Giving yourself Grace in a Season of the “Threenager”…

A few weeks back I shared this post on Instagram. I was one week into Jase being out of school on Christmas vacation and to say it was a tough week is an understatement. I typically like to keep the social media posts I share on a more positive note, but on that particular day, I felt a tug on my heart to share…and the response I got confirmed that it was the right thing to do.

As a momma to little ones, it can be very easy to feel like you’re doing things all wrong…

Let’s face it, 3 year olds are TOUGH! It’s at this age they start to push the boundaries, find their voice and have some pretty crazy mood swings. I’d like to say that I’m calm and cool during these super fun times, but that would be a complete lie. I’ll admit I’ve lost my temper more times then I care to admit and have raised my voice when I probably shouldn’t have. And it often leaves me feeling like the worst mom in the world and like I’m failing my child miserably.

But that’s just a lie.

I love my children deeper than I ever thought possible and I know in my heart that I’m a good momma. I’m THEIR momma, the one God chose for them. I know that I’m doing my best and although sometimes the lack of sleep or a crying, teething baby causes me to react in a way I wish I wouldn’t have, I’m learning to give myself Grace (and wine). I’m learning to take a step back, take a deep breath and do my best to respond in a loving way.

My sweet momma friends…

If you’re finding yourself in this place, please know that you are not alone. I’m with you and so many other mommas are too. We are in this together. We can help encourage and lift each other up in these moments of frustration and stress. Give yourself the grace you deserve and trust that God made you the perfect fit for your children.

Lean on Him and He will help get you through.

Although I still have my moments of weakness, building a deeper connection with God over the last year has given me the ability react in a more loving way {most of the time}. Even if I initially respond in a way that I regret, I’m able to brush off the feeling of inadequacy much quicker. I’m able to let go of the stress and frustration and get back to a place of peace, love and contentment.

Before becoming a momma, I had no idea of the challenges that would  be ahead of me so quickly into motherhood. Giving myself grace, leaning on God for guidance and building a strong community of other mommas around me, have been key to being the kind of momma I’ve always hoped to be. I’m still a work in progress, but I know in my heart that I’m doing the best that I can…

Hang in there sweet mommas, you are doing an AMAZING job raising up your precious babies!

XOXO,

~P

 

 

 

 

HA Sisterhood: Taleen’s Story.

As many of you know, I struggled with Hypothalamic Amenorrhea for 7 years before conceiving my son Jase. After seeing how sharing my story has helped others, I thought it would be great to share other stories of success & dreams come true as well…and today is no exception! Taleen is not only a beautiful writer, but she has truly pushed through the struggle of HA to get to the other side: truly healthy & happy.

I am so incredibly proud of her and hope you find her story as inspiring as I have <3


I have always struggled with maintaining a healthy relationship with food. I have straddled both ends of the spectrum: being too lax with my health and fitness and being too obsessed. Having health and fitness on the back burner, ignoring the rising scale as well as never being able to enjoy the meal before me without thinking about how many calories I was about to consume. I have had problems with my period for being overweight and problems with it for being too extreme on the other end. I think it’s safe to say that I have never been good at listening to my body.

In March of 2015 I was introduced to the exercise program called 21 Day Fix. Thirty minutes of exercise a day and a meal plan lead to a changed life. After my first round I dropped ten pounds and the results became a springboard that launched me into obsession and anxiety. I obsessed over the compliments I was getting and always had anxiety about getting in my workouts and not eating more calories than the program allowed. Thirty minutes of exercise and 1500-1800 calories per day sounds pretty healthy, right? I thought so! Nonetheless, my last period was in April of that year. It was very short and very light and disappeared for 20 months thereafter. At first I thought that my body was adjusting and ignored the change. Actually, I enjoyed not having cramps, stained bed sheets and pants, and the ability to swim whenever I felt like it.

