2019- Year in Review

2019 will always be the year I had my baby girl.

She came to us “late” but early this year in February.

Such a sweet gift and perfect addition to our family.

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I just finished playing with my son, laying beside each other laughing inside his tent.

There’s nothing that fills my heart so much as quality time with my little family.

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And my larger fam. My heart is so full from a recent trip to Pennsylvania where I experienced the love of so many aunts, uncles, cousins, step-cousins and my immediate family as well all stayed together in our parents’ home.

My heart is also freshly grateful at the reminder of the brevity of life.

My heart grieves the brevity of this life and it also grows and stretches up into the hope and surety of my faith.

Eternal life.

Perfection of beauty.

Togetherness with God and all those who choose His love and just to simply believe.

He has saved us from our sins.

Sin= the ugly in each of us that separates us from God.

God= pure light & complete forgiveness.

Exchanging ashes for beauty.

 

I loved this year. Yet, it was really, profoundly hard.

I’m insanely proud of myself for how I handled really tough circumstances and challenging mindsets this year.

I didn’t always feel like I was winning, but I was.

And hey! Not only did I find a workout groove from 37-41 weeks pregnant in the beginning of the year, I was able to punch out 87 workouts from July on.

 

I’m proud of that and also just so grateful I can move my body.

I may be the heaviest this year that I’ve ever been by a lot, but I’ve learned that’s not a determining factor of beauty.

That comes from within and shines outward. And curvy isn’t ugly.

 

Dear One of my soul,

Thank You for life. For my husband who is the friend of my heart & life forever and the best person all around. For my teeny lady who is completely delightful and so beautiful & funny. For my son who taught and is teaching me the fun it is to be a mama and just how tightly love can weave its way into my heart for another human.

For my mom, who has weathered many storms with me and we always come forth stronger, more whole and more in love with each other with better tools on how to keep growing together. And my dear daddy who is the most amazing man I know before I met the most amazing man I know who is my husband. ❤

For my sister, who journeys with me through many things of heart & body and who also shows me how beautiful a life can be in many seasons of the soul.

For my older bro, who is not only fierce, but is someone to deeply love, easy to love and so deep and wonderful.

For my younger bro and his cats. 🙂

For my dear grandma and all the beauty she has grown on earth and the deep faith she has passed on to each of us.

For my dear grandma-in-law who is such a joyful person and loving generous Christian.

For my in-laws who have become even more deeply family and are a lot of fun for us all to be around and also oh so generous of heart.

For my coworkers who make life wonderful and help me to grow and be better.

For all who I love and who have loved me and mine.

XOXO,

Ailene

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! 🙂
  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

What Type of Parent I am

I’ve had the amazing realization of what kind of parent I should be this week.

I want to start by saying that I have a reallly compassionate heart and I remember what it was like to be a tenderhearted kid.

So, I guess I’ve always wondered how I would parent.

I figured that I would still be my Italian self who can be loud & passionate, but also gentle which is my nature.

I’m guessing I’m probably not alone in feeling a little afraid of how to proceed.

But 2 year olds…man, they pull it out of you.

You find yourself with a tantruming little person in front of you and you just have to figure out how to deal. Amiright?!

Our 2 year old’s tantrums have been at an all time high in the past few weeks and I won’t go into details, but let’s just say I’ve had to face everything. Just everything about how to parent and who I am as a parent.

And it hit me- I will be a firm and tender parent.

Firm where it’s absolutely needed for guidance and to keep my child from harm and from harming others.

And tender as soon as he gets it and I can just wrap him up in my love.

No matter how upset he has been, my love has been bigger.

It just overflows and you’re just trying to find any way to bring calm back to their hearts and environment.IMG_1683

I guess my heart as a child used to be confused by authority figures who were harsh and never explained themselves.

Every person has moments where they handle it badly, but I think the thing that healed me the most was those authority figures who followed up and apologized and when it was appropriate, explained what was going on.

I still don’t completely know how this will go- that’s parenting a firstborn for ya!

But I’ve had so much confidence in my parenting and my child responds amazingly well to my confidence.

So, to all the other mamas and papas out there who are going through tough times, I’m praying for you, that as you read this you’d feel grace and just know what to do next with your child.

We’re doing it!

