Heart to Heart

10 Things I Want to Tell My Daughter on her 1st Birthday

mclachlanstudios-bcphotographer-birakfamilyfallphotos-47
Photo by McLachlan Studios

 I knew it was going to be different the moment that I met my daughter for the first time. You see, I had a bit of a traumatic birth with her. (You can read about it here). Long story short, we almost lost our lives and I experienced a lot of trauma from the birth and I have since learned so much about myself as I recovered.

As they wheeled me into my room and brought her to me, I didn’t feel like I was ready to hold her because I was still shaking from the anaesthetics. I was barely awake at this point and my eyes were half open. I was about to tell them that I wanted to wait to hold her because I was scared that I’d drop her.  But deep down, I was afraid because I have an estranged relationship with my own mother, and I was scared that I wouldn’t know how to love her as a mother who didn’t know what a mother-daughter love is like. They didn’t hear my mumbles and thrust her into my arms anyways. I fell in love instantly. She taught me how to love bravely and fiercely, and that’s where it all began. And in doing so, my daughter has taught me so much, and there is so much I want to tell her.

  1. You are beautiful for your heart. Yes, those sweet little eyes are beautiful, but what matters most is what is on the inside.
  2. Thank you for challenging me to be strong for you. We had a rough start, you and me. People around us threw rocks at us because we were supposed to “get over” our traumatic birth, but we knew we needed to take it slow.  But together as one, just like when you were in my womb, we prevailed. We advocated for ourselves.
  3. It’s okay to not please everyone. You know this too well. You are fierce and strong in your ways, and you don’t even let your big brothers get in your way.
  4. Never lose your stubborn ways. You had trouble breastfeeding and we tried all sorts of things (bottle, SNS, finger feeding, cup feeding). But you would cry and cry until you got the flow of milk you desired. Nothing could trick you. You were determined, and you didn’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
  5. You’re smart – don’t let anyone ever overlook that. Our society places value on females for their outward appearance, but you don’t ever have to be minimized  to just “a pretty girl.” You are more than what society tells you that you are.
  6. Be a wildflower. Don’t be afraid to go against the current – know that you never need to conform to anything.
  7. Surround yourselves with empowering women. After your birth, we took a while to recover. Those that truly loved us and supported me for as long as I needed, and didn’t rush me. Mama is surrounded by so many women who love her, and in turn, love you. I wish for you to see what true sisterhood looks like, so that you too, will one day have your own sisterhood. It takes a village.
  8. Always tell me when I am wrong. Never let me forget how to be humble so that I can set an example for you.
  9. Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself and for others. Your little voice is already so strong. There is so much strength and tenacity in your voice. It demands to be listened to. Use that powerful voice to do good, and never to bring others down.
  10. I love you. I promise to listen to you when you cry. I promise to tend to you. I promise to love you with unconditional love, forever. I am your forever mama.
mclachlanstudios-bcphotographer-birakfamilyfallphotos-52
(Photo by McLachlan Studios)
mclachlanstudios-bcphotographer-birakfamilyfallphotos-81
(Photo by McLachlan Studios)
img_6997
Lookin’ pretty rough. This was about 5 days post c-section.
img_7080
How her older brothers initially felt about her….

 

0 comment

A Letter to My Future Postpartum Self as a Mama of 3 Babies

Keepin’ it real… a makeup-less bathroom selfie at almost 30 weeks pregnant!

(Before I continue, please don’t get me wrong- I am so incredibly thankful to be able to carry babies healthily, and so thankful for our fertility! SO incredibly thankful. I will never take that for granted.)

Tonight, at about 30 weeks pregnant with baby 3, I realized how far out my belly button has really “popped.” It was quite frightening. It’s popped much farther out than it ever did with my other 2 kids. In fact, it’s popped out so far that it’s like my bump has a bump. (Please don’t get me wrong- I am so incredibly thankful to be able to carry babies healthily, and so thankful for our fertility! SO incredibly thankful. I will never take that for granted.) And then it hit me: will my belly button go back to a somewhat reasonable size? I began to imagine what it might look like after baby 3 is born and it scared me. I panicked.

But then I remembered that I needed to be gentle with myself,  so I decided to write my future postpartum self a letter. This is for me. This is something I need to say to myself now, so that when I see my freshly postpartum body, I have something to go to. I know this might seem like an incoherent, disorganized ramble… but it makes sense to me, and I hope it might to you too. Its something I wanted to write to myself in preparation of having a newly postpartum body again, and I wanted to share it with you! I’m going to be really vulnerable here… deep breaths!

