Monday, October 20, 2014


Hey all! I switched my blog over. For more posts and updates, head on over to:

See you there!

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

8 TIPS: Becoming an Early Bird

SIDE NOTE: If you're looking for a good tank top or work out gear...Costco never disappoints! Love how long they make them too.

One of my goals in life is to become a morning person. I remember awhile ago, my dad used to take me to high school on his way to work around 7:30 in the morning. I was a dead beat. My dad would laugh sometimes because I would only nod or say one word responses (which if you know me, a one-word response is VERY odd). I was a zombie, and I felt like one. I hated being awake at the butt crack of dawn and would only dream about going back to bed. That's all I would think about. Oh and anyone that was happy in the morning I probably could've slapped. I hate to admit it, but I was that bad.

Then... I had a baby.

A few things change in your life when you have a kid, but this one was a big one for me. No matter what time my little goes to bed, the second 7AM hits we are all up for the day. And this is actually pretty good. It used to be 4AM and has slowly moved to 7AM (hallelujah).

So, the past few weeks instead of complaining that it's early, I've tried to look for ways to LOVE the mornings. Granted, this is me BECOMING an early bird. I'm still working on it. But here are my tips and tricks that have helped me so far:

1. ACCEPT THAT IT'S EARLY: Yes. It's something I have to actually think about every day and accept it. It's early but I'm healthy, the sun is shining, and it's gonna be a good day! (repeat)

2. WAKE UP BEFORE YOUR KIDS: This doesn't always happen at our house, but I have noticed when I wake up first I feel more prepared for the day instead of having a baby as my alarm clock. Even if it's just a few minutes before they wake up, I feel like I have a jump start.

3. READ AND PRAY: I read the scriptures (find out more HERE) and pray in the morning. Sometimes it's a quick moment, but I find it totally steers my day to a more joyful and productive one if I put that first.

4. EAT: Self explanatory.

5. PUT ON YOUR TENNIS SHOES: K. I know this sounds dumb, but have you ever bought a pair of brand new tennis shoes and you all of a sudden got the urge to run? That run maybe only lasted a day (probably once around the block for me) but it still is a little motivation right? We usually go for walks in the morning and I feel like JUST putting on my tennis shoes is the farthest thing from thinking about going back to bed. It helps. Don't knock it til you try it;)

6. GET OUTSIDE: Whether it's burning hot or freezing cold, bundle up and get outside! This one is HUGE for becoming a morning person because you realize that the world is awake and there's nothin like a good sunrise. Even if you only make it to your front porch. Get. Outside. It's so good for all of us to get fresh air and there is something empowering about getting outside and moving the body that God gave you!

7. MOVE: This ties into #6.  I used to hate working out in the morning. I still hate working out in the morning. Breaking a sweat is easier for me to do at night than in the morning. But I still find it helpful to just move. Whether it be a walk in the canyon, or a walk around your house. Just move. This helps me a ton to NOT want to go back to bed.

8. SING: I've found that the happiest people sing! (I mean really... have you ever seen a grumpy person sing? ha!) So whether you can carry a note or not, sing. Outloud. Find music that moves you. Sometimes when I'm taking my baby for a walk down a street that isn't very busy I just plug in my headphones and I sing out loud to him. People may or may not have passed and think I'm completely crazy, but for us... we've had a great morning and maybe made someone else's day with a good hit (or ruined it... but either way)

All of these (including the obvious of showering and getting ready for the day) I've found to be helpful so far on my road to becoming an early bird.

What are some of your tricks to help you love mornings?

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Monday, October 6, 2014

Monday Mama: Birth Story

Today's Monday Mama is the beautiful Michelle. She is from Sandy and is living in Provo, Utah. She studied advertising at Brigham Young University and is currently an amazing piano/voice teacher and the best mama to her sweet boy. She is the cutest girl from the inside out!


Here's her story:

From the beginning of this pregnancy, everyone would tell me, it's all worth it.  It was so hard to convince myself it would be.  Many of you know that I was sick until about weeks 23-24.  I was throwing up a lot, getting IV fluids constantly, trying to take my prenatal every night without throwing it up, etc.  After that, I felt fine as long as I was eating a snack.  Everything seemed normal with the baby at our anatomy scan, his head was down, he looked great!

Then, the third trimester started.  No one told me about the uncomfortableness I would feel during this time.  My hips hurt.  My sciatic nerve would hurt occasionally.  My bladder was getting, what I thought, punched at all the time.  I was going to the bathroom constantly.  My feet swelled up no matter how much water I drank.  Every pregnancy "con" I experienced during pregnancy.

