Feeding My Tiny Human

There is so much to learn about feeding a tiny human. Throughout the first year, there’s breastfeeding, pumping, formula, transition to whole milk, solid foods, weaning off the bottle… every time I got the hang of one thing, it was time to do something new.

There is so much to learn about feeding a tiny human. Throughout the first year, there’s breastfeeding, pumping, formula, transition to whole milk, solid foods, weaning off the bottle… every time I got the hang of one thing, it was time to do something new.

When I was pregnant, I read a lot about breastfeeding. I even paid for an online course about it. But goodness none of that prepared me for how difficult it is. I was impressed by the way Jaclyn naturally wiggled her way from my chest down to my breast shortly after giving birth. But beyond that, nothing about breastfeeding came natural for us.

Our troubles with breastfeeding actually kept us in the hospital longer than planned. Her incorrect latch made me bleed and hurt; she wanted to feed constantly because she wasn’t full. She wasn’t getting enough milk and before we realized it, she wasn’t having enough output. The nurses said she needed formula supplements, which made me feel like an absolute failure. How did I not know she wasn’t getting enough milk? How were we already switching to formula when I hadn’t given breastfeeding a fair shot? I laid there, crying and apologizing to Jaclyn for failing her already but I ultimately knew she needed to eat.

Within the first week of her life, we worked with five different lactation consultants. By the end of each attempted feed, Jaclyn and I were both crying and frustrated. So I decided to breastfeed via exclusively pumping, not nursing. I spent 2-3 hours each day pumping, storing, washing, and organizing my pumping supplies. I needed to pump every 2-4 hours for 20 minutes each time. I was an over supplier and after three months, I had almost 2,500 ounces of frozen breast milk in the deep freeze.

I had someone cute to hang out with while I pumped.

Exclusive pumping is quite the time commitment, so I tried several ways of organizing all the milk. The pitcher method was by far the easiest. You just pour all your overage milk in a pitcher for the day and then pour it into freezer bags. Unfortunately, the mixed levels of fore milk and hind milk in these batches made Jaclyn sick… so they got thrown out. That still makes me want to cry a little. Though it seems wasteful with the breastmilk freezer bags, I found it best to use what I need and freeze the rest individually. Sometimes that was 1.5 oz. and sometimes that was 6 oz. When I thawed the milk to give Jaclyn, I would supplement whatever I thawed with formula. I ended up pumping for 3 months and was able to bottle feed Jaclyn breastmilk for her first 7 months.

At about the 6 month mark, we began Baby Led Weaning. It’s the latest trend, so I had already decided we would do it before I fully understood what it was. When I realized we’d be feeding Jaclyn solid foods at 6 months old, I panicked. But goodness, we’re SO glad we did! By the time Jaclyn turned 1, she was eating nearly everything we were and drinking out of an open cup.

Solid Starts and Feeding Littles are great resources in this eating journey. So much of the beginning weeks are simply good and texture exposure, lots of funny, grossed out faces, and adorable tiny eating utensils such as this tiny cup and these GOOtensils. We also love these bibs; we call them her treasure trove. We tried these full body aprons but we’d rather just feed her in her diaper than cover her up like this.

Jaclyn has become such a good eater. The only two foods she wasn’t a fan of is oatmeal and applesauce, but she eats both now after more offerings and exposure. She had a healthy, sugar free smash cake at her first birthday, and she just sat there and ate it like a big girl because she knows how to eat.

Now, at 14 months old, she has breakfast, lunch, an afternoon snack, and dinner. We love these suction plates and she does really well with these cups. Her favorite foods right now are any kind of bean, peanut butter, all fruit but especially strawberries, and cheese.

Our final greatest feat has been the bottle. The pediatrician said to have her weaned off the bottle by 14 months, and we barely made it! Jaclyn does great drinking water from an open cup, but she would refuse her milk in anything but a bottle. See the struggle in the photo and video below.

Our saving grace was another Mommy blog who suggested watering down the milk so it was mostly water and then slowly adjusting the ratios until it was fully milk. It worked! Within days, Jaclyn was drinking her milk from an open cup, but we still needed the bottle to start and end the day. Finally after enough exposure, Jaclyn fully transitioned to drinking milk out of this sippy cup.

I put a lot of pressure on myself through the journey of feeding my tiny human. That Mom Guilt comes in hard and often. But I have a wonderful team alongside me. My husband, Seth, is always right there with me, learning how to best feed our little Jaclyn. My mom is incredible and follows whatever routine we set up as she watches her each day.

Our feeding journey has been quite messy and oh so rewarding.

Baby Beanbag

Sunday evening- positive pregnancy test. Monday morning- positive pregnancy test. Wednesday morning- negative pregnancy test. W.T.F.

Sunday evening- positive pregnancy test. Monday morning- positive pregnancy test. Wednesday morning- negative pregnancy test. W.T.F.