(Please don’t get me wrong- I am so incredibly thankful to be able to carry babies healthily, and so thankful for our fertility! SO incredibly thankful. I will never take that for granted.)

Dear Postpartum Mama of 3 babies:

You’ve been through so much. Out of the last 4.5 years (54 months), you have been nursing for approximately 38 of those months. You would have been pregnant for about 27 of those months. Your body has been through a lot: pregnancy, nursing, labour and birth. Your body has stretch to house three precious human beings, and will probably house many more. Yes, it doesn’t look the same… but life isn’t really the same as what it was like before kids either, right?

You have kissed countless boo-boos, wiped an abundance of tears, cleaned more diapers than you’d like to count, calmed the stormiest of terrible-two tantrums and nursed away bonks and bruises, as well as fevers and ear infections. You have the ability to soothe your babies like no one else does. You are irreplaceable, because you are their mama- their one and only. Your body made you their mama. You are their mama.

Not only has your body housed a growing baby, your body serves as a vessel, a haven, a sanctuary, a place of warmth and a source of nutrition for 3 of the most precious beings in your life.  You are their mama. And how beautiful is that? The stretch marks aren’t just “tiger stripes” that you earned. It goes much deeper than that. It’s physical proof that you and your babies were once intertwined together physically, joined by one beating pulse. How beautiful is that? As those stretch marks grew, so did those little feet that liked to curl up right under your right ribs. (To this day, that certain child still likes to hook his toes onto things). How beautiful is it that you were able to learn about your child’s quirks before he was born? As that belly button popped, chubby, delicious rolls developed around little wrists. And as your hips expanded in anticipation of the birthing event, as your belly stretched and grew, that little baby’s brain connections also formed. Those little connections formed, and your babies came to be familiar with learned to be comforted only by your voice, your heartbeat, your touch and your smell. These beautiful, instinctual connections formed while all these “unsightly” changes were happening to your body.

Take a step back and remember the first time that those wriggly, fresh newborn babies were plopped onto your chest. Try and remember what it felt like when your skin came into contact with your baby’s fresh newborn skin, still coated in vermix. It was a beautiful moment that you will forever cherish. But this time, as you cherish that memory, try and take a step back and notice the stretch marks and newly sagging skin as that very moment happened. It all makes sense if you take a step back and look at the bigger picture- your body worked incredibly hard for 9 months to reach that special moment where you first meet your baby, and it’s only natural for there to be physical evidence of all that hard work. Those stretch marks, extra pounds, saggy skin, funny new breasts- happened in anticipation of that very moment that you cherish so much.

The world may have certain standards for beauty. But let me tell you something, mama. You are beautiful. What you have is beautiful. Don’t be fooled by the world’s beauty standards because it doesn’t know the love you share with your children. Find perfection in imperfection. I know how saggy you think your breasts are. I know you see ripples in your once perfect and flawless belly. Sometimes you wish that the ripples in your skin weren’t there. And hey! I know you’re probably missing those rock hard abs. And yes- I know, you wish you could fit back in those size 0 jeans sitting in the back shelf of the closet. You nit-pick at your body, and it’s so hard to not criticize yourself. Next time you run your fingers across your stretch marks, be reminded not of the “unsightly” changes that have happened to your body, but be reminded of what has come out of it, which is a love so deep that words can’t describe: a love between a mother and her children. And how beautiful is it?

Those changes that have happened to your body aren’t just “worth it,”but they have been part of the beautiful transformation you have made from a girl into a mama. I know it’s easier said than done, but try to celebrate those changes you see in your body. As you remember the very first time you embraced your babies and they were plopped onto your chest, embrace those stretch marks. Those changes that you despise so much are part of your beautiful metamorphosis into  a mama that happens each time one of your newborns were plopped onto your chest.

Now go and hug your little monkeys. And then go sniff that newborn baby…and as you do- run your fingers along those stretch marks and be proud that they are there! 

(Please don’t get me wrong- I am so incredibly thankful to be able to carry babies healthily, and so thankful for our fertility! SO incredibly thankful. I will never take that for granted.)

IMG_4378

1 Comment

Running a Small Business: Heart Matters.

success

This is a post for fellow business owners, or those who are thinking of opening up a small business. I get told a lot of different things as a business owner, most of them very positive.

