Hope

Last week we talked pregnancy loss.

This week… pregnancy after a miscarriage.

To be honest, this topic feels daunting. I am blessed to have only experienced that heartbreak once. You women/families that have dealt with numerous losses have a different story to tell. I pray that you find resources or a voice that provides you comfort. ๐Ÿ’—

As you know, we had a miscarriage. We were told the chances of this occurring again were low, which was a relief but not a guarantee. Now that I had tasted the hearbreak that could come from a failed pregnancy, I was tentative to enter that arena again.

Brandon and I talked. I knew I needed some time to mentally/emotionally recover from that loss. I also wanted to build up some reserve in case it happened again. I needed to concentrate on feeling strong and enjoying other things.

As I came out of that fog, one of the first new things I tried was becoming a Rodan and Fields consultant. I had ordered products while pregnant because I could not keep using my derm prescribed acne meds. It was a good distraction and kept me busy. I dove in and had fun. #thisisnotanad #thisismylife

To be honest, my memories of the rest of that ‘waiting to try again time’ are vague. I do remember having a plan to start working out prior to getting pregnant because I wanted to feel strong again. In anyway that I could. #buildingmyselfafortress

Once I felt ready to try another pregnancy, I still struggled with irregular ovulation. I went back on birth control for 2 months, then quit it, hoping this would kickstart ovulation in a somewhat predictable pattern.

It worked. We soon found ourselves pregnant again and we were excited. But for the first time, there was a cloud over me. Over this new pregnancy.

I was terrified of losing another dream. Of believing that a sweet little bundle would be joining us, only to have him/her never arrive.

I found myself back on the rollercoaster. Excited. Terrifed. Happy. Scared. The joy and anticipation I had experienced with my first 2 pregnancies alluded me. I was simultaneously praising God for this second chance and begging Him to let this pregnancy come to fruition. Just plain scared. I feel a little nauseous just thinking about it. ๐Ÿ˜ข๐Ÿ™

If you know me well, you know I am not one to sit in silence. Besides voicing my feelings, my mood can fill a room pretty quickly. The rollercoaster impacted us all.

At some point, I decided that hope was what I needed to cling to. Sure, the fear was still there. But regardless of whether I allowed myself to be happy or continued to cycle moods, I knew a pregnancy loss would again crush me. So why was I not choosing joy when I could? Doubts still occurred and the outcome would not be clear until baby arrived, but continuing to think of the negative possibilities did nothing but make me feel bad NOW. When I was growing a new, different baby.

So. If you are brave enough to try again. If you are blessed enough to grow a baby. I believe you should reach for hope. Give that fear back to the Universe or hand it over to God. Pray. Laugh. Smile.

You have been through enough. Choose hope.

Unfortunately, I cannot ensure a happy ending. But joy and hope are never useless emotions. Share your joy with those close to you. Share your pain as well. We are meant to live in communities, my dears. Let us lift one another up in times of sorrow and in times of triumph. But to do that, you have to let them in.

With love,

B

P.S. And you (expecting mama) are one tough cookie. You can do this. And those who love that mama – hold her and laugh with her and celebrate with her. She needs her people. She needs you!

P.P.S. I carried fear throughout my entire pregnancy, until Rory was in my arms. It never fully went away, but praying and trying to keep a positive mindset helped me. ๐ŸŒˆ #rainbowbaby

When a dream is lost

Recently, I was reminded that a child we had dreamed of would have been 3 years old this March.

I felt guilty for not thinking of that until I saw a friend’s photo celebrating her child’s 3rd birthday. We had been due the same month, although my little bean never made it that far.

When that pregnancy test showed positive, I hid it in Brandon’s bathroom drawer. I waited in eager anticipation for his reaction. He was as excited as I was, as we knew we wanted at least one more in our crew.

This may be TMI for some, but my cycles have always been super irregular. That makes trying to date a pregnancy pretty difficult. Because of that, we went in for an early ultrasound to get our due date a few weeks later.

Brandon was with me as we went into the ultrasound room. We were amped. #yaybabies

We were told that they could see the gestational sac and yolk sac, but no embryo. What did that mean? It might just have been too early, or it might be a failed pregnancy. #cuethetears

Lab work was ordered.

