Life as a Highly Sensitive Mama – Part Two – Breastfeeding

Leo Collage A

Okay… where was I… If you’ve missed Part One… you can read it here.

HEADS UP: This is a WAY more sensitive topic for me than how my son came into the world. This affects me every single day. Breastfeeding is a topic that many mamas feel passionate about. *I get it, I really do. I have heard everyones suggestions and thoughts about what I should do… tintures I should take and how often I should nurse. I can assure you that I am doing the BEST I can to feed my baby. Please allow me this moment to just share my experience and my sadness. If you want to help me… then SEE me and where I am. Thank you.

So… unless you didn’t know… not EVERY woman has a full supply of breast milk.

Yep… I guess I should’ve read more books… because I had NO idea that women can have supply issues. I truly thought that when the baby comes out… that the mama can feed her baby with her breasts. Sounds so… like a little girl understanding but honestly… that’s what I thought. I knew that the first few days would be colostrum… that it would take a few days for my milk to “come in”… but as soon as that happened… it’s like the faucet was turned on.

Another one of those things I wasn’t expecting… at ALL.

To begin… during my “labor” (more like a joke), I watched my doula who was breastfeeding her 6 month old, pump TWO full bottles of breast milk in like 20 minutes. Like 5 oz in each bottle. I watched with amazement and excitement that I would soon be able to do the same. In hindsight… I think seeing her do this might been a detriment to how I’m feeling about this topic. *NOT her fault at all.

So it’s normal for a baby to lose a percentage of weight loss those first few days of life. The hospital gauges that anything over a certain percentage of weight loss (my guess is 5%) that they suggest supplementing with formula until the mamas milk come in. Well if you read part one… the nurse decided to tell us this at like 2am on our second night when we could not get him to stop crying (read Second Day Syndrome) that he lost about 7% of his body weight (He started out at 6lbs to begin with…so 7% is a lot) little did we know he also was probably crying because he was really hungry. I was NOT very friendly to the nurse who suggested supplementing at 2am. NOT the time to tell us this. What? 48 hours after my son was cut out of me… I already have to give up my dreams of feeding my baby myself?  Uh HELL NO.

I try to push this out of my mind cause we were having such a not fun night.

That is.. until we were checking out… we got the news from the lactation consultant as she calmly attempted to explain it again… Leo needed to be supplemented. I think I would honestly have waited a few days if Leo started out at 8 lbs, etc… but since he was such an itty bitty and lost 7% of his weight already… that’s dipping into the 5lb range… I didn’t want to risk him losing more weight and it being dangerous. It was SO FUCKING HARD to watch him suck down that first 15ml of formula. Just thinking about it now makes me cry. The pediatrician, the nurses and the lactation consultant kept pushing that I can ween him off this formula when my milk comes in. Which I held onto like it was the secret to life.

They gave us enough formula for a few days… which I thought would be enough before I could ween him off this and onto my breast milk when the faucet turned on. The AVERAGE a womans milk comes in is 3-7 days. I thought.. okay, I could just do this for a few days. I kept breastfeeding him, hoping he was getting enough and I would argue with Peter about giving him the LEAST amount of formula so he wouldn’t get used to it.

*Side Note: That was a BIG argument… being overweight people… I didn’t want to start Leo early with the philosophy that he can eat his feelings… I know, he’s just days old but it really bothered me. It seemed that when Leo cried… and because there was no cycle yet (wake up/eat/play sleep) that it meant that he was always hungry. The only thing that helped me understand Peters philosophy is the fact that he was so little (6 lbs.) again, if he was 8lbs or more.. I probably would have pushed a bit more on this. This argument went on a LONG time. I still, 9 weeks later, still have trouble feeding him again, if he seems hungry prior to every three -four hours. More on my experience with Peter in Part Three.

Another side note: My dear kindred/coach friend Laura suggested I find a way to reframe how I see formula. See it as a positive instead of an enemy. I can see why she suggested that but I’m honestly not there yet. I am still working so hard to feed him myself … and formula is still winning. Maybe one day I will be able to, just not today.

Days would go by… and I wasn’t getting any more supply. I googled mamas who didn’t get her milk until 2 weeks… three weeks. I sat at the pump for 30… 40 minutes with barely more than a few drops coming out. I went to my pediatricians lactation consultant, hired a consultant to come to the house… and in that experience she told me that I was 90% behind where I needed to be to feed my baby exclusively. She jerry rigged a supplemental nursing system so I could experience breastfeeding while feeding him formula. Watching him actually feed at my breast and taking in a full mouthful made me SO emotional. I wanted SO BADLY to do that myself. Even today…. I still want that SO badly. I am still trying so hard. This is SO important to me.

So I can officially say that Leo is a 90% formula fed baby. I am able to pump enough to give him ONE bottle, every OTHER day. I still have him breastfeed before every bottle, so he can get as much as he can, I am taking FenuGreek three times a day to get my 3600mg daily dose, I can tell it helps but I still don’t get enough. I cannot tell you how sad I am about this. I am working SO HARD to give him whatever I can, but honestly… this is HARD. I don’t know how I will not look back on these early months in sadness because I could not feed my baby.

