Tuesday, March 15, 2016

From the Heart of Katie

1.  What was becoming a first time mom like for you?
Becoming a Mother was a different journey for me then I ever thought it would be.  Having a stillborn baby boy as my first born gave me a unique perspective on Motherhood.  I know everyone says you are never truly ready to have a baby, however after giving birth to Porter (my angel baby) and then struggling to get pregnant for over a year and half after; I was 100% ready to be an earthly Mother. Being a first time mom to my living daughter Autumn was so completely surreal. It actually took me until she came home from her 7 week stay in the NICU for me to really feel like I was a mom.  I was so overcome with joy that she was finally here….finally in my arms…in our home and alive that I was alittle obsessive over her! But what new mom isn’t obsessed with her baby. 

2.     What did you learn from Porter’s life and what advice do you have for other mom’s who find themselves walking the hard road of delivering a still born baby?
My goodness, I learned so so much from my little Porter. I learned that life is extremely precious and so fragile. I learned that I am not incharge of my life at all. God has a plan for me and I’ve learned to give up control and trust in the Lord. I learned that I am stronger and weaker then I thought. I gained a great understanding and appreciation for the Atonement of my Savior Jesus Christ. I learned patience, even though I didn’t want to.
The advice I have for mothers going through the trial of Still birth, is to let others lift you up. Let people in. I wouldn’t have been able to get through my experience if it wasn’t for all my amazing friends and family.  Pray! Even if you don’t believe in God. Ask your High Power, the universe or cosmos for Strength.  Also, talk about your experience. For me talking kept the memory of Porter alive. It kept it real. I didn’t want to hide the fact that I had a still born… I wanted to celebrate the fact that I had life inside of me. That he had a spirit and was so special he didn’t need to be here on earth. Remember that the pain that you feel does ease. It never goes away, but it changes.  As time goes by the sharpness fades and you will grow to be able to handle the ache better. There are also so many support groups, blogs and people out there that have had a similar experience as you. Utilize these women. Some of my best friends now are other Angel mommies I met because of Porter.
3.     Who is a positive role model you look to for mothering advice and guidance?
Of course, my mother. She was/is the idea homemaker.  She always had dinner on the table. She kept the house perfectly clean and yard immaculate. She could sew, paint, and craft like a pro. She took us to all of our dance, swim and piano lessons. She encouraged me to follow my passions.  She was never short of encouragement and selflessness. She never missed a recital, competition, or baseball game. She stayed up until we got home every night, even if that was 2 in the morning. She has been involved in every aspect of my life. She was there when I got married. When I lost Porter. She is always there to give me advice and tell me to be kinder to myself. 
4.     You’ve spent a lot of time with your sweet girls in the NICU and with extensive surgeries for both. How did you cope and get through the hard days?
PRAYER,FAMILY and FRIENDS! It’s so true though. When Autumn (my first daughter) was born 7 weeks early, to say I was anxious was an understatement.  I basically lived at the NICU. The amount of support I received was unreal. I think so many people were on this journey to have a baby with me that even if I wanted to feel discouraged I couldn’t because so many people were rooting for Autumn. Knowing that she was already impacting so many people really helped give me the strength to get through those hard scary days.  When Autumn had her Major Reconstructive surgery on her skull, I made sure I had prepared the best I could. I researched her condition extensively. I wrote about my feeling on my blog.  I prayed for strength. I had several friends, family, and complete strangers say they were praying for us and had put our names in the LDS temples throughout the world because we are of that faith. 
The way I have coped with all the medical trials my girls have been through is through the love and support others have shown me.  It’s very humbling. Lula (my second daughter) basically has had the same medical problems as Autumn. When we discovered that Lula was going to need the same surgery on her skull I joined a group on facebook with over 50 thousand members with kids with cranial abnormalities.  It was beyond helpful and comforting to hear others stories, as well as tell people my story and give advice from my own experience.
5.     What is the best part about being a mom? The hardest?
There are so many incredible things about being a mother. The amount of love you can possess for another human being is insane.  These girls of mine have changed me forever. I love the giggles and snuggles.  The kisses and ‘I love yous’  Seeing their personalities develop is one of my favorite parts of being a Mom.  Watching my girls interact together and love each other is like nothing I have ever felt.  
However motherhood has been the HARDEST thing I have ever experienced. I have struggled with terrible anxiety, guilt and depression. I have felt like I have lost my identity at times.  Finding peace that raising my two beautiful girls is what I am meant to do and its okay if I’m not perfect at it, that has been the biggest struggle I have faced.  
