I said yes, while my whole being said no…

 

I said yes. I gave my full consent. As the needle went in, as I was cut open and unknown hands entered my body, I felt completely violated even though I said yes.

I’m talking about my c-section on July 30, 2014 when my first son was born. It was to be a day I recalled as the most joyful day of my life, and one day I will not only say it was, I will feel it.

But today is not that day.

Today is my first step towards that goal, by speaking out what I’ve hidden so long in my own heart that it remained a mystery even to me.

I wanted a natural birth. Not for the glory or accolades that come with it from other so called birth hero’s, but simply because I believed it to be the first gift I could give my child; life born uninterrupted.

I was OK with the thought of a life saving c-section. I knew it would devastate me, but not more so than the loss of my son. I had no grand illusions of fighting for an ideal, but what I didn’t expect was to be pressured by those deemed more powerful than myself.

I was told my son was SGA (small for gestational size) and that at 40 weeks it looked like there was low fluid in the womb and I was told he had to come that day by emergency C-Section.

As long as I go into labour, the outcome doesn’t matter.

Understand that I love and respect so much of the medical community, and I believe they had the best intentions for me and my son, but our beliefs on what that looked like differed greatly.

I knew in my heart he was fine. I knew he could stay. He was reading perfect on all NST’s (non stress tests). I could feel my intuition kicking in, my fight. I would not be pushed into this.

My Dr, God bless her, stayed and talked with me for 2 hours. She gave me all her information from her side. Numbers. Statistics. Tests that aren’t proven accurate.

I was set on no. We were headed that way, and then they said something to me that stopped me in my tracks.

He’s fine now, but he could be dead in 24 hours.

Now looking back, I see what that was. Their fear. Not fact, fear.

I was a scared new mom who only wanted my child’s life, and I felt that I no longer had a decision, for if I didn’t do what they said I would be held responsible for the death of my baby boy.

I didn’t have the resolve, the nerve and the self trust I have no to say no.

So I did what I can only describe as complete and total sacrifice of my body, my choice and my rights, for my son.

You see, the entire thought of being cut into and having my baby removed from me was a terrifying thought, and one my entire being screamed no to, and so while I was saying no, I said yes.

I cried for 4 hours leading up to the surgery.

I cried walking down the stairs, into the elevator, sitting in the chair waiting and finally walking into that sterile lonely room alone.

I couldn’t describe it then but I can now; I didn’t cry out of fear … I was crying because what was about to happen to my body was not my choice.

I know that seems contradictory, and consent is a funny thing that way. I signed the papers, I nodded my head, but the answer was no the entire time.

I can only call it sacrifice.

I was willing to let someone violate my body for fear of my son’s life.

I use the term violate because that is completely the feeling I have to this day. I am repulsed at the thought of “a little pressure and tugging”. I was open. My insides were on the outside. If it’s no big deal to you, that’s fine, but to me it is nothing short of violating.

I’m sure had I had a week to really sit with it and make a yes and let that settle in my heart, I wouldn’t have felt this way. But I had 2 hours. I had no time to research.

I had fear.

And then it was over, and as my body recovered, my mind deteriorated. I know now that this was the cause of my anxiety, my spiral into depression. In pictures I smiled, love was there, joy was there, but so was something darker.

It’s why I now (among other things) can’t handle a loss of control; a crying baby I can’t stop and why cutting my finger open 3 days ago and having a Doctor aggressively and against my hearts will dig into my cut sent me hurdling backwards to that sensation of being “done to”.

Because my ‘no’ was perceived as a momentary lapse in courage, not a cry for a discussion of my options.

Because my choice wasn’t real to me.

The only reason I have the courage to write this, is because my husband who sat beside me the entire time for both occasions, who saw me say yes, who held my hand as I cried, completely and entirely validated my hurt. I could never say this without that support.

And after it all, going back to that day almost 3 years ago, I can say truly that I would give myself up to it again and knowingly go through the same demons I fought for a long, dark two years.

And that, according to my husband, is what makes me the bravest woman he knows.

And he is proud of me.

And now I can heal.

I can be proud of me too … because I can look back on it as a mark of courage. I can look at my boy and tell him of the day I gave up my own perceived safety for his.

And that my friends, is a beautiful day indeed.

 

 

**I was able to give birth to my second vaginally on July 8th, 2016; I fought through very similar circumstances which helped form and confirm my feelings on my csection; if you’d like to read the birth story of my second, visit here **

