Totally Truthful Thursday 1.7.16

// Launching a new business and stopping breastfeeding cold turkey during the same week is a surefire way to have at least one emotional meltdown per day.

// The inmates are running the asylum, and sometimes I’m too tired to care.

jack and penny

//  After almost four years of being in Richmond, we’ve finally found a church worth attending, and it’s nothing like what I had in mind. But I love it, and I know it’s exactly where we’re supposed to be.

// I don’t like the smell of formula. Like, at all.

// This week, my happy-go-lucky baby has morphed into a whiny, needy gremlin who can’t handle me not having my eyes on him AT ALL TIMES. I’m trying to remind myself that it’s only been a week since we stopped nursing, so maybe that has something (read: probably almost everything) to do with it.

// I have two exciting projects in the mix. One is a mom series I’m starting that I think you’ll LOVE (more details coming soon!) The other project is more secret, but it has me on Skype working with this girl once a week and I don’t hate it.

// Praise Jesus hallelujah, for the first time in 9 months, I can sleep without wearing a bra.

// Do any of my stay-at-home mom readers out there ever fantasize about having a 9-5 job? Do my 9-5 moms ever daydream about staying at home? Do all of my readers ever wonder if the grass is greener?

// On the ‘grass is greener’ note: I’ve realized lately that we should cut everyone some slack; we have no idea what other people are struggling with on a daily basis. Let’s all try to be extra kind to people today.

kindness

So, I Stopped Breastfeeding

So, if you follow me on Instagram, you’re well aware that this past week I stopped breastfeeding. Talk about an emotional rollercoaster. I cried a lot. The decision was far more emotional than I could have imagined, and it was also super uncomfortable.

cabbage

btdub the cabbage thing actually works.

Today, Scary Mommy is publishing an extremely weepy and vulnerable post that I wrote Tuesday morning following my last time nursing Jack, so I won’t go into all those emotions here. To be honest, I’m kind of scared to read it because I literally sobbed my way though writing it.

(I’m so hesitant to write this sentence because the internet is so harsh, but) I stopped nursing cold turkey. There are so many different factors that went into that decision, but the most important is thing to mention is that I talked about it at length with Jack’s pediatrician. Like an glutton for punishment, I read the internet during this process and saw one message board participant who wrote “stopping nursing cold turkey is child abuse.”

I stopped reading the internet after that one.

The thing is, I felt like a terrible mother, so I didn’t/don’t need anyone else chiming in. The other thing is, once I stopped crying, I felt pretty damn proud of myself. I nursed Jack for nine months; which is about eight and half months longer than I anticipated.

Jack started refusing bottles around four months and expressed very little interest in solids, so for over five months, I was it. It was draining, both physically and emotionally. It honestly doesn’t translate in photos, but I’m 20 pounds lighter than my pre-pregnancy weight, which is something I’m uncomfortable with. By deciding to stop breastfeeding, I’m hoping to regain some weight, my period, and some freedom.

This Saturday, we met my amazing in-laws for lunch, and then they took Jack home with them for the rest of the day and evening. I have never loved bottles so much in my entire life. I was literally giggling as Cory and I drove away. I didn’t know what to do with myself! It felt great to congratulate myself on a job well done by spending an entire day with just Cory. We got pampered in the afternoon, I took a nap, and then we went out to dinner where I proceeded to drink wine without worrying about anyone but myself.

wine

I may or may not have called our BFFs Bobby and Whitney on the way home and serenaded them with my rendition of Adele’s Hello. What a night to be alive.

—–

Question: I got a few questions on my instagram post, but also wanted to open the discussion here to see if writing a q+a post would be worth while. If you have any questions about breastfeeding and/or the weaning process, leave a comment and I’ll put together a post!

Launch Day is Here: Colleen Nichols Coaching + Consulting

(Alternate title: OMG IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING?!)

Friends, I’m excited to introduce my new business, Colleen Nichols Coaching + Consulting.

biz

Since I’ve spent so long working on the website, I’ll let it do the talking:

I’m one of those people who was born with tell me your life story written on my forehead.