Hearing other moms who pump enough to feed their baby multiple bottles, who have enough to freeze and store their milk… make me sad in my soul. I would give ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING to be able to do that. In my vision as a mama… I saw breastfeeding being a part of it and honestly I feel like a death has occurred in my experiencing being a mama.

Add to that…  anyone can feed him a bottle. Grandma and Grandpa… definitely Auntie can feed him… what makes ME special as his mama? I know… everyone says that he knows I’m his mama but I’m just not sure. I feel I have lost that bond with him and I cannot tell you how much that has affected me. Yea yea.. post partum depression… I got it. I am allowed to feel THIS sadness about this.

So again….. I feel like my body has failed me yet AGAIN. There is nothing anyone can say to change this or make me feel better. It just is what it is. The ONLY thing I can do now is find a way to cope with feeling this way. I love my son SO much… seeing his beautiful million dollar smile lights up my life, but when it comes to how I’m feeling as a woman and a mama… a part of me is missing. A part of me that I’m not sure will ever be whole again.

As a Sensitive person… this was SO important to me. I will tell you that I have not always been open to considering myself a mama. It’s taken me a LONG time for me to be open to this experience and part of my vision around this was to be able to feed my baby. I feel SO raw about this… I have had two complete meltdowns about this and honestly, writing this out makes me feel like there will always be another one in tow.

That said.. I am not giving up. I will keep pumping as long as I can. I will attempt to add/change my solutions to hopefully get more supply (I hear that supply can increase up to five-six months) and I will continue to honor my sadness about this situation.

So I have two more parts of me in this sharing… Part Three is about how Leo coming into my world has affected my relationship with my husband. And the finale is how I felt before my lovebug came about having a boy.. and how I feel now.

Thank you for your support.

Life as a Highly Sensitive Mama – Part One – His arrival

Leo collage

*All these images can be found on my Instagram feed at @thisdreamergirl

If I had to come up with ONE word about what it’s like being a mama as a Highly Sensitive Person it would be.


I have been wanting to write this post since BEFORE my beloved Leonardo Salvatore Russo (happily we call him Leo) joined us on October 30th at 10:13 pm via Cesarean, almost ACHING to get this out of me (almost a cry for acknowledgement and support) but I didn’t feel I had enough experience with how I’m feeling, what it takes to be a mama under my belt to even say anything with assurance. Now that two months have gone by… I can keep this in no longer, and I have to get this out of me.

Side Note: I’m about to share my vulnerability, my insecurities, my “I have NO idea what I’m doing” that I would appreciate your compassion when writing your comments. Parenting is, I am finding an OPEN TARGET to criticism, even with those closest to us… so many different philosophies that how I choose to take care of my son might not be how you would, I would ask you please honor my decisions and not comment your suggestions. What I could use is your ACKNOWLEDGEMENT that you see me and hear me. Being a mama (or a papa) is a life altering experience and NO ONE prepares you for what you experience… even if you do read every book written. (which I admittedly didn’t)

SO many feelings, so many changes in who I am as a person, what I now need in order to feel “normal”… so many mind blowing HIGHS as well as close to being sucked into a BLACK HOLE LOWS that I almost feel like a crazy person still. Add to that that I am officially a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) my sensitivity to almost everything has become SO heightened that I don’t think I’ll EVER be the same. *okay yea.. lets not forget those pregnancy hormones too.

Let’s start with his birth…

While I will tell you that I had only one goal for his arrival… TO BE CALM, I absolutely had a vision for how I saw my labor and delivery. I was looking forward to ‘doing the work’ through each contraction and reach down to pull my child from my body as he takes his first breath. I wanted no drug interventions… a quiet room so I could focus, and the ability to move freely to help me push through the surges.

Yea… that didn’t happen. My blood pressure started rising a few weeks before (NEVER had blood pressure issues before this) and as my OB said… was on the threshold of having Pre Eclampsia so after some discussions with my husband, my doula and a few close friends… I decided to maintain calm and follow the direction of my OB and be admitted to the hospital where I begin the process of being enduced.

Long story short but after 12 hours and the highest dose of Pitocin… I was still not any more than 1cm dilated and add to that, my babys heart rate would dip after a chemically enduced contraction. I am convinced MY BODY WAS NOT READY TO GO INTO LABOR. It was like I was watching the worst case scenario shared in the movie of “The Business of Being Born“. I did my best to honor my preferences but in the end… I found myself walking to the operating room and what seemed like 15 minutes later… while I was violently shivering from either the epidural, etc… the doctors delivered my son via cesarean.

Leos birth A
*I do not even remember this moment at all and actually just saw these photos today. Makes me sad and weepy.

Yes… most people tell me that I should just be grateful he was delivered safely and that he’s healthy… of course I wanted him to be here safely and in good health… I just had NO idea how I would playback this experience and with such melancholy and sadness. From not being able to stop shivering while on the table… to looking over and seeing him get shots within a few minutes of birth without making us aware what they were and finally putting that goop on his eyes that I thought was ONLY for the purposes of keeping infection out of them from coming out of the birth canal which is NOT where he came from. I sadly think I will always have a black cloud over that day. I cannot tell you how sad I am about this.