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On Celebrating Failure

The year of discipline continues 📖 
Since the start of my journey, I have been trying to find my way back into the word of God. In all truth I was mad at Him for a long time for all the hell we went through and I had a hard time reconnecting. 
But I know my Jesus, and despite the struggles and hard times He is with us, and I knew I had to come back to him. 
Fitness saved my life, and God gave me fitness. I used to feel guilty for being able to dedicate myself to a workout daily but not to reading my Bible and now I don’t because I understand something, that fitness was the only way BACK to Him. It’s the only way to clear my head of the frustrations, of the fog that was post partum depression, of the anxiety … it’s what gave my mind rest. 
Sometimes I cried when I finished workouts in the beginning. Sometimes I still do, because it’s through movement I find peace, I find God there. 
Fast forward to today. Today has been a long long time in the making, and it’s only through trying and failing daily for a year that I sit here successful today, and by trying I mean thinking about doing it and not doing it. That’s it. I made no big efforts except the intention in my heart to succeed, knowing full well my standing with God was not dependent on my Bible reading, but my growth is. 
I look at this the same way it takes some people to start clean eating or to start exercising, because I don’t LIKE reading my Bible. Not yet. Because there’s no emotional joy attached to it. It feels like a chore and so that is how I am approaching it. 
Instead of sitting down trying to have these all powerful moments every day I’ve simplified the process for myself. I wanted to start January 1st but I didn’t and that’s ok, I started today. I will simply read the Bible on a schedule for the simple sake of finishing it in one year (which fully reminds me of the days in Jakarta that we spent reading the Bible non stop for THREE DAYS over the city we were ministering to. Powerful stuff.) 
And for some reason, today was the day. 

It’s the slight edge. It’s the compound effect of positive steps forward every single day, so whatever you’re trying to accomplish I encourage you to fail gloriously every single day and rejoice in your failure because it will lead to your success. 
Never feel bad for your journey. It is yours and yours alone, and if you need someone to celebrate failure with, look me up. I’m really good at failing forward. 

A Birth Story

I’m not even sure where to start, and I’m even less sure of where this will end, but this is my story.

What you read in quotes is from our amazing friend Christa, who supported us in this whole birth journey and was there to pray, capture moments and stand with us during one of the most challenging and intimate moments of our lives. Thank you Christa. Words could never.

July 6th 0730pm
I arrive to a welcome from your mom, ushering me into the house. I look up the stairs at you and instantly notice your face is different. You have the look of a mother who is in labor. You are glowing, your face is so soft, your cheeks are flush and your eyes are sparkling.
At this point my contractions are regular, and we are so excited to finally end the wait. It’s been a full 24 hours since contractions started, and we were up all last night. At a week overdue, and what felt like the biggest fight against the medical system, God was faithful, and kept our baby safe and gave us strength to advocate for him/her until s/he was ready. And here baby is … ready.
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Lucas, myself and Christa start out with a walk to help move baby down; I want to labour outside and the weather couldn’t be more perfect to take my mind off the pain, which I have such a tough time accepting and instead find myself fighting. By the time we get back to the house my contractions are 8 minutes apart and getting stronger.
It’s midnight; we’ve gone for another walk and we’re back home and my contractions have shown up strong. I’ve had back labour for almost a full 24 hours at this point and I can barely stand I’m so tired that I fall asleep sitting upright on my living room floor only to wake up for contractions, and fall back asleep. The heat and intensity of the pain in my back is like nothing I’d ever experienced and I find myself scared, but determined.
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Instead of prepping my mind for the inevitable, I brace and prayed the next wouldn’t come, but of course it did. Things are gearing up, and it’s time. We are heading to the hospital now, and I am kneeled in the middle seat, breathing and groaning through the pain. Luc reaches back and holds my low back during a contraction while Christa coaches me to lower my voice and focus; they both keep me strong and calm. Immediately when it’s done I fall asleep.
02:39am
July 7th
We arrive at the hospital and you’ve had four contractions walking in. You are moaning, rocking, swaying and calling for Luc. You are in triage now. The hallway out here is quiet, all I can hear is the chatter of the nurses and your voice behind the wall. “Oh, there’s another one.” I think to myself.
I hear them tell you that you are only 1-2cm dilated. You are discouraged, and tired. You want to go home – and even though they want to keep you there – you trust your body and your mind is made up. This is YOUR journey. We leave the hospital to labor at home. I drop you and Luc off at your house and go back to my house, it is almost 5am.
Again I am encouraged to be induced. Again I am told I am leaving the hospital against medical advice. Again, I’m being told it’s just not happening. I am starting to lose faith. How can I be in so much pain, and have such regular contractions so close together, and be so far from my baby? We leave as we need time to sleep, to pray and to process.
I doze in and out of sleep and contractions all morning. Asher is still at Nana’s and Lucas is asking me to go for a walk to get coffee, but it’s too light out. I feel too vulnerable here; I don’t want to have contractions with anyone around. I want to be alone, so we drive for coffee and park; we sit here in silence while I continue to fall in and out of sleep and contractions.
“We should go to the abandoned golf course outside of Christa’s house and you can be alone there, but outdoors and we can talk.” He’s so perfect. He knows me so well and has been such a strong rock for me to lean on.
By 10:30 AM we are in an open green space; the same one we had maternity photos done with our first son, Asher. It’s sunny and peaceful, and completely quiet. Here I can think. Here I can labour.
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It’s day 3. I have had back labour through the night and day for nearly 50 hours. I’m so tired, I feel like I can’t think. We talk and talk. You listen. More contractions follow and you scoop me up in your incredibly strong arms and hold me; sway with me. I think to myself … I’ve never been more in love.
It’s time. We’ve decided. I want to have my water broken and to have this baby. I root myself in prayer, because I am the only one who can fully make this decision, and I need to love myself through it. I need to be able to handle looking back and seeing that things could have been different, but be ok anyways. I don’t want to fight Dr’s and contractions anymore. I’ve fought long and hard and we want to end the fight and fill our family. I’m ready to do this.
You and Luc enter the unit and I sit in the waiting room. Shortly after I discover they have instantly put you into the Labor and Delivery room, and promptly broke your water at your request. I am called in to the room and things have already changed- dramatically.
Music is playing and your surges are different this time – you can tell your body is working with more purpose. You dance between contractions, you know you must keep moving.
Hours pass as you rock, moan, sway, cry, ache, cringe . . .but eventually you get the hang of it. You listen as we tell you to relax your face, lower your voice, relax into the surge, move as your body needs to move. You are suddenly the poster child for handling the most intense, transition like surges. Everyone is so impressed with you. As time goes on though, you reach a point of exhaustion, you fall in to sleep between almost every single contraction.
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I’ve been here for 8 hours; contractions are strong and a minute or less apart. They bring me to my knees; I can feel my back tightening and burning up, it feels like it’s going to break me. I hear words like strong and focused, but I don’t feel it. And yet here I am, faced with my biggest fears, and I have to keep going. I’ve never been one to embrace pain.
I thought my labour would be peaceful; I’d be the poster child of natural birth. Maybe I am; maybe that’s what this is. I’ve never felt so weak and yet here I stand on day 3 of nearly no sleep and I haven’t sat down in over 8 hours. My feet ache, my calves burn from the deep squatting and rocking…I have come into this one woman, and I will leave it another.
I have cried, screamed, thrown up, groaned and prayed.
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I have felt the presence of God in a way I haven’t felt Him in a long time as worhsip music plays and pours out over me as I thank Him over and over for giving me this opportunity. For giving me this strength. For allowing me to come into this process my own woman, making my own choices and not backing down for anyone.
His promises are true, in weakness, we can be strong.
The nurse frowns, you are still only 2-3cm. “What?! How?!” you say. Another set of incredibly intense surges overtake you. The nurse encourages you to get on all fours and rest between them. You do. You also move from side to side, begging for relief. You fall asleep again only to be awoken by a surge almost everyone in the room can feel.