Listening to people’s stories and helping them navigate their situations has been a skill and passion of mine since childhood. I honed that skill through studying psychology in college and mental health counseling in graduate school, and ended up with my dream job in the EAP field. I worked with individual clients, gave trainings all over the state of Virginia to organizations both large and small, and had the opportunity to make real, impactful changes to many organizational cultures.

Everything I loved doing, counseling and training and organizational impact, was rolled up neatly into one little job. In my opinion, there was no end in sight!

But then life happened (as it tends to do.)

I, like many people, started to become unhappy with being constantly roadblocked by corporate policies and procedures. For months, I found myself at home after a long day, complaining to my husband about the same things over and over again. My perfect job that was wrapped up in a pretty little bow was beginning to unravel, and I didn’t like what I was finding on the inside: and unfulfilled, stagnant, and frustrated version of myself.

Gross.

(But it was a paycheck, and that’s what matters, right?!)

There was a major disconnect between what I was telling my clients (“do that thing that scares you!” and “go after your dream!” and “your career isn’t your life – start living.“) and what I was actually doing. After each passing day, that disconnect grew wider and wider and it got to the point where I could no longer successfully bridge the gap.

After becoming a mother in March of 2015, my priorities shifted (as they tend to do) and I began to look at my life a little bit differently.The fear of leaving my comfort zone was trumped by the fear of my son growing up and watching me live an unauthentic life.  It was time to start walking the talk, to put my efforts and energy into projects that fulfilled me, and to start the business that had been a daydream of mine for years.

So, here we are. I’m living the dream, and I’m here to help you realize that you can live yours, too.

colleen nichols

Almost two years ago, I wanted to start my own business, but talked myself out of it at least a hundred times. I thought I was stupid to think I could succeed at something like this; that going out on a limb would be a surefire fail. But in the last several months, I had a radical idea: let’s see what could happen if I believed in myself. 

So that’s what I’ve chosen to do, and there’s been no looking back.

Your support here at The Lunchbox Diaries means the world to me, and I hope you’ll join me on this new journey as well! While there may be some initial overlap here on the blog as I roll out new programs and offerings, I intend to keep them as two separate entities. That said, I will ask for your support by following the new biz on Instagram and liking it on Facebook.

colleen nichols coaching 2

Whew. I’m so glad this is finally out there and everyone is in the loop.

Now please excuse me while I go pour myself a glass of champagne.

Photos by RVA Photography

 

Launch Week

 

I’ve been putting off this post for weeks.

Okay, months.

I’ve hinted at the fact that I’m working on a new business venture, but I’ve just been so nervous to share the details with you. It might seem odd that as a blogger, I have a difficult time putting myself out there, but I do. I’ve been working tirelessly on this new gig, and I’ve finally decided that this is launch week.

HOLY SHIT.

I’ve been making excuses (to myself) about why I’m not ready, but I realized this weekend that I have no real reason to wait until the New Year like I had originally planned. Coming from an established blog, I felt like the new website had to be 100% finished before launching it, but nothing is ever 100% finished and I’m accepting the fact that it’s time to just go for it.

So stay tuned, friends. I can’t wait to share this new chapter with you.

biz

Jack’s Christmas Wish List

Every other person has asked me if I’m ready for Jack’s first Christmas, which I think is a pretty funny question. He’s 9 months old, and I’m finding it difficult to get him pumped up about the holiday. I’m all like, Santa! Christmas lights! Family! and he’s all like, ba-ba-ba. 

While he can’t write a Christmas list just yet, I’ve been paying attention, and I know exactly what it would look like.

Jack’s Christmas Wish List

The opportunity to lick every single electrical outlet.

To be allowed to roll around on Penny’s dog bed, especially on the wet parts where she’s been licking for hours.

Access to all the remotes and Apples devices in the house.

Tupperware.

Socks (the dirtier the better for chewing, I say!)

To be held.

To be put down.