“How do you do it with 2 littles and one on the way?”

“What’s the secret to balancing your roles of mom/business owner?”

“It must keep you super busy!”

“What an accomplishment!”

I often smile and say thank you, and leave it at that… but the truth to it all is that there are a lot of things left unsaid. I don’t have it all figured out, I’m still learning how to balance my work and being a mama. And some days, I cry a lot.  Plus, there are often things that are unsaid about running a business that I feel I need to share from my heart.

Recently, I’ve seen a few posts on some local networking group from new, small businesses who feel defeated and discouraged because they feel like they don’t have many sales, or don’t have many followers on Instagram, or they feel like their followers and fans on social media are not engaging with them, or they aren’t part of enough giveaways. I realized that I’m not the only one that has insecurities surrounding their small business. I want to encourage those who might feel the same way or have insecurities. The truth is, a lot of business owners feel this way, even if they are seen as a established small business. It is never easy to run a small business.  I want to share a little bit about the vulnerabilities and sensitive heart matters on running a business on social media in this post.

red-hands-woman-creative-large

I’m just going to say it. There are a lot of things that make my heart feel vulnerable when running my business. For starters, it is easy for myself to compare myself to others, and I often have a tendency to compare my successes to those of other shops. Don’t get me wrong. when I see that another shop has reached 10,000 sales, I am extremely happy for them, but there is a part of me that wonders how many sales I’ve made to date and how that compares to 10,000 sales. The next one is hard for me to admit. When I see a good giveaway being hosted on social media, I sometimes wish I was invited to participate in it and I sometimes wonder if I even would make a good fit for any of these giveaways. Or, sometimes my heart beats a little unsteadily when I see that someone that I “follow” on Instagram doesn’t follow me back, or worse…. unfollows me! I’m even embarrassed to even say all of this out loud and I’m resisting the urge to hit backspace because it all sounds so neurotic. But the truth is, I could go on and on! I know I’m not the only one to have these thoughts because I see posts about them all the time in my networking groups.

In short: There are times I feel insecure as a business owner. I think the reason behind all of this is because running a business puts us in a very vulnerable position. We pour our hearts out into our businesses, invest our precious time and money into it, and it’s only natural to feel that way. It’s only natural to feel a bit vulnerable! But I think that it’s important to remind ourselves this:

 What success looks like to one person is not the same as what success looks like to another person. 

As small business owners, we need to give ourselves room, grace and patience. The beauty of running a business from home is that each business has a unique backstory to it! Some open up a business because they need the additional income. Some open up businesses because they have found something they enjoy making and want an excuse to make more of. Some business owners are stay at home moms. Others are working moms. Some businesses will see an overnight growth and huge spikes in sales, but others will grow slowly but steadily. The story behind each business is different, and each business owner’s life is different.  Because of all these differences- each business is going to grow and thrive differently. I think that the road to success for small businesses begins with pacing our hearts and our work loads. I’ll write another post on some of the practical things I do to balance my business with my mothering duties another day, but I wanted this post to be focused on these heart matters. What we can do is encourage each other, collaborate with each other, and lift each other up when insecurities hit. Collaboration, not competition! If you’re a small business- whether you’re seen as “big” or “small” keep doing your thing! Be encouraged, because what success looks like to one person is not the same as what success looks like to another person. 

1 Comment

Imperfections.

IMG_5769
As sit here on my yogurt-stained couch, looking at the dried pieces of cheese trapped in the shag carpet, I can’t help but wince a little bit. This post is probably a reminder for myself. I’m a perfectionist, and I don’t really like it, but it’s in my nature to want things to be done a certain way and for things to be cleaned a certain way. (Okay, I just like things to be sparkly and clean, period). Oh, that photo up there? I turned around for a couple of minutes to stir the pasta and I come back to find that my lovely children had TPed the entire family room.

But the thing is- I am a pregnant mama with two young kids. One of which just exclaimed, “Ahh… I got a booger!” The reality is that my house isn’t going to be clean all the time, sometimes my house isn’t going to smell very  nice, and it’s certainly not going to be organized all the time. I’m just going to have to learn how to live with an imperfectly clean and organized house. The photo below? The kids decided to colour their faces with a washable blue marker, and my youngest fell asleep in his highchair, mess and all.