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My resolve is breaking to maintain through this contraction knowing it’s not doing what I need it to do. It’s 10:30PM. Eight hours with almost no dilation. I can’t cope. I’m too tired, too sore everywhere, I need to sit. I need to rest. My body is fighting this now, and I need to relax. I ask for an epidural. I am proud to have asked. I am proud of myself for enduring what I have, and feel no pride to power through. I have nothing to prove to anyone; this is my journey, and my body needs to rest now.
I’m cross legged on the bed. Sitting down during a contraction is the worst thing imaginable. I’m given a pillow to hold and crush as I need to be completely still during the epidural. I feel it coming, but just knowing relief is on it’s way, I find the strength one last time. It starts; the needle is in my back and I am fighting. I cry, groan and shake but I don’t move.
It’s done. I can feel myself falling asleep as the pain diminishes, and pure exhaustion sweeps over me.
It’s 1 AM. My body needs more sleep than 2 hours, but I woke up anyways. Something deep inside me stirred to let me know it’s time. I get to meet my baby now. This is what it means to be a woman; to know things without being told. To rely on that deep instinct of the Holy Spirit. 10 CM; my heart is racing. We made it; I get to deliver my own baby. I get my VBAC.
I don’t question whether or not I’ll be able to deliver this baby on my own. I hear them talk about baby’s heart decelerations as I push, and as NICU staff come in, but I am at complete and total peace. God has us, we are safe.
Pushing is a relief; I feel such overwhelming joy and peace knowing this is God’s design.
I feel every contraction, I feel every push and suddenly I feel my baby.
I reach down and grab my baby. I’m weeping as I scoop my hands under the armpits and pull to my chest; it’s a boy you tell me, and we both know this is our Niall.
As soon as he is out, you both cry, you weep.
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I want to delay cord clamping until all the blood was done pumping through. I want all the best things for our son, and they leave it attached, no fight, no struggle. 
Then the Doctor tells me in surprise that the placenta is still intact and ready to be delivered, and I have the hospitals first Lotus Birth. I can feel the culmination of everyone’s prayers in that one moment, and it was beautiful. She pulled out the placenta and it lay beside us delivering everything baby needed until it was done. I never realized how beautiful creation is, even at its messiest. 
Surrounded by Christian nurses and staff, we end up having the most beautiful experience imaginable. I can feel the strength of all the prayers that went up for us this week, and I can’t tell you how grateful I am so many people held space for us, and how grateful I am that we serve the God we do.
It’s time to let Asher meet his baby brother.
Niall Gannon Gross, we’ve been waiting.
Welcome home.

On Birth, Fear and Strength

I am scared.

Labor scares me. I had a C-Section with my first so I am considered a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) and am currently with a group of doctors that feels they know my needs best and are quite rigid in their methods, leaving me feeling as though I have very little say and that I will have to fight for myself the whole way through delivery in order to deliver.

Lately, I have been consumed by fear. Maybe it’s the lack of sleep, maybe it’s the never ending tantrum my son seems to be in…maybe it’s that I’m 35 weeks pregnant and still working and it’s kicking the crap out of me. Maybe it’s everything. But the truth is, I talk strong to combat the fear.

I don’t like the idea of someone telling me what’s best for my body when I know I know it best. And I don’t like that they seem very uncomfortable with me voicing my opinions if they conflict with theirs.

