motherhood

THE LOVE SERIES #11: Booby Love

This 10th installment of The Love Series is dedicated to breastfeeding aka Booby Love. 😉 I drew this picture only a couple weeks after my daughter finished weaning so it’s a bit bittersweet. My goal was to make it to at least 2 years old and we made it to 2 years and 3 months. Did you know that there is a such as thing as post-weaning depression? I had no clue (despite many La Leche League meetings and breastfeeding blogs) and was a little blind-sided when I decided to reduce my daughter’s free-for-all nursing schedule to only one nursing session in the morning. I wasn’t even ‘weaning’ in my mind, just putting down some boundaries. But not long after we made the change, I felt awful. I was moody, crying all the time, anxious and depressed. I had no idea what was going on and was obsessing about why I was feeling this way and how I might ‘fix’ it when I stumbled upon post-weaning depression online.

After knowing why this was happening to me, I was able to relax and just accept that this was a temporary hormonal shift and to give myself a little break. A few months later, when I decided to wean fully, I was prepared. Thankfully, going from a 5-minute nursing session per day to no nursing wasn’t as large of a hormonal shift (I’m assuming) as I didn’t have such severe symptoms – only mild depression and anxiety that lasted a couple of weeks.

While I was pregnant, I’d heard many women recount their experiences of postpartum depression and anxiety, but I’d never heard a woman discuss post-weaning depression. So this is my little PSA. Post-weaning depression is a thing. Maybe if you know it’s a possibility and that it could be coming, you’ll have a better system in place to cope until it passes.

These 2 years of breastfeeding have been quite a journey. Those first couple of months of figuring breastfeeding out were complete hell (the postpartum depression and anxiety didn’t help either!) but I’m glad we persisted.* There have been some truly wonderful moments – one of which is captured in the drawing below. It was in those first two months of hell that my daughter was nursing and laid her hand upon my chest with her pointer finger, pinky and thumb extended forming ‘I Love You’ in sign language. The significance of this is that my husband and I had made that sign to each other since first saying “I Love You” to one another. We still make that sign to one another and now my 2 year old daughter does too.

Marker and colored pencil.
© 2017. Angelle Conant. All Rights Reserved.

*This statement is not meant to judge, criticize or shame any mother who could not or didn’t want to breastfeed. Every person fights their own battles and must do what is best for them and their baby and I 100% recognize that was is ‘best’ for me may not be ‘best’ for you. You do you. I’ve got your back.

THE LOVE SERIES #10: Mama Love

This is the 9th installment of The Love Series and it’s a celebration of the love a mother feels for her child. I did this painting when I was pregnant with my daughter and in complete awe of how much love I felt for someone I hadn’t even seen with my own two eyes.

My love for her now is the same as it was then: powerful, fierce, and deep. Any person is capable of feeling this kind of love whether they are a biological parent, adoptive parent, step-parent, animal parent, grandparent, auntie, uncle, or friend. May we all know the joy of giving and receiving such a love.

Acrylic Paint on a tiny canvas. © 2017. Angelle Conant. All Rights Reserved.

P.S. This post happens to coincide with the e-book release of my new book of poetry – Hummingbird Heartbeat: Poems of Pregnancy and Beyond. You can find it on amazon.com for $3.99. It’s also available on Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Lending Library. I hope you enjoy it. <3

 

Hummingbird Heartbeat Poetry Book Complete!

It’s finally done!

When we started trying to conceive and then got pregnant in 2014, I started to write poems about my journey to help make sense of and document all of the momentous changes that were taking place. I even published one of the poems on this website! Since then I have collected, edited, and arranged the poems into my first poetry book titled Hummingbird Heartbeat: Poems of Pregnancy and Beyond.

The poems begin 8 months before conception and end a few months after the birth of my daughter. Here is the description:

“In this new book of poems from author Angelle Conant, she bares her soul and chronicles her first pregnancy full of ups and downs with wit, honesty and joy. It contains insights and stories from the early days of waiting for a little blue plus sign all the way to the birth of her daughter and beyond. But it is more than just personal anecdotes – this book of poems is an essential companion on the journey that is pregnancy. It will comfort and enlighten while simultaneously normalizing all the changes that are taking place within a pregnant woman’s body, heart, and mind. With each poem, an illustration shows the stage of pregnancy at which it was written. As the woman’s body on the page grows with new life, so does our understanding of a pregnant woman’s journey. In her unique and wise voice, the author speaks to the universal themes and experiences of bringing new life into the world. If you or someone you know is pregnant, this is the book for them. BONUS! This book also contains an appendix full of positive affirmations for pregnancy and motherhood that were created and used by the author.”

