Rootedness//Blooms

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Rootedness//Blooms

"From rootedness, I can grow."

Have you heard this before? I hadn’t, but it completely relates to all that I experienced this past week, a week that came about after months of hardship and worry.

My summer was not what one might expect a beautiful, warm, California summer to be. I worked myself to the bone. I stressed myself to the deep end of the pool. I yelled myself to perceived insanity. I cried myself to confusion and doubt. I simply {felt like I} lost it.

When you’re a wife, mother and business owner you have to be 100% strong for your husband, 100% strong for your children and 100% strong for your business. Did you know that’s totally impossible? There is no feasible way to give everything to everyone and everything that relies on you for peace, happiness and survival, no matter how badly you want that to happen.

Thanks to the internet and its answers and remedies and checklists and e-books and free webinars and Pinterest boards full of wisdom regarding the “best” or “right” or “easiest” thing to do to be a perfect wife, mom and business owner, I began to feel like a fully-informed but incapable failure. My list of things that would improve every aspect of my life grew too long to even read in one sitting.

The ideas in my head were taking up too much room and begging to be set free, put on paper, uploaded onto my computer, edited and disseminated to anyone who cared to know of their existence. My fridge begged for healthier, more delicious homemade food. So many business tasks were put in motion, but nothing was getting completed because my time is little, and my energy is even tinier.

My heart was breaking under the unbearable weight of fear that rested heavily on my chest. Would my business fail? Would my children become depressed? Would our bodies crumble as a result of the non-organic food I’m forced to buy due to finances, or lack thereof? In other simpler terms, I was severely overwhelmed, and the only thing being set free from the confines of my mind was anger, the recipients of which were, sadly, my husband and children.

That’s not to say I was horrible all of the time, but I do take full responsibility for my insufferable mood swings that came about because of the crazy-high expectations I’ve set for myself. I was far from rooted, and I know I’m not alone. We all do this as women. Everyone tells us how to be perfect, but we can only do so much. We are human, after all, and we love to be needed by our families and loved ones. So much so that we are willing to sacrifice everything to try and do what’s best for them 100% of the time.  

I personally get a lot of joy out of being useful and helpful and creative and motivational and...you know, everything, to those that need me to be everything. But, did you notice I forgot something up there in that list of people and entities that I need to be 100% strong for. Yep, I forgot myself. I forgot myself for the last 60 days or so, and, let me tell you, doing so is simply begging for chaos. And that’s what I felt like I received as a result of the way I set myself up this summer - pure chaos.

Just the other night, I burst into tears on the couch while my husband and I were watching TV. I told him I know I could be a better mom and that I need to change things. I expressed that I can feel that I’m going about all of this all wrong, and we are running out of money as I work so, so hard to start a business to help other women on their motherhood journey. The irony of it all was palpable. I felt like a hypocrite, and suggested that I just quit and dedicate my heart and soul to just my family because they are so important, and my babies are only babies for so long. As much as I want to create a sustainable business that will bring light into the lives others, maybe my purpose is to focus on bringing light only into the lives of my children. And I can live with that if that truly is my sole life purpose. I love my daughters. I love my husband. I love the family I am a part of, and I hate feeling pressured by society and money and all of those stupid “how to be perfect” articles to fix my life on their terms. Their advice wasn’t working; rather, it was suffocating me.

As my husband began to comfort me and tell me I’m a great mom and am doing good work etcetera etcetera,  I told him to stop. I didn’t need to be comforted. I needed to dwell in this and figure out the answer on my own. I wasn’t crying because I was sad and needed a hug - I was crying because I was so fucking frustrated. I wanted to slow down, and so I opened myself up emotionally and mentally to whatever the Fates had planned for me. I went to bed with every intention to change my perspective the following day. I planned to do a little work here and there, but to focus primarily on exercising patience with my children and doing fun things with them. Simplicity was key. My mental well being depended on it, and I was prepared to postpone my business ventures if that meant my daughters would be more joyful and I could revel fully in motherhood.

The Fates heard me loud and clear.

