Lavender Lotion Bars – What Not To Do!

I’ve been in a healthy phase lately, which means I’ve been trying to eat healthier, drink more water and use more natural products. My mother in law, Tamme, has been making these awesome homemade products and selling them in her Etsy store, Glowing Secret. She has inspired me to start making my own healthy products for myself and my family. 

After making my own lavender lotion bars, I instantly realized it would have just been easier to buy them from her myself! But that would have taken out all the fun, wouldn’t it? For a little comedic relief, I thought I would share my process with you! 

I found a recipe online that told me to use one part coconut oil, one part beeswax and one part Shea butter. I couldn’t find the grater, so I spent about 40 minutes slicing off shavings for one cup of beeswax! That was some seriously hard work. Let me tell you, I will go for beeswax pellets next time when I try this again. I then got my one cup of coconut oil and one cup of Shea butter, and plopped them all into a double boiler. It took about 20 minutes for it all to melt, because you have to keep it at a super low level of heat. While I was doing this, Tamme texted me and told me to melt the beeswax first…

And then add the coconut oil…

And then the Shea butter…

It was a bit too late for that. 

I melted all of the ingredients down and took them off the double boiler, waited a few minutes and then added the lavender essential oil. Tamme then texted me that I needed to make sure that my melted ingredients were below 140 degrees before I added the essential oil.

Again, it was too late for that. 

So then I thought, wouldn’t this be cute if it was purple? So I added a tiny bit of the purple pigment powder that she had given us awhile back and realized it wasn’t melting like all of my other ingredients. Tamme then told me I didn’t need to color the lotion bars, but you guessed it, it was too late for that! 

I pulled out my molds, which are huge bath bomb gift boxes, little hearts and dinosaurs and tried to decide which I should use. I finally decided that hearts and bath bombs were the way to go. I poured my creation into the molds and let the waiting game begin.

After two hours, they still weren’t completely hardened. They pretty much melted in my hand, and had pretty serious finger marks in them from me trying to get them out of the mold. Not to mention, the hideous purple blobs in the top of each one!

My first attempt did not go as planned. I’ll update you guys again when I try for the second time! 

If you want to check out Tamme’s shop, Glowing Secret, click HERE! She has some awesome skin care products and has the great reviews to prove it. 

 

 

Customized Home Living – 76th & Newbury Review

My husband and I have always loved to travel. Seeing new places and experiencing unique adventures are one of our favorite hobbies to enjoy together. We love to document our travels with pictures and memories, but never knew that there was something else we could have been using this whole time. We never really knew the possibilities out there until now.

76th & Newbury is a design firm that creates custom art work for homes, nurseries, weddings and more. Their website is filled with numerous works of art that can be customized completely to your liking with the help of one of their design guru’s. The art that you choose can be customized with colors and fonts to be made into a unique piece that you feel like you helped create.

Their website is super easy to navigate through. I had no troubles at all looking to find what I was interested in. I was instantly drawn to a large map of the United States. How awesome would it be to have this huge map on my wall for everyone to see our nationwide travels?

The design process was simple. I just told them what colors I wanted the map to be, what my family name was and what quote I wanted on the bottom of it. It seemed like every part of the map was able to be customized to my liking. They even send you a proof of your map before it’s sent to your house, to make sure you absolutely love it. The first map design I sent was for a gray background, with blue writing and a green compass. I was trying to go for a Seattle Seahawks feel, but the proof they sent me wasn’t exactly what I was going for. My husband is a huge Seahawks fan, so I try to incorporate their colors in our home arrangement.

After getting the proof and realizing that it wasn’t for me, I asked them if we could try a dark blue background with green for the letters and compass. They changed it immediately and sent a new proof just a couple days later.

Exactly what I was picturing in my mind.

I immediately fell in love with this proof and told them it was perfect. They shipped it out to me and it arrived days later, packed with care in a giant box. For size reference, here’s my husband holding up our brand new map before we hung it on our wall. Don’t mind the boxes in the background. We are still unpacking! Also, my husband thinks he’s hilarious making faces through the plastic. 🙂

I am so pleased with how this map arrived. It looks exactly like the proof and even better in person. Once I hung it up on our wall, it made the whole room light up.

