When Vincent was about a month old, I signed up for a New Mama Class and Amma Parenting Center where we had taken some prenatal classes. Brian and I thought it would be a great thing for me to do and a good reason for Vincent and I to get out of the house at least one day a week. Because, let’s be honest, it is very easy, and comfortable, to not get dressed or leave the house with a newborn. It can be scary and overwhelming. But, mamas, it is so necessary for our sanity and our wellbeing.
I signed up for the New Mama class, a class specifically for new and first-time moms. It is a baby-friendly environment where we talk about all topic’s new moms: feeding, sleep, soothing, vaccinations, pediatric visits, postpartum adjustments, emotions, returning to work, and so much more! It is honestly the most welcoming place a new mom could be in.
I walked into our first class a little nervous and overwhelmed. Vincent was about 6 weeks old and it was really my first major outing just the two of us by ourselves. Plus, he was nursing ALL the time and both him and I were still finding our rhythm in our breastfeeding journey. So, my major concern was what would happen if I needed to feed him? It was also one of the first times I would be breastfeeding in public.
I was met with the most caring, warmhearted, kind teacher and 7 kind, funny, and down-to-earth new mamas, who were all experiencing the same things. AND all my fears about breastfeeding melted away as all our little babes would scream and one by one our boobs would come out and we would just feed. Nobody cared. Breastfeeding is hard enough without the added pressure of trying to cover up, conceal, or stress about what others think.
A sense of relief rushed over me. We met once a week in class for two hours and once a week outside of class. As the weeks went on our mama confidence grew leaps and bounds and by the end of the 6 weeks we were all so different than when we started. I continue to text with these mamas on a daily basis; we share our triumphs and failures and we celebrate each other’s successes. We confide in one another. We complain to one another and there is NO JUDGEMENT. We were in the trenches of new motherhood together and we have stuck it out together. We try to see each other as often as possible. Now that all my mamas have started work again it is usually once a month.
Vincent and I continued onto the Beyond Newborn class – each class begins with circle time filled with songs and developmental play. We are shown play ideas and toys to help foster our baby’s development. It is so fun to see how the babies grow and change over the course of this 8-week class. Vincent was just 4 months when we started the class and wasn’t really rolling around yet. We graduate our class on Tuesday and in our last class Vincent was rolling and pulling himself all over the room and playing with the other babies in the class.
I cannot say enough about Amma Parenting Center. It really helped me find my confidence as a mama. It helped me feel like I wasn’t alone in my journey, answer questions that came up on a daily basis, and helped me realize that everything I was feeling and going through was NORMAL.
The one recommendation I have for all the mamas out there – find yourself a village. Surround yourself with family and friends. Sign up for a new mama class. Talk to people. It is so easy to get stuck being at home. It is so easy to not shower and stay in your pajamas because you’re scared to take your baby out of the house. I know, I was there. But each time you do it, each time you go out, every time you share your truth with friends or family, you grow your mama and things get a little easier.
It takes a village to raise a child! Find a village. Encourage one another. Open your village to others!
Due Date: Friday, November 23, 2018 - Black Friday, fitting for someone like me who loves to shop.
Wednesday, November 14th– My mom comes into town to help out with our final weeks of preparation. I had become increasingly anxious, uncomfortable, overwhelmed, excited, and was in power nesting mode as we moved closer to our impending due date. Who knew so many emotions (many of them conflicting) were possible inside a human all at once. I had read all the books and took all the classes, but, the books and classes tell you the logistics.
Truth Bomb #1: That’s like trying to understand a journey by looking at a map. What I know now, is the only way out is through and in this case, it meant physically birthing our child.
Thursday, November 15th– My mom and I spent the day running around like crazy people trying to check off everything on my never-ending list of “Things I must get done before Baby St Peter arrives.” We were finally relaxing after having dinner when I said to my mom, “I have period like cramps, is that normal? They’re coming and going and are pretty strong… maybe it’s from all the running around today?”
Mom: “Honey, those are contractions”
Me: “Really, nobody really ever told me what they would feel like..."