The last week has been a roller coaster of hormones and emotions. I don’t always take two tests but we were surprised, and that second blue line was mighty faint. For two short days, we hesitantly celebrated the new life we created together. The pain of losing our first baby will always haunt us. Nevertheless, we were excited that Jaclyn would be a big sister and have a playmate close in age. Seth had already nicknamed this babe, Beanbag.

Wednesday morning brought bleeding and cramping so the doctor’s office quickly squeezed me in. Covid restrictions didn’t allow me to bring anyone for support so I had to go alone. I was barely 4.5 weeks pregnant so as expected, the ultrasound showed an empty uterus. I did not, however, expect a negative pregnancy test in the office.

I sat there in shock, unable to look the nurse in the eyes. Did I make it all up? How is this even possible? I quickly pulled out my phone and made her look at the pictures of my at home pregnancy tests so she didn’t think I was crazy. She kept reassuring me that the doctor would explain everything.

Chemical pregnancy. The sperm fertilized the egg but for whatever reason, it couldn’t develop beyond that. Within two days, my hCG levels were nonexistent and it triggered my body to start my cycle, hence the bleeding and cramping. Just like that, I wasn’t pregnant anymore.

I sat in the room for awhile to call Seth and my mom to try and explain. I sobbed as I clarified that we had been pregnant. And then I was confused about how I could be so upset when I hardly knew that this baby existed. I eventually collected myself and went through the motions that I’d learned from the last time. At check out, I made sure they cancelled my upcoming ultrasound appointments and that they rescheduled my annual. Despite knowing that none of this was my fault, I still felt ashamed and found it difficult to look at people in the office. At least this time my mask hid my splotchy swollen face that showed I had confirmed what I had feared all along. At least this time I didn’t have to schedule a D and C.

The days that followed have been strange. After my appointment, I spent most of the day alone sitting in shock and crying. On Thursday I tried to distract myself with Jaclyn all day but anger and confusion just built up until I yelled and cried before bed. On Friday, I decided to be productive by organizing Jaclyn’s clothes and toys. I somehow didn’t realize how triggering it was to be immersed in baby items. There were multiple times I felt my chest tighten as if I were about to have a panic attack.

Miscarriage isn’t easy on the body. Grief isn’t either. I’ve felt insane multiple times a day. But then Jaclyn crawls over to me to play. Or I remember that Cammie was waiting for me outside my doctor’s office with a donut and tissues because she insisted I shouldn’t be alone. Or I get another sweet message checking in on me. Or I remember I haven’t had to cook because Elizabeth brought us a delicious dinner, Hannah took me out for lunch today, and Ashley sent me a gift card to Panda Express.

I have so many kind, caring people in my life. My family hasn’t had to bear this alone. There are so many offers to talk when we’re ready. For now, there aren’t really words. There’s just a lot of feelings that change from minute to minute. There are other mamas who have reached out because they’ve gone through the same thing. There’s the right song at the right time to remind me of God’s goodness.

I’ve now been pregnant three times in the past two years, and we’ve only gotten to meet our sweet little Jaclyn. We will try again as we want to continue growing our family. But we will always remember our Baby Beanbag.

2020- The Year No One Will Forget

2020 is a year that will undoubtedly go down in history. Oddly enough, this is the first year in a long time that I haven’t wished away. It certainly had its challenges, but 2020 brought me so much growth and blessing.

2020 is a year that will undoubtedly go down in history. Oddly enough, this is the first year in a long time that I haven’t wished away. It certainly had its challenges, but 2020 brought me so much growth and blessing.

This year brought loss.
My Papaw passed away in February.
In February, we also celebrated and remembered the due date of our first baby.
Several friends lost their babies- big and small.

This year brought sickness.
I got the flu while pregnant.
I was placed on bedrest for the final five weeks of my pregnancy.
Seth, Jaclyn, my mom, and I ended the year with COVID-19.

This year brought virtual education.
March 13 was our final normal, in-person work day.
April 6 we returned to work virtually, creating our first ever NTI ESL program.

By the end of the first week, we had a lot of new interest from word of mouth (meaning our students are friends outside of class), unenrolled students “snuck in” to Zoom classes after getting the link from their friends, and there was a request for a student’s fiancée to enroll from Africa. We’re in a worldwide pandemic and these students still amaze me.

I was thankful to represent Adult Education with my own I AM JCPS video.

This year brought virtual socializing.
We were blessed to have three Zoom baby showers that were oh so special.

All of our major holidays were spent in quarantine because of COVID-19. Thankful for FaceTime and Zoom.

This year brought growth and pushed my physical boundaries more than ever before.

This year brought me the best gift of my baby girl.

