You Have Won My Heart

I was going to write a detailed birth story blog entry, but decided not to get so technical with this.

I will start by saying that having a baby is absolutely nothing like it is in any movie or television show. I watch scenes now where people are having babies and they’re laughable. Delivering a child is the most painful experience of my entire life. I’m just going to say it. It was hard, painful, and exhausting.

I wanted to try for a natural birth. I wanted to try different techniques to manage the pain of it all. I wanted to decline all pain killers and medicines. However, I was not opposed to accepting medicine if I really just couldn’t handle the pain. I envisioned a natural birth, but it didn’t happen quite the way I pictured, and I’m so glad for it.

After having contractions for 24 hours and then being in “transition” for HOURS which was pure torture. I decided with the help of the incredible nurse and my wonderful husband and lovely doula to get an intrathecal narcotic or ITN which is basically like an epidural but it’s instant and it’s a single dose, so it lasts 1-2 hours only. Once that sucker kicked in I was able to take a nap! I slept for an hour and because I was fully relaxed I was able to fully dilate in my sleep and shortly after waking up began pushing. 45 minutes later Vivonuo was born!

If I hadn’t done the ITN then I would have been in seriously painful labor probably for a few more hours. No thanks.

All throughout labor you just want to get that baby out of you so it can finally be over with, but what people don’t actually tell you is that once the baby is here it’s actually more difficult than anything you’ve ever done in your entire life. Feeding her nonstop. Worrying about SIDS every time she sleeps. Trying to sleep when she does, but failing miserably. I’ll admit we sent her to the nursery twice so we could get some sleep.

Once we got home though the real hard work began. I swear I cried more that first week than all other times in my life combined. It is an emotional, hormonal roller coaster and you feel like you’re doing everything wrong. You’re up all day and all night. I think I got maybe 10 hours of sleep that entire first week.

From the moment Vivonuo arrived she was a scream-crier. She would cry and cry and cry and cry. She would be crying if she was awake, and not just crying, but scream-crying. It was hard, and it kept happening. For the past 5 weeks she has been crying if she wasn’t eating or sleeping. Sometimes even crying while eating, or refusing to eat because she was crying so hard. It broke this mama’s heart because I knew something must be wrong for her to be crying every waking moment. She slept terribly because of it as well.

At first we thought it was because she was hungry. I wasn’t producing enough milk and needed to start supplimenting with formula after every feeding. What they told me to do was feed her for 30 minutes (15 mins on each side), give her some formula, and then pump for 15 minutes to get my milk supply up. Yeah, with a nonstop screaming baby that isn’t going to happen. It just seemed like way too much work and I was so exhausted and even after making sure she was eating enough she still continued her nonstop crying. I knew something else must have been up. I assumed it was gas or tummy problems until I posted on a fussy baby Facebook group I recently joined. Many ladies said their babies were acting the exact same as Vivonuo and it was because they had reflux so they got some medicine and the baby did much better. We did end up going to the doctor just yesterday and sure enough she has reflux. We picked up the meds on the way home and last night was the greatest night of sleep since she’s been born for both of us! She even fell back asleep on her own after waking up once in the night. That NEVER HAPPENS EVER. Trying to get her to go to sleep and stay asleep has been such a fight since her birth. It was so incredible being able to actually wake up, feed her, rock her to sleep within a couple minutes and lay her down and she STAYED DOWN AND ASLEEP. I got 6.5 hours of sleep last night people. That is a world record!

I am excited now to see her smile and hear her coo more often. To be able to put her down for a few minutes and have her entertain herself without crying. This is a game changer!

In the midst of the crying, eating troubles, and pure exhaustion I have fallen for this tiny, squishy girl. She came into this world and immediately I knew she belonged here with me. It was like she’s always been with us. I cannot wait to live in each and every moment with her growing up. She has won my heart without even trying. She is perfect in every way.

