Monday, March 12

in the trenches together

     Hey gang:) I posted this glamorous postpartum photo and caption to my Instagram last week and was so touched by the response that I decided to share it here as well. I'm sure that many of you already follow along over there, but for those that don't, I really wanted to see if you had anything to add as well. I was blown away by the many comments saying essentially "me too!" and sharing their personal stories, and I just love any and all chances for us to relate as women and mothers, so here goes:

     Alice is 9 days old today and I'm 9 days into my postpartum journey for the 6th time:) So far it's been heaven, filled with tiny clothes and grunts, and just lovin' on our newborn as much as possible. But there's also been cramping, no sleep, the mesh/diaper situation (lol), double mastitis, fever, body aches, so much soreness and exhaustion, etc, etc. It's kicking my butt a bit and yet it's SO worth it, of course.♡

     We face incredible risks and sacrifice SO much physically and emotionally to have babies, and we willingly do it again knowing what it'll cost. Yes, it's a huge blessing to have the opportunity, but, that doesn't mean it's not crazy brutal sometimes, or that we have to pretend it's all sunshine or we're ungrateful or unloving. 

     I feel like every time a woman shares something hard and upfront about pregnancy/postpartum life/motherhood they're told by some creep things like they 'shouldn't complain' or they should 'keep it to themselves'. People want more authenticity but then those raw posts are often the ones most ridiculed and picked apart. I've seen too many vulnerable photos taken down:( 

     We're all in the trenches together but on our OWN individual journeys as different as we are from one another, and yet there's still SO much comparing and telling others that they shouldn't express struggles because someone somewhere has it worse. Or the opposite, that they can't share self-love or they're narcissistic. Ugh. 🤦🏻‍♀️

     STOP listening to those that want to put you in a box and bully you into feeling badly. Hear me when I say that YOUR body and YOUR sense of self-worth are YOURS alone, and YOU decide how to feel and what to do and when. We DO need more open photos online, and that starts with encouraging and empowering instead of judging and criticizing.

     This isn't a particularly vulnerable picture I know, but I think it does show a more raw moment from my day compared to the photos I post more often, and I feel ok sharing BECAUSE of other brave women and because of YOU, this incredibly uplifting and encouraging group of sweethearts. 

     So thank you thank you.♡ You do way more for me than you could ever know, and I jus love you. 

*steps off soapbox*

Friday, March 2

The right name for her

     This week we've all been on absolute cloud nine with this little lady, and today we were finally able to decide on the right name for her! Richard and I both felt strongly right before her birthday that the names we'd had in mind just weren't right at all, so after starting over from square one and taking the last few days to talk it through, it felt SO good to find the right one. Thank you for your support and patience in waiting so long! :)

◦ Alice Loralee Carmack ◦
Born peacefully at home on Sunday, February 25th, 2018.  9 lbs 2 oz, and 20 1/2 inches long. 
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     This week has been full of the most beautiful and raw moments we've had as a family in a long time. Birth is such a spiritual and empowering experience, and going through labor and delivery with Richard for the first time was so awesome, I'm excited about writing it all down before I forget any details.

     It's amazing how such a little person can bring so much happiness, and all the downtime together has felt so peaceful and calm and right. I feel so close to heaven when I'm with all my people! and trying to explain the love I have for them would just leave me in a big balling hormonal mess right now.haha

     My heart just feels so full. I've spent the week messy haired and makeup-free, feeling like a human milk machine in my sexy mesh undies and I can hardly see straight from sleep deprivation, but it's been so so wonderful. This feels like such a fresh start and jumping off point, and no matter how messy these days are, they're truly the best days and I want to savor every minute that I can.
     Thank you for your support in documenting her pregnancy and for your neverending encouragement through it all,

        You're so loved baby girl!!

Tuesday, February 27

♡ Welcome little one ♡


Wednesday, January 31

Turning 27 ♡ + 10 steps towards personal growth

     Well hey guys! At the beginning of this month was my 27th birthday and the start of a new mindset search and season for me. I think most people have the same sort of feelings on their birthday as they do on New Years (thinking back on the last year and all of their hopes and goals for the year to come, etc), but with my birthday being so soon afterwards I've always just felt the overload of both milestones all at once- which actually I've really loved in the past, but this year I really needed to take my time and work slowly through all my hopes and plans and ideas and expectations.
     My biggest goals for age 26 and 2017 was to simply be more present, to slow down, to let myself breath, so an easy breezy January (especially with a baby coming soon and when the rest of the world is sharing crazy lists of goals and resolutions) was just what I needed.