I was able to take 13 weeks off to fully focus on my girl during her first three months of life. Now she is nearly 7 months old and I’ve been able to telecommute to work. So I get to have lunch with Jaclyn every day and she comes to visit me when I’m not in meetings.

This year brought us our dream home.
Our first home went on the market on a Friday evening. That Sunday we accepted an offer after 16-18 showings in 2 days and a total of five offers. The following Wednesday, the offer on our new home was accepted after another multi-offer situation.

Due to the pandemic, it took six attempts to close while I was 8 months pregnant. But we are now close to my parents, who watch our sweet baby and in a home that’s felt like ours since the moment we moved in.

This year brought SO MUCH learning about being a mama.
Baby sleep tricks and training thanks to Taking Cara Babies.
Breastfeeding is hard and not for everyone.

I breastfed but I did not nurse. I exclusively pumped and bottle fed my baby breast milk for a little over three months. We tried breastfeeding for the first week of her life with at least 5 different lactation consultants, but it remained a difficult traumatizing experience for both of us. I was an over supplier as you can see. I spent 2-3 hours each day pumping, storing, washing, and organizing my pump supplies. To exclusively pump, is to be a champion.

Baby Led Weaning for solid foods thanks to Feeding Littles, Solid Starts, and Baby Led Wean Team on Instagram. I suppose this is still new and everybody has all the thoughts that I don’t have time for. So I’m trusting my gut and talking to the pediatrician as we teach our girl to eat.

So thankful for my other new mama friends– shout out to Daphne in Texas, Sujata in New York, and Hao in Vietnam. Love you and your babies and so grateful to be in this phase of life with each of you.

This year brought an awakening of what we value, how we want to love others, and how we hope to live our lives. There’s still so much learning, unlearning, and action to be done.

As we close out 2020, I will be celebrating with my loves. We are beyond thankful for the unique opportunities of family time that we’ve been given. We are grateful for this year and excited to see what new adventures 2021 will bring.

Masked Respect

But what does it say about our society that I felt safer and more respected while wearing a mask in public?

When I first started learning more about Islam, some Muslim friends taught me about the various types of head and face coverings, specifically the niqab. They shared that it is usually a woman’s own preference to cover all of her face except her eyes, for modesty. That seemed like such a foreign concept, until today.

I haven’t been out much since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Between being pregnant and on bedrest in my third trimester and now having an infant, I’m thankful to hibernate and telecommute to work. But today I was off and had many errands to run. It was the first time I’ve been out in public to multiple places wearing a mask. And it felt different, in a good way.

When I got home, I told Seth that I think I finally have a little more perspective on why some Muslim women choose to cover their face. Today while wearing my mask, I felt less oogled. I didn’t get stared at. No one flirted with me. I was just another customer or bystander there to complete my errand. In coming to this realization, I can’t help but reflect on what it’s like to be a woman.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no damsel in distress, but it’s certainly not easy being a woman. I remember deciding to wear less makeup so as not to draw more attention to myself; and I don’t wear all that much to begin with. I remember the one time I wore a knee length skirt without leggings and swore to myself that I’d never do that again. I remember wearing a simple ring to make it appear that I was married even though I wasn’t.

I remember asking guy friends or coworkers to tell men to stop pursuing me after I’d already said no, several times. I remember my class being interrupted by other students I didn’t actually know just for them to holler in that I’m beautiful.

Thankfully, these are my only experiences; I know other women have experienced much worse. But what does it say about our society that I felt safer and more respected while wearing a mask in public?

And now, I’ve got my baby girl to consider. I’ve been doing a lot of reading on child development and though we’re not there yet, I’m pretty sure we’re not gonna be those parents who require our kids to hug or kiss someone out of obligation. So even for close friends or family, Jaclyn will get to choose how she wants to greet people.

We will teach Jaclyn that hugs and kisses are an expression of love, but we will also teach her about consent. Her preferences matter and her voice matters regardless of her age. We will teach her to love and respect herself and to command respect from others. Yep, I said command. We’re also going to teach her how to fight— physically, spiritually, mentally. We’re going to prepare her the best we can.

What a crazy time to be alive and to bring another life into this world.

These are a few of my favorite things

Prior to having Jaclyn, I didn’t do kids. I never babysat growing up. I worked childcare for one summer and realized very soon that Adult Eduction was my jam. I didn’t really know anything about babies or infant development. So how in the world do I start preparing for my first child? I polled my friends on social media and made various lists to see what was the most popular. There was also plenty of help online— checklists galore, but that was overwhelming too.  Now that I’m on the other side, these are a few of my favorite things in preparing for and caring for my baby.


Taking Cara Babies Newborn Sleep Course “Will I ever sleep again?”
This is worth every penny. Cara is the baby sleep master and this would be my number one suggestion for new moms. Follow her on Instagram for lots of free tips and tricks, but the course is gold. We learned how to calm Jaclyn when she was uncontrollably fussy, how to get her on a loose daytime schedule of eating, playing, and napping, and soon after that, she started sleeping longer hours at night. Currently at 4 months old, her record night’s sleep is eleven and a half hours.