AND cue the flood of emotions: excitement, giggles, fear, and every other emotion possibly known to women came over me at that moment. We timed them out and when they got stronger and stronger we decided to call Brian and let him know we should probably head to the hospital.
Truth Bomb #2: Can you really have everything done and prepared? Don’t kill yourself trying to accomplish this task in a single day. You will just end up being sore, cranky, exhausted, hungry – and those are unpleasant feelings for anyone, let alone a 39-week pregnant woman. Another thing, you should really listen to the advice in the classes that say conserve as much energy as possible the last couple weeks, because um... contractions are EXHAUSTING.
Friday, November 16th–Only 1.5cm dilated. HOW? My contractions were so close together and so strong. So, the hospital sent us back home. No baby. They were fully expecting to see us back in a few short hours because the rate my contractions were going. You guessed it, labored at home some more, bounced around on my birthing ball, walked up and down the steps as many times as humanly possible, took a bunch of baths, anything I could think of doing to speed along this process. Around 4pm we headed back in fully ready to hear I was 5cm dilated. HA! Baby St Peter had other plans… still only 1.5cm.
Truth Bomb #3: Nobody, told me how painful cervical checks were. HOLY SH*T! Seriously, I think those were more painful than some of my early contractions.
Truth Bomb #4: It is EXTREMELY hard to labor, labor, and labor some more and NOT show any signs of progress. Up until this point, I think the hardest battle was the mental and physical battle I was going through. Physically, my body was showing signs of readiness, right? My body was contracting. My body was trying to birth this baby. Mentally, I was so prepared. Mentally, I was ready. But, there was really nothing else I could do, but wait and surrender to the process. I truly had to surrender to God’s will, God’s plan, my sweet stubborn little baby, and trust that this process will happen in the time it was supposed to.
I had spent 39 weeks preparing for this very moment. Logical Brain: It NEVER happens like the movies, water breaking, running to the hospital just in time to pop out your tiny human. Wishful Brain: Well, maybe for me, it will.
Saturday, November 17th– All contractions stopped. What. The. Actual. F*ck?! How? Frustrated doesn’t even begin to describe how I was feeling. So what else was there to do? Nest, nest, and more nesting. That’s right, we moved the nursery into a new room. I mean what else is a 39-week hormonal, frustrated, emotional, and anxious woman to do?
Sunday, November 18th– Back in the saddle. Contractions started at 5am, were strong, consistent, and lasted all day! Everyone kept telling me to relax, the only way my body was going to progress was if I was relaxed. The day continued, we played games to “get my mind off of laboring” … do I even have to elaborate on that?! After about my 5thbath, my mucus plug came out and I had my bloody show! WOOHOO, FINALLY some progress! Convinced tonight was the night I went to bed ready to be woken up by my water breaking.
Partner Tip: Don’t ever tell a pregnant woman who is on her 3rdday of contractions to “relax” … seriously that word must have been created by a man.
Monday, November 19th– I woke up at 5am and just started sobbing. What was happening?! What was wrong with my body?! All I could do was be angry for a couple hours and hell if anyone told me I should be anything else. Exhausted, disheartened and pissed off I agreed to run some errands with my parents to “get out of the house and again, get my mind off things…”
We got back home, unloaded, and I was exhausted and still pissed. After dinner, Brian and I got ready for bed. We crawled into bed and at about 9:30pm I was woken up … “Bri, I think my water broke… either that or I just peed myself…” Like any good fact checking husband would do, he came around to my side of the bed shined his phone light at my hooha and said, “yep, it definitely did… and woah, it’s still coming.” And it just kept coming out! I started laughing which only made it come out more! Thank goodness about a week before we had put pee pads under the sheets on my side of the bed, just for this very event. I jumped in the shower, we got our bags in the car, and just as I was ready to walk out the door… WOOSH - another gush of water comes shooting out of me and soaks through everything. I wrapped a towel around me like a diaper and got in the car.
Truth Bomb #5: You. Will. Leak. Until. You. Birth. Your. Child … yep, didn’t know that one! So that shower I took before I left, did nothing.
We walked into the hospital. No Contractions. But this time, we were admitted straight to a room. This time, we were not leaving without a baby. Oh my gosh, that was so exciting and so terrifying.
