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.

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.

Pregnancy

Minerva’s Birth Story

Pregnancy is one of the most miserable experiences in my life. I absolutely love and adore labor, delivery, and snuggling the new baby BUT I am just so sick and in so much pain that I don’t enjoy pregnancy at all. Minerva’s due date was July 5th. My one wish was to not be pregnant when July arrived.

So the week leading up to me going into labor, I was absolutely exhausted. I felt sick. Everything hurt. I had no motivation to do anything. I sat around that week just making sure Maxine had all her necessities. After my 37 week checkup, I told my obstetrician that I wouldn’t make it to the next appointment. Of course, he didn’t believe me.

The night before the next appointment, I decided to put in the grocery order that I was putting off. As soon as I hit ‘submit’ I said, “well I’ll probably go into labor tonight after the cancellation cut off.” Marvin said that I probably wouldn’t but if I did, he would still go pick up groceries at 9:00 AM. While I was watching Devious Maids that evening, I had a terrible bout of nausea but brushed it off because I’d felt horrible the entire week anyway. Once that feeling went away, I decided that it was time for Maxine and I to go to sleep. Of course my night owl was not ready for bed so when Marvin got home, she stayed up for a while with him.

Next thing I know, it’s 4:00 am and my stomach was bugging out. I got up to pee and then I had a pain that felt like one of the cramps I get during my endometriosis flare ups. I found that strange so I walked around upstairs some and then it happened again. I decided to download a contraction timer app in this moment because what else was I gonna do at 4:00AM?  I didn’t know if they were contractions or not because with Maxine my water broke. Well after a few hours and many less than 5 minute apart cramps, I decided that these actually were contractions and I should really get ready to go to the hospital.

my timed contractions

Maxine and Marvin were still asleep. I packed Maxine’s overnight bag, texted my mom and Dana, then woke Marvin up. Maxine was still in her nightgown for the 30 minute drive to the hospital because I packed her outfit for the day in her overnight bag. When we finally got to the hospital, they checked to see if my cervix was dilating. I was 4cm so they waited an hour for progress to decide if they were going to admit me or not. Shortly after I was hooked up to the monitor, my mom arrived because Marvin had to go get the groceries still (LOL). Maxine was so happy to see my mom.

maxine in her nightgown

After about 20 minutes, the doctor on call came in to check on me and remembered me from calling earlier that morning and said that they were admitting me. YES! I was so happy because I was so OVER being pregnant. I was excited to change into that ugly hospital gown. Once I was all set up and connected to the IV, I decided to walk the baby down some. After walking three or four laps around the women’s center I felt that I needed to be back in my room.

walking laps around the women’s center at Obici!

I sat on the birthing ball for a short while and then my water broke. That’s when I lost all control of my pain. Those contractions HURT SO BAD after my water broke. Around this time Marvin got back to the hospital and immediately fell asleep. I don’t blame him. He worked open to close the day before and hadn’t had much sleep. I would have been asleep too if I worked a twelve hour shift. My dad arrived around this time too. That worked out perfectly because he was able to take Maxine on a walk.

Maxine's last picture with mommy as an only child
Maxine’s last picture with mommy as an only child

I was basically screaming through contractions at this point. I asked the nurse for an epidural and she said I needed to wait for my IV bag to be empty. I tried to wait for that to happen but shortly after, I had three back to back contractions that had me in a ball on the bed. I screamed “I NEED AN EPIDURAL RIGHT NOW” so loud that the nurses heard me from the nurses station and they came to the room immediately. My nurse checked me and I was 5cm dilated. Marvin woke up at this point and the anesthesiologist came in and got started. My IV bag wasn’t empty yet (lol in yor face nurse).  Marvin kept me still and after three pokes with that long needle my epidural finally was inserted and the medication kicked in. I felt so much better. The nursing student (who was AMAZING) put my catheter in and the nurse checked me again and I was 9cm. This happened over 30 minutes! I went from a 5 to a 9 in half an hour! The nurse then said that we had to wait on the Doctor to push. What I didn’t realize at the time was that the entire floor was full of women in labor and I would have to wait nearly an hour and a half to push. No big deal–I had zero urge to push at that point and needed to get myself in the right mindset to push. To kill time, I chatted with friends online who had no idea I was in labor. I also gave out some Babywearing advice in my local Babywearing Facebook group.  FINALLY it was time to push. This moment was so great. My mom called my sister on FaceTime so she could “be in the room” and that made me feel so happy. It was weird pushing this time because I could not feel myself pushing at all. After three sets of three big pushes and two tiny pushes, Minerva slid on out.  She had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck twice but the doctor corrected that quickly. Marvin cut the cord and then they gave Minerva to me (with a towel of course because I don’t do icky slimy anything).  I was so happy!! Finally not pregnant anymore!! That was exactly what I said too. My placenta came out very fast this time as well. I’m glad too because I did not want to see it at all and it was gone so fast that Marvin didn’t even notice it being delivered.

I don’t think I could have planned a better birth experience. I really am so grateful with how everything went. It was perfect.

me meeting Minerva for the first time. My sister’s facetime screenshot. I’m definitely crying here.

Hello 6 lbs 1 oz of perfection 💕

Our first selfie

A happy family of four.

We are so excited that Minerva is finally here! Her due date was July 5th. She was born June 21st at 1:33 pm. Here are some pictures from her first week of life.

minerva
One day old Minerva 💕

crying
Minerva Crying at one day old

sleeping
Sleeping Minerva

8 days
Minerva at eight days old
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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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?!