SwaddleMe Original Swaddle
I was convinced that Jaclyn only liked to be swaddled in the hospital blankets because she liked to move her arms. I was wrong. Babies actually prefer to be tightly swaddled because it resembles the womb. I learned all about it in the sleep course and these swaddles were game changers.

Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit
When Jaclyn was 3 months old, she learned to roll from her tummy to her back, meaning it is no longer safe to swaddle her  We went one night with her in a sleep sack and realized that her startle reflexes still weren’t controlled enough for her to sleep soundly. She kept smacking herself in the face and woke us up all night. This suit really is magical; it’s similar to a weighted blanket and is recommended for the transition between a swaddle and a sleep sack.

Sound Machine
Another recommendation from our sleep course. Another way to make your baby feel like he or she is in the womb. We like this one.

Personally, I love having Jaclyn sleep right next to me. Her bassinet fits right up next to our bed so I can see her anytime I want. On another note, she naps in the crib in her nursery so when we are ready to transition her, she’ll be ready.


Oogie Bear
I vowed to buy one of these for every pregnant friend from now on. This helps clean out boogies from those tiny nostrils in a safe, easy way.

Nose Frida
I gagged the first time I realized what this was. I told Seth he would have to use it. But the first time I heard Jaclyn struggling to breath, I didn’t even hesitate. I’m super thankful for this tool. Also, the saline spray that comes with it is the best. The size is just right for baby nostrils and it sprays a good mist.

Probiotics with Vitamin D
Good for the tummy and reflux!

Gas Drops
We prefer these to Gripe Water.

Baby Nail Clippers
Be extra and get the ones with the light and magnifying glass. It is terrifying to clip baby fingernails. Also, go ahead and get a baby nail file. It’s super handy.

Changing Pad
Super easy to clean for the surprising pee fountains and poop explosions.

Baby Oxiclean
There will be so much poop. SO MUCH. This stuff is miraculous at getting out poop stains.

Register for several different types and let other folks buy them for you. Sometimes babies have preferences, and you won’t know until you try. Jaclyn mostly prefers these.


Like the pacifiers, register for several different types and let other folks buy them for you. Sometimes babies have nipple preferences, and you won’t know until you try them. With bottles, I learned I had a preference depending on how easily she ate from each one. We ended up liking Nuk and Dr. Brown’s the best.
Be sure to get a microwaveable bottle sterilizer! Such a time saver.

Bottle Warmer
We didn’t register for a bottle warmer, but it was worth the purchase later. I was planning on breastfeeding, but I ended up exclusively pumping, and Jaclyn won’t drink cold milk well. This one was affordable and easy to use.
Burp Cloths
I was told cloth diapers are the best burp cloths. And I agree. These are my favorite because they’re nice and soft.


I was told not to register for clothes because you’ll get a ton regardless. That was good advice. However, if you really want something specific, register for it.

I would suggest getting some 3 month sleepers with mitten cuffs like these. Jaclyn started biting her hand a lot in her pre-teething stage, and those cuffs saved her little fingers. You could also put long socks on the baby’s hands while they sleep. I loved this pack of socks. Mittens just don’t stay on that well. We didn’t get many pants. Perhaps it was because Jaclyn was born in the summer, but I think I’ll register for more next time.

You’ll get a million blankets as gifts so don’t register for them unless you really want a specific one. I have enjoyed having multiple bigger blankets to keep in different rooms for her to lay on.


Favorite Toys
This rattle
Elephant Lovey
These Teether Rings
Fisher Price Stacking Rings 
Activity Mat

Baby Books
Some of my favorite baby books so far include You’re My Little Honey Bunny, Little One God Made You Special, Counting Kisses, Global Baby Girls, ABCs of Kindness

Baby Songs
10 in the Bed
Old MacDonald
The Ants Go Marching
Beauty and the Beast: Calms her down every time.


Google the best items of the current year. Baby List has rankings for most everything and was very helpful. We primarily chose items that convert and grow with her. The crib will turn into a toddler bed. Her changing table top can be removed so she will have a regular dresser. You get the idea.


Drawer Organizers
Perfect for organizing teeny tiny clothes.

Plastic Tubs
It’s difficult to stay organized when your baby grows so fast. I bought some under the bed storage containers and some taller ones to fit on shelves. These have been super helpful in switching out baby clothes of different sizes, maternity clothes, etc.

Phone Apps
Baby Tracker App: Track your baby’s eating, sleep, and potty time.
Baby Story App: Make all kinds of cute pictures even cuter.

To each their own, but I hope this helps narrow some things down for other mamas!

