Nov 10, 2016

The boy.

I can recall where I was four years ago instantly. Physically, I was wrapping up a temporary stay in NYC. I'd gone back for a few months to remember what it was like to be a student again, and immersed myself in classical training. Emotionally, it was the worst time of my life. 2012 wrecked havoc on my heart, head, and soul. We'd lost my uncle that May. He was lost to me in a slew of other losses that year, varying for me in degrees of devastation. I'd been shattered, and I was trying to rebuild. His birthday (the first he would not be there for) was November 9. On November 10, I saw a play. I left on a high. I came back to where I was staying only to find out via face-time that my Grandpa had just died. I could't get home fast enough. I'll never forget that feeling. I wanted to crawl out of my skin. 

Four years later, everything I've lost has come back to me in a new form. All that loss cleared out space for me to gain so much. I truly believe that must happen, and I am left even more amazed at the way birth and death are, in fact, one. 

But there's a final piece from 2012 that I've never shared, because it didn't click for me until recently. And four years later on the birthday/departing day anniversaries, here it is. 

Four years ago I had what can only be described as a vision. I was in Southern Utah for my my grandpa's funeral. Falling asleep, I saw as clear as day my grandpa and uncle outside in a beautiful clearing. The sun was bright. The sky bright blue. The grass and trees around them a vibrant green. They were young, and they looked so good! They had with them a toddler. A boy. He was as blonde as can be. They were all so happy, playing with him. Doing that thing you do with little kids where you hold their hands and spin them around so their feet are off the ground. It was very real. It was happening, or had happened, wherever they were. I didn't know who the toddler was, but they seemed to be taking care of him. 

I thought about it from time to time over the years, but it didn't hit me until recently who that boy was...

For the Squirrel and the Bluebird, who continue to give. 


Oct 11, 2016

Baby = The death of your relationship.

It hit me me one day that the version of "us" we were pre-baby is gone.

Gone for good.
Gone forever.

There's no way to prepare. You don't get to say goodbye.

You only realize it long after the baby is born, when you are reborn as mother, your spouse as father.

Then you must mourn. You must reflect and grieve and reminisce of the days before you were parents. The easy freedom, late nights. Laughing. So much love, that topped out with each other. The days when your world didn't expand so wide, your heart was still on the inside, and your priorities were simpler.

When the baby comes Earth-side, your heart flips outside, and a new love fills you, entire. So much so you almost forget there are others to love, they way you did in your previous life.

Then one day you have a vacation, all three together, nearly 7 months in, and you start to remember. A fever-dream of they way you were. You can start to make sense of it all now that the baby is a little older. The anxiety is less.

This is where your heart starts re-adjusting.

Time has become liquid gold, since you spun into mother. You'd swear it was tangible. You know how to cherish every minute and every moment. You've never been more present, because you understand nothing lasts in a new way.

And the night after you're back at home and the little love of your lives is asleep in the next room, you and your husband entwine in each other's arms. You hold him close. You breathe him in. His hair smells so good. For a split-second, it's just the two of you. You are completely aware of how much you loved him before, but also how much you love him after, now that he's spun into father.

And you're reminded that even after death, the heart just wants to love, so it keeps on loving. It loves right into the next version of you, and your "us", and the next version, and the next. There is still room, and nothing has truly been lost because your love just keeps expanding...and expanding...and expanding...

My very favorite pictures never go up on social media because they feel too intimate. I'm breaking my rule for the first time with this one. There you have it, the two loves of my life:

Jun 30, 2016

Celebrating the post-baby body!

I've blogged a couple of times recently about my relationship to my body now post-pregnancy. Click here & here to read if you like, but the bottom line is that going through my first pregnancy taught me to appreciate my body in a whole new way. I am now in complete awe of what a body can do, and so thankful that is was able to give me my son, Charlie! You'll never hear me say a mean thing about my body again, no matter what changes and "flaws" may come my way. When I gave birth, I was reborn as my truest self. I've never felt more at home in my own skin, or more me. Becoming Charlie's mom brought out a strength I never knew I had.

I love documenting my life through photos, especially during periods of great transformation. Three months to the day since giving birth I did a photoshoot for BraBar Boutique (find them on Facebook & Instagram).  BraBar has lingerie unlike anywhere else in the state. While they have multiple brands (and even swimwear and clothing) they are best known for carrying the stunning bras and patnies by designer Marlies Dekkers. I'd never seen bras this pretty and unique until my first trip in to BraBar! They pride themselves on getting you in truly the right fit as well. The boutique is intimate, beautifully decorated, and the employees provide you with a luxurious experience. There's no surprise that the personal feel at BraBar is preferred over a chain or department store by their devoted clients.

I've modeled boudoir and pinup countless times through the years, but this shoot was different. I was now a new version of myself. The mom version! We wanted the shoot to be a celebration of the post-baby body. We wanted sexy but classy, and to show you absolutely can still be sexy post-baby! We shot in the most beautiful light pink bra & panty set. I thought we might have to try several things on to make sure it was the fit, and look we were going for (I'm certainly not the bra size I was before which has taken some getting used to), but stylist Mimi of Pink Speak nailed it on the first try. We added timeless jewelry and floral robes for our celebratory shoot.

Cat Palmer was the photographer on our shoot (find her gorgeous work here).  When the shoot started coming together, I knew there was no photographer more perfect for this collaboration. I've worked with Cat over the years, and we've gotten to be close friends. I knew I'd be comfortable in front of her camera in my new body. I knew she'd make me look and feel great, since celebrating the female body is her area of expertise. She's built herself an extremely successful business by empowering women through her art. I knew she'd be encouraging of embracing the new me.

I felt great in BraBar's lingerie. It's so high quality, which means it fits extremely well. It was beautiful and it made me feel beautiful, sexy, strong, and like myself.