They checked my hcg level that day, then again in 2 days. It was increasing, but not as quickly as they’d like. We drew it again the next week and had another ultrasound. Similar results.

The waiting and rollercoaster of emotions was gut-wrenching. We may be pregnant, we may not. My body thinks I’m pregnant and I’m getting thicker through the middle… but there’s no clear answer yet. Keep hoping? Give up hope? #howcanthisbehappening

This would continue for at least one more ultrasound before we were told definitively that there was no baby developing in there. A blighted ovum. By this time, my risk of infection was going up. This anembryonic pregnancy was not ending and some kind of intervention would be needed if I did not miscarry soon. I was crushed. We were crushed. We waited through the weekend to see if nature would run its course.

It did not. One more ultrasound and I had medications administered vaginally to force my body to release the empty sac. If that did not work, surgery.

I remember the guilt and shame I felt as I waited to get that RX filled. What was that pharmacist thinking about me getting this med? I wanted to tell her this was a wanted pregnancy. I knew I would cry if I spoke, so I hung my head and paid in silence.

Then we got to go home. Sit and wait. Cramping. Bleeding. Sobbing while in the bathtub. Sobbing while in bed. Is it done? Is this normal? Looking up miscarriage on Google. Then on Pinterest. I needed someone to give words to the emotional pain I was experiencing.

That’s the thing about miscarriages. I was not very far along. And I know it is common. I also know some women who seem to handle it pretty well.

But I was not one of those women. The pain and grief I felt was the worst I had experienced in my life. I was heartbroken that the child I had dreamed of would not be arriving. My husband, who was also in pain, did his best to comfort me. But nothing seemed to help. I felt lost.

After a few days, I went back to work. I needed a distraction. I missed my friends at work. My boss was amazing during this time, and gave me a shift with minimal patient interaction.

I went to the bathroom later that day and had a large gush of blood. I thought I must have already passed it, but I was wrong. I passed the empty sac in the bathroom at work, then promptly lost it. Called my husband at work bawling. Called my mom and asked if I need to scoop it out and bury it. So. Many. Tears. My husband came and picked me up at work. It was a terrible, terrible day. I am tearing up as I write this, but damn it. The stigma and silence around miscarriages needs to end.

It is common. Yes. But that does not mean that my heart did not break. Even without ever seeing that embryo, I dreamed of that baby with my 2 boys. With our family. And the timing was not right. For whatever reason.

Take home message? Miscarriages suck. Do not belittle women who suffer them. Show them kindness and love. Compassion. Mamas who are suffering through them — reach out. You are not alone. If you were here, I would give you the biggest hug. I pray that wherever you are, you know that you are in my thoughts. Just keep breathing. Keep crying if you need to. Do whatever you need to do to be okay.

You are loved, mama. Whether you have any babies in your arms or not. I believe all those little babies are waiting for us on the other side.

Much love,

Brandi

Obviously, this is my story. Others have lost children after birth. Spouses have been taken too soon. I cannot imagine the depth of their pain. I am in no way comparing this to those events. I am simply encouraging compassion and empathy for women whom have lost a wanted pregnancy.

Please know that I have compassion for all those in pain. I truly believe that love and compassion should be given quickly. #livelikejc

Happy 2019

One of my favorite things about R+F has been personal development. Here’s one example of something I have learned and adopted. ๐Ÿค“๐Ÿ˜ #wordoftheyear

I cannot recall when I first started this practice, but a few years ago one of my teammates introduced the idea of having a word of the year. Simply stated: choose one word that will be your focus (and goal) for the year. Post it around your home. Come back to it. Move towards it.

For 2017, I chose Believe. Self confidence has been an issue for me for a long time. I wanted to Believe in myself. Trust myself. Have more confidence.

Additionally, I wanted to Believe. Anchor my beliefs in Jesus. Build my faith in Him. This is the year I began reading more Jen Hatmaker books and eventually the Bible. It was a year of spiritual and personal growth.

For 2018, I chose Listen. I wanted to Listen to the internal nudges. I wanted to Listen to what I God wanted me to do. I wanted to quiet the anxiety and Listen to Him. I began meditating more frequently and tried to quiet my mind from the constant internal to-do list (and not so nice self talk). I started a prayer journal.