Don’t forget the journey

Shortly after I learned we were having a baby, I began asking my mom, “When you were pregnant…?” questions. To which she replied, “I don’t know, I haven’t had a baby in 30 years. Plus, you kind of forget all the discomfort once the baby arrives.” It was at that point I started writing throughout my pregnancy.

Shortly after I learned we were having a baby, I began asking my mom, “When you were pregnant…?” questions. To which she replied, “I don’t know, I haven’t had a baby in 30 years. Plus, you kind of forget all the discomfort once the baby arrives.”

It was at that point I started writing throughout my pregnancy. Practically, I wanted a timeline of my experiences for any future pregnancies or to share with friends. But also, some of this is just silly, and I’ve gut laughed reading back through it now that I’m on the other side of it. There is definitely camaraderie in motherhood, so I hope you enjoy my honest and candid journey regardless of what phase of life you’re in.

39 weeks

Pre-Pregnancy and the First Trimester:

In preparing to get pregnant, I did seed cycling when I went off the pill. I’m not sure if it actually contributed, but it can’t hurt to help normalize your hormones.

Both times I’ve been pregnant, I knew I was before I even took the test. It was mostly because I’d started peeing during the night, which was not my normal routine.

We decided not to wait for the “safe zone” of making it through the first trimester to announce. We didn’t have a safe zone the first time. And I’m glad we didn’t wait the second time. However, if you share early, everyone will think you’re farther along than you actually are for your entire pregnancy.

No one tells you that all of the ultrasounds until the 20 week gender reveal is a wand that goes up your vagina and is waved around as if conducting an orchestra. That was a terrifying surprise. (In retrospect, definitely not a big deal once you’ve birthed a child.)

Body Changes: I felt crampy early on during pregnancy when my uterus was growing for the first time. My boobs felt as heavy as bricks. My sense of smell became that of a blood hound. I’m thankful I didn’t have much nausea or morning sickness. For the few days that I did, cinnamon disks gave me some relief. Fatigue is no joke. I slept at 7-8pm many week nights. And sometimes at work, I closed my office door and laid down for 15 minutes to get through the day.

The Second Trimester

Maternity clothes are worth the money. (Full disclosure, I still regularly wear my maternity leggings because they’re just that comfortable.) I needed maternity bras at 12 weeks, and I started wearing maternity clothes around 18-19 weeks. Also, get the maternity underpants.

Do your research before you create a baby registry. I Facebook polled folks about their can’t-live-without items. And then I picked friends who I trust to give me more specifics. You can also research the current year’s top selections on big items such as car seats, cribs, etc. I did my registries at 23 weeks.

When you physically go to do the registry, plan a sit down/lunch break in between. It’s exhausting and overwhelming. I didn’t, and I ended up sitting in an aisle floor almost in tears because my feet hurt so bad. Also, take your best gal pals. My mama and sister were lifesavers.

We chose not to publicly announce our baby’s name until she was born. People have way too many opinions, and I’m way too feisty for my own good if they insult me.

Body Changes: My ankles started swelling, mostly my left one. It would go down after I elevated it at or above my heart. However, when I switched to decaf coffee, it stopped for a while. My lady parts got SO heavy and uncomfortable, and that just got worse until labor. I could physically feel my belly muscles stretching as the baby grew each week. I became much, much hungrier. My back regularly hurt but nothing that a heating pad or rice pack couldn’t fix.

The Third Trimester

Be sure to have firm, comfy furniture. We only had old kitchen chairs and a well used couch that I sank into.

By week 30, I carried around a body pillow and an oscillating fan wherever I went in the house. I usually ended up in my skivvies by the end of the night with a fan directly on me while Seth was in full winter wear.

Poll your friends about their pregnancy cravings— it’s fascinating. I didn’t have too many intense cravings. I mostly wanted sandwiches from Jimmy Johns, McAllisters, or Panera which was odd because generally speaking, I don’t care for lunch meat. I also regularly wanted Chickfila Original Iced Coffee; don’t worry, I only drank it occasionally.

I hate the outdoors; I truly have no desire to ever be outside. But the fresh air felt SO good in the second and third trimester during winter and spring.

Body Changes: At week 27/28, we finally felt her kick (on the outside of my belly). Around weeks 29/30, my belly button popped out and was a little sore. Difficulty breathing became pretty normal. My ribs and lungs started to get squished. Eating wasn’t as enjoyable. I got full faster because there wasn’t much space and then the heartburn sets in, the kind that lingers at the top of my throat and physically burns. I suggest drinking small cups of soda to help you burp. Sparkling water just isn’t the same.

It’s really difficult to sleep. Every position is uncomfortable, and you gotta pee all the time. I *think* I started sporadically have Braxton Hicks around week 30. At 33 weeks, the swelling returned and stayed. I was high risk for preeclampsia and ended up on bed rest (while selling and buying a new home). There was a late night trip to the OB ER because of it. And finally at my 39 week appointment, they decided to keep me and induce me.