The photos capture me at my most authentic.
Me as a mother. 
Me at home in my skin. 
Me fully present. 
Me full of more love than I've ever been in my life.

~ DM 

Jun 29, 2016

New me.

1. 9 days after baby
2. 1 & 1/2 months after baby
3. 3 months after baby (now)
4. Pre-pregnancy, 1 year ago 

This is where we are today. I've been fascinated by the female human body like never before since going through pregnancy. I post this because of my fascination, and to keep track of my own progress. 

I have experienced my body every which way now. After birth I felt completely different than I expected to. I felt small, fragile, but also more fully in my body than ever before. I remember stretching out in bed at night those first few weeks and feeling so aware of every inch of me. Down to the tips of my toes I so fully inhabited this human form. I felt absolutely brand new. 

Over the weeks the fragility began to transform to strength, and the initial magic and newness of my rebirth has worn off. 

Now I feel like "me" again, but an enhanced version. I am very near what I looked like before I was ever pregnant, but with a new patience and awe for my body. Believe me, it's not without new flaws, but that doesn't bother me like it would have before. 

I'm too thankful for it for giving me my baby now to ever be mad at it, and too curious to see what transformations are in store for both from here and through the years to be too tied to any one idea of what it "should" look like. Changes are good. Changes are great. 

Whatever it is at the moment, it now houses me at my most authentic self. Me at my most present. Me at my most grounded. Me full of a newfound consuming love. 


Jun 5, 2016

Rodizio Grill Summer Menu + Giveaway!

*Giveaway Closed! Congrats Keolani Smith!*

Over the last couple of years I've been invited to events at Rodizio Grill and I always jump at the chance. That may seem crazy if you know me and know that I'm more or less a vegetarian. As far as meat goes I only eat chicken and turkey, and not very often. When you think of Rodizio you think of meat. This Brazilian Steakhouse is known for their meats. Beef, poultry, pork, lamb, you name it and they keep it coming. The servers keep them circling back to your table on large skewers. They look amazing, and I hear that they are, but I love to go for their salad bar.

The salad bar is huge. Multiple salads from caesar to pasta, and hot food as well. There's rice, different kinds of beans, and mashed potatoes. There's gazpacho, rolls, and corn bread. I took my vegetarian husband for the second time and he loved it, too.

And the desert. Well, that just might be my favorite part. I finally branched out from my usual (their cinnamon pastry) for the chocolate cake. It was just as tasty.

I love this place, and the cozy Trolley Square location. We got to go last week to try out their new summer menu, and to help them kick it off I am giving away two full rodizio meals! To enter, leave a comment telling me you'd like to go, and who you'd like to take with you! One comment per person. Comment below or on my Facebook page where I'll also post this link. Winner chosen at random and announced here on this post & on Facebook SATURDAY, June 11!

~ DM

May 27, 2016


I'm holding my newborn son in my arms, rocking him to sleep. I'm standing over his bassinet when I remember it's almost the 27th. I have to count it out on my fingers to really make sure that this will mark four whole years. Four suddenly seems like a lot. 

I try to imagine as best as I can, you as a baby. My grandmother holding you in her arms, rocking you to sleep exactly as I am doing now. I can't quite see it, but I know it happened. It's so hard to wrap my head around the fact we all start out this way. We've all been held in the arms of a parent, or by someone who loved us. 

I think about how you, Charles, lived in this very condo before my baby Charles did. You have the same residence. You have the same bedroom. You share the same name.

I remember the first time I came back here after you left. Everything exactly as you'd left it, and the air still smelling of you. My mom said I could take something, but I hardly dared to breathe let alone move a thing. I chose only the tiniest object, and the one that seemed most you. An itty-bitty baseball magnet off the fridge. 

I don't let myself linger in this memory too long.

I come back to the present, and think about how the baseball magnet then traveled with me, only to end up back on this fridge. How Charles ended up back in this place, and while he is not you, nor supposed to be, this all feels connected. Inevitable. Strangely whole. This circle of life. 

Into my head pops the Rumi quote, "Don't grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form." 

I get it. 

I leave my heart at that, and put my son to bed. 

May 20, 2016



That's the word.

Today I told my husband that I had no idea how content I'd feel to be at home, be with our boy. You can't possibly know how you'll feel pre-baby, but I assumed I'd want to continue life as usual, with baby now added. But I can't.

I am so content to be Charlie's mom at the moment, that I'm finding myself turning down work. Me five years ago couldn't have done this. Work was the most important thing in my life. Staying "relevant". The thought of "giving it up" for a baby wasn't an option. It was hardly a desire.

Fast forward to meeting the love of my life and doing a complete 180 with my feelings about having a baby, and here we are. A little over two months in and I can honestly and wholeheartedly say I love being his mom. He awakened a patience in me I never knew I had.

I believe in reincarnation. I believe we have certain lessons each cycle. I know mine this round have been patience, acceptance, and being present. I believe life hands us these lessons again and again until we finally get it. I have been through so many life experiences, and had countless opportunities to learn these lessons, but it just never quite clicked. Until Charlie.

He made patience and being in the moment absolutely bloom in me. It happened so naturally that I'm only now realizing the way it snuck up and seeped in. I so aware of what a privilege it is to be his mom. I'm so aware that it's going to go by fast, already is. I am so aware of how much this tiny being needs me. I can't imagine putting anything in front of this time. It is so, so very precious. I know I'll never regret saying no to anything that will take me away from him. Not anytime soon. Not during this babyhood I'll never have with him again.

Recently I turned down a play. Having lived my new life for two months now, I see that it's mom and only mom who will be putting him to bed anytime soon. We've established our routine. And as it's just the two of us home during the day, we've become so bonded. How could I leave him every weeknight for over a month and most of every Saturday to rehearse when he's so brand new? I signed up for this, I'm showing up for this.

