Sunday, December 14, 2014

postpartum update: four months {31 Days of Postpartum Health & Healing}

I thought it would be a good idea to include a "postpartum update" as part of the 31 Days of Postpartum Health and Healing series because the way I feel even one-two months later is so different! I go back and read these posts and recognize (even though I knew then) that I was struggling but fortunately and thankfully, the difference when Dylan hit three months was almost like night and day.

I don't know if it is because we all just got acclimated to each other, or the removal of most all dairy that makes her happier, or that it just was the end of the "fourth trimester," but when she hit three months she became smiley, content, and our little social butterfly who loves to see everyone and be wherever the party is happening. She LOVES to be held, and doesn't last too long when she is left on her blanket or in her bouncy, and I've adjusted to that, too. She's my precious little sunshine who is a joy and light in our family!

Rarely do I feel the sheer anxiety and overwhelm that plagued those first twelve weeks of her life, and I'm feeling overall more balanced. I'm tired, to be sure (she's still up every 2-3 hours at night, ugh!) but I also have more energy and find that I'm naturally becoming a more productive person when I get those fits and bursts of inspiration, because now I see a 15 minute window of opportunity and try to get as much done as possible. I've also left her with family more than I ever left the twins in the first 18 months of their lives! The joy of only having one baby, I guess, but I've really enjoyed having the peace of mind that I can leave her safely with Andy or my parents and she'll take a bottle of expressed milk and be {mostly} happy.

Physically, I know my body will never be the same and I have been content with my body even more than I ever have before. Weird, and surprising, and for sure I lament the sagging that is happening, but it's nothing that preoccupies me or is a big issue. For that, I'm very thankful. I'm within something of my pre-birth weight, but I don't have a scale so I'm just going by which clothes I'm squeezing into.

A few interesting observations that show the true symbiosis of the mother and baby relationship is that when I don't get enough calories or water, Dylan gets constipated. If she has gone for longer than 48 hours without pooping, I know that I haven't been eating enough and if I eat a big, complete meal, she'll poop a few hours later! I am only down to a little bit of cheese every now and then, butter on my bread, and a bit of heavy cream in my coffee. I know that seems still like a lot of dairy but it's down from what it was and she is happier. I had a peppermint bark mocha treat the other evening and she was up so much that night.

The big girls have done so phenomenally with this new member of our family. They L-O-V-E her. Ruthie strokes her head and says, "oh, hi sweetheart! My little sweetie!" and Afton is full of kisses and hugs for her. Only when she's upset and crying loudly - mainly in the car - do they say, "We don't like this baby!" It's funny that whenever they're unhappy with her, she becomes "this baby" instead of Dylan. I couldn't be more pleased with their relationship and while I know it will go through challenges later on - just wait until she starts grabbing their toys! - I revel in it right now.

Challenges at this point? Sleeping. Oh, this girl does NOT love to sleep. And I love to sleep, we all are sleepers in this family. I'm awaiting the day when this improves. And honestly, I struggle to eat enough. The big girls have such big appetites that they usually end up eating my food, or it goes cold on the counter because of some activity, or I just forget...so by the time it's 1pm I'm starving and have eaten half an egg and cold toast. My saving grace has been decaf coffee blended with coconut oil and this tasteless protein powder. I'm also taking b12 spray and some homeopathic cell salts. Maybe I'll do a post soon on those.

My best piece of advice for surviving the postpartum period still stands: Rest, rest rest! Care for yourself and get the help you need. The more you properly recover in the early days, the better and swifter your overall recovery will be. It is 100% true. Also, EAT. And hydrate! And enjoy. When it doesn't feel like things will ever get better, please know from one fresh out of the postpartum period, it does. When you wake up one morning and realize you haven't cried in a few days, you'll know you're on your way. It may be three months in, it may be six or nine or thirteen. I don't think I left the house with the twins by myself for the first six months! Every woman, mother, and baby is different. Grace for yourself and for the journey, my friends!


Thursday, December 4, 2014

the small sacred.



I've been feeling very behind this week. Growing up, everything Christmas came out and was put up within the first day or two after Thanksgiving. We arrived home from our Thanksgiving celebration with family and we had one little one with the flu, and another other one who seems to be either in the middle of a growth spurt or starting to teethe. It's been a full contact week and my house looks about the same as it did when we arrived home last Sunday evening and dumped our stuff in the middle of the living room. Things are slowly moving to their rightful places, but besides putting out the Christmas pillows my mom gifted me as a part of her Black Friday goodies, nothing has been done.

Every night this week I've looked around the house and sighed. Andy has been gone late two nights, and worked later than I planned on another night. I get everyone to bed with just enough time to crash with some dinner and wine on the couch while catching up on a show or two.

