D: I live in Virginia. We’ve been here for 5 years this month. We love it! Beautiful weather most of the year, beaches, festivals, museums, so much to do.
I’m a stay at home/work at home/homeschooling mother. If that sounds like a lot, it is! I’m still figuring out how to balance it all. I am in the health and wellness industry, running my own small business as an It Works! Independent Distributor. You may have heard of us…we have those crazy wrap things and much more.
What are your life interests and passions?
D: I loooove to write. I think I can explain myself better through writing than I can speaking. I’m passionate about motherhood, unschooling, birth, breastfeeding. It’s fascinating how each woman comes to motherhood and I enjoy reading about others’ journeys, and writing about my own.
I also enjoy knitting and the beach. I learned how to knit after a friend encouraged me a couple years ago and now I’m hooked. The beach is my happy place. I love the sound of the waves and looking out into the ocean. It’s so peaceful! All my cares disappear while I’m there.
Tell us about your children.
D: I have three children. Nakiah (Na-Ky-Ah) or Kiah as she calls herself recently turned 9 years old, and is super high energy. She’s always on the go. I think she sees the whole picture of things in life and asks about, or figures out the steps later. She’s very curious, sweet, sensitive, and cares a lot about others feelings. She’s a very literal person. She also loves animals.
Ava is 6.5 years and she’s very sassy and spunky. She’s the craftiest one out of the three…always making clothes for her dolls out of whatever; paper, scrap fabric, yarn. She’s very logical in her thinking. Also sweet and caring. A perfectionist like me. She likes to try things that her friends or sister do, but she is very much her own person.
Samuel is 3.5 years and he is a spirited, sweet little boy. He loves to build with anything he can stack, but Legos have been his favorite for a while now. He enjoys making his own creations from the loose pieces. He likes it when we buy him the garbage trucks or race cars, but he’ll take it apart and remake it in a matter of minutes. He’s also a perfectionist, curious, and loves to cuddle.
Tell us about your births.
D: I had a rough pregnancy with my first, ended up on bedrest around 30 to 32 weeks. Two days past my due date I had contractions all day that wouldn’t stop. My Rat Terrior, Patches, sat in the chair beside me all day while I rocked and rocked. Once they reached every 2 mins, we set out for the hospital… it was only 10 minutes away. That was the longest car ride of my life! Every time we hit a speed bump I thought I was going to pee on myself.
We (my then-husband and I) walked the halls for about an hour and then the contractions stopped. They did an ultrasound and my midwife told me that I could be induced or go home and probably be back within a day or two. I was ready to meet my baby, so I chose the induction. Never again. I made it 20+ hrs with no epidural and no doula. I finally asked for the epidural and after a while I was ready to push. There were some complications, and it’s a miracle that Nakiah is here with us today. She was 10lbs! I had a newborn the size of a 3 month old, ahahaha. Here is the entire story of my first birth.
With our second, we were living in the same state, but a different city. I saw a midwives group there and at my 20 week appointment one of the midwives told me they were going to schedule me for a cesarean at 38 weeks because my first was so big. I didn’t like that idea at all, so I left their office and never went back. I searched online for other options and came across homebirth. The thought didn’t scare me at all, it was actually exactly what I was looking for. After talking it over with my then-husband, we had a consult with the midwife. She agreed to take us on, and signed us up for birth classes with her doula friend.
I thought I was in labor off and on for weeks, but when the big day came there was absolutely no denying it. I called over one of the ladies I met in the birth class, we were due two days a part, and she is one of my good friends today. She brought food and sat with me for several hours. We were both shocked when my water broke on the couch while we were sitting there talking and laughing.
My midwife didn’t believe that I was in labor because I was able to talk through my contractions, but she was wrong. After sitting with me for several hours my doula left because I was able to fall asleep through the contractions for a few hours. Both women ended up missing the birth!
Ava was born in the bathroom shortly after midnight weighing in at 10lbs 10oz…. 20 days past her due date. It was the most empowering experience of my life. I felt like I could go conquer the world! Here is the entire birth of my second.
