Breast is always best

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I wanted to open this discussion on this platform, because I think there definitely needs to be something said about this topic, to all of the moms out there!

I remember carrying Brielle and picturing what our first year would look like, how things would go, and kind of predicting our future together.  It definitely involved exclusively breastfeeding/pumping for an entire year.

I read ALL the baby books that I could (I was actually finishing up with my RN degree when I was pregnant with her) and so I was pretty informed on how MANY women were able to successfully breastfeed, and how with a lot of work and lot of patience MOST women could do it.

When I pushed Brielle out, I knew they were going to try to latch her on pretty quickly after delivery.. which I was 100% ok with.  What I thought would happen naturally with me producing colostrum seemed to be effective, and then about day 3-4 it seemed to turn into milk.  What I didn’t understand was that I was not feeding Brielle enough milk, and IT. FREAKING. HURT! She literally was a latching champ, and I couldn’t understand why she always hungry! After her initial 2 week check-up, she dropped a little weight (to be expected) but her Pediatrician did inform me that I should probably think about supplementation in the near future if she doesn’t start putting the weight back on.

I left that appointment CRYING (ok, I was full on bawling to my mom) and I knew I had to do something! So I made an appointment with a lactation consultant in Austin and I was ready to try ANYTHING for my baby girl.  I mean I bought ALL the teas, cookies, disgusting flavor drops that you can put in your tea to increase supply, you name it.. I bought it. But while I was there, she noticed how amazing Brielle nursed, and weighed her after nursing on both sides, and she did notice that one Breast was producing significantly less milk than the other.  She also stated that the gap between my breasts could be a cause of low-supply as well.

So I went home and I was determined to do anything to get my supply up.. I even lost TONS of sleep pumping incessantly in between each of her feedings.  But I just couldn’t produce enough milk.  I broke down when I realized that I put SO much pressure on myself to do something my body just couldn’t do, and I had to come to realization that if formula is what is best for my baby girl to get fed, and grow, and that was going to have to be ok!

So I supplemented half of every feeding with formula until about 4-6 months when my supply just started to decrease so much that there wasn’t really a point to continuing, so I chose to exclusively formula feed until she turned 1.

I couldn’t believe I got SO caught up with this idea that since ALL my friends could do it, and my own mother did it, that it would just work with me.

I was part of that society that just assumed all women should breastfeed because it’s what is said to be best for the baby (except of course if there is drug-use involved or potentially hazardous medication that could be passed within the breastmilk) but what if women couldn’t?  Would that make them less of a mom? What if they chose to only formula feed because they did not have any desire to breastfeed? Or what if they chose to pump? It absolutely all comes down to what is best for your baby, and that is different for every single one of moms (and dads) to determine.

I didn’t feel bad with Rochelle when my breastmilk couldn’t keep with her night-time round the clock feeding and I had to use formula, or when Malachi turned 4 months old and I had to switch to two different formulas (at the same time) that he would tolerate when my supply could no longer keep up.

Y’all, God created each one of us differently, and I know for a fact that you cannot tell if one school-aged child was breastfed vs. formula fed by the way they look on the exterior.  It’s amazing to me that so much judgement/pressure gets put on us moms to make a decision while we are pregnant as to how we are going to feed our baby after we welcome them into this world.  Sometimes, we just have to follow our gut and our intuition as to what we feel is best during that first year of life (or longer for some.)

I just want to tell you all to let that struggling mom out there that says breastfeeding is hard, IT IS.  Let them know they are doing a great job! Or that mom who has to pump because she works full time and cannot breastfeed at all times, give her a high five! Or what about the moms that formula feeds around the clock and has to wash 500 bottle parts a day? Tell her she is doing amazing!!

Instead of judgement, let’s spread positivity and encouragement to one another! Parenting is hard, but with a little help, a little positivity, and a LOT of love, we can do this!

With love,

Sheridan

©2018 Sheridan Johnson @Journey with the Johnsons. All Rights Reserved.

Being Bullied

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When I walked inside the halls of my high school at the age of 15, I never thought I such a terrible day would ever happen to me.

A little back story- I have always been the “chubby” friend.. I literally was the biggest one in gymnastics, and the only sport I ever tried and was remotely decent at, was soccer.  I couldn’t run like all the other girls on the team, because I was overweight. Not just overweight, but tall & overweight.  And I towered over all the other girls, all the time, so I got stuck in the back of the field my entire soccer career.

I remember seeing all my other teammates tryout+join the high school soccer team, and transition out of the league we were in, but I just couldn’t get myself to do it.  I was afraid of being called fat, or afraid of giving other people having the opportunity to laugh at me on the field.

