When There Is No Glow- Nymphai and Nurturing Our Own Healing

by Jessica Martin-Weber
I have a tattoo on my upper right arm that starts at a three pointed scar on my inner arm and wraps up and around my shoulder. A twisty, viney type of tree with swirls, knots, and sharp looking points. The tree looks like it has grown around many obstacles and against the wind. It isn’t a tall, straight tree, it is a tree with gnarls and curves, marked by it’s struggle to survive. A beautiful tree that springs from a scar in the soil. Flapping their wings, 6 birds that may have just been resting on the curved and hunched branches of this tree are taking flight. Delicate but obviously powerful, these birds are majestic and strong. I dreamed of this tattoo for years, shared the vision with my tattoo artist Colin Kolker, sketched many variations with my husband Jeremy, and eventually Colin captured the essence in the design that is permanently etched into my arm. This tattoo means so much to me it is now woven into Tekhni fabric to carry babies. Find your opportunity to enter in a Tekhni giveaway at the end of this article!
This is why.
When pregnancy isn't glowing

Photo Credit: Meghann Buswell, Your Street Photography.

“You look terrible!”  There was concern in her voice, not malice. I did look terrible, frightening even. I could have been auditioning to be an extra in Schindler’s List. I knew I looked bad. Not wanting to explain much, I tell her I’m ok, I’m just pregnant. She looks horrified and whispers “I thought pregnant women glowed.”

No, nope, nu-uh. Ok, well, some pregnant women glow. Maybe even most. I don’t glow. Unless you count the green tinged pallor I sport in pregnancy a glow.

In my head pregnancy is going to be this serene existence of light, one with the earth, I’ll feel like a goddess, my body humming with the growing life within and a sense of wisdom and peace filling me. It radiates from me as I float along my every day life where everything suddenly has more meaning. I had expectations.

Unfortunately, that isn’t what happens.

Instead of floating, I crash to the ground in a heap of extra saliva and a stomach that rejects all food and liquid all day, every day. This causes my skin to lose elasticity, my body fat to burn off quickly, my kidneys to release toxins, my eyes to sink deeper into my skull, the tiny blood vessels in my face and neck to burst, my complexion to take on a green yellow hue, my head to spin when I shift my weight, my other organs to work harder as they dehydrate, and my veins to go into hiding so that every IV attempt results in bruises the size of plums up and down my arms. I don’t even know how to tell youHyperemesis Gravidarum.

Decidedly not glowing.

Every pregnancy I hoped the results would be different. There were plans, you see. Plans for how I would eat, how I would prepare for my coming baby. Plans for a level of physical activity and creativity bursts. Plans for how my baby and I would grow together, healthy and strong. Plans for how my friends and family would share in my pregnancy, how we would celebrate and enjoy the journey. Plans for how everything would go the way it was supposed to go. Plans that never came to be.

Because no glowing.

I hate being pregnant.

Cue a new glow, those fuming at me for not fulfilling my role of goddess mother because I dare to admit I don’t love pregnancy. Even Kim Kardashian, who people love to hate and hate to love, can’t state that pregnancy isn’t an experience she enjoys without encountering more vitriol than normal.

 

Pregnant mothers are supposed to glow and love pregnancy.

You can fail being a mother before your kid is even outside of your body.

All because you didn’t. feel. the. glow.

When pregnancy isn't glowing

Photo Credit: Meghann Buswell, Your Street Photography.

We have a romanticized version of all aspects of motherhood upheld in our society. A version that is always glowing, radiating from some isolated pedestal of unattainable idealism. While sometimes we may feel like a goddess in our mothering, for many of us those luminescent images require metaphorical if not literal special lighting, makeup, shape wear, and most elusive of all, a nap. In other words, the river goddess nursing her baby in the stream may be beautiful and remind of us some inner peace we’ve made contact with a time or two but for many of us it is heavily staged.

Most of my moments in parenting haven’t been glowing. Some of them I was barely surviving.

When pregnancy isn't glowing

Photo Credit: Meghann Buswell, Your Street Photography.

It can be crushing to realize that your experience with conception, pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding aren’t a breathtaking image of serenity, that your reality isn’t naturally incandescent. When all you want is to glow, to radiate, to enjoy the path that gets you to your baby but what you get is near destruction, it can be hard to separate the journey from your own personhood. Sometimes it can be hard to separate the journey from the gift. There were times when my baby felt like my enemy, my torturer, my reminder of my failure. Those times were dark and twisted. But they were nothing compared to the times when I felt my baby suffered because I just. couldn’t. glow. The agony that my babies paid the price was by far the most painful to endure.

