Love Your Body

Let me just start by saying, the female body is one incredible machine. I didn’t understand how amazing my body was until I carried a child. There are some days I want to rip this body apart with what I think is wrong with it but I’ve put my foot down. I have no reason to look at myself and be upset with what I see because I know what it has done.

Let me take a few steps back. I was an early bloomer. I wore a size 8 shoe when I was in the 3rd grade. I reached my full height by the time I was 12 and I was taller than half of the boys in my grade. I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb because on top of that I was also heavier. A middle schoolers nightmare! I didn’t have boyfriends or boys that were interested in me until high school and even high school was rough. I decided to lose 10 pounds over Christmas break one year so everyone would stop looking at me as the chubby girl and when I came back to school instead of, “Wow you look amazing!” I was greeted with, “Do you have an eating disorder?” Seriously, I couldn’t win. So my body image has always been skewed.

I’ve yo-yoed in the past and even into adulthood, as recently as 2 years ago. Before I got pregnant I was actually trying to lost about 20 pounds, I was the heaviest weight I had ever been and next thing you know, I’m pregnant. I was terrified. I instantly thought OMG, I’m not going to be a cute pregnant girl, I’m going to be a fat pregnant girl. Terrible, terrible! I wish I could go back in time. But I was about to learn a lot about me and my body.

I was anxious to have a bump, but also terrified because that meant I was growing in size. Once I started to show with Kennedy, I was SO excited. For the first time, I was okay with my body growing and gaining weight. I knew there was a reason for it. I was elated!

Once it got closer to my due date, all anybody could ask was, “Do you plan to breastfeed?” (which BTW…can we add this to the list of questions you don’t ask a pregnant woman?) I always responded with, “That’s the plan!” of course I was then greeted with the, “Good! It’s great for the baby, plus it’ll help you drop your baby weight. ” My next thought was great, a way to get rid of the weight I gained, I’ll be golden! Until I wasn’t.

If you’ve been following along on my blog here, you’ll know that breastfeeding didn’t work out for us. Throw that out the window and my next thought was, how on earth am I going to lose this weight? I started walking in hopes to drop the weight and I felt like I had to lose the weight fast, that’s just what you’re supposed to do…according to social media and other news outlets. I made the mistake of looking at these models or fitness gals that had babies and how quick they snapped back after having their babies and thought wow, I have no wiggle room, society expects us to go back to our prebaby bodies and fast. Again, I wish I could go back in time.

I was borderline depressed when I wasn’t losing any weight. I’d never been this heavy before. I didn’t feel like myself in my own body. My clothes didn’t fit and pregnancy clothes looked silly and I didn’t want to wear them. I cried. I cried a lot. I said I hated my body and I hated who I was in it.

I had to decide to do something about it though. I knew I had to get healthier physically but I was seriously concerned about my mental views on my body. I avoided mirrors. I didn’t try to get myself together if we went anywhere. I just didn’t care. I honestly don’t think I started to care until Kennedy got a little bit older and she was more aware of who Mom and Dad were and that she could count on us.

Knowing she counted on me is what made my brain transform on accepting and loving my postpartum body. This little girl loves me because she can count on me, she knows my scent, we have our way of cuddling where I know where to hold her just right and she knows where she can nestle her head and she can only do that with me, in my arms, on my chest, on my body. She grabs my face, my nose, my cheeks, anything, and she loves doing that. Knowing that she loves me and every single little bit of me has helped me accept where I’m at with my postpartum body and she doesn’t even know it yet.

I also have to give kudos to my husband, he was the first to remind me all my body has gone through to have Kennedy. He’s proud of me and what my body has done and has told me I should be proud of me too. So now, I am.