To be held again.

The chance to scale the stairs. (I know I’d be great!)

To finally meet that other baby living in the fireplace.

Sharp objects. (Nothing specific – anything dangerous will do.)

To burn the carseat so I never have to be put in that thing EVER AGAIN.

Drawers that I can open and slam shut.

Paper towels.

 

Check out Christmas With Your Newborn: Family, Feeding & Festive Fun

by Lisa Sidgwick at Mode

Clap. Clap. Clap.

Over the summer, we were at a barbecue and out of nowhere, my friend’s baby started clapping. It was the cutest thing I’d ever seen, and for months I’ve been trying to teach Jack.

If he stood up, I’d clap! clap! clap! 

If he pushed the red button on that toy that plays the obnoxious song, I’d clap! clap! clap! 

After each bite of food, I’d clap! clap! clap! 

I was clap! clap! clapping! all the live long day, to no avail.

Maybe my son just isn’t a clapper, I thought to myself on more than one occasion.

Fast forward to Monday, when the morning nap that had been happening so well was cut short (read: didn’t happen) by two pesky bottom teeth making their way to the surface. Like the cha-cha dance that is motherhood, I felt like I was taking one step back when I found myself loading up for the tried and true car nap.

I figured I’d kill two birds with one stone by using the drive to run a quick errand. At first, things were going to plan. He fell asleep, so I parked the car with the intention of him sleeping for maybe 20 more minutes before running into the store to make a quick exchange.

That 20 minutes turned into 90. It had started to rain. Heavily.

But at this point, I’d waited an hour and a half to make that damn exchange, so I loaded up the stroller (in the rain, remember?) and made it into the store.

Only to find out that the exchange policy had changed within the past week.

I lugged everything back out to the car (in the rain, remember?) cursing under my breath. The stroller wouldn’t fold up like it normally does and I hacked it into the trunk before I was absolutely soaking wet. I hurried into the driver’s seat, put the keys in the ignition, and then….

Nothing.

The car was dead. I was soaking wet. My husband didn’t answer his phone. I felt defeated.

And from the backseat?

Slowly, deliberately, and with a touch of sarcasm obviously inherited from his mother: Clap. Clap. Clap. 

 

Anxiety FAQ

Since I first opened up about my anxiety two years ago and my subsequent experience with anxiety medication, I regularly receive emails from readers asking me more in depth questions about my experiences.

While I love chatting one-on-one about anxiety and am more than willing to answer any and all questions, I figured it was high time to do a frequently asked questions post about anxiety, medication, and everything in between.

anxiety

“I feel like I’m crazy.” This isn’t a question, but it’s a common statement made by anyone who reaches out to me. I feel like I can’t adequately express how NOT CRAZY you are if you experience feelings like a tight chest, or worrying about bad things happening, or feeling guilty because you have a really good life and no “real reason” to feel the way to do. You are NOT CRAZY if you have panic attacks on a “good day” or feel utterly exhausted by the constant feelings of anxiety (it’s draining!) While I’m not here to play psychiatrist, I am here to tell you that you’re NOT CRAZY if you live with anxiety.

How did you know it was time to try medication? I’ve lived with anxiety my entire life, so just like I accepted my eye color, I accepted my anxiety as nothing that I couldn’t change about myself. Even with my background in psychology and mental health, I assumed was different and that nothing could help me.

When I ended up in the hospital and had several doctors say physically, there is absolutely nothing wrong with you I knew it was time. While I had experienced anxiety all my life, it normally ebbed and flowed. At that point in my life, it had become relentless. It was like the anxiety switch in my brain had been kicked into overdrive (a medical explanation, obviously)

But even then, I was hesitant, feeling like medication would be a metaphorical waving of the white flag. Defeat. Admitting I was weak, broken, crazy. So, I saw a therapist in hopes of dodging the medication bullet.

When I told her I had tried every single coping strategy I knew (exercise, deep breathing, meditation, etc.) she said it’s time to think about medication. We discussed my feelings of defeat, and she put it all into perspective by saying, if you had diabetes, would you consider insulin a defeat? A weakness? 