I feel like my body failed me… blood pressure issues? What? Never in my life has this topic come up. My body didn’t dilate at ALL? I know about post partum depression and agree that around this topic… I definitely am feeling the symptoms. Then again… being sensitive, feeling so much… is it normal to be sad about this? I think any woman would feel sadness about how they welcome their first born not going as expected to feel a pang of sadness. Add to that that I feel strongly about my feelings… that that sadness would be a bit more intensified. Since 2 months have passed, I can say it doesn’t affect me like it did at the beginning but I’ll always look back on this moment, like I am now and feel sadness and most likely shed a tear.

From the minute he arrived… I think my being sensitive kicked into high gear and I’m pretty sure I will never return to my pre- Leo level again. Honestly I hope it never does. I feel SO much more empathetic than I ever have.. my heart has opened SO much more… to my son, what I need, to my repeated failed attempt to give my husband (who is not as sensitive and who needs completely different things than I do) what he needs. (More on relationships in Part Three)

Those first few days in the hospital were SO HIGHLY overwhelming. From all the visitors (I had NO quiet alone time with Leo the whole time I was in the hospital… something a sensitive woman DESPERATELY needs, I think it almost was a detriment to how I even feel now. I never got that initial spiritual/emotional connection that only being quiet and introducing myself to him would bring). The fact that 24 hours post my cesarean, I could not move my legs, eventually I could not get out of bed without lots of help…. not being able to get up to change Leo… rock him…etc… that Peter or someone else had to do everything, triggered me. The 2nd night was SO bad… he cried and cried… nothing Peter did (because he was mobile) would work and the only way Leo would be quiet and sleep was at my breast which I loved and also hated because I thought there was something wrong with that. *Come to find out about the SECOND DAY SYNDROME – If you have a mama to be in your life… send her this post… TRUST ME. I wish I knew about this. Finally, upon us getting ready to leave the hospital (packed bags, etc), finding out that my blood pressure was still high that the Dr was pushing that we stay in the hospital another day… I was doing my best to just keep it together…for myself and my husbands sake… STAY CALM. *Thankfully after taking some meds (which I was quite against) my blood pressure stabilized enough that I could go home a few hours later.)

The hospital staff was wonderful, my experience in the hospital will always be a pleasant one…definitely would recommend Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, DC to others, but what was happening within me was a totally different story.  I was desperate to for a moment to reflect.. to soak it in.. but there wasn’t ONE minute. It was like the minute we agreed to be enduced… it is a marathon that besides stopping at a water station… I have not stopped. *or slept.

So now my heart is WIDE open…. I visualize my body on a dissecting table like that poor frog in biology class with those long pins keeping the guts exposed. I don’t see my heart NOT being on the outside again, anytime soon.

Honestly… I could not be happier. I love this new part of me…I feel like I feel SO much more, everything is just so raw. Tough part is how do I blend this new joyous and unsure part of me with the rest of the world who either doesn’t understand or like that I now need more quiet… I cry more at the little things that move me (like my sons beautiful smile or watching him sleep), that I am very conscious about how my son is feeling (hence I do not believe in letting him “cry it out”. Yes, a good cry is definitely therapeutic.. but not as a newborn! Duh!) and finally the fact that I am now a MAMA… (seriously if you see me…give me a hug on this, look me in the eyes and say… “Yes Kerilyn.. YOU are a mama.” because I take this role so so seriously in my heart.) I’m not sure how I’ll heal the hurt in my heart from his birth not going as I envisioned it or how I can give myself permission to shed a tear when I think of it when the rest of the world tells me to just “get over it”. I feel both stronger in my resolve about who I am as a woman… and more unsure than I ever have been.

Whatever happens… I am SO grateful for understand that I am sensitive (Thanks to Elaine Aron)… that I know about vulnerability.. shame (thanks to Brene Brown) and as I learn how to blend this part of me with the rest of the world.

Finally… It now blows my mind that the child celebrates his or her birthday on the day of their birth when I honestly think it should be the mama that needs to celebrate. This is THE day your mother did all she could to make sure that you were welcomed with open arms… THAT is truly a mothers birth-day. I think I’m going to start a ritual come next October 30th.. that part of my sons 1st birthday will be a moment that I can celebrate in this experience myself.

Welcome to this crazy dream, my dear Leo. I am so excited for the many MANY opportunities that we will have together to learn forgiveness. Mama loves you. Thank you for being my teacher.

On being BRAVE

Have Faith be bigger than your fear

image: Pinterest

I know you’ve all heard the phrase…

“Leap, and the net will appear” – John Burroughs

I think what it ultimately means is to have courage, TAKE ACTION and “Feel the Fear and Do it anyway“, even though we don’t know the outcome.

To have faith.

I’ve always been the kind of person who believes in facing our fears, in working towards our dreams, who isn’t afraid to feel the scary moments but knows that fear (usually of failure in some form) is the only thing ultimately stopping us from achieving our goals. You know that quote…

“What would you do if you knew you could not fail?”  – Robert Schuller

It’s nice when we can daydream what we would do, but to put it into action…. well, that’s another story, am I right?

We all want guarantees in our life. Evidence that it will work out, no matter what we decide to do. I have been one of those people, hanging onto my comfort zone, afraid to swim away from the edge of the pool with many situations in my life.


