Picture of Me, The 52 Project

The 52 Project || Year of Me: 4/52

Special thanks to my sister for accurately capturing my thoughts on David’s Bridal

Y’all. After my first experience with them, I have decided that David’s Bridal is the worst. The woooooorrrrst. Specifically the store I visited in Hampton, VA. I went into the store expecting them to at least have a dress in or close to my size to try on. They have the style in store so they should at least have something in a wide variety of sizes since basically everything needs to be ordered anyway right??? WRONG. My sister told them the style because it was in the appointment information and I told them I want to try on the size 24 in the one shoulder style. Well they didn’t have that, but they had a 20 in the halter style. Whatever I’ll try it on though that size is too small. As we guessed, it didn’t fit and it wasn’t even the right style so I was annoyed. So after about an hour of my kids running around in their dresses that they were trying on as well, the attendant came back with a dress in the correct style but in a size 16!!!!!!! YALL. A 16. I haven’t seen 16 since well before I got married. I humored them and tried it on anyway to see where it would stop coming up. Yep it didn’t get past my shoulders (see picture). They said “try it on and we can measure you.” LMFAO. I ended up just taking the girls with me to sit in the car. I was so over that store and that day. In the end, they just measured me so they could order the size I needed. They should have just started off with that since they knew they didn’t have my size. If the store offers in person fitting, they need to have a variety the sizes for the styles they offer. Smallest size, biggest size, and some sizes in between.

Anyways, David’s Bridal is terrible and if it weren’t for the fact that my sister is getting married and using them for dresses, I’d never set foot in that store again.

I did end the week on a positive note by getting behind AND in front of the camera. I love love love photography, especially babywearing and breastfeeding photography. I took some great pictures of myself and my girls. Check out Smitten soon to see what I’ve been up to!

Goal update: I went to the YMCA twice this past week, 3 times if I count the tour, and I listed 19 carriers!

Goals for this week: YMCA twice. DONT GET SICK.

Picture of Me, The 52 Project, update, uplifting

The 52 Project || Year of Me: 1/52

Brittany, holding a deep red latte mug with a B on it, smiles into the camera.
This mug is my favorite! It’s from bijouwear.com

This year, I will be focusing on me. Typically when I do the 52 project, I focus on everything but me. It’s usually my children or babywearing or even random things that caught my eye.  It’s all about me now!

Recently I realized that I have not been putting myself first as often as I should. I was so focused on making sure that others were taken care of that I severely neglected myself. Once I started working, I realized that people started to resent me because I was too busy to check in with them as often as I had been before. It really made me sit back and reflect on these friendships. Was I receiving any support when it came to my mental health and life problems or was I just allowing myself to become their mental dumping ground? Were they even sharing my joy when I told them good news? NOPE. Did they even get that I was trying to put myself first? NOPE. Looking back, I should have noticed this but I know that when you’re a person like me who gives and gives, there usually isn’t anyone there to even notice that things are different with you until you go into a complete meltdown.

ANYWAYS

In 2018, I will be focusing on wellnessI will say no to things that I don’t want to do. I will do things that make me happy. I will do all the things I love to do. I will take care of ME. I will be selfish. I will make sure that I am putting myself first. I will fight for others less. I will fight for myself more.

I will just be me.

I have other goals for the year as well that all focus around wellness and I can’t wait to share those things with you as the year goes on. Today is the end of the first day of 2018 and if today is any indication of how the year will be for me, I think it’s gonna be pretty damn great.

 

 

babywearing

Slings for All 

I got to try out a Wildbird ring sling recently while I was teaching at a babywearing meeting. I was super excited when the meeting attendee brought it over because I was dying to try it out since I heard that our group added it to our library. Usually when teaching in person, I thread the ring sling on so that I can make sure that it does not twist on my back. When I attempted to thread the Wildbird sling, I could not get it back through the rings because there was not enough fabric. Without skipping a beat, I took off the sling and put it on the meeting attendee to  get her situated. What I wanted to do was cry. I was panicking on the inside. I felt so angry and embarrassed that  yet again, a ring sling did not fit me.

