Your First Birthday

To my daughter,
I can't believe your first birthday is already here. I hope you are enjoying your special day and this memorable milestone.

I am thankful for every day with you. You are the answer to our prayers, and this past year has been such an amazing journey. It's truly amazing to watch you grow before my eyes and watching your personality shine. You've taught me so much about myself and the world, and I know you're only going to teach me more as you grow up.

I love that you are a little bookworm. I love your little voice, even when you are talking nonstop (although I don't love the shrieks and screams!) I love your sweet determination, especially when I can see the wheels turning in your head. I love how much you love Dax, even though he usually runs away from you. I love your hugs and your kisses.

I love that you sleep all night every night. I love that you will eat just about any food I fix you. I love how much you adore your father, when you light up as you see him and laugh when he does something funny.

I love that you love your babysitter. I love how much you enjoy swimming and taking baths. I love your happy disposition.

Ari, I am so honored to be your mama. Motherhood is not easy, but it is by far worth it. Thank you for an incredible first year, and happy birthday, little one. We love you more than you will ever know.

The Rain

Today marks two years since we gained our tiny angel.

Losing a pregnancy has been one of the hardest things I've gone through. I still remember that morning, that doctor visit and that ultrasound like it was yesterday. I remember the recovery, the Garth Brooks concert two days later and the resolve to try again. I'll never forget those months that followed, before Ariana came into our lives.

There were many hard days that year, from the sting of seeing pregnancy announcements, to attending baby showers, to watching my due date approach. With it being during the holidays, Christmas was bittersweet that year. 

The loss and the emotional journey taught me more about myself than I ever thought it could. I learned so much perspective. I stopped caring as much about the smaller things.

I learned to lean into my faith more, and prayed for our rainbow.

I learned just how much I was ready to become a mother. I never took my pregnancy with Ariana for granted, and I was grateful for every week that passed, and for every month that I heard her heartbeat.

I look at my sweet rainbow baby and thank God to have her in my life. I know she has a tiny guardian angel watching over her (and us) every day, and it makes me smile. I'll always miss our first baby, and I'll always wonder what if, but I absolutely cannot imagine life without my little girl.

In times of loss, so many people turn toward balloon releases as a way to "let go", but I love our memorial so much more. At the suggestion of a friend, I planted a small angel wing begonia plant in a white pot. The plant came from a family member, and I smile every time I look at how much it's grown. Rather than releasing something that ends up back in the environment, we gave back to the environment. And to me, that's the most beautiful thing.

It's ironic that this day is also International Day of Yoga. My yoga practice definitely helped me work through a lot of my struggle two years ago. I remember planning to attend a yoga class on that day, but I instead sat outside and meditated. It was more about the mental benefits instead of the physical ones. My practice has evolved a lot in the past two years, although it's taken a step back over the past nine months. I'm still here for it, and I'm ready to get back to that part of my self-care.

If you're dealing with miscarriage or infertility, please know you are not alone. Reach out and talk to someone, whether a friend or family member or a professional. The storms and the rain are hard to weather, but I sincerely hope that you find your rainbow too.

My Breastfeeding Journey

When you're pregnant, one of the things you will hear most often is how "breast is best" when it comes to feeding. I took the class at the hospital and learned a million interesting things about breastfeeding. I knew I wanted to go that route (hello, all of the money it saves), but tried to remain realistic in knowing that exclusive breastfeeding might not be a possibility. I kept telling myself (and others) that we'd do whatever we needed to do in terms of feeding.

As I finally sit down to write this, my daughter just made eight months last week and I'm in the process of accepting that my breastfeeding journey will be ending soon. I aimed for making it a full 12 months, but I know that it'll only be a few more weeks.

And even though I had told myself I'd be open to whatever was necessary, it's still extremely bittersweet to know that I'm almost done and to make plans for what happens once I am. For now, I'm planning to go until my daughter turns nine months in June and then fully wean off. I'm absolutely grateful that I was able to get at least eight months, when this journey very well could have ended months ago.

I've been pumping since the very beginning (even before I breastfed the first time), and I've  continued since going back to work in December. But, my production is steadily decreasing. The frozen stash is dwindling and I'm not able to produce enough to make it last much longer. And honestly, these days, it's hard to find motivation to pump when the output is getting smaller by the day.