I don't mind being tired. I don't mind saying no. I don't mind having a hard time fitting in a shower, or realizing I've been in the same t-shirt for days. It doesn't matter. Nothing is better than him smiling at me. Or how he'll stop crying once he's in my arms. Every morning I wake up excited. I have butterflies all the time. 

I am truly content. I never thought contentment was something I'd feel so fully.

I can't believe how much this little soul has given me and taught me in the last 9 weeks. No way am I missing out on one thing he's here to show me.

Sure, I'll resume a few projects. But nothing that takes me away for too long. I'm going to be stingier with my time.

Charlie's mom first. Everything else, second.



May 16, 2016

What nobody told me about becoming a mom

To my Charlie
5.16.16 2 months old today

What nobody told me about becoming a mom

That sometimes I'll be putting you to bed and be struck by a memory that makes me mourn my past life; like a craving for pad tai in Chelsea Market, where I spent my lunches during acting school. Then you'll laugh in your sleep and I'm instantly reminded that since knowing you, I've felt more love than any other time in my whole life. 

How aware of time I'd become. I feel I can reach right out and touch it these days. I see how temporary every single moment is. Time keeps going. Each new stage keeps passing. I am hyper-aware that nothing lasts forever. 

How I'd ache when you are in another's arms. How my heart would pound and anxiety would surge through me. Sweating, distracted, I'm a secret emotional wreck until you are given back to me. To all mothers who've so generously given me time with your own children through the years, who very well silently sat in agony while your baby was only across the room, I thank you. I love you. I honor you. I couldn't have known. 

How I would want to fall at the feet of all mothers now. You queens, you goddesses. This is what you have all gone through? This is what you were talking about? I'm humbled. I'm not worthy. 

The panic I'd feel when someone says they want to babysit you. All I hear is, they plan to take you away from me. I've had a lifetime of nights out, of living without you, I have no qualms about devoting myself to you through your infancy and beyond. 

How at home I'd finally feel in my own body. I feel every last inch fully inhabited by me at my most authentic. I am finally living in it fully, thanking every last bit of it with my whole being, so in awe that it gave me you. I've never felt more beautiful. I'm a new species. You made me, little boy. 

How much I would cry. Cry for things that haven't even happened yet. Like the time I started thinking of you growing up, going to school, leaving the house on your own. Not being a baby anymore. I laid on the floor snd sobbed. You weren't even two months yet.

How, like the universe, my love for you keeps expanding. How I see my late grandpa in your eyes, my late uncle in your nose and mouth when you smile. How you're a little bit of everyone we've lost come back to heal us. 

How each day would be bittersweet. Your growth would sneak up on me, yet seem so rapid. I am caught between mourning your beginning and excitement to see who you're becoming. 

That the day you took your first bottle instead of my breast would be incredibly difficult for me. I laid in the other room crying, hating that one of our feedings was being taken away from me. The one thing only I can give you. 

How excited I'd feel each morning to see you even though we've seen each other all through the night. There's something magic at the start of a new day. I awake to find it wasn't a dream after all, that you are real, we've got another day, we've got more time, and you really are mine to keep. 



May 3, 2016

Spring basics 3 ways!

Happy May! It's finally feeling like Spring!

I partnered up with a local boutique I love, My Sisters Closet, to show off 2 basic items and how they can each be worn three different ways. My goal was to show you how versatile a simple piece is, as well as how inexpensively you really can build your wardrobe. Hope you like the looks and they give you some spring inspiration! Each piece comes in a variety of colors and sizes, so be sure and take a look. Great gift ideas for Mother's Day, too!

Below you'll see
Fresh knit cardigan in mustard
Favorite basic tee in black

Happy shopping!

It's a challenge for me not to buy all black, all the time. I found that this bright mustard was much more versatile than I thought! I went for three varying degrees of casual. Jeans, a dress, and shorts, all completely easy to style.  

So as I said above, black is a staple and I'm always looking for a great black tee. I love this one! The material is so soft. I ordered a size M so it would be a little longer and extra cozy! Perfect for a casual look with cotton bell bottoms, a workout or running errands, and dressed up for night! 

Thanks for reading! 


Apr 29, 2016

Well-Read Women

It's almost Mother's Day, and I'm especially excited since it's the first one I'll be celebrating! Until then, I'm going to be posting some of my favorite gift ideas from Got Beauty! 

First up, Well-Read Women
Portraits of Fiction's Most Beloved Heroines 
by Samantha Hahn

Beautiful quotes and illustrations from the famous ladies of Romeo & Juliet, The Great Gatsby, The Wizard of Oz, Madame Bovary, Lolita, The Scarlett Letter, A Doll's House, and so many more. $19.95

Apr 19, 2016


In the last few weeks I've learned more than ever to appreciate the little things. Stolen moments of time to myself, bits of quality time with my husband. I've also learned just how big the big things are, like our baby reaching one month, and meeting his Great Grandma for the first time.

Becoming a mom is the hardest thing I've ever done. Nobody can prepare you for how hard and truly life-altering it is, no matter how many times you hear that it will be. But it's also filled me with more love than I ever would have thought possible. I ache for my baby when he's in someone else's arms. I miss him when he's across the room. I can't get enough of him. I can't imagine there's anything better than staring at his beautiful face. 

To my surprise, motherhood has brought out a new confidence in me. I've never felt better as far as being at home in my own skin. 

I've always loved documenting and sharing in pictures, especially at this time in my life. After the baby and I wrapped a photoshoot yesterday, I had to get out in the beautiful weather. I love spring.

This is the most significant spring yet. All is new. 

Necklace available at Got Beauty $14.99

Thanks for reading,


Apr 16, 2016

A promise to my baby

A promise to my baby

Becoming a mother is a complete transformation. When I became one last month, I felt nothing short of having been reborn a completely new species. I even experienced inhabiting my physical body differently. I felt so fragile, small, and new. 