I’m not sure yet how we will show our travels on the map. On the 76th and Newbury website, it appears they also sell little pins that you can mark your travels with, so that may be something we get in the future.

If you’re ever in the market for an awesome piece of artwork that you can customize and make your own, head on over to 76th and Newbury to see their huge selection. They have something for everyone!

Disclaimer: 76th and Newbury sent me a complimentary travel map to facilitate this review. However, all opinions and comments are my own.

UpSpring Probiotic+Colostrum Sponsored Review

Disclosure: This review was made possible by iConnect and UpSpring.  I was provided compensation to facilitate this post, but all opinions stated are 100% mine.

My nine month old daughter has had so many tummy issues in her short life time. When she was a newborn, we found out that she had a dairy intolerance. Her tummy would rumble and growl and she had a horrible habit of spitting up everything she ate. She was also horribly constipated. She would go a week at a time without having a bowel movement and the doctor ended up putting her on a laxative when she was only two weeks old. I made the decision to change her formula to soy and it worked wonders, although she still has a few stomach issues to this day. Just a month or so ago, we found out she has a gluten intolerance! (the poor girl can’t catch a break!) Another thing to add onto her tummy problems..

For awhile now, we have been looking for the solution to her digestive issues. Her doctor suggested we try a probiotic. The only time I have ever used a probiotic for my children is when they are on antibiotics. The pharmacist swears that it helps with the stomach issues that arise with the use of antibiotics.

I have been giving my daughter UpSpring Probiotic+Colostrum now for about a week and already, I have noticed a difference in her. UpSpring’s Probiotic+Colostrum comes in small daily packets that can easily be added to a bottle. Each box contains a 30-day supply. UpSpring is a mom-founded company whose goal is to give parents and caregivers the confidence to raise their children knowing they are giving them the healthiest options possible.

In the short amount of time that she has been using UpSpring’s Probiotic+Colostrum, she has had noticeably less stomach upset and more regular bowel movements. She also has a tendency to get awfully sick and I am pretty sure it’s already boosted her immune system because she has been doing excellent. UpSpring’s Probiotic+Colostrum helps reduce occasional gas, diarrhea, and constipation. The colostrum that is added is naturally harvested bovine colostrum. The probiotic is gluten free, sugar free, hormone free and non GMO, which means it’s perfectly healthy for babies.

Overall, I am very impressed with UpSpring’s Probiotic+Colostrum! Up until now, I had not been able to find a single product that was able to relieve my daughter’s gas and tummy issues. If you’re looking for a product that is made with natural ingredients and free from gluten, sugar, GMO and hormones, look no further. Head on over to your local Target or Walgreens and pick up a box of UpSpring Probiotic+Colostrum for only $17.99 USD.

Disclosure: This review was made possible by iConnect and UpSpring.  I was provided compensation to facilitate this post, but all opinions stated are 100% mine.

Bellefit Dual-Closure Girdle Review + Giveaway! ($145 Value)

Disclaimer: Bellefit sent me a complimentary Dual-Closure Girdle to facilitate this review. However, all opinions and comments are my own.

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After the birth of my first child, who was born via emergency c-section, I had a very difficult time losing the weight I had put on. I was dieting and exercising, but couldn’t start for some time because my tummy was so sore. When I became pregnant for the second time and was getting closer to a second planned c-section, I was very nervous. Not only for another major surgery, but also because I remember it being so hard to get back into shape. When I voiced my concerns to my OBGYN, he mentioned the Bellefit girdle. He said it may help with my postpartum recovery. I had never heard of a Bellefit girdle, so I started my research. Upon contacting Bellefit, they graciously sent me a complimentary Bellefit Dual-Closure girdle to aid in my recovery.

They were very helpful in the sizing process and even sent me extenders, which I couldn’t have lived without! I have a longer torso than most, and they helped make the girdle longer so that it covered more of my torso. I was ready to conquer my c-section and hopefully make recovery faster and easier.