In it together,

Ailene

Why People Think MLMs are BAD for Women

What a title, eh?

Nope, I’m not Canadian!

My passion for (true) feminism is what led me to write this article.

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MLMS have a stigma, to say the least.

I’ve never paid too much attention to stigmas, especially when it comes to something I have solidly thought through, talked through with a few close people to get advice and ultimately is beneficial to my family.

One of these things is being a part of not one, but two multi-level marketing companies.

Why I love them: A community of people stand together and build their individual LLCs with the help of other small business owners, under a branch of a larger company that backs them. What could be better than that?

Well, small businesses mean dealing with people. And sometimes people can be a bit wild. Pushing for sales, overusing their relationship base. I think a lot of MLMs could benefit from asking their people to take business courses or having a requirement to that end.

The Stigma of MLMS and Why they are BAD for Women.

Oh my! I can’t believe that in this century people are not only writing this stuff; they are believing it.

Goodbye feminine power.

Goodbye equality.

Respect.

Ethics.

Sure, there is probably a woman out there who has no idea how to navigate relationships, is pushy and selling to people, seeing them as a number.

There is a probably a woman out there who is putting more money into the products than she is making a profit off of them.

But you don’t see articles slamming small business owners who are women in the same way.

You see, women can be naturally relational. So can men. Building up a network from some of those relationships is normal when a person goes into business. Historically, local businesses survive off of this network.

MLMs build communities. Most build the character of a person, encouraging personal growth and good leadership skills and that’s the sign of a good businessperson.

Yeah, the private messages on social media platforms that are random and don’t make sense are annoying.

Yeah, it would be better if people were more direct and didn’t come off as using your high school relationship status as another person to use and manipulate into their pyramid scheme.

But women are smart.

Women are good leaders.

(Men are smart and men are good leaders, but they aren’t usually being slammed like this).

So when you see a woman “hustling” don’t assume they are lazy, blind, incompetent and wasting their livelihoods.

Maybe they truly are successful.

Maybe on top of having a college degree, they have found something they love and decided to go for living a dream instead of what is expected.

Maybe they have a passion to help people’s lives be better. More beautiful (by selling makeup), having better health (by selling any number of health products), or more fit (by selling fitness stuff).

We should support these women if we want to, because they are small business owners.

If you have another thought on this topic and it doesn’t include an ancient mindset on the respectability of women, share below.

Thanks,

Ailene

Becoming what I wanted to be when I grew up

I have been doing my dream job for the past 8 years.

Since the age of 12, I dreamed of growing up to be a missionary.

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An African Children’s Choir came to our church and my family hosted two boys. It was such an amazing time. We had so much fun and I was deeply touched by them.

It was the summer after sixth grade, the last opportunity to attend Penn Del camp.

I went and missionaries to Africa spoke.

I bought the tape of music, and sang the words in Swahili over and over.

I still cry anytime anyone speaks of Africa and feel so privileged to have some friends from various nations on that continent.

At 15, the worship dance company I had just joined was invited to go to Honduras.

My family didn’t have the money to send me, but I dreamed about it anyway.

We were able to raise the funds and though it was only 14 days long, I fell in love with this nation. I couldn’t get the people out of my head, the language. I was immersed and so much so, I experienced culture shock coming back to the U.S.

It was a shock to come back to my home and see how big it was, a shock that we have so many different colors and styles of shoes. Shoes, that are just a necessity for protecting feet- here in the United States, I grew up with it being common to have a different shoe for each outfit. It struck me as the strangest thing in the world that I had pink shoes.

My parents’ home seemed so large. I had previously thought it medium or even small-sized. I was so grateful to have my own room.

This only solidified my desire.

I would grow up to be a missionary to Honduras. I would go to college to learn Spanish and become a teacher.

Well, I did grow up to go to ministry school. It was amazing.

For the first time in my life, I had classes on books of the Bible.

I grew up in public school and never had delved into Hermeneutics.

I love, loved it. Each day was the best, going to a new class and studying the history of many books of the Bible and just everything I loved it so much.

We went on a missions’ trip, to my pure delight, back to Honduras. I had cried as our plane left the ground as a 15 year old. As an 18 year old, I came back to a different Honduras. Even the poor had cell phones. It was wild. So different.

But I still was in love. And dreamed of going back to teach and love on children there.