They checked my cervix again, still just as painful as the first time, and I had NO CHANGE! Seriously, how was that possible?! I had labored since Thursday, it is now Monday night and I was still 1.5cm. They told me they would give me until 5am to see if my body would progress and if it didn’t then I would have to start Pitocin. My mom had the same sort of deal with me, no dilation, Pitocin, and a baby determined to come on their own timing and rhythm. So, the hours passed, we walked a little, 5am came, I was excited about the check this time, I knew we had to have made some progress… NOPE! Still 1.5cm… Sweet Jesus!
Tuesday, November 20th– about 5:30am they started me on Pitocin. I remember asking my nurses, how will I know when it is time for an epidural? Their response, “When you think you cannot do it anymore and you’re ready to throw in the towel, then it’s time.” Cool, so thanks for the specifics and the encouragement right before starting this. The nurses came in about every 30 minutes and turned up the Pitocin another level or two. A couple hours passed and I believe I had gotten to a level 8 or 10 (whatever number) of Pitocin … I had never been in that much pain in my life. The contractions were SO strong and SO close together I was having trouble breathing and catching my breath. I was getting really light headed and nauseous. Before I could even ask the nurse to start the epidural process, she had already turned off the Pitocin and called the anesthesiologist. Around 10am the epidural was administered.
Truth Bomb #6: You will be rotated like a rotisserie chicken after you get your epidural.
After about 45 minutes, the epidural kicked in I was able to rest. Brian and I actually fell asleep for about an hour and a half! Around 11:30am, I woke up and I told Brian, “Oh my gosh, I feel like I have to push… Babe, I have to push now.” He asked me not to push and went to go get our nurse. Amanda quickly came in the room, checked me (which by the way, does not hurt at all after an epidural) and said, “Yep, you have no cervix… it’s time.”
At that moment, panic, fear, excitement, nervous laughter, uncontrollable smiling, tears, and everything in between came rushing over me. Brian came to my bedside, kissed my forehead and said, “Babe, this is it.” I remember telling him, “I am going to do my best” and he said, “Babe, you’re going to do great.”
Legs in stirrups, our doctor told me to push 3 times with each contraction and hold each push for 10 seconds. Around the 5thpush or so, our doctor asked if I wanted to feel the head. I did and it gave me the motivation to keep going. It was so amazing to feel our sweet baby’s head. Brian was watching the whole thing, he kept encouraging me and telling me how amazing I was doing.
7th contraction – first push was the same, second push, “Ok, Stop, don’t push…” and with that Brian exclaimed, “It’s a boy!!” We didn’t know what we were having and it was our wish that Brian was the one who would tell me the sex of our baby. Not more than 3 seconds later, Vincent Charles St Peter was placed on my chest. Our sweet little babe that I have been trying to bring into the world for the past five and a half days. He was perfect. A pure sense of joy and love rushed over me. Brian and I spent that first hour just the three of us. He went out to the waiting room and told my family that it was a boy, but then came back in and we just hung out. The three of us. I did skin to skin with Vincent while the doctors were still trying to remove my placenta because it did not deliver. They ended up keeping the epidural going while they manually removed my placenta. Once I was somewhat put back together and patched up, my parents and sister came in the room to meet sweet little Vincent. It is a moment I will never forget. One that I will proudly share with anyone. One that made me so proud to be a woman, proud to call myself a mother, and so proud of what my body did and went through.
To my husband: Brian, I couldn’t have made it through those five and a half days without you. YOU were and continue to be my rock. You encouraged me when I didn’t think I could keep going. You literally held me up when I was so physically exhausted from laboring and couldn’t stand anymore. You hugged me when I just needed to be held. You wiped my tears when I couldn’t do anything but cry out of frustrations for what my body was doing and how I was laboring. You rubbed my hairy legs and told me it was all going to be ok. You were and ARE a Rockstar! You stepped forward in a way I have never seen you step forward before and watching you become a father in those first few minutes you held our son was the most beautiful and most rewarding thing I had ever seen. I have never felt so close to you as I had in those five and a half days and in those moments in the hospital. Thank you. Thank you for everything you did to help me through the birth of our son.