The instructions in the Bellefit say that you can start to wear the Bellefit the day you are discharged from the hospital, but my abdomen was just too swollen to fit anything on. Once I was home, a week after delivery, I tried on my Bellefit. It didn’t fit quite right and hurt at first. I discovered that I needed an XL instead of a L, which was promptly sent to me (thank goodness). It seems the sizes run a little smaller than you would expect, especially with the swelling from a c-section. This picture shows how it’s NOT supposed to fit! Ouch!

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Once I got the right size, wearing it was a lot easier. In the beginning weeks, my husband had to help me get it on when I wore it, but soon the weight was falling off and I was able to fasten it myself. The first couple of days, I only wore it for about 6-8 hours because wearing it longer than that caused quite a bit of discomfort. By the second week, I was able to wear it all day and it definitely made it feel like my insides were held in tight. The support and relief it brought me day after day was amazing. I wore it to bed only a handful of times, but I get really uncomfortable at night if I have anything more than a tank top and shorts on, so sleeping in it just wasn’t for me.

Wearing the Bellefit made me feel more confident as well as it was helping me mold back into my pre-pregnancy shape. It gave me a slimmer appearance as it smoothed out my stomach under my clothes. Having the Bellefit changed the way I will recover in the future when I have more kids. I will never go without a postpartum Bellefit again and will definitely be recommending this girdle to anyone that is thinking about having a postpartum belt or girdle.

Below I have added some pictures of my experience with Bellefit. The first picture is when I was 9 months pregnant, about to have my precious baby girl. The second picture is two weeks after having my second c-section. The third picture is four months postpartum and proof that Bellefit really does work. And don’t worry, the third picture is still me! I forgot about my birthmark and took the picture the opposite way and flipped it so it would go with the others! I am now seven months postpartum, so taking a picture now wouldn’t show how I looked at four months postpartum!

Enter below for you chance to win your very own Bellefit Dual-Closure Girdle, which is a $145 Value!

Bellefit Dual-Closure Girdle Giveaway ($145 Value)

 

CHoPstick STYLER by Lee Stafford Review + Giveaway (A $39.99 Value!)

 

Disclaimer: I received this product for free in return for my honest opinion.

CHoPstick STYLER by Lee Stafford Review + Giveaway – #CHoPsticked

I have a seriously hard time curling my hair and have always looked for ways to actually get a curl to stick in my hair. I have tried so many different curling irons, wands and even those old curling rings from way back when. None of them will work! I can seem to get a slight curl and I end up spraying what seems like eight pounds of hairspray on them and within an hour, my hair is straight again.

All of that wasted time with trying new products, new techniques and spraying buckets of hairspray are all in the past. I have found a miracle worker that allows my hair to be curled and STAY curled ALL DAY LONG! I don’t even have to use hairspray if I don’t want to! I’m talking about the CHoPstick STYLER by Lee Stafford. This curler is awesome! I am so excited to have discovered it and to be giving one away to one lucky reader.

This curler is super thin, just like a chopstick. It leaves a small and beautiful coiled ring of hair that stays put all day long. I always dreamed of big, beach curls, but now that I have seen the small coiled curls, I am hooked! It seems from the pictures on the box that my coils should be smaller and tighter, but I’m thinking since my hair has such a hard time curling in general that they may appear a little loose compared to others.

BEFORE: My hair is naturally a little wavy, and I didn’t bother to straighten my hair or anything before trying this wand.

AFTER: My hair even looks lighter! But perhaps it’s just because the camera is at a different angle? Or maybe the curls bring out the lighter tones in my hair!

The pictures say it all! I am so excited that I have been given the opportunity to give one away to one of my fabulous readers! Enter below for a chance to win a CHoPstick STYLER valued at $39.99!

 

Win a Lee Stafford CHoPstick STYLER Ceramic Curling Wand #8

The Importance of Iron Once Baby Starts Eating Solids


 

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Did you know that 1 out of 9 babies don’t get enough Iron in their diet? I definitely didn’t! It got me thinking that I probably need to add more vitamins and nutrients into my daughter’s diet. My daughter, Riley, just started eating solid foods about a month ago, and finding ways to add more vitamins into her diet has been a challenge. Sure there’s jarred baby food and I can always mash up my own homemade baby food, but I’ve been trying to find other options as well. Thankfully, I found out that Gerber makes an iron fortified baby cereal that Riley can eat by itself or it can be added into her baby food for an extra boost of nutrients.

