Posts tagged YDM
Getting 'Unstuck' From The Rut
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Here I am pulling myself out of the huge, gigantic, rut I’ve been sitting in for the past few months.

I used to have so much energy to actively snap pictures with thoughtful posts and the ability to write and edit children books for hours on end. Now, I find myself unable to write and unable to tune out all the noise and distractions in life to write anything at all.

I am a writer who has stopped writing altogether. Nothing could be more damaging to my professional skills and my sanity to stop doing what I love. Navigating life lately has been like sitting in a lifeboat on an ocean and each challenge has been a bigger wave that could take me under. As soon as I recovered from one wave, another was on the horizon.

Finally, the rocky waters cleared and it felt like I could breathe and recover when we finally moved out of my in-laws’ home. The pressure of trying to find a house, find a nanny, find a new school for Aria, establish Sire’s sleep schedule, make time for my new husband, manage the housework, keep a fridge full of food, spending time with the dogs, all while working full-time with NO vacation in sight was absolutely crippling. Even my outlet, writing, began to feel like a chore and God knows I already had enough of those.

I have had enough of this dark place I had been dwelling in and I am determined to start back writing and creating by remembering what had driven me to become a professional writer in the first place, my family. In 2016, I published my very first book ever and dedicated the story to my daughter, Aria and my husband, Dezmond.

They both inspired me for different reasons to put my work out there for kids and families to read. Having Aria inspired me to write books for kids of color so they would see themselves in the books they read and Dezmond inspired me to pull the trigger and release one of the many manuscripts I’ve been hoarding over the years.

When I finally published my book, I got such a high from seeing my words come to life with the illustrations and visiting classrooms, guest appearing at radio programs in DC, and having two professional readings at Barnes & Noble which is a huge fete for an independent author. I was even a nominated as Author of the Year in Social Awareness at the Indie Author Legacy Awards in 2018. I went on to publish 5 new books in 2018 under my business, A. Cole Books, and have mentored countless new indie authors since then. I know how incredible it is to create art, inspire kids, and challenge myself, so why did I ever stop?

Well the truth is, I had to move out obstacles out of my life that affected my creativity. I was living in the wrong place, hanging with incompatible people, and had the wrong mentality to take on new projects. We finally found a house, we found a nanny, we found a school for Aria, and all of a sudden, it felt like I could breathe again!

Moving to a new area allowed us to get a fresh start in a new home that my husband and I have already had a ton of fun decorating together. Eliminating my major ‘stressers’ allowed me to want to get back into my lifestyle as a blogger and an author because it’s who I am and what I love.

Have you ever been in a giant rut when life took over? What helped you overcome it?

Here’s what I’ve learned

Getting out of a rut is 99% about changing your mental state and 1% about the physical effort to do what you enjoy.

XO

Love thyself: Three Months Postpartum
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I had a baby three months ago.

This is the honest truth I have to say out loud when I look at myself in the mirror. Sometimes, I have to say it over and over again. I had a baby three months ago.

It seems like society places so much emphasis on “snapping back” after having a baby. I had so many people commenting on my body after having Sire, it made me incredibly insecure. I felt like a specimen in an invisible cage that was on display for people to comment on and give their opinions to.

I heard everything from “Yeah, you look bigger now,” only two weeks after having Sire. Well, duh. I also heard “Wow! You just had a baby?” [Cue the eyeroll]. Some people let it be known that it annoyed them that I lost most of my weight so quickly. Regardless of the feedback that I heard, it left an awful taste in my mouth like my weight and body were being picked apart by people I knew and even absolute strangers.

Why is it anyone else’s place to tell me how good, or bad, I look after having a baby? Three months postpartum, I still have about 8-10 pounds left to shed to get to my “pre-baby” weight but I am in absolutely no rush to see any specific number on the scale. Why? Because, I am so incredibly proud of my body and what it has done to deliver two healthy beautiful babies. So what if I have extra weight on my hips or that those stretchmarks from my first pregnancy look more noticeable than ever.

