Monthly Archives

November 2016

Encouragement, Motherhood

Struggling With Anxiety as a Mom

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I remember the first time I had an anxiety attack.  I was around 35 weeks pregnant and working as a teacher at a child development center.  I was in the infant room that day.  As the day was winding down and there were only 2 babies left, I sat on the floor with another teacher.  I remember becoming hotter and hotter, like a wave of heat hit me.  I was burning up and it was making me feel nauseous.  I asked the other teacher if I could go to the restroom.  I walked down the hall, into the restroom and locked the door.  I looked down at myself and my skin was bright pink, my stomach was in a knot.  I went to the sink and splashed some water on my face and looked up at my reflection in the mirror.  Right at the base of my neck, I could physically see my pulse pounding.  I put my fingers there and felt my heartbeat racing.  As I did so, I began feeling my heart beating violently.  I tried to breathe deeply to help it slow down.  As I tried to form purposeful breaths, I felt like my chest was being crushed and my airways closing in.  I couldn’t take a deep breath.  I was beginning to panic.  What is wrong with me?  Am I going to pass out?  Am I having a heart attack?  Am I about to die?  My mind was racing and my body was in overdrive.  I knew something wasn’t right and I was scared.  I left the bathroom and started down the hallway when my director saw me.  She had one look at me and yelled for me to come sit down.  She asked me what was going on and I started bawling.  Tears streaming down my face, I told her it was hard to breathe, that my heart was racing and wouldn’t slow down, and that I didn’t know what was wrong with me.  She got me water and sat in front of me talking to me and getting me to calm down.  I slowly started feeling a little better.  She wanted me to go to the doctor, but I just wanted to go home.  When I got home (earlier than I should have been), Matt was confused because it wasn’t my normal time.  I walk in the door with tears still pouring down my face.  In a worried voice he ran up to me and asked what was wrong.  I couldn’t talk and so he just hugged me.  I’m pretty sure he was about to go grab the hospital bags and put me in the car because he assumed the baby was coming!  After the incident was over and upon doing some research, I realized that I had experienced an anxiety attack.  I don’t know if it was the stress of working, being in college full-time, and being largely pregnant, but apparently I just couldn’t deal.  I went on maternity leave 2 weeks after that.  It was my first and only anxiety attack while I was pregnant.

JD Middleton Photography

JD Middleton Photography

After Avary was born, I was blissfully happy.  I was on cloud-9.  I felt like life couldn’t get any sweeter.  Even though I had to have an induction and her birth didn’t go as I had “planned”-you can read my birth story, here-every moment of labor, delivery, and taking our baby home felt like perfection.  I was on a high!  I had just had a vaginal birth, pushed my 1st baby out in 15 minutes, and those endorphins had me feeling like a super hero!  You mamas know what I mean!

The days and weeks following Avary’s birth were nothing short of incredible.  So when I went in for my 6 weeks postpartum appointment, and they had me fill out that questionnaire about how I was feeling-if I had any negative thoughts about myself or my baby, if I was feeling hopeless/anxious/depressed, etc.-I found it so odd!  Of course I didn’t feel any of those things, I thought.  Everything is perfect!  I handed in my questionnaire, and they didn’t ask me a single question about it.  Looking back, they didn’t even discuss postpartum depression/anxiety (PPD/PPA) with me at all.  And so I thought everything would be fine, and I no longer had to think about PPD again.  Fast forward several months and things began to change. . .

For me, around the time Avary was 5-6 months old, things began changing.  It felt like my hormones were on a rollercoaster ride.  My body was still trying to adjust to no longer housing a human being, my baby was well out of the “newborn phase” and changing dramatically, my family was 1,000 miles away, my husband had a job that took him from home on a regular basis. . .I began experiencing anxiety.  I’ve talked about in a previous post how I have always been and a somewhat anxious/fearful person, but this was on a level I had never known.  The anxiety made me feel like bad things were imminent. Like, what if we get in a car accident on the way to the grocery store, what if Avary’s cough is really some deadly disease, maybe my breastmilk is terrible and not good enough, maybe I am a terrible mom, what if someone breaks into the house and tries to steal Avary. . .  I was experiencing irrational fears and anxiety and it was affecting my mood.

The truth is, more women than you might think struggle with postpartum anxiety or postpartum depression.  Postpartumprogress.org estimates that close to 20% of mothers experience mood or anxiety disorders-that is nearly 1.3 million women annually.  When I was having my anxious thoughts, I didn’t understand what was wrong with me.  I kept trying to just “snap out of it” and stop worrying. . . Until I did research into PPA did I realize that this wasn’t a problem I just developed on my own, but one that was affected by pregnancy and postpartum.  PPA and PPD can occur up to a year after birth, not just a few days or weeks.  I’m not an expert on this topic, just sharing my personal experience, but if you need help, seek help!  I wish there was more follow-up care for mothers after birth so that so many women wouldn’t suffer in silence and confusion.