For our first year really putting an effort into creating our "family" Christmas, I've struggled with feeling like a big ol' failure. The first year we've had a tree in six years and we don't even have it yet! Decorations are still in the basement. Christmas lights are sitting in a pile waiting to be strung up outside. I mean, lots of people on Instagram have their Christmas trees already! And their homes smell like pine and cinnamon! Mine just smells like...nothing. Diapers. Oh, and the Jesse Tree ornaments I printed off to color while we read the daily Advent story, well, they wanted to color them all at once so I let them. And at bedtime, instead of wanting to hear about the Story and the Song, they wanted an Elsa and Anna story. I think I could write Frozen cult fiction and make a good living.

But tonight, I sat on the kitchen floor eating dinner with the girls at their little Ikea table and we listened to a Pandora christmas station while Dylan slept in the next room, quiet after a fussy day. The house was warm, the lighting soft (I put incandescent lamps in the kitchen instead of using fluorescent and it has made all the difference), the smell of curry rice and sausage on the stove, and the girls chatting away. Afton bounced off her chair and came behind me, taking my hair in her hands and said, "mom, I'm gonna give you a braid. Hold still!" Ruthie was deciding whether or not she actually liked the curry sauce on the rice and kept asking for one more bite of mine. She'd twist her face while chewing and shake her head. "No, I don't like it...can I have one more bite?" All this culminated into a moment.

We probably all read those articles that circle around Facebook about focusing not on the "doing" of Christmas but rather the "being," and I subscribe to this idea whole-heartedly, especially as a believer in the magnificence of the baby whose arrival is at the heart of this season. But sometimes it is just so nice to have my own moment, my own realization of the fact in one of those spaces that transcend time, when all becomes still in my mind and heart and I feel the love so present in my life. It's a sweet feeling that one reads about and says Yes but when you experience it, it's a little like, "oh."

I'm so thankful I had one of those moments tonight.

Have you had that moment yet this season? I hope and pray that you make the space in your life to recognize it when you do, store it in your heart as a treasure to revisit again and again.


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

My Favorite Fair Trade Christmas Ornaments {GIVEAWAY}

This is our first year really making an effort to decorate for Christmas. In years past, we've spent the majority of December in Southern Oregon and so haven't set up a tree or started any of our own traditions. We've had a tree once in our seven years of marriage! 

The girls are really excited for Christmas. They see lights and say, "look mom! Christmas!" and ask, "Can we do Christmas?" So Saturday we're heading out to get a tree, and we'll pull out our rubbermaid of decorations and attempt to make this place more festive.

I also now understand why in my younger years our family ornaments were pretty much indestructible. We had the neat wooden figurines that were fun to make-believe with and other handmade baubles and hot-glued globs. I remember wondering why we didn't do a "fancy tree" like some other families did, but now I understand 100%! Little hands aren't so gentle with glass balls and breakables. 

Along with some vintage wooden ornaments passed down from our parents and some dollar tree balls, I ordered these ornaments from Trades of Hope during their Christmas sale, going on right now! Each ornament is made by a group of women artisans and the production supports themselves and their families. The fabric hearts are made by women in Costa Rica, the gold stars and silver figures are made by women in India, and the tin ornaments are made by women in Haiti. 

I love that we will look at these ornaments over the next decade(s) and know that they made a difference in a family's life. I also like that I will be able to share with my kids stories of empowering others and thinking about the way we live our lives and the way people have to fight for their living in less affluent areas. It will be neat to see how our conversation about these topics evolve over the years as they grow in maturity and understanding, and hopefully it will be one of the ways to plant seeds in their minds and hearts for seeing to the needs of others as just a way of life. 

Costa Rica 
India

Haiti
India

The Trades of Hope Christmas sale is going on NOW if you'd like to purchase your own set of ornaments. They also make thoughtful little gifts if the sets are separated, and each ornament comes with its own "artisan card" that tells about the women who made it and the area it comes from.

As a Trades of Hope "compassion entrepreneur" for the last year and a half, I've been able to make some side income while supporting women artisans and families in several countries around the world. I don't devote a ton of time to it, but Christmas time is definitely the most fun! If you're interested in learning more about becoming a Trades of Hope Compassion Entrepreneur, shoot me an email! This is the mission in a nutshell:

"Trades of Hope empowers women to create sustainable businesses worldwide. We want women to realize their potential as world changers, business owners, dream creators, and heroes of their own stories. We are looking for American women to rise up and be the voice for the women who have no voice, empowering them to rise out of poverty. Become a compassionate entrepreneur to change the world. Host a party to be a part of something bigger than yourself."

I'd like to give away the beautiful Haitian recycled tin snowflake ornament on the bottom left! 

Enter to win below and I'll get it to you in time for Christmas, and check out my Trades of Hope page for beautiful fair trade items: jewelry, scarves, home decor, handbags, stationery, and more! 

HOW TO ENTER: 

1. Tell me your favorite Christmas decoration from your childhood. Mine was our nativity scene! 

2. Visit my Trades of Hope page and tell me your favorite item, Christmas or otherwise. 

Leave separate comments for both entries to be entered twice!