Learning To Love Your Body Again …

There are so many things they don’t tell you about the realities of having a baby. Like how you wake up the next day, and suddenly you have no clue who you are anymore. Nothing is the same as it was before you went into labor. Suddenly you’re living for someone else, your hormones are raging, your body is rapidly changing to meet the needs of someone else, and you are just stuck in a shell that you use to recognize but now you no longer know. The truth is, no one can relate to what you’re going through, not your partner, not your friends, not anyone. This is a single-person journey and it can either make you or break you … this is postpartum.

I’ve always been a confident girl, even as a plus size woman. So going into having a baby, I wasn’t too worried about gaining weight or having a different appearance than before. I’d dealt with body image issues my entire life, so I thought I would be able to manage my new mom body. But this hit different. The difference was, really not knowing yourself anymore. Having to relearn every single things about you. After having my children (this happened both times), suddenly everything I knew, wasn’t. I woke up jiggly, uncomfortable, and not myself. I had a new body odor, my deodorant stopped working, my skin pigmentation changed, I was extremely dry, brittle, and that beautiful pregnancy glow went out of the window. For the first time in my life I felt ugly, and not confident.

With Brave I struggled with this for months. It was hard for me to dive into content because I didn’t want to lie about my truth. So instead I just scaled back until I found my way. With Crown, I didn’t allow myself to get to that level. I learned to give myself grace. Instead of being angry that I wasn’t the same, I’ve learned to embrace it because I AM NOT the same. I’m better. I’m a mom of two beautiful babies and my body worked damn hard to get them here! So I must embrace the changes I have gone through and choose to look at is as empowering instead of embarrassing. I’ve learned to love the journey of self-discovery. For years I thought I had it all figured out, but motherhood knocked me right back down to reality so that I can do the much-needed work on myself and continue to learn more about who I am.

So to the mother, struggling to find herself in the midst of postpartum, you’re not alone. There are so many of us out there who are in your same shoes. My hope is that we all talk about it more and more so that we can make it as common as all the beautiful things about motherhood.

Life Update: Smith Party of 4

We are almost 2 months into having Crown home with us, and it finally feels like we are finding our groove. They say going from 0 to 1 is much harder than going from 1 to 2, and I agree in some aspects, but sheesh, it’s been rough finding our way.

The saying is true, in the aspect of already being in the groove of being a new mom. My motto going into this was, I’m already tired, I might as well stay tired and raise another new baby. When we first found out we were expecting Crown, I had so much anxiety about if I could handle it all. Brave is naturally very needy. He’s still a baby, and with his difficult birth he has required a lot more TLC than non-injured babies. So my fear was would my capacity expand for her. And it did, immensely, for both HD and myself.

I never knew I could stretch myself so much. It blows me away every time I power through and make it to another bedtime with two babies with full bellies and a heart full of love.

So how are we? Everyone keeps asking. We are EXHAUSTED lmbo! No seriously, I’ve never been so tired in my life. While I’m exhausted, I’ve also never felt so fulfilled in my life, never felt so loved, so needed, so important … ever. The saying is very true, your heart expands and makes room for more love to come in.

I’m so proud of HD and I, we’ve managed to make it work. Day by day we dig a little deeper to finish stronger. Day by day we find another area where we’ve improved. Day by day we’ve given each other more grace that before. This really is a journey.

I’ll be sure to share updates along our first year of 2 under 2. I can’t wait to see where this ride takes us.

– Triena

Crown’s Birth Story

If you keep up with me on social media, then you’ll know our baby girl made her debut on December 14th. It’s been the most beautiful, evolving experience of our lives. Her name is Crown Sephora, and we are absolutely in love.

While Crown’s birth story started off rocky, it evolved into a very beautiful experience that I am so thankful I was able to have. On the morning of December 11th, I went to my “full term” 38 week prenatal appointment, and I found out that my amniotic fluid was low. My doctor asked me if I noticed baby not moving as much, which I did, but I assumed it was because she was running out of room. They did an ultrasound and alerted me that her fluid level was at a 5, which is just above the danger zone. My OB advised that she would like to induce me so that we didn’t lose anymore fluid, which was vital for baby girl’s health. My OB gave me the weekend to get everything together. My parents rushed in town to be with Brave, and HD and I ran off to have our new baby.

