My name is Naza Holliman.

I am the founder and writer of Sweet P and Sky.

I am the founder of Sweet P and Sky Playdates, or SPS Playdates

I am the owner of Holliman Marketing

I am a daughter to two loving parents

I am a wife to my favorite person, Mr. Craig Holliman

I am a mother to two insanely beautiful, fun and loving toddlers; Princeton, who is four, and Skyler, who is 2 years old.

I am a stepmom to Miss Hailey, our beautiful almost 16 year old, who’s hilarious and loving ways warm my heart.

For the past year and a half, I have been working on my passion project, Sweet P and Sky, a blog about family, adventure, marriage and lifestyle.A blog about my life as a mother, a wife, a free spirit, coupled with some fun reviews and things to do as a family.  But mostly, it’s a blog I write, to show moms and their families, that adventure does not have to stop when you become parents.

I remember my first couple of months as a new mom.  I was home with my precious baby boy, so in love, but my world had been turned upside down.  What struck me most about those first few weeks, and months, was not how difficult it was to take care of a baby.  It was never the lack of sleep, warm meals or daily showers.  It was not the exhaustion, although there was plenty of that to go around.  What struck the biggest blow to my adventurous self was, the inability to just get up and leave the house.

Everything was based around my tiny infant’s sleep and feeding schedule.  Not to mention, I was still healing from an emergency C-Section.  Life as I knew it stopped, and I started to feel trapped in my own home.  I had lost a freedom, that I was never prepared to lose.  By nature, I like to explore.  Whether it’s a rugged hike, a chic new restaurant, or a new exhibit, I feel the need to see it, and experience it.

I was ready to take on the baby, full speed ahead.  But no one ever told me that I would lose my ability to get up and go wherever and whenever I wanted.

Luckily, I was only at a loss for a very short time.

As soon as I felt strong enough, hubby and I packed up our two week old, and headed to the Zoo.  That day, was the day I realized that our adventurous life did not have to end, it was just in need of a few modifications.  Since that day, we have been on countless adventures as a family, and as a married couple.

As a new mother, I posted pictures of everything on my personal social media accounts.  We all know how that is.  Well, because we did so much, my inbox became inundated with questions about what we thought about the places we visited, and what would be next on our to-do list.  This, is how Sweet P and Sky was created.

I named the blog after my boys, Princeton and Skyler, because they are who inspired me to continue to be me.

Through Sweet P and Sky, I began to meet hundreds of parents.  Mostly mothers.  I began to see a part of motherhood which is rarely discussed, the isolation and loneliness, especially of first time moms.

Time and time again, I saw friends struggle as they became mothers.  Time and time again, I was reminded of my own feelings of isolation, even as an experienced mom, when I had my second baby boy.

I remembered those first few days of isolations, the days when all the dust had settled, hubby was back at work (if hubby was even able to take his family leave), and people stopped visiting. Those days and nights when it’s just you and the baby 24/7.  You are too scared to leave the house by yourself, you are too lonely to stay home.  You have never in your life spent so much time with a baby. You miss your friends, you miss yourself, you miss your freedom and no one seems to understand you.

What’s more is, most mothers feel that they have no right to complain.  Here they are, with a precious gift from God, how could they ever complain?

I realized quickly, that no one will ever understand a mother, the way another mama can.  We all know that loneliness, that loss of self, that loss of friendship, and freedom.  No one will ever understand the way we are bound to our children and no one will ever understand how our world and schedule, revolves around them.  No one will ever understand the powerful bond between mother and child, and the space in our heads, where they are everything, pure love, but we pray for them to go to sleep, count the minutes… only to miss them the minute that they do.

I wanted to let all of these women know that it gets easier, and it becomes fun.  Our children wear us out, they give us pure, unconditional love, they show us how to let our walls down and just have crazy, stupid fun.  But even when that happens, and along the way, we all need someone who understands.  Someone who doesn’t mind hearing you go on and on about how amazing your little one is, or how tired you are.  This is why I created SPS Playdates.

It started as a fun idea for a Facebook group called Valley Mamas, and has since evolved.

Our play dates are open to all, and have been absolutely free with the help of vendors such as Kids WaterBaja Fresh in Porter RanchQuinn’s CookiesMiLo Ink BooksThe Traveling Tea Pot, Smarty Pants Vitamins, The Coop in Woodland Hills, and so many more.

Through Sweet P and Sky, and SPS Playdates, I truly hope to give mothers and their families, a sense of community, understanding and a bit of their lives back, in a time when their lives are anything but their norm.

It’s been a fun road, one that will grow into something bigger and better with every blog post and play date.

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Super Mom Sunday/Mommy feature Monday!: ALL THINGS NAZA!

