Do you ever feel like you just aren’t enough?

Do you ever feel like you just aren’t enough?

Don’t do enough, can’t give enough?

Everyone around you seems to do the best they can and you come up short, again.

In your tone of voice, your work, your estimation of yourself, your weight, your style, your smarts, your ability to save money, to raise your kids to be free-spirited yet educated…on and on.

Friend, can I lead you where my heart just went?

Let’s ask ourselves some questions:

  1. Is this an unusual season?
  2. Is it a tougher than usual season?
  3. Are you in the midst of what feels like a huge learning curve?

And some more questions:

  1. Are you getting the water intake you need, like how about in this moment?
  2. Are you able to take 10 minutes to do something de-stressing?
  3. Can you just breathe in and then breathe out in this moment?

There…so glad you joined me for that. ๐Ÿ™‚

Is it maybe your own estimation that is causing you to be so tough on your own self?

This post is prompted by a realization I just had.

So, this is my second year of having two children. And continuing to work full-time. And since March, the two days a week I used to escape to the office turned into fully working from home. The weekly couple of mornings of childcare for my older child turned into having him home every day. The baby stopped needing naps in the mornings, and with all of the upheaval, the older one stopped taking naps altogether.

It’s been such a huge learning curve. I’ve had seasons like this in the past, where the amount of responsibility required of me for that season is just more than I can handle. And though there are some things I can drop, the minimum requirement feels many times like too much.

Anyway, I looked at my time off for the year and get this, friends. It actually makes me want to cry.

I only took one half day off for a personal day plus two more for a sisters’ long weekend. For the entire year.

I barely took that off.

I have had two children at home with me from March until September and worked full-time.

This means I’ve worked through their ups and downs and needs. And given myself to their needs while still making sure to catch up on work late into the night, after getting up early to do it.

This means, that because I’m already at home, even when I’ve been sick, I’ve just adjusted my hours instead of taking time off.

I had this thought, “girl, what is your problem?!”

I guess I would just think, I want to save my time off in case we get to travel in the summer.

And then, I’ll just wait until it’s closer to the end of the year, so I can look at those days off and have hope.

(I’ve used up my days off for the year early in the year before and it was so tough mentally!)

So now it’s OCTOBER.

Girl, take a day off.

Take.a.personal.day.

Haha, anyway, friend I hope you have days off. I know not everyone does. I am so very blessed. And yes, I’m privileged, I really, truly am.

And I’m here to remind you that so many breaths of fresh air are here for us after we go take the walks, or take that personal day, or just stare out the window and dream a second while drinking a yummy drink.

I pray you get that recharge time soon. Let me know if you feel comfortable, your thoughts and something you do to recharge below.

Xoxo,

The Happy Sacrifices of a Mama

It feels a bit audacious to entitle this post with that line.

What mom wouldn’t give all for her kids, if she could?

It’s not what the dreamy romantic younger version of myself thought of first when I dreamed of having a family one day, to be honest.

As the dream come true unfolds, the grace comes, too.

But what hard thing doesn’t require sacrifice?

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Our announcement photoshoot for baby #1, our son! Photo Credit: Dana Christine Photography

When I first became a mama, first found out I was expecting within, things got devastatingly worrisome for me, very fast.

I didn’t expect to find myself bleeding and cramping at 6 weeks pregnant, while waiting for prenatal care to start at 10 weeks.

I didn’t realize those are the symptoms of a miscarriage, at first, but then I did and it was scary!

I desperately tried to find a healthcare professional to help make sense of what was going on.

I prayed a lot.

I tried the first option for healthcare and found myself even more worried, with no answers.

I tried the second option that had such strict rules, there was no help at all for me.

The third was a previously scheduled appointment to “just see” if a home birth could be right for me.

I don’t know why I even looked that option up. I always knew my mom had three home births out of 4, but I didn’t know if I had it in me!

Some part of me stretched to imagine the hopeful end of this pregnancy and wondered if I could really make it through contractions with no option for pain relief medication.

Here I was, the girl who just thought how cute my belly would look rounded. And how fun it would be to get cute maternity clothes!