Here I am now four months post partum with my girl. I am still a new mom, but I wouldn’t have remembered half of this journey had I not written it down. I’m not one of those women who miss being pregnant, but I am thankful for the memories of growing my baby girl.

Mama in the making whose heart is just aching

The day after Jaclyn was born, I FaceTimed my mom sobbing. When she asked why, I blubbered, “Nothing. She’s so perfect. I just love her so much.”

When we got home from the hospital and gave Jaclyn her first sponge bath in the sink, she screamed and cried. And so did I. I left halfway through and made Seth and GG finish it because I couldn’t handle my girl being upset.

I didn’t cry, but got all worked up, thinking about the potential of her being bullied in preschool if the hemangioma on her head doesn’t shrink before then. Ain’t nobody gonna hurt my baby!

Jaclyn is three and a half months old now, and sometimes I still cry while singing, “You’ll never know dear, how much I love you (please don’t take my sunshine away).” I just never knew my capacity to love before having Jaclyn. It’s so overwhelming in the best way. It’s the good kind of heart ache. It’s nearly impossible to describe.

Sometimes in the middle of the night while I’m awake pumping, I scroll back to the day I was induced and look at every picture and video I’ve taken since. There are tons. But I don’t want to forget anything. I want to remember every little detail of Jaclyn’s life.

So I’m documenting her growth each week. “She laid in her bassinet without crying!” Now she’s learning how to put herself to sleep. “She held onto her rattle for at least 30 seconds!” Now she’s already developing fine motor skills. Another picture of her lifting her head during tummy time? That’s why she can roll now. I’m literally watching her learn how to live, and it’s the most beautiful, fascinating experience. I am so proud of my little queen.

Even the undesirable parts of parenting an infant aren’t so bad. I am regularly covered in breast milk and spit up. On the really rough days, I’m also covered in poop. I happily suck the mucus out of Jaclyn’s nose with the Nose Frida. The few days where she just doesn’t feel well and scream and cries way more than normal. Jaclyn is worth it. 100%.

As for me, sometimes I forget to brush my teeth. I’ve learned to be okay with eating cold food. I now embrace cat naps. I’m significantly less modest, but in the ‘I pushed out a baby and at least 10 people watched’ kind of way.

All jokes aside, I feel like I’m a better person since Jaclyn was born. She has put so much into perspective for me. Jaclyn has taught me to slow down and how to roll with interruptions. She reminds me to be good to myself because she needs her Mommy and because she is going to watch how I treat myself and learn from it. Jaclyn brings me so much joy. I regularly grin and giggle at her and now with her all day long. She reminds me to be intentional about the time we spend together. Jaclyn literally grows every single day, and if I’m not intentional about our time together, I will miss a lot.

I truly hate being away from her, whether it be running an errand or just being in the room next door working. Not in the overprotective way, but I genuinely enjoy hanging out with my girl. She’s still pretty small, but goodness what a sweet personality.

Being a mama is the most tired I’ve ever been, but it’s also the happiest, most fulfilled I’ve ever been. Jaclyn is my little angel baby. She’s just so perfect. And I love her so much.

Already a worried mama

There’s really no good way to prepare for pregnancy after miscarriage. There are blogs and articles, but none of them can really prepare you for the anxiety of losing your new little love. From the morning of the positive test, I was already a worried mama.

There’s really no good way to prepare for pregnancy after miscarriage. There are blogs and articles, but none of them can really prepare you for the anxiety of losing your new little love. From the morning of the positive test, I was already a worried mama.

I was given a prescription for Progesterone to start taking immediately after we learned we were pregnant to help reduce the risk of loss.

I had blood work done within days of the positive pregnancy test to make sure my HCG levels were at least doubling.

The doctors were gracious enough to give us a 6-week ultrasound instead of at 8-weeks to check and make sure our baby was okay.

We’ve been slow to plan the normal things- her name, her nursery, etc. because we didn’t want to get ahead of ourselves.

I’ve either cried, hyperventilated, or both prior to every single appointment we’ve had in fear that they would tell us that something is wrong.

I’ve cried at the end of most appointments in relief that we could see our sweet baby in the ultrasound and/or hear the heartbeat.

I panicked when I got the flu in January, terrified that it would somehow hurt my little darling.

Now there’s the dang Coronavirus that’s taken over the entire world during my third trimester. I’m staying completely quarantined at home. It’s extra difficult not seeing my parents or my sister, but with so much being unknown about how the virus affects pregnancy, it’s not worth any risk.

Seth still has to work, but we’re regularly adding to our precautions of not bringing any germs home. And I just pray every day that he won’t catch it.