My anxiety was mild compared to what so many face and has begun correcting itself, but every woman is different and every experience with postpartum anxiety or depression is different.  Do not be afraid to talk to your doctor and get help!  It is nothing to be ashamed of.  And do your research!  While most all new mamas experience some degree of “baby blues,” anxiety and depression should be taken seriously.  Reach out to your spouse, your friends, your family, anyone you need to so you can get the support you need.  For me personally, it did wonders for me to talk through what I was feeling.

I write this post to tell you that you are not alone in your feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression.  It happens.  But you don’t have to be alone in your struggle and their IS help and support.

Also, I hope you never forget that in the midst of your most anxious days, when you in are in the thick of your fears, when stress seems like it will crush your spirit, you have a God to turn to.  You have a Father that wants to give you freedom over fear and power over anxiety.  Never underestimate how much He cares for you.

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Let’s break the “taboo” that postpartum depression and anxiety has surrounding it, and share our stories.  Let’s encourage fellow mamas to get help.  And let’s support one another on this crazy, rewarding venture called motherhood.

sean-1

 

 

Encouragement, Monthly Goals

November Goals

Ahhhh, November is here, friends!!  There is just something so special about starting a new month, don’t you think?  It is like a fresh start, a do-over, a new beginning, a clean slate.  Whether you need to say goodbye to the troubles of October and leave them in the past or October was so wonderful that you feel November can’t possibly top it, I want to assure you that God made us for seasons.  I am so thankful for the start of a new month to remind me of God’s sovereignty and understanding of what I need.

For me, the start of November was much needed.  October was full of so much good, but also full of many hard days.  It was full of #momfail moments, too much anxiety, stress, and worry, and not enough time spent purposefully pursuing peace.

 

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This month is going to be so full.  This month we get to travel home to see our family whom we only see once or twice a year.  My husband hasn’t been home in over a year and I haven’t been home since Avary was 8 weeks old.  I’m so excited to share our baby girl with the family and let them see how much she’s grown.  I am so grateful that we get to spend the Thanksgiving holiday surrounded by family and friends.  We haven’t been home for Thanksgiving in 3 years!  So, November not only promises a trip home and Thanksgiving festivities, but Matthew’s birthday is also this month!  This will be the 8th birthday we have celebrated together.  Wow, time flies.  Also, November marks Growing the Nest’s 6 month anniversary!  I started my little blog 6 months ago, and I am so thankful to have made it to this point.  I love this space of the internet I have here, the outlet my blog is for myself, and the people I have met along the way.  So November, I have high hopes for you!

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In all seriousness, though, I think one of the keys to living a peaceful life is taking time for reflection and planning/living life with purpose.  I love how writing in this blog is making me more intentional with my thoughts; because, I have honestly never written down a list of goals for a month.  But in the midst of trying to organize my life and live with intention, I decided to write out my goals for the month of November.  I was inspired by a fellow blogger, Rachel over at This Beautiful Season-where she encourages women to savor each season of life they find themselves in.  She has written posts about her vision and goals for each month, and how she will achieve them.  I love reading her thoughts, as they are so encouraging.  Definitely go check her out!  I think writing out my goals for the month will help me be more intentional in meeting them.

November Goals:

  • Make my quiet time with God a priority.  Spend more time reading and studying the Word, and praying with purpose.
  • Give my anxiety, stress, and worry up to God!  Whenever I feel myself becoming anxious or having stressful thoughts, I want to quote Bible verses that assure me of God’s peace, my victory over fear, and His protection and care for me.
  • Instead of turning the TV on when I have a spare moment, I want to open up a book and get inspired!  Finish the 3 books on my November reading list!
  • To look at those around me through God’s eyes.  To bless someone around me just because I can.  To reach out to someone so they know I care.  To be the hands and feet of Jesus, showing love and compassion.
  • To find creative ways and little moments to show Matthew how much I love him.
  • To soak up every moment with our family when we are home with them. <3
  • Stay consistent with my exercising!
  • To produce great content for my blog, especially coming into this holiday season.
  • Drink a #saltedcarmelmocha from Starbucks with my mama! (Man, I miss her!)
  • Learn how to coupon so I can save my family some money.
  • Be the very best mama to Avary that I can be by being present and in the moment.

Those are my goals for this month of November.  I am sure I could have thought of one hundred more, but you know!  My thought for this month is: PURPOSELY PURSUING PEACE.  I am praying over this month and asking God to show me how I can achieve these goals.  I am asking him to help me relinquish “my control” and live this month purposefully.  Pursuing peace.  Seeking grace.  Letting go of anxiety.  Living free and full.