What I wish people paid attention to more than a mother’s physical appearance is her mental health. This time around, I’ve been able to keep postpartum depression at bay which is an incredible feeling to have a sound mind. I can be fully present at my job, and when I’m home being a wife and mother. I don’t have the fog of darkness that surrounds so many of us when our hormones are going haywire.

I know there will be plenty of time for toning to get ready for summer when I’m ready. I haven’t been putting emphasis on working out rigorously because I’ve been so busy trying to nurse a baby and establish a sleep schedule for Sire with my [amazing] partner.

I know that I’m rounding the corner to depart from my 4th trimester which is all about loving yourself and your new flaws as well as obsessing over your new baby. Love thyself. It is so important to be kind to yourself even in the midst of constant criticism from people who make a comment about your body. I’ve officially said screw all the feedback. I am damn proud of my mom-bod and the incredible blessings it’s provided, my children.

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What I’ve learned…

All you can honestly do is tune out all the comments and focus on eating healthy during and after pregnancy, especially if you’re nursing. Set fitness goals for yourself to start at your own pace. I encourage you to listen to your body. It will tell you what it needs and focus on loving yourself from the inside out.

That's How I Got Here Part 2: Sire's Birth Story

Dezmond “Sire” Seifu was born on Friday, 10/26/18 at 9:06 am.

The entire week leading up to his birth was agonizing. I was in an early laboring stage for a full 7 days before little Sire made his grand appearance. I thought I would know what to expect out of the laboring process since this was my second time around, but boy was I wrong…

Side note: Labor for Aria was terribly different and set unrealistic expectations for this new baby. I went from 2 cm dilated to 10 cm in 24 hours with her.

Flashback to a 10/17.

Our hospital was about an hour away from where we’re currently living in comparison to being 10 minutes away from our studio that is located in Washington DC. I figured, the worst case scenario was that I would stay with Dez at the studio if I felt like I was going to go into labor. So, the day my contractions started, I immediately was alert and excited.

As you may know, the closer the contractions are together, the closer you are to delivering. The contractions I had that day went from 30 minutes apart, to 10 minutes apart, to 5, and it stayed like that for about 12 hours before they stopped completely. I had even called the midwives to alert them that I may be coming in if they intensified, but they didn’t. I was shocked. I had my hospital bag packed by 35 weeks so I had everything in the car ready to go! Hospital bag, check. Newborn carseat, check.

At 10:00pm that night I felt the contractions start up again, this time they were more intense. I happily got in my car and drove to our studio, where Dez already was, thinking our boy would be arriving soon. I stayed up, waiting and hoping it was true. I just knew that I wouldn’t have a long labor this time. The midwives warned me to move faster this time because labor is about half the time the second time around. If the first time labor was eight hours, I was expecting to be in labor for about four hours this time.

I finally fell asleep on an air mattress around midnight, thinking that any intense contractions would wake me up out of my sleep. The next morning, I woke up early and was still pregnant, sigh. My contractions consistently came and went for days and days, leading me to become frustrated, emotional, and strained physically.

Luckily, I had a doctor’s appointment the next morning in the city, so I got dressed and went to see the midwives as normal for my 39 week check up. When I arrived, a midwife named Virginia greeted me and decided it was time to check my cervix. I was dilating but it was only at 2cm which was disappointing. She said it could stay like that for days or a week. Yikes.

How was I feeling during this pregnancy? MISERABLE by the end. Carrying boys is SO different than carrying girls. Sire ran out of room in my body weeks before he arrived. He would kick the hell out of my sciatic nerve which is the long cord that runs down your back down to your legs. It cuts off feeling through half of your body if it’s struck hard enough.

I didn’t have any of these pains when I was carrying Aria. He kicked my nerve so hard one day that my sister-in-law had to bring me ice because I couldn’t walk for three hours. He would sit on the nerves that operated my legs and would cause them to go numb for seconds at a time, often in front of other people who I’m sure thought I was seizing or needed serious medical attention.

 Fast forward to 10/26.