I’m also praying that none of our doctor’s appointments get cancelled so that we can continue to have peace of mind that she’s okay. And that I can find online videos or courses to replace the hospital maternity/parenting classes that have been cancelled.

I’m mentally preparing for it to be only me and Seth at the hospital due to the new visitor restrictions. I’m hoping it doesn’t get any stricter.

And then there’s last night, when I realized I hadn’t felt her move in several hours and got completely panicked. Kick counts are important during the third trimester, and I hadn’t felt her at all during the time span where she’s normally moving a ton.

I cried for at least an hour while my wonderful husband talked to my belly, googled the ways to get her to move, and prayed out loud. Eventually and thankfully, she did start wiggling around.

During the wait, I just kept thinking that we are so close; we can’t lose her now. It was too difficult losing our first baby, and that situation was so different and much earlier. Now our baby girl has adorable ultrasound pictures, and she has a name (though we’re not sharing until she’s born). There was more PTSD tonight from our first loss, and it was really hard to come out of it.

This has been a long 30 weeks of worry. But also of thankfulness. Seth and I are just so grateful for every good report on our sweet girl. We are 10 weeks out from our due date. We’re slowly getting furniture and decorations for her nursery. We dream about what she’ll look like and what personality traits she’ll get from who. We are so ready to meet our baby girl.

This anxious mama just has to hang on for 70 more days. Then we have her whole life to go, which is a whole different kind of worry so I’m told. But at least she’ll physically be here in our arms to love, nurture, and teach how to do good in this world.

2019 Reflections

While 2019 was filled with grief, change, and other challenges, it was also full of growth and confidence, love and support, excitement, and the usual ESL success and hilarity.

For most of December, I’ve been eagerly anticipating the New Year.  “I’m so over 2019.” It has been a heavy year for sure, but one thing I love about social media is that you can easily review and reflect on your life.  I was quickly reminded that while 2019 was filled with grief, change, and other challenges, it was also full of growth and confidence, love and support, excitement, and the usual ESL success and hilarity.

 Growth and Confidence

January– I successfully detoxed from sugar and completely changed my diet for a month and half and maintained it for half of the year.  Lost 24 lbs. in the process.

March– So proud of my husband! There’s nothing better than watching the ones you love do what they love.  If you have any interest in rock climbing, let me connect you with his beginner climbing class.

March 25– I’m finally thankful again for early, quiet, peaceful Monday mornings.  Yes, I still check every room and the locks on the door. But then I’m able to make some coffee, sit in the floor to lesson plan anxiety-free, almost as if I’ve never been afraid to begin with.

April/May– I was regularly attending Krav Level 2 and wasn’t half bad.

August 1– May I just say that it is SO wonderful to enter my home alone and stay by myself with zero fear? It finally feels normal again.

August 17– I got my first and only tattoo.

November 4-5– This year I’m honored that NCFL chose two of my proposals for the conference.  Presentation #1 will share my journey of program coordination and resources for Family Education.  Presentation #2 will share some innovative, engaging ideas and activities about lesson planning.

November 14– I’m always proud to be Seth’s wife, but tonight took my pride to a new level.  It takes much courage to be so real and vulnerable on the journey of self-growth through blogging.  Plus, he’s a ridiculously good writer. Check him out.


Love and Support

February– Seth and I celebrated two years of marriage with a long weekend in Cincinnati.  The Newport Aquarium’s Penguin Experience was the highlight of the whole trip! “I’m so happy I could cry.  I’d love for one of them to come close enough to poop on my boot.”

May 23– I’ve been shown so much love today on the last day of school.  I thought I was coming down to one of our regular end of year potlucks but was genuinely surprised to walk into a cafeteria with about 75 people to bid me farewell from this particular phase of my life.  There was cake, decorations, gifts, and a super sentimental video.  I love you all dearly.  Thank you for such kindness.

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August– New community in our Sunday School class!


All year long: Amazing friends.


April 19– Guess who is now debt free from grad school? Paid it off completely this morning!

April 24– Uncle Seth and Aunt Ashley are very smitten with our new little niece, Natalie.  She’s a month old today and gets cuter by the minute!

May 29– We’re pregnant with our little nugget!!

July– We have a wonderful new boss at work.

July 26– Adult tea parties are good for the soul.

August 4 and 19– Bentley and Bella Boyd entered our lives!

September 4– Thanks to the help of my wonderful community, we now have a live document and Facebook page that shares all active, open opportunities for Free English Language Practice in our city!

September 13– Backstreet Boys Concert!!!

October 2– We’re pregnant again with our second little sweet pea!!

October 21– These are the moments I’ve been waiting for.  They’ve wanted me to have a baby FOREVER.

November 25– We bought our first family car!


December 21– My little Herman came home!

December 23– Our little sweet pea decided to pooch out just in time for Christmas.

