Q. What's something nobody told you about parenting that you wish you had a heads up about?
A. Daddy doesn’t get all of the hormones/crazy connection with baby right away like Mama does. There’s a reason they’re called “motherly instincts.” Learn to trust yours while also giving your husband grace for not immediately understanding them. Don’t have expectations about what kind of parent your spouse should/will be.
Q. What's your process for decorating your home? Do you start with one central piece, or just randomly collect things?
A. Ah! This would have been easy to answer in college—I was the queen of collecting random stuff from the thrift store. I’ve been in the process of simplifying our home in the years since then. After we purchased our house, the only big new piece we bought was our brown leather couch. I suppose I kind of tried to decorate around it—it’s simple, neutral and modern and I tried to give the rest of our living space that feel with a few simple framed photos and a wall hanging. (A collection of plants were in the original lineup, too, but I of course failed to keep them alive because BLACK THUMB.)
Q. How did it feel when you were faced with the then reality that you may never have kids. Did you look into adoption? Donor Eggs, etc?
A. We did look into adoption. I looked into it a lot on my own, too, in the months leading up to our marriage. We didn’t plan on pursuing it for a while because we were all about the whole idea of needing time to just be married before we added children to the mix. HA. The Lord had other plans, apparently, because we found out Edie was on her way two and a half months into marriage. But we both are still very interested in adoption and I have these moments now that I’m a mother where I get overwhelmed with this TAKE CARE OF ALL THE CHILDREN feeling. I look at Edie and it breaks my heart to think there are babes out there who don’t have someone looking at them that way.
If things had gone differently and we had trouble conceiving, I don’t think we would have pursued help in that. We would have looked into foster care and adoption.
Q. How did you know that Daniel was the one that you wanted to marry when you were dating? And, has that changed or expanded since you have gotten married and had a child?
A. Ha, well. The summer we got together (early on in college), we made a tradition of going to a weekly open mic night at a Tulsa coffee shop. One night an old man came up and sat with us and said something about me having old soul eyes. He told Daniel to hold onto me and that, “The best is yet to come” for us. I think I kind of knew then. I think of that night often, especially on hard days, and pray that the best is still yet to come for us.
Q. How have motherhood and being a wife shaped you artistically? I know you were/are a writer and very artistic. I want to know how that has changed as your life has changed.
A. Oh man, everything has changed! And thank you for saying that J I feel like Edie is my living, breathing, walking poem. I couldn’t have written her if I tried. Every day I feel much more inspired and much more exhausted than I ever did before motherhood. So it’s a constant battle between feeling the need to create but not having the energy or time. But I’m working on that in this new year!
And marriage, especially the struggled we’ve faced this past year, has definitely changed the way I read and write and communicate my heart to the world. It’s changed this blog space, and in doing so it has changed my readership. I’ve been so encouraged by the women who have reached out to me because of something I wrote that spoke to them last year.
Aside from writing, I feel like my little photo business has really evolved into the birth and baby space more than it ever would have without a child. I feel confident I can capture and speak to the crazy changes that come with becoming a mother, and I love doing that for other families.
Q. What has been the most challenging part of motherhood for you?
A. Every day it changes and a new challenge presents itself, but overall—the anxiety. I prepared (probably too much) myself for Edie’s birth, but was not at all prepared for the issues that popped up shortly after she joined us earthside. Being sent for all kinds of tests when she wasn’t gaining weight put me in the darkest place I’ve ever seen and I spent much of the year trying to crawl out and not let my anxiety control me. Long story short, it has been really hard to care SO MUCH about this little child and know I’m the one responsible for her health and well-being, but that I ultimately can’t do everything perfectly. I can’t know everything, and much is out of my control. Accepting that is super hard for me.
Q. What books that you've read have been the most transformational in your life?
A. Oh yikes. I read constantly, so this list would take a lot of time and thought to put together. Most recently I read a book called More than Happy: The Wisdom of Amish Parenting and it was super inspiring!
Q. How did you develop your photography skills?
A. Ha, well, much of it kind of just happened. I was always the annoying friend with the camera at parties and get togethers—I’ve always loved onto memories that way. Before our honeymoon Daniel bought me my first DSLR and a few friends asked me to take photos for them for fun. When I posted them online I started getting contacted for photo shoots. I did them for free for several months and as my reach continued to expand, Daniel and I threw around the idea of turning it into something. I booked a wedding, and then another, and then another, and the snowball kept rolling. We invested in higher quality equipment and here we are, two years later! In that time I did a lot of research and found photographers I really love to draw inspiration from. I was familiar with photoshop from my time working on my university’s newspaper, and I had a lot of fun finding my own editing style. I’m super open to continuing to grow and learn as I go, but one thing I’ve really held onto is making each session a fun date or family outing, not a rigid, uncomfortable experience. I try to hang out with my clients, laugh a little, and just happen to capture it in photos.