6.     Outside of being a mom what are your hobbies and interests?
I am a Recreational Therapist, so I love activities. Road bicycling, swimming, hiking, camping, photography, board and card games, dancing, coloring, cook and baking are a few of my favorites. I admit I am a Netflix binger and consider napping as a hobby.  I also love just spending time with my husband doing anything together.
7.     What are your strengths as a mother? What are some areas you’d like to improve in? 
I think I am really good at expressing my love for my girls. I tell them often. We snuggle, hug, hold hands and kiss a lot.  I never want my girls to feel like I don’t love them.  I am good at recognizing my daughter’s strengths and complementing them often.  I am a firm believer in positive reinforcement and try not to use “No” very often.  What I need to improve on is being move creative with my girls.  I need to do more activities with them.  I also need to be more present and actually sit down and play with them instead of just watch them play.
8.     How has motherhood blessed your life? 
Motherhood has blessed my life in so many ways. I feel like I have fulfilled my real purpose in life; that I am doing something truly divine in having and raising children.  It has taught me the true meaning of sacrifice and deepen my perspective of what love is. It has strengthen my testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It has also brought my closer to my own parents and helped me appreciate all they have done for me. 
9.     What are your daily essentials?
Almond Milk (I can’t live without it), Morning snuggles in bed with my girls. Instagram (that’s one of the ways I stay social and connected to my friends). Reading (whether its my scriptures, a book, or a religious magazine) Calling my mom and dad. ( Neither of them live by me).
10. What are all the different roles you feel you must balance as a mother?
I think the biggest role I have to balance is being a wife too. I feel like between taking care of the kids, cleaning the house, making meals, exercising, running errands, church callings and a million other things, sometimes my marriage takes the back seat. I have really been trying to focus on balance and making sure to find time specifically for my husband every day. 
11. What do you do to help you through the trenches of motherhood?
I have to have adult interaction! I am such a social person and being a stay at home mom can be very lonely and isolating. I have to plan at least one activity a week where we can go be with other people, even if that is just my family. When I first had Lula I never left the house and my Post Partum Depression was debilitating. I found once I started having play dates, chatted more with friends, and going out with my hubby (without the kids) I started to do better emotionally.
12. Favorite thing to do on the weekends?
Besides sleep! But really, Nate and I enjoy relaxing and spending time cuddling with the girls or just playing and taking it easy. We also like to travel down to St. George to see his family and play for the weekend. Nate is amazing on the weekends. He actively tries to watch the girls more so I can get a nap in, or have some “Me” time.
13. What do your children teach you?
They have taught me that everything doesn’t have to be perfect all the time. It’s okay if the house is messy and we are still in our pjs at 3 in the afternoon. As long as we are spending time together, that’s what is important.  They have taught me to be nicer to myself.  My 3 year old is my own personal cheerleader. She is always so proud and loving towards me. It makes me feel like I am doing something right.
14. How was life different for you before you became a mother?
I didn’t have wrinkles or baggy eyes. I slept through the night and had a lot more free time. I had a flat tummy and lots of energy. My house was clean and I made dinner most nights.  I played with my friends a lot and spent more time with my hubby. I bought more things for myself and was more free with our budget.  A lot of these things seem so superficial now. It’s amazing how our priorities change as we have children. Things that were so important now just seem silly. I wouldn’t trade any of it for my girls.
15. Favorite go to family recipe?
Creamy Italian Crock pot Chicken:
Put 4 frozen chicken breasts or 6 tenders into crockpot. Salt and pepper.
Cover chicken with 1 cup Italian dressing.
Cook on low for 4 hours
Remove chicken and shred
Mix one can of cream of mushroom soup and 4 oz of cream cheese with the Italian dressing in the crockpot.
Return shredded chicken to crockpot and mix creamy sauce mixture with chicken.
I then add fresh mushrooms on top.
Continue to cook on low for 1-2 hours.
Served over rice or quinoa
16. What advice on motherhood would you like to share with all us moms?
Motherhood looks different for everyone. For some it is organic meals and Structured Pinterest crafts. For others its cartoons, free play and frozen lasagna. For others it is working full time and getting home just in time for baths, story time and bedtime kisses. There is no right way to be a mom. Breastfeeding or formula… Cloth diapers or disposable…Sleep training or rocking to sleep. We are all doing the best we can. We all are doing what we are able to and what we think is right. Follow your instincts, give yourself a break, kiss the heck out of your kids. Feel blessed!