I also wanted to Listen to my family better. Put the phone down and concentrate on what people were saying. It’s still not my strong suit. ๐Ÿคจ

With 2017 & 2018 behind, I cannot say I have fully mastered either of the aforementioned words of the year. I do think I have improved, which was the goal. Perfection is unattainable, but progress is always possible. Looking on to 2019, I will carry the knowledge I have acquired along with me.

โ†—๏ธโ†˜๏ธโžก๏ธI am really good at jumping. Obvi. ๐Ÿ˜† #shouldhavebeenatrackstar

Soooo… What will be my word for 2019? I have had many thoughts on this. First, I was leaning toward some sort of active verb. Act. Move. Action. Go.

Believe, Listen, Act. It seemed to flow. It had a trend. But as I prayed and meditated about this, I kept getting the feeling that it was wrong. I heard something entirely different and I was called to read about Moses in the wilderness.

Do you have any guesses yet? I was being told to have patience, which is not my strong suit. To wait. To pause. I was being reminded that things do not happen on my timeline. As the Yiddish Proverb says, ‘Man plans. God laughs.’

In discussion with some other like-minded souls, I landed on Align. The other words just did not seem to carry the connotation I was looking for. I want to align myself, my actions and my thinking, to my beliefs. Not force things, but allow whatever is meant to be, to be.

That doesn’t mean that 2019 is my year of doing nothing. Instead, I will follow what feels good and right. I will get myself into alignment and let God and the Universe take care of the rest. If my plans do not work, I will have patience and give thanks. Obviously, whatever did not happen was not meant for me and the Big Man upstairs has something else (something better) in the works. #believe ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ™Œ

I also want my choices, both financially and time spent, to Align with what is most important to me. My faith. My family. Bringing harmony. Helping others. Becoming a better version of me. So many values that do not include a new Kate Spade bag (which is in my Amazon cart saved for later, TBH). Which is why 2019 is also the year of no shopping for me. I started on Nov 29 and it’s been a struggle, but I’ll post more about that later. #stayawayfromthemallbrandi ๐Ÿ™ˆ

So what about you? Do you have a word of the year?

Where do you want to improve? Or what aspect of your life do you want to highlight? Joy? Family? Organize?

It could be anything, but lean toward something on the positive side.

I’d love to chat with you about this if you want to brainstorm! ๐Ÿค“๐Ÿ˜˜ #nerdatheart

Much love and Happy New Year!

Brandi

This year is gonna be RAD!

Humbled

Today a person I loved gave me some amazing compliments. Unfortunately, they were the kind that I knew would be leading up to something…

‘I hope you know that you are beautiful and have a lot to offer the world…’

“Thank you” – I replied. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿผโ€โ™€๏ธ

‘Some of your posts though. (Silence) do you think you’re depressed?’

Shock and self-doubt came screeching up in a hurry. Anger soon followed suit.

My response was out in an instant. “No, I’m not depressed. I just get sick of people posting that their life is always cupcakes and rainbows. Because it’s not. Sometimes it’s hard. Parenting is hard. Some days you find yourself with your head in your hands, wondering what happened here. And people only showing off their glowing, perfect lives on social media make me mad. And it makes some people depressed. So I’m not going to be like that. I want people to know it’s okay to struggle.”

The conversation continued and changed course, but my mood had definitely been impacted by the interaction. After reflecting, I realized the question came from a place of love, which helped dissipate my anger.

I’m not depressed. I have anxiety, yes. Depression, no. If I did, I hope I would have the courage to own it. The stigma around mental illness is incredibly frustrating and delays treatment.

I did not think I was one of those adding to the stigma, until I found myself feeling insulted by that question. How humbling. Disappointing as well, but another opportunity to grow.

So today, my friends, I encourage you to check in on those people around you. Whether their posts have you concerned or it is changes in behavior. Ask how they are.

And if you’re struggling with something, reach out. Hold on. I’m praying for you. ๐Ÿ™

With love and light,

Brandi

Rough

It was a rough morning in our house.

Our oldest is unhappy and struggling. Frustrations from school lead to aggression and outbursts at home. He does not respond well to a strong hand, which makes managing these issues difficult. Yet yelling still happens. Because well… I’m human.

Our middle is learning, but his mother is worried that he is behind. Working on letter recognition led to frustration and tears. Another failure on my part. Great.