While I was pregnant I tried to enjoy it, but honestly I couldn't wait for it to end. I wanted my baby out, here with us. I'm better with what I can see with my own eyes and touch with my own hands. The unknown was stressful to me. All I could do was long for the future.

I'm a firm believer that we control how time passes. Just think about the way one day can fly, another drag when they have the same amount of hours. We spend a lot of our time reflecting on the past, or waiting for the future. Living in the present is the hardest thing we humans have to master.

After childbirth, the way I experienced time completely changed. 

Now that my baby is finally here, I understand the concept of time like never before. I have now lived through a pregnancy and birth, two of the biggest life-altering experiences a woman can have. I see that it's possible to get through, and that there's no way out but through. Above all, I see that all is temporary. Concepts I knew prior, but now run incredibly deep. Through my being, through my soul. 

I read a quote once that said something like, "everyone, everything, everywhere, ends." I don't want to miss a single phase of him. Everything else can wait. Life will resume before I know it. The days of hibernating with my newborn son will end. I want to memorize him him exactly as he is right now, and in each moment.

My promise to my baby is to always be present with him.

Time feels tangible. It feels urgent. It doesn't lag, and it doesn't jump ahead. I see how much my son has grown in just one month. With this new life comes the gift to truly see and experience living in the moment. That's him. And I promise to be present for every phase, every age, every day.

Special thanks to Walmart and Pampers for parenting with me for the #MothersPromise challenge.

Thanks for reading.

Oh, and moms! Since there's little time to go anywhere, and we run out of diapers in the blink of an eye, be sure to place an order for a giant box of Pampers from Walmart who will deliver them right to your front door. I just got my delivery and let me tell you, I'm so appreciative of the little things that can make life a bit easier now that I'm a mom!  Click here.   

Deena Marie

Sponsored Post. 

Apr 11, 2016

The Birth Story (Part II)

Click HERE to read Part I, which is labor through birth, and up to this point.

I ask that those reading tread lightly here. I'm not looking for advice, opinion, or judgement on my experience, I'm simply writing as I always do. With the intention to purge, to document, and with hope that someone who has gone through something similar finds comfort in my story.

The week after Charlie's birth. 

There are things I heard that week in the hospital that will stay with me forever.

If this had happened a hundred years ago, he wouldn't have made it.
He calmed down when his mom came in.
Things look a little different this morning.
It was bad.
He was sick.
The fevers were a big deal.

I don't know how we got through that week. I guess the same way we got through labor.
You just do.
You just get through.

After his beautiful one minute and thirty six second birth, came a nightmare. We were thrown into a completely unexpected and unnatural experience as first time parents.

I still don't feel ready to write about his and I don't think I ever will, but as we approach the one month milestone, I know I need to get it out sooner rather than later. It's not as fresh as it was while I was living it, but that's a good thing for me at this point.

Charlie had just been born. We had two hours of sacred time. I was put in my wheelchair, my newborn baby in my arms, and we were taken up to my recovery room. Room 319. I remember eating the turkey sandwich I had ordered. I'd been waning a turkey sandwich for months. I remember nurses taking the baby to the nursery for routine testing. He was supposed to be right back. I will never forget the look on my husbands face when he came back into the room, my mom following behind. No baby. I knew something was wrong. I feel the lump of sadness swell in my chest just thinking about it. It seemed like an eternity for my husband to get his words out. "Um...he has to stay in there tonight." Something with the word respiratory. Something about him breathing too fast. The next thing I knew I was being put back into the wheelchair so I could get in there. I didn't even get to say goodbye to my parents.

Later my mom would say, "You know what really touched my heart? I could see Matt through the nursery windows, they were talking to him, and his face just fell. Then he leaned over and kissed Charlie." 

My baby was crying. I put my hand on him and started talking to him. He calmed down. "He knows your voice" someone said.

My baby had just had an x-ray. There was fluid in his lungs. Could be amniotic fluid he needed to cry out, he hadn't cried much at birth, so they told us crying was a good thing. It could also be infection. There was talk again of our fevers at birth. There would be antibiotics. IV's. Poking and prodding. For one full week.

I don't remember a lot about the rest of that night. I could ask my husband to remind me of the details, but I'm not ready.

I do remember falling asleep on my back that night. It had been months since I'd been able to do that. I couldn't believe how abruptly pregnancy ends. There is no transition. Once the baby is out, it is done. No more heaviness in my pelvis. No more backache. No more side sleeping. No more craving chocolate milk and apples.

I had no idea this was the beginning of one of the worst weeks we could imagine. All in room #319. I had no idea I would experience the kind of anxiety and PTSD in this week that I had only felt one other time. In 2012. The most awful year of my life.

I think we were left with hopeful words when we went to sleep, but I was deflated. The plan was for our baby to never leave our side. This was supposed to be the happiest time. What was happening with our baby? I couldn't accept a "congratulations" from anyone after that. I didn't know what was in store. That's as much as I care to say about where my dark thoughts were drifting. We were woken by a nurse in the morning telling us that "things look a little different today." Even now, typing this, my heart sinks in my chest all over again as I remember what that felt like to hear. There was another x-ray. There was still something in his lungs. He was sick. Infection. Later pneumonia.

I could and maybe should have kept track of each day, but it would break my heart all over again to re-read and re-live it. I barely left one small hospital room for seven days. The nursery was right across the hall. I went back and forth, and nothing else existed. Eventually they let Charlie come back to our room, and sleep in #319 with us. Nurses would come in through the night. Pediatricians would come in each morning. Night, day, and life were constantly interrupted. They came in to flush his IV, for his vitals, and temperature. I soon found myself holding my breath as I waited for them to tell me the results of each. All day. Every day. He went to the nursery for his meds in the morning and the evening. Putting an IV in a brand new baby is hard. It came out often. NICU had to come up to put it in again. Poked and prodded. Poked and prodded. An IV in his hand with a diaper wrapped around to keep it safe. It still fell out. A dark bruise on his foot from an attempted IV. The IV in his scalp. No new mom should ever have to see her new baby like this.

