The Prelude

The Prelude

I used walk into work and stroll to my desk every day wearing my steamed slacks and a cardigan, my hair tousled with curls. From the outside it looked like everything was great — I had an amazing husband, sweet son and wonderful job. That image though wasn’t my reality at all. My heart was so heavy some days I could hardly breathe. My husband and I were struggling with conceiving a second child. And those fertility struggles — let’s be honest — they were awful. As I sat through work meetings with mostly women, I would look around the room and think, “Everything is great in their life.” I was Judgy Mc Judgerson. I judged my insides with their outsides. I would see that they had a nicer car than me and think, “They aren’t struggling financially. She must be so happy.” I would see a beautiful, sparkling ring on a woman’s finger and think, “Her marriage must be perfect.” I would look at a house that was larger than mine and think, “They must be so happy in their big, beautiful home.” The part that was the most disheartening was that one of my main goals at that point in my life was to empower and support woman but what I was really doing with the exact opposite. I felt gross. It was eating my lunch. I was projecting all of my fears, insecurities and anger on to other women. But I knew in my heart that all of this was bogus, and I just needed to prove it to myself. I needed to know that everyone...
The Truth About Embrace Your Body

The Truth About Embrace Your Body

  I had triplets in September of 2013. Yes, triplets; three babies at one time were in my belly. With triplets came a world of change, including my body. And with that was body issues I’d never faced before. I had this pooch in my lower belly that I’d never seen before. I still had what most would consider a “nice body.” Most days I teetered between “I like my body” and “my body is ruined.” I saw a muffin top that sprouted out of my pants when I sat down. My breasts were sagging looking like someone put a tennis ball in a sock — OK, it wasn’t that bad, but that is how it felt to me, what I saw. When I looked in the mirror I tried so hard to love what I saw. I kept telling myself, “Love your body. You had THREE babies in there!  You pumped milk from your breasts like a machine in order to nourish them. This is normal!” I started with positive affirmations in the mirror to myself. It wasn’t always easy but it helped a lot. Three months after giving birth I contacted a local magazine I had worked with in the past. I told them I wanted to do a photo shoot with the triplets wearing only a sports bra and shorts illustrating a woman embracing her body, even a body that had just birthed triplets! I wanted to talk about my struggles and determination to love my body no matter the size. My goal was that in being vulnerable I would encourage women to start the same journey...
No one can rain on this mom’s parade !

No one can rain on this mom’s parade !

Throw yourself a parade! I do!  A couple of times a week I throw myself a parade in own head, seriously. It’s not that I don’t get praise from my husband or other friends and family, but life is so challenging that sometimes I feel like I’ve earned it — that little brain parade. Being a working mom is not easy. I’m blessed beyond measure that I have a supportive husband who will pick up nearly any of the traditional “mom” pieces that are dropped in the wake of my insane overscheduled life. But even with that, it can be rough. So when I’m able to work a nine-hour day, come home, nurse my son and get a meal — from scratch mind you — on the table for my family of four before 6:30 p.m., I think I’ve earned a parade! I know, I know — it’s not very realistic for me to expect the marching band to be on standby for when I pull one of those stellar, magical, all the pieces fell into place nights off. Instead of expecting tractors, waving fair queens and a steady drum beat in my living room, I envision them in my head. I see the flags spinning in the air, the tinsel hanging from the float dragging on the concrete and the candy flying through the air. “Momma, what’s wrong?” Miles asks as we are sitting at the dinner table, and I’m zoned out for my brief parade bliss. “Oh, nothing honey,” I say while helping Owen grasp another handful of the avocado he’s eating, or more realistically smearing all...
Melinda – “I’m not a color.”

Melinda – “I’m not a color.”

“I got to the point where I didn’t know if I should act like ‘black Melinda’ or ‘white Melinda,” Melinda Ude knows who she is; she loves who she is; she accepts who she is. It hasn’t always been this way. Melinda is biracial. She was born to a white woman and had a black father but was adopted at just four days old by a white couple living in a small, sheltered southern Illinois community. Her adoption, even just 24 years ago, was seen as taboo, even considered “special needs” just because of her biracial status. “My parents couldn’t have children of their own and decided to adopt,” Melinda said. “They were about ready to give up on adoption though when a social worker contacted them about a woman who was pregnant and was giving her child up for adoption.” Melinda’s parents waited six months. When she was born they discovered that she was biracial. “The social worker asked them if they still wanted me,” she said. “They came from two different backgrounds – West Virginia and Chicago, and had some family members who had different thoughts about it. But they didn’t care. They wanted to love a child, have a child of their own. They didn’t care about skin color.” Although her parents didn’t care about her skin color, it was something that she spent a good part of her life struggling with. Growing up it wasn’t too much of a factor. Her community was so small that everyone knew her from day one and accepted her. But there was no one else that looked like her....
Be Kind To Yourself: Guilt in a time of loss

Be Kind To Yourself: Guilt in a time of loss

I wasn’t 100 percent convinced I was ready for a baby when I got pregnant with Jennifer. So when I learned my baby would be born an angel the day before she was scheduled to join our once happy family; the pain was overwhelming. I wondered, “What if I’d wanted her more? Could I have done something different to have kept her here?” While I spent years struggling with that guilt and those questions my precious son had some questions of his own. “Did Jennifer give up her life for me?” That was the innocent question he asked after hearing the story of me losing his sister a few years before. I don’t know the answer to that question. There probably would have been no Matt though if his sister had lived. I have always felt that she did give up her life for him. But it gives me comfort to know Matt has a special angel looking down from Heaven; we all do. I was married at 20, divorced at 23 with a baby and a toddler. For five complicated years I was a single mom. Then came Tom. I knew right away that this man would be a wonderful husband and soul mate but more importantly an amazing father to my two kids. We discussed having more children before we married; I promised him we would have a child together. Tom adopted the children in our first year of marriage and talked about having a child together to complete our family. I had doubts and worries of course. My oldest was already 5 and I was nearing...
Expectations : Lose Them and Gain Peace

Expectations : Lose Them and Gain Peace

Expectations – we all have them. They can be great creating anticipation and excitement but they can also steal your joy and even make you doubt yourself and others. Or worse yet, they can lead to an epic meltdown on Christmas Day changing everything. But let’s start at the beginning. When I first started out on my path to adulthood, I knew God wanted me to be a mother. I loved children, worked in early childhood development and came from a huge family. I expected to have a husband and be blessed with many biological children. When I met my husband 12 years ago, he already had a five year-old daughter.   Expecting to have many children of our own, we started trying to get pregnant right away. After all, we wanted our children to be close in age to his daughter. I got pregnant about three months after getting married but lost that child, a girl, at 16 weeks due to miscarriage. Wow, that was completely unexpected, but surely it was just a bump in the road, right? My husband and I kept trying to have a baby, and after another five miscarriages, we realized biological children were maybe not in the cards for us. Not ones to give up, we looked into adoption, both international and domestic. Although we both had good jobs, we simply did not have the resources to finance those types of adoptions. So, we looked into being foster parents. This program seemed too good to be true. Not only could we have children placed in our home almost immediately after approval, but we...
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