Beauty from a different point of view

13 May

Tonight as I was getting ready to get in the shower, I looked at my body in the mirror and the thought, “Wow, I look beautiful” just came to me. It’s not something that normally comes to me when I look at my naked body, and if you told me 9 months ago that I would have that spontaneous thought while 38 weeks pregnant, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. In fact, I might have even laughed.

It got me thinking…why was I so shocked to have that thought?

Well, let’s review the facts:

1. My entire adult life I’ve weighed between 126-133 which is pretty slender for someone who is 5”7.

2. I’ve always been a relatively athletic person prior to this pregnancy.

3. I struggled with terrible acne for years (age 12-23ish) that made me feel gross and ugly, and even after the acne cleared, I was always pretty critical of my appearance.

4. I always associated gaining weight with a certain amount of shame–mostly because I saw my fitness level as a sign of my self-control and will power.

37 weeks pregnant :)

37 weeks pregnant :)

So, here I am at 38 weeks pregnant, and 160 pounds–30 pounds heavier than my pre-pregnancy weight and at least 24 pounds heavier than the heaviest I had ever been prior to being pregnant. And yet, it’s one of the first times I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, “Wow, I look beautiful.” What did I see? I saw my face. My complexion has never been so good. My skin has been amazing (for the most part) during this pregnancy. I probably just look normal to most people, but for someone who battled cystic acne for years, I couldn’t ask for better skin right now. I saw silky full hair. I have struggled with thinning hair for years, but I have a thick, full head of soft hair right now. I realize it probably won’t last forever, so I’m grateful to have it now. I saw my round, full belly–so much bigger than its ever been before, but not “fat”…just big. I’ve been blessed not to get any stretch marks so far. Thankfully, the mirror hid my cankles, swollen feet, and trunk like calves, but even if it hadn’t, I don’t think that would have stopped me from having the thought that I look beautiful.

Perhaps the reason I feel beautiful is because when I looked at myself in the mirror, I wasn’t just looking at me. I was looking at me and my son. I was seeing my body as a vessel–an amazing vessel that has nurtured and brought a human being to life for the last 38 weeks, a vessel that will in a few weeks endure some pretty horrible pain in order to bring life into the world. If that’s not beautiful and powerful and amazing, then I don’t know what is.

I contemplated not writing this down because it felt like such a personal, private moment with myself. But then I went to the Pregnancy Posting website that I visit for a few minutes each day…and I came across a woman’s post that was all about how “gross” and “disgusting” she feels, and I felt compelled to share, because for once in my life, I wasn’t hard on myself. I wasn’t unkind and I wasn’t a perfectionist. I saw the beauty that God created both in me and through me. And I felt like that should be shared.

3 weeks away from being a mom

2 May

I don’t think I quite appreciate just how big a deal this is…I am 3 weeks away from becoming a mom. Well, technically, I already am a mom, but in 3 weeks, I will actually have to take care of this baby other than what my body is doing on its own right now. From late night feedings and a million diaper changes, I know my life is going to change dramatically. I am so excited and just a tad bit nervous.

This year has felt, in many ways, like a whirlwind. Ben and I packed our things and moved on May 29th of last year. On that same day, I found out my uncle was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. We were staying with my parents for about a week and a half until our stuff arrived up in Bend. The first morning at my parents house, I was officially offered my job that I now have at Mountain View. I turned 30 while we were staying there with my parents. That seemed like the least eventful part of the stay. And then, on June 8th, we left my parents’ house and trekked our way up north to Bend.

Last summer was a beautiful time for Ben and me. Neither of us were working for the first month and a half we were there, so we spent a ton of time exploring our new town, seeing the sights, and enjoying the beauty and novelty of living in a new place. For me, it was the first time I’d ever lived outside the San Fernando Valley, and it was the culmination of 3 years of marriage. Ben had spent the first 3 years of our marriage in school, planning on a career change to make possible moving out of Los Angeles.

The summer was not all beauty and roses, though. My uncle was progressively getting worse, and on July 18th, only 7 weeks after his diagnosis, he passed away. I still can’t believe it, nearly a year later, and it reminds me to be grateful every day for the time I have with the people I love. I drove down to Shasta by myself at the end of July because Ben had just started a job and was unable to come. It was nice seeing my family, but the circumstances were, of course, horrible.

