⭐️ how magical it was to be pregnant with you, my firstborn son, at Christmastime.
⭐️ how I convinced Daddy to paint your nursery in our rental apartment. To this day it’s the only room he’s ever painted.
⭐️how I went to see a WWII movie with my in laws the day before my water broke (Dec 4). I hate war movies, so I don’t know why I went; probably because I was 39 weeks pregnant and it involved sitting. I actually ended up leaving the theater because it was so upsetting. I swear the stress of it put me into labor the next day.
…There was also a mishap with your nursery glider. It never came. That also could have put me into labor.
⭐️how that night of Dec. 4, I called my mom crying. She was scheduled to fly in after my due date, but call it intuition, or pregnancy hormones, I had a hunch you were coming early. I begged her to get on the soonest flight possible. My intuition was right because 10 hours later, my water broke.
⭐️how after 2 hours of pushing, I anxiously asked my sister (who was in the room), “is it STILL the head?!” … you had a big head. 😂
⭐️how I didn’t cry like I thought I would when you came out. I knew I loved you, but I also felt like I was meeting a stranger.
⭐️how that first night, your Daddy grabbed the hospital bassinet (which was essentially a plastic bin), and placed it next to him on the pull out couch. He wanted to sleep right next to you so he could hear every coo and noise you made. It was the most precious sight to watch his first moment of being an overprotective Dad.
⭐️the moment when the nurses first came to show me how to clean myself postpartum; the bathroom door was open, and I caught your Daddy looking at me with tears in his eyes. As soon as they left, he whispered, “I’m so sorry; I’m sorry you have to go through this.. I had no idea.” I had just given birth to you; my body was broken; but your father looked at me with more love in his eyes than on our wedding day.
⭐️craving an In-N-Out burger REAL bad after leaving your first Dr. appointment.
⭐️a flurry of people in and out of our apartment that first week. How as a first time mom, I was so proud to show you off.
⭐️ how I sang “Silent Night” to you instead of more traditional songs like “Twinkle twinkle little star”. #Christmasbaby. To this day, Daddy still sings Silent Night to you (in Portuguese) before bed.
⭐️ how after you were born, I stood next to your crib and weeped listening to the album titled, “Sleep Sound in Jesus”, because that’s what my mom used to play for me when I was a baby. It was truly a full circle moment.
Lastly, I’ll always remember what it felt like to become your mother. Completely transformed; and simultaneously restored. Like I was coming back to who I had been all along.
When given the choice between objects, one that’s understated and one that’s overstated, I’ll always choose understated.
Should I wear a cream colored scarf or a multi-color, patterned one?
I choose cream.
I’ve always admired people who are bold. Who are unforgiving in who they are. I’m too much of a people pleaser. Being bold to me also means being able to vocalize what you stand for. It’s uncomfortable for me to take a stand. To stake my claim on a mountain and not waver.
I was recently listening to the “We Can Do Hard Things” podcast with Glennon Doyle. She was talking about the topic of ‘queer freedom’, and she shared about a letter she felt compelled to write to her son when he was two years old. The letter expressed what would happen if he ever came out to her. At the time, her beliefs about this topic were different than her church’s. The letter became an essay she published titled, “A Mountain I’m Willing to Die On” in her first book, Carry On, Warrior.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my own beliefs, how they’ve changed over the years and how I can be intentional in letting my children know where I stand.
In 2015, my little sister came out to me. I had been suspicious for a while, but didn’t want to assume and bring it up first.
Growing up in an evangelical church, I don’t remember any pastors being openly “anti-gay”, and my parents never used negative language toward gay people. It wasn’t until college that I met an openly gay person. However, I still had ingrained assumptions about homosexuality. Like the assumption that if you played softball, you were likely to be a lesbian (my sister played softball).
I remember the day she called to tell me. It was in the most unassuming, casual way, like “Yup, this is me”, which is totally my sister. She doesn’t like to make a big deal out of things.
As a lifelong Christian, in that moment, I knew God loved her just as equally as He loved me. She was worthy of love just as much as me- and deserved to find her person- whether that be a man or a woman.
The following year when I got pregnant, I started writing journal entries to my unborn son; part narrative- me documenting my pregnancy, part love letter- me telling him that no matter what, I would always love him.
My son is now 4 1/2. Last month, in early June, we were out driving and he noticed a rainbow flag. I knew I had the opportunity to share with him what it really meant. So I did.