Not only does Gerber cereal add iron to your baby’s diet, but it also adds a blend of other vitamins, such as Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Zinc and Calcium.. All the nutrients that your baby needs to have healthy development and growth. According to Gerber’s website, it’s best to start baby’s out on their single grain baby cereal because it’s made with gentle ingredients and is smoother than the other baby cereals they offer. Gerber also has Organic baby infant cereal to encourage healthier eating and DHA and probiotic infant cereals that aid in brain and eye development and supports a healthy immune system.

If you’re wondering why iron is so important to have in your baby’s diet, I’m about to tell you! In the first year of a child’s life, his/her brain doubles in size and they triple their birth weight! That’s a lot of growing in one year. Iron supplies from birth run out around the middle of the first year and therefore, iron is needed in their diet. To meet their daily needs, Gerber’s iron fortified baby cereal can be added to their diet. If your baby doesn’t get enough iron, it can lead to a host of problems, such as slow physical growth, delayed motor skills, digestive problems and more. It’s definitely worth it in the long run to keep your baby’s iron levels where they need to be.

img_5057My daughter has started to spit out just about every spoonful of plain baby food I give her. She just lets it run down her chin and gives me a goofy grin as if she’s telling me she’s not switching to solids yet! However, when I mix in the Gerber iron fortified cereal, she swallows it with ease and actually opens her mouth for more! I think I’ve found the solution I’ve been looking for. It’s also easy to mix the infant cereal into breast milk or formula so that your baby gets used to it while tasting a familiar taste. I really like to put the mixture in baby food pouches, so I can take it on the go. They make little spoons that screw onto the food pouch, so younger babies can still eat out of the food pouch.

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I got my Gerber cereal at Target right in the baby section! It’s located on the top shelf in the baby food aisle. Right now they have a 10% off cartwheel that you can use on any Gerber baby cereal variety. It’s valid through 11/26.

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If you have a baby that is ready to start on solids, then they most likely need more iron in their diet as well! Try Gerber Iron Fortified baby cereal and get your baby the iron it needs.

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Valentia Pure Glow Brightening Moisturizer Review

For years, I have been trying to find the perfect skincare regimen to help my skin get on track. It’s always too dry, too oily, breaking out or has red patches. I can never find a happy medium. I want my face to be soft, smooth and hydrated. Let’s talk moisturizers for a minute. I have tried several moisturizers such as Olay, Cetaphil, Aveeno, Clinique, Dove and Neutrogena just to name a few. I can’t seem to find the right mixture of ingredients to keep my face feeling refreshed all day long. So when I got the chance to try a free bottle of Valentia, I jumped on it. I have never tried their moisturizers before, so this was the perfect opportunity to try something new.

I was sent a bottle of Valentia Pure Glow Brightening Moisturizer. The main ingredients include Botanical Hyaluronic Acid, Kojic Acid, Ginseng, Safflower Oil and Shea Butter. Each ingredient has its own benefits to aid in moisturizing.

Botanical Hyaluronic Acid is a plant based substance that penetrates deep into the skin to secure moisture, support skin elasticity and plum the skin from within.

Kojic Acid is known for its skin-lightening properties and helps to naturally control melanin production.

Ginseng boosts skin-firming collagen, helps fight wrinkles, and gives the skin a brighter look.

Safflower Oil is an essential fatty acid that helps to repair the skin’s natural moisture barrier, providing excellent protection.

Shea Butter provides a great dose of moisture and hydrates the skin.

I’ve been using this product for a couple of days now and I bet you’re all wondering if I’ve noticed a change in the hydration of my skin.

The answer is definitely!

I no longer have to worry about my face losing its moisture throughout the day. My skin no longer flakes off near the end of the day and I don’t wake up feeling like my face was dried excessively using a piece of sandpaper! My face feels soft, hydrated and I can definitely tell that the uneven patchy skin on my face is getting less visible. I have to say that I am so excited to have finally found a moisturizer that works so well on my face. I thought the day would never come!