If you do procure a copy, I would love to hear your thoughts via email or a review on Amazon or Goodreads. If you’d like to be notified of any project updates, please subscribe.

A Poem for My Mother

I wrote this poem for my phenomenal mother.

ON MOTHER’S DAY
If my mother was a heart
she’d be curvy and full
and soft ‘round the edges

She would be oozing love
(sometimes a little too much)
and she’d smell of earth & roses

She’d be the deep red of knowing:
passion, love, loss, pain,
the interconnectedness of all things

She’d have cuts and scars and nicks
(perhaps that’s why she oozes so)
And she’d have healed, time & time again

She’d beat in time to the Universe
ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum,
Steady and loud and unafraid.

© 2017. Angelle Conant. All Rights Reserved.

THE LOVE SERIES #3: Uterus Love

This is the third installment of the Love Series and one that I drew back in 2014 when my husband and I were trying to get pregnant.  After we decided we’d like to start a family, I thought things would happen pretty quickly after that – oh how naive I was. Month after month dragged on and still there was no plus sign on my pregnancy test and Aunt Flo was still visiting.

Well, I got mad. Then sad. Then mad again. I was so frustrated and distraught. “Why was this taking so long? Why hadn’t I eaten better? I should have never tried pot that time!”

For months, I tried to somehow fix it. Fix me. This was one of my dreams, to become a mother, and I felt like somehow it was my fault that it was slipping through my fingers. That somehow the choices I had made up until this point in my life were causing all of this. “This is probably happening because of all my stress. I should have worked harder to be less stressed!”

One day, I was feeling so glum and frustrated and realized that I needed to chill out. Let go. Trust the Universe. I decided it was time to send a little love to the area of my body that I had been not so silently seething at for months. Actually, I started to realize, the fury at my uterus had begun 7 years prior when, almost every month, I’d have debilitating cramps during my period. I decided that whether or not I got pregnant, sending a little love to my uterus would be good for the both of us. And it was. 

A few months after I drew this picture, I became pregnant. Months later, during my unmedicated homebirth, I realized that those “debilitating cramps” I’d been having for years were actually very similar to labor! It was all worth it though because we now have a beautiful little girl and I don’t have period cramps anymore. 🙂

#3 in THE LOVE SERIES. Sidenote: Not a drawing of MY uterus. I have no idea what that thing looks like.

#3 in THE LOVE SERIES.                                                                                                                                                                                                            Sidenote: This drawing was based on a medical picture, not MY uterus. I have no idea what that thing looks like.

© 2016. Angelle Conant. All Rights Reserved.

My Toddler Helps Me To Be MORE Productive

A few weeks ago, I wrote about being afraid of ‘hard work.’ In my research for that post, I came across a lovely piece called “Learning to Work” by Virginia Valian (which can be read for free as a PDF here). In it she discusses trying to complete her thesis and overcoming her own mental obstacles. She decides to commit to a certain amount of ‘work time’ every day. The only amount of time that doesn’t overwhelm her is 15 minutes. And so she works on and eventually completes her thesis in small, manageable chunks.

This was unbelievably eye opening for me. Before my daughter was born, I could only work on my creative pursuits in large, uninterrupted chunks of time. I had to be in the right ‘mood’ and feeling ‘inspired.’ I also had to be feeling exceptionally well physically. As you can imagine, not a whole lot was completed or even worked on. Just as Ms Valian would procrastinate on her thesis by volunteering and sleeping, I would procrastinate by cleaning, running errands, organizing, etc. Whatever creative project I was trying to work on was just too overwhelming – not to mention the many mental obstacles I faced about worth and value.