The little has hand foot mouth. Moana has been on repeat for nearly a month. She is up and down and all around. #exhausting

Parenting is hard. So hard. Somedays it seems as though nothing you do is right. Or good enough. ๐Ÿ™ˆ

I know other moms certainly must have days like this. But it still sucks when you’re in the midst of it.

So. If you had a morning like mine, I am with you. I believe in you. I know you love those kids more than seems humanly possible. I know you are trying with everything in you. You are enough, mama (or daddy). You can do this.

Let’s both say a little prayer and get back in here. Google for some fresh ideas or reach out to others for support. We’ve got this.

Love,

B

Vows

Last night I was able to attend a wedding in the most gorgeous venue I have ever seen.

The mountains. The water. The sky. The atmosphere. Just all of it. Beautiful.

The ceremony was untraditional and amazing. The couple chose to write their own wedding vows, which I always think takes some bravery.

Both of their vows made me a little teary-eyed, but something the bride said has really stuck in my mind…

“…I promise to love myself and to love you…”

Every time I think about those words I am shocked and humbled. What an amazing woman. What a great foundation for this marriage.

I could not help but put myself in her shoes. My husband and I were married eight years ago and maybe, maybe I could have said those words… but likely not if I was being honest.

Confidence still does not always come easy for me. Anxiety leads to self doubt and shame. I’m working on this and will continue to, because we need more people like this bride.

Maybe the reason this has been so prominent for me is because I was doing a really, really good job at beating myself up yesterday. #momguilt Then a sweet friend reminded me that I needed to give myself some grace.

So this is my little reminder that we all need to give ourselves some grace. Be kind to others, certainly, but also be kind to yourself. Love yourself. I bet everyone would be a whole lot nicer if we did.*

With love,

Brandi

*Narcissists may not fit under this umbrella. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Weight

I wrote this months ago… but it’s still pertinent. I did update it slightly. Hope you enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve got another confession…

I get somewhat obsessed with my weight.

I’ve always been pretty thin, but it’s also always been something that I’ve been very aware of. Low-carb diets before prom. Sneaking some weight loss pills in high school. Yep. Been there. (Also, that is not recommended. Sometimes kids do unwise things. Sorry mom & dad.)

After my first child was born, I was back to my pre-baby weight in 6 weeks. The bounce back from baby #2 took a little longer… and the tonsil removal when he was around 1 y.o. left me lighter than I had been since junior high.

My 3rd baby just turned 2… and I am still struggling with this weight. I have weighed the same since she was probably 10 weeks old. Sure the composition has changed (i.e. I feel less like a marshmallow now than I did shortly after her birth) and there has been some fluctuation, but that damn scale remains higher than I’d like.

Sticking to a diet has been more difficult this time. Working out stalled after some knee issues. And I am one who ties waaaay too much of my self worth to my weight.

The point? I’m not entirely sure. I am sure that people with more weight to lose than I do may be annoyed with this post.

But I guess this is a reminder that I’d say most of us struggle with weight, regardless of your pant size at this moment. Certainly someone else’s health may be more at risk than mine is. But. I still hate it.

Anyway. I had to quit weighing myself. I re-read the book Fit From Within. I went back to eating mostly plants and things I know are good for me. Less things that come in boxes.

And I feel better. My stomach feels tighter and less bloated. And my weight? I’m kind of dying to know… but what if I’ve lost nothing? Then I’ll wonder what this effort has been for and may want to go back to eating unhealthy. Or what if I’ve lost alot in a short time? Then I may get over confident and start over eating again.

So instead, I’m going to listen to my body. When I’m full, I will quit eating. When I’m hungry, I’ll think about when I last ate and if I could be thirsty. I mean, drinking a little water probably won’t hurt me.

I’m also going to feed my body as many fruits and vegetables as I can. An occasional protein in for good measure. When I eat healthy, I feel good. Then I want to exercise.

And that book… I think it’s pretty amazing. You should get it.

Thanks for reading,

Brandi

P.S. I’ve learned that alcohol significantly impacts my ability to decide if I’m really hungry or not… that freshman 15 makes a lot of sense….

 

–Two months later, I am back to weighing myself and beating myself up about it. I’ll be pulling the aforementioned book back out and actually finishing it this time.