I came home from that trip, graduated from ministry school (twice 😀 :D).

I went home to PA, living with my parents.

I was directionless, depressed. I thought I had this exciting life and now it felt like a failure.

Then commenced the sweetest season of falling in love with my parents all over again. The friendship & moments we shared during that season are still a foundation of the relationship we have today.

I didn’t have much going on or many friends and I began to spend time in worship and prayer.

Instead of wallowing in sadness and not knowing what was to come, I just dove into study of the word and prayer and reveled in the goodness of a real God, more real to me than I’d ever imagined possible.

From there, I got a new dream. To join a place that ministers to Jesus in worship and prayer 24/7. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week- it never stops.

And here I am, 8 years into this dream.

I’m a missionary to my own country of origin. It’s been so moving to stay. Not to go on the mission field but to stay and love my own family, friends and all of the beautiful people who have come here from so many nations of the world to call the United States home.

Who knows what is ahead, but I’m beyond thrilled to be living this dream come true.

Jesus is God. He’s man. He’s the one who bridges the gap between God in heaven, the Father and us, humans. He gives us all of His inheritance of light and life. In Him, we have the Holy Spirit. The One who draws us into the Father, into the Son and lives alongside of us as a help.

God’s light is never-ending.

In His light,

Ailene

To the One

For being a courageous person, I haven’t felt very fear-less lately.

Haven’t felt like stepping out.

And along with that, my goal of using this as a platform to hear others’ voices, a chorus of courageous ones together has not been happening.

In fact, I’ve failed to post someone’s blog who accepted my invitation to guest post after I was so deeply moved by her heart and asked for more of her writing.

9 months later, here is a powerful ode to many. To the ones who fight for alive hearts, here is a guest post by Deni Elise Gustafson. My dear friend and only sister.

To the one who grew up too soon
To the one who had tears that came much later than the moment of pain
To the one who didn’t hear what was needed
To the one who has experienced the death of so much
To the one who had their childhood stolen, their innocence stolen
To the one that had to say goodbye to hopes and dreams again
To the one that was broken on the inside with a smile on the outside
To the one who had to be strong when everything was crumbling
To the one who couldn’t join in with lighthearted banter
To the one who is fighting a battle unseen to the naked eye
To the one who cannot even voice feelings for there are too many and not enough all at once
To the one who has been misunderstood and misrepresented
To the one who never heard, “Will you forgive me? I was wrong”
To the one who is trying every day just to make sure food is on the table and beds are warm
To the one who feels like giving up
To the one whose health has dripped out through praying hands

To the one who fights for gratefulness against all odds
To the one who chooses to believe He is good
To the one who stands up for themselves when everything says to back down
To the one who speaks up even when their voice has grown hoarse
To the one who fights for a heart that is alive and feels
To the one who gives kindness and forgiveness even when undeserved
To the one who lets wonder live in childhood and beyond
To the one who lives generously in faith that provision will come
To the one who creates a safe place even if just in hearts shared
To the one who is trustworthy and keeps their word
To the one who is weak and therefore strong
To the one who lives like eternity is real
To the one who believes, hopes, and endures

“The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’ Matthew 25:23 NIV

 

If your heart is numb the first time reading, like mine was, let me encourage you to read it again a second or third time. The power of these words go deep and sometimes it takes a bit for a distracted hearts to settle in and feel.

Find more creativity by Deni give a follow on Instagram:

@missdenipenny and @theconfidentgiraffe

@missdenipenny

Blessings in light,

Ailene

Postpartum Bliss

I’ve gotta write this down.
It’s entitled “Postpartum Bliss” because that’s what this season has been.
And it’s so starkly different than my first experience, struggling so deeply with undiagnosed postpartum depression.
Part of me feels like I’m holding my breath, having squeaked by the first 6 weeks with only low moments, that I’m able to come out of. And living from one high to the next of this joyful life.
I was all set to see a doctor this time around and even say yes to help for chemical or hormonal imbalances.
It’s just not happening. Tears in my eyes to type that out.
How my postpartum experience has really been…
  • Easy.
  • It makes sense.
  • I feel like my little and big prayers are being answered and heard. They were, of course, last time. But it didn’t feel like it.
  • Not living with anxiety and guilt constantly weighing on me and in all of my thoughts and mind pictures.
  • Getting sleep!
  • Knowing how to do this breastfeeding relationship and being amazed at how well she has done from the very beginning. She does have a pretty serious lip tie, but it doesn’t bother her or I. I guess that happens with lip ties- sometimes they cause all kinds of problems and sometimes, for some reason they just don’t.
  • Understanding how to get my newborn to know her nights from her days and her being able to sleep through the night at 1.5 months old. (She stays asleep while I give her a dream feed when I go to bed, and I wake up 2 times when I hear her starting to come out of sleep and she goes right back).
  • I can actually work out. Without feeling like my body has fallen apart and will take years, if it ever recovers (now I know that it did recover, instead of the weight of constantly not knowing).
  • With getting good sleep and being able to fight anxiety & guilt, I’m enjoying my days.
  • I feel no guilt in being extravagantly good to myself.
  • Being thoroughly grateful for my toddler having care outside the home for 4 mornings a week and then a solid afternoon nap so that I’ve even had alone time since I’ve been off of work. By the time he does wake up, I’m so missing him that the time I have with him is so enjoyable to me. Drinking it in as he’s growing so fast!
  • Because of all the ease and rest available to me, I’ve been able to enjoy my 2 babies even though there’s definite craziness to 2 under 2 years old, I think I haven’t felt the full craziness of it yet. I’m so grateful we are all able to nap! How do people do this with older kiddos?! (I’m sure there’s grace for that, too).
  • During my maternity leave, I did what I enjoy- baking, watching movies, reading some of the best fiction books, planning my future workouts, cuddling my baby (sometimes when you have a newborn it’s easy to forget to just hold them because you enjoy it, not just to meet all their needs), bubble baths.
  • An Epsom salt bath just a few days after birth brought such a sense of normalcy to my upside down world. It was so soothing physically and emotionally. I just had a feeling that everything would be all right.
  • Accepting help with joy from family and just taking it easy.
  • Taking naps daily AND sleeping in. (My babies both have gone to sleep later at this stage and slept later for a full 10.5-11 hours, with 3 or 4 feeds). Um, my first baby didn’t do this until 3 months old? And then completely dropped sleeping through, waking every hour for a regression stage, and THEN slept through with no feedings from 6.5 months on). I know what it’s like to have nothing work and I keep holding my breath that it might happen with baby girl. This brings me to another point…
  • Taking it one day at a time. Each day has enough grace in it. 💛
So, here is my ode to my amazing first 6 weeks, being able to enjoy my sweet girl and sweet life and being so thankful for each one of you who has uplifted me throughout my two pregnancies and postpartum seasons and prayed for me, reached out in any way.
I love you so and I’m so grateful for your support! It means the world to me and I pray for each one of you to have a season of joy upcoming, where things make sense again and you find yourself simply smiling again and your dreams don’t seem too far off. Where the hope of life and joy of life finally catch up to you again and maybe you haven’t even felt it since the magic of childhood, but I pray you’d feel it again. All the magic, all the hope and so much bright joy.
Love,
Ailene

An Open Note from a Very Pregnant Lady

Written January 25, 2019, 2 days before my daughter’s due date.

If I see one more self-righteous, shock factor pro-life photo or statement.

Listen, I’m as pro-life as they come. I’ve had a huge heart for babies who are unwanted and moreso a passion for mamas who are facing pregnancy that is unexpected and perhaps terrifying.

Before we dehumanize the situation by sharing traumatizing things, let’s think about who actually goes for an abortion.

She’s strong. Yet she’s faced with something most of us cannot fully relate to. Can you imagine her situation? She’s a college student who worked so hard to get her scholarships and she had a moment of passion or was, worse, put in this situation by force. Wouldn’t you want to press delete, too?

Yes, deleting a tiny bunch of cells who for sure will become a human is horrific. Yes, ending a heartbeat of a beautiful child is terrifying. But it’s not an easy choice and I don’t know who is righteous enough to look down on someone in that situation.

Maybe you just want to “get the word out” but just look into the eyes, the beautiful eyes of a woman who is in that situation and love her. Fight for her unborn child by supporting her. And even by giving her the dignity to make the choice herself. You just literally cannot save her child. It’s HER child and her choice to save him or her. She’s the one who will live with the choice, in every way and you might be able to come alongside and support her in a huge way by adopting her child. But the traumatic photo on Facebook? Who is that helping?