The next month of summer, I spent mostly by myself because Ben’s job took him 3 hours north. Just like the year before, he had to take a job that was far away from me. It was hard, at first, being alone in a new town, but I was able to find things to do–one of which was to start seriously researching fertility and having a baby. I began reading and talking to friends, and really tracking my fertility to see if we could time conception so that our first baby would be born near the summer of 2015. I didn’t want to start a new job and then tell them I had to leave half way through the year, so we agreed we would only try for 2 months (which would put me due at either the end of May or end of June), and if it didn’t happen, we’d wait one more year. Amazingly, God blessed us on our first try with the conception of our son. God obviously wanted us to become parents now!

squirt

Around 6 weeks into my pregnancy, I became utterly exhausted. This was a challenge with my new job. Starting a new school is difficult enough, but I also took on being the Speech coach, which requires me to travel about once a month for tournaments for several days (and coming home at midnight or even later after long bus rides). At week 6, I flew down to my good friend’s wedding in Los Angeles. That’s when I really felt how pregnant I was…I didn’t look pregnant at all, but I was so exhausted by the end of the weekend. Two weeks later, I had to travel to the first tournament. Again, at 8 weeks pregnant, I was utterly exhausted, but thankfully I had no morning sickness, so no one knew I was pregnant. I was able to hide my exhaustion fairly well, but it was a challenge!

Me and Shannon when I was 6 weeks pregnant.

Me and Shannon when I was 6 weeks pregnant.

The fall and winter were full of traveling. Thanksgiving, we drove to my parents for the week, in December, I flew down for my sister’s bridal shower, and then a week later, we flew to Missouri for Christmas to visit Ben’s family. In January, I flew again for my sister’s wedding. I decided after all that traveling that I was done with all major trips after that. I loved seeing everyone at all of these trips because the hardest part of this move to Bend (for me) has been being away from my family, especially my sister who is so far away. Even so, traveling while pregnant is a challenge while working full time.

The spring was filled with quite a few tournaments–one in January, one in February, one in March, and one in April. Each of these is a weekend extravaganza. My team is wonderful and very easy to work with, so at least I didn’t have to worry about behavior or discipline. But I think the result of all the traveling and newness of my job is that on the 3 weekends a month that I did have off, it was all I could to just sit in a funk and watch Netflix to recover from everything.

breeme

I haven’t gotten much exercise this pregnancy, and I feel like I’ve been trapped indoors for months. I know I could have done better about taking care of myself during this pregnancy, but considering all I’ve taken on this year, I feel like I’ve done my best. I am so thrilled that my son is going to be born at the end of May (I hope!) because I’ll be able to spend the summer with him, enjoying the beauty of nature, the sunshine, and a break from work. I can’t wait to snuggle my little guy in my arms and see what he looks like.

Through all of this, Ben has been very helpful to me. I don’t know what I would have done if he had been working full time too. Ben’s taken over most of the household work, including cooking, for me, since he hasn’t been working since October. He will start working again in June, a couple weeks after our baby’s born, and he’ll be taking over childcare in the fall. We’ll need about a month of daycare in September, but after that, Ben will be staying home for a while, and even though I’m slightly jealous of him, I am so happy that our son will be able to be with one of us for most of his first year of life. Ben will make such a wonderful father of a little boy. I know he can’t wait to introduce him to fishing, hunting, hiking, and all things outdoorsy. I’m sure our little Squirt will be out in the garden with him and on Ben’s back on all his adventures, and I’m so glad to have a supportive partner through all this.

I am now just waiting…it’s May and I’m 36.5 weeks pregnant today. I haven’t had much time to reflect this year whether due to my busy job, exhaustion, or just business in general. But I felt like I needed to look back this morning and see how far we’ve come in the last year. Not all of it has been easy, but it certainly hasn’t been boring! We live in a beautiful house in a beautiful town, and we’re about to be parents. I have a beautiful summer to look forward to…all our family is coming out to visit us at some point, and I just can’t wait to meet my son.

Here’s to almost being a mom!

Finding Joy…What this Blog is All About…

11 Feb

So I originally started this blog with the intent of revealing, exploring, and continuing my journey toward joy. I think I’ve learned a few really important lessons along the way, but here’s one I’ve come to realize recently.

Life is so much easier and more beautiful when you feel fully supported by your spouse. In many ways, this year could have been super stressful for me, and there have been moments. Adjusting to a new place to live, a new job (with a much more challenging assignment than I’ve had in the past), being pregnant (and not getting much sleep as a result), being far away from my family, and so forth, are all things that I know in the past might have really brought me down or made it difficult for me to be happy. I’ve also started taking an online class because I need to take 9 graduate units in order to renew my credential in Oregon. But there is one thing that has made the last few months in many ways easier than ever before and that is Ben.