And yet, here I was, the girl who took a natural pregnancy course to prepare years ahead of even being ready to start having children.

Who took a prenatal multivitamin because I was of child-bearing age.

Who tried her best to get her health in order.

I went to the home birth appointment and immediately found support.

Immediately, I was taken seriously AND someone could help.

I was sent to an ultrasound to check for the baby.

I was given a test to see what my progesterone levels were and found out they were almost nothing within a few days.

Our hearts leapt with joy & relief as we saw our little one’s strong heartbeat on ultrasound at just 6 weeks pregnant. (This technician had years in the field, had opened her own practice and specialized in high risk pregnancies- but even then it was super early to see the heartbeat, not a possibility to hear it yet).

But they plummeted as I continued to bleed and cramp through the weekend.

I held onto that ultrasound, knowing there was a real possibility it could be the only picture I’d ever have of this child.

We got the results quickly about the low progesterone and the midwife I had just met was able to refer me to a doctor who prescribed progesterone injections and pills.

My husband became my nurse and was theย most amazing.

I barely had bruises that are common at the injection site from how excellent he was at administering the shots! We were pretty shocked with that new responsibility- who knew so many women go through that to have a baby?!

I did however, have excruciating hip nerve pain. I could hardly put any pressure on them. I talked about this with those I was close with, but a new feeling in all of this was a feeling of being alone. I wonder how many other pregnant mamas feel this way?!

I was in a ballet program, at the height of my dreams to finally go en pointe and dancing 6 hours a week.

I had the best abs of my life ๐Ÿ˜‰ And quickly took a picture in case I never saw those things again!

But every time I did a class, I had miscarriage symptoms or excruciating pain I didn’t understand. I so badly wanted to be the girl who did ballet up until birth.

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7 months pregnant with our first!

It took me 33 weeks to finally realize it wasn’t working for my body.

(I took a break until the second trimester then came back full force).

So, enter the progesterone shots that made me so severely ill I threw up more times in a day than I could count. All my favorite foods were out.

I was in survival mode. Survive and let this baby survive.

And…he did!!!!!

And he was worth every second. But that was so hard and I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.

After his homebirth you can read about here, I finally realized I’d been experiencing symphysis pubic dysfunction (SPD). That was the reason for the clicking and the barely being able to walk after ballet class or walk up hills, or even open doors without the pain.

After his birth, I took it easy and around 9 months postpartum, I did a workout program with Beachbody called 21 Day Fix. I craved that intense athlete type of burn that I’d experienced as a ballerina.

But I still couldn’t lift my legs in a grand battement or any of the positions of ballet without intense pain.

So, for the first time in my life, I branched out into weight training and cardio. Those boring things that non-dancers did! ๐Ÿ™‚

It was the MOST fun!

At 10 months postpartum with my first, we became pregnant with our second.

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And I avoided over-exercising completely so I would stay far away from that incredible pain of SPD. I had a great pregnancy (if you can just easily say something as hard as carrying a growing person for 9 months is great-ย  for me it was AND it was so challenging)!

I was so in love with our little girl growing in the belly while being completely in love with our son who was soon to become a sibling, unbeknownst to him!

Her amazing birth came and you can read about it here!

I had taken up a light workout in the last 4 weeks of pregnancy because I couldn’t take it any longer and figured I’d made it this long without having a flare-up, and I couldn’t sleep unless I worked out at least a bit each day.

The birth was great on me physically, so at 4 weeks postpartum, I came back to movement.

And 6 weeks postpartum, I did some postnatal workouts.

I puffed up to the highest weight I’ve ever been I thoroughly enjoyed my maternity leave with baby Eilah and didn’t focus on anything stressful. I was pretty much high on happy essential oils and her sweetness and baking anything I wished; it was the sweetest 6 weeks ever!

Then real life hit and I could barely do it. Two babies at different stages + working was just all I could figure out, and I could never figure it out. It just got done somehow! I tried my very best!

I finally realized I needed a new tool to fight anxiety and down feelings that I’d successfully fought off with other forms of self care- ie, sharing my heart and life with Jesus & family, Epsom salt baths & essential oils.