I’m not a pushover, and confrontation does not bother me, but I don’t want to go into my first labor experience knowing I’m going to have to fight to have my voice heard.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Doctors, and I’m pro safe baby. I value input and opinions, but I also value someone who will take their knowledge and match it with my preferences, and who will ultimately consider my opinion and wishes as highly as they consider their own.

I consider myself to be extremely body aware. I know myself, I know my strengths. I have spent my entire pregnancy exercising and taking care of my body in preparation for labor and here I am 5 weeks out, tired and massive and so done … just wanting someone to hear me and to validate my birth wishes.

I wanted a midwife with my first desperately and in my province, as it’s publicly funded, it feels impossible to get in with one. Come the second time, again, it was too late by week 6 of my pregnancy and upon hearing from my Dr’s that I’m considered a high risk birth, I was told a midwife wouldn’t take me. I now know I was misinformed and wish I had been contacting midwives this whole time.

You see, I’ve never had a contraction. My water has never broke. I never lost my mucus plug. I got nothin. And that contributed a lot to my post partum depression, having so desperately wanting to experience labor and get through birth knowing I am strong and capable.

Yes, I’m one of those.

I don’t care that my vagina is fully intact after a c-section. I don’t care that I didn’t have to worry about tearing. I don’t care about any of it.

I cared about something I felt was a right of passage that I was robbed of, and I’m not interested in fighting for my birth my way, even though I might have to. What I am interested in is someone to come along side me and say, you can do this, you are safe, you know your body. Tell me what you need.

If you know me, I have all the feelings, all the time, and it takes endless words for me to typically make sense of them …

And I’ve come to this conclusion having written this far …

I’m praying for a Doctor or a Midwife who will take care of my heart. Who will give me their professional opinions on keeping the baby safe, but all the while respecting me as a woman and a mother capable of making her own choices, and having them valued and respected.

I am a reasonable person; I will never choose a natural birth over the life of my child.

I will fight for my VBAC. I will fight for my birth, my way. I will exercise, and eat healthy and drink water every single day to prepare for this fight. Not only because it will make my body strong, but it makes my mind strong.

Fitness is a test of the muscle in our heads and in our hearts, and I’m about to prove to myself and my doctors just how strong that muscle is.

Because I am smart.

Because I am capable.

Because I am a woman made in the image of God, and God is a warrior.

And as such, so am I.

On “Those” Days; An Open Thank you to my Husband and Mother

Today has been one of those days one of those weeks months years.

Ok, but today it all boiled down to a nightmare of a day.

I truly want to be one of those moms who writes about nothing but the rainbows her child poops and all the glorious joys of motherhood. And I will. One day. I do know those joys, I have those joys, I live for those joys … but to be honest, if I talk to you and you speak of nothing but all the happy times and how amazing everything is 24/7, I don’t relate to you. And sometimes I hope you’re a liar, because if you’re not, what the heck am I doing wrong? Is my parenting bad? Are my sons endless tantrums and lack of sleep my fault, thus causing the misery we find ourselves drenched in from time to time and if I could just … teach him better, none of this would be happening?

Probably not true. But my thought process none the less.

In any case, if you’re like me and my husband, you’ve had … well let’s politely call them shitty days. Yes, I know. I’m a Christian, and I swore. No, it doesn’t make me cool. No, it doesn’t make me evil. I’m very sad, very vulnerable and very tired today. And sometimes, it’s the only word I can find. So shitty it shall be.

Today started out like any other day…6:00AM wake up on the nose, child in the fridge screaming for strawberries and the tantrum over food begins. No, you can’t eat 12 plums and 38 strawberries for breakfast. Here’s your eggs. Well you said you wanted eggs. No you can’t have oatmeal. Because you asked for eggs and I made eggs. I don’t live to make you food. Yes, you can have a plum when your eggs are finished. Because if I give you the plum all you’ll eat is the plum until your stomach thinks your full and you never eat sustainable food. Sustainable. Sus-tain-a-ble. It keeps you full. No, you can’t have more strawberries. When you’re done screaming and kicking on the floor, come find me. I’ll be eating your eggs.

Usually my patience is pretty far reaching. I am able to take deep breaths and relax, remind myself this is a stage and that one day he won’t throw himself on the floor every single morning the minute he wakes up, and he will have slept through the night.

Today was a different day.

I managed to get in a team call this morning while he screamed and ran around peeing on things because he’s kind of over being told he has to pee and is rebelling, and I managed to do quite a bit of tidying around his tantrums. We also sat together and drummed, and played hide and seek around his fort, and read books inside of it. He then napped for 1/5 hours and woke up foul, as usual. And today I couldn’t handle it.

I don’t know why my son doesn’t sleep well, and I don’t know why he wakes up angry. But it frustrates the hell out of me, because I want to fix it. I want to see him happy and thriving, and to see him so upset all the time honestly just breaks mommas heart. He cries intermittently and hard for a long time after waking up. We’re talking a couple of hours until he’s righted himself, and I’m at the point where I’m falling asleep while he’s screaming because I’m so bloody tired of it all. My body is exhausted and my mind is weary.

And then in walks my husband, and in walks my mother.

My mom came to help me clean today … and all I could do was sit there. And cry. And then leave to nap. And then wake up and stare into space. And watch her clean.