It wasn't until Sunday, August 25th, that our little man gave us a little scare.  I started bleeding a little bit and that whole weekend was experiencing some back pain.  By Sunday, the back pain felt worse.   With the small, yet constant bleeding, and the back pain, I had a feeling to get checked out.  We went to labor and delivery, I got hooked up on monitors and was apparently having contractions.  I couldn't feel the contractions at all.  I was also dilated to a one.  We also found out that our little boy was breech.  The nurses and midwife gave me some medicine to stop the contractions and I was sent home to be on bed rest.  It wasn't strict bed rest, but I was ordered to take it very easy.

On Tuesday, August 26th, I went in to my check up.  I learned at this appointment that because of my partial bicornuate uterus, I couldn't have an inversion to have the doctors try to flip the baby.  It would be too dangerous for them to try it as my uterus could tear during the process.  So, we scheduled a C-Section for September 15th.  My goal was to take it easy so baby boy could stay in until that time.  I followed the instructions and took it really easy.  And, I also started preparing myself emotionally for this surgery.

We were (and still are) taking a hypnobirthing class to learn breathing and visualization techniques to get me through a natural vaginal labor.  I always expected to have perfect births.  For Derek to be right by my side, holding my hand through it all, or whisking my arm with his fingers while I mentally push through contractions.

The next few days, baby boy was kicking me very hard in my bladder.  It was so hard that I would wake up in the middle of the night because it hurt.  On Thursday, August 28th at about 1:00 AM, I woke up to him kicking.  As I was laying in bed, I felt him kick me really hard and my water broke.  I knew it wasn't urine because I couldn't control the gush.  I woke up Derek and I walked briskly into the bathroom.  Sitting on the toilet, I kept thinking, this is it.  We are going to have a baby today and I'M NOT READY.  I hadn't had time to prepare myself for this.  The baby's room wasn't even fully organized or ready.  It was too early.

We got in the car, drove to the hospital, and the calling of the parents began.  I tried over and over and over again to call my parents and let them know my water broke and we were having the baby.  They didn't pick up their phones.  I called Derek's mom, and both her and Dad Nielsen had just taken sleeping pills.  They couldn't drive from Ephriam to meet us at the hospital.

Because of my scoliosis, I have 15 vertebrae fused, I knew that an epidural or spinal might not work. I was probably going to be put under generally and not be awake for the birth of our son for the surgery.  I wanted so badly for my mom to be there, for anyone to be there with me when I woke up from surgery.  I told Derek no matter what, you go with the baby and hold him so you can bond with him.

I finally, after trying to reach my parents so many times, got a hold of my little brother, Nate.  He lives close to the hospital and came right over to give me a blessing with Derek.  There was only like a 10 minute span where they could do a blessing since the prep for the C-Section was going so fast.  After the blessing, I had a thought to call my parents next door neighbor to go wake them up.  She answered the phone and was able to knock on their door and wake them up.   They got there after the baby was born, but before I woke up.

Derek came with me to the operating room and the anesthesiologist tried doing a spinal.  I sat on the edge of the operating table and was shaking because I was nervous.  I put my head on Derek's chest and held his hands, due to nerve damage from previous back surgeries, I didn't even feel the prick of the needle.  It's sad that I get more nervous for the needles than actual surgeries.  Sadly, the spinal didn't work and while got moved to the operating table, I had to watch my husband bravely walk away, holding the I love you sign with his fingers, and tears in his eyes. 

The anesthesiologist put oxygen over my mouth and I started hyperventilating.  I was scared.  It wasn't just me having to go through the surgery, it was the baby as well.  I would be put all the way under, having no control of the situation.  I then started doing my calm breathing, that I learned in hypnobirthing, and I felt the presence of my grandfather (whom our little boy is named after) and my great grandmother around me.  I knew they were watching out for me and little boy.

When I awoke from surgery about an hour or so later, my little brother Nate was right next to me to feed me ice chips.  My parents got to the hospital about 30 minutes after the baby was born.  They showed me pictures of him, though I was still a little out of it.  I remember Derek coming in the room and warning me of the IV's in our baby.  He had low blood sugar and needed a little boost-this is very common in late pre-term babies. 

Then, the miracle happened.  Our little son was brought into the room, IV and all.  I held him for the first time on my chest and everything miserable about pregnancy and everything difficult about how I gave birth went completely away.  The morning sickness I encompassed during the first 20 weeks or so, the discomfort in my hips in the third trimester, the no sleep factor with getting up to use the bathroom in the last weeks of the was all worth it.