Ben has been so supportive and loving, and one of the things I’ve been most appreciative of is that he has started to cook. Just having one less responsibility amidst all my other stresses and challenges has made a HUGE difference. I think he knows I’m appreciative, but I don’t think he realizes how big of a difference the small things he does for me actually does for me. It’s not just about not having to cook as often.  It’s not just about the fact that I’m always hungry now that I’m 25 weeks pregnant. It’s because whenever he does something like this for me, I FEEL loved, and that gets me through the stress of everything else. It gets me through the day when I’ve only had 3 hours of sleep. It helps me feel joy even when I’m tired.

So basically, what I’m saying is…LOVE AND APPRECIATE YOUR SPOUSE. It will make all the difference in the world for their happiness and ability to cope with stress.

Fried plantains with a creamy chipotle sauce, avocados, and cilantro! Made as a side dish with tacos for dinner tonight. Thank you sweetie!

Fried plantains with a creamy chipotle sauce, avocados, and cilantro! Made as a side dish with tacos for dinner tonight. Thank you sweetie!

My 1st Baby Shower

1 Feb

On December 28th, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law threw me a beautiful baby shower at Sister’s Tea House in Fenton, Missouri. It was such a beautiful day. Over 30 of my husband’s family members (women only!) were there to celebrate Baby Medley. I was nearly 19 wks pregnant at the time, and that evening Ben felt the baby kick for this first time.

My sister-in-law made some really cute decorations (all turtle themed!) and my mother-in-law organized and planned the event. We had a delicious lunch and spent some fun times together in addition to opening presents. Ben didn’t tell me anything about the shower, so I didn’t know it was at a tea house. Everything about it was a surprise. I feel so grateful to have such wonderful in-laws. I’m super lucky and so is our little boy. Whenever we visit Missouri he’ll have so many wonderful family members to spend time with!

Turtle and diaper centerpieces made by Melissa, my sister-in-law.

Turtle and diaper centerpieces made by Melissa, my sister-in-law.

Me and Ben's grandma

Me and Ben’s grandma

Me and my sister-in-law, Melissa

Me and my sister-in-law, Melissa

A view of the room and all the guests!

A view of the room and all the guests!

Tasty treats! Super cute turtle cake! :)

Tasty treats! Super cute turtle cake! :)

I love this pic...don't know what we were laughing about!

I love this pic…don’t know what we were laughing about!

Me and my mother-in-law, Laurie

It’s been a while

31 Jan

Well, it’s been quite a hiatus from my blog life. I’m pretty sure everyone (or almost everyone) who reads my blog also follows me on Facebook, but for the few readers who don’t know me personally, the reason I’ve been away is that I’m pregnant! The first trimester was really rough because I was still adjusting to my new job and new life in a new state and just being pregnant and working full time took everything I had.

I’m now 23 weeks along and am fairly well settled into my new job. It’s still challenging but much more reasonable than it was in September. In October, I flew to my friend Shannon’s wedding when I was only 6 wks preggers. It was a gorgeous wedding, but can I tell you…the first trimester is EXHAUSTING. I’ve never felt that kind of exhaustion in my life. I guess some women don’t get it. I was lucky not to ever get bad morning sickness (only threw up once), so I dodged that bullet. But I literally felt like I could have slept 24-7 that first 12-14 weeks!

Just last weekend my sister got married to her husband Jeremy. It was overwhelmingly beautiful. I had seen her for a couple days in December for her shower, but other than that I hadn’t seen her since May because of our move. It’s been hard not being able to see her. We’ve never been a part for more than a month before this year. I’m glad she’s planning to come out sometime over the summer to meet our little GUY…yes, we’re having a BOY!

My hope is to blog a little more regularly now that I’m feeling better and am more adjusted to pregnancy, my job, and my new life. I will say, I have been so happy the last few months. I must have some happy preggers hormones. Ben has been absolutely wonderful since I’ve been pregnant. He cooks, helps more with the cleaning, and drives me everyone (I hate driving…hehe). And he’s so cute with my belly…always talking to our little “Squirt” (our nickname for him). He talks to my belly and loves feeling him kick. He felt him for the first time on Dec. 28th, the day of my first baby shower!

I’ve been so blessed with wonderful friends and family through my pregnancy. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law threw me a shower in December when we visited them in Missouri. It was at a tea house…I will do a blog post on this soon. :)

For now, here are a few preggo pictures!