Mommy feature Monday: “Mommy I cant see, it’s black!” Tiana Gurley

When I was younger, the thought of having a child used to make me nauseous. I couldn’t fathom the pain that women endured in the process of giving birth, and I couldn’t imagine having something squirming inside my stomach. It would honestly make my stomach turn, and I was fearful of the moment it would happen to me. Nevertheless, I knew that at some point when I was an adult wanted to have at least two children, preferably one boy and one girl. At the time I didn’t think about the health of my unborn children. All I thought about was the fun and adorable times that we would experience. Soon I would learn the gender of the child doesn’t matter one bit. Your ultimate desire is a healthy baby.

I was a young college student away from home and always worrying if I had done something to harm my daughter when I was pregnant the first time. As I grew further along in my pregnancy, it became engrossed with negativity and talks of high risk, so my prayers began to turn into begging God to bless my baby to be healthy. Well God did just that. Blessed me with an 8-pound beautiful, strong and healthy little girl. I wouldn’t have loved my baby any less, but no mother prays for a child that will need visits with specialists or more emergency visits. I thought my child was perfect, although I knew no one was truly perfect.

It was when my daughter was a little over the age of one when I noticed that she still struggled to gain focus with her eyes. During her well-child visits, her pediatrician stated that children are still learning how to use their eyes when they are that young, but if it persisted that I should take to her to an eye doctor. I took her advice, but ultimately knew I would do what I felt was best as her mother. At the time, I wasn’t too bothered. I chalked it up to her having a lazy eye. Then as time went on I grew a little concerned. If you ask any mother about her child, she’ll tell you she knows when something isn’t right with her baby. When I covered my baby’s left eye, she said “Mommy I can’t see, it’s black.” My heart dropped into my stomach.  I responded, “Are you sure baby? Is it black, or is it just fuzzy?” Her response, “No mommy I can’t see, it’s dark.” I called my husband and we scheduled her eye appointment immediately.

The doctor concluded that the optic nerve in her right eye didn’t fully develop, limiting her to only 5% vision in that eye, while her left eye was pretty much perfect. He said that the vision in her right eye would never improve, but it wouldn’t get worse either. We were given a prescription for some glasses that only had little medicine in order to give her a little balance, but for the most part they were vital in order to protect her left eye. At the time we were told that if anything happened to her left eye she would only “feel” like she was blind.

Years passed, and everything remained the same, but me. My daughter was thriving and refused to be viewed as one who was handicapped, but I grew more insecure. I worried about how she would succeed in the classroom, if she would be able to play safely with others, if children would bully her, if she would think she was ugly, and how she would be able to deal with it all. When I looked at my child I saw perfection, but it was tainted with MY insecurity. I suffered for years with my own insecurities and low self-esteem, so I knew I had to get my life together. I didn’t want to pass my negativity onto her, nor did I want her to think that I viewed her as less than. I began practicing affirmations with her. It started off vocal, and the more she improved her reading and writing skills, I made her write them out. I am beautiful. I am strong. I am smart. I am loved. I am confident. I am enough. I am Taniya Beautiful Gurley.

Between the ages of 5 and 6, she began to take notice of her eye not remaining straight. I would catch her in the mirror trying to force it to look in the same direction as her healthy eye. I would reassure her that her eye was fine, but deep down, it hurt my feelings because I know that she has matured and cares more about her physical appearance. I remain strong and fight the urge to stress and grow insecure again. I did however schedule another visit with her ophthalmologist- pediatric specialist.

The results came back the same, but final. Taniya is legally blind in her right eye. So now if she damages her left eye, she will not feel blind. She will be blind until it heals. The only surgery that can be done is to correct the appearance of the eye. He said if it doesn’t bother her, leave it. But if she wants to change it, he’s available. He also reassured me that she’ll be able to drive, fly an airplane, dance, cheer, swim, gymnastics and more. She will simply struggle with athletics that use a smaller object, such as tennis, hockey and softball.

Today, I am reminded that my daughter is still perfect and healthy. My child is blind in one eye but is a first grader who reads on a third-grade level. She reassures me every day that she is okay. I reassure her every day that she is a queen in training. She is smart. She is confident. She is enough. She is Taniya Beautiful Gurley.

Mommy feature Monday: Alleah Collins aka Leahwrites

“Neva Lose Confidence”

March 1st will always hold a special place in my heart. Not only would I be in the most excruciating pain but most importantly BLESSED with a bundle of joy who would change my life forevaaaa (cardi voice haha). He entered this world right on time and although some things in my life had to be put on hold, it didn’t matter to me because I knew I served a bigger purpose now, I became a MOTHER.

Now my little munchkin should have known from being in this womb, mommy was a talented individual. From the studio session I had with Ash Bash, belting out those notes while him being in my belly, to those sleepless nights up writing songs & rubbing on my belly, even dancing all over the place thinking I’m a Hot Mama (lol). I told myself once he was born I would go even harder. But TBH things did get a bit hectic when it came to continuing on chasing my dreams.