No matter what way babies come into your family (IVF, adoption, C-section, Natural, etc.).  No matter how hard it may seem to get them here, it is all worth it to hold that little baby in your arms the first time and staring into their eyes.  I thought I knew what love is, but it's so much more.  I'm so glad that my birth went well.  It wasn't was I expected and I didn't give birth how I wanted to, but I did get the most perfect son.  We love him so much.

Meet Dexter Ronald Nielsen.  Dexter is a mix between Derek and Derek's father, Rex.  Ronald is after my Mom's dad who passed away a few years ago.  He was 6 pounds 14 ounces and 17 inches long.  We are smitten and in love as every parent should be over their children.  (And we are exhausted too.)

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

General Conference

Guys. I am SO excited for General Conference this weekend! If you don't know what that is click HERE. It is so inspired and very uplifting for everyone to listen to. I look forward to it every April and October. Especially as a parent, I eat every word up. Check it out!

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Monday Mama: Ashley's Story

Today's Mama is the beautiful Ashley! She is one of the sweetest girls I've met and is as down to earth as they come. She is from California and currently living in Utah. She has a smile that will brighten up anyone's day and her hair is naturally AMAZING. She suffers from Postpartum Depression and I love how honest she is about it. I think it's good to read other's experiences and not feel like we have to suffer alone when we go through trials. Thanks for your words Ash! You are such a good Mama!

This pic of her and her baby just melt me:

Here's her story:

"I hope you will read this post as if we are having a frank, but heartfelt conversation. I have spent months wrestling with how to write this. I have difficulty doing many things since Blake arrived. The first 6 weeks were really hard. Aren't they always!? Then we learned our wailing, grumpy baby had acid reflux. We got him on some medicine. Things got a lot better. Everything was starting to feel brighter, except for me. Life was in fact, getting harder.

I did not enjoy life as a mom. There, I said it. 

I did not recognize that sentiment for what it was until I lay in my living room with my three month old, sobbing in the fetal position and praying my life could end. Not only was I suffering in silence, but I assumed being a new mom was supposed to be this hard; I just wasn't handling the adjustment well.That's what I thought.

I have postpartum depression. For each woman, this disease may take on a different face or manifest in varying ways. Many women I know have not had severe symptoms as I am about to describe, while others experienced much worse. My Postpartum Depression (PPD) symptoms have included anxiety, rage, restlessness, inability to concentrate, apathy, dizziness, insomnia, depression, suicidal thoughts and feeling overwhelmed, irrational, worthless, "out of control" and resentment towards Blake, Trent and God. I have felt on edge for so many days in the past 9 months, feeling despair, and mourning my former life as a normal, happy person. I have spent hours on my knees crying, begging, pleading to have the strength to make it through another hour with Blake because my sanity was hanging by a thread. There were days when I wished I could leave this earth. There were days when I longed for the freedom to make that choice. They are feelings that are so heavy, dark and real. The scariest part is that those feelings did not always terrify me. They were a welcome relief and escape. They would haunt my mind and linger until a priesthood blessing could finally free me of the cankering weight that day. I have felt trapped in my own crazy pseudo-reality. 

In a word, I have been living in my own private hell. The mind is a wonderful, glorious thing. When physical chemistry is off and the body is sick, this affects the mind in ways I had never before imagined. I would never wish this illness on anyone. I have been unmotivated, stagnant, and almost childlike on some of my worst days. I needed to have someone there to hold my hand and walk me through the motions so that I could make it. I have been so grateful to those along the way who recognized my suffering and loved me all the more. I have never accepted so much help, from perfect strangers even, in my entire life. 

You're reading this and thinking, "Now, wait a minute! I've seen Ashley. She gave me a big hug and a smile and we had normal conversation. She cannot be serious!" I am fabulous at putting on a happy face. Plenty of people are, actually. [I served as a full-time missionary, where I perfected that unhealthy adult trait.] Many days I need to put that happy face on to get a semblance of normalcy and control and cheer. It's draining, but I can do it. So if you've seen me any time in the past 9 months, please don't think of me as disingenuous. I have been struggling to reconcile my craziness with the real world around me. This is not uncommon; It's uncomfortable in our society to discuss and share our personal experience with mental illness. You don't want to be labeled a "psychotic", "crazy", "unstable" person. You may as well be a social outcast! And yet, here I am.  