The party didn’t last long, though, and after three consecutive missed periods…

I went to the doctor and two different OBGYNs who all told me that my hormone levels were fine, that I was still ovulating, and to simply keep on keeping on. While my mom was happy that all was fine, I wasn’t satisfied. I knew that not having a period couldn’t be normal, no matter what professionals said. There is a reason God created the woman’s body the way He did, and if my period stopped my body was definitely trying to tell me something. And yet, I wasn’t ready to loosen the reigns on my obsessive and militaristically strict health and fitness regime, so I did just what the doctor ordered: I kept on keeping on and told myself that everything was ok and that my body would eventually adjust to my new “normal.” I have quotations around that word because my situation became anything but. Sure, 30 minutes of exercise a day seems healthy, but the anxiety and pressure I put on myself to get those workouts in coupled with a low caloric intake for my baseline needs was definitely a recipe for disaster.

Also, in order to give myself a break from restrictive eating throughout the week, I would give myself the weekends to eat without calorie counting, which led to binge eating. On the weekends I would eat myself sick to the point that I had sleepless nights running back and forth from my bed to the restroom – a result of eating way too much and my stomach wanting revenge. My mental state was also anything but healthy. I would cancel plans if they conflicted with my eating schedule and could never enjoy a social gathering because I was too obsessive about the food, the calories, and the overeating (oh my!). Sound familiar? It certainly does to countless women who are killing themselves to fit society’s ideal. So, sure, I may have looked healthy on the outside. But I was slowly dismantling my mental and emotional health. I was exhausted from the pressure I constantly put on myself to look a certain way and frustrated that it was never enough.

I couldn’t ignore the inevitable for long.

I constantly researched about amenorrhea – the fancy doctor word for loss of a woman’s menstrual cycle – and realized that I was not alone, that there was an entire community of women who were struggling with the loss of their period and with body image. Those who were victorious and got their periods back told me to relax, to eat, and to stop exercising; to be honest, this scared me immensely. “I can’t gain weight,” I would think, “I can’t undo all of this work” because in my mind, weight gain was equivalent to failure. Despite these thoughts, I knew I had to make a change and so I tentatively upped my calories but continued to strictly follow my intense workout schedule. A few months later I crossed paths with “Intuitive Eating” by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, a book that challenged my ideas about health and body image and for which I am forever grateful. And so, I dropped the calorie counters and began to mend my relationship with food. However, I still could not let go of my workouts. I feared that the moment I stopped the control, I would snowball back into being overweight.

About four months later I noticed my issues with control regarding my body. I knew that my period would not start again until my mind and my body could make up, so to speak, and learn to trust each other again. So I stopped. I stopped putting pressure on myself to workout and only did so when I actually felt like it. When I did feel like it, I would either walk or practice light yoga. Full disclosure – this was really, really hard. The fear can be overwhelming and as a result I was constantly in tears for a few days.  “How many pounds away?” I would ask myself.  “How many weeks, months, or years?” “How many sizes will my jeans go up until I finally have a period again?” These fears took me to a dark place that only prayer could bring me out of. I prayed and asked God to help me understand what His idea of beauty is and to help me get rid of the lies this society has washed my brain with about what makes a woman beautiful. I began to learn that a number does not define my beauty; whether that number be a caloric range, a jeans size, or the one flashing on the scale (which, by the way, you should throw away). I learned that a number it is just that – a number.

It cannot tell you that you are funny, smart, loving, or kind. It cannot make you a friend, a daughter, a sister, or any other aspect of your identity. It cannot measure the quality of your relationships or give you beautiful memories or hilarious stories. A number is just a number and nothing more. The moment I chose to accept that numbers never had and never will define me is the moment I truly let go and embraced my body exactly the way Jesus chose it to be.

Only ten days later I started my period.

I jumped up and down and danced all around the bathroom at work and must have thanked God a hundred times. It still shocks me how quickly my body began to trust me again and I truly count it as a miracle. I still struggle, friends. Thoughts of food and body image still linger in my mind more that I care to admit, but I know it won’t be this way forever. I refuse to let myself miss out on life because of lies telling me that you can only enjoy it if you are a size 2. My prayer for all who read this is that you may love your body and treat it with the respect it deserves. That you may nourish it and cherish it because it is fearfully made by the same God who created galaxies, waterfalls, and every beautiful thing you see when you walk out your front door. I wish I could take each of you out to coffee and talk about society’s toxic ideas about beauty, why they are absolute hogwash and what health, fitness and beauty really means.

To those of you who are still battling amenorrhea, please don’t give up.