Just as everyone loves to remind us women how different every single baby is, we have to remember that every single woman is different. How you bounce back from having a child is going to be different than the women around you. No two bodies are the same. Comparing yourself to those around you will get you nowhere but down in the dumps. I admire the women that bounced back so well and quickly. I know those are the same women that worked out while they were pregnant and I wish that could of been me but my preeclampsia didn’t allow it. Which I will also say, sometimes what you want to have happen while you’re pregnant and what actually happens are two different things…I didn’t think I would have physical limitations while pregnant but did! The physical sacrifices made were so incredibly worth it to have my happy and healthy baby girl.

Whether you’re thinking about having babies, currently pregnant, recently delivered, a year or several postpartum, don’t ever stop loving the body that you have that carried those babies. Every single day remember to love yourself for the amazing things that you physically have done. Those little babies of yours think the world of you and won’t even know what physical insecurities you may have because to them, you are perfect.

 

“The Working Mom”

I always thought I’d be, “The Working Mom” and I had people ask me ALL the time, “Are you sure?” “You really think you’ll be able to do it?” I always looked at them like they were nuts and thought, duh, that’s what people have to do.

Did I ever think to myself, gosh, staying home would be amazing? Of course I did, but it was merely a thought. My entire pregnancy I figured I would enjoy maternity leave and the one on one time I had with my baby but at its end, I’d be ready to return to the workforce.

Um…I was so incredibly wrong.

As I’ve mentioned Kennedy was 3 weeks early and I was placed on bedrest 2.5 weeks prior to her arrival. I started my actual maternity leave a lot sooner than I anticipated. I remember the second or third night Anthony and I were home with Kennedy and I turned at looked at him and said, “I have absolutely no idea how I’m supposed to go back to work, I have an aching and longing need to be around her 24/7.” I cried immediately because I just wanted to be around her and only her and my little family unit that had gone from 2 to 3 just days earlier. The next morning we both figured I was hormonal and I was just feeling all the emotions that come with being a new mom, which is pretty standard for all.

I got 10.5 weeks of time with my little girl before it was time for me to return to work. I was a mess. I cried the two weeks leading up to my first day of work and was doing everything imaginable to try and slow time down. I woke up at 2:30 AM that Monday and started crying. Anthony took off for work and I was alone waiting for the princess to wake up. I remember sitting in her room drinking my coffee and watching her sleep in her crib and I sobbed and sobbed. She woke up and in typical Kennedy fashion batted her perfectly curled eyelashes at me and smiled her big gummy smile. I stopped crying at that moment because nothing is cuter than that little face.

I dropped her off at daycare (which by the way, Jen, you’re the best and we are so happy you are the one taking care of our little girl) and I held it together until I started driving down the road. I called Anthony and burst into tears and cried the entire way to my office. My co-workers were kind enough to get me a welcome back gift and it was super sweet and appreciated by getting through the day was SO. HARD. The stroke of 3:30 I was out of there and off to pick up my girl.

It’s been exactly 4 months since I’ve returned back to work and it’s the hardest thing I have to do every weekday morning. As someone that’s always been very focused on my education and having a career, I have multiple times been ready to throw it all away to just focus and be with my child. I am longing for the ability to be with her as much as possible but as much as I want that, I have to keep reminding myself that right now in this season, that isn’t in the cards.

So what do you do in this situation? I spend as much quality time with Kennedy as I can. I get up early and get myself fully ready and leave 45 minutes to get her up and ready for the day and spend time with her before we walk out the door. When I get to work, I work and I get all of it done in the office so when the day is over, I walk out the door and go back to mommy mode. I pick Kennedy up and I get 2-2.5 hours of her being awake before it’s bedtime and I make the most of out if as I possibly can. No phone, playtime in her room, reading, bath time, all of that, I literally treasure every possible second. The weekends, oh they are my absolute favorite, more so than ever before. I take that little girl with me EVERYWHERE. I never knew that becoming a mother would change me as much as it has especially with my focus on work and what my heart’s desire is.