So I went back to Beachbody workouts and started Morning Meltdown 100. It was neat timing because that program was just coming out at 5 months postpartum and it was set to music, so I felt like it was *my* program!

It added so much to my life! A feeling of confidence, a sense of having control over our days & my health, and those feel good hormones! (I know quite a few amazing coaches if you need a referral!)

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Using baby girl as a “weight” on vacation!

But I had to take it so very slowly and any time I tried anything special with my diet, our breastfeeding relationship suffered.

So I had to let the idea of a “perfect-diet-that-would-magically-make-me-lose-weight” go.

I was heavy, couldn’t eat dairy on top of my regular gluten free diet and it wasn’t fun to be eating so healthy but weighing so much.

At least the workouts made me feel responsible in that area, even though nothing seemed to change.

I don’t know…I guess I’m at the end of the blog here.

Since writing this originally, I’ve done a juice fast this past week. It was lovely & tough and it was just so fun to do something big for detox & my health. I had to cut it shorter than I wished, but it’s okay- mom energy comes first! I really felt in tune with my body like I haven’t in forever & it was so sweet. Also, non-caffeinated Ailene was super fun. (Like when I went to the Post Office & walked out with 3 unpaid packing envelopes to get a pen- then realized it and ran back inside! Maybe the workers watched the whole thing through the huge windows โ˜บ๏ธ)

My baby girl is 17 months and we are weaned a little over 2 weeks today.

My journey of letting so many things go and surrendering to so many things happening to my body has come to a new chapter.

Parenthood is funny…any area that I ever used to let slide, I realize that I’m letting it slide now and my kids are growing up to have memories that are affected by that.

If I don’t do dishes today, at some point, we won’t have clean ones to eat off tomorrow. Not a big deal if it happens once or twice, but if it’s regular, that will be their normal! Yikes!

I’ve had to let things go SO much but for the first time in forever (oh wait, right this isn’t a Frozen singalong)…for the first time in a long time I have a sense of self.

I’ve been pregnant or breastfeeding for 3 years & 9 months. (and both for 4 of those). Not the longest I’ve ever heard of, but I’m still amazed I was able to do that.

And one of the things I’ve received back in this past week is the ability to dance without abnormal pain, again.

I didn’t know if that would ever happen for me!

But if I could say one thing in closing?

I think our lives, in a lot of ways, are going to be better than we ever dreamed.

In a time when it’s easy, even prudent to focus on the concerns and fears, let’s not forget all the treasures right in front of us.

โ€œTomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.โ€- Eleanor Roosevelt

Xoxo,

Ailene

p.s. “If circumstances were a person, we could look them in the eyes and say, thank you for not being what I expected. You gave me an invitation to grow and become even more of who God dreamed I would be.”

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God has blessed me greatly with these gifts, the people in my family!

 

What I wish They Told Me Before Having 2 Kids under 2

Here’s what I wish “they” would’ve told me before I had 2 kids under 2.

  1. Fall and Christmas plates & decor come back in season before you know it. Just leave them out! ๐Ÿ™‚
  2. You might feel like you are required to be the energizer bunny & pulled in many directions, but just breathe. It.will.all.come.together!
  3. Prayer is powerful.
  4. Reach out for help. And when God sends help, open your heart to receive it.
  5. Stay close to your partner. Let out the ugly to God, then a tamer version to your partner. Sometimes it will be in the reverse order & that’s okay because life is real & they will love you through it & perhaps offer insight, kind eyes or prayer that will heal you. In the midst of it all, keep pursuing your spouse in some small way. It will go miles!
  6. Diapers are just diapers. No need to potty train super early unless it works for you & your toddler! You get used to it & it’s one less thing to worry about right now.
  7. Give it a little while before you feel like you’re in a rhythm. The home will come back in order, your health will come back into order, just take it in small steps towards your main goals. Write them down so they’re not in your head! Then give yourself grace as you slowly implement them. It will be soo satisfying when you reach each tiny goal- don’t worry, it will happen!
  8. Take in the moments of rest. When baby needs to nurse or be held longer. When the toddler needs to be held or read extra books. These are the highlights of your life. Truly, these babies won’t be babies forever and even the toughest memories when they are tiny become beautiful after some time passes.
  9. See if you can either a) get up a little earlier than the kids to meditate, pray, read the Bible and/or do something you love for a few minutes (sip some tea while watching the sunrise, etc.) or b) stay up a little later to do the same thing. But believe me, the more sleep you can get, the better so sometimes that is the thing that is most necessary & helps you the most!
  10. I wish someone had told me all of the JOY having 2 babies under 2 brings. When the 4 of us just lay on the floor and laugh, it fulfills something in my heart that I could never have dreamed. It’s SO good.