I told him that just like his aunt, he was free to love who he wanted, and could choose to marry a boy or a girl. Saying that out loud felt bold. He may never remember that moment, but I always will. With permission from my sister, I posted the story to Instagram. It was, quite literally, the most colorful thing I had ever written. It was me climbing up the mountain and proclaiming, “This is where I stand. I am willing to stay here- to die on this mountain, if it means that my child knows he has the freedom to love who he wants.”
Choosing color, when you could wear cream.
That’s what bold means to me.
This post is part of a blog hop with Exhale– an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to view the next post in the series “Bold”.
After traveling for over 2 weeks, we came home to our plum tree bursting with fruit. Before unpacking any suitcases, I went outside to harvest these beauties.
I had a lot of feelings running through me. We had just returned to California after over two weeks on the east coast, visiting family we hadn’t seen in 18 months. It was the first time in a while, that I was not excited to return home. Don’t get me wrong, California is a beautiful place to return home to, but it’s also 3,000 miles away from family.
As I plucked the fruit, I thought, I am this plum. When I moved to CA at 23, I was plucked from my tree and became a different form. I still have my plum components, but I’m also not *only* a plum. I’ve had stuff *added* to me; I’ve become a wife, a mother, dare I say, a liberal? 🙈
But returning back to the east coast, I felt like I was returning to my tree. The place where I was nurtured, where I grew.
Being there and feeling all those feelings was so comfortable. It was so welcoming. And when it came time to return home, I didn’t want to leave my tree again.
I don’t know what the future will hold.
I don’t know why I felt compelled to compare myself to a plum. All I know is I’m a writer and apparently this is what we do. We write because it’s how we work out our thoughts and feelings and ideas.
If you made it this far, thank you.
And if you just want the muffin recipe, that’s ok too. 😅
COCONUT PLUM MUFFINS
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
2 cups good quality flour (like King Arthur)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup Greek yogurt (I used FAGE 2% milk fat – I think)
1 Tbsp milk
1 tsp. coconut extract ** don’t leave this out, it makes the muffins in my opinion
8 small plums, or 6 medium plums
Sugar for dusting
Separate the dry and wet ingredients. Don’t forget to add sugar to the dry ingredients!
Wash the plums and chop into pieces (discarding the pits).
Slowly stir the yogurt mixture into the dry ingredients in the large bowl, until just combined. DO NOT OVER STIR as it will make the muffins too dense.
Gently stir in the plums, with just a few turns; then fill the muffin cups.
Sprinkle with a little raw sugar if desired, for a crunchy top.
Bake for about 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.
The picture on the left was taken 6 days before my daughter was born (March 11, 2019); I was 38 weeks pregnant. The picture on the right was taken January 14, 2021.
It took me almost 2 years to get to a place where I have gained my muscle back and feel as strong as I did pre-baby. I want to share some encouragement because as a fitness professional, social media is flooded with influencers and moms who seem to “get their body back” quickly and rock amazing abs 3 months post-baby.
If that is you- then kudos! But, for most of us, it takes time.
There are so many variables that play a factor in how quickly we get into shape. Let’s just get one thing straight, we will never “get our bodies back” — after growing and birthing a baby, our bodies will never be the same. That’s just biology. I don’t mean that as a negative, but it’s something we need to accept.
Prior to having kids, I had no hips and a small butt. But once I had kids, I got hips —and thank goodness! 😉
So, here is my personal journey of how I got from picture 1 to 2.
This second postpartum journey is different from when I had my son; with him, the process happened a lot faster because I only had one baby to take care of instead of two.
Here is what influenced my journey:
Type of birth. How quickly you can get back in shape depends on if you gave birth naturally or had a C-section. C-section recovery takes longer; I gave birth naturally, so I was able to start exercising sooner than if I had a C-section.
Breastfeeding. I chose to breastfeed both my babies, and decided I wasn’t going to restrict my diet at all while I was nursing. I know people who were able to modify their diet while breastfeeding and lose weight quicker; but for me, being sleep deprived with two young kids, that sounded miserable. If I wanted chocolate at any given time— I was gonna eat that chocolate!
Workout intensity. This is a biggie for me. I breastfed my daughter almost a year, and during that time I just couldn’t workout at my “normal” intensity because my body was still lactating. Frankly, I felt uncomfortable going hard in workouts with my breasts still feeling like water balloons TBH.