I was a nervous wreck. As if learning you’ll be induced wasn’t terrifying enough, I was still battling all of my anxieties from Brave’s birth.

If you aren’t familiar, I had a very traumatic birth with Brave. It was mentally and physically exhausting. Both of us could have had fatal outcomes and I carried the trauma with me the entire first year of Brave’s life. When I learned I was pregnant, my trauma from my first birth experience often overshadowed this joy of new life. It felt like I was holding my breath. It was so bad to where I begged my doctor for a voluntary c-section because I just couldn’t go down that road twice. But she asked me to trust her, and I did, as she was a doctor I specifically sought out for this reason. I’m glad I listened.

The morning of Crown’s birth was surprisingly calm, little did I know it would set the tone for the entire experience. I gathered my things, and had a quick moment to myself. I told myself, I wouldn’t take what happened to Brave and I during my first birthing experience into this new birth, it wasn’t fair to her, and it wasn’t fair to me. Crown deserved her own story, untainted with trauma that didn’t belong to her. So before I left our home, I put that moment behind me for the sake of having a new experience.

We got to the hospital (a new hospital, I chose not to deliver at the same hospital I birthed Brave), and it felt right. We were welcomed with smiles, escorted to our rooms, and greeted by the friendliest nursing staff there was. My nurse, Maggie reminded me of someone I knew from back home, and it instantly made me feel at peace.

Maggie was a trooper, though I was being induced medically, she wanted to keep the birthing process as natural as possible to keep my anxiety at bay. So after we they induced me medically, Maggie made me work through labor just as if I would have done if I naturally went in labor. We breathed, we switched positions, we moved, we allowed gravity to do it’s job. And in 18 hours, my body came to be ready. I’m thankful that they didn’t pressure me, or rush my process. That alone made my experience far better than before. When I made it to 10 cm dilated, I still wasn’t ready. Though I was dilated, Crown was still really high so Maggie made me do the work. I had to sit up as far as possible for 1.5 hour and Crown slowly dropped into the perfect position, then it was go time. My OB, who constantly checked on me made her way back around to our labor and delivery room, and she looked me in my eyes and said “you can do this. we can do this. on your next contraction, push like you want your baby girl in your arms now.” and that’s what I did. I did one, huge push, and Crown came flying out of there. I delivered my baby girl in one push! In fact, my doctor said “you can stop pushing now, she’s in my arms!” and there she was. Beautiful as ever, in all of her glory.

Crown came out with her eyes open, with such a peaceful presence. It was like she knew that she had a mission to make this moment count, and that she did. She was born at 3:51pm, after 18 hours of calm and manageable labor, and 1 push. She’s been the calm to our storm ever since she made her way earth-side. We call her ‘zen baby’ because she’s just so at peace, everyone notices. We love her endlessly, and we cannot wait to watch her grow into a beautiful woman. Our hearts are full.

A Letter To My Daughter

Baby Girl …

We are patiently waiting your arrival, and I sit in awe of the fierce one you will be someday. Truthfully, I always knew I’d have a daughter, but I never knew you’d show yourself as quickly as you did. You were always meant to be, etched in history. Your name has been yours for as long as we’ve wanted you, ten years to be exact. We’ve spoken of you often, in casual conversation and prayers, and any day now you will be.

My prayer for you is to live a full-abundant life, one without any restrictions. I’m telling you this because as you grow up, after the diapers, bows, and toys, things will start to change. The innocence of the world will be snatched away like a cold-lonely night. You will stop carelessly hopping in puddles, chasing your big brother around, you will notice a difference. One day you will be confronted with what the world wants of you, and before that can happen I thought I should tell you that the most important thing there is, is what you want for you, because you are not of this world.

Things are different for us as women. We have to work harder, fight longer, and withstand much more than the average; especially as a black woman. But baby girl, you come from a long line of fearless women who have paved the way for you. Victory is your birth right. Perseverance is who you are.