Later, I checked the Wildbird website and found that the slings are only 74-77 inches long. That is about a size small/medium. I am a fat* woman with broad shoulders.  My sling size is an extra large (XL). I can work with a long large. I prefer to use a 2XL.  Short one size slings are not  inclusive to the wide range of babywearers in the community.

I did write to Wildbird on their Facebook page and they stated “Hey Brittany! So glad you wrote us, we actually have longer slings in the works. Watch for news soon!” Soon. They do not currently have any longer slings in stock.  In their chatter group, the owner expanded on this statement and blamed growing pains on their inability to make longer slings right away. When asked what length the longer slings would be (after suggestions as well) Wildbird only stated that they would give everyone details soon.  Once again, fat babywearers are an afterthought.

Really, I should have known that their slings would not fit me. Their social media and marketing are filled with thin people wearing their slings. I am sure that some fat wearers can wear Wildbird slings since  not everyone is the same shape, but myself and several other wearers cannot. I truly hope that they do make good on their statement.

There are several companies that do offer long or sized slings. Sleeping Baby Productions, True North Ring Slings, Soul, and Maya Wrap are just a few of the many companies that offer long slings.

Fat me and baby Minerva comfortably in an XL Maya Wrap ring sling

*Fat is the term I use to describe myself because I am fat. I describe fat people as fat. It is not a dirty word. If you are uncomfortable with that, I don’t know what to tell you.

words

In Case You Forgot, I’m Black

In elementary school, I was oblivious to racial issues. I was in classes with mostly white people. All of my best friends were white; they were my sisters and brothers. When I was in elementary school, I rarely heard about or dealt with racial issues.

It wasn’t until middle school that I knew something was different. There was a boy who always called me horrible names and made fun of my dark skin. Who does that? At the time I wasn’t aware, but what I experienced was racism.

When I was a teenager, I loved going to the mall and stores with my mom. One notable shopping experience happened when I was 14 or 15. My mom, my sister, and I had gone to Kmart. Because I got bored easily, I usually wandered around the store alone while my mom shopped. Usually I stayed in the book section, but I was curious about makeup, so I went to that aisle to look at all the different products. You know that weird feeling you get when someone is staring at you? I had that feeling. When I looked behind me, I saw an employee turn the corner really fast. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but when I made it to the next aisle over, the employee confronted me. I’ll never forget him. He was an older white guy with grey hair around the sides, and he wore round glasses. He demanded that I open my purse. I immediately started crying. . I didn’t know why he wanted me to open my purse, but I opened it anyway. I had lip gloss, my wallet, and a book in there. He demanded that I show him a receipt for my lip gloss–My half-used lip gloss. Through my tears, I told him that it was mine and that I didn’t have a receipt because my mom bought it from the pharmacy near my house. He huffed and walked away. I ran to find my mom and stopped wandering around stores for quite a while after that. I mean, I was so scared! I didn’t even tell my mom what happened. I was THAT scared. I thought I’d done something wrong.

Fast forward to later in high school. My group of friends was more diverse, but still included a lot of white people. Often, I had friends call me names like “Oreo” or “Black-white girl” because I “acted white.” I usually laughed with my friends about it, but I’d go home and cry. I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin. I felt like I wasn’t acting the way I was supposed to. I didn’t like the stereotypical black things and everyone pointed it out to me. In the same breath, those who called me the previously mentioned names also called me “clear.” They didn’t see me as black. What does that even mean?

All of this, among other things, led me to self-harm. I just didn’t want to be here anymore. I mean, my friends couldn’t even go a day without pointing out how different I was. I felt like a freak.

I’m now 27 and confident in my skin. I know who I am. When people tell me they don’t see color, I speak up. When people say something racist, I speak up. When people say things to me in an attempt to joke around because I’m not a “typical black girl,” I speak up. Yes, I’m black. Yes, my hair is kinky. No, you can’t touch it. When the cashier at Walmart decided that I didn’t deserve a proper greeting, but instead asked for my WIC payment information, I spoke up. When the random woman in the mall walked by and said,  “She is from Africa, look at the baby back there,” I spoke up. When the greeting card store employee followed me around the entire store, I spoke up.

I may not always share my personal struggles, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t deal with racism. I feel like people forget that I’m black. I do experience racism. I do experience judgment. Just because you’re white and you’re my friend doesn’t mean that every other white person in the world treats me the same loving way you do.