  • Infertility.
  • Pregnancy loss.
  • Pregnancy complications.
  • Birth trauma.
  • Relationship problems.
  • Financial stress.
  • Disrupted bonding.
  • Feeding difficulties.
  • Postpartum depression.

Whatever it is, the grief is real, the suffering is profound. And the shaping is valuable.

Even if you aren’t glowing.

Specially if you aren’t glowing.

Poopins front wrap Tekhni Nymphai

Photo Credit: Meghann Buswell, Your Street Photography.

When there is no glow, particularly when there is no glow when pure radiance is what is expected, how do you go about being honest with yourself and others? And how do you start to heal while accepting what it is?

Here’s what has helped me.

Journal. Write it all down. The reality, the struggle, the loneliness, the fear that the fact that you feel this way or have experienced these things means you’re not enough. All of it, write it down.

Cry. Yep, cry. You’re going to anyway. Give yourself permission and cry. And don’t dismiss it as hormones or being a woman or overreacting or whatever. Cry because you’re human and humans cry when something hurts. It is not weakness to cry, it is a strength to stop pretending.

Art. Whether you enjoy expressing yourself through art or not, drawing, coloring, painting, sculpting, dancing, playing music, you name it, artistic expression can be incredibly cathartic because sometimes words alone just art enough to full get those feelings out. And taking in someone else’s artistic expression can be just as powerful.

Talk. You may be afraid that people may not like hearing your journey because it isn’t warm and fuzzy but more often than not sharing your story will actually help someone processing their own glowless experience. That sharing can help you and them. Be it in person or online, opening up about our struggles builds community that values authenticity and that can actually help save lives.

Commemorate. An event, big or small, to honor the journey (but please don’t do a balloon release, it’s littering and hard on animal friends); a special purchase that holds a lot of meaning for you; a ritualistic occasion that connects deeply with you; a meaningful plant/tree/shrub planted in your yard as a hopeful yet gentle reminder; compile mementos in a book; create something unique that captures the profound nature of your journey.

The tree on my arm represents me, the birds my daughters. My tattoo turned Tekhni woven wrap, named for the nymphs of Greek mythology who nurture nature, has helped me glow. From reclaiming my body to having a beautiful woven wrap that represents so much healing, hope, and promise in nurturing that surrounds other moms and their precious children, I have found a glow I can’t contain. May we all glow with honesty and hope.

When pregnancy isn't glowing

Photo Credit: Meghann Buswell, Your Street Photography.

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Thank you for reading my story, I would love to hear yours as well. Comment here sharing your glowing or not-so-glowing experience with parenting, how you’ve found healing, and how you commemorate that experience.

If you’d like to share your story with a larger audience, submit your story with photos, your bio, and the subject #MyStoryMatters to content @ theleakyboob.com (no spaces).

________________

Jessica Martin-WeberDrawing from a diverse background in the performing arts and midwifery, Jessica Martin-Weber supports women and families, creating spaces for open dialogue. Writer and speaker, Jessica is the creator of TheLeakyBoob.com,co-creator of BeyondMoi.com, and co-creator of OurStableTable.com, supporter of A Girl With A View, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. She co-parents her 6 daughters with her husband of 19 years and is currently writing her first creative non-fiction book and a children’s book.

 

Enter for your chance to win a ring sling with a pattern based on my tattoo. This beautiful Tekhni Wovens ring sling in Clover is yours for the winning! Enter below:

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#LeakyLooks: Of Pumpkins and Steampunks

by Kileah McIlvain

I know it may come as a shock to some of you, but I am a nerd. Major nerd. October (besides being my birth month!) is just a 31-day-long reason to dress up and get away with it in public. 😉

Here are a few awesome additions to our #LeakyLooks dress-up-October edition! Have a costume you’re putting together for you and baby? Want to share? Tag us on Instagram or Facebook so we can feature you!

Steampunk Cosplay 

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Yeah. I totally went there. I’m pretty sure one of my secret fantasies is getting to go full-on steampunk! I’ve always wanted to wear some Victorian gothic-inspired outfit with goggles and a top hat. This look features some fun ideas (and a GREAT breastfeeding-friendly dress!) and the beautiful Tekhni Nymphai woven wrap in Tuxedo! (it’s not out yet, so consider this a great preview and get your ordering fingers ready!)