The statement full of shock factors that are just absolutely disturbing- is that gonna help HER? Or is it some battle you’re fighting against…against who exactly? “The other side”? Just make it personal because though it’s a human rights issue it’s the most intimately personal choice a woman could ever have.

To those who are in this place. You, brave woman, you are strong. You can make this choice. I hope you see the potential this tiny group of cells or this fully-formed human has inside of you and find courage to bring that person forth. This would be the most selfless and heroic thing you could ever do and I believe, the redemption key to your story. I think it will enable you to move forward and not hold you back. You can offer a child literally everything in giving them life. But it’s your choice to make. And I hope you feel the love so many of us have for you, though we’ve never faced what you’re facing and don’t know if we’d have the courage to follow through with what we are asking.

See yourself in five years. Where are you? Where is this little one? Can you be proud of this decision? Can you live with it? Not shame on you– can you live with it? But seriously, if this crushing weight you’re feeling was lifted, can you feel the life you’ll have? Make your decision that way and know you are loved.

To all the women I know who have had a child on their own, facing very uncertain circumstances and risking reputation, future career choices, everything- you are the most bad*ss woman out there. I feel barely worthy to wash your feet. I am astounded at all that you have given up to give life. I am ashamed at how easy I have it in so many ways, for pretty much no reason of my own.

I wish I could do more to advocate for YOU. To help you get the college degree you don’t have the time, finances or mental space to obtain because you’ve chosen to become a mother. To lift off the pressure you feel, bearing all the weight of parenthood on your strong but slim shoulders. To let you deeply, surely know that you are worth loving and being stayed with. Worth being honored and cherished. As a person, as a woman, not just because you are a mother. Girl, I wish I could give you security. For the future, heck, for right now. I can’t, but I will stand up for you and women like you for all my days, in any and every way I know how, and I won’t pretend to “know” you, to know your circumstances and to judge you according to my own standards. I promise to advocate for you and to love you and I commit to speaking highly of you because that’s all that is in my heart for you, all my days. I can’t say it in enough ways, you, you’re amazing. I can’t believe you chose to give life when so many wouldn’t, couldn’t, or haven’t. Thank you for making your child’s world your whole life and in so doing; giving us the whole world. Your son or daughter is one of the most amazing gifts we could ever have in this world and I just want to say, thank you.

Fear’s Words- Post by Hannah Rosenboom

This is a guest post, or you could say a “re-blog with permission” from Hannah Rosenboom of Sincerely Hannah. 

Find original post and blog here.

This specific writing of hers hit me so hard that I immediately wrote to ask if I could have her guest post like, right now on my blog and if she would even consider letting it be this exact post. 

One of the reasons I started Courage is in the Leap was to have a place to band together, creating a community of real people who are fighting to live courageously and who realize the power of doing it together. Hannah is just such a person and an amazing communicator. Her beautiful vulnerability shows not weakness, but amazing strength and inner fortitude. You can’t share deep authenticity without experiencing the “20 seconds of brave phenomenon”- basically just jumping out there and doing it. That takes so much courage. So here is her post and please go give Hannah some love over at sincerelyhannah.net

“How are you so weak that you can’t even handle adjusting to one baby? Heaven help you if you ever have to adjust to more than one child.

Why are you so pathetic?

No one else is having such a hard time with this.

Why can’t you get it together?

Just stop being so sensitive and needy.

You’re fine, stop complaining and pull your head up.

You’re not praying and in Scripture enough, and that’s why you’re dealing with all of this.

If you could just get it together and stop being so tired and lame and apathetic and actually do something, you’d be better.

Why can’t you lose the weight?

You’re not pretty enough.

You look like a mess all the time. You can’t even do your hair anymore. You look crazy.

Why can’t you at least look like you’re making an effort?

Why do you have to have so many panic attacks?

Why is everything so much more difficult for you than it is for everyone else?

You’re so pathetic, you can’t even handle a small inconvenience without having a meltdown.

Get over yourself, it’s not about you.

Stop being so selfish and start caring about someone other than yourself.

Wow, you did a terrible job handling birth.

You’re not a very strong person.