Time availability/ childcare. I am a stay-at-home mom, we don’t have a Nanny or any grandparents close by to help with childcare. I’m mentioning this because this plays a big role in our postpartum journeys. Even as a trainer, and studio owner, it was really tough for me to be consistent with my workouts that first year. Morning wake-ups were inconsistent, during nap times I just wanted to sleep, and about 4 months after my daughter was born, our leading trainer -who had been teaching a majority of our classes- moved away. Since we couldn’t find someone to replace her right away, that meant my husband had to go back to teaching most classes and working longer hours. There were some days he would wake up at 4:30 am to teach our 6 am class, and wouldn’t get home until close to 8 pm. Those days were exhausting. I was doing all it took to make it through the day solo with two kids; the last thing I had time for was exercise.
In September of 2019, six months postpartum, I met a mom at the park (shoutout to Christina) who had just moved to the area and was starting Fit4Mom in Sunnyvale. I had done Fit4Mom classes postpartum with my son, but since moving south, I couldn’t find a similar program. Although I would have preferred to workout without kids, the stroller classes were perfect for me at that point in time. I could bring my kids, and also move my body and socialize with other moms. A win-win-win!
Fast forward to March 2020 when the world shut down. Our studio had to close for a couple months, which was devastating; BUT that meant with my husband home more, I was able to workout more. During those months of shelter-in-place, the studio was my sanctuary. It was the one place I could go to be away from my kids that was Covid-free. No one else but me, the weights, and my thoughts.
When we finally re-opened in June, I started attending outdoor classes three times a week. Consistency is key. It’s not sexy – but it works. And also, having a really great workout. There is nothing like a K-Fit HIIT class. If you want to see your body change, high intensity interval training is the way to go. In one class, I’m doing functional weight training, core training, and cardio intervals on the water rower, ski erg, and airdyne bike. All of which are low impact, full body cardio machines. I love finishing a workout knowing I worked every inch of my body, and made my one-hour worth it. Even in the middle of (California) winter, I’m still waking up to workout at 8:15 am on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Right now we’re in rainy season, and it’s been windy, cold and downright dreary. Some mornings all I want to do is stay in bed instead of layering up and venturing out in the cold. But I still do it. I show up.
I’m not just saying this because I’m the owner, but truly, I choose to workout at K-Fit because of the people. We have the best community. For me, working out is also about accountability. It’s about showing up and having members see me. (It’s easier to skip that at-home workout when no one is watching you.) Being able to get back to a consistent workout schedule has been a game changer.
I am writing all this, because I want to say to you – you CAN do it. To those new moms, who look in the mirror and are tired, have low energy, want to feel comfortable in their skin again, just know you will not always feel like this. This is a season.
I’ve never been one to weigh myself; I like to judge my progress based on what I see in the mirror and how I feel. I did pull up some past medical records of what my weight was at the beginning of my pregnancy and at the end. Remember, these numbers aren’t meant to be comparisons, because every body and every pregnancy is different.
August 20, 2018- First OB appt for second pregnancy; I weighed 134 lbs.
March 11, 2019- Last OB appt before giving birth; I weighed 166 lbs- so I gained about 32 lbs during pregnancy
April 26, 2019- First OB appt 6 weeks post-birth; I weighed 146 lbs
Feb 20, 2020- Almost 1 year post-birth, I weighed 141 lbs; so basically I only lost 5 lbs during that year which is totally OK. Like I wrote above, I wasn’t focused on weight-loss that first year while I was breastfeeding.
I weigh between 130-135 lbs right now. Not a dramatic drop in weight from one year ago, but a noticeable one. I feel great. I feel strong. The days that I workout, not only do I have more energy, but I also experience mental clarity. And my abs are peeking through again.. 😉
A big thanks to my husband for supporting me, and watching the kids those mornings so I can workout. I know this isn’t feasible for everyone, so I feel very fortunate! My advice to new moms is: give yourself grace during the newborn days; and when you have the energy again, find something that works for you, and stick with it! And if you’re in the area, give K-Fit a try. ;
*I want to note that fitness and nutrition go hand in hand when it comes to overall health and well being. Everything in moderation is my motto. I definitely love sweets, but during the month of January Kendrick and I decided to limit our sugar intake for a nutrition challenge we were running. I definitely noticed a difference in my body after the first two weeks. I was able to see more definition in my muscles, and feel toned and not bloated. I could make a whole post about nutrition, so I’m not going to get into it here. I did want to note that because it’s important!
