Not Your Average Birth Story

You guys, my son's birthday is this weekend. 

I cannot even believe it! I can't believe that he will be one year old! How can a year have passed since I brought him into this world? What even is life?

Well, excuse me while I freak out. But in the meantime, I wanted to share a blog post that I wrote about a year ago, after he was born. I wrote this on my other blog, but I wanted to share it here in honor of his first year of life.


Natural birth has no comparison. In my opinion, not even other types of birth compare to it. I have nothing against other types of birth, and I respect every woman’s right to choose the way she births. I, myself, was born by c-section, and I don’t bear my mom any ill will because of that.

But natural birth…

There is nothing like it. I can’t compare it to climbing a mountain, or running a marathon…

It is, if I’m being honest, the most physically painful thing that has ever happened to my body. But it was so, SO much more than pain.

It was perseverance. It was patience. It was frustration. It was anxiety. It was trust. It was love…

For the majority of my ten-hour labor, I had three people supporting me:

My incredible husband…who fetched me water when I needed it. Who held my hand when my own strength wasn’t enough. Who reminded me, when I screamed that I couldn’t do it, that I was doing it, and that I was strong. He was the extra force behind me, rooting for me, supporting me, loving me…

My amazing mother…who silently watched over me, letting me know with her presence that everything would be okay. Who told me she was proud of me. Who held my hands when my husband needed a break. Who rubbed my back. Who smiled with pride when she saw me with her grandson in my arms…

The awesome midwife…who gave me a measure of peace because she was skilled, knowledgeable, and confident. Who believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. Who told me not to run from the pain or fight against it, but to embrace it. Who caught my baby as I pushed him from my body and into the world…

Then there was God.

I cried out for Him during labor more times than I can count. And as my stomach contracted, and my body contorted, and I wished that I had all the drugs in the world, I begged Jesus to help me through it.

Birth was, honestly, probably one of the most spiritual times in my life. I needed God to reassure my soul that I would make it through this, and that another soul would come to the world through me.

And there were moments of labor that were not so fun…

I vomited twice. 
I was at my most vulnerable for 10 straight hours. 
I was exposed…
And of course, I was in pain.

There is nothing, no word, no metaphor or simile, that can describe what a contraction feels like when you are moments from delivery.

I can’t explain it. And the only way you’d know what I’m talking about is if you’ve delivered a child without drugs. The pain is indescribable.

But. But…

Laboring and delivering my son, with no interventions, no one shouting at me, no one telling me what I needed to do, trusting my body and my support team trusting me…

It it the single most empowering and incredible thing I have ever done in my life.

When I chose this path, I was confident that I could do it. In the midst of it, there were times where I wasn’t so sure. But I have come out on the other side with so much pride in myself, in my marriage, and so much faith in God, that I couldn’t be more sure that this was the right decision.

I would do it all over again.

I know that a lot of people look at me and all they see is someone small. Someone slight. Someone quiet.

Well, I didn’t do this to prove anything to anyone, and now more than ever, I am confident that I don’t have anything to prove.

But I just have to say for myself, that I am a force to be reckoned with. I am strong and powerful, and there is nothing weak about me.

There is nothing ‘weak’ about women. We are not the weaker sex, or the lesser sex.

We are capable, with God, of building and bringing forth new life, and then sustaining that life even after birth.

I had an amazing team of people who helped me as I brought my son into this world. But I brought him into this world.

The senior midwife said to me as I pushed, “It’s time to bring your baby. Only you can bring your baby.”

Well, she was wise. And she was right.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!


Natural childbirth and motherhood are the hardest things I've ever done, but my son is so worth it. He is awesome and it is such an incredible blessing getting to be a part of his life all day every day. I get to watch him and smile with pride, because I made him. He was born from love, and he is such an incredibly loving little guy. He has such a sweet disposition. 

Cayson, if you read this one day, then you should know that you are amazing, and I'm so stoked that I get to be your mom, even when you're teething and won't sleep through the night.

Happy Birthday, little man!

You’re like a party somebody threw me
You taste like birthday
You look like New Years
You’re like a big parade through town...
You leave such a mess, but you’re so fun!
— The Party by Regina Spektor

Cheers,
LesLeigh J.

