jam. I'm a positive affirmation lady. I think it's because I didn't grow up with a lot of stability- I now need that comfort as a grown ass woman. Brene Brown and Gabby Bernstein are my gurus, They speak words of wisdom that help me reconnect with my heart and my purpose.

As much as I miss that girl, I accept that I'm 31 years old, I am a wife, I am a mother-that is all consuming, but I'm also a grown ass woman that has a repertoire of experience. This is yet another stage of my life that is defining me and I will surely look back on and say- gad I miss that wet bun, no makeup, stroller pushing, crock pot dinner making, coffee a day drinking, lost at times grown ass woman.

All that 'stuff' I miss about my 'old' self it topical. My friend, Laina reminded me- "The old Grace didn't die- she's still here- YOU are still YOU." I cried with her, holding my baby. In that moment knowing and feeling that I'm here. I'm always with myself. No matter what that 'looks' like. 

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CO-SLEEPING

*Sigh*

This is such a challenge for me. To Co-Sleep or not to Co-Sleep-that is MY question.

Ever since we brought Coop home from the hospital he has been sleeping in our room. The funny thing is that his first two weeks he was in his basinet because that's what the nurses said would be the safest. Until we realized this child is cluster feeding through the night and it just wasn't realistic for Stanley and I to get a decent sleep if we kept having to get up every 15 minutes to pick him up from his basinet, into our bed, feed him, then do the whole ordeal of transferring him back into the basinet.

Through trial and error we did what was best for us as a new family, and that was to keep Cooper in the middle of us in a Dock A Tot. It made night life SO much easier on all of us. Feeding in bed was so great in terms of the frequency of his feedings and the quality of sleep we all had as a family. There were definitely some terrifying times where Stanley and I would feel awful anytime the blanket grazed his face, etc. But all in all it worked for us. 

We have separate blankets and I don't sleep with a pillow so I can be close to my baby. I honestly feel safer with him sleeping in bed with us. We are a very touchy feely family and being in such close contact with one another brings us peaceful nights and Cooper has been sleeping through the night when he sleeps in bed with us ever since he was a newborn. He wakes up anywhere from one to two times for a feed in bed, and then back to sleep he goes.

Now that being said, you might wonder why would we change anything? Pretty good sleeps. Enough said. BUT-my marriage also plays a huge priority for both of us. As much as it's heartbreaking to visualize my baby sleeping in a separate room, WE need our bed back. 

I guess a part of me feels super guilty anytime I hear my son cry. Why would I let him sleep in a crib, in his room alone when I know he prefers to be in bed with us? 

As much as I want to sleep with my son as a safety blanket for my sanity- that's just the pressing issue. It's starting to be about what I need rather than what I think he needs. I think that Coop needs somewhat of a more defined sleep schedule to bring consistency into his life. That means I need to be disaplined with time management, something that I'm not good at in my personal life.

We are planning to execute this terrifying change, in my eyes, when we come back from our family trip to Hong Kong. I'm more terrified of sleep training my little muffin than a 13 hour international flight with him! It's the distance that sets us apart that upsets me. At least on our family flight we will all be together, just like in bed, where my comfort level lies.

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MY BIRTH STORY

This picture. Wow. This is is me holding my baby boy for THE very FIRST time. Whew!

This was the beginning of my journey into this crazy ride we call motherhood.

I remember this moment so clearly, everything else seems like a fast paced blur, but this exact moment I will remember for the rest of my life.

Time actually stood still for me. All I remember was minutes after my baby boy, Cooper, was removed, weighed, and checked, he was immediately placed on my chest/neck. I couldn't breathe. I was crying the hardest I've ever cried in my life about THE most important day of my entire life.

Giving birth to our beautiful and healthy baby that my husband, Stanley and I created from our love. An absolute miracle and blessing. I remember looking back at these pictures and pressing on the movement and what was captured on video and audio will always be with me and my family.

My first words spoken (other than "oh ma gad" repeatedly) after my son was placed onto me, with a mouth and face full of tears and emotion, was "THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE".

Nothing can top the euphoria of finally having our son in our arms and with us on planet earth, breathing air and hearing his cries for the first time.

I was in labor for over 48 hours. I pushed for 2 hours and resulted in an Emergency C-Section. Not the orgasmic water birth that I had envisioned over and over again in my mind. But that is my birth story and I have come to accept it fully over time, depression, panic attacks and many tears.

I currently have a healthy, happy and hungry 7 month old son named Cooper Harrison Yung and he is way more love and light that I could have ever imagined. He seems to be a complete carbon copy of both me and his father when we were both babies. He is smiling 99% of the time and the other 1% he's not, he's sleeping. No, seriously though, we are truly blessed and grateful for his presence in our lives. We now know what life and love really feels, looks and smells like.

However, there is one glitch that I knew was arising when I was pregnant with Coop. I have Post Part Depression. There, I said it. Online. For the world to see. I've made a few youtube videos, posted many articles on PPD on my social media platforms, and continue to spread the word throughout my conversations. It seems overtime I make an effort to mention it, I am awknowledging it and admitting that I am struggling more on some days than others.

From the birth story that seemed to go sideways and my hormones on overdrive, there's a part of me that feels cheated. That feels inadequate. That feels not enough. That feels incapable of being a mother. That misses her old self and old life. That feels constant guilt, shame, blame. That feels groggy, off and slow. All that dark stuff out on the table and said and dealt/dealing with- I am a naturally happy and positive person. Thats why I knew I needed professional help early on when we were discharged from the hospital and sent home with our newborn son.

I remember it so vividly. The moment I admitted to myself and one of my best friends, Andrea, that I had a homesick, sinking heart, anxious, nauseous, fearful, uneasy feeling-constantly. I remember it all came out in the open when she came into my room while I was breast feeding my 5 day old son and she said- "Grace, how ARE you?". I continued to feed Coop, but broke down completely on her arms. I wept, and she wept with me. No words, just crying and her holding me and Coop. I will NEVER ever forget that moment. She encouraged me and reminded me how special and important I was and how proud she was of me and how beautiful our baby boy was. She encouraged me to speak with my midwife and seek help.

The next day we went in for a check up and I told my midwife that I was not feeling myself and that I was so scared to be home with Stanley and the baby. I was so used to the nurses at the recovery ward. That I felt so nervous to finally be home. I remember the silence at home, compared to the hospitals white noise. I remember Stanley and I looking at each other-uneasy, not rested, and both depleted from the birthing experience. We needed help. We used all of our courage combined and asked for help. Our amazing midwife swooped in and within an hour had us set up with a game plan. A game plan that started immediately that night and brought us hope and support. Anne was the best midwife and we will forever be grateful for her. She was our life raft when we both felt like we were drowning in the unknown.

That night we hired a night Doula. She basically watched our son as we finally got some much need sleep together. She sat in the living room and fed, held and cared for Coop when we just didn't know how and we needed a moment to clear our minds and worries. She was our second life raft. She sat up with me when I pumped my engorged breasts for the second time. Her energy I trusted and she held a sacred space for me. She reminded me that this is the beginning of the process and it won't last forever. But to focus on nurturing myself and resting my body, mind and spirit. Raman is seriously THE best Doula.

The days got better with our amazing continued visits with our midwife team at South Community Birth Program. I remember when we had our last visit. Coop was 6 weeks. I was freaking out, but I also knew that things were progressing and that nothing would ever compare to our first 6 weeks at home post hospital with our newborn. And that everything from then on would soon start to feel like our new normal.

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