FINALLY, a week went by, and I was in the city again at the office. I was with Dezmond working late and was exhausted. I decided to bite the bullet to get a nicer air mattress from Walmart, some soul food from Oohs and Ahhs (the best soul food in the DC), and to get comfortable at the studio for the last time.

I woke up about 4:00am with very intense contractions and felt relieved because it was finally time! I gently woke up Dezmond to tell him the news! I knew the contractions would get more intense, but decided I definitely needed an hour or two more of sleep before we went into the hospital. I recall being up literally all day the day Aria was born between nurse check ups and visitors, the hospital is a place where rest rarely happens.

At 6:00am we packed our things and headed to the hospital. Unfortunately, we had the hardest time finding the ER entrance, which was something I knew was inevitable. We had missed our hospital tour more than once and we could have easily avoided this dilemma altogether if we had made it to any of our tour times.

We had Aria with us, and I couldn’t walk far distances, so Dez let me out at the ER entrance so he could park, grab all our bags, and lead Aria in. I walked to the attendant’s desk and let them know I needed to go to Labor and Delivery. They called a transporter who wheeled me to the fifth floor.

When I got there, it dawned on me that I had left my wallet in the car. All I had was my cell phone and a bottle of water. The security guard started asking me questions about the nature of my visit. I told her I was 39 weeks pregnant and was going into labor. The desk was crowded by nurses but for some reason, they asked me “how I knew I was going into labor?” I told them that my contractions were strong and that I was already dilating the week before.

Like an angel, Virginia floated in to the room and smiled at me. I felt relieved she could vouch for who I was to speed up this idiotic intake process. They took me into the triage room to have me answer more questions while they put an IV needle in my arm and started tracking the contractions with a belt around my belly.

Once they finished they wheeled me into the hallway to take me into the delivery suite. There, holding all our baggage, was my amazing fiancé who had our loud, energetic toddler in tow. Luckily we had an iPad with us and headphones to keep her busy. We finally got to the room and it seemed like it took an eternity to connect the device to wifi. The midwives who were on call and assisting me were two lovely women named Brenda and Alkita. They were two of the only midwife nurses I had never met, but it didn't matter.

They made sure I was comfortable and spoke to me in calm soothing voices. They continued to monitor me and the baby and helped me breathe through the unbearable stage of labor where every contraction feels like it’s ripping through your body. They placed cool rags on my face and told me I could walk around and move if it helped me. I knew it was time for me to push within a half hour of being in the delivery room.

I started pushing on my back, but something told me to flip to my hands and knees which is a position I researched about more comfortable natural birthing. I opted for no medication again?which I realize some people think is crazy but I find it to be empowering and beautiful. I know how much pain I can stand to bring our children into this world with limited assistance by doctors or medicine to speed up or slow down the process.

On my hands and knees I pushed and Sire came out crying. Beautiful and raw. Aria was in the room and her dad shielded her from the graphic part but she was one of the first faces to greet her new brother. My nose started to bleed, something that has never happened in my life, and the rest was a small blur until they placed our son in my arms. They handed him to me, cord still attached to the both of us. I laid there with him just soaking up all those moments until the midwives asked Dez to cut his umbilical cord.

We bonded skin-to-skin for about an hour just embracing each other. I was absolutely in love with him from the very first time he was handed to me. Ah, my boy. His delivery was fast and smooth. We are absolutely blessed to have had two beautiful, uneventful, natural births. It was a wonderful thing to be able to have had calming midwives who allowed my whole family to be together in the room to witness the birth of our new family member.

And just like that, we went from a family of three to a family of four.

How life’s changed

We are slowly transitioning into our new lives with two. We have no routines yet at 6 days in. Dez took a few days off from work to help us get situated which was amazing to have his help in the first few days. We’re just learning to balance the needs of both children and figuring out Sire’s personality. The house has gotten a lot quieter now that we have a sleeping babe around. Aria is still learning about her “inside” voice. I have a feeling, learning that will take some time.

In order to help her adjust to all the changes that come with having a new baby and sibling, we made her room feel more “princessy” and grown up so she wouldn’t feel left out of getting all cool new gear and so she would enjoy spending time in her room. I think it helped ease the jealousy of having a new baby being in our room with us too. She’s a wonderful, attentive big sister already. She holds his hand and sings to him which melts my heart. We’re happy she loves him as much as we do!