After my daughter was born, it was pure survival mode for months. Then we moved. More survival mode. Then we slowly crawled our way out of survival mode and into the adjustment period of having a new, wonderful little person in our lives. It was here that I started to want to work on my creative projects again. And at first, I tried to go back to my old way of working – large, uninterrupted blocks of inspired time. Ha! My time was now such a hot commodity I knew that if I ever wanted to do some of ‘my things’ I would have to prioritize my time. One by one, ‘priorities’ and distractions fell off my list. Bye constantly clean house. Hello messy, fun times with my daughter. Bye folded laundry, hello haphazard pile of clean clothes. Bye 20 blogs that I follow, hello cherished few. Goodbye filler TV and movies, hello books I want to read. Now I at least had my priorities straight and some time to myself, but the ‘hours’ of creativity I still felt I needed to complete anything were elusive.

IMAG0274-1

As I contemplated how to get anything done, my urge to be creative grew and I was drawing or singing or writing in the small moments here and there that I could find. In my mind, these small stolen moments were satiating but not enough to ever complete anything. And then I read “Learning to Work” and it changed my little world. No longer were these 15 minutes of creativity just scraps to feed the hungry beast inside me. They became wholesome, fulfilling sustenance that not only filled me up but would allow me to create AND complete something. Ms Valian created her 15 minutes for herself with a timer and increased her productivity. My 15 minutes are created by my new life as mom to a toddler and I’ve been more productive than ever.

As prolific author Nora Roberts says “I can fix a bad page. I can’t fix a blank page.” I might only write a couple of paragraphs, or create just the melody to a song or paint a small corner of a canvas but it’s at least progress. And it’s progress without all the mental anguish and endless procrastination because if I’m ever going to get anything done, it has to be in the small moments and I kind of like it like that.  Afterall, all these little moments will eventually add up to something big. 😉

Why Am I So Afraid of ‘Hard?’

What do I have against hard? Ever since my daughter was born, all I’ve been looking for is easy – the path of least resistance. I’ve shunned hard hard. So what is it about hard that I’m so afraid of?

My dear husband makes my life harder in many ways. I’m a neat freak, he’s…not. I love veggies and tofu, he… doesn’t. I’m a saver, he’s…not. But sharing my life with him is so worth the ‘hard.’ There has been so much joy and healing and fun and unconditional love because of him. And it’s only the beginning.

My daughter makes my life harder too. But she is so unbelievably worth it as well. Owning a home makes my life harder but it’s worth it. Being a stay-at-home mom, in many ways, makes my life more difficult, but it’s also worth it. Breastfeeding. Cloth diapers. Co-sleeping. Trying to get my daughter to nap on her own. Cooking unprocessed, whole foods. Eating low sugar. Self-care. Exercising. Meditating. Creating memories. All of these things require substantial effort and make my life ‘harder.’ But they also, in many ways, make it much easier at the same time. And they’re all things that I have chosen consciously and created within my life. And they are all worth it. And somewhere along the lines of exhaustion and fatigue, I’ve forgotten that hard isn’t a bad thing. I’ve forgotten that just because the path is hard doesn’t mean it’s the wrong path for me. If I’m presented with a hard path and an easy path, the universe isn’t telling me to take the easy path just because it’s easier. Giving birth to my daughter was hard but so worth it. So worth it, in fact, it didn’t even register as hard. It registered as a challenge but one I was happy to meet. And somewhere along the line I have stopped being happy to meet these challenges. All I want is easy. All I want is effortless.

Sometimes I think about my life if I had never gotten married and had children, almost as a fantasy. And when I’m in a dark place, so weary,  tired and run-down, it seems like a wonderful fantasy. But thinking about it now when I’m only slightly weary and exhausted, it just seems sad and devoid of the chaos and mess of life. This life that I have, that I have chosen for myself and created consciously, it’s hard but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Mission San Jose

It is time for me to stop choosing the easy path simply because it is easy. Sometimes that will be all I can do and that’s okay and forgiving myself for that and being gentle with myself will be the hard part. Because even when I take the easy path there is always a hard part that goes with it. So no matter what I choose I’m taking the easy/hard path or the hard/easy path. Writing a book while being a stay-at-home mom to a rambunctious 1 year old who doesn’t seem to want to sleep without her mom next to her will be hard. But it will be so worth it. Unschooling my daughter for the next 17 years will be challenging but it will so be worth it. Making time for my self care is freaking hard but it’s worth it. And making time for dates with my husband is hard but worth it. Making time for friendships and family is hard but worth it. It is time I stopped running away from hard.  It’s not something to be afraid of – it is something I have chosen consciously, to create a life full of love, chaos, fun, mess and even challenge. Because an easy life, though seemingly wonderful at times, is boring for me and not the life I will choose for myself. This is the life I choose – time to go live it.