I would love to know what your goals are for this month!  Let us know in the comments section!  Also, can I help you in any way?  If there is anything you’d like me to pray about or you need someone to talk to, don’t hesitate to hit that Contact button at the top of my blog or message me on Instagram or Facebook.  Let’s build each other up and support one another this month!

sean (1)

Baby, Motherhood

How To: Create a Routine as a SAHM

*This post contains affiliate links.  This means that if you choose to use these links, I may get a small commission for connecting you to the source.  I only share links to products I love and use, and that I believe will benefit you.*

When we made the decision that I was going to be a stay-at-home mom to our little girl, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into.  I assumed that the job was pretty easy because all I had to do was take care of the baby, right?  Wrong!  Being a SAHM is much more than “taking care of the baby.”  A lot about being a SAHM is being a homemaker-making sure things stay cleaned and organized, planning meals, preparing food, doing laundry, running errands and just simply keeping the house running.  Not to mention, taking care of the baby involves a host of different tasks.  I’m feeding, changing, nursing, bathing, entertaining, comforting, and nurturing a little human being.  And now that my little girl Avary is at the age where she is crawling, pulling up, and cruising around the house, our playtime has to be more meaningful and teaching and SUPERVISED.  I have to teach her what is and is not safe to stand up on, what we do not touch, that we do not eat dog food, that we should not take the dog’s bed, that we cannot eat books or fuzz or the rug or DVDs. . . (ha!)

And what I have learned is, if we just wake up in the morning, with no plan for our day, the day is going to be very unproductive.  I won’t be able to get chores done around the house, we will miss running our errands, the baby will probably act out because she doesn’t know what to expect next.  It took me months to realize that what we needed was a routine and a schedule!  Once I added this to our lives, everything changed!  So I thought I would share with you my tips on how to create a routine as a SAHM + stick with it, as well as a glimpse at what our daily schedule looks like.  I would like to preface this by saying, in the first 3 months of Avary’s life, we did NOT have a schedule.  I felt that in those early newborn days, it was important for me to allow Avary to make her own schedule so we could get to know each other and she was giving me cues to exactly what she needed.  We really started carving out a routine when she was around 4.5 months old when we began transitioning her from co-sleeping to sleeping in her own room and crib.  Remember, you know your baby better than anyone, so experiment with routines and schedules and find what works for you!

Tip #1: Get a Planner

Get a planner, get a planner, get a planner!  I cannot tell you enough how helpful a planner is in staying organized and helping create a routine.  Depending on what you like, you can pick up a cheap planner from Target or if you want to get serious, you can get something like the Erin Condrin Life Planner or Lara Casey’s Powersheets.  You can use your planner to write down any important dates to remember like appointments, work schedules, meetings, playdates, birthdays, holidays, vacations, weekly cleaning schedules, to-do lists, goals, priorities, etc.  Basically, you want to write down anything and everything here so you won’t forget and so you can stay motivated to check tasks off your list.

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Tip #2: Plan Out Your Day

Planning your day out is a great way to give your day structure, as well as productivity.  I have often found that if I have no plan for the day, I end up getting nothing done.  There is something to be said for predictability; it has its place.  Some people thrive on planning out their day down to the hour.  I personally am not that rigid.  But, I plan our day so I know when we are having mealtimes, naptimes, going out, cleaning, etc.

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Tip #3: Create a Baby Schedule

After you are past the newborn phase, babies truly do thrive on a schedule.  They need the predictability and stability that a schedule provides.  It helps them in their development to be able to learn their routine.  When we transitioned Avary to sleeping in her own room and crib, this was the time that we started shaping out her schedule.  One of the biggest things that I believe helped solidify her schedule was creating a stable bedtime routine.  For us, this looks like:

  • 5 pm:  Dinner
  • 5:30 pm: Playtime
  • 6:00 pm: Winding Down Play/Books; Clean Up Toys; Head Upstairs
  • 6:10 pm: Bathtime *(she doesn’t get a bath every night so on nights she doesn’t, our winding down play is a little longer)
  • 6:25 pm: Diaper, “Night Night” Lotion, PJs & Nighttime Nursing Session

Once you get a bedtime routine down, you can start incorporating when baby needs a nap into your daily schedule.  You also want to carve out times for play-whether structured (a planned activity) or free-play.  I have also found that with a baby Avary’s age, she needs to get outside a couple times a day.  As long as the weather permits, we do a playtime out in the backyard in the morning, we take the dog on a walk while Avary rides in the stroller midday, and go to the park or play outside again in the afternoon.  She loves being outside and fresh air is so good for babies.  If you want to see what our full daily routine looks like, a post on that will be coming soon!