I totally understand now how women are torn and have to make decisions like staying home with babies or go back to work. It’s the hardest choice to make and right now in this season my husband (you rock!) and I are trying to figure out what exactly will it take for us to ensure one of us is home more with our daughter. 2017 is going to be an interesting year for us as we work toward a goal of making that a reality. For now I’m just trying to keep it together although some days I have no clue how the heck I’m going to get through! I do actually know though, it’s that cute little one that I pick up each day around 4:00 PM that keeps me going!

I want to say to all moms, working or stay at home, all moms have struggles they have to face in both of these paths and you’re doing an amazing job no matter what struggles you’re facing. We will all get through these things and it’ll be easier if we can lean on each other! Major kudos to my September Mamas, I’m pretty sure I would of fallen off the deep end multiple times without your kind words and support, you guys are EVERYTHING in this motherhood journey!

Becoming a Mom at 25

It’s funny, at 25 (since having Kennedy I have turned 26) I think that I’m a young mother. I’m sure there’s a lot of you nodding in agreement while reading this and on the flip side I have friends my age that have children that are in elementary school already, so I fit somewhere in the young spectrum no matter how you look at it.

I’ve heard all of the following remarks: “Why now?” “Don’t you know what that will do to your life?” “You aren’t done growing up, why have babies?” “Don’t do it!” “Kids change everything.”

I don’t disagree with one of these remarks…kids do change everything. I know most women my age couldn’t even dream of doing the things I’m doing now. Waking up at weird and all hours of the night to a crying little one. While it wears on you, comforting that cute little one that belongs to you is so rewarding, whether it’s 12 PM or 2 AM.

There have been plenty of times I’ve just wanted to “run to the store really quick” and those days are over. Instead I’ve got a sidekick to take with me on all of my shopping excursions. My sidekick comes with a lot of extra cargo too which makes it that much more challenging, but you know I’ve taken multi-tasking to a whole new level. I can comfort a crying baby while putting on a baby carrier and grocery shop while we work on nap time.

I think the hardest thing for me since I’ve become a mother is feeling like I can’t relate to the people I once had everything in common with. Over the last several years I’ve done a lot of things that make me less of a conventional millennial. I finished college at 21. I got married at 22. We bought at house at 24. I got pregnant and had a baby at 25.

Those first few weeks postpartum I felt very isolated. I wanted so badly to call my best girlfriends and cry but stopped myself because, who was I going to call? None of them have babies! Instead I would call my mom (seriously, moms are the best) and cry while she assured me I wasn’t the first mom to feel this way. It was still so hard.

I was upset because I felt like nobody wanted to come visit me and being on maternity leave alone, was just that, lonely. I was trying to adjust to being a mother and how all encompassing it was to take care of a newborn and all I wanted was some normalcy but I didn’t feel like I could find that from my friends or peers my age.

After I had my pity party for a few weeks of feeling isolated, I decided enough was enough. I couldn’t keep being upset with people that had no idea I was upset with them. It sounds super crazy as I type it out, but it’s true, I was mad at people and they had no clue that I was. I didn’t want to be that person. I decided I needed to have a reality check with myself.

I reminded myself that this, motherhood at 25, was what I wanted, deeply and truly, what I wanted. Just because that’s what I wanted at my age, doesn’t mean that everyone around me wanted or wants the same thing. That realization alone helped me more than anything because I reminded myself that it’s important for me to embrace all the different people and personalities I have in my life, which I think I’ve done a good job of ever since.

I also decided those feelings I had of being upset with people around me that weren’t constantly “checking” on me, needed to go. Expectations are never a good thing, especially when it comes to friendship and I felt horrible even admitting that I had any expectations!

Lastly, I took all the feelings that I had and told myself to remember them. There was going to come a time that my friends would be ready to have families and become mommies and that in that time in their life I want to be an open book. I want to be someone they can talk to if they need an ear to listen. If they ask for advice, I want to be able to give it but also remember that overloading them with advice is not my place, especially if it isn’t asked.