Hi mamas, thanks for stopping by!
I’m Elizabeth, stay at home mom to our son Vincent who is 5 months, and as you’ll see periodically our nutty, hyper, and best big brother dog ever, Walker. If you’ve been here before you know what I’m all about; empowerment, standing in your power & truth, being your best self, living your best life, and sharing your most authentic voice. Phew – that’s a lot, right? It’s so hard to do all of these things but with lots of practice, failing, and pulling my foot out of my own mouth, I am determined to make these things happen in my life every day.
A lot has changed since I published my book in July of 2017. My husband and I got married, we moved from California to Minnesota, and we had a baby! Lot of changes. And, with those changes there have been a lot of ups and downs and lots of new learnings! The biggest and best new journey and change has been motherhood.
I have always wanted to be a mom, ever since I was a little girl, I knew I was destined to be a mother. But what I didn’t know and what no book can really prepare you for, in addition to all the joy and excitement you know you will experience, is how hard, exhausting, and overwhelming it can be. I have learned SO much more about myself, my voice, my relationship with my husband, marriage, etc in the short 5 months my son has been alive than I have learned in the 33 years I have been alive.
In talking to new moms and with other friends of mine who are mothers I have heard the need for all of these things to be talked about. How they are scared to admit things or feel shamed when talking about the nonpositive emotions of motherhood. This is where Godspeed, Mama was born. Godspeed means; An expression of good wishes to a person starting a journey. Motherhood is the ultimate journey and all of us mamas could use all the “good wishes” we can get. So, this blog and my Instagram page was born from a place of truth and authenticity. I promise to share with you a real and raw look of motherhood. All the good, the bad, the messy, the frustrating, the joy, and everything else in between! I will pull the curtain back and let you in to everything I have experienced and will experience to help others who may be going through the same thing but cannot find the words or the strength to speak about it. Most likely with no makeup, hair up, and in my workout clothes, because let’s be honest, that is motherhood!
In the next few weeks I hope to share with you more about my birth story, those first few weeks home, watching my husband become a father, being a stay at home mom, the mom guilt, the mental load, importance of your village, and so much more! Motherhood is the best, most rewarding, and most difficult and scary club you can join. So, I am here to be a part of your village. Because, ladies (and men) and everyone in between, it really truly does take a village!
Yesterday, my Facebook page was flooded with #MeToo stories. "If everyone who has been sexually assaulted/harassed/raped wrote "Me too" as their status, maybe they would start to see the scope of the problem." It is amazing how powerful this movement has been and I only hope that it continues to help others understand the epidemic of assault/harassment/rape. I saw men and women post their stories. I have seen men and women come clean about being at fault for assaulting others. It is so validating as a survivor to see and hear people.
My freshman year in college I was invited to a fraternity date party. I got dressed and my date came to pick me up at my dorm room. We went to his dorm, had a couple of drinks with some of his friends, and then headed to the party at the bar. After a fun night out, we were going to head to the after-party at the Kappa Sig house.
My date and I stopped back at his dorm in between. One thing led to another and we started making out. I was totally okay with that and kind of into it. But then, things started to move too quickly for me. I was not an experienced girl going into college and I was a little uncomfortable and tried to slow things down. It worked for a little while, until it didn’t. I tried to stop it, but couldn’t. It still feels weird to say I was “raped” because I cannot believe that it happened to me. I was scared, I was vulnerable, and I wanted to pretend it didn’t happen.
When he finally got off of me, he handed me a drink and said, “Okay, let’s go to the house and meet up with everyone else.” I tried to come up with an excuse about not wanting to go, but I couldn’t form the words. I don’t think I said anything to him. I felt like someone had ripped my voice out of my throat. So I put my clothes back on, wiped the tears from my eyes, drank my drink and we walked to the after-party. I found one of my sister’s friends there and told him what happened. He couldn’t believe it.
A few days later we went to the police. Unfortunately, nothing really came of it. The school sent around a letter (sans names) letting the students know what had happened and to be careful.