What’s something you wish someone had told you about having 1, 2 or 3 kids (or more!)?!

Xoxo,

Ailene

How I Prepare for Labor & Birth- Homebirth or Hospital

Hello friends!

I’m here with another topic that requires courage! Labor & birth.

I am 30 weeks along with my 2nd baby and starting to prepare for labor & her birth.

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This post is inspired by my conversations with many amazing moms who have had many amazing different birth stories.

I love gaining tips from them and sharing stories.

My main goals for labor and birth are to strengthen my body gently, rest well, and supplement effectively.

How I Strengthen My Body:

  1. Drink red raspberry leaf tea or take it in my multivitamin. It’s simple, tastes pretty great to me and is a very effective strengthener of the uterus. I think regularly consuming it during my second and third trimesters contributed greatly to my strength in pushing with my firstborn. He was born in 5 minutes and even though labor had gone on for 26 hours, I felt very strong in pushing.
  2. Balance not over-exercising, but using your muscles each day. If you have a toddler who you pick up and run around with, you’re probably set. I’ve tried to add an extra workout in, but each time I find my strength zapped for the whole day & not enough energy to keep up with my 1 year old! During my first pregnancy, I definitely over-exercised but loved every second of it. I paid the price for quite some time by not listening to my body though. Even after having my son, I couldn’t carry him for awhile & had to rely on strollers, baby swings, etc. (I mean, he was also almost 10 lbs, so he wasn’t a feathery light newborn ๐Ÿ˜‰ ).
  3. 30 squats every night. It works for me at night because I get tired out & helps me go to sleep. Squats are so good because they strengthen sore areas like your back (from all the frontal weight), quads and kinda your whole body. I really needed a strong back & legs for the work of labor, just made it a bit smoother.

How to Rest Well:

  1. This is probably different for each person. I try to get 8 hours of sleep a night (not possible for everyone, I know!) and let myself nap as needed. I really try to nap when my toddler is napping, but if I get enough sleep at night, I find that I don’t need it.
  2. Listen to my body. If I need to lay in bed because I just overdid it, I do that. If my hubby is able to help, that works. If I’m still in charge of my toddler and it’s not nap time, I lay down and turn on Peppa Pig in the background with no guilt. I supervise him, but keep drinking water and resting. Especially when experiencing Braxton Hicks, it’s been a sign to me that it’s time to drink water & lay down!
  3. Take Epsom salt baths. So huge for me. The magnesium intake helps with inflammation and soreness; the relaxation of being submerged in water takes some pressure off!

How to Supplement Effectively:

  1. Goals for supplementing for me are to pick the least amount of supplements, but the ones that help with energy, iron, folate & support pregnancy, labor and birth.
  2. I take alfalfa from 28 weeks on. This builds up Vitamin K2, which greatly helps with clotting and preventing hemorrhaging. I did have a pretty severe tear with my first birth, but I didn’t hemorrhage. Since it’s a leafy green, it’s also great for iron stores & helping milk supply.
  3. I drink red raspberry leaf tea. To tone my uterus as that muscle is about to see a lot of work! This tea is great for energy, iron stores, B vitamins and so comforting in my opinion. I made batches of it as an iced tea for my June birth and now drink it hot for my January birth!
  4. I take a multivitamin. I just look for folate, Vitamin D3, choline, and DHA/EPA. And a few others. I currently take the Smartypants Prenatal gummies and love how I feel on them! I used to take Megafood Baby & Me and loved those, especially during breastfeeding.
  5. Vitamin D3 was something I tested low in and along with issues I’ve had with digestion, it’s been something I definitely supplement with. You might have 1 or 2 areas of deficiency that you know about & add into your supplement regime, as well.
  6. I mostly try to eat well to get everything else needed to support pregnancy and my body! I’ve been addicted to 2 egg yolks, toast with butter & wilted spinach this pregnancy! (I couldn’t eat greens last pregnancy, so alfalfa was huge for me to take each day!)
  7. I begin the Gentle Birth Formula herbal tincture at 35 weeks and continue through to the end. I believe this also helped me to push so strongly and effectively. (I decided after a week of taking this and monitoring myself that I’m not going to continue with taking this herbal tincture this time around. I found myself unable to sleep and feeling down which I had not felt prior to taking this except in small, surmountable moments).
  8. I took Evening Primrose Oil orally at 36 weeks according to a dosage my home birth midwife gave me for my first pregnancy. I’ll do it again this pregnancy. You can look up the benefits of this one! Too long to explain! (I decided not to continue with this one, this time around. I will probably use it as a suppository at 40 weeks but will not take it orally, again due to the effect on my emotions).
  9. It’s best to share every supplement with our healthcare professionals and get their opinions. Just wanted to put this here.

How I Strengthen my Mind:

  1. I found a birth affirmation cd early on in my first pregnancy, when I had a miscarriage scare and really needed the support.
  2. I aim to agree with the affirmations I’ve chosen at least twice a week and notice that it helps massively to fight fear, doubt, etc.
  3. I let myself cry for a bit if I need to and move through the emotional release, but this time around, I don’t take it too seriously. It’s just a part of pregnancy, postpartum & all the hormonal swirls and it’s okay!
  4. Surrounding myself with positive people is a big one. Preferably people who can speak good things over you, too and listen to your fears, but then speak positivity over them.
  5. I also talk to at least a few moms and moms-to-be and it’s amazing how normal that makes me feel and how strengthening it is! Thanks, ladies!! Any and all of you throughout last pregnancy & this pregnancy! The sisterhood of motherhood rocks!

I am hitting the publish button now on this post that I had written at 30 weeks pregnant- I’m now 37 weeks and looking forward to a smooth birth with this girl in a few weeks!

Xoxo,

Ailene

The Essential Oil Craze- and Why I Love Them

Ah, the essential oil craze.

It sure can seem like that on social media these days, can’t it!

I never imagined they would become so popular; it’s so funny! It feels like there were a select few nerdy people who became aromatherapists and would maybe have sign-ups for an online course.

And then…the general public found out about them. And network marketing took off & well, here we are!

So, why do I personally love essential oils? And what is an essential oil?

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Hello, I’m an essential oil! I am:

“a natural oil typically obtained by distillation and having the characteristic fragrance of the plant or other source from which it is extracted.”

The distillation process brings out the essence of the plant and some say, the healing properties of this plant.

Example: The lavender flower is known to promote calm & also to be anti-inflammatory when made into a tea or tincture, and perhaps then diffused into a lotion.

An essential oil is like a very, very powerful tea or tincture, I guess you could say. Also, instead of being added to water to bring it out, it’s in a more pure or concentrated form, just the essence of the plant.

Pretty amazing when you’re wanting to reap the benefits in the most powerful way available & save money doing it!

I guess I’m a cross between an essential oil nerd (who has taken an aromatherapy course, myself) and has studied up on different herbs & oils for a few years and just another person who is a network marketer ๐Ÿ™‚

The only reason I decided to set myself up to sell a certain brand of oils is because I love the company. I love the on-ramp for anyone to be invited into a healthful lifestyle and I adore seeing a lot of friends living in less pain and greater consistent health.

If we don’t have our health, life can be so hard.

When we’re living in pain, it’s such a trial!

What are you favorite ways to boost your immune system in the Fall/Winter season?

And what do you think about essential oils?

I’d love to hear from you!

Xoxo,

Ailene

Goals for a Healthier Life

Hello, courageous friends!