My third birth was very interesting. I had prodromal labor for weeks. I lost my mucous plug in the bathroom at the library with my two young daughters in tow. I didn’t think I was going to endure the ride home. The contractions were almost unbearable. My birth ball was my best friend and I walked around for weeks feeling like the baby’s head was just right there.
The last half of my labor was in the birth pool. The water was so warm, and I slept off and on for probably an hour or so. I remember Ava laughing at me during contractions… she thought the noises I was making were hilarious. She wasn’t even three yet, so I imagine that I did sound funny to her. Kiah wanted none of it, and she hung out with my dad. Samuel was born into the water and he was my smallest baby at 7lbs 10oz. I remember how tiny he felt and looked compared to the girls. You can read my third birth here.
How did you balance breastfeeding and managing your household?
D: I did breastfeed all three of my children. I knew it was something I wanted to do with my first, but didn’t really look into classes or resources. I would say I did half formula/half breastfeeding with her. She weaned at 10 months old.
My second nursed up until I was around 6 weeks pregnant with my third. She weaned at a little over 2.5 years old. I was much more bold with nursing in public, took classes, read books and had a good support network of like-minded women.
I weaned my third shortly before his third birthday. We attended La Leche League meetings often, and at one point I even worked towards becoming a leader.
I wore all of my babies and would nurse with them in the carriers when I could. It was hard keeping care of the younger ones, but puzzles, building blocks, cartoons, outings with friends helped me through it.
How do you balance work and motherhood? How do you carve out time for yourself?
D: I don’t balance well at all! I am continuously striving for balance, and every time I think I’ve found it, something shifts and I’m figuring it all out again. Keeping a journal on my main blog of our daily lives is therapeutic for me, so is knitting. I’ve been making a point to have Moms Night Out regularly this year….and that is something I’m going to make sure to keep up with.
What is your biggest parenting challenge right now?
D: Expecting too much of my children. They are still quite young, still learning the world, learning to manage their emotions, and I’m too hard on them. I’m 34 and still trying to figure life out. I yell to much and have realized that when I do that they only hear my loud voice, not my words. I’m working on yelling less. I yell less than I did a year or two ago, but still more than I would like to.
I can easily get caught up in what society says my children should be doing, what they think children should know, how they think children should behave. Society isn’t in my home, and society isn’t living our lives. It’s important to me to check myself on why I believe what I do and to make sure my children enjoy their childhoods.
Who is your child-rearing support group?
D: I have a fantastic group of amazing women in my life. We are like-minded in some areas and not at all in others. I love them because they’ve always been there for me and my kids. They’ve been there when I was depressed, happy, confused, and when I needed someone to tell me that I’m a good mom, but also call me out on my stuff.
The ones who are local, I get together with as often as possible, and the ones back home, I talk to on the phone either every day, or as often as our schedules allow.
What is the most important value, ideal or philosophy that you want to impart to your children?
D: I want them to know that being different is ok and perfection is not required.
I want them to be kind and loving.
I want them to draw their own conclusions about why they believe in something.
What advice would you give to a new mom?
D: Find like-minded mothers. They don’t need to believe everything you do, but it makes motherhood easier when you have people in your life who share similar values/philosophies. Don’t read these books by so-called experts. Most of them don’t even have children of their own. Chances are some new advice/research will pop up in a few months anyway.
If you have newborn, sleep when the baby sleeps. Seriously. The laundry and dishes can wait. Ask for help when you need it…your friends really do enjoy helping. They wouldn’t offer if they didn’t really mean it. If your children are preschool-elementary age. Let them play! Let them be children. Accept your child for who she is, not who you think they should be. Make time for yourself. Hang out with your girlfriends. Chat on social media if you can’t get out, call them, text them. Make a point to stay connected with them.
Where can we find you online?
D: Get updates whenever I post when you subscribe to my email list.
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You can read Darcel’s articles for Baby and Blog here.