Just hopping up and going to the studio or joining my music fam at their performances or even me performing wasn’t at all what I could do. It was MOMMY TIME, MOMMY TIME, AND SOME MORE MOMMY TIME. Which I didn’t have a problem with, but I will admit in the back of my head I couldn’t help but to think should I give my music up & dedicate my life to nothing else but being a Mom?……

It got trickey as heck for me, after all the hardwork and dedication I did put toward my dreams nothing but doubt was going through my head. Would I still look good enough to perform or will I lose all the relationships I built because now I’m a mom. Would people not take me serious because of stepping back and having to take a break…. After all those doubts that ran through my head, I took a step back and realized my life was just beginning in a whole new light. I now have a mini me who is constantly looking up to me and counting on me to be the BEST I CAN BE. By throwing away all the goals and aspirations I had for myself, it would have most likely put me in a sad place. Which we all know, being sad leads to nothing but a negative space that nobody deserves to be in. Nothing can compare to knowing you have someone looking up to you watching your every move,, and if there is nothing you get out of this blog feature please understand to NEVER GIVE UP on what it is you want to do in this beautiful thing we call Life. I know this may sound a little cliche but Dig deep and realize whatever you put your mind to YOU CAN DO IT. Whatever Life does throw at you, catch it and handle it as if you were Kobe on that basketball court or in my case Alicia on them Keys. Promise you it’ll all be worth it in the end. I LOVE YOU SON! AND THANK YOU FOR KEEPING MOMMY ON HER TOES 🙂 YOU THE ONE !!!!!!

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@leahwrites

music can be found on:

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Mom & Me Feature: Jo Funderburk; Bud Strong!

Jo Funderburk

Bub Strong

“Please be a boy, please be a boy, please be a boy…” during the early days of my pregnancy with Bub, that was the silent prayer that I’d recite daily. I’d sit at my work desk, cradling my stomach and repeat those words in my head over and over. Looking back; I now realize that it was a selfish prayer. I probably should’ve just been asking God for a healthy baby and not worried about the sex. But with everything that I had just endured, my desire for a son was overwhelming. I needed this dream to come to fruition.

This was my second pregnancy. Eight months prior, I lost my first son Bryant; due to a premature birth. I had been diagnosed with an incompetent cervix and it caused me to go into preterm labor; just shy of five months pregnant. It was a sudden, unexpected and devastating loss. Still heartbroken, I felt like the only thing that could pull me out of that dark place would be the son that I had so desperately yearned for. So, when my doctor confirmed that I was indeed carrying another boy at my 16-week checkup, I was ecstatic. I cried tears of joy and thought that although my pregnancy was high risk, the stress and anxiety that I was experiencing would soon become a distant memory.

I was so wrong.

Bub was born on July 4, 2016 via c-section. As soon as my son was placed in my arms I felt complete. I was finally a mom and relished in that moment. I was in a lot of pain, but the fact that he was here and healthy made it all worth it. Our first day together was glorious. We nursed a lot, slept a little, took a million pictures and began skin to skin bonding. I was on cloud nine.

Trouble didn’t show up until day three. It started with his circumcision. His dad and I had actually gone back and forth over whether or not we wanted to do it but ultimately decided to go for it. His doctors ensured us that it was a quick and easy process and that he would feel minimal discomfort. They whisked him away to do the procedure and he was brought back into our room about 45 minutes later. If all went well, we were supposed to be discharged the following afternoon. We mostly slept for the rest of the day and it wasn’t until later that night that we first noticed a problem. Bub’s dad went to change his diaper and it was soiled with blood. We knew to expect a little bleeding due to the circumcision, but this was way more than a little. The entire inside of his diaper was a bright, crimson red. Bub’s dad yelled for the nurse and she came rushing in. After taking one look at his diaper she gasped and paged the doctor. Everything happened so fast and, in an instant, our lives were changed forever.

Hemophilia was never on my radar. I guess I was so consumed with the circumstances surrounding my pregnancy and the fact that Bub was my rainbow baby, I didn’t even consider the possibility of my child inheriting a genetic disease. My first cousin has hemophilia, but he lives in Georgia. Growing up, we never really went into detail about his diagnosis and what it meant. All I knew was that it was a blood disorder and that he couldn’t play contact sports or else he’d get hurt really badly.

The moment Bub’s doctor came into the room he began to question me about my family history. He asked me if it was a possibility that I could be a carrier of the hemophilia gene and I told him that I had no idea, I had never even been tested for it. Meanwhile, Bub had already been taken to the NICU and doctors were frantically trying to stop the bleeding which had gotten much worse. They tried everything from stitches to silver nitrate… but he bled through it all. Finally, they decided that he needed to be transported to Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital because they were better equipped to treat high risk patients. But before he could even get transferred there, he had a seizure.

As all of this was going down, I honestly thought that I was going to die from an anxiety attack. I was on an emotional roller coaster and I couldn’t figure out why God would allow for so many traumatic experiences to occur in my life back to back. I had barely recovered from the death of my first son and here I was again, faced with that same possibility. I couldn’t even process everything that was going on and at one point I mentally checked out. I don’t know if it was the narcotic pain meds or the mental trauma that I was enduring but everything just went blank.