Please keep going because victory is really sweet. The best advice I could give you is this: eventually, you need to stop researching. You need to stop reading about what others did and what worked for them. I’m sure you know by now how overwhelming all that can be. Your body is unique and knows what you need and all you have to do is listen. That’s it. Eat what and when and how much it tells you. Exercise it in a way that brings absolutely no mental distress or pressure. Listen to your body and let it make amends with your mind.

I wish you all the very best in your recovery and hope that you find true contentment with who God has made you to be.

With love and prayer,

Taleen


Additional stories from the HA Sisterhood:

Karly’s Story

Teaghan’s Story

Arianna’s Story

To join the HA Sisterhood, click HERE.

Reflecting Back and Moving Forward…

Hi Friend and Happy 2017!! I hope the holidays treated you well 🙂 After some time away from writing here in this little space of mine, I’m ready to get back to sharing with you the happenings in my life as well as what’s on my heart.

As I reflect back on 2016, I have this overwhelming feeling of HOPE. Hope for what the new year brings and hope for how God will use me. So much change has happened over the last year and I am definitely not where I thought I would be…

I’m some place better.

I’m more still, patient, joyful, connect, present and hopeful. My faith is stronger. And I now feel confident in where God has called me to be. I’m so grateful for the ups & downs that the past year brought with it…they brought me to a place where my relationship with God and the people I love is stronger than ever.

When I think about the possibilities that are ahead of me, I feel overcome with joy. Knowing where you’re supposed to be and getting there is so fulfilling. For so long I moved from job to job, never feeling truly satisfied. It wasn’t until I finally got quiet and listened to what God was trying to tell me, did I find true contentment. Getting to use my story to help others brings so much happiness to my life.

I always knew there had to be more to my journey, but I had no idea just how amazing it would be.

I’ll be honest, when I first started this blog I wanted it to be a place where I could share and document my life now…as a momma and no longer someone who struggles with HA. But I kept feeling this pull to share. Share my story, share what worked for me and share how I could help. I had no idea how things would change by following my heart. If you’ve been with me from the start, I’m sure you’ve noticed the progression. Sometimes you may have to walk along blind, solely relying on your Faith to get to a place where everything feels right.

I love that I get to help others going through the struggles of my past as well as share my heart and where I am today. My hope is that it inspires others to never give up. This can be your reality too. To be on the other side and truly recovered is simply amazing!

As I move forward into the new year…

I’m not exactly sure where God will continue to lead me, but my hope is to continue to provide encouragement to those in the HA Sisterhood as well build connections here with you. I’m not one to set resolutions, but I do have some goals/priorities for the coming year:

  • Continue to build my relationship with God
  • Spend more time being present with my family
  • Provide support & encouragement to those struggling with HA
  • Be more intentional about getting together with the special people in my life

I hope that as you reflect back on the past year and look forward to the future, you’re filled with happiness & excitement for what’s to come. Thank you for reading along and for all your support…Cheers to 2017!!!

XOXO,

~P

 

My Redemption Story.

Re•demp•tion: The act of being saved from error…

I was once asked to think of a time I created a mess for myself and found myself being saved from God and in it’s place given a miracle.

It didn’t take long for me to think of the mess I had unknowingly created for myself during my struggle with infertility. As the pain & hurt from not being able to have a child grew more and more with each passing day, so did the mess I found myself in.

For the first 6 years of my struggle with infertility, I had no idea that the mess I was in was caused by my lifestyle. The hours at the gym, the restriction I put myself through on a daily basis. They were the mess. I’m honestly not sure had someone told me during the darkest years that it was my desire to be thin that was causing all of this pain, if I would have made the change I needed to make.

It wasn’t until I came to the point of desperation that I was ready to do whatever it took. I was running out of options and time.

My relationship with God during those years was distant at best. I always felt He was there, but I didn’t think He was listening to my cries and brokenness. I didn’t think He had a plan for me or that my dreams and prayers would be answered.

Looking back now I can see so clearly how He held me close and kept me safe, even during the heartbreak and tragic losses.

Yes, I created a mess for myself. I may not have know it at the time, but I was absolutely the one who brought this upon myself. There was a time I felt deep shame over this mess and couldn’t believe I let my desire to be thin take so much from me. But God wasn’t ashamed. Instead He took that mess and turned it into the most beautiful miracles I could have never given to myself.