Only in recent years have I been ready to face the fact that CERTAINTY doesn’t exist (just like perfection doesn’t exist either) that HOPING for something doesn’t guarantee it’s showing up in your life. Last year, I discovered that I am a “Hope addict”, constantly craving the ‘high’ that hoping something to happen brings, and when it doesn’t come about, continually ending up deeper in the “Pit of Despair” (A Princess Bride mention) and each time, taking longer to climb my way out of.

With the help of my coach friend Laura, I discovered that holding onto hope, doesn’t secure lifes certainty, it only perpetuates the DEEP, underlying belief that we never deserved to have that happen, this happen, or to have that show up in our life… anyway, when it doesn’t work out the way we want it to.

Hoping sort of messes with our self worth. I know it has for me.

My husband has always been good at accepting the philosophy of “That’s life!” in his usual state of going with the flow. Frankly, it’s something I admire about him and also, something that frustrates the shit out of me. NOT because I think he’s wrong, It pushes on me… makes me wonder why I can’t be more go with the flow… take a risk, as the Kardashians call it “YOLO – You only live once” and instead, I’ve settled to just tread water on the side of the pool. AFRAID.

Well as I prepare for this next chapter in my life, I have made a concerted effort to let go, try to go with the flow, and most importantly, BE CALM with whatever happens. Despite one huge setback (my reaction to finding out we’re having a boy, versus my HOPING (see there’s that hope addict again) that it was a girl I was carrying), I’ve been relatively able to drop the extra baggage that looking for certainty brings.  I KNOW that I have NO idea how my pregnancy will go, how my labor and delivery will go, and ALL I can do is let go of what I WANT to happen, and just be okay with what does happen.

To me, this is me being BRAVE and I have been really happy to say I feel I’ve been doing a relatively good job of it.

Well, if you know me or have been following me, you know that there is one thing that I have been wanting to do, that I have been just too afraid to do. It just causes too much uncertainty for me, it causes me to be frozen in fear. It’s leaving the “certainty” of the financial security of my 9-5, in order to work on my dreams of having a thriving coaching practice and mission with Married to a Chef. Honestly, I’ve simply been too afraid. Even though the 9-5 has not served my soul in a LONG time, the fear of financial scarcity has kept me there, and has deteriorated whatever energy I had to go to it, every day. In turn, I isolated myself from everyone in my office, and because I know everyone can feel how I’m feeling, everyone stayed away from me, for not wanting to bump into my negative energy, which was my own way of beating myself up for not being brave enough to have the courage to face my fear and LEAP.

With the decision Peter and I made for me to stay home a year, in order to take care of “the boy” (we still haven’t decided on a name), and also giving me the gift of working on my dreams, I knew there was an end in sight with the 9-5. I knew if I just held out, I would soon be able to leave on my own terms.

Well, This has proven to be more challenging than I thought.

Back in May/June.. I can’t remember, the company made a decision to change manufacturers (From Herman Miller to Steelcase – think of it like changing from Toyota to Volkswagen) and for the past few months, all we’ve been doing is ramping up to do business with this new company. Frankly, I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know this companys philosophy (believing in transparency and no visual hierarchy in office spaces) but as I am getting to the practical knowledge of what it takes to be a designer, learning parts and pieces… I found myself feeling like I was wasting my time and the companys time, knowing I’m spending all this time training, just to be leaving in a little over two months.

SO I did something BRAVE.

I took the LEAP and left the 9-5 as of this past Tuesday, 8/13, in order to face my fear and do what I’ve always wanted to do….


Thankfully, this was a mutual decision with the management of the 9-5, and being in agreement with how we were to handle my early departure, financially and strategically, I felt confident enough to do it.

I kept thinking, “It’s only a BLIP in time. Two months. This is a GIFT Kerilyn, take it.”

So here I am, on the other side of that decision, and I am still feeling quite brave. I know that there are no guarantees. I know that the part of me that wants certainty is still there, and will show it’s face when I give into that first moment of fear… of scarcity.

But for now… I will revel in this moment of bravery. CELEBRATE doing something that I have wanted to do for a LONG LONG time… and do my best to ENJOY this time I have, to prepare for the coming of this little one, to give me a heads start with making my own dreams come true, and to continue my lesson in learning to be brave.


*Because I know this is a gift, I vow not to squander it. No sitting on the couch, watching TV, eating bon bons (even though, I’d LOVE to dive into some chocolate right now, miss chocolate quite badly) I am determined to work hard to prepare for little one and this transition in our lives, and to use this gift to get a heads start on what I am envisioning with my business and my plight. SO excited (nervous too, don’t get me wrong) and am SO GRATEFUL 1. that my husband supports me in this leaping and 2. that I know this is a GIFT.

Cheers to being BRAVE!!!

Wrong side of the bed.

on particularly rough days

photo credit: Jen at Bits o’ truth

I don’t know what happened, I woke up this morning feeling SO OVERLY FRUSTRATED with everything. Whew. Yesterday, I was planning on writing a post titled, “Pinch me, I’m dreaming”, about how life is unfolding in a somewhat yummy, dreamy way but today… I have NO idea where those good feelings went. I am feeling SO different than yesterday. I message my sister and she tells me that the fact that I’m one week from my third trimester is a clear reason why I’m feeling so emotionally grumpy today. It sort of feels like a bad PMS trip, pissy and ‘locked and loaded’ to attack anyone or anything that comes into my path. So strange.