Other moms are at least normal. But you’re over here falling apart after a minor thing.

It’s been almost a year now, and you’re still dealing with this stuff?

I’m telling you, you’ve got to be a better Christian. Good Christians don’t struggle this much with minor difficulties.

Why do you have such a hard time making friends and being friendly?

People think you’re too hard to get to know, so it’s not worth it to be your friend.

You’re always misunderstood.

You’re too sensitive.

Why are you always the friend that cares and invests more? You always give more and don’t get the same level of friendship in return. It must mean people don’t want to be your friend.

You’ll never have a solid group of friends.

Can you please just act outgoing and friendly so people don’t think you’re rude and bitchy?

You’re never going to make friends if people think you’re rude and bitchy.

Pull yourself together, you’re being so dramatic. Things really aren’t that bad.

Wow, you’re having super dark thoughts. Your brain is messed up.

Well, you used to be a happy person. But things are different now. You’re not going back to that person. She was younger and more naive. You’re older and wiser now. It’s not possible to erase the last few years and get back to being happy.

You’re going to be like this for the rest of your life, just get used to the constant anxiety. The least you could do is make peace with it so you’re not constantly fighting.

Why are you so upset?

You have everything in the world to be happy about.

You have a great husband, a beautiful daughter, a cute house, good food, enough money, and your life is full of good things.

All of that and you’re still pouting and crying all the time. Unbelievable.

You’re so ungrateful.

You feel hollow inside and it doesn’t go away even when you’re doing things that bring you joy?

Your fault. Fix it.

Your daughter is growing up and this is what you’re going to teach her? This is the example she’s going to have? She deserves better. She doesn’t deserve this.

It’s almost her first birthday. You’ve spent the entire first year of her life dealing with this, and you’re never going to get this year back. You’ve really missed out. You could have been the mom she really needed but instead you chose to be anxious, sad, fearful, and hollow.

__________

I have spent the entirety of the last year in my head with these thoughts, constantly rushing through my brain and never being put to rest. I couldn’t turn them off.

The first step in getting better is recognizing that THESE AREN’T MY THOUGHTS. This is NOT my voice. This is NOT coming from my head. This is certainly NOT the voice of my Father.

These are not my words.

These are Fear’s words.

These are the words of someone who hates me. Who wants to beat me up so hard that I lie on the floor and never get up. These are the words of someone who wants me down for the count. Who wants me living as a shell of myself. Who wants me barely making it.

These are the words of someone who wants to take me out.

Who would really love it if I were dead inside. Who would really love it if I were dead period.

Well, this blog post is little me, as weak as I am, recognizing who is speaking to me, and refusing to tolerate this any longer. This is me saying, “ENOUGH.”

I’m getting up off the ground.

So Fear, you better run. Because this girl is about to fight back.

I may be weak, tired, beaten up, worn out, and covered in bruises, but I’m not dead, and I’m getting up now.

Every thought in my head that tells me I’m pathetic, weak, stupid, ugly, unloved, not enough, too much, and so on …. IS A LIE.

Fear, you better be scared for your life. Because now that I know it’s you who’s been speaking to me all these years, I’m fed up with you.

You’ve robbed me of rest. You’ve stolen my joy. You’ve stopped me in my tracks and pulled me out of the game. You’ve kept me trapped in a cage. You’ve taken my weapons right out of my hand and thrown me on the ground.

And I’m waking up to the truth of what’s been happening. And I’m saying ENOUGH.

Your words have tormented me for far too long.

Anxiety, are you listening? Fear, do you hear me? YOU BOTH CAN SUCK IT.

____

Quick word for anyone dealing with postpartum depression & anxiety – things are not all in your head. See your doctor and if you don’t feel heard, see someone else. I’ve learned that sometimes, your brain chemistry is off or your hormones are very out of whack – both were/are true for me. Get on a medication to fix that if that’s the case. Overall, talk to someone who is professionally licensed and has gone to school for these kinds of issues. While you wrestle against principalities and powers of darkness, stay grounded in truth and scripture. Do these things ALONGSIDE of taking care of yourself physically and emotionally, whether that means taking meds, seeing a therapist, or both. You have a mind, body and soul, and it’s not going to work to only target one of these areas if you’re struggling in two or all three.”

 

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 😉 ).
  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