I don’t even know why I feel that I need to disprove the claims from many of my white friends who think I don’t experience racism. It’s probably because every time I post an article about racism, I get asked “Well, how does that affect you?” It’s probably because every time I post a status update about racism, I am told “Brittany, I love you, but I am tired of hearing about this all the time.” It’s probably because every time I post a picture about racism, I’m told “Hey, that is reverse racism!” Getting an insider’s view of what it is like to deal with racism in America is not an easy thing to digest. You’re not going to always want to see it. Be happy that you don’t have to live that every single day.

Hey friends? In case you forgot, I’m black.

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Assignments, breastfeeding, words

The Benefits of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is something that is incredibly near and dear to my heart. I have nursed my daughter for almost 15 months and we have no plans on ending the relationship anytime soon. It is incredible, really. I have provided food for Maxine for over a year. ME! I made it! Sometimes I sit up at night and just think “Wow! The female body is amazing!” Breastfeeding Maxine has helped me slow down and take breaks. I was always busy before I had her. I always had to be doing something. That is only one of many reasons why breastfeeding is so beneficial for me, as well as for babies.

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Nursing at ODU

 

There are many health benefits provided for mothers and babies. Breastfeeding helps mothers recover from childbirth more quickly and easily. Oxytocin is released during breastfeeding and that helps to make the uterus return to its original size quicker and reduces postpartum bleeding (American Academy of Pediatrics). My daughter’s pediatrician also told me that breastfeeding reduces the chance of getting breast and ovarian cancer later in life.  Breastfeeding also burns calories! There are some who admit to breastfeeding only to lose weight faster. That was a perk for me, but the main reason I chose to breastfeed is because it is free! It does not cost a dime to feed your baby straight from the tap. Breast milk provides ideal nutrition for infants and up through childhood. It contains the perfect balance of fat, vitamins, and protein and that is exactly what baby needs to grow (WebMD). Breast milk is free from chemicals as well (Alison Daly). Breast milk also contains antibodies to help your child battle viruses and bacteria. It is great to continue breastfeeding your child while you are sick. I had a terrible cold a few weeks ago where all I could do was sleep, but Maxine continued to nurse the entire time and only got a sniffle! That is the power of breast milk! According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, breastfeeding also plays a role in the prevention of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Breastfed infants are also less likely to be overweight according to the AAP as well.

The first six months.
The first six months.

The most important benefit of breastfeeding for me has been the bond it created. Knowing that Maxine needs me makes me feel complete. There have been countless smiles and giggles during nursing sessions. I swear that I suffered from less postpartum depression thanks to the relaxation that breastfeeding allows me to have. I know that one day the nursing relationship that I have with Maxine will end, but for now, I will continue to cherish every single moment.

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Works Cited

Alison Daly, Christina Mary Pollard, Colin William Binns. “Benefits, Barriers and Enablers of Breastfeeding: Factor Analysis of Population Perceptions in Western Australia.” 07 02 2014. PLOSone. 10 12 2014.

American Academy of Pediatrics. “Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mom.” 10 7 2014. HealthyChildren.org. 10 12 2014.

WebMD. “Breastfeeding Overview.” 2005-2014. WebMD. 10 12 2014.

Parenting, uplifting, words

You are Amazing

Recently, I have seen so many fellow mothers put themselves down, put down their partners, and just whine about EVERYTHING. I’ll admit, I’ve had my days where I felt less than human and only wanted to stay in bed all day. Most people have those days. But seriously, is your life really that bad?

You feel like a bad mother because your kid won’t sleep.
You feel like a bad mother because you aren’t breastfeeding.
You feel like a bad mother because your baby doesn’t want to be put down.
You feel like a bad mother because someone else said that your kid is “behind.”