So as life comes at you, as you grow and notice some of the things I’ve mentioned, my hope is that you cling tightly to who you are, one of one … a precious jewel, like no other. I hope that as those around you flock to fit in, you press forward to stand out. I hope that as others follow trends, you remain the timeless class-act that you are. My hope is that you speak up for those that have no voice, and avoid turning a blind eye. I hope you are a friend to the friendless, especially the ones that could use a bit of your joy. I hope that whatever you want in life, you fight and work hard for honestly. And most of all I hope that you know that you are worthy of every single thing your heart desires and your family will help you obtain those things one step at a time. We are thrilled to have you join our squad … your dad, your big brother Brave, and I can’t wait to meet you, little fierce one.

With Love,

Mama

How I’ve Successfully Breastfed For Over 300 Days

If you would have told me when I first had Brave that I would still be breastfeeding 10 months later, I wouldn’t have believed you! This has by far been the hardest thing I have ever done. It is a continuous journey that takes on a life of it’s own.

I remember when I first started nursing Brave, I purposely set low-expectations because I didn’t want to be bummed about having a short-lived experience with breastfeeding. To my surprise my body knew exactly what it was doing to nurture my son.

Nothing about this journey was easy. The early morning or late-night feeding was tough to get through, the drop in supply that I experienced around month 5, the planning outings, dressing to breastfeed and beyond made things just a little more difficult.

Even with all of the set backs and adversities, I knew deep down I wanted to breastfeed my son. It was much more than just feeding him, it was build a bond that stands the test of time. It was showing him that I was everything he needed. It was showing myself that I could do the impossible. It was much more than just food, it was sustaining life.

If you are considering breastfeeding regardless of your timeline goals … whether it’s 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, a year, or beyond … here are a few tips from an experienced mom that may help you too:

  1. Have Support. The best thing I could have done for myself is surrounding myself with the proper support. From friends who had success with breastfeeding (both nursing and pumping), to having a lactation consultant with vast knowledge to offer professional advice. This is critical. Knowledge and experience is your “breast-friend” when it comes to breastfeeding for the first time. As a first time mom, you will have tons of questions and uncertainties that need to be addressed. Use your supportive mom friends for those middle of the night emergency questions, and follow up with your lactation consultation for professional insight and assistance. I recommend having 2-3 sessions with a lactation consultation after having your baby to ensure you are actually breastfeeding properly. This will be the difference between a positive and negative breastfeeding experience.
  2. Eat well, stay hydrated. You don’t realize how much you are pouring into your baby. Breastfeeding a new baby is equivalent to working a full workout. You lose a lot of important nutrients from your body each and every time you feed your baby. It’s important to eat well and stay hydrated. You will notice a huge difference in your milk supply if you are hydrated.
  3. Leave Stress Out. There’s just no way to have a successful breastfeeding journey if you’re constantly stressed out. I understand that as a new mom you have so much on your plate, but try your best to not welcome stress into your nursing / pumping sessions. Why? Because stress factors in your milk supply. Anytime I nursed or pumped stressed there was a significant drop in my supply, I wouldn’t have much milk output. I learned that I needed to relax. Sometimes I would take a nice hot shower, watching videos of my son, or go and lay down for a while to sooth my body then try and pump or nurse again. It made a huge difference.
  4. Don’t Compare Your Journey. Your journey may not be like another mamas. I would often find myself scrolling for hours in breastfeeding groups saddened by how much less milk I made in comparison to other moms with their full eight ounce bottles of milk output. I had to reprogram my thinking to understand that MY BODY was making milk for MY SON and it was everything that he needed and the perfect amount that he needed.
  5. Let Go of Timelines. I would often stress about how long I had been breastfeeding. I remember thinking that I couldn’t make it to 6 weeks, then I would look up and it would be 8 weeks later. I remember thinking I couldn’t make it to 3 months, then I would look up and noticed I had been breastfeeding for 5 months. That’s when I learned to take things one day at a time. I realized, however long I breastfed on my journey was a blessing in itself. Every single drop of golden milk poured billions of good antibodies into my son and wherever our journey ends is exactly where it’s suppose to.

So mama, if you’re about to begin your journey, or if you’re already on it, I hope you know that you are doing amazing and you have every single thing your baby needs already inside of you. Keep your head up, ask for help and support, and enjoy these precious moments. They don’t last forever.

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