IMG_2194

I realized that I needed to challenge myself to let it go and embrace the mess and imperfections that comes with being a mother, and that this applies to things outside of having a perfectly clean house. Not only am I going to have a slightly (okay, very) messy house most of the time, my body won’t be the same again. I have stretch marks that have left a silvery mark on my previously chiseled abs. My hipbones are a little wider from childbirth. One foot is larger than the other, and when I laugh really hard or sneeze, I pee a little bit. Holding myself to a standard of unattainable perfection isn’t healthy for my mental health or emotional health. Of course I make sure my house is hygienic, and that I take care of my body… but to expect things to be perfect, is not good for me or my sweet children.

Sometimes I yell and am impatient with my children. It’s hard for me to even admit that. There are days where I sit on the couch and turn the TV on for the kids. I am an imperfect parent. I don’t think any parent can be perfect, and I think it’s time to give ourselves grace, because in doing so, we give ourselves room to acknowledge where we can make improvements. No, life won’t be perfect and I won’t be a perfect parent, but I think it is important for moms to be honest with each other so that we can dialogue with together and provide each other support and encouragement.

Having a messy house, having what society deems as an “imperfect” body (that’s for another post!) and having an imperfect house without a sparkly white kitchen that’s perfectly tiled doesn’t make me any less of a mom or any less of a person. And being active on social media, my tendency is to pretend that my life is perfect, when it isn’t. It’s tiring to pretending, and it doesn’t feel very authentic.  I realized that I was afraid of embracing the mess in my life and scars on my body because of a few reasons. I was afraid that I was going to either fall into complacency. And I was worried something was terribly wrong with me, that I was somehow defective because I have stretch marks from my pregnancies, or that I can’t keep the house clean no matter how hard I try. I was afraid that if people really knew about my imperfections and saw the messes in my house, that they would think that I was a bad mother or a defected person.

IMG_5786

But here’s the thing: being imperfect, learning to live with and love the messes and quirks our lives is brave. Life is real and raw, and there’s something extraordinary with unveiling the mask of perfection that we seem to place over ourselves. My stretch marks formed because I nurtured two sweet babies with the warmth of my body for 9 months. They are physical reminders that my babies and I used to be sustained by one heartbeat. My hips are a little wider because my body prepared itself for two magical home births. The messes in my house are made when we share a meal or a snack together at playtime. The finger prints on my patio doors are from my two boys playing and giggling with each other from opposite sides of the sliding door. When I am impatient with my kids, it gives me an opportunity to teach them how to apologize through example.

So here’s my challenge to myself over the next week: I’m going to challenge myself to share something with others that shows these “messes and imperfections” that I have such a hard time embracing. Whether it’s on my personal Facebook profile, on social media, or on here, I challenge myself to embrace raw, real life along with its imperfections and share it with other moms who might also be feeling the same way. Anyone else want to join me? So, how ’bout another shot of that lovely redecorated family room?

IMG_5775

3 Comments

Mint and Birch Turns 3 & a Little Something for YOU!

IMG_7948

3 years ago, I took the plunge and opened up a Facebook Page for my business, Mint and Birch. I started my business as Woodland Owl Trinkets, but changed the name to Mint and Birch last December. I started making nest necklace for Mother’s Day for family and friends, and had an overwhelming amount of support and response. I would love to share a bit about my business, and also thank you for all your support!

IMG_7966

IMG_7494A little back story: My husband and I married at the young age of 20. (People thought we were crazy!) When I was 22, we had our very first baby. My husband and I weren’t exactly planning to have kids that young. I was still in my 4th year and I was finishing up my thesis for my BAH in Psychology, and I was planning to apply to grad school after I graduated. But our little baby decided to grace us with his presence, so I was unable to finish my degree. I was very close to finishing my degree. I only have 2 elective classes left, and I’ve completed all the upper level requirements needed to receive my BAH. My life drastically changed when I had my first: he was a very colicky baby who had feeding issues and was also nocturnal for 3 months. I went from a carefree, ambitious university student to a SAHM who started to feel very isolated. My friends were continuing on with the lifestyle that we had previously led: hosting dinner parties, enjoying a disposable income, shopping, sleeping in, partaking in spontaneous road trips, going out to eat, graduating university and pursuing their careers. My priorities had changed because my new focus was on taking care of our new baby. And because we had a lot of feeding issues, I had to dedicate almost 100% of my time to making sure our baby was growing well. I was also too tired to leave the house.  I often chose to nap with baby instead of going out with friends. I know that this is a very packed paragraph, and there is so much more that can be said about transitioning into motherhood, and how it can be different for each person. But the fact remains: I felt like I was losing my identity as I struggled to transition into motherhood. I felt isolated and alone because I didn’t have the energy or time to continue living like I had before. For those moms out there who are transitioning into motherhood: You can do it. You’re doing it, and you are doing great!

