anchored in light

A lifestyle blog about finding light in every avenue of life

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Modesty | What Nursing Garments Taught Me



It may or may not be news to you that the reason that I got into blogging was because of Fashion Bloggers. I dove head first into the fashion blogging world about 6 months before I started this blog and I started it with the intent of becoming a fashion blogger, a modest fashion blogger. It didn't seem like it would be that hard, especially since all of the fashion bloggers that I was following at the time were LDS, just like me, and posted modest fashion. I loved the idea that I could be into fashion and be modest. However, it was hard for me to see these same bloggers wear outfits that didn't seem to mesh with my idea of modesty. I'd always been taught that to me modest skirts and shorts needed to be knee length or longer and shirts needed to cover the chest and have sleeves, cap sleeves at the very least. 

This spun me into a whole spiral of judgment and years of wondering what exactly it meant to be modest. After all, these women were people who were part of my faith, people who had gone through the temple just like I had and wore garments just like me. However, it seemed like they still found ways to wear shorts that seemed too short or skirts that reached mid-thigh, or they'd wear tank tops. I had a really hard time not judging them. The main reason that I judged them and had such a hard time with it was that I wanted to wear those outfits too, but I wanted to wear them and not feel guilty, and I knew I couldn't personally do that. 

Modesty has always seemed so subjective to me. Especially as the ideas and standards of "modest" dress have changed over time from being covered ankle to wrist to what we wear today. I wanted to know why I couldn't wear tank tops in the summer. I wanted to know why my shorts had to be so long. Just what was so wrong with my stomach? Especially when there seem to be all these exceptions to the rules; you can wear tank top straps, provided you're wearing a swimming suit! You can show off your tummy when you're pregnant! Feel free to wear those short shorts when you're working out! And hey, you can probably wear a tank top then too, maybe even just a sports bra and bottoms! Especially if you are on vacation, it seems the rule is that you can wear whatever you want.

Yet, I have stuck to what I've been taught. Faking it until I made it sort of thing. It's been years and years of faking it and constantly wondering if I was measuring up to the standards that I should. 

I've had a love-hate relationship with garments. Garments are special underclothes that you receive once you go through the temple. It's something that you have to prepare for and make commitments to do. An "outward symbol of an inner commitment". I loved that once I got garments I felt like I could definitively say whether or not I was being modest, because if my garments were covered, then I was, and if they weren't then I wasn't. I hated them because they made me feel fat and seemed unflattering. I disliked that I had a whole extra layer to wear in the summer when it was hottest. 

Yet, it wasn't until I had a baby that they changed my whole mindset about what they were for and what modesty really meant for me. 

Up until that point, I'd been using them as a modesty ruler, a hard line between what I could and should wear and what I couldn't or shouldn't wear. After I got nursing garments though, I found that line of thinking wasn't going to work for me anymore. They were designed to make it easy to nurse, not to enforce modesty. I had to once again decide for myself what modesty really was. 

It really shifted my whole line of thinking. Instead of wondering whether or not my garments were covered, I was thinking about whether or not I was modest. I asked myself why I even thought about it. What was the purpose of modesty? Growing up I was taught that it was mainly to help protect men against bad thoughts, yet I've come to realize that what other people do and how they think, is not up to me. It is not my responsibility to keep their minds clean, especially considering that what is provocative to one, isn't to another. 

I'd just had a baby. My body had done this incredible thing. It had made a human. It had brought that baby into the world (which is kind of traumatic on a body). It had mostly recovered from that. It had fed and housed that baby and was continuing to feed it. It has taken relatively amazing care of me all twenty some odd years of my life. Suddenly, modesty wasn't about protecting someone else, it was about being grateful for what I had. I decided that I wanted to be modest for me. I wanted to show my Heavenly Father what this body means to me. It isn't about toeing some line, modesty was meant for me, not for other people. 