She cleaned my floors, my banisters, my kitchen and every inch she moved along, she scrubbed away a bit of the clutter frustrating my heart.

My husband was in there with her, helping, putting in an effort … while I sat here. Immobilized by exhaustion? Yes … depression? Maybe … in any case, I am not alone in these struggles and there he is. Doing things I cannot do. Cleaning dishes. Making dinner.

My family has surrounded me and it took me a good couple of hours to get up off the couch, and pitch in.

And to top it all off? I can’t show my gratitude…I can’t seem to be very warm and inviting and kind. I can however be critical, condescending and lack the ability to extend anyone else the grace to not be perfect.

So because I can’t seem to find my voice when anyone is present to say thank you, here I am. Saying thank you.

Lucas, you have strength I cannot comprehend. No, you don’t have to be pregnant. No, you don’t know how tired or emotional I am. But what you do know is that you were once married to a vibrant, joyful woman who didn’t condescend, criticize and fall apart. I promise you, even though I keep losing that woman, she is here, and I will keep doing everything I can to find her, to be her. You have put up with just as much sleep loss and frustration and joy and pain as I have, and yet you come home and you take care of this family. I promise I will show you all the kindness I have, even if it’s not much I will muster it up and give it all to you. You have provided for me, for Asher in ways you’ll never understand. Food, finances, it all pales in comparison to the peace you’ve given me to know I am married to a warrior. A fighter. A man who is so capable of loving even when love is not being shown. Sometimes I get angry around you simply as a reaction to your love, because it’s too much for me to handle your gentleness that I react negatively…like being in the presence of God’s overwhelming love that if we don’t feel worthy we run from. I’m 5. No big deal. Just know that I see you, for every little amazing thing you do, even though I don’t seem capable of voicing it. I’m learning. Pray for me and work with me; I know God will use you to be the hand that pulls me up. Thank you for every day, for every hug, for every kiss, for every time we forget to make eye contact throughout the day and then you touch my shoulder to remind me that you’re there. Thank you to the ends of the earth, which I will crawl to to find a way to show you my love.

Mom, I don’t know how you’ve put up with me all these years. To no end do I wish I could actually be as kind as you deserve, when I am this down and out. And just like Lucas, what kills me the most is your endless ability to pour out love on me when I’m like this. To not ask for anything in return. To just be willing to do whatever you can to help me and my family, even if you never get a thank you. I wish I could open my heart when it’s this hard, but I haven’t been able to, and you deserve every ounce of gratitude I can muster. For loving my son to the ends of the earth, to taking him when I’m working, to always be there to help me, to always bend your plans to help mould them around mine and A’s sporadic naps…you’ve never asked for anything, and I’ve never been able to give much, but my love and respect and deeply rooted desire to be like you, you have. Thank you for choosing to love me even on the hard days.

I 100% believe this will pass. I know that this is 95% sleep loss and 35 weeks pregnant. But it’s hard to see past that, especially when I had such a good handle on it just a few short weeks ago.

But I’m here, putting the few things in front of me that I know how to do.

One of those being my complete and utter commitment to sharing my journey with you. Because while it is scary to some to be “so open” it’s actually very therapeutic for me. I’m a verbal processor but I also believe that God will use my struggles, and reach out and touch someone with them.

Maybe to help you feel like you’re not alone.

Mom’s, it’s a tough gig.

And sometimes, we aren’t the nicest to those who are nicest to us, and I know you’re like me and find it devastating to know we’ve hurt someone whom we love so dearly.

If you’re in the same boat, I’m praying for you. The trenches are deep, but the hands reaching in are strong and sturdy.

Grab hold of one and don’t let go.

Commit with me to taking the time every single day to doing something that utterly feeds your soul.

Spend time with God, knit, rest your face in the sun, walk alone outside, exercise, eat well and as you walk alone let the wind caress your skin and fall in love with life every single day.

It won’t be like this forever.

Just promise me you will take the steps to walk forward every single day.

More than a fitness coach, I walk hand in hand with women struggling with things I too struggle with.

A tribe of strong women is forming around me, and together we climb ahead.

I have an incredible support at home, and there are those of you who are single parents or struggling the same but have no family to help …

I can’t say I’ll come be the things for you that my family is for me, but I can walk with you. I can climb with you.

We are strongest when we hold each other up.

On Faith, Fitness and Finances

For ten seconds I want you to look around you and search for only things that are red, and commit them to memory, then look back here and keep reading.

Now list off all the things you saw that were green.

#crickets

Why did I ask you for green things? The point is, you will only see what you are looking for. If you are focusing on the negative things in life, you will only see the negative things. But if you focus on the positive things, guess what happens? That’s right. A brick load of positivity pouring over you.

That’s what I’m trying to do right now. Only look at the positive things. But the negative things are gaining traction and I’ve had enough.

Here’s what’s been going on:

  • A week before we left for Hawaii, my husband got laid off.
  • The day we left for Hawaii started the perfect storm of misery for my son (molars, undiagnosed ear pain, time change etc) and left him sleepless, miserable and downright awful to be around most of our trip. He made everything harder and we still haven’t recovered. It’s been almost 2 weeks since we’ve been back.
  • The day we got BACK from Hawaii, our one and only vehicle decided it was time to start breaking down. For good. And we had to make the decision, with zero income for 2 weeks from either of us and who knew when the next check would come for my husband, to buy a new vehicle.
  • We all got incredibly sick from lack of sleep and it is why I am currently awake at 1:30AM because I cannot sleep due to the jaw pain, headache, neck pain, sinus pain, etc.