YOU ARE A GREAT MOTHER. Being mom is not a competition. Sure, you feel like you could be doing better, but who hasn’t felt this way? Everyone has their own way of parenting. There is no right or wrong way to parent. As long as you are giving your child all the love she needs, who cares what other’s think? I know I don’t! I breastfeed, I babywear, and I do things my OWN way. People tell me how envious they are of me. Don’t envy me! I have my own problems too. I’m not perfect! I am absolutely willing to answer questions and help people in any way I can. If people criticize you because you aren’t doing what THEY think you should be doing, ignore them. If ignoring it is hard, fake it ’til you make it. Don’t respond to their criticisms.  Wait a bit before you respond. Be rational and don’t fly off at the rails. You are an amazing mom. If you don’t believe it, just look at your kid…I bet they KNOW your are the best.

Your partner did something you didn’t like.
Your partner won’t talk or listen to you.
Your partner doesn’t make enough time for the baby.
Your partner is acting strange since the baby has arrived.

YOUR PARTNER IS TRYING THEIR BEST. This is tough. I get it. Your partner isn’t a mind reader. Your partner may be working all the time and who can blame them for wanting to relax when they get home? Even if it is just texting when you can’t talk face to face, start a dialogue. When they get home, you can continue the conversation. If you don’t put in the effort, they won’t. If you try, they will try. If you put your foot down, of COURSE they will make time for conversation with you. Just don’t be an asshole about it. Seriously. I know some of you are saying, “but I’m nice about it! What does this girl know?” You may not think that you are being mean but sometimes it may come off as a little rude. You’re tired. You’ve been home all day with the baby or even babIES. Check the tone. If your partner does something you don’t like, tell them…nicely. If need be, gently remind them. Leave a note. It can’t hurt. Your partner may have limited weekday time with the kids and make up for it on the weekends. You can’t fault them for not having enough hours in the day for everything. In my home, my husband works a lot. Sometimes he is just home for bedtime. They have their own bedtime routine. That little bit of time is him making time for the baby. Something like that may work for you. If you feel your partner is acting strange since a new member of the family came along, are you sure that they just don’t feel replaced? All of your love is now funneled into this new life and you are blinded to everything! Your partner might not really be acting so strange. :)

Something didn’t go your way.
Someone looked at you wrong.
Your stack of papers fell
The dinner didn’t come out how you expected.

EVERYTHING WILL BE FINE. Every once in a while, things go awry. That is expected. Even with me…my life is far from perfect. Whining about every single little thing will not fix it! Venting can be great. I mean hey, that’s part of the reason why I have this blog. But if you are whining about everything to the point that people don’t want to be around you, reevaluate things in your life. Are you so focused on the bad that you are missing out on the good things around you? Even the little things? I tried a “No Whining Wednesday” in some forums that I participate in to see how it would go. FAIL. A few people discussed good things that happened but overall the tone was negative. I might try it again next week. I think that finding the good things makes you feel better. Emotions are contagious…spread happiness people!!

When things seem hopeless and everything seems like it is spiraling out of control, look down at your baby and know that YOU ARE AMAZING.

Maxine, Pregnancy

Discovering Maxine

So I was looking back at a couple of private entries from when I first found out I was pregnant with Maxine and got all teary-eyed! I was in a dark place before I found out that I was pregnant with her. Something told me to take that test though. I am so glad I did. It was just what I needed.  I’m ready to share these two entries!

A reason to live||February 10, 2013

Just when I though it was no longer worth it.

Just when I though I didn’t matter.

Just when I was giving up.

You happened.

Dear M of the future,
I will meet you in hopefully 8 months.

Dear Maxine Elisabeth or Vincent,

I already love you.

I really hope I don’t lose you.

Please stay
Please don’t go away

Please…keep giving me this reason to live.

I can’t believe it.

I AM PREGNANT.

FINALLY. 

finally.

Grandma and Grandpa Brown || February 12, 2013

Today I told mom and dad that they are going to be grandparents!!

I got them a valentine’s card that was for grandma and grandpa and added in a “future” and “soon-to-be” in front of the grandparents on the card.

They were shocked and said, “what? I don’t understand. What are you trying to say?” then dad said, “wait, are you pregnant!?”

I told them yes and they were very congratulatory. I think they took it very very well. I am very happy that they know now!

They seemed very happy.

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Maxine changed my life SO MUCH. I am so thankful and elated that she is in my life now. She is the greatest gift that my husband and I have ever received and I love watching how fast she is growing. Three months have already flown by. Time, can you slow down now?!