All of this changed not only how I saw myself, but how I saw others. It allowed me to let go of that resentment that I'd felt toward these people who chose a different standard than me. They aren't accountable to me, nor should they be. 

Today, modesty for me isn't about how much skin I am or am not showing. If I want to know whether or not I'm being modest, I just ask myself whether or not I would feel comfortable in front of my creator. I no longer worry about whether or not other people are being modest, because it's about so much more than clothes and I really don't know them. 

What does modesty mean to you? 

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Poems of Motherhood | March Edition



These pictures (and one video) were all taken the same day that each poem was written (except for the changing table picture). Neither the pictures or the poems are perfect, just an attempt to capture these moments that filled me up with love, that I didn't want to forget. I hope that they remind you of when your babies were small or of a beautiful future you're hoping for.



3/5/18

Last night I got up to feed you
you fell asleep quickly
then you needed a diaper change
so I got up again and changed you
diaper, pink pajamas, swaddle
you soaked through them all
back to bed once again
but you cried
I got up and nursed you
pulling up Instagram on my phone
I glanced down at you
You were watching me
big eyes wide in the dim light
so I put my phone away
and watched you
stroking your soft hair
your eyes gently closed
I put you back in bed
this time unsure I wanted to sleep
I could have watched you all night long


3/19/18
Last night you fell asleep nursing
cuddled against me
I finally gently rolled your lip back to unlatch

I watched you sleeping after that
every now and again
your lips would come together

still nursing in your dreams


3/22/18

My body was your cradle
My heartbeat your lullaby


3/26/18

I've been reaching for my phone more often lately
feeling each moment sliding by like water off my skin
through my fingers

I've made a mental list of things to capture
the way you smack your lips together when you're ready to eat
the little "o" you make with your lips and cross your eyes
just before you latch
how your little lips still work at nursing when you're asleep
the sound of your cry
how you stretch after I unswaddle you when you wake

it's all precious to me
I can never quite capture it on camera
it's a flat representation of something too alive and real to be caught

but that won't stop me from trying


3/26/18

I let you fall asleep in my arms
An indulgence for both of us
It’s sweeter than the chocolate I no longer eat for you
More filling than the cup of white hot chocolate I used to make with whole milk and cream and pour into teacups

Because you’ll only fit in my arms for so long

So my arms are your cradle 
The crook of my elbow your pillow 
Because everything will change 
Little by little
Day by day

But I want you always to remember this

You are cherished
My arms are home




3/27/18

I realized today that your bows are like little fabric crowns
uncomfortable at times
the line of it marked into your skin long after it's removed

when you get to be my age
a crown is something you wear in your heart
and sometimes
on your ring finger

just remember, little girl,
you never needed a crown
to prove you were a princess

3/27/18

It was my privilege to watch you smile as you fell asleep in the golden evening light.
Catching that smile through the bars of your crib pulled me right back to the day I saw your changing table in the same golden light. Back when my body was your cradle, my heartbeat your lullaby.
It sat empty and ready for you in the middle of our bedroom. That same changing table is one of your favorite places to be.
It's all filled up with memories of you now. Soaked into the yellow wood.

Thanks for reading! I hope that you enjoyed these poems!
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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

My First Mother's Day with a Baby | An Open Letter



Dear Mom,

I know that everyone says that once you have a baby, things are different, you appreciate your Mom more, and they were right. Things are different. I would say that our relationship has changed for the better since this little one made her debut. I hold her and rock her to sleep and think about the times when you must have done the same for me. It's strange to think that you ever held me when I was that tiny, or that you loved me this fiercely (as you said, the Momma bear is strong with me). It's strange to think that I will ever be in your place, holding her hand as she brings her babies into this world.

Motherhood really is the craziest experience. On the one hand, you are exactly who you were before they came into the world, and on the other hand, you are part of this giant tribe of women that stretches back through time and forward. Before having Everly, I felt that I was the end of the chain with no real connection to the people that came before me, and now I feel that ring of eternity circling around all of us. I feel that I really am just a person standing in between two mirrors, forward and back.