Sounds pretty awful right? What could I do during this time? Wallow in self pity. Quit building my business to save money. Quit eating well. Quit exercising. Ok I did quit exercising because my 34 week pregnant body said absolutely no more right now. But you get the point.

Life absolutely has kicked us in the face. And we could 100% give up on everything and just “lay low” while the storm passes, but for what exactly? So I can go back to the way I was before all of this? So I can say, “actually God, I’m not so sure you called me to this anymore. Because it’s really hard, and your burden is light, right? So I think I’ll quit…”

This was the old me. The one who gave up. The one who self sabotaged. Who stopped doing everything good for herself simply because life got hard.

Well God doesn’t promise an easy life, but He put me in a business that forced me to dig into myself and dig deep into my why for life, and that why has kept me going.

In fact, all this so called crap that keeps happening is actually fuelling my passion to keep going. I’ve for sure slowed down and only done in my business what I am actually capable of right now; I have to admit to myself that I physically cannot ask more of myself and that this is the season I am in. It’s frustrating to say the least, but I am not hoping for anything. I am doing the smallest, seemingly insignificant steps to push myself forward.

I’m done giving up.

And looking back, here is all the absolutely jaw dropping miracles God provided us during this time:

  • An overwhelming sense of peace when Luc lost his job, because we knew it was no longer a place that brought him joy, and it was becoming hard on our family. We knew God would take care of us.
  • EI from his employer who made sure his ROE stated reasons for being let go to allow him to receive income while he looked for work.
  • A beautifully paid trip to Hawaii; perfect weather for me to enjoy the scorching sun and clouds for Luc and A to hide from the heat in on other days.
  • A new job lined up that he didn’t even have to search for upon returning home. This guy called him and offered him a job within 24 hours of talking, INCLUDING 3 weeks off just two months into work so that he can be with his family when our new baby comes. This job comes with his 4th year raise, benefits, a company vehicle as well as a work phone.
  • And lastly, our miracle vehicle. The day we decided to go look for a new one, this beauty popped up online and it was the perfect price point, the absolute pinnacle of what we were looking for and then some. We actually felt a little guilty buying it due to how loaded and nice this thing is. Yes, we are in the van clan.

Literally so many incredible God stories these past three weeks.

We have definitely accrued some debt; we haven’t had any income for 3 weeks, and yet… our billing account remains miraculously full.

So while I may be freaking a bit on the inside that my business is costing us money we don’t have, that I can’t work out, that I am incredibly sick and incredibly pregnant

I have so much faith in the God who provides.

I am so grateful, not just for this stuff, but for the fact that I was encouraged into a company that believes in digging deeper into yourself. It pushed me to know my desires like never before. To be so in touch with my passions that not even the hardest of times will shake me, and to give me a place to focus my energy into in a way that truly blesses my heart.

If you’re going through a rough time, I’m not going to tell you “this too shall pass…”

I’m going to tell you to stop looking at the red, and start looking for the green, and never give up.

Our new van! 2011 Chrysler Town and Country; Limited Edition and fully loaded!

Find your why and hold onto it as tight as you can, because all this has done is furthered my resolve to stick with it and push harder than ever.

When being a mom isn’t so great …

There is nothing more soothing to my soul than the sweet sound of my little boy calling out, “Mommy!” and you can just hear the joy in his voice as he says my name. The name that only he calls me; it’s my favourite name.

But there was a time when motherhood wasn’t so great. I would hear people talking about motherhood and it was rainbows and sunshine. Joy unspeakable, and I could not relate. I even pulled away from these women. I felt like a bad mother. Why didn’t I enjoy it that much? I mean, I didn’t hate it, but it was most certainly just ok.

It wasn’t the life changing, joyful experience I had been told to expect and I was so lost and confused as to why that was.

I have so many photos of the first 12-15 months and it’s all smiles and laughter, but who photographs the moments you’re sitting on the floor crying because you are wishing you could wake up tomorrow and not be a mother? No one photographs those moments. But those moments and I have held hands. We’ve danced. I’d know that song anywhere. And it hurts me. I look at my son, thriving, full of joy and I feel my heart bursting with love and happiness that this little human has been gifted to me. But I also feel it breaking a tiny bit over the lost year. That moment in time where nothing was as it should be.

I mourn that time. I mourn that first year that I was to become a mother. To learn and to grow and to figure out our rythmn and settle into things…to really grow into the mother I was to be. To absorb those baby giggles, that fat little face and the nuances that only a baby can bring. I have had to move past anger for being robbed, and I still feel at times that I am grieving it. Maybe I will grieve more when my second is born and I see how much I truly lost. I hope not; to be honest it scares me.

But I can truly say that exercise and eating right have given me that year again. This year with my son is magical, he’s unreal. I get it now. I understand that uncontainable joy that says “I can’t believe he’s mine…” and it’s all because I reached out to someone and said “I need a change.”

If you’re missing something … if being a mom is just ok most days, but you feel generally lost and wandering through life, know that you are not alone. And know that I am here.