Before I attempt to turn it around, let me get off my chest what I’m frustrated about. (Just sharing, I’m sure this feeling will pass just as quickly as it came on)

 – Frustrated that I’m feeling like my house is never in order, that it always needs to be cleaned or tidyed up or organized better. I DO know this is just life, but it’s frustrating the crap out of me today.
– Feeling frustrated that the guest room/nursery is not in place yet. How I wish I could look into that room now and envision ‘the boy’ sleeping in there. Not just yet.
– Frustrated with the 9-5, futile endless training that is inevitably going to lead to a dead end when the little one comes. NOT how I saw myself spending the last 3 months in this industry. (Company changed manufacturers, from Herman Miller to Steelcase two months ago, so I’m learning a new product and new way of designing just to leave when the boy comes)
– Frustrated that our savings account is not as large as I would like it to be. Never feeling like I can keep the money IN there, instead there is always a reason to take it out. *Again, I know this is life, just frustrates me today.
– Frustrated that I haven’t had a vacation in over two years and most likely will not before the little one comes. I can’t tell you how I want to cry knowing I haven’t had a ‘time out’ from my everyday life (where I didn’t have an agenda) I am ACHING to have nothing to do, on a beach somewhere, listening to the waves, writing in my journal. This yearning is so strong, it’s palpable.
– Frustrated that I COULD’VE been closer to a beach if we had gone with our plan to move to Charleston,SC (I got a design job down there back in May and then WE decided to go with Plan B (quit 9-5, take a year off, build business) I DO see the value in going with Plan B, I think I’m just frustrated I am still here in DC, where I am SO ready to be down south.
– Frustrated that I don’t feel that Peter is grasping how his life is going to change once this little one comes, and how our independent ways are going to take a pause for an undetermined amount of time and his life is going to consist of work and home for a while. I know I’m not giving him any credit that he does know how life will change, and that he’s trying to just ‘live it up’ now. I think my frustration is REALLY that he’ll get frustrated with me because he can’t go out and do what he wants to, when he wants to like he is used to. Feeling scared that he’ll somehow resent me for limiting him and the things that make him happy, in turn for being sequestered at home with me and the boy. Not saying it’s rational folks, just where I am.
– Frustrated (more like scared) that I don’t know how to rock my business into forward motion when I am able to put all my focus on it. I see others doing it, I just feel a bit scared that I won’t know what to do first… when it comes time to do it for me. So much I want to do… just not sure what to do first.

There, glad I got that off my chest. I still feel the same, but it definitely helps to get it out. Again, I’m just sharing where I am, I’m positive this feeling will pass.

So to attempt shift directions, I am going to do 3 things 2 things, hopefully it will help redirect me out of this frustrating mood I’m in today.

3 things that make you happy:

  1. Feeling the boy moving around a LOT more in the past three days, still such a trippy feeling, one that I am trying not to take for granted (I think it can easily be taken for granted because it’s happening, on and off, all day long)
  2. That it’s FRIDAY. (Can I get an AMEN!)
  3. That I am writing this blog post today. I have been wanting to do this a few days now.

2 things you are looking forward to today this weekend:

  1. That my sister is coming to spend the weekend with me while Peter is off on his bike to a chef/food event in Southern Virginia called Lambstock. We are going to figure out how to lay out this nursery/guest room and get it to a place where I can feel a little more prepared for the boy to arrive.
  2. We are also going to be meeting with a doula on Sunday, hopefully/maybe to be the middle ground between having a hospital birth and a midwife/home/birthing center birth. She is a new doula, but has a team of experienced midwives/doulas on her side so I’m excited to see if we click.

2 long term things you are looking forward to:

  1. That if all things go as planned (fingers crossed), Peter has a getaway weekend (at the beach!) planned next weekend for us so at least I can hopefully spend one day, listening to the waves, eyes closed. If not, I will definitely be going to the pool.
  2. Looking forward to the baby shower shin dig that my sister is throwing at our house in September. If I may… Peter and I “give good parties”, and this one, I think will be no exception. I get most excited to see everyone have a good time. 🙂

1 person you are going to appreciate:

Honestly myself. I am so proud of myself. I told myself that I wanted to be as calm as I can be throughout this experience of preparing for the next chapter of my life. I feel like I’m doing a good job, and am feeling at peace with where I am (despite these frustrating moments). I think I’m at a point in my life where I can see the fruit of my work to SURRENDER to the outcome. I have NO idea what’s ultimately going to happen (how my birthing experience will look like, how I’ll “be” as a mom, how our decision to leave the 9-5 will affect our financial future) and yet I feel at peace with that part of me that is okay that I don’t know. I am facing my fears… and attempting to do it in a way that leaves me feeling as calm as I can be, for me and for the little one within that I am charged with caring for.  I feel BRAVE.


I must be a mermaid

photo credit: Pinterest

Happy Monday to you all,

Hope you all had a restful weekend. I LOVE this quote above, and wanted to share… I think it says SO much for how I’m feeling these days.