By the end, it scared me how routine this was becoming. It also scared me how helpless I was feeling as I became dependent on another nurse or pediatrician to tell me things were okay, and tell me what to do. How was I ever supposed to trust my instincts now? How would I ever relax? How would I tell if he was okay?

There was the morning one pediatrician told us how bad it was, and how amazing of Charlie to let us know there was a problem so they could catch it. "Thank god for modern medicine. If this had happened one hundred years ago, he wouldn't be here. He'll be your little angel." I think this was day two. New mom. New baby. Day TWO.

There was the night the nurse took him to flush an IV and it took longer than usual. I went to look for him, and she was on the phone with the on-call pediatrician, asking what to do because he had a temperature. They had him stripped down to his diaper, rocking him, cooling him off. No. No no no. This can't be happening. This time I knew what it was. I trusted my instincts and I was right. He'd had his first bath. I had the heat up a little too high in our room and him bundled a little too much. Once he cooled down his temperature was fine. But this meant repeating the story to the pediatricians in the following days when they'd see he'd had a temperature and look alarmed. Then I'd start to get scared all over again.

There was the day when someone mentioned jaundice (false alarm). Meningitis (no meningitis). Him loosing too much weight waiting for my milk to come in. It was one thing after another. I felt like we could not catch a break, and I felt myself becoming crippled with fear. I can't stress enough how much the nurses came in through the night. Each time I'd be woken up from sleep, I'd wake terrified. I was waiting for bad news each time. My heart would pound. I'd feel sick. I was waiting for the unthinkable. I found myself with PTSD from that first night and the bad news.

And the dreams. I had three of the most vivid, disturbing, anxiety dreams. I was in a car, heading for a crash. I could see it coming and I couldn't avoid it. I was trying my hardest to stay in my lane but I was going into oncoming traffic. I woke up with my foot trying to slam on the break. I dreamt I was trying to run to my dad, trying my hardest to get to him in a straight line but I was so dizzy I started falling and tumbled away from him. The last dream I was swept away at sea.

I felt like I could lose my mind. My baby was constantly being taken away, and his sleep interrupted to be poked and prodded. I couldn't leave room #319. I couldn't fall asleep in my husbands arms. I was stuck with this tiny hospital bed, and he with an uncomfortable futon.

There was the day toward the end where two nurses saw me. Really saw me. Asked me how I was. They brought in little handmade hats and let us choose one. One nurse tossed me an extra on the way out. I was so fragile at that point. The gesture was enormous.

There was the night I was seeing things.

There was the day we walked to another part of the hospital and briefly outside. My heart pounding the whole time to be out of room #319, and more than just a few feet away from my baby. I truly felt I was on the verge of crazy. My life was now living in that room, waiting for nurses to tell me what was either wrong or right with my sick baby. My life was now going to the nursery for my baby's scheduled meds. How was there ever going to be life outside of this?

I'd look at my husband with him. He was so natural with him. I was blown away how his instincts kicked in right away. I felt so frozen with fear, I relied on him so much to help our son, and help me. He took the lead a lot. He was great with diapers, talking with the nurses, everything. I felt like he was so much better at this than me. I felt lost. I just didn't know what the outcome would be. But Id' look at him, and think, "this is his experience, too." Whatever was going to happen, he was going to go through it as well. And the unthinkable was just not going to happen for my Matt. It just wasn't. It just couldn't. Knowing he was living this too was maybe the only thing that kept me from truly losing my mind.

I cried all the time. I felt turned completely inside out. I also felt so full of love for both Matt and Charlie it hurt. Whenever Charlie was out of our room I physically ached. I've never known that feeling before. It literally hurt to be separated.

I could go on, listing all the jargon we heard that scared us. The traumatizing trips to the nursery, but I think I'm done. I'm just done digging it up over and over. It hurts too much.

At the end of the week I found myself so ready to be home and away from the interruptions of the nurses, that my desire to be done outweighed the stress I thought I'd feel to be without them. I was so worried I'd be dependent on them, but I was ready for it to be just the three of us. I was ready to figure out what that would even be like, one week late. I was ready to start to learn who my baby was outside of all of that, and let my own instincts kick in.

He'll be a month in two days. Now our week in #319 seems like a lifetime ago. I have my moments where I will feel a traumatic ping of something I experienced that week, but for the most part I'm doing great. I had to leave the rough beginning behind, and move forward. I had to let myself believe the doctors, that Charlie was healthy. That he would be okay. 

That week did leave me as an extra worried and paranoid mom. Each day gets easier, but there have been times when I have felt at a bit of a loss and some panic, still wishing there was someone to tell me whatever he is doing is normal. I've had a hard time with other people holding him at times, or wanting to visit. I can still ache when he's just across the room. A part of me wants to hibernate with him forever.

I can never go back to who I was before Charlie, I can never go back to who I was before Charlie. 

I can't even explain to you the hug between myself and my husband once we put the carseat in the car,  oncethe nurse left, and we were free.

I'll never be able to put into words the sadness I felt when we came home. The bed still unmade. Just as we'd left. Who knew what was in store that morning I woke up at 2:30 with contractions. I felt heartbroken for the version of me I now was, versus just one week ago.

That's where I'll leave that part of the story. It's just time to be done.

And now?

Charlie is great. He is okay. He is strong. He is healthy. He is so beautiful.

It's never felt better to keep moving forward.

xo Charlies' mom.