 I have had dozens of people comment on what great joy I must be feeling as a new mom. "Sure, it's hard, but it's all worth it", they say. Well, to be honest, I'm not there yet. I have not and do not yet enjoy it. I do not celebrate my new motherhood. To be perfectly honest, I feel guilty because we do not have any pictures of Blake in our house. Not one. Until I can stand on my own two feet (so to speak) and have restored mental health, I am quite incapable of fully embracing this new life. And it's unfortunate because it has affected my relationship with Trent and with Blake. I love them DEARLY. SO MUCH!!  However, I struggle daily to bond with both of them in a healthy, appreciative, loving, enriching way. I don't say this to be dramatic or for pity. I am being frank because my story needs to be told. I feel the need to share with you how real this disease is.

Upon hearing of my struggle with PPD, one relative said:
"You need to spend more time around other people and get out of the house." So this disease is my fault... I'm just not taking care of myself? Brilliant... 

I have had friends tell me that they, too, suffered from PPD:
"Yeah, I had that for about three weeks...and then it went away. It's manageable." As if I one simply waits PPD out and in a few months feel like a new person again. [By the way, what this friend described is likely "baby blues", not PPD, although baby blues are truly awful and jarring to a new mom.  PPD is akin to having a broken leg or any other physical malady; it requires rigorous treatment to properly contain and eradicate it.]

But this response from a close friend scared me: 
"I did not realize until well after my second baby that I had experienced postpartum depression since my first child. Anytime I was left with both kids alone, my heart would race and I would have panic attacks and symptoms of depression. I felt that I had no control over my life. I couldn't change it because I was a mom dealing with the growing pains of having two little kids. I just dealt with it."  My friend, like so many other women, suffered in silence because she did not know she had the right to have help! There is no shame in asking for help with anything you feel is bigger than you are. Period.  

I have been to counseling for the past few months and will continue for some timeI have had multiple blood tests to determine which course of action would be the best with my bodies' chemistry. I have been on a strict diet to maintain the best chance possible for having a healthy body to work effectively through this labyrinth of raging hormones, chemical imbalances, and new-mom fatigue. I am doing everything I possibly can within my power. Physically, spiritually, mentally. I am still looking for answers and still hoping and working towards being "myself". 

I am open to questions. I am open to hearing your words of encouragement and support. I am open to your concerns. I would love to hear your personal experiences. I know that in keeping this quiet for so long, I have only perpetuated the problem we see with this and many other mental diseases: that it's largely misunderstood and  socially "taboo" to discuss. But please know this has been an incredibly raw, painful and seemingly endless journey. I have not conquered it yet. We have not conquered it, yet. :) I have great medical professionals cheering me on, a network of family and friends, a tender, loving husband and a beautiful little boy who gives me daily glimpses of the pure, unselfish love that exists in this world. I am getting better and slowly seeing improvement. The days aregetting lighter and the future less bleak. 

I know that I can and will be Ashley again. I can enjoy my new life. I can be whole. I hope you will take this experience and look to the women in your life. Offer support. Tell them how real motherhood is, not just the joyful, fun moments. Tell them of your own struggles. Share with them about postpartum depression. Not to scare them, but to let them know who they can trust if they are unfortunate to experience such a thing. No one should suffer in silence because they are afraid and feel misunderstood or ashamed. We need more love, more acceptance and more understanding for these diseases. We need to hear these stories so we can better love those around us." 

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tuesday Truth

Well kids.... I'm back at it. I've been in school for as long as doctors go to school and I have only an
Associate's Degree to show for it. BUT...

I can clean your teeth, cut your hair, teach your kids, and help with your family because of all the different majors I have experienced:)

I've come to learn it's not about the destination but always the journey and so many people in the world don't even get the opportunity so I consider myself blessed to be able to finish school.

I'm completely embarrassed to tell people that it's my 7th year of my 4th college but as I've been taking this course I've learned that it's okay to have that help from the Man upstairs and others around me.

One thing for sure is I won't give up... (I'm stubborn about it). Even if I don't "finish" til I'm 99 I will have a lot of lessons in my life to talk about.

So, cheers to another year....and busy nap times.

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Monday, September 22, 2014

#MondayMama: To the Working Mama

Yay, it's that day of week again! I've decided to chop off the name "Monday Mama Moments" to just "Monday Mama's" and spotlight our Mama's from The Mamahood group on Facebook. (Join HERE)

Today's Monday Mama is cute Brynn. She has been a member of the group from the very beginning and had her little nugget in May. She is 24 years old from Salt Lake City, UT and has a darling daughter named Nova who is 4 months and sweet husband Jordan. They've been married for 5 years now and even though they waited awhile to start a family, she wouldn't have had it any other way.

Aren't these two so beautiful!? (I'm secretly dying over her leggings and moccs!)