The next few days felt like a never-ending nightmare. My son was transferred to Hopkins and admitted into the NICU unit. Doctors put him under a medical sedation and over the course of four days he underwent a blood transfusion, an MRI and an EEG to monitor his brain activity. They formally diagnosed him with Severe Hemophilia A and gave his father and I a crash course on what having the disorder meant.

In laymen’s terms, my son is missing a clotting gene in his blood. This means that the slightest injury or cut could cause him to suffer and bleed severely. It’s a lifelong disorder and as of today, there is no cure. The only way to treat it is by injecting him with a lab-made clotting factor three times a week and after every major fall or injury. Hemophilia is an X-linked genetic disorder, which means that it’s passed from mother to son on the X chromosome. Since I did not know that I was a carrier, I indirectly passed the disorder to him.

Hearing his doctor explain all of this to us was a lot to take in. I was consumed with guilt and I just remember crying until I felt numb. Even though I had no way of knowing that this would happen, I still felt like everything was my fault. After spending one long week in the NICU, we were finally cleared and discharged. And while that nightmare ended, real life had just begun…

That was almost two years ago. Since then, we’ve certainly had our share of ups and downs but overall, my son is thriving. He is incredibly smart, extremely active and the biggest flirt ever. We’ve been blessed enough to connect with some wonderful families via social media and through our local Hemophilia chapter, who are raising sons with the disorder as well. Thankfully, he has had no seizure activity since that day in the NICU. He got a port placed in his chest back in November (read about that experience here) and it’s made our lives so much easier. Prior to him getting the port, we would have to travel to the hospital 2-3 times a week for his treatments to be administered intravenously. It was a grueling process for me and a painful process for him. Now that he has the port, I can administer all his treatments at home and independently.

I have become his advocate and he is my hero.  In his short time here, my son has already taught me so much about life. He is a shining example of bravery, resilience and strength. I pray that by being so transparent and sharing our story, we are able to help another family who may be going through the same thing. Of course, sometimes it does get tough, but through it all we will always remain #BubStrong.

Mommy Feature Monday: Artesha Welch; validate yourself

So hey i’m a mom 🙂 I saw this post a couple months ago on instagram that read, “A mother who radiates self- love and self acceptance actually vaccinates her daughter against low self esteem .” – Naomi Wolf. I know first hand the effects of placing doubt upon oneself, and how it can shape your life. My eyes have opened a lot the older i became and the journey of motherhood has heightened my self awareness to the tenth power lol. I am a first generation american with Garifuna/ Belizean roots. I’ve always known two different worlds, and two different perspectives. As a young girl growing up i guess i struggled with identity, and having a sense of belonging between cultures. “Maybe i have made mistakes and been through my fair share of pain but all in all its been okay i’ve lived well.” Quote from Jhene Aiko’s song Eternal Sunshine explains in a short sentence the remainder of my life up to now lol. My trails have built me into a splendid well guided, intelligent, loving, and persevering young woman. I have been a mother to my daughter for one year and three months and I am proud. She was destined to come into my life. During gestation i went into a spiritual journey. I went inward and pinpointed every cycle from generations before me where some adjustments had to be made with how this child is raised with mental, emotional, and spiritual support. I am naturally a nurturing person, and id say wise on some topics. A Lot of things I heard and seen as a child I knew from childhood not to repeat certain cycles around my own children. I have been a stay at home mom for a year and i’ve quickly learned that not everyone around you will be to pleased with the idea of “a stay at home mom” and can even look down on you for not working. I personally am blessed to have a support system that provides the environment for me to be there for my daughter. I see that Self acceptance will be a lifelong project. While battling fears, and turning and molding my past traumas into a power to utilize for self empowerment i still shake a little when i get thrown blows. My concern is do I radiate self love enough for my daughter to see? Do I radiate self acceptance enough for my daughter to see? Because the things some folks have spoken about me, I had to seek the real message within their words. “Malatani” is a garifuna word in my culture which means, worthless, can’t achieve anything, and weak was used to describe me by an elder who doesn’t even know me like that. So i received my message loud and clear. It was a tough pill to swallow but the message was a positive one. Or so i took it. I am excited for all that’s to come through listening to my intuition and putting in the work because at least i can still carry on and continue to create my destiny and embody the example for my daughter so that she too can be Resilient, radiate self love, and most importantly self acceptance. It is inevitable that offenses shall come. That’s why my daughter is being taught emotional intelligence. Maybe for the sake of my child it’s time i also change my tribe. I have a lifetime of work to achieve and it involves mental, emotional, and spiritual empowerment of oneself. As a mother its a value of mines to be very conscious of how i “ SUPPORT” my children. I see my level of awareness as revolutionary, and so intend on raising revolutionary children. To all stay at home mother’s how long did it take for you to develop a lifestyle routine and income that works for the type of parenting you want to achieve?

