Wife, Mother and "Me"

 
Kcakesmash

“I am not afraid of becoming a mother.  I accept this new, challenging role as a beautiful privilege that a part of me has been waiting my whole life to reach.  This very moment is where I am meant to be and I whole-heartedly, lovingly look forward to the day I can see my baby’s face for the first time.  What I am afraid of… is my ability to be a fulfilled and happy person myself.  I don’t question my ability to give my all to my marriage and baby but I am afraid that my being may get lost in the tornado that is life and the parts of me that still need a certain kind of fulfillment and love will get swallowed and forgotten.”       

–April 3, 2016

 

I recently came across the above writing as I dug through old files and photos to edit.  I have only a fuzzy memory of writing it, only about a month before I gave birth.  But there it is, exactly as I left it a little over a year ago.  I had every intention of spending those 9 months sharing my heart and celebrating the experience through my writing but as I’ve mentioned before, writer’s block reared its ugly head.  But through reading it's interesting to experience my small attempt at expressing my honest thoughts during that time and revisit my state of mind.

 

The truth is, I have longed to reclaim my sense of self since Kaia’s birth and I have struggled with my identity.  That may sound incredibly sad, negative and contradictory to how I have shared my motherhood experience so far and considering the way I have openly celebrated it.  But it isn't representative of the love I have for my new role.  I am so incredibly grateful for this experience and I know I am so fortunate.  But that’s the thing about gratitude, it means we whole-heartedly acknowledge we have something wonderful to appreciate but it doesn’t take away the discomfort.  Being pregnant across the country from my family and giving birth without my own mom nearby was extremely difficult and I struggled emotionally every day.  I was uncomfortable with beginning our journey to our new life on this little island when Kaia was only 3 1/2 months old but had no way of delaying it.  Trying to unpack our entire lives in a new home while caring for a newborn was overwhelming and we still aren’t finished almost a year later.  Dealing with the ups and downs, the triumphs and failures while learning how to be a mother all on my own, multiple time zones away from anything familiar with a husband whose job is extremely demanding has been exhausting to say the least.  It’s all the complete opposite of what I grew up believing marriage, family life and raising my children would be like.  And I was forced to change my expectations of how my own needs are met in the process.  They say it takes a village, but I've had to accept that I was so far from having that.  My motherhood experience has been wonderful and so gratifying, but also incredibly lonely.  This new, helpless little person needed so much and I want to give her all of me and more, but I started feeling like I was losing myself.  During my dark moments I’ve found myself mourning my “old” self; craving freedom I once had, missing my free-spirited adventures, fearing that as time goes on, because of being so far from support and little time to myself, my identity as a mother will continue to take over I will no longer be “Christine the human being” and "Christine the mom" will be all that is left.  I've struggled with the guilt of these feelings, because I love Kaia with all my heart and cannot imagine my life without her.  But to be a good mom it's become so clear that we can't neglect ourselves.  None of us wants to expose this unpretty side of ourselves, but it is important to be honest.  It's the only way we can work towards healing.  Mom title or not I am still human, after all.

 

I always believed pregnancy and motherhood would naturally serve as a new form of creative inspiration, and it really has.  Not a day goes by that I don’t feel some sort of spark from various moments I share with my beautiful little Kaia each day.  I absolutely love being with her every day and I would not trade it for anything in the world.  While my role as a mother is demanding and takes priority over many other things in this stage of life, it does not define me as a person.  I must embrace this new chapter and intertwine my worlds but I am still "Christine the human being" with my own interests, hobbies and passions.  I'm still that free spirited girl that wants to get lost in crazy adventures.  I need to nurture all the other layers of myself that make me who I am and spend time doing things that make me happy.  I need to lose myself in my creativity again.  It's important that I still work towards accomplishing my own goals and interests beyond the duties of wife and mother.  And extremely important that I take care of my own heart however I can, even in the smallest of ways, so I can continue to work towards being the best wife, mother and "me" I can be.  I still need to just be me, too.  So here I am, in an effort to keep pushing forward, I'm spilling the guts of my heart, squeezing all I can into the few hours I have to myself and sacrificing precious sleep. 