He gave my my babies and the ability to love them in the deepest way. He gave me a calling and a passion. He took my story and turned it into something beautiful, something life giving.

He gave me my redemption. He saved me from my error and in it’s place brought beauty & healing.

I’m so grateful for my journey and the ability to touch others lives. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t feel a wave of emotion wash over me when I think about how He’s using me. When I see that my story is changing lives, it brings tears of joy to my eyes.

For so long I felt unworthy, not good enough, not pretty enough, not skinny enough. I felt forgotten, a face in the crowd. But those are just lies.

We are all Worthy, Enough, Beautiful…and we all have a Purpose. We were placed on this earth to do good in our own ways. To use our story and messes for the benefit of others. To allow God to save us from error and turn it into something beautiful.

My sweet sisters, if you’re feeling unloved, unworthy, ashamed or forgotten, please know that you are not alone. There is a God out there waiting to use you and all your messes for good. He wants to turn it into something beautiful, all you have to do is allow it to happen…

XOXO,

~P

 

To my sweet girl on your 1st Birthday…

Where do I begin?…

It feels like just yesterday we were in the hospital, you by my side, and I was writing your birth story. It was a time in my life that will forever be etched in my memory as one of the most magical, beautiful moments…and here we are, on your First Birthday…

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I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure how my heart could possibly love another child as much as I love your brother. But the moment I laid my eyes on you, my heart ached with a love so deep it brought tears to my eyes.

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You have completed us my beautiful girl.

You have the sweetest personality and your smile, oh that smile, it lights up a room and can turn anyones day around. You scrunch your nose up and make the cutest sound, I hope you never lose that joy!

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What I’ve loved most about your first year is watching your relationship with your big brother blossom. From a very young age you absolutely adored him. Your face lights up and you kick your feet whenever he is near. He calls you “Savi Jeanne” or “Baby Girl” like I do and it’s the sweetest thing <3 You’ve started to play together too and I often daydream of what life will be like as you continue to grow together…

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First day of school!

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My sweet sweet girl, I’m so grateful to be your momma.

I promise to never let a day go by where I don’t tell you how beautiful you are and that you are so very loved. I pray that God gives me the ability to raise you to be a confident, joyful and radiant little girl.

I will miss this season in our lives as you are our last baby, but know that there is so much joy in the years to come. Thank you for completing our family and coming into our lives at the perfect moment. I love you to the moon and back Savi Jeanne!

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XOXO,

Momma

HA Sisterhood: Karly’s Story.

Today I have another story from the HA Sisterhood that I know you will find inspiring and full of hope! Please welcome Karly as she shares her journey with HA…


My journey has been a bit of a roller coaster.

I started birth control in March 2013 and went off in January 2015 (the last couple periods on BC were super light). I didn’t get a period in February or March but figured I was adjusting post-pill. Then I had periods in April and May, but that’s when it ended.

At the end of August, 4 months since my last period, I went to the gyno and discussed my lack of period. She suspected PCOS (though acknowledged that I didn’t fit the “type”) and ran some blood tests to check my testosterone levels, as well as a sonogram to check my ovaries. My ovaries looked fine and my testosterone levels were low, so she ruled out PCOS. She prescribed the progesterone challenge, to which I had no reaction so she checked my estrogen and FSH levels. Across the board my hormone levels were low; everything was on “sleep” mode. Her only recommendation was to go back on BC “to get regular” (which didn’t make sense since I just came off  BC so by that logic I should be regular…) or visit a fertility specialist which personally I wasn’t ready for. That was the beginning of October 2015.

From the beginning of our appointments, she asked about my diet and exercise and concluded that since I was not a marathoner or doing anything extreme that diet/exercise wasn’t the cause. I was also in the normal/healthy range of BMI (5’8 135lbs) so didn’t think that was an issue, but she said if I felt like it I could try putting on 5lbs and tone down the workouts (approx 4-5 times a week for max 1 hr each mixing it up with body pump, spin, running, body step…nothing EXTREME).

In November, I happened to have a deal for a month of unlimited barre so during that month I only did barre (no cardio) and my weight crept up to about 140. On December 22nd, I got a period!

After that I went back to my original workout schedule and again lost my period.