Meet at 5 weeks pregnant (about a week after we found out)

Me at 5 weeks pregnant (about a week after we found out)

Look at that cute nose and lips! :)

Look at that cute nose and lips! :)

22 weeks along! Hard to believe I ever was as thin as I was in that first pic. It feels natural to be this big yet it's by far the biggest I've ever been!

22 weeks along! Hard to believe I ever was as thin as I was in that first pic. It feels natural to be this big yet it’s by far the biggest I’ve ever been!

Our little guy at 20 wks (anatomy scan).

Struggling a Bit

14 Sep

The last few weeks have been tough for me. Adjusting to a new job is being harder than I thought. It’s been over 5 years since I’ve had to make a transition, and my assignment is certainly a lot more challenging that it was at my last school. Compound that with Ben only being home 1.5 days a week, and the fact that I’m still adjusting to living in a new town without my family, and I’ll be honest. It’s being really hard for me. It was a tough summer in so many ways. My uncle passed away after a short 7 week battle with cancer, my sister’s fiance was in the hospital for 3 weeks, my dad had a staff infection, and now my parents might have to be evacuated from their home because of the fire. Ben’s been away from me since the end of July working at a job, and I’ll admit, I’m not the greatest when it comes to stress. I think I do handle things better than I used to but this last week, I was so incredibly emotional. I got to work at 6:30 each day and graded till I went to bed three nights last week. This week I have Open House tomorrow, and a 2 hour meeting after school Tuesday. And that’s all on top of getting adjusted to my new school, lesson planning, grading, teaching, and attending various meetings. I guess I just have to take it one day at a time. Ben will be done with this job in a couple weeks, and hopefully once he’s home, I’ll cope better with all of this. It’s just hard, and while I wish I could be inspiring, I guess right now what I need is some prayers and support. Thanks to all my readers. Thanks for listening.

And with that, summer is over

24 Aug

It’s hard to believe that the longest summer of my life is over. Tomorrow I attend the first of many meetings at my new school and district. I wish I wasn’t nervous but I am. You would think after 8 years of teaching, I would feel calm, cool, and collected, but even at my last school where I worked for five years, I would still get a little nervous on my first week back. That said, I was fully used to my last school. I knew the routines, expectations, and little ins and outs of the school. And now I start all over again with my 3rd school, Mountain View. I’m excited but the little things make me nervous. Little things like will my computer equipment work, will I figure out how to get all my copies made, will I have the right keys, and will everything work properly when I need it to. And then there’s the big things, like how I’ll connect with the kids and so forth. I guess I can only hope that everything will go as smoothly as possible. I don’t think parents who aren’t teachers realize just how much time and effort teachers put into the little details. I assume most teachers are like me, and I assume we all work hard. I’m sure there are a few exceptions, but most teachers I know work very hard to do a good job for the kids. This summer, I attended a week long conference and a week long class. There were many days where I did little else but lesson plan or read up on teaching related materials. Granted, I haven’t had a summer like this in a while. Usually, I relax more, but starting a new job, in a new state is stressful.

It’s been such a mixed summer. I moved here to Bend, Oregon and it’s truly a beautiful place. My husband and I had a wonderful time exploring in June and July. We went to so many new places and discovered things we didn’t even know were here when we moved. We’ve made a few new friends, and our parents came and checked out our new pad. Our house is lovely…it’s about 500% better than the last place we were in.  But on the flip side, my uncle was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on my last day of school at Chaminade (May 29) and he died just 7 weeks later on July 18. My sister’s fiance has been severely ill and in the hospital for the last 3 weeks. Ben’s job has taken him 3 hours away from me 5 days a week, and I’ve been stressing about work off and on for the entire summer.

images

So while I do feel very blessed in many ways, I have also been dealing with grief, stress, and a general unease. Especially with Ben gone, I find myself missing friends and family. I miss my sister who I haven’t seen since May. This is the longest we have ever been a part, ever. I miss my friends and my former co-workers at Chaminade. And I miss good Mexican food…LOL! But most of all, I miss my uncle and I feel sad that my sister and her fiance have to battle his Crohns disease again this summer. Last summer, he went through the same thing he’s going through now.

I guess life is always going to be filled with challenges. My prayer is that we can all find strength and the faith to push on even when we are discouraged, sad, grieving, or stressed. It’s been a rather emotional day for me, and I hope there will be good times ahead. Here’s to my 9th year of teaching. I really hope and pray that I can do the very best job possible for each and every one of my students this year, because believe it or not, teachers really do care.

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