Signs of Purpose

That following day, I decided to look for a job in a birth-related environment that would offer regular paychecks, you know, do the 9-5 thing again maybe if that is my calling as a provider for my family. My mom took Lorelei out to play during Isla’s nap so I could write a cover letter for a position I knew I wasn’t qualified for, but it was the only one nearby that was related to my passion for birth and postpartum care for local families, and I love the organization that I would be able to work for if I were to get the job. Upon finishing, my phone rang.

The call was from someone who came across my website and needs a postpartum doula this fall. This was the first call I have received from a potential client since I put myself out there this summer as a working postpartum doula. I was quite pleased, and the timing was extraordinary. I smiled a bit and felt a little more relaxed. Maybe I am meant to do this work right now after all.

Then I received another call. It was from the local business I had sent my cover letter and resume to just a few hours prior. They liked my background and, though I wasn’t qualified for that particular position, they wanted me to begin to develop a relationship with them for any future opportunities by taking sweet Isla to one of their baby classes and becoming familiar with the services they provide to local families. Wow. Timing is everything, and this timing was, again, extraordinary. Creating fundamental relationships like this is key to success as an entrepreneur, especially locally as a birth worker, and my heart was bursting with gratitude for the opportunity.

Wanna know what happened next? I scheduled two interviews with women who asked me to talk about my work on their radio shows. So cool.

As I told my husband about these uncanny occurrences, I received my first five-star review on Etsy for the wall hangings I make as a means of raising scholarship funds to provide free postpartum services to mamas in need. Seriously? Five signs in one day? But it didn’t stop there.

Over the next few days a friend asked me to contribute women’s postpartum wellness posts to the blog she manages for the company she works for, and I then received a very kind and heart-warming email from an email list subscriber thanking me for my emails and telling me how much she enjoyed them. She told me my passion shone through my website and writing. That meant a lot to me.

I also officially submitted my packet for postpartum doula certification, an accomplishment that took two years of a lot of effort to meet. I remind myself that I accomplished that goal in spite of a painful pregnancy, giving birth, raising a toddler and a baby and dealing with a chronic headache. I consider this a big deal, and I allow myself to be proud.

After all of this, I don’t think the Fates could have made their message any clearer. I am absolutely meant to do this work right now, and it is possible to do so without sacrificing the needs of my family. I simply needed to give myself space to breathe and acknowledge that I am not a failure. I am capable and motivated. I WILL accomplish my goals, but I need to allow myself to live a regular life at the same time, and give all of the seeds I sow enough time and space to grow.

As all of this excitement was going on, I discovered that my efforts to be more patient were working. I didn’t yell at my girls once. Rather, I took them out to swim lessons and playdates without feeling guilty about not working. I read books about postpartum wellness instead of articles about ways to improve myself and my business. I spoke to friends on the phone {yeah, with voices!}. I helped my mom take her dog to the vet because I was glad to help her {I owe her big time, after all}. I took the girls to surprise their dad at his work {at Lorelei’s adorable request} even though it was past their bedtime when we left, a time of day I’m usually very strict about so that I can get to work again as soon as their eyes close and their sleep breathing begins. Living in the moment in this way felt SO much better than staring at my laptop, alone and stressed, wishing my husband was at home with me instead of at work.

My takeaway from this experience is that being honest with myself about the crazy way I was living {for no good reason at that}, and giving myself space and permission to release a bit of control is what brought forth this revolutionary week, a week that soothed me, brought me joy and brought to the surface my true purpose in the birth worker world. I will never be perfect, and I will always have to work hard, but I’m allowed to be human. Most importantly, I’m capable of being a good mom if I let myself be a good mom because I am strong, and forever rooted in the love of my family.

The Rooted Tree

I now know that I am so strong that my strength is comparable to that of a tree, and my family is the foundation within which my roots thrive. Sadly, the stress and pressure of outside forces was pulling me much too hard. My roots were straining to remain where they were, where they belong, and by allowing myself to get wrapped up in a million to-dos and should-dos and will-dos and might-dos and need-to-dos, I inadvertently stopped pulling back. Doing so would have further rooted myself in the depths of the greatest source of nourishment for my soul {my family}, but the pull was so strong, and I was losing the little strength I had left as force after force pulled me into the belief-state that the amount of things I need to do to succeed in every aspect of my life was impossible, and I would fail.