Uh no. Message received.

What medication were you on, and what was the dosage? I was prescribed 20mg of Celexa.

Who did you go to for the medication? It’s a common misconception that you have to go to a psychiatrist for anxiety medication, but you can go to your regular PCP. That’s what I did.

What side effects did you experience? My doctor made it very clear that I was not to go home and Google side effects of Celexa, and I obeyed! As you know, the mind has the ability to create what it fears, and I didn’t need any more of that. I was fortunate and didn’t notice any major side effects.

I gained weight, but I think it’s because I’m a happy eater. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t preoccupied with my weight at all, and it was wildly liberating.

I don’t know if this is a real side effect, but for the year and a half that I was on medication, I did not cry. I was absolutely able to feel sadness, but I could never get real tears to the surface. Some people have an issue with that, but I did not. I remember writing in my own journal that I felt “emotionally constipated” but it didn’t bother me, because prior to Celexa, I felt like I had lost the ability to control my emotions. I was all over the place. I enjoyed having a healthy baseline. I never felt like a zombie or that I wasn’t able to experience emotions, but I was unable to be overly emotional.

Why did you get off medication? I know there are some anti-depressants you can be on while pregnant, but I was told Celexa isn’t one of them, so I weaned myself off before getting pregnant. Luckily, somewhere within the raging hormones, my serotonin leveled out, and I didn’t experience much anxiety during my pregnancy.

How did you stop the medication/did you have any side effects? Most people, myself included, want to know there is an out before they start medication. And I’ll be honest, once I was on Celexa and feeling great, the thought of stopping medication made me so anxious. Go figure. I talked to my doctor about weaning myself, and she gave me a simple schedule to follow. One week I took a pill every other day, the following week I took a pill every two days, so on and so forth until I was off. I think because I didn’t stop cold turkey, I saved myself from any adverse side effects. It was really very easy.

So that’s that! The most frequently asked questions I get about anxiety and medication. As always, it’s my goal to shed light on topics that people feel they need to keep in the dark. Anxiety (depression, or anything like it) does not define you, nor is it something you should ever be ashamed of!

I normally don’t filter the comments left on the blog, but I will today. Only positive questions and comments on this post, please!

Little Bear Print Co.

Good morning and happy Friday, my friends! This week has been ca-razy busy, eventful (Jack has a TOOTH) and enjoyable nonetheless, but I’m popping in real quick to tell you about a super cute Etsy shop called Little Bear Print Co.

Meet Max and Marley, the owners of Little Bear Print Co. They are high school sweethearts, first time parents (is their daughter not the cutest?!) and budding entrepreneurs. I’ve known Max and Marley since high school when Max and my brother were both in that we’re-in-emo-screamo-bands phase 😉 Max and Marley also both graduated from Longwood, so we’re basically the same people.

max and marley

Anyway, back to the shop! I love the chalkboard look that Max creates, and I was super pumped when he offered to make me a custom print for Jack’s nursery (which, come to think of it, I should show you guys what that looks like.)

Max took the time to figure out the color scheme of the nursery and listened to my big dreams of creating a gallery wall above Jack’s dresser.

I’m a sucker for a good quote and was teetering on the edge of going with a Dr. Seuss favorite, but Cory and I agreed that the Willy Wonka quote we chose resonated with the both of us. One of my deepest life mottos is “don’t take yourself too seriously – no one else does.” We want to instill within Jack a playful nature and the ability to always laugh at himself.

little bear print co

Max and Marley so graciously offered me a coupon to share with you guys. If you use the code LUNCHBOX, you get $5 off your first print! They’re also running an Instagram contest, and they’ll be giving away a free print once they hit 100 followers, so go ahead and give them a follow!

Do you have any favorite quotes?

Another favorite of mine is “always be a first rate version of yourself, instead of a second rate version of someone else.”