If you are in need of a new facial moisturizer or are just in for a change, I would seriously recommend Valentia Pure Glow Brightening Moisturizer.

Buy it on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01H582SGI

Website: http://valentia.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/valentianatural/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/valentiabeauty

Disclaimer: I received a free 4.0 oz bottle of Valentia Pure Glow Brightening Moisturizer to facilitate this review. All opinions are entirely my own.

This is a sponsored post and is powered by BrandBacker.

Back2Blonde Review

Disclaimer: I received a free can of Everpro’s Back2Blonde spray to facilitate this review. All opinions in this post are my own.

Running to the salon every two to three weeks can get very time consuming and can get quite expensive when you go as often as I do. My hair has been blonde for quite some time now and brown is my natural color, so keeping it blonde can take a lot of work. When I found out I was going to have the opportunity to try out Back2Blonde spray, I was delighted.

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It’s the fastest and easiest way to cover up your dark roots with ease and without a trip to the salon! It’s super affordable at only $12.99 a can. It comes in three different blonde shades (dark, medium and light) and comes in an aerosol can. It’s as easy as spraying it on and walking out of the door.

My hair was growing out so bad because I have been off of work for four months to welcome my baby daughter into the world. Below, you can see the before picture. My brown roots were clearly taking over and something needed to be done.

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I did cheat a bit and had a family member who is a hairstylist come and help me spray it on for the first time so that I could get a professional highlighted look. In the next picture, you can clearly see the difference. I’ve already had comments on how great my hair looks and when I explain to them how I did it, they are amazed! Who would have thought that something so amazing could come from a spray can?

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I always thought that I had to go to the salon to get this look and now I know that I can do this from the comfort of my own home. If you want to check out Back2Blonde, just click on Back2Blonde and it will take you straight to their website!

This is a sponsored post and is powered by BrandBacker.

 

Plum Paper Review

Disclaimer: Plum Paper sent me a free planner to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own.

I love planners and I love organization, although I’m not very good at it in some aspects. If I didn’t have a planner for my daily life, I would forget so many things. My life would be in disarray and I would never get things done. For a long time, I have been frazzled trying to remember things for this blog and it never occurred to me that maybe I should have a planner specifically for my blog. I had heard of a few different planners that would be great for blog planning, but wasn’t sure which route to go. I contacted Plum Paper who was gracious enough to send me a planner to review.

Their planners come in a variety of sizes and you can customize it to include pretty much anything you need for a very affordable price ($31-$45). They have family planners, fitness planners, teacher planners, student planners, etc. They also have add-ons such as budget, meal planning, fitness, baby planning, blog planning and so much more. They also have planner stickers, address books, and a ton of other items that are worth checking out.

They allow you to customize the cover of your planner to say whatever you want, so of course I put the title of my blog, Blogging Mama, on the cover. I picked a cute and bright floral design. Bright colors always make me smile. I picked the weekly vertical design, and I also picked some additional add-ons. I got notes and to-do lists at the end of each month, budget pages, blog planning pages and sticker pages. The package comes in a brown cardboard box with the Plum Paper logo on it and the planner is wrapped in bubble wrap with some information cards tucked inside.

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This is going to sound funny because I’ve never thought about the texture of the pages before, but the first thing I noticed when I opened my new planner was how soft the pages were! They felt silky smooth and I couldn’t stop running my hand over the pages. I have never felt paper so smooth. Plum Paper had me hooked on the planner already, so I was hoping the rest of the planner was just as nice.

 

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The weekly vertical design on planners has always been my favorite. I have a fitness planner and it works perfectly for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I have never had a blog planner before so I just got the vertical style because that’s what I’m used to.

I love the bright colors in the planner. The divider tabs are all brightly colored, as well as the headers for each day.

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I added in a budget section because the costs to keep my blog running and my office supplied is an important thing to document. Both the budget and blog sections are located in the back of the plum planner. The budget section comes with a page for bank account information. For me, this is not a page I would use. I frequently take my planners out of the house, leave them in my car and take them to work with me. I have even on occasion forgotten my planner in public places and had to start all over. I wouldn’t feel comfortable writing down my account number and routing number on these pages because of that. For someone that doesn’t take their planner out of their home, this might be a good option for them.