I’m taking this place that I’m in, of becoming a mom at 25 and absolutely loving it. I’m learning so much about myself and even more from this little girl that’s absolutely changed my life in the almost 6 months that she’s been born. Somedays are so easy and fun and others are a challenge but they’re forming me and shaping me in more ways that I could of dreamed. Instead of feeling confined and like I’m trapped, I can feel myself blossoming. Coming up with ideas and daydreams of what the future holds and how I will contribute to our family in several different ways. Being a young mom is fun and having a young family is incredible.

One thing I keep reminding myself is every person’s walk is different, and mine is going to be different than the person next to me and my journey is no different but I shouldn’t spend my time comparing my story to those around me. Instead, I’ll take my story and experience and use it to help others.

 

Next time I write I plan to talk a little bit more about my career and my struggles with being a working mama. Thanks for reading!

 

Your way is the right way

 

Moms. There’s literally a million different kinds of them, but we all want the same thing for our little humans, the best possible everything that life has to offer. You realize it more once you’re staring at your own little one in the face and watching their eyes explore your face that there is literally nothing more in the entire universe that you want, other than to give them everything that you can.

What is giving them the best possible life they could imagine? That answer is different for everybody. I think that’s something that a lot of us could use regular reminding of. No two parents or households are going to operate the same. What works for Kennedy and I won’t work for my best friend and her newborn. Can we talk about what works for us and what doesn’t? Of course! What we shouldn’t do is mommy-shame or bash based on their decisions and choices. There is a small exception to this rule of course like many other things in life but in general, I like to follow the rule of thumb that you just don’t tell someone else how to Mommy.

I say this after I experienced someone telling me that I was harming my daughter by baby wearing her. I did what I often do, packed myself and Kennedy up in the car to head to the grocery store to get food to eat for the week. Saw the same clerks/workers that I often do and some of them recognize me because I go the same day every week and they’re usually working. I’ve always had positive remarks when I’ve worn her in a baby carrier or just some weird looks because, hey, I get it, baby wearing isn’t for everyone. I was at the checkout and bagging my groceries when the woman across from me said something along the lines of, “Look at her, you’re squishing her and she’s all bunched up in there, aww, poor baby.” Cue the steam coming out of my ears and my heart and blood pumping a MILLION miles per hour, yet I could barely let more than a few words escape my mouth. I’m pretty sure I said something along the lines of, “Oh, she’s fine, notice that she’s sleeping peacefully and this is nice and soft.” I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. I was embarrassed. ME. I couldn’t believe someone would make sure a comment.

After being incredibly pissed off the entire drive home and then once I arrived in my kitchen to tell my husband what I happened, I had some time to think to myself about her comments. Was I irritated? Yes. But, I had to step away from the situation and ask myself, why would she make that comment? Maybe she doesn’t know anything or much about baby wearing, maybe she isn’t comfortable doing it because she never was taught how to do it, who knows? But I was allowing her viewpoint on parenting and how to do things get to me. There are millions of women that have to deal with people negatively projecting their opinions on their parenting style and it’s not fair.

I know I’m not perfect and there’s been several times where I’ve seen someone do something with their child that I didn’t agree with or that I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing with Kennedy, but who am I to tell them I think what they’re doing is wrong when it’s just a different way to do it? After dealing with my interaction in the grocery store I decided it isn’t my place to pass judgement on another mom.

I’ve said it once before and I’ll say it again, being a mom is freakin’ hard. But it’s also unbelievable and quite frankly the best job I’ve ever had in the entire world. It should be a joy for all the mommies, not something that they have to second guess because someone might greet them with criticism for their way of getting it done. My hope, as more and more of my girlfriends and their partners start having babies, is that we can empower one another and learn from each other. I have been loving talking pregnancy, babies, and motherhood so much and I’ve found that to be greatly in part to my fellow September Mamas that I’ve been friends with for about a year now (thank God for the internet). 36 different women, all of us with different ways of doing things, but we’ve NEVER bashed each other for how we parent our babies. I couldn’t be more grateful! I’ve learned so much from them and now as more and more of my friends that I see in person regularly become moms, I hope I can take what I’ve learned through these ladies, and share it with more of my friends.