1.Leche Libre  2.CafePress  3.Silver Bird Treasures  4.Etsy  5.Ebay  6.Tekhni Nymphai  7.Steampunk Parasol

Mermaid & Merbaby

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Remember when we did an awesome PaxBaby themed-look called “Under The Sea”? Well this one is an updated version for all of your trick-or-treating fun! My favorite part? All of these items are great deals!

1.Etsy  2.PaxBaby  3.ASOS  4.PaxBaby  5.AliExpress  6.ecrater mermaid wig

Pumpkin Patch Party!

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I look forward to Pumpkin Patch parties all year long! I chose this outfit to highlight some GREAT sizing options for some great autumn wardrobe pieces. My favorite piece in this collection? The Tekhni Nymphai Clover woven wrap. It’s heaven. <3

1.Modcloth  2.Bebe Au Lait  3.Torrid  4.Tekhni Nymphai  5.Target (great deal!)

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Leaky Boob Looks: Nurturing YOU

by Kileah McIlvain

I know. You know. Mother’s Day is almost here. This particular day can come with a mixed bag of emotions for some of us. Whether it’s loss, joy, infertility, longing, expectation, abundance, joy, anticipation or loneliness. Mothering is hard. Being a human can be hard. BEING requires so much of us…sometimes more than we think we have. Days are sometimes met with an exhausted yawn and aching bones after multiple nights feeding a little one or tending the wake of a tummy bug (that ALWAYS shows up at night, it seems). We end up feeling poured out like a pitcher of water over dry sand. Sometimes, all I can think of is how EMPTY I feel. Sacrificing, pouring out, mending, caring, nurturing. I get lost in the foray. Then? I realize that I need to be nurtured. I need to be cared for. I need to be filled. I MUST be nurtured. I need to be kind to myself. We are, each of us, unique. There are things whether they are small or big, that nurture us. Whether it’s a person, a moment, a ritual, a prayer, an object. This week, I want to focus on looks for you that are rooted in simple comfort. In loveliness. In empowerment and loving ourselves and these mama bodies that we are constantly using to nurture those around us. We love you, Leaky! Let us be empowered and nurtured so that we can empower and nurture those around us. <3

 

Leaky Look #1: Lovely Mama

I wanted this look to center around feeling lovely and strong from within while being texturally soft and versatile. This is the Ready, Set, Vacay Dress from Modcloth. Easy feeding access, comes in a great range of sizes, flattering lines and great bodice detailing. I added the uber-soft Seashell Pink nursing bra from Nursing Bra Express, a structured chambray blazer, and some great leather gladiator sandals. The leather handbag IS actually a diaper bag crafted by Oemibaby-a great wardrobe piece you can transition with from moming to self-caring seamlessly! The accessories are handmade from Etsy. What better than to finish off this look with the gorgeously-soft Ergo Organic baby carrier in “Dandelion.” (Yes. there are sweet dandelions printed all over it!)

Lovely

Leaky Look #2: Comfy Glam

This look reminded me of one of my favorite magazines (Dwell). This top is the Black Tilla top from Purple Impression (my newest obsession! Seriously. Their mission, brand, ethically-stitched clothing, breastfeeding friendly…and the causes they are involved with in supporting women. Read more HERE.). I paired the top with some simple nursing tanks from Target, comfy harem pants from Gap, Arizona Birkenstocks, and a Storksak bag in “Noa” from Nordstrom.com. A Beautiful brass medallion necklace from Modcloth compliments the hand embroidered sleeves on the top and my FAVORITE Tekhni woven wrap in Delta Gothic makes this gorgeous look chic, functional, extremely comfortable, and versatile for various activities/lifestyles.

Gothic glam

Leaky Look #3: Zen Mama

One of the best ways we can nurture ourselves is by challenging/caring for our body! This look is centered around a pink workout top from Belabumbum, a blue bamboo cardigan, and the adjustable “3 reasons support bra” from Title Nine. Yoga is a wonderful way to center yourself and strengthen your body and mind, so I added in this lovely Yoga bag from REI and a colorful Girasol woven wrap from Paxbaby for a local baby and me yoga sesh! Simple things like Earth Mama Angel Baby lip balm and water in a double-insulated ThinkSport water bottle are perfect ways to invest in taking care of yourself and helping you to thrive in a healthy state of being.

Fitness

I sure hope you like this week’s feature! Let us know what special things help you recharge and inspire you to nurture yourself!

Tag us and use #LeakyLooks #booboutFashion #nurturethenurturer

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