A few weeks ago my husband and I snuck away for a night while my mom was in town visiting. The two of us were supposed to go to Maui in May, which was going to be our first BIG trip away from the kids. After what a crazy year it’s been, I knew we needed a little recharge.
We are so fortunate to live in the Bay Area, where we have multiple options of amazing destinations within one to two hours from us. Carmel-by-the-Sea is one of them. It’s about an hour and a half drive south of us, and boasts famous sights such as Pebble Beach, the 17-mile drive, and the historic Carmel Mission Basilica.
It’s been a very warm autumn for us, and temperatures have been in the 80s and even 90s up until a week ago. So when I was packing for our getaway, I was excited to finally get to wear my fuzzy sweaters as the weather was 20+ degrees cooler on the coast. We stayed at the Carmel Mission Inn, which is a charming boutique hotel in the Carmel Valley. This was our second time (my third time) staying here. The rooms are modern and newly renovated, there is a pool and hot tub, and it is conveniently located across from a shopping plaza and only 7 minutes to Carmel Beach and Point Lobos state park. The only bummer was that they weren’t serving breakfast due to Covid, but we didn’t mind.
After checking in to the hotel, we went to get massages at The Refuge, which is the first co-ed outdoor relaxation spa in America. Due to the pandemic, they didn’t have the steam room/saunas open, but their hot & warm pools with thermal waterfalls were amazing! They also have cool and cold pools, which I was not interested in trying but Kendrick convinced me to sit for 2 minutes in the “cool” pool which is the temperature of the Pacific Ocean.
Before entering the spa, they took our temperature and required us to wear a mask during the massage, which was outdoors in a tent. I actually loved getting my massage outdoors, because my tent was setup right next to a waterfall which acted as a natural sound machine. When my masseuse found out I was a mom, she told me, “the best thing in life you can be is a mama.” 🙂 I couldn’t agree more.
A “rule” of theirs is no phones allowed anywhere outside the locker room. Kendrick and I had decided that we weren’t going to use social media at all during our trip, so this didn’t bother us and I love that they enforce this so couples can focus on connecting with each other.
After enjoying a few hours at the spa, we hurried back to the hotel for a quick change, so we could catch the sunset at the beach before dinner.
We dined at The Flying Fish Grill which I highly recommend! It was our first time there, and I decided to try it after reading so many five star reviews. Kendrick loved the complimentary wonton chips they gave us with mango salsa. I ordered the almond sea bass and Kendrick had the seafood pasta. Make sure to leave room for dessert because the warm banana sundae was the perfect ending!
I was hoping to catch the sunrise on the beach the next morning, but it was too foggy. We grabbed coffee (I ordered my first PSL of the season!) and walked down the beach. What a wonderful change of scene to our normal routine with the kids. 😉
After, we went to hike at Point Lobos state reserve. I fell in love with the Spanish moss trees that had such an eerie beauty amidst the fog. We didn’t see the sea lions which are popular there, but we did hear them!
We couldn’t leave without shopping downtown for our kiddos. Thinker Toys was a cute shop and we found the perfect gifts for them there. My favorite was Kris Kringle of Carmel; a quaint Christmas shop with ornament personalization. We bought a 2020 ornament and customized it with our names. Our sweet tooth led us into Carmel Bakery, where we picked up some treats for the ride home including cannolis for our neighbors.
Overall, we felt Carmel is doing an A+ job handling tourism during the pandemic. There were signs posted everywhere downtown with a notice of a $100 fine for not wearing a mask. We didn’t see a single person not wearing a mask, even walking on the beach.
Getting away, even for 24 hours, was so revitalizing for our marriage. I truly love spending time with my husband; he’s my favorite person in the world and I always learn something new about him when we travel. Someone told us once, “you two are like the steering wheel of a car; if the steering breaks, the car spins out of control. But, if the steering is in tact, the car can drive smoothly.”
Thanks for steering with me, babe. No one else I’d rather drive with. ❤
When we moved into our home in May 2018, we inherited a mature apple tree in our front yard. For the past three autumns, we’ve reaped her bounty. The first year I filled up paper bags and strung them to our fence with a note that said, “free!” I was giddy with excitement to see if they would be taken. When I noticed only one bag gone the next day, I was bummed. So, I decided to post on the Nextdoor app. Next thing I know, there are people showing up with ladders and bags, for a U-Pick in our front yard. Between laughs, my husband remarked, “maybe you shouldn’t post to the WHOLE neighborhood next year.”