 

There was no way to prepare for the way motherhood would enrich my life and heighten my senses.  An immeasurable amount of joy and heartache.  Embracing it all is the only way for the heart to expand and reach new depths.  And only in motherhood can a cocktail of such contradicting emotions coexist in harmony, so painfully and beautifully.  I suppose that’s what makes the journey so unique and amazing, the endless roller coaster ride.

My Dream Come True

8days

Today I began to put Kaia down for her morning nap as I always do, holding her as I softly rubbed her back before putting her into her crib with the usual prayer that she would sleep a full and restful hour.  But as I began this ritual, it occurred to me that this moment would eventually be a memory.  Someday, she will be too big for me to hold her this way.  It was as if she sensed my energy shift because at that moment, I felt her warm little body relax into mine more heavily than usual, her head resting on my shoulder and against my cheek, her arms relaxed with her tiny little hands holding me.  I held her a little tighter, breathed her in, soaked up the quiet, loving vibes we were sharing as I fought my tears.  I couldn’t tear myself away, I just wanted to stand there with her in my arms and never let her go.  All I could think was, tomorrow my little baby girl will be one year old, and as excited as I am to see her grow and change, I want to hold onto these moments for as long as I can.

 

Since I was very young, I always believed I was destined to have a girl as my first-born.  At times I wondered if it was just wishful thinking, but my intuition told me it was more than that.  They say pregnant women tend to dream often.  I had only one vivid dream my entire pregnancy, during my first trimester.  In it, I gave birth to our baby and anxiously asked Glen if it was a boy or girl; it was a girl.  A few months later when finding out we were, in fact, having a girl, I was ecstatic.  Maybe it was chemistry, coincidence or just luck.  Whatever the case, it was my dream coming true and I was so excited and anxious to meet her. 

 

Getting to know Kaia over the last year and learning how to be her mom has been the most difficult and humbling but also incredibly rewarding experience.  She has been a fighter from day one; vocal and tells us exactly what she feels when she feels it, she’s sensitive, strong, stubborn, silly, funny and so incredibly loving.  A perfect mix of her crazy parents.  I jokingly call it karma, and I’m pretty sure I’ll have my work cut out for me as she matures and seeks her independence.  But she challenges me every single day and keeps me grounded.   As I slowly learn who she is, I gain a better grasp of who I am, too.  Being a mother is harder than any job I’ve ever had.  At times, just when I think I’ve reached my limit and can’t handle any more, she loves on me so hard and melts my heart.  I can’t possibly be mad at the fact that my little girl is basically my mini with her dad’s eyes.  I’m so fortunate to be loved by this beautiful little girl.

 

Kaia is, without a doubt, the greatest, most gratifying accomplishment in my life.  I know everyone says that about their babies, but it’s true.  She’s the most daring risk I’ve ever taken.  The biggest lesson in faith.  She exposed my deepest, darkest insecurities and forced me to navigate through that darkness to find light again and learn how to love myself in a new way.  My world changed the moment I was aware of her existence and I was deeply in love with someone I had yet to meet.  The first little human to hear the sound of my heartbeat intimately.  There will ever be another soul who will impact me the way she has.  My life began again when she was born. 

 

May 1st we celebrate her, we celebrate our family and we will celebrate life.

I Waited My Whole Life For you

may1

There really is no way to fully prepare for everything that comes with pregnancy, childbirth and parenthood.  You can read books, you can drive yourself crazy asking Dr. Google for the answers to the endless questions you will inevitably have (guilty), you can listen to all the scary, gory stories your friends and family will have about their own experiences… the wealth of information available is pretty amazing but ultimately the experience is completely your own.  Unique to you, your body and your baby.  Tell that to a hormonal pregnant chick who just. wants. answers. and needs. to. plan.