Happy birthday to our son Dezmond “Sire” Seifu. We are so lucky to have you.

 

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Small Spaces Filled With Big Dreams

It’s possible to create a decorative nursery nook in your own room!

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Three years ago, we were lucky enough to have an entire room in our last home to set up to create an amazing little gender-neutral nursery for Aria.

This time, we only had the ability to utilize the space in our current bedroom to create a functional and decorative nursery which initially was frustrating and seemed impossible!

It’s amazing what some re-organization of room furniture did for us to open up usable space to insert the basics that we’d need for the first six months.

To prep for the baby furniture, we moved our gigantic (and heavy) bed to the far left of our room, and slid the dresser with the TV over as well. We measured the space that we had left which was three feet for the changing table and about 3 feet for the bassinet on the opposite side of the bedroom door, close to my side of the bed for nighttime nursing.

We decided that we would only purchase what we needed in the room immediately. Unfortunately, we had sold everything except the Doona stroller/carseat and Rock-A-Roo swing from when Aria was a newborn. 

We were definitely baby ballin’ on a budget so we were wise about all of the items we chose for the room. We looked for masculine and durable items to create a modern nursery nook in our small space. Here’s what we bought: 

  1. Changing table from Facebook Marketplace. I’m obviously a huge fan of DIY things so I bought two cans of flat black paint ($10.00) and painted it black. I finished it with a coat of matte coating and wiped it down thoroughly once it dried completely for 2 days. 
  2. Three sets of stainless steel baskets in a grey color from Amazon. The baskets came in two different sizes, so the smaller baskets with the diapers, burp cloths, and accessories are on the first shelf and the bigger ones with clothes in newborn and 0-3 month sizing are at the bottom.
  3. Wipeable changing pad from Bumbo in grey. Little boys are known to be the ultimate pee-ers while you’re changing them so cloth covers were out of the question.
  4. Accordion Wall Rack in Grey from Amazon. Clearly, this buy was more for decoration, but I wanted to have a place where we could hang hats and cute little jackets. I stand by the idea that this was $20.00 well spent. 
  5. Skip Hop night soother for music and illuminating projections. The projector is amazing for soothing baby to sleep after night feedings.
  6. Extra long wall tapestry from Wayfair. We had a hole in the drywall from when our nephew was the room’s occupant which was a total eyesore. I also felt like this piece gave me so much inspiration for incorporating texture. 
  7. Oasis Bassinet from Baby Planet in the color Graphite from Amazon. You always need a sturdy crib or bassinet. I originally was looking for a Moses basket but ultimately decided we needed something more modern looking!
  8. Snuggle-Me-Organic lounger in the standard size. We chose the color Moss because of the dreamy green tone. We also bought back up covers just in case of an unexpected accident. 
  9. Modern Black Gem Mobile from Pottery Barn. I wanted something clean and modern with no gaudy colors or animals on it to stimulate baby.
  10. Oval-shaped rug from Target. We needed something that tied together the colors from the Tapestry and the changing table.

You really don’t need all the decorative items if you are really only purchasing the necessities for your room. I find that adding little touches of decor makes you appreciate your space so much more!

What were your nursery must-haves? Feel free to share with me what your life-saving purchases were!

Just Throw It In A Bag!
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No clue what to pack for the hospital? My best advice is if it will make you more comfortable, just throw it in the bag!

Hopefully, you will only be there for a night or two but those first couple days are some of the most painful when your body is recovering from even smooth deliveries. 

There are a handful of essentials I would recommend for you and baby since you’ll be packing for the two of you. 

For mama:

1. Comfortable loose fitting pajamas & non-slip socks. I’ll be bringing a red button down set with minimal elastic that’s easy for nursing. My jersey T-shirt dress will serve nicely as a backup.

2. Nursing bras and nipple cream. Definitely not cute but necessary. Leave anything with underwire at home. For nipple cream, my fave is the organic balm by The Honest Company.