Mommy feature Monday: Natasha Nelson cloth diapering Mama!

Hey Moms have you ever considered using cloth diapers? If not, would you if you knew the ins and outs? This Mondays mommy feature is Natasha Nelson from Riley, Kansas. Natasha is a proud cloth diapering mama. Rather than using disposable diapers that must be purchased repeatedly Natasha has purchased a very versatile stash of cloth diapers and wipes that can be used, washed, and used again. This mom is saving big bucks while protecting little Ms. Paris’s bum from chemicals and lowering the risk of diaper rash drastically.

Natasha is mom to three-month-old doll baby Paris Rose Nelson. I ran across Natasha’s page looking at mom’s profiles on Instagram who hash tagged mom life in their pictures (it’s my fav hashtag lol). Natasha shines bright and is doing her thing while sharing her mom life journey. She shares about life as wife, veteran, and devoted cloth diapering mom. When I saw that Natasha did not use disposable diapers I was shocked! I know cloth diapering is not unheard of however; I had never actually encountered a parent that strictly used cloth diapers let alone occasionally. I was truly intrigued and had so many questions. I sent Natasha a couple of the questions I had as well as questions I thought other parents may have about her cloth diapering journey.

Without further ado, here are the deets about Natasha’s cloth diapering journey:

1. How did you get into cloth diapering? • I was stationed in Germany when I was in the military. I decided to get out of the military in Germany while my husband continued in the Army. Most of the mothers I interacted with used cloth diapers, breastfed, and baby wore. I researched and considered all three, before even trying to have children.

2. Which cloth diaper style do you prefer? (DIY or the ones that have buttons) • If I could only use one style, it would be pocket diapers. They still have the convenience of disposables that my husband needs, and they allow me to adjust the absorbency to our needs at the time. Throughout the day, we can just use microfiber inserts since I change her every 2 hours. However, during naps and night sleeping I must add more absorbency. Pockets allow me to add a flour sack cloth or a prefolds to my hemp or charcoal bamboo insert to keep us leak free. Can’t beat it.

3. What are the pros and cons of cloth diapering?

• Pros: Less to no diaper rash and you can save money if that’s what you need. I spent about $350 on my entire cloth diaper and wipe stash and accessories because I bought them used from a foster mom who barely got to use them before she was moved to fostering older children. That included 7 Fuzzibunz pockets perfect size small, 9 Happy Flute AIO OS, 5 Charlie Banana pockets OS, 32 Alva Baby pockets OS, 13 Charlie Banana microfiber inserts, 12 Alva Baby microfiber insets, 16 Alva Baby Charcoal bamboo inserts, 7 Fuzzibunz hemp inserts, 36 cotton cloth wipes, 4 small wet/dry bags, and 1 large wet bag. People pay

between $1000-$2000 a year on disposable diapers for one child. My cloth can be used for multiple children or treated and sold to someone to use. Cloth diapers are way better for the environment. Do you know where disposable are put once the trash system takes them from your home? Landfills of trash. Cloth diapering makes me better about doing my laundry. I have a lot of clothes and hated doing laundry. Prior to having a child and cloth diapering, I would wash clothes once a month. They are so stinking cute, you don’t have to buy a bunch of pants. Cloth diapers keep Paris’s butt warm and she doesn’t need pants.

• Cons You must wash and prep the diapers before easy use, you must do research to know how to properly clean and care for your diapers, and if you are like me and hate laundry, more laundry is always a con. Also, you will touch your child’s urine and feces. However, I’ve been told as a mother you must do this regardless. I’ve become immune. lol

4. What are the essentials for your cloth diapering kit? Home: • Pockets and inserts, Storage, Diaper pail with cover, Large wet bag, Flour sack and prefolds, Wipe warmer, Cloth wipes, My DIY wipe solution, and Microfleece diaper liners. Going out: • 2-4 cloth diapers (depending on the outing), small wet/dry bag to safely contain the soiled diapers, 8 cloth wipes in a sealed container pre-soaked in my DIY cloth wipe solution, a diaper bag with a changing pad built into it, extra Muslim cloth just in case, and a container with filtered water.

5. What is your most memorable cloth diapering moment (if any)? • We got my daughter a Black Panther cloth diaper from @nappybunz to go with my husband’s Black Panther cosplay for the movie premier.

6. What is one thing all moms/parents should know about cloth diapering? • It’s truly not nearly as hard as people make it seem and it’s so much better for your baby and the environment.

7. What is your fav cloth diaper brand? • For those going to cloth for affordability, Alva baby can’t be beat for cute prints, and decent pocket diapers at cheap prices ($6 or less). However, if price isn’t an issue, Little Llama Pants is a small business that makes outstanding diapers with the most adorable prints. https://www.etsy.com/shop/littlellamapant

I’m positive the questions asked only scratched the surface of all that you need to know about cloth diapering so go follow Natasha and shoot her a message she’s a mommy that understands the importance of teaching and inspiring! Natasha The Bonafide Moms Spot would like to thank you for sharing your clothing journey with all us moms!