On Our Way Back Home

You heard it here first, folks! Romel and I will be going back to India for two months at the end of this year. Why? Because we haven’t seen Romel’s family in over a year. We miss India and its crazy ways. We miss Nagaland especially, and we miss our friends and family most of all. So, we’re planning when to buy our plane tickets and what’s the best course of action to be in one place for a wedding on December 5th and a completely different place, quite far away, yet in the same country, for another wedding on December 8th. We still have to work out the kinks and plan this thing.

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Romel, me, and his immediate family three years ago at our wedding reception. THREE YEARS!?!?! That’s crazy.

Going back to India is always full of mixed feelings. It’s good to be there again, see the sights and smell the smells. Eat the food! Hear the music! Meet old friends and family! Actually, it’s mostly all good things. Returning to India always fills me with warmth and belonging.

The only issue I have with going back is going from a country where we are so careful about what we say about people’s outward appearances to a country where there is no filter for that sort of thing. The number one thing I hear when I go back to India from EVERYONE is, “You’ve gained weight.” It doesn’t matter who they are, how old they are, if they themselves are thin or stout, it always comes out of their mouths. To an Indian it is not a bad thing. It is not an insult. It is merely an observation like, “oh! You got your haircut!” or “Wow, you got some new shoes!” In fact it is almost seen as a compliment because it means you have enough. You are not lacking food, finances, etc. But still, as an American, I hear those words and my heart sinks.

This time it will be different. This time I want to go back and I don’t want to hear that phrase at all. I want my lifestyle change to a healthier, happier me to be long-lasting and permanent. I don’t want to experience that sinking feeling ever again. Sure, it will come when I have babies one day, but that’s totally different. I have a human being growing inside of me, of course I’m gaining weight.

On October 5th I’m going to start a 21 day health and fitness support group. It’s going to be three short weeks of a simple, flexible meal plan and 30 minute daily workouts. 21 days is how long it takes to form a habit, or so they say. Not to mention it’s not even a full month! I can do this! I will do it, and I will keep going and I will get stronger and healthier. I have a couple spots available for this group if you are interested. Stop making excuses, I know I need to. This is your sign and today is the day. Don’t say another, “I’ll start tomorrow.” I’m the QUEEN of “I’ll start tomorrow’s” I know how it is.

Something Fresh. Something Exciting.

If you look back just two blog entries you will notice I have a list of things I wanted to accomplish this year. I won’t say I’m an outright failure, but I have forgotten about that list.

The very first thing I wrote on that list is that I wish to eat healthier. Be healthier.

My health journey was very stagnant growing up. I did not even start to care about my health until I was out of high school, and even then it wasn’t necessarily about “being healthy” it was more about “being skinny.” I started running and I did okay, but I did not understand that being healthy isn’t just about exercise and it isn’t just about losing weight.

My destination has changed a lot over the years, and when I look back on some of my “healthiest” moments, I remember even then not being content with what I saw in the mirror. I remember thinking all I needed was a husband and then I would stop caring so much about what I look like. In a way that’s true, but in other ways it’s definitely not true. I still don’t always like what I see when I look in the mirror though I don’t try to impress others as much as I used to when I was single.

As I am turning thirty this year, I am thinking about my health a lot. As my mom tells me more about her health and her mother’s health it grows a concern in me to make better choices now so that it does not affect me like it has them. As I watch members of my family struggle with addiction and millions of small, unhealthy choices throughout their lives it makes me want to be better for my husband, for my future children, for my future grandchildren. We were always meant to learn from those before us, right?

Even though I know these things I still struggle with making better choices. I really have no self-control, no self-discipline, no motivation; even though the desire is there in full force. It is so interesting to me how easy it is to make a poor decision, yet how difficult it can be to make a good one.

And so all this has led to a big decision in my life. I have started a new health journey. I am committing to this 110%. I started a new job two weeks ago. I recently became a Beachbody coach. I love the way Beachbody runs its business. At first glance it is kind of weird because it is so different than how other businesses are run, but the more I think about it and research and study, the more I realize that I want to be a part of helping other people be confident in their identities, confident in their own skin, and confident in their potential. I want to help people be the best and healthiest person they can be. If I am here to be a coach and leader to others in their health, then how can I continue ignoring my own health? I cannot!