Let's Talk About Organic Feminine Hygiene Products

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Ok, ladies. The time has come for this conversation. Yes, I am going there today. By the way, if there are any gentlemen reading this, you may just want to see yourself out now. No offense, but if you don't have a uterus and a vagina, this conversation isn't really for you. BUT...if you happen to have a preteen or teenage girl at home on the verge of puberty, then by all means, pull up a chair! 

So I don't know about you, but I've tried to cut out toxic chemicals from my environment wherever I can. I mean, we're talking deodorant, nail polish, skincare, etcetera. And it's no different when it comes to my downstairs mix up.  

Consider what's in regular tampons and pads: pesticides, chlorine, gmo's, dyes, fragrance, and that's just to name a few. 

Not to mention, the vaginal wall is extremely permeable, as is all skin, so it's incredibly easy for toxins to get into your blood stream through your vagina. 

So what's a gal to do? 

First, take back responsibility for your feminine care. Manufacturers are not required to tell you what's in tampons, so you have to do your own research to find good products to use.

Luckily, you've got a pal like me who's already done the research on and trying of organic products, and I'm totally willing to help a sister out! 

If you're a tampon and panty shield girl, then my favorites are Cora, Honest Company, and Natracare.  

Cora is fabulous because it's a subscription service. You can set how many tampons you need every period and how frequently you'd like to receive them. FYI, these are seriously the most comfortable tampons I've ever worn, and I feel like I've tried them all. Plus, when you buy from Cora, they send sanitary products to a girl in need around the world! Join Cora with my code, lesleigh2172, and you'll get one month FREE.

The Honest Co. is great for the same reason. I get my panty shields shipped with my son's diapers. Diapers for him, mini diaper for me. Win-win! ;-) 

Veeda was the first organic tampon brand I ever tried, and the reason is because it was hard to find an organic tampon brand that had plastic applicators. Something about cardboard applicators just rubs me the wrong way (both literally and metaphorically). They were a great intro, but the tampon was kind of uncomfortable, so I just keep them as backups now. But don't let my experience stop you from trying them. 

If you're more of a pad kind of girl, both Natracare and Seventh Generation make organic ones. 

If you're more of a menstral cup kind of woman, my favorite beauty vlogger, Jackie, has an entire video about her experience with the Flex cup. Many women are also quite fond of the Diva Cup. I, personally, have never tried either, but if you have, let me know what you think!

For my super green sisters, you can also buy reusable cloth pads, and sea sponge tampons. Yes, I said SEA SPONGE TAMPONS. I am not quite on that level in my hippie metamorphosis, but you do you!

Well, that's everything I have for you today on how to keep your vagina healthy. For more info on the toxicity of traditional tampons, check here and here

If you don't mind sharing, what do YOU use when Aunt Flo comes to visit? Let me know!

Cheers to freakin' weekend, 

LesLeigh J. 

*This post contains affiliate links.*

Woman(Kind): Thoughts on the Women's March

The worldwide Women's March was this past Saturday, and although I wasn't able to attend in my city, I truly felt like I was there in spirit. I followed the action on Twitter and Instagram, and I had some friends who marched in their cities, and I have never been so proud to be a woman. 

However, as I followed along on Twitter, I couldn't help but notice the negative voices, the naysayers. Both women and men were criticizing the march, and I honestly don't understand why. From men, it appeared to come from a place of insecurity, as if they don't know how (or don't want) to live in a world where women are not treated as less than they are. For other women, well, I honestly couldn't tell you why they were upset. But many people complained that the march was just in protest of the election and that all who were unhappy about the results should just "sit down" and "shut up," essentially. 

I can't speak for every single woman, man, and child who marched on Saturday, but I can speak for myself when I say that this march wasn't just in protest of an American presidential election. First of all, many people around the globe marched; it wasn't just an American event. And while some folks from other nations may not be thrilled about our election results, I believe the march was about more than that for them, too.

For me, the march was about the inequality between the sexes, first and foremost. It is 2017, and women are still viewed as less than men. We are something to be ogled, possessed, regulated, looked down on, used, abused, and neglected. I mean, I live in America, so I don't have it nearly as bad as, say, women in third world countries who don't have access to feminine care products at all, or who are forced to marry grown men when they are still little girls. My problems, are very much first-world, but they still stem from the worldwide inequality between the sexes. 