.wot    IMG_7978

Left: My first attempt at packaging. Right and Below: My current packaging

IMG_7993
I spent at least a year struggling to transition into motherhood, and I am so thankful to have had made friends who not only hand-held me during this time, but uplifted and encouraged me. You know who you are! So, what does my business mean to me, and why is 3 years such a celebration?

boxx

 I am so thankful for Mint and Birch because through my business, I have met some amazing mothers, fellow business owners, mompreneurs and friends. I have had heartfelt, meaningful conversations with strangers at craft fairs, received encouragement from those that I don’t even know, and have been so touched by the kindness that exists in the world. I am so thankful for all the relationships and friendships that have formed because of this small business. I know I say this often, but one of the best parts about running this business is the interaction and connections that I get to make with people. I love chatting with fellow businesses about businesses, but also the mom/life/work balance. (That’s a hot topic with mompreneurs!) Through these conversations with other momprenuers, I’ve learnt the value of being raw, honest and candid, and the importance of admitting that things aren’t always perfect, but that it’s okay. There is perfection in imperfection.

IMG_7937

It has also been such a remarkable experience to have been able to create so many custom pieces that hold so much meaning for the person it was made for. I have seen mothers come together to purchase a custom nest for new moms, grieving moms, new grandmothers, and friends. Doting husbands who order for their wives, and significant others order for their sweeties. I’ve even had someone propose with a nest ring when their custom diamond ring was still being made! To see the sentiment, thought, and love that goes behind each order has been one of the most rewarding things about running this business. I am so humbled and honoured to be asked to make such special pieces that carry so much meaning.

IMG_7955

This leads me to my next announcement. I’ve been running giveaways and sweepstakes on my social media feed, but I would like to do something special. Since I’ve started my business, I’ve been shown small glimpses of behind the meaning of some of my custom orders: instances of heartbreak, celebration, joy, grief, etc.  I have been so honoured to be asked to make pieces to signify so much. Keep reading below to see what I want to give YOU! Keep reading! I run a lot of giveaways on my Instagram and Facebook pages to drive traffic. But I wanted to do something different here. This isn’t really a “giveaway,” but comes more from my desire to touch people with a simple gesture. (This is one of the reasons I started this blog- to create a platform to connect, give and get to know you!)

So this is what I want to: I want to give a custom nest necklace away about once a month, more often if I am able to. All you have to do, is:

  •  1. Make sure you are subscribed to the blog. (I can’t contact you if you aren’t subscribed!)
  • 2. Comment below with what eggs you’d pick in your nest. If you want, you can write little bit about what it would mean to you. Make sure you’re subscribed to the blog, if I don’t have your email on the list I won’t be able to contact you! I’ll also make new posts about this every now and then so that other people who missed it may put their name down. Don’t worry, if you’ve commented once, I’ve got you down. All you need to do is comment somewhere once. I’ve got all these posts categorized so I won’t lose your comment!

Make sure you subscribe to the blog! Remember, if you’re not subscribed to the blog, I can’t keep track of your comments or contact you! You can subscribe to the blog using the form at the bottom of this post!

Every month or so, I will pick a name from the comments with posts tagged “Custom Nest for YOU,” look for their email in the subscriber list, and contact them to pick their own egg colour for their nest… and send it off to them, no strings attached. Don’t worry, if you’ve commented once, I’ve got you down. All you need to do is comment somewhere once when I post about this. I’ve got all these posts categorized so I won’t lose your comment! If I can do this more often, I will! Go ahead and fill the form below to subscribe, and then scroll down to leave a comment! 🙂 I’ll make a reminder post every now and then as well for those who may have missed this post! Thank you for all your support for Mint and Birch  over the last 3 years. I cannot wait to see what the next years bring for Mint and Birch! Come along with me in this journey!

Use the form below to subscribe to the blog- if you’re not subscribed, I can’t contact you! I can only give the person picked a nest only  if they are subscribed to the blog.

Subscribers will receive new blog posts by email!

 

 

9 Comments