Beachbody Results

I am sure most of you have heard of workout programs like Insanity, P90x, and the 21 Day Fix. These are all Beachbody programs and as you can see above, they worked for me. Insanity was exactly how it is named, insane. In fact, I honestly cannot even believe I ever completed that entire course of exercises. And, for some reason I was only ever able to do both these programs in India. I think it’s because in India, processed food isn’t really an option, neither are sweets. So really my only options were: eat a lot of produce and real foods or starve. I was eating the best I ever have while I lived in India, and I remember being so excited to come back to the U.S. last summer so I could go shopping at Whole Foods and use my juicer again. I knew I could achieve an even greater healthy lifestyle, but I fell back into old habits of “eat everything you can because you won’t be able to when you’re back in India!!!” So I’ve been doing that. For over a year. I have gained 40 pounds and am not a very happy or healthy person. It almost pains me to post this next picture, but it’s my new “before” and I am ready, excited, and determined to only get better from this day onward. I’ll still stumble. I will still slip up and binge on terrible foods or skip a workout here and there, but I have such a heart to help others on this journey of theirs. It’s those I’m attempting to coach that motivate me the most to keep on keeping on.

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This is my current state of being. I am also thinking, “why the heck am I even sharing this??” Well, I am a human being. I make mistakes, I give up, I fail, I have regrets, I make poor choices, but I am going to pick myself back up and start this journey over. Life isn’t just about bad choices, and I cannot do this alone. I am asking all of you to hold me accountable. This is my promise to myself and whomever chooses to read this blog. I will make better choices. I will work hard. I will help others. Most of all I want to show love. Love for myself. Love for others. And most importantly love for God. This body is a temple. It is where the Holy One resides and I must treat it as such. I have not been doing a great job with that.

If you are wanting a change in your own health, let me know! I’d love to help you in any way I can. I am going to start a 5 day long, clean eating kick-off on September 14th. If you are interested please e-mail me at sarahdharhealthyliving@gmail.com or contact me in any way you know how. It is completely free of charge and I will share all the tools I have for you to start forming better habits. We should no longer sit around thinking, “I wish…” let’s do it together and let’s grow stronger!

Summer Breeze Makes Me Feel Fine

This summer has been incredible; a thousand times better than last summer.

We have camped, explored new places, had friends visit from all over, and had fun! Life has been hectic and we have been presented with numerous job opportunities for the fast-coming Fall, and we have prayed and talked through them all. We have experienced the loss of a dear aunt and the expansion of our household as other family move back “home.” This Summer has not been an easy one, but a more real one. Full of real emotions, real situations, real life in “America.” I often find myself telling Romel, “Welcome to America.” when some new scenario presents itself to us. He is catching glimpses of what “normal” life is like here and some he likes, some he does not. But, that goes the same with me in regards to “normal” life in India.

Here are some memories from this Summer! We hope you are having an equally awesome Summer, or Winter, depending on where in the world you are at right now. We love and think of you all, always.

Romel's TattooHere is Romel getting his FIRST TATTOO EVER!

Shine and Janina and WelieTwo lovely friends from India (Arizona) visited us just this past weekend. Another friend on the far left is living in Duluth, but is from Nagaland and Romel’s neighborhood!

Kat and BlakeyHere are two of our friends from England who visited us in June! Fishing at the cabin.

Camping at the CabinCamping at the cabin! Romel’s first tent experience.


Rock the GardenWe won free tickets to the first day of Rock the Garden, a music festival at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. It was fun. This is where we saw Woody Harrelson!


Bumming AroundAnd last, but not least, a typical Summer day includes me playing video games while my nephew watches.

A New Year

A fresh start. A new chapter.

This year I want to:

1. Eat healthier. Be healthier
2. Start writing songs again
3. Save money
4. Get pregnant
5. Knit like crazy!
6. Love Romel better
7. Read the Bible again
8. Blog more
9. Finish my eBook
10. Experience God

I wrote the above list last night before going to bed. I really felt like this year I’m going to begin to live a more simple, healthy, and happy life. I am looking forward to all this year has to offer. Most of it will be spent in the U.S. and although plans to go back to Nagaland are so far away (December) we all know time is going to fly by.