As my roots began to snap one-by-one, reality grabbed a hold of me, and the pull stopped. Reality held me steady, reminding me that I don’t need to do all of those things and that I am capable of doing the things that actually are required of me, and I regained my strength. I allowed myself to take deep breaths that brought much-needed oxygen all the way down to my suffering roots. As reality helped pull me back against those forces, my roots began to embed themselves once more within their rich foundation {my family}, and as they regained their strength, I began to grow, and opportunities bloomed one by one until I could no longer deny the evidence right in front of my wild eyes.

By staying rooted and giving myself space to breathe, I would continue to grow and bloom and eventually become a source of comfort for others, providing shade and a backrest when needed. The petals of my blossoms would flutter and swirl like a spring snowstorm as they made room for the next phase of seasonal change, and passersby would revel in the enchanting moment of nature taking its course, remembering there is more to life than the never-ending expectations we have placed upon ourselves.

And so, in spite of change, I will stay rooted. In spite of outside forces attempting their strong pull once more, as I’m sure will happen in the many years to come, I will stay rooted. My family is far too sustaining to ever let my roots loose again. I vow to be always rooted, and thus be always blooming.

As I write this, I can’t help but notice that so much of what is advised when it comes to embracing life fully is closely related to the advice we give laboring mothers and new mothers going through their fourth trimester with their newborn baby. Taking deep breaths, releasing control and allowing life to unfurl as it was meant to is quite often the best thing we can do for ourselves, our families and our dreams. I personally feel that over a decade of private school turned me into a perfectionist control freak {one with a great education at least}, but these years post-school where I have been fully enveloped in the natural world of motherhood, both personally and in my chosen career path, are proving to be more and more transformative, allowing me to be the woman I’ve been suppressing for way too long.

The other night, as my husband talked and I talked, I reveled in the gratitude and peace I felt, and suddenly, an idea literally popped into my head and rolled off my tongue before I even fully knew what I was saying. It shook me and inspired me more than any idea I’ve had thus far. It’s an idea that was just waiting to be revealed, but would never have been shown to me if I had stayed in that negative place of doubt and drudgery and allowed myself to be completely uprooted. It’s an idea that I will share as soon as I have constructed its foundation and am prepared to take on clients. I truly can’t wait to transform it into a reality, but I have learned my lesson. I will maintain this slow pace. I will continue giving myself space. I will remain calm and steady and rooted, as a doula should remain. Everything will work out exactly the way it’s supposed to - and I don’t always need to be the one at the helm. The Fates quite often do just fine on their own.

 

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The Power of The Snuggle

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The Power of The Snuggle

Can we all just admit that it feels like the worst thing ever when your kids don't go to sleep right away at bedtime? When they refuse to stay in bed after the drawn out routine, the reading of a million books written for tiny people over and over again, the toothbrush battles, the jammie chasing, the whining, the setup, the water fetching and the repeated tucking in...ugh. God help us all. 

For a while there I would get super pissed off, like crazy mad. I needed that downtime to prepare for tomorrow's early wakeup call, and every minute lost caused me physical pain. Like, literal pain. I've had a chronic headache pretty consistently since January, and being able to sit and do nothing felt really good after a long day. 

Then I quit my job, the one that caused me insane amounts of stress, and I suddenly wasn't bothered nearly as much by the disruptive "bedtime crazies" as I call them. My headache eased up quite a bit, and instead of getting super angry at sweet Lorelei for not doing what I needed her to do at bedtime, I started giving in to some of her requests. 

The other night it was a snack. Tonight it was reading two more books. But both times the final move that officially kept her in bed was the simplest and coziest move of all - I snuggled her and held her hand and giggled with her about cats, and it worked! It worked so well I kind of teared up and felt very grateful for those simple moments. 

I think I've written about this before, about choosing love instead of anger. Considering all that is going on in the world right now, I'm finding it more important than ever to show my child the difference between and the benefits of choosing love over anger. Sure she gets in trouble and we get frustrated with her when she misbehaves (those are important lessons too), but when all she wants is to not be alone, why force her to be sad and alone every single time? It's completely unnecessary, and also kind of mean.