Positive Affirmations for Motherhood

A while back I wrote a post of positive affirmations for my first pregnancy. Recently, I’ve been struggling and overwhelmed with Motherhood in general and when the original paper I wrote my pregnancy affirmations on fell out of my journal, I knew what I needed to do. Some of the affirmations are the same but many are new. We mothers have the most amazing and, at times, overwhelming, job around. May these affirmations remind us to be kind and gentle with ourselves and, in so doing, teach our children to do the same.

  • I am enough. I am strong, wise, grounded, kind and patient.
  • I respect my need for alone time.
  • I ask for help easily and with an open heart.
  • I respect my limits and needs.
  • I love and accept myself just the way that I am.
  • I focus on the things that truly matter and let go of the rest.
  • I embrace an imperfect and messy but happy and love-filled life.
  • I am doing the best that I can and my best is good enough.
  • I am a great mother.
  • No matter what happens, everything is going to be alright.

Motherhood

 

The Gift of “No”

Dear Angelle,

Your dear husband is probably wondering what this ‘self-gift’ is all about so please be sure to read this letter out loud.

This year I am gifting myself the power of “HELP NO.” (Get it, ’cause it sounds like “HELL NO.”) But really it is a two part gift of “HELP” and “NO.” 

Let’s start with the gift of “NO.” Too many times you say ‘Yes,’ or more frequently say nothing at all and therefore OK, when you really mean “No.” And the two people who suffer the most because of this are you and Bill. You because you end up doing things you don’t want to because you previously agreed to it and then you’re angry and resentful or depressed. Bill because he is the one you most often say ‘Yes’ to when you really don’t want to because you think it’ll make him happy but you just end up angry and passive-aggressive with him.

So this year it’s time to start saying “No” (including to yourself). Which means you’ll have to start really taking the time to think about things before you respond instead of just saying “Yeah, OK, whatever.” I know! I know what you’re thinking! This requires time: time to put Ellie down, put your to-do list down and get in touch with yourself to know what it is you truly want. This bring me to the next part of the gift: “HELP.”

You need to start asking for help. Help with Ellie, help with the dishes, help with whatever it is you need help with so that you can get these 10 or 20 minutes EVERY DAY. These 20 minutes help you to stay sane and happy and in touch with your truth. And really, 20 minutes a day ain’t a lot to ask. 20 minutes a day for one year is less than 1.5% of the whole year! That’s a helluva deal for increased happiness. And it doesn’t always have to be Bill whom you’re asking for help. In fact, it shouldn’t be. You have wonderful family and friends who would LOVE to watch Ellie for 20 minutes or take her for a 20 minute walk. You are not superwoman and that is perfectly OK. In fact, it’s normal. So this is my gift to you – the power of “NO” and asking for “HELP.” Use it wisely.

All my love,

Angelle

P.S. Eating better and starting yoga again might help too. <3 

 

Happy Holidays Everyone! May your days be full of love, laughter, and joy! <3

Our Elimination Communication & Cloth Diapering Adventure

First and foremost: if you don’t know what elimination communication is, you can read about it here, here, and here.

Second, I don’t feel like I can talk about our elimination communication journey without talking about our ‘diapering system.’ I really don’t like that name for it because it makes it sound intimidating and complicated when it’s really quite easy.