I remember sitting in the hallway of my dorm crying on the phone with my therapist. I didn’t really know what was going on. I didn’t really think I was raped because I was participating in the make out session to begin with. She assured me that anytime someone says, “No,” or, “Stop,” and the other person does not listen, that is rape. The minute it was not consensual, it was rape.
The rest of the year was kind of a blur for me. Towards the end of the summer, I told my parents I was not going back, and I wanted to find a place where I could really pursue theater. It wasn’t until recently, about 12 years after the fact, that I shared with my parents what actually happened. I was ashamed to tell them. I was scared that it was my fault—that because I wanted to make out with him, that somehow I gave him permission to rape me. I was frightened that they would be mad at me for putting myself in that situation.
My experience at John Carroll confirmed for me how unimportant my voice was, how insignificant anything I had to say. I still cannot believe that my date got away with what he did. I cannot believe that some of my friends didn’t believe what I was saying. So, while my struggle with being heard and speaking my truth really started in high school, I think it was freshman year in college that the feeling of insignificance really set in. The fact that the college and the authorities did not do anything about what had happened made me feel extremely worthless. At times it felt as if I was screaming at the top of my lungs and people were just walking past me and laughing.
What infuriates me even more is that this continues to happen every day and nothing is being done to stop it. Every time I hear a story on the news about a rape or an assault on a college campus, or anywhere, my stomach turns, I get nauseous, my throat closes a little bit, and my heart breaks. This is something that needs to be stopped. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women are raped at some point in their lifetime. On college campuses, that number is the same—one in five women—and that is not accounting for all the cases that go unreported. Rape is the most unreported crimes; 63% of all sexual assaults are not reported to the police. How are we still letting this happen? Schools and authorities need to start taking action. A letter circulated to students warning them that something happened on campus isn’t enough. Letting these abusers walk free after something like this is just mind-boggling to me and yet it continues to occur.
I felt so insignificant after my rape. I felt like my voice, story, and being didn't matter. I hope my story helps you feel like you do matter. I hope you know you are heard, you are valuable, you matter and it is NOT YOUR FAULT. There is so shame in being a survivor - there is only power.
I couldn't be happier that my book has finally launched! It has been a long time coming... 9 years to be exact. I can't wait to share my story with everyone. I have been asked the question of "Why?" a lot. Why Now? Why write a book? Why share your story? So here is my answer:
Since my car accident in 2007, I have worked really hard to figure out exactly who I am and who I want to be. I have fallen flat on my face a lot of times throughout the years AND I have taken major steps forward. A few places I have really struggled were; body image, my place in society, and speaking my truth. All things I think a lot of women can relate too.
In 2015 I was still struggling to write this book, I had a ton of ideas, but I couldn't get them from my head to the paper. I had a breakdown. I sat in my therapist, Wini's, office and cried to her and my mom. They kept coming back to one thing... I wasn't celebrating my bigness. I was keeping myself small and not letting others see me for who I really was. I was falling back into all my old habits and patterns that I had worked so hard to break free from. I think by just naming this for myself it allowed me to see a path that I never saw before. I was letting fear stop me from being who I really am. Fear of what others would think. Fear my voice wasn't enough. Fear I didn't know what I was talking about. The list of fears go on and on. But it was at that moment I knew I had a responsibility to myself and to others who were/are struggling with the same thing to stop letting fear win.
I have gone through a lot in my life. I have learned a lot and I want to share my experiences so that others who may be going through the same things know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
So why did I write Fractured? To help people know that things will get better. That their voice matters. To help empower, enlighten, and inspire others to find their most authentic self and voice. I want people to know; YOU ARE ENOUGH. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. The image society portrays that you have to be skin and bones to be beautiful is so distorted. I hope readers, especially young girls, can read this and have an “aha moment” before they enter into a self-destructive path. It is also my hope that men and women learn that it is ok to be vulnerable, to speak, share, and use your authentic voice, live in their authentic skin, and follow their own rules. Please, don’t shrink yourself to make others like you. It is not worth it. It is so much more fun to live life celebrating your bigness.
What happens when we stop putting people in boxes? A wonderful look on breaking out of the box society puts us in.