We must stick together mamas! With that being said, I hope to post a fun post next about Kennedy and her newest happenings. Give me a couple weeks and I’ll do a big 6 month update (excuse me while I go cry, how is she 6 months already?)

Love to all! xoxo

Let Me Begin…

…Oh it’s been a little while. My creative side and my written words have not been exposed for the world to see in quite some time. But I’m back! I plan on making this a life long journey with my writing, and wherever it decides to take me, I’m just going to go with it. I’ll give a little background on myself to begin (even though to start I know most of the people reading this already know who I am) but in case someone stumbles upon my page that doesn’t know me, this is truly for you then.

My name is Erin Cross (formerly Erin Rafferty, hooray for being married for almost 2 years!) and I’m 24 years old. I can honestly say since the age of 5, I’ve loved to read and write. I probably had at least 20 different journals as a kid and constantly found new reasons to buy brand new ones. I used to wake up at 5 AM when I’d hear my mom get ready to go walking with her friend and I would secretly read in my room, talk about nerdy. I’m pretty sure I went to the public library at least once a week as a kid, and I would check out 3 or 4 books at a time. I always had my nose in a book, and somehow I also found time to play sports and be outside.

I’ve always been a tomboy, but a girly one at that. My mom used the term “tomboy with lip gloss” to explain the type of kid I was. I had my growth spurts early and I was awkward. I wore a size 8 shoe in the third grade…SERIOUSLY?! I haven’t grown an inch since I was 11, and while I was taller than most of the boys in my grade for most of my life, everyone finally caught up to me in size once we reached high school.

High school was an interesting time in my life. It was a roller coaster. I had great friends, but I also had some pretty brutal critics. I was good at appearing confident, but on the inside I was SO unsure of myself. I grew through my awkward stages and learned to enjoy the journey. I fell in love twice when I was young and was heartbroken twice at a fairly young age. I thought I knew everything and how I wanted my adult life to start and had those plans turned upside down.

Even with plans that were drastically changed, better things came out of it. I met my now husband because of one of life’s twists. I transferred to my dream college that I was denied entry to as a high school senior. I changed majors after taking 2 classes in the field I thought I wanted to pursue, and ended up learning a lot more about life with the route I took instead.

I graduated college and had the hardest time finding a job. I worked for someone that I didn’t really like and quit without having a back-up plan. I landed a job that same day I gave my notice. My second “big kid” job really challenged me. It wasn’t a position I planned on staying in for long but I had to create my own path to a different position. It treated me well but I realized I wasn’t being challenged in ways that I was dreaming to be challenged. I got my third big kid job and now I’m really trying to re-learn all the things that I was once so passionate about and it’s caused me to fall into this space, right here, writing.

I am not that different than most of the people my age. We’re at that point in our lives where we’re getting married or in serious relationships, starting families or launching our careers to all new heights. But there is something different about each person in this world and it’s our experiences and how we get through them that makes us all unique. We all see the world through our own lenses and if we could take the time to see the world through other people’s eyes, imagine what we would see. Things that we didn’t see as beautiful, we would now admire. Perspectives we wouldn’t of taken during a heated debate we could now appreciate. The list could go on and on, but we all have things to share with one another. My hope is that we could take the time to share these things among each other and appreciate everyone a little bit more.

I have experiences and stories that I think have helped make me who I am, and some of them I admit are entertaining and others make me cringe, but I’m ready to share it all! I also have so many thoughts about present day things that we all are dealing with and I want people to remember, they aren’t alone.

Welcome! Whether this is the only post you’ll ever read or if you decide to stay awhile, thank you and I hope to talk to you!

-E