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December 27– We heard our baby’s heartbeat and movement for the first time at 16 weeks!

ESL Success and Hilarity

February 7– “Teacher, homework? 3 days and you no give me homework!” I’m behind on grading and one of my students is not having it.

March 5– I walked back into my classroom at break today to hear a table of six Somali students beautifully reading  our daily message in unison without my help!  Music to a preliterate ESL teacher’s ear!

April 9– Abdio’s phone rings in class.  Me, “Please turn off your phones.  Yesterday was terrible.”  Abdio laughs, “Today Abdio rrible,”  She doesn’t know the word terrible but she knew the context and tried to repeat it.  Language acquisition is so fun.

April 30– I just got scolded for showing too much neck and chest from a former male student.  “Ashley Boyd!!! Oh. What happened? No good!”  Modest is hottest folks.

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May 23– Today began the goodbyes of my teaching and leadership roles at Americana.  I’m transitioning to a different leadership role for next year and will only be visiting this special place.

May 28– We hosted a farewell party for our boss who’s lead our ESL program for 18 years.

July 9– I officially took over the Adult ESL program.

July/August/September– I changed office spaces three times.



April 8– We lost our sweet little Molly this afternoon.  We had a good 13 and a half years with this beautiful sweet, loyal, spoiled, little cuddle bug. So much sadness today.  Hooey, I love you the most.


July 5– Today we said goodbye to our first baby that we’ll never know.  Tomorrow we would’ve been ten weeks pregnant.

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August 13– I returned to therapy.

August 24– It’s been 7 weeks, and medical bills continue to come in.  $2,500ish to lose our baby.


February– I wrecked my car for the first time in my life.  I ran headfirst into a side wall, spun across three lanes of interstate to crash into the other side wall, with not a scratch on me.

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April 23– The flu is truly awful.  I lost a week of work at the end of the school year and missed my last Family Education End of Year Celebration.

August 21– Soon our English classes will be at capacity, and there are many many many students still coming to register.  I need to be able to share other options around the city.  HELP!

For 2020, I don’t want to have to look through my timeline to be reminded of all the blessings that I’ve been given.  I want to do better to live in the moment, feel all the feels, and then overcome.  I really and truly have a wonderful life and so much to be thankful for.

Romans 8:38:
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Wear your warts, wisdom, and all.

Such small, mundane things to the average person, but these are things I haven’t been able to do in almost three years. I couldn’t be more proud of myself when I consider how imprisoned I’d been by my fear and anxiety. PTSD does change a person. There’s no going back, but finally, I think that’s okay.

Today I put air in my tires all by myself. Last week, Seth left for work before me while it was still dark outside, and I stayed to finish getting ready. I’ve come home and entered an empty house by myself multiple times after the sun has gone down. I’ve been parking in the garage lately even if that means there’s no car in the driveway to show that someone is home.

Such small, mundane things to the average person, but these are things I haven’t been able to do in almost three years. I couldn’t be more proud of myself when I consider how imprisoned I’d been by my fear and anxiety. PTSD does change a person. There’s no going back, but finally, I think that’s okay.

A couple of weeks ago, I actually thanked the Lord multiple times for the brain that He’s given me. I had two really successful conference presentations that went better than I ever could have expected. I’ve always recognized that teaching comes from God. That’s why it’s so fun; I know I couldn’t do it by myself. Anyway, this is the same brain that was altered while running for my life. The same brain that went to hours of psychotherapy to retrain my thoughts. The same brain that I regularly hated and asked if there were any way I could get a new one because my thoughts were so out of control.

Through therapy, Krav Maga, and time, I’ve become more proactive in fighting my brain. I can logically consider my reality and prepare situationally for the what if’s that used to paralyze me.

When I put air in my tires today, I was strategic about which gas station I pulled into. There was plenty of open space so I could see who was around me.

When Seth leaves the house in the morning, I lock up the house like Fort Knox and put my purse and keys near the door in case I need to make a quick exit.

When I’m the first one home, I check the outside of the house from my car. I do a quick walk through when I get inside, and I turn on several lights.

When I park in the garage while I’m at home, I open all the blinds so I can see out the front and the back. When I’m in each room, I consider what can be used as a barrier to throw between me and an intruder as well as what can be used as a weapon if I need to fight.

A couple of months ago, I decided to remove the pepper spray from my key chain. It’s still in my car, but if I’m ever attacked, I think I have a better shot at fighting back (after running or hiding of course) than trying to use my pepper spray.

I feel the strongest I have in a long time. I think that some of it is that I’m growing into my maternal instinct with my little sweet pea on the way. But I’ve also pushed myself to not remain stagnant in fear. Even on days where I’m still triggered or people think I’m a little over the top with precautions, I’m comfortable in my healing and “to wear my new life- warts, wisdom, and all- with courage.”