We started supplementing with formula around two months, which wasn't easy for me to accept emotionally or mentally. All of those things about how breast milk is the perfect food for your baby keeps running through your head, and I felt like I was letting her down by our decision to add formula. (And I still wince a bit when it's time to buy more formula.)

But my daughter is doing just fine. She's happy, she's healthy and she's growing. She hasn't had any issues with drinking both breastmilk and formula. She will basically drink anything if it's in her bottle. She's been eating pureed and solid food since about five and a half months and has loved almost everything she's tried so far. I'm also grateful that she hasn't had feeding issues, breast, bottle or solid.

Although I've sent myself on countless guilt trips over many things in the past eight months, part of this process is reminding myself that it's okay. My daughter will be just fine during these few months of formula before we transition to other milk. I did give it my all, and I'm proud of myself for sticking with it. I'll be sad to not have our morning and nighttime nursing sessions and cuddle time, but I remind myself that it's just a phase.

After going back to work and getting on a pumping routine, I've tried all kinds of different lactation supplements, although I'm not sure really how much they helped. I think they didn't really boost my supply as much as they maintained it and kept it from decreasing even quicker. (For what it's worth, lactation drops are the most digusting taste and Boobie Bars are damn delicious, although insanely expensive.)

I can say, I will miss breastfeeding, but I truly will not miss pumping. No more toting around a backpack and cooler bag. No more finding random empty rooms when I'm not at home or in my office. No more pumping around meetings and phone calls. No more washing tiny-ass parts in the office kitchen! 🙌

Mother's Day 2019

With an infant younger than one year old, many would consider this their first Mother's Day. But deep down, this feels like my third Mother's Day. Two years ago, I was seven weeks along with our angel, and last year, I was 22 weeks along with our sweet baby girl (and we had just found out the day before that it was a girl!)

I never knew just how much I would enjoy being a mom. We've had our fair share of long nights, tough moments and all the tears, but I wouldn't trade these past eight months for anything. Pretty much nothing beats when I hold her and comfort her. When she has her little hand on me while she sleeps, it's like we both know that we'll be okay.

I may not love waking up before 6 a.m. every weekday and 7 a.m. every weekend, but I do love getting to spend the first part of my morning with her.

It's incredible to watch Ariana's personality grow and see her achieve those milestone developments. A couple weeks ago, she started saying 'da da', and it was so much fun to watch her language grow. This weekend, she gave me an early Mother's Day gift by finally saying 'ma ma'!

As Mother's Day approaches, I find myself feeling all kinds of emotions (shockingly), and I'm just excited to be here. With a happy, healthy, sweet as can be baby girl. Though she may be little, she is fierce.

And sometimes, I still can't believe you're actually mine. Ariana, you have no idea just how much I love being your mama.

You are the light that's leading me to the place
Where I find peace again
You are the strength that keeps me walking
You are the hope that keeps me trusting
You are the life to my soul
You are my purpose
You're everything
And how can I stand here with you
And not be moved by you
Would you tell me how could it be any better than this?

To all the mamas out there, happy Mother's Day! Whether it's your first or your 50th, I hope it's a special day.

To all the mamas who have struggled or are struggling to conceive and to those who have lost children, you are not alone. My heart goes out to you, especially today!

International Women's Day

"Here's to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them."

International Women's Day is a little extra special starting this year, now that we're raising a tiny woman. I'm looking forward to raising her to be a strong and confident female.

Art copyright Wanderella

To my daughter:

In your six short months, you've already shown us how determined you are. You amaze me every day with your growth and everything you've accomplished so far. You've been a trooper since the beginning, and you constantly make me proud. I know that as you grow up, you will only amaze me even more.

As your mama, I have so much hope for your future, and I feel a special responsibility to empower you as you grow up. I remind myself daily that it's most important to lead by example, and it pushes me to better myself for your sake.

I want you to grow up with self-confidence.

I want to instill values of working hard and going after your dreams.

I want to give you the freedom to find what interests you, whether it's sports, music, dance or something else.

I want you to know that you don't have to conform to 'girly' stereotypes.

I want to help you learn how to defend yourself.

I want to be an example of how to be kind and lift others up.

As a working mother, I want to be an example of how to balance work, life and family.

Of course, I want to teach you how to respect and care for the environment.

Here's to the joy and fun of raising a girl! #WhoRunTheWorld

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