Now, I don't want to get too political in this space, because quite frankly, I hate politics. Politics can be so divisive, and this space is about building a community. But I also believe in speaking up for the things you believe in, so I'm speaking up.

There is also inequality among women. Women of color not only make less money for the same job as a man, but they make less money for the same job as a white woman. And that's not an indictment on white women, that's an indictment on the systemic sexism and racism that is still (unfortunately) very much alive in this country. 

I don't want to be too long-winded, but my point is this. In this day and age, we cannot turn a blind eye to injustice of any kind. Even if it isn't directly affecting us, if it's negatively affecting the quality of someone's life, then we should actively care and do something about it. If we never stand with those who are oppressed, then who will stand with us when it's our turn? 

I could go on and on about why I believe this march was more than just a protest, and I could tell you a million different ways that women still don't have equality in this world. But I mainly want to encourage you to stand up for your fellow woman. Stand against inequality. The one thing we all have in common in this world is that we are all human. Let's focus on that, instead of letting our differences divide and conquer us. 

Peace + Blessings to you, friends.

Cheers,
LesLeigh

*P.S. For more inspiration and thoughts, check this tweet and this tweet*

The Woman, Blossoming...

There is someone...

A man whom I admire. A man who makes me proud. A man who makes me giggle like a school girl...

He's wonderful. He really is. 

In the short time that we've been spending time together, he has (unknowingly) helped me to realize something about myself: I've grown up.

I remember the start of every dating relationship I've ever had. I remember how I felt and what I liked about each guy. I remember the excitement, often paired with anxiety, because I wanted to impress them. I wanted them to like me, to be proud of me. I remember being so worried about what they thought me, but looking back, I was never really me at all.

This time, it's different. I'm not worried about what he thinks of me. I honestly don't really care about impressing him. While I want him to like me, I not going to go out of my way to try to be someone who I think he'll like. I'm just going to be myself, and hopefully that's enough.

The funny thing is...this wasn't something I thought about and made a conscious decision to change. It's something I noticed myself doing, without thinking about it or analyzing it or praying about it. I believe it's me growing up. It's LesLeigh, the woman dating a man, not LesLeigh, the girl wanting a boy's attention and affection. 

I often find myself being very honest with him. Not necessarily about deep things, but surface level things that I used to hide from previous suitors. I don't over-analyze everything that I'm thinking before I say it. 

With him and I, it's not a competition as to who can hide even the very least of their intentions and emotions. It's two adults, talking and laughing, with friends or alone, enjoying each other's company. 

I was afraid to write this down, to publish this, because everything is so new and I feel the need to protect it. However, if you know me at all by now, you'll know I am a fan of transparency and of sharing anything that anyone might be able to relate to or learn from. So here we are...

I don't know if he's my husband or how long we'll last. I'm not sure of the future, or if his future has anything to do with my future. I don't know what the great Lord has in store for us. 

All I know is that I find him kind of fascinating, and I like the way he makes me feel when I'm with him. But already, I am grateful for the woman that he has awakened within me. The mature, graceful woman of God. And oh, how wild and lovely still is she...

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What Does It Mean...?

What does it mean to be a woman?  

Has anyone figured that out yet? 

And if you have, could you please tell me? 

I read this article (a few minutes before writing this post, actually), and it mentioned many things about women and how the characters of Sex and the City represent us, and I began to think "Yes, I can identify with -insert character here-."  

But then I began to think a little bit deeper. Why do I identify with -fill in the blank-? What is it about her that reminds me of me? And is there something wrong if she reminds me of me? 

In case you didn't know, folks, I'm only 22. I've only really started to view myself and refer to myself as a woman. At 18 or 19, I was still very much a girl. Mature as I was for my age, I was still incredibly naive, and very unsure of myself. I didn't know where I fell in line or where I should step.  

I knew, very basically, how I felt about things like sex, religion, politics, men, people, and the world. I knew that I didn't believe in sex before marriage. I knew that I believed in a relationship and not a religion. I knew that politics were not worth my time. I knew that men were attractive but uninteresting. And I didn't like most people. 