So instead, and from now on, I will show her love during the bedtime crazies. Now and forever I will show her love in the moments that mean so much to her. I am finding that they mean just as much to me, even more so than that downtime I crave so badly.

kaitlin coghill doula writer be always blooming

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The Best Way to Travel With a Toddler and Newborn

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The Best Way to Travel With a Toddler and Newborn

Something I wrote in January of last year that I really loved and figured I might as well share:

Lorelei and I traveled as far as the mailbox today. We put jackets on over our jammies and held hands while we ran down the driveway. The mailbox is two houses away from ours, and we got to use the very special mail key to retrieve all of our letters, coupons and credit card offers. Lorelei loves carrying the key back for me. She held onto it tightly, saying “Don’t worry, I’ll take good care of it, mama.” And she always does.

But when we got back to the house, the adventure quickly commenced. I went through the pile of mail creating a “recycle” pile that was much larger than the “keep” pile, and then I turned on the T.V. for Lorelei so I could make breakfast and coffee in peace before Baby Isla woke. The rest of the day involved a little bit of playing here and there, a lot of nursing and quite a bit of trying to keep Isla distracted from her teething pain. It was rough, but we got through the afternoon without too many tears being shed. That’s a win in my book.

By the end of the day I felt badly for not being a crafty, anti-T.V., cutely dressed, patient and inspirational mom. I tried to give myself a break because parenting a toddler and a baby is no easy feat, but I do want to provide my girls with a fun, memorable childhood (a goal I promise to tend to before I go to bed every night). But before I can sleep, the little ones must sleep, so I tackle the bedtime routine with fervor. When I tucked Lorelei into her bed, she sweetly said, “I love you sooooo much, mama.”

I thought to myself, why in the world does she love me “sooooo” much? We didn’t go anywhere exciting, she watched way too much T.V. and I cooked dinner in the microwave. By no means is that what a mother who could be loved “sooooo much” does.

I realized, then, that my two-year-old perceives the day much differently than I do. If you were to ask Lorelei what we did today, she’d tell you the following, because this is how we played during those few and far between spare moments of freedom:

"Today was so cool! Mama and I traveled all over the world to the most wonderful places. First, we set sail on the stormy seas to visit a fairy’s cave in the dining room. We found it all the way on the bottom level of the kitty condo, and she gave us some pixie dust so that we could use it to help Sharky’s heart beat regulate.

Then we had lunch (string cheese, dino nuggets and fruit, my favorite) before we attended a Katy Perry concert. I love Katy Perry and mama always takes me to one of her concerts when I’m feeling kind of moody. So we shook our “bom-boms” to the eye of the tiger song and the fireworks song while Baby Isla laughed and kicked her feet in her swing. It was so fun, I seriously didn’t want it to end, so I begged mama to not let it end but she said Katy Perry needed to go take a nap.

Then I got to watch my favorite show while mama helped Baby Isla stop crying. She spent a lot of time nursing her and putting on her chamomile oil. She even let me help put the oil on Isla’s little baby feet. A bit later, mama read me some books. One had a great story about a dragon, so I decided to call mama “Mama Dragon.” I fed her some magnetic alphabet soup while she made me dinner in the dragon lair. We flew to the living room together, flapping our dragon wings and laughing really loudly like dragons would.

Before bed, I turned into a mermaid in the bathtub and cleaned my fin in the soapy waters. Mama taught me a cool trick so that the water wouldn’t get in my eyes when we washed my long, golden mermaid hair. It felt really good so I closed my eyes, smiled and said “Thank you mama, I love you so much.” That made her smile, which made me really happy.

When it was time to get out, mama wrapped me up in my doggy towel, threw me on her bed (literally, it’s the best part) and tucked me in so I could be warm while she picked out my jammies. Then mama let me run around naked before putting my jammies on, which was so much fun. It always makes Isla laugh, too, which is SO cute.

By the time I was dressed and ready for bed, mama looked pretty worn out, so I gave in and hopped onto my bed. She sat Isla in the rocking chair next to us so that she could watch and listen to my bedtime stories too. Mama acted out all of the animal hugs in the Mommy Hugs book and read me my favorite prayers. It was so nice. I told her that I loved her sooooo much because I do, and then I reminded her to not forget Isla before she left the room. I’ve never seen her forget Isla, but I figure I should always remind her just in case. I can’t wait until tomorrow. I hope it’s just as awesome as today was." 