Triumph: Fight never flight!

WARNING!

This blog post is only for those that are seeking the real and are interested in healing. Please read with an open mind and heart. This may be just what to you were looking for!

For just one moment (or maybe forever that’s up to you) I’d like to strip Postpartum depression of its medical explanations and labels. I have shared many times before that I myself am on an uphill battle with postpartum depression. As I’ve progressed on this journey appointed to me I have gained a true understanding of this chapter in my life. Currently my only desire is to continue healing, growing, and helping. I have been fortunate enough to have wise women to pray with me and for me as well as give me much needed advice in finding myself. Those women are greatly appreciated I must say. As stated above I will say it again please read and accept this post with an open mind and heart. I am in no shape, form, or fashion qualified to give medical advice. however, I know what it is to deal and if I can be a help to eliminate feelings of social isolation in someone’s world I’m going to share the gems of healing that were shared with me.

I am on the road to long term release from my “diagnosis”. I was so tired of the good Tuesday not so good Wednesday weeks that me wanting better turned into desperation for better. So, what did I do? I took the time to truly understand who I am as women. One of the most valuable lessons I have learned throughout this whole experience is that the best way to long term recovery is to first identify and get an understanding of your “diagnosis” than secondly and possibly most important identify the root(s). When I say identify the root I mean determine the elements that may trigger feelings of irritability, anxiety, or discomfort. I had to take the time to address the roots of my triggers in ways that were specific to each individual one. Once I completed that task (take as much time as you need) I was prepared to release each trigger and replace it with its opposite. (If you do not feel capable of doing so without causing more chaos then I suggest identifying then simply releasing and making an effort to turn it around for a better outcome in the future).

In addition, I also had to learn to protect my being the proper way. Battle armor serves one main purpose which is to protect. Dependent upon your interpretation and or beliefs armor can symbolize or be intended for different things. For my personal healing process, I had to completely remove my battle armor that shielded me from my reality. Please know that me removing the armor that sugar-coated life was one thing however, tightening my spiritual armor was another which was very necessary for my journey. The armor I released was the one that shielded my vulnerabilities, insecurities, disappointments, and much more. I realized that I had not allowed myself to feel the happenings of life and this guard that I maintained for so long was doing me a huge disservice. This faulty guard never allowed me to grow through what I was going through. Then the pressure applied from Adding a new baby into the mix is what cracked my battle ship.

I am going to be very transparent with you all and share two of my triggers and how I’ve learned to use them instead of allowing them to work and use me. As I share please remember this is a judgment free zone. I am sharing my personal life with you all because my goal is to let at least one mom know that I hear her, I see her, I am her. We are in this together!

Trigger number one would be people. At first I didn’t quite understand why “people” gave me so many feels of anxiety but after pondering on the word “people” this is what I came up with pertaining to me and my postpartum depression. “People” will disappoint, discourage, make you feel less then, and even try to tell you all the ways your living are wrong. Now for a mom who is fighting every day to stay positive and keep a smile “people” will more than likely be her biggest upset. The best way to rid your self of negative commentators is to eliminate them completely. However, let me make this very clear eliminating all people is not the move. The ones you know help keep you sane, fill your days with joy, and make it known they are here with you and for you keep them around they are vital for your long-term recovery. I kept the ones who helped me and tossed the ones who did not still in a loving manner. Toxic people are not conducive to your healing; know it, understand it, and then do something about them. Take care of yourself first worry about what others may think later.

Trigger number two is self-doubt. I have doubted myself time and time again allowing all the feels of your not enough, you’re not doing it right, you’re this, and you’re that. My mind was filled with so many negative thoughts that I knew were not true but I still gave into. Over time the thoughts turned into things that I truly believed were the best ways to describe me and who I am as a person. One word; PRAYER! Prayer is such a powerhouse for change. Not only did I pray constantly asking God to remove the spirit of self-doubt from my being but I also began to speak affirmations constantly.  Every negative thought that came about I transformed it into its opposite. “I am happy, I am an amazing mom, I am beautiful”, and so and so forth. Please speak nothing but good to yourself and of yourself. As women, we hold a majestic energy therefore, we must be sure we are always exuding nothing less than love, life, and joy even when we speak of ourselves. Negative words cut like knives however positive words are far more powerful and have a capability to literally turn a frown upside down. Love on yourself beauty you are worth so much more than a bad thought that has no place in your mental space.