Apr 4, 2016

Post Baby Body Secrets

I wanted to talk about body after baby because the idea of what my body would go through during a pregnancy and where it would end up was so daunting to me. I didn't know what transformation was in store, if I'd go back to where I started out quickly, if ever. There's no way to know what your body will do, going through a first pregnancy and childbirth.

This journey was all about TRUST for me. Trusting my body to know what to do, trusting it to carry and deliver my baby, and trusting it's recovery.

I was shocked at every turn. My body always knew what to do. I don't know why I kept expecting it to fail, but I did at every turn. I was nervous something would go wrong the entire time. I hardly enjoyed being pregnant because I was so stressed. During Charlie's quick birth (1 minute 36 seconds) the doctor and nurses told me it was because I was so healthy, my uterus was healthy and squeezed him right out just like it's meant to do.

I certainly didn't expect recovery from childbirth to go so quickly and smoothly (I was only a little uncomfortable for the first week and the most uncomfortable part was actually trying to sit with an ice pack), and I never imagined my body would look (nearly) back to normal so fast.

I wanted to share with you what I did during and after pregnancy so that any woman expecting a baby or planning on it in the future who felt as scared of the unknown as I did can try my tips and tricks. It is an unknown, there is no guarantee, but maybe I can take a little of the fear and mystery away, as well as give you some things you can actively do to bounce back.

1.) Work out
I was walking on the treadmill or outside on warmer days for an hour at a time, 5 days a week Some days the time may have been 45 minutes, or I'd have a 4 day week, but I was walking regularly up until the day I delivered.

2.) Stretch Marks
They say they are hereditary, and women in my family got them. I didn't. I used Palmers Cocoa Butter for Stretch Marks daily. Did it help? Some women swear by it, some say it doesn't do anything. All I know is that I used it, and I didn't have a problem. Worth a try!

3.) Belly Binding
I'd planned on doing this for months. I asked my doctor for a belly band and I got it the day after I delivered. I've worn it nearly 24/7 (I take small breaks here and there). I even sleep in it. Each day since I've seen a difference as it's helped me squish everything back together. The results are super quick. Again, some doctors and women will swear by it, some won't. Do your research and follow your instincts. I'm a firm believer.

I'm not exactly the same as I was before, but it hasn't even been three weeks. Everything in it's time. In the end, it doesn't matter. My body gave me Charlie, and I'd take it any way it wanted to end up. I've never felt more beautiful or appreciative of my body for doing what it did. You'll never hear me say a negative thing about my body again.


Mar 30, 2016

The Birth Story (Part I)

When I look at my son, I see the circle of life. I see humanity. I see mortality. I am all heart. One giant heartbeat. I physically ache with this new love. It consumes me, and it hurts.

I went to bed on the night of March 15, 2015 as I had for months. Convinced I'd be pregnant forever. I was past my due date of March 12, and my induction date was the night of March 19th. I'd grown tired of waiting, I felt good, so I'd just finished making plans to resume life the next day. I was supposed to head into my on camera reporting gig for a couple of shoots, and was even going to attempt to see a play that night. The waiting was killing me, and I needed to keep distracted.

At 2:30 in the morning I woke up with painful contractions. I wasn't sure what was happening at first. Is this what contractions feel like? I gave it some time. I didn't want to wake my husband yet. We'd just been to the hospital two nights ago with a false alarm, and were sent home. I started timing them. 10 minutes apart. Is this how painful contractions really are? I thought I was supposed to start slow and ease in. This felt intense right off the bat. I woke Matt. He held me through each one and tried to keep me calm. It was nearing an hour. It was time to go.

I was checked, told I wasn't dilated enough to be admitted, and to take a walk around the hospital for an hour. We slowly strolled, me in my hospital gown and booties. Recalling what the contractions felt like now, two weeks later, makes me feel sick. They were coming regular, and would reduce me to leaning against the wall, praying for them to pass, at a loss for how to get through them. It would start slow, seize up, and slowly vanish. Over, and over, and over. I was exhausted. How could this be happening but they couldn't admit me? Isn't this what I'm supposed to get the epidural for? I didn't plan to feel any of this. When the hour was up I was checked again. They still wouldn't admit me. They could give me a shot of morphine for the pain and I could go home, or I could walk another hour. Both seemed unbearable, but I had no energy to get dressed, go home, and come back. Another walk it was. By the end it was crippling. I thought I was going to be sick. They were coming at two minutes apart. I cut the walk short by fifteen minutes. I had to lay down. They checked me again, and I was dilated enough to be admitted.

Matt called my parents. This was it. All I could think was, "you just get through this. There is no way out. You just get through."

This is all so hard to put into words. I don't know that I'll ever be able to do my story justice. To really share what I experienced.

I find doctors and hospitals a little traumatizing. I hate IV's, I hated having my cervix checked over and over. I hate the invasion and discomfort of it all. I'd been terrified of the epidural and of childbirth for as long as I can remember. When the anesthesiologist came in for the epidural, my parents were across the room. Matt held my hands and I didn't know how hard I squeezed them until after the fact when he told me I nearly hurt him. I don't know how I'd describe it other than I could feel and hear the tube feeding into my back, it seemed to take longer than I expected and it was, well, gross. However, I'm glad I got it. I knew that for me, I needed to.

I wasn't feeling the effects and I told the nurses I was worried it wasn't working. "Have you tried to move your legs?" One asked. I hadn't, and when I did I was surprised that they were totally falling asleep. A catheter was placed, and pitocin was started.

I felt some painful contractions through the epidural, but not many. My parents and Matts parents were in the room most of the time. I was checked at some point and dilated to a 5. The next time I was checked I was at a 10. Things were happening quickly. Next came "rest and descend", before it was time to push.