In March, I went back to the gyno, and she said we should try the progesterone challenge again, and if I get a period then I could try a round of clomid to force ovulation; no period came. After 5 months since my last cycle, I decided to try acupuncture at the end of May. My acupuncturist believed I was dealing with post pill amenorrhea. With weekly visits and daily herbs I was able to ovulate and have a period in June (though the luteal phase was extremely short).

Even with an absurd amount of googling over the past 1.5 years, I didn’t stumble upon the term “hypothalamic amenorrhea” until last month.

And finally I was reading some stories that “sounded like me”.

I was never too thin but I did spend a lot of time planning out my workouts and putting in extra effort when I over indulged on the food side of things. If I had to guess what threw me into this funk it was probably the period of time in April/May 2015 where I was working out probably 6 times a week with crossfit being 3xs a week and restricting my calories to about 1400. If only I knew that that would not only hinder my body goals, but also lose my fertility.

In mid-August, I decided to prioritize my desire to get back my cycle/pregnant over my desire to stay a certain level of fit. The hardest part has been getting over the fact that I used to get my cycle just fine when I was 15+ lbs lighter, but unfortunately that’s just not me anymore. Starting in mid-August, I cut out all cardio and increased my calories considerably.

Around September 8th, I saw fertile mucus as well as a shift in temperature so I was pretty confident that I ovulated. My temp stayed elevated for a couple days before it dropped on the 13th and I woke up to some very light spotting. I just so happened to have a gyno appointment with a new doctor scheduled for that morning, where I shared with him everything from the last couple years, including my recent lifestyle changes/weight gain and the spotting that morning.

He agreed that he too thought I had hypothalamic amenorrhea, and said I won’t be able to get pregnant without assistance. He then ordered some blood work and prescribed me a hormone replacement regimen. I left that appointment feeling SO discouraged since I really felt like my body was starting to signal it was on its way to recovery (he even told me I should not gain any more weight and start exercising again). The spotting/light bleeding actually continued for 3 days, so I decided to hold off on the hormones to see how things went for another month and would reassess then.

On day 23, I saw a significant amount of EWCM followed by a dip/spike in temp! Then the acne and the sore breasts arrived, so I just knew I was in for a real period finally. My period ended up coming 8 days later.

It really is so satisfying to see some real signs of recovery.

I still struggle with the extra weight/negative body image, but knowing that I’m giving my body a chance to do this thing naturally is where I find hope. Now I am praying for a longer luteal phase next month, and for continued patience and grace during recovery.
Thanks to all the ladies in the HA recovery group. I wish you weren’t also in this situation, but I am so so grateful for the constant encouragement and support during this challenging time 🙂

What I’m Thankful For…

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I wanted to take some time to highlight what I’m thankful for. This year has surely brought it’s ups and downs, but overall it’s been a pretty amazing year full of growth and connection.

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My Hubby & Kiddos:

My hubby and kiddos are truly one of the greatest gifts of my life. Not every day is perfect, but I can see something wonderful even in the hardest of days. With the addition of Savannah this past year, our family finally feels complete and I couldn’t be more blessed!

My Relationship with God:

Over the last year I’ve found my way back to God and have been relying on Him for peace and strength. The world is full of so much evil these days and He is truly our only source of comfort. Spending time in the Word and in prayer each morning has given me the ability to go about my days in a more peaceful, trusting way.

Our Parents & Siblings:

We truly have some of the BEST family! They are some of the most important people in our lives and our kiddos are so lucky to have them <3 I love this time of year since it gives us the ability to see them more than usual…I’m looking forward to this year and all the memories we will share!

My MOPS Mom Friends:

In early 2015, I joined MOPS but shortly after I became pregnant with Savannah and had to drop out because I was too sick to attend. I honestly wasn’t sure I wanted to go back come Fall 2015, but something in my heart was telling me that I needed to at least give it another go. I am SO incredibly grateful I did! I’ve met so many AMAZING friends because of it which is something I’ve been desperately needing. This year I feel even more connected and blessed by the beautiful ladies at my table, and I definitely see some lifelong friendships forming <3

I hope you have an absolutely wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends! I’d love to know in the comments below what you’re Thankful for <3

 

XOXO,

~P