The mind and its capabilities are so complex and can be tricky at times. Please do not be intimidated by thoughts or more importantly feelings. You oversee what you allow in your mental space. You are powerful stand strong in knowing who you are. There is no other person in this world that can tell you how to do you. Take pride in self, and take time to get to know yourself. Knowing the things that make you tick is the only way you will be able to recognize it before it even gets the chance to happen. I truly hope that this has eased you in some way. Lastly if you feel or even know you may be struggling with postpartum depression please seek the necessary help. Do not continue to put yourself through the vortex. Seek professional help. Moms we need to stick together and most importantly remain healthy for our sweet babies. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns please do not hesitate to reach out to me!

The big return to work !

I have successfully transitioned back into the working realm. I was granted a total of five months leave of absense from work due to a few complications after birth . after all of that time getting back into a daily routine has been a definite adjustment, however I am happy to report the change has gone much soother than I anticipated. Just to give a quick share of my morning routine I wake up at about 5:50am, breastfeed Nova, gather everyone’s needed belongings for the day, and lastly I finally proceed to get myself dressed and ready to go. I cant stress enough how thankful I am for my significant other, While I am getting dressed he gets the kids ready to go and gives Taite his breakfast. This transition would have been such a task without his help. Team work definitely makes the dream work. It is imperative my family and I leave our home no later than 6:40am. Leaving at or before this time is the only way to avoid horrific Los Angeles, CA rush hour traffic. From the time I wake up until I make it home from work I am going; all gas no brakes which was one of my biggest concerns with coming back to work. all things considered I have realized our daily routine is not half as bad once you become accustomed to doing the same thing everyday. Long days were not my only worry. I thought about so many different ways me working could effect  my life negatively and never once considered that it may be more positive than negative. Truthfully non of the negative thoughts became a reality and returning to work has been good for me to get out the house seeing and talking to people on a daily bases. One big concern that had me beating myself way more than necessary was my depleting breast milk supply.

For most strictly or heavily breastfeeding moms sustaining flowing milk and having a plentiful frozen breast milk stash is essential for the big return to work. However, me on the other hand my flow and stash were both nonexistent. Regretfully I procrastinated with making sure I did what was necessary to ensure not only that Nova had enough breast milk through out day while I worked, but also to keep my milk production up. So here is the jaw dropper. I only had about 10oz of milk saved, and a whole can of Earths Best Organic Milk. Of course I was beyond concerned about Nova getting used to the formula and not wanting to accept breast milk anymore. Thankfully little Miss Nova prefers mommy milk which is such a breath of fresh air.

Currently I work at a hospital so when it comes to breastfeeding staff and management are extremely supportive. Before I returned to my scheduled shift I was able to visit the work and life matters office, and receive access to the lactation rooms of my choice. I go to the lactation room on my breaks; one 45minute break and two 10 minute breaks. I am so thankful for the management where I work because they allow me a little extra time to be able to pump my milk. Having a job where the staff is so supportive and understanding has made this journey so much easier because it relives me of the worry about loosing my milk due to not emptying.

Returning to work can cause much anxiety especially when you feel you could have been better prepared. I am here to assure you that whether you were fully prepared or not do not let your thoughts and feelings push you to give up. I almost said “forget it” on my first day back but I stuck it out instead. I want my mommies who are retuning to work to feel confident in their breastfeeding journey as a working mom. look at me! I went from having only 10oz of milk to now everyday I am restocking the freezer by at least three bags daily. In addition my milk production has improved tremendously. We have to start somewhere and late is always better than never or even giving up. shout out to all my super moms who were and are dedicated and able to get bags on top of bags saved for your little ones. Its not easy but you did it! If you ask me that’s an accomplishment. Mommies that are feeling discomfort at the thought of work don’t let your mind mislead you into thinking its going to be the worst. Its really not that bad. Lastly reach out to your jobs before you return if you haven’t already or if you just unsure or unaware about support and options for breast feeding employees.

Mommy feature: Preemie Strong! Written by Raven H. 