Without diving into my regular chatty Cathy-ness, I want to give these posts a direction, instead of being all over the place like I usually am. So without further adieu…


5 things I am grateful for:

  1. My husband. Last nite, we had friends over for dinner and he helped me make such a delicious meal AND cleaned everything up afterward. I CANNOT tell you how pampered I felt when I was able to continue my conversation with my friends, and when I went into the kitchen, it was all cleaned and put away! I felt SO taken care of in that moment.
  2. That as of today, I am still pregnant. I am not taking one day for granted. Feeling the boy moving around is still such a trippy feeling and yet feeling him moving, makes me grateful that I have a reminder that as of this very moment, I am someones mama.
  3. My friend Jill asked me to participate with a few of her beloveds, around a topic about self compassion. My episode went live on Saturday, and without a doubt, it’s the clearest writing I’ve done on what I believe in, that I’ve re-read it a few times and feel really good about where I am in my spiritual journey. Plus, she said such nice things about me, I was beaming with love for my friend who truly does “see” me. – See my post here.  *Thank you Jill, for including me in this beautiful conversation.
  4. I am SO grateful to have a vehicle that I LOVE driving. I was a little worried I was going to have to move from my beloved Volkswagon when I had to sell my little red VW V6 Jetta, last November, for something more affordable and practical. I am SO happy that we found the VW Tiguan at Carmax, that was everything I asked for! (manual, a little bigger (read: family friendly), less than 30k miles, and completely within our budget!) I want to say I think she is my dream car. I still get excited to drive her everyday. 🙂
  5. Knowing there are kindreds out there, that I can lean on anytime, that truly get me. Get my swimming in the deep end way of thinking. Who help to challenge me to go deeper, face the darkness of my fears, remind me that I’m not alone and to keep going without telling me what THEY would do or making me question myself for sharing my vulnerabilities. Those who empower me, instead of make me feel shameful or doubt myself. For those who don’t live out of fear, but move through it into possibility. And for my friends and family who are more comfortable swimming closer to the surface, even in my discomfort, as they remind me to take a break from the depths, to come up for air and just lay on a lounge chair and read a Real Simple magazine, with a cold beverage in hand, that I don’t have to think ALL the time. To get over myself. To remind me that my deep swimming is a choice. I need both types of people in my life.

4 things I can’t stop thinking about:

  1. What our sons name will be. Peter and I are still not in alignment with what this little boys name will be. I have my ideas, and he has his ideas. We can’t seem to solidify what we will be calling our little one, all the days of his life, this time around. I know we’ll get there, but I am anxious to find THEE name that feels right to both of us.
  2. Honestly… what the pain of labor will feel like. Will I be able to handle it? Will I need intervention? How long will it last? How can I be at peace, in the midst of this experience? How can I trancend my pain? How can I be at peace, no matter what the outcome is?
  3. What my life is going to look like once he comes…. in ALL aspects of my life and how I can be at peace with whatever it looks like. I really want to be a teacher to my son that it is OKAY if/when life doesn’t go as we planned. I’ve struggled with this so much in my life, and I feel so grateful for this opportunity to learn a new way of being, and then to be an example of what I am learning. (This is sort of a theme in my life right now, a yearning to surrender to the outcome)
  4. Daydreaming of a vacation. Peter and I haven’t been on a vacation since our 2nd annivizaversary (we’re going on our 4th this September 26th!) and I’m daydreaming of laying on a beach, under an umbrella, listening to the waves, and taking a dip in a pool, with my husband. *and a nice steak dinner.

3 things I want to accomplish this week:

  1. Find and register for a hypnobirthing class. It’s something that I think will really assist me in my quest to be at peace, no matter what’s happening around me (or within me) and I am excited to learn the tools to hopefully bring about a more peaceful birthing experience.
  2. Get my car inspected. *Trivial, I know, but necessary.
  3. Finish reading Outliers – Really good book with case studies about the different circumstances that lead up to one person or a group of people finding success. Highly recommended.

2 things I am working on being more positive about:

  1. Being okay with who I am, and not to change or shrink or become smaller when I am uncomfortable or when I’m with someone who thinks differently or wants something different than me. To be okay with what I want or what I can or cannot do, even if it’s not what everyone else is doing or can do.
  2. Releasing some old unhealthy parental patterns around money and receiving gifts. Especially now with this little one coming. I feel very uncomfortable with people spending too much money on me/us/we. It comes from feeling like gifts can somehow compensate for love and quality time, which doesn’t make me feel like I’m giving or receiving something authentic or how I somehow “owe” them something equivalent in return. I would much rather prefer to spend quality time with someone, sharing a meal, writing a note, sharing how I feel about someone than to buy someone something that they can forget I bought with them in mind and vice versa. It’s my issue, I know, and one I’m working on being more open to receive. (This is a tough one, I’ll tell ya.)