Our ‘Diaper System’ includes:
osocozy unbleached prefold diapers (about 24-36): about half of our stash is size 1 and half is size 2. At around 15 lbs the size 1, according to my husband, are too small but I think they’re fine.
-homemade flannel wipes (about 24): I followed this tutorial here. This was a great first sewing project for me because it was easy and if I messed up it was okay because they were just going to be wiping a butt anyways.
-1 squirt bottle of water: I use this for wetting the wipes
-2 homemade fleece prefold belts: I followed these instructions. I only have two of two different sizes but I should probably make another bigger one.
-4 thirsties duo covers: before Ellie was born, I bought one of every cover I could find on Amazon. Thirsties ended up being the one that worked best for us. Because of the gussets on the legs, we’ve never had any spills outside of the cover. We have two of the small size and two of the bigger size (which she isn’t in yet).
-1 container of coconut oil for diaper rash: Y’all, it really does work.
-1 backpack aka diaper bag: this includes one wet bag for holding soiled diapers while we’re out and about and 1 peribottle for wetting wipes if there isn’t a sink handy.

homemade flannel wipes with hipster robots

homemade flannel wipes with hipster party robots

On a regular day at home Ellie wears just a prefold and diaper belt, no cover.

Ellie in her prefold and diaper belt (we use the 'angel wing fold')

Ellie in her prefold and diaper belt (we use the ‘angel wing fold‘)     Also. NOM NOM NOM TOES.

Having hardwood floors throughout our new home (we just moved last week) makes this easier since the prefold soaks everything up but the outside still becomes wet. Our old home had mostly carpet so I kept Ellie on a towel or playmat. But now that Ellie is in the pre-crawling stage and moving about quite a bit, I’m extra thankful for the hardwood floors.
Having just the prefold and belt at home is so much easier than having the cover on as well. This way, I just pull the front part of the diaper out of the belt and flip it backwards and she’s ready to EC.
At night, we put a cover over the prefold and belt to protect our bed. We used to only have a prefold and belt and her bottom half was on a folded up towel but we were going through 3-4 towels a night so we switched. We still use the towel method for naps even though she almost never goes during a nap. It’s more just a back up. We also put a cover on any time we leave the house.

Mmmmm. Grass.

Ellie in her Thirsties duo cover and T-shirt (btw, baby t-shirts are so hard to find!)

Now onto our elimination communication (EC) adventure. I didn’t start EC in earnest with Ellie until I emerged from my post partum fog around 1.5 months. I started out using mostly bowls and had a fair amount of success at night. I also had many misses. I guess you would have called us part time ECers.

After a while, Ellie started to use the restroom every two hours or so at night. Although cosleeping made it easier to respond to her needs vs a crib, we were all so exhausted. Eventually, exhaustion won and I became a lot less responsive at night and Ellie started to pee in her sleep and not even wake up for her diaper change. This is where we are currently with nighttime EC – nonexistent. And I am perfectly okay with that because it means we all get more sleep. Ellie still wiggles when she wets herself so her diaper is changed fairly quickly. She’s also gone down to only a couple of changes at night instead of 5 or 6. She’s also stopped having bowel movements at night which is awesome. She saves those for first thing in the morning now. 😉

Our EC during the day has also changed quite a bit. When we started looking for a house and then packing and moving, EC got put on the back burner and I would only catch once or twice a day, if that. We did, however, still change her diaper as soon as it was wet so she wouldn’t lose her sensitivity. And how would we know it was wet, you might ask. Ellie let us know… Loudly. 😉 At that point, we also switched to ECing over the toilet as this was easier than rinsing out bowls. The position I find easiest is a cradle hold while I sit backwards on the toilet. Although, as Ellie gets bigger, I think I’ll have to start using the tiny potty seat insert instead because I’ve nearly fallen off the toilet a couple of times. :/

Back to the story: The EC ‘slowdown’ went on for at least a month and coincided with Ellie’s new grunting noises which the husband and I found very perplexing. After the move a week ago, I have finally been able to get back to a more dedicated EC practice with Ellie. I was worried that Ellie would resist or have forgotten EC but I am happy to report that that is not the case. 🙂 In fact, sometimes after she’s gone, she’ll look at me and smile as if to say, “Finally!” And those ‘mysterious’ grunting noises? Yeah, she was trying to tell us she had to go! Some of the new rules I’m using and having success with are:
1. offer potty before and after sleep (including naps)
2. offer potty when I change her diaper (often times, she’s not done!)

Overall, I’m still thinking of EC as a fun experiment that has the added bonus of (usually) making our life easier and our daughter happier.

 

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