I almost forgot to mention that my doctor was off that day! Another doctor in the practice would be delivering my boy. This seems like something that would be a worst fear for a new mom, but it was hardly an issue when it all happened. The doctor who delivered him was great. I had to trust, and I did.

It's a bit of a blur, but the next part happened something like this. A nurse was getting me ready to assume the pushing position, and to everyone's surprise, she could see the top of they baby's head! He was coming fast. I remember them telling the Dr. to hurry, and the Dr. asking if she needed to run. A nurse asked Matt if he wanted to see his baby boy's head of black hair. "What? Black hair?" I asked. I hadn't pictured that. Matt hadn't planned to watch, but he said yes, and actually went to look. I asked for a mirror, and they brought one in for me to see the birth. Matt had a leg, and maybe my hand, and ended up watching the whole thing in the mirror as well. At first I told him not to look, but he said it was okay. I pushed 4 times. He was here in 1minute 36 seconds. The Dr. said I'm in the upper 99 percentile. The nurses said how rare this is for a first time mom. It was incredible to see him come out. I felt no pain. It was magical. Again, I can't explain the feeling, the vibe of the room at that moment. Absolutely sacred.

It was a strange sensation as they pulled him out of me. I felt like there was so much coming out. They said he was a big baby, which was a 180 from all those weeks we worried he was too small. Something happened that last month and he packed it on. Matt cut the cord.

Here he was. Charlie. That's Charlie. Looking nothing like I'd imagined. I was laugh-crying as he was placed on my chest. "He has dimples!" They said. He didn't cry long. I couldn't believe this was who was in me. This was him. It was the most surreal moment of my life. I knew him, but I didn't. But I loved him. Nothing can prepare you for this. Our sacred hour went over. Two hours later we let parents in. "Oh my god, oh my god," my mom said over as she rushed in. He was so beautiful.

It gets vague for me here. I've lived a lifetime since his birth. I never could have imagined how much I'd love birthing him. I never could have imagined all the trauma that was coming next. There is still a big lump of sadness smack in the middle of my chest. I still have to try to separate the birth experience from all that followed, so it's not tainted. I refuse to let the beauty of it be atken away from me. But it runs together, and it's hard. All I could think as it started spiraling downhill next was, "I can never go back to who I was before Charlie, I can never go back to who I was before Charlie," on repeat.

It's true what they say. All of it. How permanently, drastically, and instantly life is changed. A true transformation in the most literal and purest sense. I was reborn, as was my partner, as were my parents.

Before I tackle the next part, which I don't have time to do tonight, I need to make sure you know he is healthy and great after our rough start. He's sleeping peacefully next to me at this very moment.

It's hard to find the time to get this all out, but I'm going to aim to finish the rest of this tomorrow.

Thanks for reading, for the love, and support.


Charlie's Mom

Mar 14, 2016

Progress weeks 37 - 40! ANY DAY NOW!

Our due date has come and gone. Saturday March 12 marked 40 weeks, and no sign of the baby. From the start I haven't been one of those women who had it all riding on that magic date. It's been fun to count down, but I've always known that it's going to happen around that date, give or take. My instincts also turned out to be wrong once again, too. Remember how I was sure he'd come early after my dreams that he did? Ha. Pregnancy has been nothing like I thought, and so full of surprises.

I've talked about how small my bump was through pregnancy, and how it even caused a little concern. I never measured where I should, always weeks behind. An ultrasound at 32 weeks brought peace of mind that he was okay, just a little on the small side. Well, somewhere between weeks 36 - 37 he had a growth spurt, and my week 37 appointment was the first time I measured just where I should! Obviously the health of my baby is always the #1 priority, but it was kinda nice not to have to deal with a large bump up until the final month. This is the month I truly feel pregnant. Strangers can finally ask me when I'm due, confident that yes I am a pregnant woman! I can't believe the changes at the end. I didn't expect him to grow like this after planning for the arrival of our tiny guy, and for my bump to change so much!

I've had a smooth pregnancy, and despite feeling a little uncomfortable at times with this out of proportion tummy,  I basically feel fine. I found that trying to rest in these final weeks doesn't really work for me. There is no such thing as forcing myself to relax, or storing it up for later when it's not needed yet. Staying on the busier side and keeping distracted is much healthier for me. Otherwise I can't stand the wait, and my mind goes a million miles an hour. I still haven't learned the patience I'd hoped to learn.

The blog here continues to be the place where I can let it all out, and leave it. I want to purge it and I want to share my journey, but I don't always feel comfortable with discussing the details across all social media. Mostly because this still continues to feel like the biggest and most personal thing I could ever imagine going through, and I can't stand the (unasked for) opinions. I just want to share. I don't want an opinion, a story, a suggestion, advice, or a comparison. Now there ARE exceptions to this. If I know you really well or if I'm asking you. But generally, if you want to send anything my way, just make it support!

I do have an end date in site, now. I'll go in to be induced the night of March 20th if he hasn't come on his own by then. This was yet another surprise. We've been preparing for a little pisces to come to us, and now we're looking at a very real possibility we're getting an aries (my husband and I are both aries and have jokingly been saying the last thing we need is a third in the house)!

A non stress test this morning showed he is doing great. I'm just so anxious to meet him I can't even stand or explain it. I NEVER thought I'd look forward to birth like this.

So, chances are I'll be pregnant one more week. I'm definitely not going to be a woman who will miss pregnancy. It's too stressful for me to not be able to see him with my own eyes, and touch him with my own hands. I can't wait for the pregnancy journey to be over.

Here are the final images, through week 40! Although I may have that bonus week #41 to post next saturday at the rate things are going. He just likes living in my tummy way too much!

weeks 26-32
weeks 21-25
pre-pregnancy - week 20 

Check out the crazy difference before and after his growth spurt!