For each month of the year, there’s a monthly assessment and monthly budget. It shows a starting and ending balance for checking and savings and helps you determine if you’re gaining or losing money. Near the end of the budget section, there are pages for monthly expenses and a list where you can keep track of all the bills you may have. The last page is a debt tracker.

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I added a blog section into my planner since I am mainly using the planner for blog planning. There’s a monthly overview for each month where you write down blog ideas, post schedules, inspirational sites and to do lists. There is a page for income and expenses, which can be helpful for compensated posts. There are pages for post ideas, monthly blog tasks and monthly blog stats. This has been very helpful in tracking how I am doing month to month. It also gives me an idea of what I could be doing better and what kind of posts my readers are most interested in. There are to do lists, spaces for advertising and sponsor information, pages for giveaways and sponsors, and an annual blog planner. All of these pages have proven useful to me in the past couple of weeks.

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In the end of the planner, I added stickers. I love planner stickers. They keep my pages bright and fun and I can add whatever header I want to make it my own. There are also pages for contacts, passwords, and a few sheets of graph paper, as well as a list showing the US Holiday dates for the next three years. In the very back of the planner, there is a folder to keep important papers or cards.

Overall, this planner has become my favorite out of all the planners I have tried. I can’t wait until next year when I have to buy a new planner so that I can try some of the other add ons they have. The budget and blog add ons have been so useful to me and I use them every day. I also still can’t get over how soft the pages are!

I’ve attached a picture of my weekly spread this week. I have used a different sticker set than the stickers that come with the planner because I have a few sets on hand that I need to use up. These stickers were given to me by The Sweet Paper Co. shop on Etsy.

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If you want to buy a Plum Paper planner for yourself, head on over to their site and have a look around! They have so many different choices and layouts. If you’re looking for a planner that is versatile and can be used for almost anything that you would need a planner for, this one is for you.

Disclaimer: Plum Paper sent me a free planner to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own.

The two words that almost ruined my marriage

I’m surprised at how suddenly it hit me.

All this time I’ve been struggling, thinking my husband had changed. Wondering why my anxiety medicine isn’t working, confused as to why I don’t find joy and comfort in my family anymore. Always wanting to be alone, isolated, free from daily life. Today it finally hit me. The two words that no mother ever wants to admit. The words that as soon as you say them out loud immediately make you feel crazy. They make you feel numb, like you’ve done something wrong as a mother, partner and friend.

Postpartum depression.

For weeks, I’ve been wondering what changed in our marriage, and all this time, it was that simple. The loneliness felt with postpartum depression can be overwhelming. The silence as one sits alone in pain can be deafening. On the other hand, you could be sitting in a loud crowded room and hear nothing. It can be hard to smile when you feel so much sadness inside. It’s hard to say “I’m good” when you’re so desperate for help. Sometimes you wish someone could see it, so you wouldn’t have to pretend to be strong anymore. I’ve bottled it up for so long, ever since the birth of my child three months ago. It’s become a way of life.

I have postpartum depression. I had to say it out loud and it all started to become clear. All of the grief I’ve felt, all of the sleepless nights, tears and broken communication was because of me. It wasn’t because of my husband. And thinking of how I’ve hurt him by ignoring his pain makes it all worse.

While I’m still getting up and going to work, and taking care of my children, and waking up each and every morning, my spirits are dull. Everything and everyone around me blend together in a haze. As hard as it was to do, I picked up the phone this morning and called my doctor so I could start the journey of putting myself back together.

My husband and I aren’t fine. We aren’t in the best place. But because I realized what was going on, we’re going to make it. We love each other and we don’t want to live a life without each other. I contemplated for a long time about whether I should post this or not, but in the end, my experiences may help someone else out there and that is what is most important.

I was a different person before this pregnancy and I intend to get back to that place where I was happy and free.

If anyone out there is feeling depressed, please go get help. Whether it’s postpartum depression or not, everyone deserves to be happy and feel the best that they can.