And here I am, 3 or 4 years later, and sex before marriage is, sometimes, a gray area (even thought it shouldn't be), it's still about a relationship and not necessarily a religion, politics are still (kind of) not worth my time, the right men can be attractive and interesting, and a lot of people really just need a hug (aka love). 

All of that is fine and dandy but none of those beliefs really make me a woman. We could be scientific and say that, because I have a certain set of parts, that makes me a woman, but I think it goes beyond that.  

There is something about women. We can be described by many adjectives; fierce, lovely, nurturing, warm, caring, beautiful, classy, sexy, trashy, slutty, loose, pretty, funny, smart, dumb, etc. We can be classified as a few things; mother, sister, daughter, friend, wife, girlfriend, lover, mentor, etc.

Take a handful of those adjectives and a few of those classifications, add them your beliefs and you've got yourself about 75% of what makes up a woman. But where's the other 25%? What is that extra part that is the dividing line between little girl and grown woman? 

For me, it's been hard to determine what really makes me a woman now, as opposed to a little girl. I can't really put my finger on it.

It's not the body parts, or the age, or the "grade level" in school, or the sense of style. 

Maybe it's when I learned to let go of childhood traumas and things I cannot change. Maybe it's when I began really trusting God with my future, as well as my present. Maybe it's when I realized that I can, one day, have children or get married or both, and that the two do not always have to go together.
Or maybe it's when I realized that life, even my own life, is not always about me, and that sometimes, other people do come first.  

I'm not sure when it was. 

But I think I can look in the mirror today and say with confidence and authority, that I am a woman.  

So, what's next? 

Am I supposed to roar?

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Soul Mates...Fact or Fiction?

Last night I read this post, and it sparked something in me, and instantly, I knew I had to write about soul mates.

You see, I do not disagree with her. I liked what she had to say and it gave me a new perspective, especially since I just wrote about dating the other day. But at first, before I decided whether or not I agreed wither her, I had to decide if I even believe in the idea of soul mates.

I find that I do…

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On a good day, I would say that I have seven best friends. Ladies, you know what I’m talking about. They are the seven women that I am certain would answer the phone if I called them crying at 3:00 a.m. Okay, they might be a little peeved, but they would answer and talk to me. I have a different kind of friendship with each of them and they are so vastly different from one another that I’m not even sure how my personality meshes with all of them. And yet, somehow, it does.

They are my certain seven, my confidants. They are the ones that walk with me through fire. They've seen me at my worst and they've still loved me anyway. I can depend on them to be there for me. I go to them for wise council, a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, or just someone to laugh with. I can be completely and utterly certain of them.

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I recognize within these seven women a familiar spark. It is a spark that matches the one that burns in my chest. It is that spark of life, the one that says we can change the world, make things happen, love people, and achieve our dreams. It is a spark that says we are not the quietly-praying-in-the-corner type of women. We are forces to be reckoned with. We each have our own way of fiercely loving people. They believe in my dreams and they push me to achieve them, and I do the same thing for them.

That is what attracted me to each of these seven women. I recognized the spark that also lies within me and I said “She’s seems cool.” They must have done the same with me and the rest is history.

 

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I know what you’re thinking. You’re probably saying to yourself “What’s your point, LesLeigh? I’m aging here!”

I have a point, I promise. My point can be summed up by the above picture.

There are some people that you meet in life and you just click with them. You understand them, they understand you. You can communicate with them like you can’t communicate with anyone else. They’ve shared in your happy times and in your sad times. 

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 *All images in this post were found via Pinterest.*

Those are soul mates. It’s people who understand your heart, who can almost read your mind, and who usually know your plan of action before you’ve done anything yet. It’s people who put up with your crap, and laugh at your jokes, and hold you when you cry.

That’s who these women are to me. They are my soul mates. And on my wedding day, when I’m standing at the alter, marrying the man I’ve chosen to spend the rest of my days with, I want my certain seven standing there by my side, for they were the ones who carried me when I was too weak to stand on my own.

I believe that everyone has a soul mate. Your soul mate just may not be who you think they are…

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