Here's her story:

"So far my transition into motherhood has been pretty smooth (knock on wood). My pregnancy and delivery were both normal (I almost said easy, but anyone who says pregnancy is easy is a liar, and we all know it) and I'd like to say for now I have this whole thing down (Ha! Just kidding). There is one thing that hasn't been the easiest transition for me though, and that has been working. Now let me preface with this. I love my job. Can I say it again? I LOVE my job. I'm a (newly) registered nurse and I worked hard to get my job in the newborn nursery and NICU. I also love my kid. Do I need to say that again too? I LOVE MY KID. I also worked hard to have a kid. See where there's an issue?

For most of my life I've been taught and told that a mother's role is in the home. Now I'm not a traditional girl, and I never really aspired to be a mom. Is that bad to say? Because if it is I'm sorry, but it's the truth. You know those girls that said "I want to be a mom when I grow up and have 10-20 kids and cook dinner for them, and sew all their clothes, and be awesome." That wasn't me. Not that any of those things are bad to want in life. In all honesty had I known what being a mom was like, I probably would have wanted the same thing. I now know that being a mom is amazing, but kids were the furthest thing from my mind when I thought of my future. For me I had always wanted to be a nurse. It was always something that was in the back of my mind, and when the opportunity arose to take a CNA course in high school, I jumped on it, I excelled at it, and I knew I wanted to go further. When I was 18 and fresh out of high school I got a CNA job on the mom/baby unit at the hospital. For 6 years I worked there learning, taking pre-reqs for nursing school, and eventually getting in and finishing nursing school this past May. If you were paying attention you will realize I had my baby in May as well right? Nova was a pleasant but unplanned surprise for us 9 months almost to the date I was to graduate nursing school. I'm not going to sugar coat it and say I wasn't upset. I cried when those two pink lines showed up. I bawled because I was equal parts happy and terrified at the same time. How was I supposed to finish the hardest thing I've ever done and do it pregnant? What will people think?How will I stay on my feet during 12-13 hour clinicals and work 12 hour shifts? And the biggest question of all, how will I start two brand new jobs... being a mom and being a nurse at the same exact time?

Here's the dilemma I faced. I had worked for YEARS to become a registered nurse. I had a plan, and that plan was to have kids after I had settled into a job as a nurse. Maybe work a little full time to get used to it, and then cut down my hours so I can stay home with my kid. That's what moms are supposed to do right? Be home with their kids so daycare, grandparents, etc aren't raising them. But we all know that life doesn't happen according to plan. Babies don't follow plans. Sometimes plans have to change. To be honest it still hurts a little bit when I read things on Facebook/internet along the lines of "I love being able to stay home with my kids, I love being able to be there for their first moments, I love bewing able to just be a mom and not worry about leaving them for work." The Instagram pictures of kids at the park, the aquarium, or even the Del Taco play place during work hours stings a little bit. The well-meaning comments from people that say "Oh that must be so hard to leave your baby" Or "I don't know how you do that, I would die if I had to go to work and leave my littles." The little mom guilt voice in the back of my head makes me feel sad for having to leave my baby home while I go to work. Makes me feel guilty for loving my job so much. Why do we do these things to ourselves? Why as mothers do we feel horrible about ourselves if we have a title anything other than mom? I'd LOVE to stay home with my baby 24/7, and I applaud and am jealous of all the mothers who do because it's definitely harder than my day job, but I also love being a nurse. I love stepping in and taking care of those sweet sick babies in the NICU when their mamas can't take them home quite yet, or are too exhausted to be in the hospital another minute. I love going and helping other woman do the single most amazing thing a woman can do, give birth. I love being one of the first people to hear those sweet new cries as a new little person enters this earth. I love making sure that sweet baby is doing well after birth, and wrapping and handling him to the eager arms of a new father. I also love coming home and pulling my beautiful girl into bed to cuddle after a long night at work. I love those days off when we giggle and play all day and wait until dad gets home. I love knowing that my time with her is limited and precious until I go in for my next shift, so we go out and explore this world together, both of us having new eyes to everything around us.

So I guess what I have to say the working mother, don't let that nagging voice in the back of your head get to you. If you work because you love it, because you have to, you are in school, or any of those things lie ahead in your future, know that you are still an amazing mother. Know that you can do hard things. Know that for whatever reason this is your plan for now. So whether you stay home with your kids or you are a working mother, we are all in this together. We are all amazing. And working or staying at home we are The Mamahood.

If you're curious to know more about our life feel free to visit our blog here (like that tasteful plug?) and thanks for reading!"

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