October came again. This time, we had a six month old baby girl. For a second time, we reaped our bounty and gifted the tree’s fruit to neighbors and friends. They presented us with applesauce and apple butter in glass jars. I played with my daughter beneath the shade as sunlight streamed between her branches.
Back in April, my husband finally pruned the apple tree for the first time. When September rolled around, we noticed we did not have as much fruit as the previous two years. He said this is common the first season after a pruning. I think about how we have all changed in the past year. My daughter is now 18 months, my son almost 4; and like our apple tree, it feels as though we’ve all gone through our own pruning. I personally have been pruned; certain conditioning and thinking has been cut off. Ignorance has been cut off. The need to impress has been cut off.
Most of us feel like 2020 has been a rotten year. A year that has yielded little to no fruit. However, what is fascinating to me is that our apples this season were bigger than they’ve ever been. There may have been fewer, but they were bigger. Maybe 2020 hasn’t been what we expected— but, what if the things that were cut off, gave space for us to nourish what matters the most?
This year, in the year 2020, we were able to harvest some of our apples with my mom. After 8 months of not seeing each other, the longest we’ve gone, I got to witness the JOY on her face of holding her granddaughter, and plucking a piece of fruit from our tree, the giving tree.
After she left, I allowed myself one day of wallowing.
Then, I bagged up our green apples, attached the recipe for my Oatmeal Cookie Apple Crumble, and set off with my children to make our deliveries.
Dropping off the apples, I realized how much people have missed each other. Each home we went to, we were met with neighbors who were eager to chat. One neighbor even invited us into her home, which during these times, is saying a lot! The sadness I felt the day before, was replaced by an unexpected joy; a joy that comes when we give.
A powerful reminder that coronavirus isn’t the only thing that’s contagious. 😉
This post is part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to view the next post in this series “Unexpected Joy”.
Growing up, Fall was not my favorite season. Fall meant back to school; which meant the end of summer. I waited all year long for summer, because I grew up in northeast Pennsylvania and despised winter. There was nothing about winter I liked except for Christmas. Changing leaves meant that down jackets and boots were being pulled out from storage, blue skies were turning grey, and scraping ice off windshields would be our daily cardio.
My mom would make apple crisp growing up, not to be confused with apple crumble. I never knew there WAS a difference between crisp and crumble, until I tried a crumble made by my friend Lauren. She told me she used Betty Crocker’s Southern Apple Crumble recipe. And I’ve never been the same since.
I suddenly realized why apple crisps had never “done it” for me. There was never enough topping. The ratio was usually 3/4 filling to 1/4 topping. For a sweets lover like me, I’m not so much interested in the apple filling as I am that golden, crunchy topping.
When I made this crumble for the first time, I couldn’t believe how much butter and sugar there was; I should have known! That’s what makes anything taste good, right? 😉 I knew I could cut back a little on the sugar, since there’s a whole bag of cookie mix on top! This recipe is definitely not healthy in any way. But, it’s also the best I’ve ever had. 🙂
These Granny Smith apples are actually from our front yard! There was already a mature apple tree when we moved in, and every season I look forward to baking and sharing our bounty with neighbors and friends.
Oatmeal Cookie Apple Crumble
For the filling
4 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped (You want to use granny smith because they are tart and will help balance out the sugars.)
1/4 cup granulated sugar (note: I’ve never tried to substitute any “healthier” sugars like coconut sugar.)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 cup cold butter cut into small pieces
For the topping
1 pouch *Betty Crocker Oatmeal Cookie Mix
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Peel and chop apples.
Heat oven to 325. Spray bottom of 2 1/2 quart dish with cooking spray. I like to use my Corningware dish.
In large bowl, toss the apple, white and brown sugars, cinnamon, and butter. Spread into baking dish.
In same large bowl, stir cookie mix and melted butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over filling.
Bake for 45-50 minutes until the filling starts to bubble golden brown like the photo above.
If adding pecans, remove from oven about 10 minutes before cooking is complete and sprinkle on top. Then, resume cooking.
Serve warm ‘a la mode’ or with a dollop of whipped cream. Bake for any ‘anti-apple piers’ who are known to pass on apple desserts; watch them take a bite and nod with satisfaction. 😉
*This has sometimes been hard for me to find in my grocery store. It’s not very popular and I don’t see it on the shelves often. So, a hack I’ve learned is to buy the Betty Crocker Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookie mix, and sift out the chocolate chips. A little tedious, but works.