1 random thing:

This might be random but it’s VERY important to me. I don’t want to lose sight of my dreams, just because this little one is coming. I have seen (and heard, for mind numbing HOURS on end) women who have basically lost themselves in their children. Who are unable to talk about anything else. That SCARES the shit out of me. I am a dreamer, I have this HUGE mission to make Married to a Chef and my coaching practice profitable so my family and we can relocate somewhere desirable and I won’t have to rely on a 9-5 again. To continue practicing ‘A Course in Miracles’ and going to my weekly study group, to continue to spend time with my cherished friendships, to have a getaway weekend with my husband, to sit and read a book, to follow through on other dreams of mine (perhaps becoming a sign language interpreter?). To me, starting a family is just a PIECE of the pie, it’s not the whole pie. and I EMPLORE you to remind me of this when the boy comes. I know there are so many things I do not know at this point, I KNOW that things will change, I know there will be a period of adjustment, a “Timeout” of sorts until I find my way to a regularly scheduled program in my life, but that said… it’s SO important to me that I find my way back onto the path of working on my dreams, and not to put them aside, just because I have another person to take care of. THANKFULLY, as much evidence I have of women who have lost themselves in their children, I have also seen gleaming examples of women who are doing it… raising a family AND working on their dreams. One particular kindred I know I will be reaching out to, to help me, if I lose my way. I give you all permission to remind me if you see me forgetting my intended way. 🙂

That’s all for me right now, until next time!
In gratitude,


Bet you thought I forgot I had a blog.

Russos 2013

Nope. Very much still here.

Wish I had a good reason (excuse) to share why I’ve been so MIA, but honestly I don’t. I can’t remember the last time that I wrote, on a semi-regular basis, so I don’t know what last I shared with you. With the advent of Facebook (Find me here.) you can practically keep up with me, whenever I do share there. (Which is every once in a while. For me, Facebook has become one big opportunity for information/sensory overload, hence I only share when I’m inspired)

Just haven’t been in a sharer-y mood, as of the past year or so, here on my blog. I didn’t want to come across as negative or ‘whoa is me’ to the things that I’ve been working on since we know by my tough letter to myself, that I can focus a bit too much on that, and the times that I have allowed the flood gates to open, as standard operating practice for those who share their feelings publically, I left myself open to scrutiny. Being a sensitive soul, I wasn’t able to receive others good intentioned suggestions. (even if they were just a part of my imagination) If you too, write a blog, you know that sharing can be deeply personal and can leave yourself open to those who think they know whats best for you.

That said, too much time has passed and I am BURSTING at the seams to share with you all that’s happening in my mind and in my heart. (And in my body… like a BABY!) At my core, I’m a sharer. A chatty Cathy and I have felt a void, a loss of connection that I had, not just with those who read this (those handful or so of you lovelies out there) but with myself. Writing has always been a way of getting what I’m thinking OUT of me and onto a place where I can better process.

SO…. I think I want to have a format where I can share in a regular way. Either I will do 3 things, 2 things : (3 things that make you happy/2 things you are looking forward to today/
2 long term things you are looking forward to/ 1 person you are going to appreciate) OR  5-4-3-2-1 (5 things I am grateful for/4 things I can’t stop thinking about/3 things I want to accomplish this week/2 things I am working on being more positive about/1 random thing

Starting with today. This one will probably be extra long since I’ve got so much to share.

I commit to you and to myself to post one of these exercises, once a week and am actually looking forward to it!

3 things that make me happy:

  1. As of tomorrow, I will be 23 weeks pregnant. (YES, I said pregnant) I honestly am still in shock that 1. Peter and I are going to be parents and 2. We are going to have the experience of caring for and raising a little one. For so long in my life, I didn’t think children were in my plan, so this is still sorta trippy for me. SO FAR, everything is going well. I am due on November 6th-ish and we’re delivery at Sibley Hospital in Washington,DC. I still unfortunately have a bit of nausea (specifically around when I’m either hungry or full) and I found out early on that I have a genetic mutuation for a blood clot disorder that I’ve never heard of in my life until now which has me on a low dose aspirin regimen. Found out we’re having a BOY, which at first was not the news I was expecting to hear, always thinking a girl was who I was meant to guide and nuture, but alas, I’m slowly settling into this fact and looking for ways to raise an emotionally available and well rounded boy to be the man a woman would dream of marrying. *We still have not decided on a name, I have had a girl name in queue for 3 years now and am honestly draw a BLANK with what I would want to name my future son. (Weird. I’m going to have a son. I’m going to be a mama.) Pinch me.  Feeling him moving around already is such a cool, bonding and yet trippy experience. I am SO grateful that I’m not freaking out with “I have an alien inside me!” thoughts, but a gentle calmness and peace when I feel him moving around.
  2. This next thing makes me SO happy, I can not stand it. I am SO grateful to Peter to believe in me and my vision for Married to a Chef and coaching, that he supports me leaving my 9-5 and staying home for a year to take care of our little one and build my own practice. After a three month “maternity leave”, I will begin to work on my practice, my vision FULL TIME, while taking care of our little one. Little ones grow so fast the first year, we both see this as a benefit to be home those first 12 months. This is what I’ve been dreaming of for a LONG TIME. The time and space to focus on my OWN mission and message. I’ve been SO conflicted over the past 4 years with regards to my 9-5 career, that I am SO GRATEFUL for the opportunity to make this happen and hopefully (fingers crossed) find the bounty (both in having the flexibility to raise my family AND the financial bounty to NEVER have to go back to a 9-5 again. – Oh how badly I want to make this take flight) Now, I’m under NO delusion that doing double duty as a work at home mama will be a breeze (or the fact that we’ll be going down to one salary) but I’m committed to working to make this happen. The goal of making my vision profitable so that I can continue past year one (and not returning to corporate america) is something that motivates me to want to work twice as hard. I promise to work hard to make my family proud.
  3. That my kitty girl, Pez, is STILL with me. Oh my goodness, my heart. She is now in her 18th year. Shes definitely slowed down and I worry if we’ve come to the end, from time to time when she intermittently has seizures that scare the dickens out of me but I am grateful EACH day that she is with me. She has been a part of my life for almost half of my life so far and while I know she will not live as long as I, I am savoring each moment I still have to ENJOY her. She’s been really cute lately, visiting me multiple times a night to, I guess, check in to see if I’m okay. I think she can tell that something is about to change.