I DO think exercise and eating well are for absolutely everyone. I do NOT think everyone needs to have major weightloss or muscle gains goals. But I believe that this routine saves lives every single day, because exercise is the most under utilized anti-depressent in the Western World.

Motherhood is a gift, and it’s the most amazing part of being a woman to me. When I wake up in the morning to a cute little man snuggling in my arms, who looks to me for advice, boundaries, how to react, how to live … I want to show him that life isn’t just survival. I want to show him how to live, and live abundantly and live life by design.

I love coaching women into this journey. So many messages I hear include people saying things to the effect of, I want to be strong for my kids … either ones they have or ones they want to one day have.

Motherhood is embedded in many of our souls, and it’s absolutely my passion to help as many people as I can enter into a healthy lifestyle that enables us to be surrounded by other strong women who can encourage us on the most beautiful, and most difficult journey we will ever be on.

I honor that lost year by living in this one to the absolute fullest.

I honor that lost year by reaching out to you and saying, it’s your time.

If this speaks to you, reach out this Mother’s Day, and ask for help

You’re not alone, and there’s strength in numbers.  

On Stretch Marks and Real Self Love

I am 30 weeks pregnant with my second and I still have no stretch marks to speak of on my stomach (I have stretch marks elsewhere from growing up fast).

April 14, 2016 – 29 weeks

 

It’s time for honesty.

I talk a lot about loving yourself, accepting the changes…I even posted a video showing off my cellulite legs last week, attempting to normalize pregnancy gains and show women it’s OK to gain fat stores.

But truth be told, I’m still afraid of stretch marks…and I don’t love my cellulite. I drink up to 4L of water a day to avoid stretch marks and at this point in pregnancy I’ll start slathering on the coconut oil / frankincense blend I made to ensure my belly stays stretch mark free.

I still fear pregnancy and how it will ruin my body. 

It really goes to show you how twisted our societies mentality is. I mean we take something beautiful and turn it into something to be feared. 

I think it’s ok to not want them, I do, and water helps your skin retain its elasticity, so it’s a good thing to drink more water because the goal is to be healthier. But we shouldn’t be so terrified of these marks, nor should it signify a body to be ruined. How dramatic.

Truthfully, it frustrates me that because I’m into fitness, I sort of perpetuate the stereotypical perfect pregnancy. 

But … still … I want to be very loud and very clear about something;

I am not perfect.

IMG_9705.JPG
Me on the swings at 30 weeks pregnant

I sit, I get dimples.

My message is clear and simple.

It’s ok to believe in your heart you are beautiful and still desire to change things about your body.

It is ok that I don’t want stretch marks. It’s ok that I’m working out to have the body I desire after pregnancy because I have to live in it forever, but it’s also ok to get stretch marks and to have extra skin. Even though I know it’ll be a journey, I’ll learn to love myself fully in a new state of life and I’ll share it with you. For now, my journey is one towards no fear. Because to be honest, I am afraid of living in a body I don’t love. But that isn’t a result of pregnancy, it’s the result of me not understanding that my own body is worthy of love.

Now, I want to be very intentional with what I say next, because it’s important. Probably the most important thing I have to say…

I do not have an idea of what you should look like. 

By encouraging people to be fit, and to be healthy and to workout, and by being small and fit myself, I am in no way asking that people pursue my body. I am on my own journey.

Seriously, go find your own.

I am here to share my journey not impose it on everyone around me.

My journey is meant to inspire; to say it can be done and you can do it too. I want to invite everyone to join me, and to set goals to be the best version of themselves, whatever that looks like. I don’t have a box for you to fit in! I don’t think you NEED to be my size or shape to be fit and healthy, in fact I KNOW you don’t. Health comes from the inside and works it’s way out and because we are all made gloriously different, that will look so beautifully different on everyone.

The best version of yourself, is 100% up to you. I will never tell you what you need to look like.

Realize that my body has seven years of nutrition and health behind it. I am not just some naturally tiny person, I have worked very hard to be where I am today. I started young, and I didn’t give up. The way I am today is a results of small dedicated decisions I have made every day for almost a decade. I know what my body looks like when I treat it well, and THAT’S my goal, to treat it well.

Everything else is secondary.

Real self love comes from not fearing the future, but from preparing for it and treating yourself the best way possible. Even if it means indulging in a piece of birthday cake … three days in a row … #mylifethisweek

I fed my soul.

Real self love comes from taking action and saying because I love me I will do everything I can to ensure the healthiest version of myself, and whatever comes my way I’ll figure it out and learn to love myself all over again.

I don’t know what battles I am going to face in life, but I can tell you this, I will be ready.

And I won’t be afraid.

 

My Favourite Version of Me

It’s Friday night, I have no styling product in my hair and no makeup on. I’m wearing a plain long sleeve top and wide straight leg pants from Mexico.  My husband saw me and said I look really nice tonight … 

IMG_9166This is my favourite version of me. 

I have to wear makeup at work, I enjoy blush and lip gloss when I’m not at work at times, but I love my 3 day weekends where I become the purest version of me for a full weekend. 

It’s always a bit shocking the first time I see my face without any trace of makeup, but then I become familiar with the redder spots … the slight imperfections I can’t help but attempt to balance out with my makeup. 