I'm so grateful that I had a good mom to show me the way. I know that I wouldn't be the person I am, but most especially the mother I am, without you. I have all these tender moments with Everly, or watch you have tender moments with her, and think of how you must have loved each of us, your babies. It makes me want to remember these moments that I have with her, something to hold onto when she's sassing me or dating a boy I don't like 😉. Watching that kind of love and having it for Everly feels like it has rewritten my memories. The ones where I thought that it was all about me and that you just wanted me to be miserable. Now I can better see how you were trying to make sure that I got what was best for me. I can see how love played through those moments when all I could see was what I wanted.

Motherhood is just what I expected in some ways and so much better in others. It has made me see myself in a different light. When so much of my life is about her, it's easier for me to put the most important things in life into perspective. Where before I was focused making sure that I never got fat (and had real issues watching the numbers creep up the scale when I was pregnant), I found that after she was born I was more comfortable in my skin than I ever had been. It made me wonder if you would love yourself more if you knew how it felt to hug you, the soft comfort of it. If you would see yourself just a little bit differently if you could have seen how beautiful I thought you were when I was small. Everly doesn't care whether I am wearing designer clothes or walking around in day-old underwear. She smiles just as wide when I wear glasses as she does when I wear contacts and makeup. 


Motherhood has made me see how much sacrifice there is in parenthood, and how we would give up just about anything for our children, things that we would never give up for ourselves. Having given up dairy and eggs and watching my weight drop down to my marriage day weight even though I am eating nearly all the time has shown me that I am a lot stronger than I thought I was. It has shown me that I will choose things for her that I didn't feel capable of choosing for myself. I can't help but wonder what kinds of things you gave up for me over the years, especially the lean years when we didn't have much. I want you to know that I'm grateful for all that you sacrificed for me, even though I know that even now I can't quite comprehend just how much that was.

You have been an amazing example of motherhood. I couldn't have asked for a better mother. Thank you for showing me how to be a good mom and for making the transition to motherhood so much easier than it would have been on my own. I love you, Momma.

Love,
Rachael
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Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Our Breastfeeding Journey | 3 Months In



I've been thinking about this post for awhile now, but I didn't feel like I was far enough into breastfeeding to share yet.

Before I had Everly I knew that I wanted to breastfeed, mainly because there is so much hype right now about breastfeeding your baby. I heard that you should breastfeed for a year, but I wasn't sure that I could make it that long (who knows if I will still...). I didn't know if I would want to breastfeed that long, but more than that I wasn't sure that I would be capable. I've been small chested my whole life and honestly it never really bothered me but it was a real concern for me as far as making enough milk went (which, by the way, I learned has NOTHING to do with milk production). I was also concerned because my mom was never able to breastfeed past about 3 months because her milk dried up. I thought that maybe genetically I was destined to formula feed.

I told just about everyone that I would be fine either way, that while I wanted to do everything that I could to breastfeed I wasn't going to beat myself up if I couldn't (which I knew while I was saying it was a lie. I knew that I would beat myself up mentally).

When it came down to it, breastfeeding was nothing like I thought it would be. First, I had no idea that it took a few days for your milk to really come in. Hand expressing colostrum was no picnic and required me to pump 15 minutes then try and get out what I could into a spoon. I wasn't breastfeeding Everly at first because she was in the NICU and because her sugar levels weren't what the doctors wanted she had to be fed donated breast milk.

Breastfeeding is this beautiful and weird and wonderful experience. It does not feel natural, AT ALL. I'd read a lot about breastfeeding before I delivered to try and prepare. I knew the basics of how to get a good latch, I knew that it shouldn't hurt. I wasn't prepared for the fact that even though I knew what a good latch looked like and I knew how to try and get it, breastfeeding is something that both you and the baby have to learn how to do together. I was very sore. I first attributed that to the fact that I abused my nipples with hand expressing trying to get out every drop of colostrum to feed to Everly through a tube or in a bottle. Then I realized that even though I was trying to get a good latch, we were still working on it. When I showered I had to cover my chest with my hands to keep the water from hitting it directly or it was too painful for me. Eventually, we got to a place where Everly knew how to latch better, but then she was sucking my nipple in and out between her gums (thank goodness that stage is over).