2 things I am looking forward to today:

  1. My A Course in Miracles study group. Every Tuesday from 7-9pm, I meet with others who are studying ‘The Course”, to help bring them greater peace in their lives. I have been studying and part of this group for a year and a half now, and it’s profoundly changing my life. I wish I could say it’s changing my life because it’s EASY, but alas, I cannot. It’s been one of the hardest things I have ever wanted to do. I find myself in constant resistance to my natural state of peace, and am continually having to pick myself back up, dust myself off and get back on the path. We are not programmed to believe in continual peace. At our core, we are filled with conflict, and this course is a guide to facing that conflict and presenting another option, another way. I know I’ve written about this before, but in studying this course, I feel like I have come home. There is no where else for me to look for the Answer. My only job is to stay diligent in it’s unraveling and continually willing to choose another way to live my life. It is this tug of war between our way of being in the world (EGO) and our natural state of peace. As you can see in my picture above, I need regular reminders to stay on the path, and I find writing on my inner wrist helps me to “Stay the Course”! 🙂
  2. Eating Fruit in some fashion. My fruit cravings as of late have either been as a smoothie (banana/mango/strawberry) or eating pineapple or green grapes. I find myself definitely wanting to get in my fruits everyday. If the afternoon comes and I haven’t had some fruit in some way… I can tell my body starts to yearn for it. (like now) – I figure since I have almost completely cut out coffee and chocolate (for the caffeine), replacing it with fruit is a substitute I can definitely live with!

2 long term things I am looking forward to:

  1. Umm… everything? So many things I’m looking forward to. Leaving the 9-5 (Hopefully forever, fingers crossed!), Having a SAFE and PROBLEM FREE delivery of this little boy, and being able to enjoy every moment being with him, watching Peter as a new dad, my sister as a new auntie, working on my own dreams, drinking coffee and eating chocolate again, babys first Christmas… I don’t think I could just list two things here.
  2. The day we make relocating a reality. I am SO ready for a change of scenery and pace. Finding that place where we want to put down roots (READ: Buy a house) New roads to drive on, new restaurants, new friends, new adventures. Perhaps close to a beach would be nice too. *YES, if you’ve been reading me or following on Facebook, you know that location for me is Charleston,SC but I’ve also been daydreaming of moving back to Savannah,GA too.

1 person I am going to appreciate

Gosh, I cannot name just one. I just cannot.

To my husband – For supporting our family goals and my personal goal of making my dreams come true. I know it will be a completely different experience, diving into the unknown and perhaps our fears, but I promise to do my best to let my actions (and hopefully outcomes!) speak louder than my words! Thank you for really KNOWING me, for knowing when to step in and say “No honey, I know that won’t make you happy in the long run”, even though I desparately thought I could “fake it till I make it”. For asking me when you’re on your way home from work, “I’m leaving now, is there anything you need?” – I can really tell you really want to provide if you can. For surprising me with flowers, and sweet mushy cards and our childs first book. “My Pet Giraffe” – for letting me cry when I need to, and for reminding me to laugh (even when I don’t want to). I am so grateful for you, even in my resistance.  Thank you for saving my life.  Cheers to us being a mama and a papa! (makes me get choked up to no surprise, I’m sure!)

To my sister – For this exciting adventure we are about to go on. You as an Auntie and me as a mama. For spending time with me when I’m lonely. For helping me not feel so alone when Peter works long hours and on weekends. Being the ONLY one who REALLY understands what I’m working on (forgiveness) and where my conditioned beliefs get in my way. I am excited to see how this next chapter unfolds for YOU. I can’t shake the feeling that things are lining up EXACTLY as they should for you. I am SO excited to stand by you while you light the way for yourself. Thank you for your willingness to go into this unknown with me.

For my girl friends Laura, Roxanne and Kriss – Thank you for being there for me through this extremely interesting and foreign experience I’m having while being pregnant. I am SO grateful for your constant acknowledgement and validating thoughts, even when mine are irrational and emotional. I feel heard and seen by you where I feel most vulnerable and sensitive. For encouraging me in a way that leaves me feeling empowered. Thank you for helping me feel like I’m not going crazy, or being ungrateful (or minimizing my own experience) in this trippy and also exciting moment of my life. For helping me feel SAFE in my feelings, even if they’re not understood by everyone. For validating my fears and confirming me that I too, have what it takes to be an amazing mother, to my son. (Still weird to say son, gotta admit.)

Thanks all for letting me pour this out of me. I gotta say, it’s been really nice to share this. Like the first sip of a cool beverage on a hot summer day. Aah. Looking forward to doing it more often!!!

In gratitude,

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