As I watched my daughter toddle down the sidewalk, I thought, “her shadow will not always be this small.”
Then, it hit me. Neverland.
Peter Pan, the boy who did not want to grow up. Peter Pan’s youthfulness would not be, without proof of his shadow. He ran away to Neverland, so he would never have to see the reflection of the man he had become.
I wonder when my own reflection changed. Maybe it never has. Maybe our shadows stay forever young, like Peter Pan. All we have to do is unlock the drawer; and step into the light.
It is ironic that as I write this, my daughter is crawling on me and my son is driving a car on my foot.
There are many pictures I could post from the past two weeks that have depicted “rest”. I have been able to “rest” an extraordinary amount. My little sister who lives on the east coast, came to visit us in California. I had not seen her since September of last year. She had plans to fly out in March, but then, you know, a global pandemic happened. March turned to May; surely this would be over by May, we all naively thought. May turned to June. The changing news and other family members’ varying opinions made it difficult to settle on a date. Finally, she booked a flight for the end of July. Ten months, the longest I’ve gone without seeing my sister.
It had been 132 days since the start of quarantine when she arrived. 132 days of unrest. 132 days of roller coaster emotions, ‘doom and gloom’ news, political/social justice protests, and presumptive fear. 2020 has been anything but restful.
When I stop to think about the quality of my life, the definition of rest for me goes deeper than just “taking a day off from work” or “sleeping in”. Rest to me is being surrounded by people who are life giving, who fill my cup. As opposed to people (or things) that consume my time and cause me stress and unrest.
There was a funny meme circulating how the absence of community during quarantine caused people to “miss those they didn’t even like”. I have always opted for fewer, more meaningful friendships as opposed to casting a wider net. For me, these past 132 days have further solidified and deepened friendships with those that I knew were my “number ones” pre-Pandemic.
While my sister was visiting, we took a trip to Lake Tahoe, one of our favorite places. We packed our SUV tight; four adults, two kids, and a storage turtle-full on top. My sister and her girlfriend joining us was every mother’s dream. It felt like having two full time nannies with us, who never went off the clock. Part of me is ashamed to admit that they did more for my kids on that trip than I did. My sister sat between my three year old and one year old the whole ride there and back – eight hours total. Due to the bedroom structure, I put my one year old’s pack n play in my sister’s room and she woke up with her every morning at 6:00 am. She cooked for us, changed diapers, wiped my toddler’s butt, applied sunscreen, packed beach bags and lunches, meal-prepped, took my daughter for a hike when she couldn’t nap, took my son on his first kayak ride, and babysat so my husband and I could go to dinner.
What did I do?
I laid on a beach towel and read a book. In the middle of the day, 210 miles from home, surrounded by strangers, socially distanced of course (#2020). Rest, in that immediate moment, was an hour’s worth of reading by the lake. However, in the broader sense, rest was the accumulated time spent with someone who added to my quality of life.
As moms, we are constantly in “survival mode”; then you add a global pandemic, and we are suddenly actually trying to survive in an alternate universe with no childcare, no school, no playgrounds and no play dates. As Leeana Tankersley wrote in Always We Begin Again:
“At some point, we need to exit survival mode – even if it’s for an hour or two a week- and learn how to practice the kind of rest that brings us back to the moment instead of taking us out to sea.”
My daily rest will not look like me reading a book solo on a beach. But, it can look like me writing this blog post at nap time, or listening to a podcast (Coffee + Crumbs) while preparing dinner. Taking little breaks in the day, asking myself what my body needs, or what fulfills my soul.
I’m so grateful for the time my sister spent with us and the many ‘breaks’ I had with her around. The day after she left, I was reminded how lonely motherhood is. How we can feel like we’re drifting out to sea.
We need rest and we need each other, to bring us back to the shore.
This post is part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to view the next post in this series “Rest — A Photo Essay”.
We were four days away from the first day of spring, and it was our last Saturday morning as a family of three. My sister Lizzy and her girlfriend Katie were coming into town that night, and we had planned one last family outing to Vasona Lake Park in Los Gatos. The sun was shining, and birds were chirping, and I could feel a shift in the seasons…and not just the vernal equinox.
I knew we were approaching a shift in our season of life. After 2+ years of being parents, we had finally gotten to a place of comfort. We had our routine, our son was happy and healthy, we were all getting sleep, and despite all the demands of life, we still felt like we had enough to give to each other at the end of the day.