 

I was not into taking risks with my pregnancy, I wanted to take all precautions and bordered on OCD.  But when it came to planning the delivery room situation, I was relaxed and unconcerned.  I was a walking contradiction, worried about so many other things throughout the pregnancy yet I felt no fear when anticipating the birth itself.  I felt strangely at peace with the idea that my mind and body would be able to handle what was to come.  I decided I wanted to attempt to go without any medications, I liked the idea that my body be in it's natural state (plus, learning about the process of inserting the epidural needle made me more squeamish).  An unmedicated birth is not for the faint of heart and I ultimately just wanted what was safest for me and the baby, whatever that may end up being.  Living far from family support, we thought it be best to hire a doula and Doris Ann McMurray came highly recommended.  Years of experience and a fierce commitment to her work and her faith, I had complete confidence and trust in her ability to help me achieve my goal and be the extra layer of comfort both Glen and I would need in the delivery room.  With her assistance, I was able to determine my level of commitment to going unmedicated and I began to mentally and emotionally prepare though reading and meditation.  I wanted to accept things as they came and find peace in whatever may occur.  I felt ready.  As we neared the 9 month marker my doctor was convinced that I was the abnormal and rare first time mom that would likely give birth before the due date.  And so, with all the preparation and planning in place, we all waited anxiously for that day…

 

In the early morning hours of May 1st, 2016 at exactly 39 weeks, our baby decided she was ready to rush into the world.  Only minutes after arriving at the hospital it was clear things were moving quickly and there was no time for any medication… my wish granted in the most dramatic way.  It was time.  I was scared but for the sake of our baby's well being I needed to find a way to channel my fear and find peace and focus.  With Glen and our doula by my side holding my hands, I closed my eyes, promised myself everything would be okay and in the midst of chaos I managed to find my center.  A few minutes later at 8:26am, 45 minutes after arriving at the hospital and a total of 5 hours of labor, our little Kaia Naomi was born.  I will never forget the way my heart swelled the moment I touched her for the first time.  9 months of dreaming of her, praying for her, she was finally in my arms.  A moment I waited my whole life for.  Our little miracle.  There aren’t enough words to describe all the feelings.  A day imprinted in my heart forever.

 

**We will forever be grateful for our incredible doula Doris Ann.  She was our source of knowledge and support when we needed it and my “mama” while mine couldn’t be close.  Her ability to move me through the pain is an experience I hope to never forget should I be in the same situation again.  We were in a state of shock in the delivery room and she was our comfort, reassurance and brains.  Truly, she was an angel.

9 Month Companion

28wks

Motherhood was an experience I always knew I was destined for eventually.  Growing a family was something I longed for, but it wasn't a decision I took lightly.  I wanted to wait for the "right time", of course knowing there really isn't ever a good time, it just had to be right for us.  As soon as Kaia’s existence became known, she single-handedly changed my entire life and I was completely, utterly in love with her.  I was so excited about celebrating every moment of pregnancy and I intended to embrace all the changes, as uncomfortable and unpretty as it might be at times.  I knew this might be an ambitious goal but it was my vision and I was nervous but hopeful about what was in store. 

 

I discovered I was pregnant very early, so early it would be many more weeks before I would even feel any symptoms.  Things started off great, but an unfortunate initial visit with a new doctor left me feeling unraveled.  She had a terribly cold beside manner and unnecessarily caused me to worry about the success of my pregnancy.  I understood that the early months are uncertain but I still found her treatment confusing.  I was fragile and needed all the warmth and reassurance I could get but instead this woman left me and my vision shattered.  In an instant, instead of feeling joy and trust in my health, through much of the first trimester I felt emotionally paralyzed, scared of all the unknowns, of all the things I couldn’t see or control.  The task of being a lifeline for this helpless little human felt so daunting.  What if my body failed me?  What if I couldn’t do all the right things to keep the baby healthy?  Pregnancy was just the beginning, I knew that.  Life with a child would continue to change in ways so far beyond what I could anticipate.  But I struggled to shake the fears. 