Wow. I’m not surprised that I’m exhausted. Who knew we could travel to so many places in just one day? And with two kids at that! 

It’s clear that no matter how challenging and boring the day appeared to be to me, an adult with different expectations of what should have been accomplished and what it takes to be a good parent, my daughter’s point of view is probably that we did a lot of traveling to a variety of magical lands without her ever having to be strapped into a car seat. 

And so, I tell myself this: I have NOT failed my children by staying home all day when I don’t have the energy, patience or funds to leave the house and set off on a big adventure. There’s a time and a place for that, and it is not right at the end of maternity leave during growth spurts and teething pains times two in the middle of the week. 

By being present and paying attention to my girls and playing along with Lorelei’s fantasies, I got be a part of a day trip that was cooler than my wildest dreams, and I traveled farther than I’ve ever traveled before in my life. Plus, magnetic alphabet soup is delicious, didn’t you know? Now, please excuse me while I guzzle a large glass of ice water. My throat is totally singed after breathing so much fire this evening. 

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Why Motherhood Kicks Ass

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Why Motherhood Kicks Ass

Ever since I became a mama, I've gone back and forth on whether or not I'm having more fun now as opposed to when I was free to do whatever I felt like doing, when I felt like doing it. Back in the day, I used to go dancing with friends whenever I needed some exercise, and I used to drink white wine every night while I binge-watched Friday Night Lights and How I Met Your Mother...by myself. I enjoyed learning and studying and writing, so I continued to do those things even after I graduated from college. I never cooked though. I totally hate cooking. 

Then I had a VERY important realization. I still do that shit! When I need some exercise, I put on Lorelei and Isla's favorite songs (which are my favorites, because what else would I play for them?) and we dance like crazy people all around the living room until we're out of breath. Major benefit? No creepy dudes trying to touch my butt. And when I'm alone at night when Ryan works, I drink wine and binge-watch all kinds of shows and documentaries, just like before! Except now I drink red wine. That's the only difference there.

Regarding learning, studying and writing, I still do those too! I have spent the last three years writing blog posts and e-books and long-ass Instagram captions while also obsessively studying pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period. Lucky for me, these three life occurrences are something that will always be happening (during my lifetime at least), and they are all areas that we continue to learn new things about constantly so I won't ever be thirsting for knowledge - I'll probably end up being overwhelmed by it and end up thirsting for more red wine instead.

As far as cooking goes, I bet you're thinking I have to cook all the time now because I'm a mom. Wrong! I'm lucky enough to have a neighbor that likes cooking and invites us over for dinner once or twice a week, and a mom who also likes cooking and invites over for dinner two or three times a week. The other nights are the nights Ryan is home, and he doesn't mind cooking (that's why I married him). So how often do I cook dinner? Negligent amounts of nights. And breakfast and lunch are easily created with non-cook things like turkey and yogurt and cereal and Trader Joe's chicken noodle soup, which is the bomb. 

What I've come to realize is that becoming a mom didn't turn me into someone without a life, and it definitely didn't take away the fun. Everything's just...better. It's better in so many ways. I enjoy dancing sober now and my drinking habits have clearly matured. I created life and I get to watch those lives grow and have fun being silly by my side. I have a family to care for and a small village forming around us. I also have found my life's calling, and I know it's my life's calling because I've spent years pursuing many goals that center on it.

That's why motherhood kicks ass. It's everything and more, and, in my case at least, I'm a much better person because of it. Because of motherhood, I crave life. I focus less on the things I hate about life and strive to create and do more things that I love about life. 

So for those of you considering starting a family but worried you'll never have fun again, don't be. You'll have MEANINGFUL fun, the type of fun that shapes a small person's love for life - and you will never, ever truly regret becoming a mama. It's definitely not an easy role to have, and there are many times you'll cry and scream, "Why is this so fucking hard!?" But after that 30 seconds has passed you'll realize how strong you are, the goodness you are capable of, and your baby will be looking at you weirdly and then flash a big gummy smile your way, and you'll melt a little and move on with your day. Believe me, mama, you can do everything that has been asked of you by the universe that blessed you with your child. Stay strong. You have the strength of every mother before you holding you up. 

kaitlin coghill doula writer be always blooming

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