I was 38 weeks and 5 days pregnant. At my doctor appointment that past Monday, I had asked my OB about processes to help start labor. I hadn’t gained as much weight as I did with Gio, but physically, I was done. I had it in my head that this baby was going to come at least a week early, and now that we were getting closer to that “deadline”, I was getting anxious. Gio had been two days early, so surely this girl would come early. My OB told me that she would make an appointment for the following Monday (39 weeks), and if I wanted, I could get my membranes striped in hopes of starting labor. Although I was ready to be done being pregnant, I didn’t feel comfortable resorting to this solution yet. She told me to try some other natural labor inducers first, like sex.
With this in mind, Kendrick and I devised a plan for “Operation: Get Baby Out”. My sister and her girlfriend were scheduled to land at SFO around 9:00 pm Saturday night. We got home from our morning at the park around 2:00 pm. Gio had fallen asleep and so we took advantage of the quiet time to “nap”.
I’m not sure if it was coincidence or the right timing, but less than four hours later, I started having mild contractions. Kendrick had taken Gio out for a walk, and I was sitting on the couch reading my kindle. I had mild cramping pains, and jokingly said to Kendrick, “I think I’m having contractions”, but didn’t really think it was anything to worry about. Kendrick however was convinced that I may not make it through the night. “what’s your sister up to?” he asked. He was referring to my sister Alishia who lives locally in Palo Alto. He said I should start making a plan in case we had to go to the hospital before my other sister Lizzy landed. “There’s no way we’ll need to go to the hospital before then,” I stated surely.
I looked at the clock and figured I should start timing my contractions, just to be safe. I also realized how hungry I was; it was after 6:00 pm and if we DID have to go to the hospital, this could be my last meal. I felt hungry, but as I was eating, I also felt a wave of nausea. That’s weird, I thought. After dinner I went back to laying on the couch, trying to ignore the contractions that were happening. Kendrick went off to give Gio a bath, and I retreated to take a shower and see if that made me feel better. The contractions were definitely getting stronger and closer together. I had one right before getting in the shower, and then another one in the shower. When I got out, I looked at the time and saw that only 8 minutes had passed. That meant my contractions were probably about 5 minutes apart now.
That’s when I started to feel something that was familiar to me. An uncontrollable trickle running down my leg; which only meant one thing..that my water was breaking. This is when i started to panic and reality set in. It was 8:20 pm…my sister still had 40 minutes until she landed, but I knew we weren’t going to be there to pick her up. I can’t remember if I dialed the hospital first, or my friend Sona, but knowing that we couldn’t leave Gio alone I think I called Sona first to see if she could come wait at our house until my sister arrived. All the while, Kendrick was still putting Gio to bed and didn’t have a clue what was going on.
Sona said she was able to come over (thank you, Sona!!); I hung up and then called the hospital to let them know what had happened and that we would be on our way shortly. I gathered the bags we had packed, and made sure I had everything I needed. I went out to the living room and saw that Kendrick was finally leaving Gio’s room. “My water broke, we need to go the hospital,” I whispered. “What??!” he responded quickly. “My water broke about 10 minutes ago. Sona’s on her way over.”
As Kendrick put our bags in the car, he asked what hospital I wanted to go to. Since moving to Sunnyvale last May, Kaiser Santa Clara was closer to us, about 8 minutes away. However, I had given birth to Gio at the Kaiser hospital in Redwood City, and had planned to do the same with Sofia. My OB told me that Redwood City has a team of midwives that help deliver; (the midwife that delivered Gio was a total rock star), and Santa Clara is a teaching hospital so there would be a resident doctor who would deliver. Personally, I just felt more comfortable with having a midwife, so we opted to drive a little further to deliver at Redwood City.
On the way to the hospital we called my mom and told her we were going to have a baby! We checked in around 9:00 pm, and I was surprised how quiet it was on the floor. I wasn’t in a lot of pain yet, but my contractions were still happening, so I was anxious to find out how dilated I was. The nurses seemed to be moving slowly, and not too worried about me. I guess because I wasn’t crying out in pain, haha. I changed into the hospital gown, and sat on the bed to get hooked up to the IV. I had tested positive for strep B while pregnant (same as with Gio), so they had to start me on penicillin. The midwife came in and introduced herself, and when I asked if she could check me, she said she wanted to wait.