Today’s post is about my goals this next year for a healthier life.

I’ve spent the past 2 weeks with all of 3 of my siblings and parents. Many times, our topic of conversation has centered around nutrition and cutting out sugar.

We’ve talked about how it helps us emotionally, mentally & physically be our best selves.

Another topic that I have felt strongly about is how to get my family on a real budget, a doable budget and one that we feel good about.

Anyway, here are my 5 Goals for a Healthier Life:

1. Learn how to eat whole, unprocessed foods again. Begin to replace refined sugar with fruit & then come up with a plan to eat 3 meals a day (4 meals while pregnant) & 1 healthy snack each day.
2. Come up with meal plans and grocery shop with a list again to help us stick with our budget goals.
3. Look at each of our long and short term financial goals and make sure our budgets for each are in line again. I find that during hard stretches of life (1st trimester sickness) and/or summer vacation type times, the budget can get a little out of whack!
4. Keep up with friends who bring me life, who have expressed that the feeling is mutual. Start a mom’s group for support & friendship.
5. Keep practicing self care and sharing it gracefully with others. Please visit this post on a friend’s blog for more about this!

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One last note- I was thrilled to find that this book is coming out tomorrow! You can purchase through my link to Amazon here.

Here’s to your health (and mine)!

Xoxo,

Ailene

An Easy Way to Combat Pregnancy Insomnia

Hello, courageous ones!

Have you ever suffered from aches & pains while trying to sleep?

I have!

In fact, during pregnancy, it is even harder for me to sleep. Especially in the second and third trimesters as everything is stretching and growing!

I’ve been wanting to share this post for awhile, but was freshly reminded of how important my earthing sheet is to my sleep this week.

Have you heard of grounding? It’s growing in popularity recently, so you may have.

My neighbors some years ago practiced it, and while I thought they were a little strange, I’ve come to see that it’s a great practice.

Grounding (also called earthing) is when we connect with the earth and the Earth’s electrons conduct into our body which helps to ground us to the same free electrons as earth. In theory, it can reduce inflammation in the body & help with chronic illness.

I wasn’t sure if it was crazy, but you know how you feel really rested after walking barefoot on the beach? (To ground, the best part would be to have your bare feet in wet sand).

I know that feeling, so that’s what first made me think this could be plausible.

I saw a naturopath that recommended an earthing half sheet & when it went on sale, I decided to buy it along with other supplements I was purchasing to optimize my health at the time.

Then came my first pregnancy! This is the first time I finally noticed real benefits with the earthing sheet. You see, I’d unplug the sheet during thunder and lightning storms, just as an extra safety precaution and after a few nights, familiar aches & pains were overwhelming my body again.

I would also sleep very lightly, waking up many times throughout the night which was my normal since I was a teenager.

When the storms passed and I plugged my earthing sheet back in, I slept deeply and woke up with significantly less inflammation and pain in my body.

The same thing happened this week, only I didn’t realize that I had forgotten to plug my sheet in after a night away from home this week.

I was really feeling the 2nd trimester aches and each day I woke up with a new one, it seemed! Not to mention I couldn’t fall asleep at night, even though I was exhausted.

Last night, I slept so deeply and awoke feeling refreshed.

So, my friends if you want to try it yourself, here’s the Earthing Sheet on Amazon to the exact sheet I have. You can use this across the bottom of your bed so both you and your partner’s feet are grounded all night, or you can just use it for yourself.

This is about $50 cheaper than when I bought it, as it’s about 3 years later.

Here’s to great sleep!

Also, if you don’t wish to ground while sleeping, you should be able to get the same benefits from walking barefoot on the earth each day! Either on the beach or in soil.

Xoxo,

Ailene

Learning the Art of Self Care

As a mother, I have never ever struggled with getting a shower in or eating food. Not because of motherhood, anyway.

You see, before mammahood came and blessed me, I realized my dire need for practicing the art of self care.

And it is an art!

I was realizing a pattern of depression and also panic attacks and I began to realize that when the care of me began to slip, I began to experience both of these things.

Continue Reading at SincerelyHannah.net.Healing Bath