And week by week:

The final image is actually 40 weeks and 2 days to be exact, but who's counting?

Thanks for reading, 

Deena Marie 

Feb 12, 2016

Progress weeks 33-36! 1 month to go!

1 month to go exactly now.

However, my instinct is that he may be here earlier. I kept dreaming that he came early in the beginning of my pregnancy. I also dreamt that my bump was too small right before the Dr. appointment where I did measure small and we had to check him out on an ultrasound. We'll see! 

Below are the most recent progress pics. Still amazes me how different the bump looks clothed vs unclothed! It also depends on what I'm wearing. I don't always dress to show it off. It depends on my mood, and who I'm going to be around. Sometimes I don't mind showing it off, and other times I feel too vulnerable, and don't want the attention.

I'm at the end and I'm still getting the "I couldn't even tell you were pregnant!" Three times from strangers just this last week when it came up with a cashier and at the hair salon. My limbs have stayed basically the same size, I'm all tummy. I feel like an egg on legs! He dropped Monday, Feb 1st so I'm going along at a slow waddle. It feels like there is a bowling ball on my pelvis. I'm peeing nonstop and it's not the most comfortable I've ever been, but at least I'm no longer unable to breath. I'd been so claustrophobic I was on the verge of panic at times.

I see the light at the end of the tunnel. I'm feeling better (emotionally and mentally) than I've felt all pregnancy, knowing it's the end! I can't wait to write that blog I keep promising on how I learned to truly appreciate my body. 

                                                 I forgot to take week 35 pictures


Feb 8, 2016

The final weeks

I'll be 36 weeks this friday.

I haven't been one of those women who will tell you that they've loved being pregnant. I know there are many who do. It's what I've heard more often than not, and what I expected.

Now that my journey is in it's final stages and I look back on my pregnancy, It's gone pretty darn smooth. The time has flown. And continues to. I never threw up. My weight gain has been minimal. I didn't have crazy cravings. Matt never had to run anywhere to get me something strange to eat at 3 am. My only necessities have been chocolate milk and apples. I was able to exercise regularly. I was able to live my normal life, more or less. The problem is, hindsight is 20/20. Only at the end can I begin to feel appreciative.

I have a hard time when I don't know what to expect. I need to know what is going to happen. I've known for years now that this is my biggest lesson to learn in life. How trust, accept and allow. If this wasn't the ultimate test, I don't know what would be. Never having gone through this, I was stressed at every turn. Wondering if what I was experiencing was normal, and terrified 24/7 that something would go wrong. I was convinced my weight gain would be terrible. I was scared to get our genetic testing results back at the beginning of our pregnancy, sure I was going to get bad news. I was worried about miscarriage. I was worried he'd just stop breathing. Moments of relaxing and enjoying were few and far between.

A few weeks ago we had a scare. For the most part, when people have commented on the size of my bump it's to tell me how surprised they are that I'm so small for how far along I am in my pregnancy. Then the week came where my Dr. decided to order an ultrasound to make sure he was growing as he should, because I was measuring pretty small. She was very reassuring, but it was the first appointment that I didn't walk out the door with all being well. Waiting that week for the ultrasound was so stressful it was making me sick and I ended up losing weight. I can't believe how much I needed him to be okay. In the end he is a bit small, I am a bit small, but we are both measuring fine. We saw him so developed now on the ultrasound. He looked sensitive, and so wise. I couldn't get over it. What a wise sage.

One week ago he dropped. It's such a different feeling. I was so claustrophobic and unable to breathe before he did. Now I feel like there is a bowling ball on the top of my pelvis and I can only walk at a slow waddle. At today's appointment it was reassuring once again to hear all is still well. It's the end. He's practicing his breathing as he should be at this point, getting ready for his first breath. He has quite a bit of hair. He's been moving like crazy lately. He may be small but he is tough.

I'd begun my inner journey of mentally and emotionally preparing for childbirth, and for some reason today left me (finally) in a state of calm. I needed that. At least for today I've let go of fear, of my body betraying me. So far both of our bodies have known just what to do. I can't even begin to describe how much I have learned about appreciating my own body, now at the end of this. That's another post. I'm still wrapping my head around the fact that I've been able to trust this. If only I'd known it sooner.

Preparing for the unknown of childbirth for some reason doesn't stress me. I feel that there is only so much preparation now for something you can't fully imagine until it happens. I feel completely ready, but only as ready as I can be. Ready for the unknown. For once. Maybe because my desire to be so fully present for childbirth overshadows the what-if's. No matter what happens.

Today what I do know, is we are ready to meet. The word meet doesn't ever quite sound right to me, because we already know each other. What I need now is to be able to see and touch him outside of me. It's time for me to hold him. I can't wait to hug him after going through all these lessons together.

I can't quite explain it, the overwhelming feeling that we both need this physical contact with each other now, outside of the womb. And for that, I am a million percent ready.


Jan 27, 2016

Maternity Shoot with Pepperfox Photo

I've done two maternity shoots so far. One last week with my husband (blog post with those images coming soon) and one solo shoot today. It was my first time working with Pepperfox Photo. They're Bre and Addison, a husband and wife duo. These two are so talented. Photography, painting, acting, singing, you name it, they do it! I've worked with Addison onstage, but had yet to meet Bre. She was such a blast today. I've enjoyed watching her adventures online as a real life Little Mermaid, playing Ariel at Disney World and on stage locally. She's just as magical in person as I thought she'd be. I couldn't be happier with how the shoot turned out, from the lighting, to the studio, to the gorgeous floral arrangement, to the wardrobe. I highly recommend getting in touch with them!

Photography: Pepperfox Photo 
Floral arrangement: Fox and Fern Floral Co. 
Black dress, pink top, black tights: Target 
Floral kimono: Forever 21

January 27th, 2016. 33 weeks.