I recently took some Learn to Knit classes and have turned into this knit-a-holic. I cannot stop knitting! I finish one object and must find a new one to start on. Here are a couple things I’ve made this week:

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I look forward to making many more things in the future I’ve always wanted to know how to do like: knitting socks! knitting sweaters! knitting mittens! knitting tiny baby clothes! knitting dog or cat sweaters!

In other, more exciting news, as most of you know I’ve been working with the Osseo school district again since this school year started in September. But, as of last week, Romel has been hired on with them as well and will be doing part-time custodial work at different schools each week. I am really excited for him and he is as well. This will give us an opportunity to really put aside and save a lot of money so that we can plan a better future for ourselves and our future family!

The winter depression is seeping in, so it’s time to pull out all the stops. No more being lazy. No more doing the easy thing. It’s time to work at being better, because when that happens it’s a natural joy instead of a permeating self-hatred. We are trying to be healthier around here. Move around more, eat a little better. I just got some of my first ever essential oils (yeah, I know, I know, I might be jumping on that bandwagon) and am excited to use them. I want us both to be more creative as this winter encloses us with frigid, dry air.

I am looking forward to 2015. Are you? What are your goals this year?

Let it Snow!

The roads were terrible. The icy wind was not kind. I forgot my mittens at home.

All these things could define today, but I choose to remember something a little different:

Today was the first time Romel saw snow! His first snow fall, and it was a good one. That snow fell so perfectly. All day. Just for him. At least that’s how it seems. Romel got out of bed at 4:00 AM just to peek out the window. He reminded me of a little kid as we frolicked through the snow this evening after I got home from work.

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Romel’s first steps in the snow!

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And in true, child-like style, five minutes after we got out there I wanted to go back inside and Romel said, “No! Just a little longer!” The only downside is that it was not the heavy, sticky snow we could have made snowmen with.

The Good Life

It has been exactly five months since we moved to Minnesota. Back home for me and a new home for Romel. He has officially been a permanent resident in the U.S. for five months! We have had our ups and downs for sure since arriving, and expect to continue experiencing the highs and lows of adjusting to a new home; a new culture; a new climate.

I like to think we have slowly fallen into a kind of routine here as the days grow shorter and colder. I am currently waking up at 5:15 AM to go to work at a local elementary school where I basically make sure these kids are safe, having a good time, and doing what they are supposed to be doing. I help out in a couple Kindergarten classrooms which is probably the best thing ever. I also get to enjoy recess and lunch with sixth and fourth graders. It feels good to be back in an elementary school. I love kids and I love building relationships with them. I am ever-tempted to pursue a teaching career, but always decide in the end it is probably not something I’d want to do in the U.S. Perhaps in another country, like India maybe, but I do not even know how that would work.

Right now, in this season of transition, Romel and I are trying to figure out our passions and desires. We are deciding what to do for the next chunk of our lives. Where to live. What to pursue. When to pursue it. We are making goals and attempting new things. It’s a fun time, but also a time full of frustration. How else could we figure out our future? It’d be strange if there were no disagreements as we decide our future together. For now we are focusing on the small things we can change that give us joy.

Romel is starting to get more stuff for his dream of having a small home recording studio. He recently purchased a nice laptop to get that started and tomorrow we will be picking up one of his dream guitars that I got for him as a birthday gift.

As of today, I have signed up for “learn to knit” classes nearby so that I can start creating things and hopefully being able to sell them. I’ve always wanted to learn to knit, and it is also helping me in my ultimate goal of becoming a grandmother-like young woman. I am also hoping to start slowly transitioning into eating healthier and developing better habits for daily living.

I hope that your time of transitioning is going well if you are going through such a thing right now. It’s the perfect time of the year to start something new. Develop an old or new skill. Learn some new hobby you’ve always wanted to try. Get outside. Have an adventure.