Most parents dream of the moment their child is born and holding them only seconds after. But for my fiancé and I, it would be a very long time before we could ever cuddle or gently caress our precious little girl. From the simple questions about her diapers to overwhelming medical procedures, we were in for a roller coaster ride that we never expected to take.” Born 16 weeks premature and weighing only 1 pound, 4 ounces, my daughter Raegan is living proof that there is hope, thanks to breakthroughs in medicine, advances in research, and the generosity of strangers.
It was my last day of finals at Southern University. Throughout the whole day I felt like something wasn’t right but I was determined to finish my Junior Year off strong, so I could return to Texas. That evening the uncertainty increased. I called my doctor’s office and explained my symptoms and the nurse told me, “ As long as the baby is moving and your not bleeding heavy you’re just fine.” Unhappy with that answer I called my Mom basically in tears. She urged me to go ahead and go to the hospital. By that time my doctor’s office was closed. Initially I went to Baton Rouge General Hospital where they made me wait for what seemed like ages. My fiance was on edge so he called the emergency line at my doctor’s office and they asked me to come to Women’s hospital instead. By this time I couldn’t sit or stand due to the excruciating pain I was feeling. My fiance did almost 100 mph all the way to Women’s hospital, and by the time I was admitted into a room I was 8cm dilated. I was rushed upstairs to labor and delivery in a state of shock. The doctor’s and nurses did everything to reassure me that everything would be okay but I was terrified. Everything was moving so fast I couldn’t process what was going on around me. I was given multiple medications to help advance Raegan’s lungs and also to prepare the both of us for delivery. When I got to the delivery room there were numerous doctors and nurses gathered around me. The events that followed next are all still a big blur to me. I was hysterical, drugged up, and mentally and physically exhausted. With everything that was going on I ended up having to have an emergency c-section.
When our journey began, the NICU team warned me that her extreme prematurity would be a long journey filled with many steps forward followed by many setbacks. I was an emotional rollercoaster during the entire NICU stay, being a full time college student athlete, 7 hours away from family support I did not know what to do or how to feel. I practically lived at the hospital for 6 months while Raegan slowly crept toward her due date. Like other moms of preemies, I felt guilty about her early birth. I would constantly contemplate, “Did I work too hard”?” Stress too much”?” Eat too little”? So many questions ran through my head on a daily basis. Nothing ever made me feel better besides Raegan getting better.
As time progressed, Raegan experienced many of the common complications associated with extreme prematurity including feeding issues, respiratory distress, Lung infection, bone issues, Retinopathy issues (eyes), blood transfusions, and countless feeding issues. As a result, some of these complications resulted in many surgeries during her NICU stay. The most life threatening was the infection of NEC an intestinal infection which almost took her from us one extremely terrifying night. A night I will never forget due to her doctor’s stunning words to her father and I, “ You guys might have to start thinking about making funeral arrangements. ” No parent ever wants to hear those words. It was like my heart suddenly shattered into a million tiny pieces in a matter of seconds. I thought I was losing my daughter before I could ever get the chance to be the mother I have always desired to be. But God, had a plan for my little angel, and losing this battle was not on his list of plans. Who would think a tiny infant could endure so much pain with such resilience. With that being said, I then made the decision to never allow negative news to cause me to give up on her. There was no option of losing faith and giving up, when she was fighting with every fiber in her tiny little body.
Milestones became joyous celebrations, no matter how big or small they were. Raegan slowly but surely showed anyone who doubted her that anything is possible with faith. After 6 long months, we finally were able to take her home. Despite having an 85% chance of death or disability, Raegan completely defied all odds that were once against her. That day was truly phenomenal, one of the best moment of our lives – joint first with being able to hold her for the first time! We were finally on our own for the first time, just our little family. I spent the whole evening smiling, I was so elated.
“Having the qualities of a superhero does not mean that you will never face failure or disappointment, it means that you will get up every time the odds are against you and try with all of your might.” Raegan may seem like your average toddler, but the resilience, courage, and fighting spirit within her makes her my very own superhero. From the day she was born I have been filled with nothing but gratitude to have a continuous reminder that miracles really do happen.

Raegan taught me to have strength I never knew existed. She is my reason for keeping the faith and never giving up. It’s crazy how a tiny human can teach you a life lesson bigger than themselves. To all the preemie mommy’s out there who are faced with this journey: Always remember to keep the faith, and NEVER give up! Our little superhero’s were brought here to teach us and those surrounding lessons far greater than you could ever imagine. Just keep holding on . . .We are PREEMIE STRONG! 

Split: My uphill postpartum depression journey

Split: Legit how I feel today! I’ve been having so many good days physically, mentally, and spiritually that I have not taken the time to generate a new game plan for my icky days. Today I am split. Split because I’m vigorously fighting my mind that is straddling the fence of peace and agitation. My mind is tricky, in an instant a completely sinking and griping energy tightly clings to me in attempt to bring me down.

I despise days like this and I am speaking dominion over my mind. I claim nothing but positive energies, peace, blessings, faith, spiritual resilience, and the gospel of peace. I am in control. My postpartum journey has just began and this is the test. I will not fail I will remain focused, powerful, blessed, and in charge of what I accept into my space!

I am making it a point to share my true life postpartum depression journey with you all. I want you to know my journey is not perfect I still have short moments of despair. I am human and I am mother who is on a uphill battle. This is not intended to shed light on my undesirable moments. I want to help raise awareness and in doing so I choose to open up to the world about what this is like. I have a complete understanding that not everyday my mind will present me with tranquility. However, I have realized these are the days I will pray a little harder and smile a little bigger. These are the days when standing strong is key. I have to take power away from things and people who do not understand my evolution. I will remain submerged in prayer that’s my number one road to recovery.

I truly thank you all for following my journey and allowing me to share what is still kind of new to me. Blogging is so therapeutic for me. The fact that I can utilize my experience to help other moms understand they are not alone and life happens. Just know the way you choose to respond will make all the difference. I myself am still learning. One thing is for certain I know how to pray and that there is everything I will ever need.