And then after a few combative minutes against negative self talk, I smile. 

I recognize this girl. 

I don’t need to hear ‘you’re beautiful’ from anyone, regardless of the wonderful heart behind them, the point of the journey I’m on is to believe it from the inside, from my own heart. The point is for you to recognize beauty in yourself, regardless of your size, skin type, hair length, eye colour … anything. So if you comment, please say something overly kind about yourself, and nothing of me. I want to hear you say from your heart, something lovely about yourself.

I am not a make up girl, but I easily get caught up in “making myself prettier”…but I’m happy to say that since I began my new journey into mental health, fitness and better nutrients in my body, I love this face I see tonight, once again. (To all my makeup artist friends, I do not believe that you do not love your own face which is why you wear makeup. Disclaimer over.)

It’s been a while since I’ve seen this girl; really looked into those eyes and witnessed the contentment, and been free of loathing. 

It’s been a huge journey in these last few months, clawing myself away from post partum depression, getting fit while pregnant and forcing a change in mindset to just stay the course and be healthy because it’s the best thing for me … I believe my intentions and my message have changed drastically since being a mother as well, and for that I’m grateful.  

A few years ago, kidless and clueless (speaking to me, no one else, calm down Internet) I would have been entirely results driven. This would be a photo of my body and about having zero excuses, and while I still believe in eliminating excuses, I had no compassion. No understanding. There was no room for error or growth around me. You either were, or you weren’t. I couldn’t see the journey. I didn’t have compassoin.

I now have experience in real struggle, real mental torment, which has left me overflowing with compassion and understanding and a burning desire to connect and to help.

I no longer roll my eyes at you for not working out. I instead want to hug you, because it is just that hard some days to even put on clean underwear. 

My prayer is that one day, you’ll look in the mirror and see your favourite self smiling back at you. Maybe she’s wearing makeup, maybe her hairs done, maybe she fits in her old clothes, maybe she outgrew them but is still comfortable and fit and healthy in her new clothes. 

I don’t care. 

My intention is set, and it’s to coach you to be the best version of yourself, and only you can tell me what that is. I won’t tell you. You need to know what it takes to look in the mirror and say, 

I know that girl, and I like her.

On Starting Over

It’s ok to start over. In fact, it’s bloody brave of you.

Right now, I’m starting over.

We are in a society that values success as starting something and never quitting, never wavering, never falling down.

Well I value getting back up. I value those who say my journey does not end here.

The choices we make to be better…to do better, sometimes they’re easy to let go of. Because life gets in the way. It just does.

Don’t ever let anyone make you feel bad because life happened. It’s what we do before, during and after life happens that matters.

My choice to be better was to put myself first. And for me, that’s working out and eating well. I became a personal fitness coach to steer my passion, hold me accountable, help other women like me and clean up my messy brain.

And then I just made one small choice that wasn’t in the right direction…then again the next day. Then it got harder and harder to steer back on course, and here I am two weeks later, encouraging others to do their best, be their best…and I’ve fallen. Hard and fast.

I don’t know why I feel so weird saying this, but I do. I struggle with depression.

And I think maybe I feel weird is because I think I’m diminishing other people’s struggles because I don’t want to kill myself every day…I don’t cry all day…maybe because it started when my son was born and do I really get to call it that? Isn’t it just post partum? Does that make it any less? Well you know what?

Depression doesn’t look like I thought it did. Not at all.

And I think what I see now is that it looks different for everyone, but we all “know the feeling.”

What did it look like for me today? Aimless. My son is sick and I used that as my excuse as to why I did nothing, but it’s not the truth.

I’m sitting around more. Letting dishes pile up more. Being on my phone in front of my kid more. Zoning out. Screaming at my dog because she can’t tell me how much my anger hurts her. Feeling  less energy every day. Letting the fog settle into my brain and losing the ability to make small choices, like how to start making dinner.

Depression looks like a tired mom, but one who’s “getting by”. It’s lack of patience, it’s anger at my husband for literally everything and nothing. It’s anxiety. Panic over the little things that I can’t control.

And so, I start over. Making one small positive step every day.

Except, maybe it’s not really starting over…

I already have a foundation to build on; one I’ve been working on for months now. I’ve developed skills, like how to take a deep breath and just pick up a few toys, and go from there. How to take my vitamins in the morning, or drink my shake even if I just. don’t. want to. Like the action of lifting my arms to make it all is just too much to handle. But I do it anyways. It’s small. I can handle small.

So starting over really isn’t starting over at all, not for me … and not for you.

You’ve come a long way already, and you’re stronger than you think.

Whatever it is you’ve been trying to do more of in life, you’ve come a long way my dear.

There is no ground zero. You can look back but you can’t get there, because the person you were then is gone. You’ve grown.

Your actions and feelings may be familiar, but oh how you grew.

Remember that.

And take action.

Don’t sit in the fog.

Reach out.

Find help.

Make a move.

So if you’re starting over with me this week, let me know just one area you feel stronger in even though you feel like you’re failing, and I want you to comment, then write it down and stick it to the mirror, and I want that success to fuel your frustration at falling backwards to the point where you get so angry you tear apart the chains holding you down.

I want you to fight.

I want you to break free.

Remember, you are strong. You are brave. And you will succeed.

One bloody inch at a time.