Q. How did you know you were ready to be a parent?
A. Haha, well…we weren’t exactly trying to become parents when we did. But honestly, as soon as I saw that first positive pregnancy test (I took seven!), I was a mom. I put my hand to my belly and said hello and promised to do everything in my power to take care of the mysterious creature I had no idea was growing inside of me until that moment. I think it happens like that a lot—mothers become mothers as soon as they know they’re carrying their children. My whole perspective on my body and what it was for changed in an instant.
I joke with my friends, though, that I’m thankful God gives us nine months to prepare and that He isn’t just like, “Hey, you’re having a baby…and here she is!” and then there’s a crying, pooping baby in your lap. Wouldn’t that be terrifying? Ha. We did the best we could to get ready during my pregnancy, but I would say if I could do it differently I might focus a little less on the birth and a lot more on the part that comes after. I didn’t have any help lined up at all and I think trying to do everything on my own, especially in the midst of Edie’s eating/gaining issues, didn’t help my anxiety and depression.
Q. Have you started any traditions in your family, whether for big events like holidays or little moments like weekends?
A. During Farmer’s Market season, we go on Saturday mornings. I love to take photos of our little family before every big holiday or birthday event. I’m also a HUGE Halloween fanatic and love dressing up in coordinating family costumes. Edie was not even two weeks old on her first Halloween and were the Three Bears (our dog was Goldilocks). This past year Daniel wasn’t really into it, so Edie and I were Mary and her little lamb. A couple of nights before Christmas last month we went to see lights/decorations at a house out in the country and Daniel mentioned we should make it an annual thing. I’m hoping to develop fun traditions as our babe grows, because I’m all about them!
Q. Why did you choose to shower/bathe with your babe?
A. Skin to skin contact between mama and baby is so important, especially early on! Lots of happy hormones are passed back and forth, and it helps establish a healthy milk supply and motivates baby to latch on and nurse calmly. I didn’t necessarily plan to bathe with Edie as often as I ended up doing so, but she really didn’t care for baths by herself and I figured she was warmer against my body. It was also nice to both relax at the same time, and nursing in the bath was a huge lifesaver when she was little and struggling to mellow out at the breast. It’s kind of just become a comfort thing for both of us and on bath nights lately she starts to doze off –it’s an easy way to get her out of play mode and ready for bed.
Q. What brands of shampoo and conditioner do you use? It’s so hard to find an all natural brand that actually makes my hair feel clean!
A. Currently using Acure, which can be found at most health food stores or on Thrive Market. It’s rated a 1 on EWG Skindeep and I haven’t noticed it making my hair feel yucky, so I’m a fan!
Q. How long do you plan to breastfeed?
A. Before Edie was born, I would have told you two years because that's what the World Health Organization says to do (two years and beyond). Now that she's here and we have firsthand nursing experience, I've kind of thrown out the plan. I feel like she'll wean when she's ready and I'm happy to continue providing that safe place for her until then. Plus I really have no idea how I'd mother without breastfeeding. Boobs are the answer to everything! Ha.
Q. Is breastfeeding a toddler weird? Do you get lots of negative looks and comments?
A. Aside from the fact that she's much more coordinated than a newborn and can pinch me on purpose and do gymnastics while nursing, I think I actually PREFER breastfeeding a toddler. It doesn't feel weird at all. She's still my child and nursing still meets so many of her needs, both nutritional and emotional. There isn't another food on the planet packed with as much good stuff as breastmilk, and as long as she nurses she gets all of the antibodies my much more mature immune system makes. Aside from a 24 hour tummy bug, Edie has never been sick! I love NOT taking her to the doctor all of the time. Nursing puts her to sleep very easily most naps and nights and I am able to sleep well knowing her belly is full and happy. And nursing in the middle of the night (dream nursing) makes it where she doesn't fully wake up crying where I have to get up with her and do a whole crazy routine again to get her back down. Or listen to her cry for extended periods of time (shudder). She stirs, I move my shirt and that's that--we both drift back to sleep.
As far as ugly looks/comments go--I thankfully haven't heard many. I'm not saying I haven't heard any--nursing past a year is not our cultural norm, sadly, but I'm affirmed in the fact that it's super common and expected almost everywhere else and that study after study shows how fantastic it is for both baby and mother. I do realize it's incredibly foreign to most people, though, including much of my own family, and I try to be sensitive but factual when I'm explaining this area of my parenting philosophy. I feel very confident that I'm acknowledging, affirming, and meeting Edie's needs as a tiny individual and that doing so will grow her into a stronger, more independent woman (who will no longer need to breastfeed, haha).
That was so fun! Thanks so much to everyone who sent questions :) I hope to do more of these every once in a while, so please feel free to reach out if you have anything in particular you'd like to know--I love hearing from you all!