3. Toiletries. For me, it’s daily contact lenses & saline, deodorant, body wash, a toothbrush and some deodorant. 

4. For the millennial mom, bring a charger and a phone loaded with soothing playlists. 

5. Maternity underwear! This is the thing no one says. You need a few pairs of underwear that you can ruin. Something you can fit an ice pack in because you’ll be icing your Lucy for the first few days.

6. Non-slip socks or comfy slippers. The hospital is a cold and slippery place. It may seem silly but it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

7. Last but not least, snacks. My #1 must have are Snickers bars. They have no nutritional value whatsoever but they are de-licious.

For baby:

1. Bring an outfit or two. Cute ones at that! This is their grand entrance into the world so bring some clothes with personality, some socks, and a hat that isn’t hospital provided.

2. A stretchy swaddle blanket. Loads of companies make them. I made my own from Cotton-Lycra fabric I purchased online and cut to size. Most babies prefer to be tightly bundled in the beginning. 

3. A nursing pillow like a Bobby pillow. This is if you plan to breastfeed. If that’s not in your plan than please disregard! No judgement here. Sub for formula if that’s your plan. A fed baby is a happy baby.

4. A pacifier or bottles. This is completely optional depending on what your families’ needs are. 

The goal is to keep you and baby warm and comfortable before you make that life-changing trek home.

For my fellow veteran mamas, what was the one thing you couldn’t live without during your hospital stay?! Let me know below.

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It's OKAY To Not Be Okay.
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Depression is something that people try to avoid talking about. It’s the silent elephant in the room that looms over you and everyone else around you when you’re having a bad day. You can’t see it, but you can feel it all around you.

It’s worse when you’re forced not to talk about it so you don’t annoy someone else talking about how you feel. I want anyone whose ever dealt with a day of depression to know that It’s OKAY to not be okay, I too have to remind myself of this often. I am one of those people who has to talk about it to survive.

Depression can lead to life-threatening thoughts when someone doesn’t feel like other people care about them. People who don’t know or understand depression will grow tired of dwelling in sadness and push them away not knowing that it causes their loved ones to sink deeper into that hole.

The CDC reports that “1 out of 10 women” will experience depression in their lifetime. Statistics vary from state to state, with some regions showing 1 in 5 women can be affected by depression. That’s a lot of women. Many who I wish I could hug and shout, “you’re amazing, you’re valuable, you are important. Even if no one has told you today.”

That’s not to say that men cannot experience depression, but for the sake of today, let’s talk about us, the women who give up weeks on end, their fit bodies, and their lifetime to commit to taking care of tiny humans and our spouses.

Some of us will put on excellent fronts like everything is going okay. We wake up, do our hair, put on makeup, maybe something cute, pour a cup of coffee and just. keep. moving. Underneath it all, many of us are terribly tired, sometimes sad, often misunderstood, and even a little bit lonely.

Especially when you’re embarking on motherhood in your twenties, it seems like nobody is in that tiny boat with you. Soon you have one, two, maybe three friends who start having kids. Schedules get hectic so you may not see them often if at all. Most of your friends are living carefree lives that consist of going to work Monday-Friday and little else extra.

As women, we do a LOT. We manage multiple people’s schedules from school to doctors appointments, wash clothes, feed and walk animals, grocery shop, cook dinner, pack lunches, and some of us even manage full-time jobs, too. Us women often ask for little in return. For me, I could care less about gifts and fancy things, the best way to show me love is by giving me your undivided time (yes, phones off or away).

Life can get extremely busy so it is necessary to have consistent & healthy outlets to express yourself on those hard days. Whether that’s a conversation with a close friend, painting a picture, exercising, blogging, or whatever.

Talk about it, shout about it, cry about it, just don’t push it deeper inside. Surviving depression depends on grounding yourself to those warm and happy moments in life. I promise to always be an ear if you ever feel depressed or sad, write me, and I will write back.

Please correspond to me at acolebooks@gmail.com.

Motherhood, YDMA. ColeYDMComment