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Tip #4: Create a Cleaning Schedule

I don’t know why I didn’t do this a long time ago; maybe because I was working and just cleaned whatever I could squeeze in that day, but since becoming a SAHM, I have realized the beauty that is a cleaning schedule!  I actually came across “Clean Mama” on Instagram, you can find her here.  She has created a simple cleaning and homemaking routine you can follow weekly to help keep your home clean and organized.  I love it because each day you have a different cleaning tasks.  It helps so much; because, you don’t feel like you have to tackle one hundred different things in one day.  It feels more doable with the one or two tasks to complete each day.  She also has printables to help you stay organized in your schedule.

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Tip #5: Take Care of Yourself

I am going to be honest, in the first couple of months of motherhood, it is so incredibly easy to lose sight of yourself when you are constantly taking care of another human being.  It is so easy to forget to shower or get dressed or make yourself some food or workout.  Every day looks different, but I learned that it is so important to take care of myself, my body, and my health.  If I am not taking care of myself, I won’t be able to take good care of Avary.  In this season of life, we just don’t have the luxury of paying for a gym membership where I can drop Avary off at the childcare and go workout.  So I had to come up with a way to exercise when I was home with her.  I was looking for exercises on YouTube that I could do from home, and I came across Moms Into Fitness.  These workouts are designed especially for moms for strengthening your body postpartum.  I absolutely love them!  They have really helped strengthen my core, my back, and my pelvic floor.  There are workouts anywhere from 5-40 minutes I have found.  Honestly, doing something to get your body moving and working-even if it doesn’t seem like a lot-is going to help!  You can find the Moms Into Fitness workouts on Youtube, here.  Or you can purchase full length workout videos here.

Also, when it comes to nutrition, try to make sure you aren’t skipping meals or forgetting to feed yourself.  I think us moms have our fair share of times that we forget to eat because we get so busy!  One way I’ve tried to alleviate this problem is by having easy meals or snacks ready to go.  I might make a batch of hard boiled eggs, which are great for breakfast or a quick snack.  I also love to make my own trailmix with almonds, cashews, dried cranberries, raisins, and chocolate chips.  I always have granola bars and fruit on hand.  Another thing I love is putting dinner in the slow cooker in the morning, so I don’t even have to worry about it all day!  Meal planning and meal prepping is another way to save you time in the kitchen and take care of your health.  This is an area that I am trying to learn and grow in.  Remember, when you take good care of yourself and your body, you will be able to take care of your littles much better!

Those are my 5 tips on how to create a routine as a SAHM.  Being a stay-at-home is much harder than I thought it would be; because, it truly is a job and you have to be organized and productive the same as any other job.  Creating a routine saved my sanity and made me feel like I was running our home well.  I know everyone’s routine will look different, but what is one thing that helped you when you became a SAHM?

sean (1)

 

 

 

Fall, Reading Lists

November Reading List

*This post contains affiliate links.  This means that if you choose to use these links, I may get a small commission for connecting you to the source.  I only share links to products I love and use, and that I believe will benefit you.*

Happy November, friends!! I can’t believe we are already here.  Time flies!  For the month of November, as well as the months ahead, one of my goals is to make it a priority to read good books.  Somewhere in the midst of motherhood, I have forgotten to pick up a book and read.  In the moments I find myself with down-time, instead of clicking on Netflix and spending mindless time watching a show, I want to spend meaningful time reading a book that will inspire me.  I don’t know about you, but inspiration is what drives me and encourages me and motivates me to take action.  And in this season of life, I need a little motivation and inspiration!

I put 3 books on my list to read this November, and they will all be linked below.  I know that may not be a lot to some, but-baby steps!  (I have a little one I’m chasing around!)

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Loving My Actual Life.

One thing I have been struggling with lately in my personal life is contentment.  I often find myself feeling dissatisfied with where I am at and what I am doing.  I get caught up in comparing myself to everyone else-even though I know this steals the joy from my own life.  Alexandra Kuykendall addresses these very topics in her book, and I can’t wait to find some inspiration and truth in it.

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Present Over Perfect.

If you are a perfectionist-like I sometimes am-I am sure you understand the struggle of pressuring yourself to ‘do do do’ or ‘be be be,’ and perform this all perfectly.  Sometimes in our struggle to be perfect, we end up just failing to be present-missing out on precious moments and the ordinary.  Present Over Perfect seemed like a great book to pick up as I learn how to refocus this mindset in my life.

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The Magnolia Story.

I love Chip and Joanna Gaines.  I mean, doesn’t everybody?!  The countdown is on for the season 4 premiere on November 29th.!  I just enjoy watching these two on the show and also hearing their testimony, and seeing them live out their faith for the world to see.  It is absolutely inspiring.  I am excited to read their book and learn more about their life and their story!

If you know someone who could be encouraged by these books, they make great, inexpensive birthday or Christmas gifts!  They are already on my list for some friends of mine.

That is my reading list for the month of November!  What are you currently reading?  Have you read any of these books?  Did you like them?  I cannot wait to dive in and get inspired.

Happy Reading, friends!

sean (1)