I continued laboring for the next couple hours as the pain grew increasingly worse. I was hesitant to get an epidural because of my experience the first time, but I also knew I needed some relief. In the meantime, I had a really strong contraction, and felt very nauseous after and told Kendrick, “I think I’m going to throw up.” There were no nurses around and Kendrick was trying to find a bin but it was too late…I started throwing up and he immediately came by my side, and caught it in his hands. That’s true love right there.
As I had my head hanging over the bed, my nurse came in with another nurse who was going to be taking over for her (this was around 11:00 pm). They started chatting and were completely unaware that Kendrick had his hands full of barf. “This is completely normal,” she said. “Looks like you’re in transition.” Well, that didn’t make me feel any better; all I wanted was for someone to wipe my face and bring me a cool compress for my head.
“Do you want to get the epidural?”, a nurse asked me. I was still hesitant, so she asked if I wanted an anti-nausea medication instead. Even though I was in lots of pain, and had just thrown up, I was trying to push through. “No,” I replied, “but can someone check me?” She said she would get the midwife to come back in. Before making my decision to get the epidural, I wanted to be checked so I could have an idea of how much longer until “go time”. She said I was 4 cm dilated, and upon hearing that I felt disappointed. Only a 4? I thought. It could still be a while until I had to push this baby out, so I should probably get the epidural. It was around midnight, and the nurse told me the anesthesiologist was on the floor, so it would be convenient to request the epidural now.
I got the epidural sometime between 12:30 and 1 am, and after it set in, I was immediately relieved. The intense pain finally stopped and I suddenly felt so exhausted. The nurse dimmed the lights, and Kendrick and I took a nap. I woke up around 2:30 am, not to the feeling of pain, but just lots of pressure “down there”. I waited a bit before saying something to Kendrick. “Babe…” I whispered gently. “What?” he responded groggily. “I’m feeling lots of pressure down there. I think I have the urge to push…”
I pressed my call button for the nurse. I told her I was feeling pressure down there, and she said, “well, you can always push your epidural button for another dose if you’re feeling pain.” “I’m not feeling pain,” I responded, “just lots of pressure.” She checked me, and said I was 7 cm dilated. She left the room and Kendrick said, “let’s go back to sleep for a little bit.” It was 3:00 am, and the pressure wasn’t going away. I was certain that what I was feeling was the urge to push. I called the nurse back in, told her, “I have the urge to push.” That’s when she said okay, let’s get the room ready.
I was confused that I was suddenly going from being 7 cm, to getting ready to push out a baby. The nurses got the tools ready, and put my legs up on the stirrups. The midwife sat down between my legs, wearing shamrock earrings. I couldn’t believe I was about to give birth to our little girl on St. Patrick’s Day! Kendrick texted my mom at 3:24 am saying “time to push”.
Four (or five) pushes later, at 3:32 am on March 17, 2019, Sofia Alessandra entered the world. They immediately placed her on my chest, but were worried that she wasn’t crying enough right away. All I remember were the nurses saying, “we need her to cry more”. She ended up being OK…but the strange thing was my placenta hadn’t come out yet. With Gio, I didn’t even feel it come out; but this time, I had to push it out. I forget if they let me leave her on my chest to push; I think they took her away to weigh her and told me I had up to 30 minutes after delivery to push it out and if it didn’t happen, they would have to call in a doctor. After almost 30 minutes passed, the doctor arrived to help but of course the minute she entered the room it came out, HA.
They gave Sofia back to me to nurse and just like her brother, she had no problem latching on. She started nursing at 4:20 am and nursed for 40 minutes.
Here we are, 10 weeks later and I can’t picture life without her. She is definitely a mama’s girl, and still loves to sleep on my chest just like that first day. I’m so glad I typed out this story when it was fresh in my mind, because my memory is definitely not as vivid as the first time.
Since everything happened so quickly, I didn’t get to take one last belly photo…so this selfie from that afternoon will have to do. ;-P
Here are a few photos taken 6 weeks later by Suzy Coleman Photography. Thank you Suzy!
My dearest Sofia, I love you so much precious girl! You are currently sleeping in my arms and I hope to one day share this story with you; maybe even when you are pregnant with your own little girl 🙂 when my mom was staying with us after Sofia’s birth I asked her about her own three birth stories; it’s so fascinating to me that each one is different and also that my mom never got an epidural! (you go, Mom!) Anyway, if she’s anything like me, I know she’ll appreciate hearing the story of her birth.
Psalm 139:13 : For You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.