Even though we got breastfeeding down, I honestly didn't feel that magical feeling that everyone seemed to have about breastfeeding. I knew that it was supposed to help me and the baby bond. It was good for the baby in a million ways. However, especially in the beginning, I didn't care whether the baby was fed from a bottle or from me. I felt the same about pumping as I did about feeding my baby. Both got her the food that she needed, but I didn't really enjoy either one. I especially hated when it was inconvenient, like when people came to see the baby and I had to feed her. I felt like my needing to feed her was taking away from them. Plus, I was a whole mess of hormones when it came down to it.

If it hadn't been for our birth class teacher telling us not to give up in the first month, I don't know how far along I would have made it. Especially when Everly started having green diapers on the regular. I knew that could have come from a variety of factors, but it was my job to feed her and make sure that she was having enough diapers and that they weren't all green. So I kept a food diary, diligently tracking every single thing that went into my mouth. Before I decided to give up dairy she was having green diapers for weeks and she had a rash on her face every time she ate. She never seemed to get fussy or spit up a ton, but those green diapers wouldn't quit. So I gave up dairy. And eggs when it seemed to bother her.

Breastfeeding is hard. It hasn't been until maybe the last month or so that I finally have started to enjoy breastfeeding. Now that I'm not so worried about what I'm eating and she seems to be gaining weight (that was another thing that I was always worried about. That I wasn't making enough for her or getting the right things for her to grow), and her diapers have returned to a normal color, I can finally enjoy it. I love looking down at her and watching her. I love knowing that I'm the one feeding her and that she's getting what she needs from me. It kind of makes me feel like Wonder Woman ( I felt that way in the hospital too, whenever I filled a whole syringe or bottle or the day we realized that she wasn't using donor milk anymore, just mine). Some of my favorite pictures of Everly are ones that I have taken while she was breastfeeding. It's a very tender thing for me, even though it took me a long time to grow into feeling that way.

I still don't know if I will make it a year and I still worry all the time about whether I'm making enough for her, but I am grateful that we've made it this far. I hope that we can make it all the way, for both of us. I will feel sad to lose this with her, even if it means no chocolate, ice cream, or cheese. Even if it means that I do still have to pump on occasion. Even if it means that I have to wear nursing bras all the time and try to figure out how to nurse in regular clothes (anything with buttons in the front has become my best friend). It is worth it.

I've linked a few of my favorite breastfeeding items below

-Bamboobies I think these are the softest and I like that they're reusable
-Off-brand Bamboobies These work just as well as Bamboobies in my opinion, are cheaper but are not quite as soft, which if you're having issues with soreness can make a difference.
-Boob Ease Nipple Balm I haven't used this often, but it is nice for when they are sore!
-Silicone manual pump Still love this. If you follow me on Instagram I talked about it recently. If you hate the extra time for pumping but still want to have some milk on hand or stock up in the freezer, I highly recommend this.
-Front zip/button nightgown
 Option 2 
My mother in law gave me something like this. I was kind of like "Okay" but it really has been the best thing ever. I lived in this (still kind of do) and a robe for the first month of motherhood.
-Breastfeeding pillow I used a cuddle U because it was cheaper than a Bobby, but I hear that a brest friend is actually the best thing ever.
-Kiinde Kozii Breastmilk Warmer I've never actually used this, but if you're looking for a breastmilk/bottle warmer, this was recommended to me by Zoe Withers! In fact, if you're looking for anything baby/motherhood related, I recommend checking out her site https://www.thinkbaby.org

What was your breastfeeding experience like?

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