Obviously, because I'm about 65 weeks pregnant nowadays, I want to clarify that these photos were taken for a styled shoot by the lovely and incredibly talented XAN CRAVEN before I knew I was expecting:) See more of her work on her WEBSITEINSTAGRAM, and FACEBOOK. ♡

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     This year's birthday was another quiet family day, except my gang and I hopped into the van after breakfast and drove for a little while to meet up with some of my distant family. After the kids were down to sleep at my brother's house that night, I had the first little bit of quiet time to think and reflect.
     Richard had brought me some doughnuts that I'd been really excited about (Krispy Kremes!), and then he'd gone on a walk with one of my nephews, so I was alone in the basement in a silent house as I realized the last minutes of my birthday were ticking by.
     I laughed a bit at how pathetic I might look, sitting on my own in the dark at a table with my box of birthday doughnuts, but it was nice really.haha I closed my eyes for a few minutes to better picture moments from the last year that had really shaped where I am now.
     I thought about the times I felt SO proud to be a mother and then the moments that I felt like I was failing my family in every day. I saw moments of such intense heartache that I couldn't stand or breath, and then moments of such sweet joy that I'd never expected to feel again. I saw family trips and ocean waves, piles of raked leaves and late night pizza parties. I could see berry smoothies and card games, dancing in the kitchen, and that positive pregnancy test:)
     Being the pregnant emotional mess that I am I couldn't help but cry big tears of gratitude for how much happiness my little family has felt even after experiencing the worst tragedy we could imagine. Anything and everything rough and rocky or scary we gone through since then is so pale in comparison. Richard and I and the kids, we've all learned and grown so much in the last year, and it makes me so excited about what the rest of 2018 will bring. These kids especially are just so strong and resilient and mature, and they have so much purpose when they wake up every day, excited to begin again, it's really inspiring.

     I took out my phone and started taking notes (an almost daily habit I have in the evenings to help me clear my thoughts before bed). That night I started a list of little manifestations, I guess? Steps that I wanted to make towards becoming a better. But for myself, for the New Year, for being 27, for all of it. Not big expectations, just little mindsets shifts that I wanted to nurture. Weaknesses that I wanted to make stronger. So here are an even ten things that I wrote down (because I'm OCD like that) in case they make you think of something that you may want to adapt or tweak in your own life:

10 steps towards personal growth

  1. Design the life you love. Take control and really focus on the most beautiful life you can imagine for yourself and your family. Keep your eyes on what you want to manifest and let the laws of attraction come into play.
  2. Learn to meditate daily, morning and night. This will help you to live with intention and purpose by taking the time to focus your thoughts and emotions on what is really, truly important. Start each morning with clear goals, and then wrap up the day with gratitude and knowledge that you did your best, and you're exactly where you're supposed to be.
  3. Rethink your tribe. Bring only people into your life who reflect who you want to become and who help bring out only the best in you. Gently release those that hold you back or drag you down.
  4. Open up your mind. Spend more time alone without any distractions for your mind or body, and push yourself to be more receptive to the present moments. Spend less time talking and more time listening and reading and learning. 
  5. Stop and forgive yourself. There is absolutely no benefit from letting the past weigh you down. Your old mistakes took a part in where you are now, and have helped mold you into someone who can now have empathy and compassion for others who are or have walked a similar road. Look at each painful memory or moment as just another milestone that you've overcome, proving to yourself just how much you can handle, and then let it go.
  6. Look deep inside. Write down any personal habits that you know aren't healthy for one reason or another, and then change them! Get rid of them, sell them, break them, stop them. There are things in your life that just aren't working and aren't helping you be your best self, so stop them. Today.
  7. STOP COMPARING. Looking at others and mildly ascertaining thair behavior or actions in your own mind (for better or for worse) may help you improve yourself, but using the successes of others to beat yourself down will do nothing but hurt your spirit and dull your own shine. You cannot and do not want to be that other person. You are you, so why not focus on being the best version of yourself?
  8. Never let anyone else define you. Not a close personal friend, not a distant relative, and certainly, absolutely not a stranger on the internet. No one but you can live your life and can understand your mind and your position except yourself. Bullies don't stop with high school, and the world will never stop trying to put you into a box. The more you blossom, the harder they will try. Don't ever let that happen. Realize that their actions towards you are nothing but reflections of how they feel about themselves, and then move on.
  9. Use daily affirmations. Write some down on your own or look up ideas if need be, but reciting positive affirmations to yourself daily, out loud, will reprogram your brain away from unhealthy beliefs and negative thoughts that can fill you up and take over your mind. 
  10. Take care of yourself first. You cannot pour from an empty glass. If you want to be available to uplift others and support others, you have to have enough strength to hold yourself up first. Take time daily to do something that is healthy for your physical and your mental well-being, and you'll see the positive changes reflected in your ability to do more good for others.

     Alrighty, I could keep going now that I'm on a role but I'm going to stop there:) Thanks so much for reading if you've gotten this far, and I would love to hear any affirmations or motivational thoughts or words or ideas that you're focusing on this month or this year, so please share! Also, I'd love to know if any of these ideas stand out to you in some way?

     P.S. I'm sitting here with a little bowl of chips and salsa and man my fingers really love typing, and the clicking of the keyboard really sounds so great this late at night.haha 

Be back soon!