 

Hearing her strong heartbeat for the first time was music to my ears.  It was the first real comfort and reassurance that our baby was okay and something for me to hang onto.  I moved onto a different, wonderful doctor who ultimately provided me with the care and comfort I needed to more confidently move forward but throughout the entire pregnancy, the fears and insecurities continued to linger and at times without warning, would rear their ugly head causing my anxiety to kick in.  I loved being pregnant and I was overjoyed at the thought that I was carrying a life we created, I wanted so badly to let go and have faith everything would be okay.  The thought that Kaia may be able to feel my discomfort from inside brought feelings of guilt, I didn’t want her to suffer from my inability to cope.  So I started to spend each day committed to finding peace and healing from the inside out, working on freeing my mind.  I surrounded myself with all the things I needed to comfort my heart; exercise, meditation, essential oils, crystals, literature, hypnotherapy.  It was an opportunity to nurture my heart and take the time to think about the kind of woman and mother I wanted to be.  The truth is, I was very fortunate to have a really good pregnancy.  I was healthy from beginning to end and faced no real complications.  I gave birth to our beautiful baby girl who proved to be as strong and feisty on the outside as she was in the womb.

 

Fears and challenges aside, I am still in awe of the entire pregnancy experience.  Hearing her heart beat for the first time, feeling her hiccups as I woke each day and the flutter of her kicks every night as I driffted off to sleep, the sight of my body changing and growing to accommodate her growing body, the comfort of knowing she was protected by my warmth and snuggled up close to my heart.  She was my constant companion for 9 months and I dreamed of the day I would hold her for the first time.  It’s the scariest, most incredible blessing and I would do it all over again. 

Outside The Shell

Nirai

It has been 2 years since I last visited this creative outlet of mine.  It’s strange to think about where I was in life the last time I wrote, or even invested an ounce of time into my art.  A 2 year writers and creative break while I tried to sort through all the major life changes we endured and channeled my energy into other priorities.  But I believe this new chapter deserves its place in the flow of my artistic space.  I have needed my outlet and so many times I tried coming back as the wheels never stopped turning, to say what’s on my mind, to pick up the camera and share vision, but I simply couldn’t find the words and my vision has been a bit blurry.  Balancing the ups and downs of the last few years has proven to be more difficult than I imagined it would be and I’ve found myself living in my own head rather than harnessing the energy to create.  But I’m aware that hanging onto the feelings and allowing myself to drown in them rather than find my outlet again is only going to further hold me back.  I want to revisit my vulnerability and find strength in the process, rather than fear taking the risk.  So here I am, giving it a go once more.  I’m still unsure of exactly what direction I’m moving in but I suppose that’s the beauty of just letting go and just moving to the beat, the never ending process of learning to just “be”.  Although I don’t move about as freely these days, I hope to continue capturing and sharing my life, our travels and adventures, discovering muses, musing again when opportunity presents itself and revisiting the stories I left unfinished through this humble space I so lovingly created a few years ago; evolving my vision of living a creative life into something I can live and breathe again.  Hopefully, some of you will join me again.  Those of you who have stayed with me in all this time, thank you.

 

So where am I at the moment?  Last time I was here I was a traveling, nomadic artist and leisure photographer, wandering around in pursuit of self growth, artistic opportunity, human connection and mind expansion… and since then I added full time mama to the resume.  Babies are quite the game changer, to say the least.  We moved to yet another overseas destination, this time living on the island of Okinawa, Japan (more on that another time) and have been slowly starting our Asia explorations.  Our little Kaia is turning ONE in 7 days and lately I’ve been a constant state of reflection.  Of her first year of life, of my pregnancy, of the few years leading up to her birth.  It’s so much to think about all at once.  But our first born changes by the minute and reminds me every single day how quickly each moment passes.  It’s impossible not to let the mind wander back into all the various lifetimes it took to reach this momentous occasion. 

 

This week, I choose to begin this diving back into things by taking the time to reflect, remember, feel and embrace it all, to celebrate it all.  And let all the emotions I’m feeling about my little baby growing up and the new space I am living in move me to get creative again, today and beyond.  And of course, forgive myself on the days I need to just go back to living in my shell.