Christmas Pajamas

One Christmas tradition I wanted to start this year was that of matching pajamas. I know it’s kind of douchey, but I think you’re allowed to be that way when you have a little kid(s.) Right? Maybe.

Where I excel at having questionably douchey festive ideas, I fail miserably in execution. In my mind, I saw us all waking up on Christmas morning in stripped red and white PJ bottoms, leisurely making our way downstairs to brewed peppermint coffee and a big breakfast before letting Jack open the presents of his dreams: tupperware, a new spatula and an empty cardboard box.

In reality, I don’t drink peppermint coffee and I haven’t even begun to look for matching pajamas.

BUT Christmas is still two weeks away. So yesterday, feeling like the Pinterest Mother I am not, I headed out to find Jack some PJs. I walked confidently into Carter’s because I’m a mom who was out with her baby and I was wearing jeans. Clearly the epitome of a woman with her shit together.

The sales associate greeted me as I only slightly struggled to get the stroller through the door, and she asked me if I was looking for anything in particular.

Yep! Just looking for some Christmas pajamas! 

She sucked in her breath, looked at me like I was the Grinch, and said Oooo, what size? 

Baby. 9 months. It’s his first Christmas! 

Yeahhhhh. We don’t have any Christmas pajamas. They’ve been out since August, and we’re all sold out. We’re actually getting ready to put out our Spring clothes next week. Then she offered this jab, like I’m a neglectful mother who deserves it …so, if you need warm clothes, buy them now.

In my mind, I said: Listen, lady. I may be cutting it close here, but I know it’s COLD OUT thankyouverymuch.

In real life I said: Oh wow. Those other moms are really on the ball. Maybe I could make it work with this Santa onesie. 

Yeahhhh. That’s a girl’s onesie, and it’s not pajamas. 

ARE YOU KIDDING ME, LADY!? Kick a mom while she’s down. Shit.

Seriously, if you’re a mother of a new baby who was thinking about Christmas pajamas in AUGUST, I applaud you and I want some of whatever you’re on.

Better luck next year, Jack.

PJs

What Happens When Your Baby Who Doesn’t Nap Actually Naps

nap

Minutes 1 – 15: Go to the bathroom, eat the first food you can find, guzzle beverage of choice, fold one load of laundry, possibly run a marathon because you are so used to doing everything you need to do for the day in those 15 minutes or so.

Minutes 16 – 20: Ignore the dishwasher that needs to be emptied because you don’t want to have to stop half-way through/because you hate unloading the dishwasher, opt for scrolling through Insta while you brace yourself for the fuck-you-mom-I’m-awake-again cries.

Minutes 20 – 30: Pulse quickens. Is he still alive? Stare at monitor for even the slightest hint of movement, but don’t actually go into the room to check because you’re not trying to ruin a good thing. A leg twitch! Breathe.

Minute 40: Maybe I could…respond to some emails? 

Minute 50: Am I being punked? 

ONE HOUR: Maybe I could…fold another load of laundry? Fold laundry. Realize that the Disney Pandora station has been playing the entire time as you catch yourself belting out Part of Your World. Decide to keep Pandora on because you know the baby will wake up any minute/you really like Disney songs.

1 hour, 15 minutes: Check monitor. Was that movement, or are my eyes playing tricks on me? He’s still alive, right? 

1 hour, 25 minutes:  Paralyzed by fear to engage in anything actually relaxing, enjoyable, or productive because you’re SURE he’s about to wake up any minute, you settle on watering the poinsettias due to the lack of required commitment.

1 hour, 30 minutes: Text your friend who you know will understand the monumental feat that is a 90-minute-and-counting nap and celebrate with you via all caps and celebratory emojis. But first, put phone on silent. You’re not trying to have a reckless celebration.

1 hour, 40 minutes: Look at the 1,193 pictures and videos of your baby on your phone.

1 hour, 50 minutes: Start to panic because you realize your baby has been asleep for almost 2 hours and you have nothing to show for it.

TWO HOURS: Realize you have to poop.

2 hours, 1 minute: Baby cries.