So welcome freshman year, where your hopes are high for a great new year, with a TON of opportunity to meet new friends (around 500 students my freshmen year) and I thought it was a good start to build confidence that I lacked majority of my life.

I saw a lot of fresh faces, and a few months in, I started making some new friends.. or so I thought.

So I started having a little crush on this one guy in my class, and I would let him cheat off of me every day in class, so that he could make straight A’s and not have to worry about anything.. since he really wasn’t the brightest of the bunch (or so he played that card pretty well.) But one day, I got sick and tired of it and told him enough was enough and I told the teacher to please move my seat.

It was that next week when I walked into school (2nd semester of freshman year) and saw everyone staring at me.. in a bad way (start of the terrible day.)  I didn’t understand if I had food on my face, if my make-up was messed up, or what in the world they were looking at..until I saw a stack of papers stapled together that one of my “new friends” that I had met was carrying around in his hands.

I asked him what it was, and he was reluctant to say, so I took it and started opening the pages and my stomach dropped.  It was a book about me.  About how fat I was.

You know that feeling when you just want to hide and run away, and act like something never existed? That was exactly how I felt in that very moment.  I felt so small.  So helpless.  And I just wanted to breakdown and cry in the hallway.

The book was pictures of me comparing me so rather large things such as “Sheridan is as big as a hippo,  or Sheridan is so fat that she reminds me of a …” well, you get the point.  After a couple of pages I threw the book at the person who was holding it and pretty much ran to my first class.

I didn’t know what else to do besides to tell my closest friends, and there really wasn’t much they could do about the situation either.  My brother was probably the least protective brother during those years (he is one year older than me,) and I didn’t really have any other options.

It felt like this day would NEVER end but I knew I wanted to go report this to the school  counselor before the end of the day was over.  She stated that she was vaguely aware of the situation, and told me that there would be consequences for whoever decided to type up this book and distribute it throughout the whole school (of about 2,000 people.)

Once it finally came back that it was the guy I had a crush on, and it all came down to the fact that I wouldn’t let him cheat off of me, I was devastated.  I was so so embarrassed and I even questioned my entire self worth, and thought that everyone must think the same as him now.  Thankfully they didn’t and it took a long time for me to understand that.

Y’all it was one of the hardest days/years of my life that I have had growing up, and I want you all to know that bullying is NEVER ok.  It’s never ok to make fun of someone because of the way they look, their sex, their disability, or their race. It’s NEVER ok!

It took me years to forgive this person, and one day (it must have been a good 4 years after the incident occurred) he reached out to me.  He apologized for ever doing that, and making me feel that way.  He owned up to his responsibility and I 100% appreciated that.

For so many years I let my weight and my self-worth be determined by others.  I never had the understanding that beauty comes from within, and that I know I am beautifully and wonderfully made in Gods image!

I never grew up appreciate my chubby cheeks, or my pretty smile, or my amazing curls, but now it doesn’t matter what the number on the scale says, I know my self-worth and I am fully aware that it is not up to anyone else to decide, but me.

Do I want to get back to that obsessed with the gym 6X/week Sheridan who was in the best shape of her life, prior to 8 kids (my 6 + my 2 heavenly babies?) Of course! And one day when I choose it’s the right time, I will! But for right now, I am choosing to love my littles and raise them to my best ability.

I hope my children never have to experience hate/bullying from other kids, but Shane and I both know we cannot protect them from everyone!  We also know that it’s our responsibility to teach them to stick up for other children when they see bullying occur, and not sit back and do nothing at all.  Or if they see that kid in class sitting by themselves, to move over and be friends with them.  It’s so easy to do, but y’all please have conversations with your children.  I was so glad that I could be open with my mom and tell her, and I am so thankful for her being there for me when I needed her the most.

I’m hoping to spread awareness and to spread love.  The power of forgiveness is amazing, and I am SO thankful that God is working on me, and healing wounds from my childhood. I am also so thankful that I am able to share them with you all, in hopes to be able to reach one person that may have gone through something similar, to let them know that it’s ok to talk about, to let them know their feelings can exists, and that we can help be a voice for someone else who may still be struggling.

Never let anyone take your shine away!

With love,

Sheridan

Infidelity

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Y’all know I try to be as transparent as possible on social media, but some things I felt like needed to be kept between Shane and I, until now.  With a lot of prayer,  and a lot of discussion between each other, we decided it would be good to share how God has restored our marriage and brought back all the things that we had lost over the years.

Now let me preface this with a little background of the two of us.  We started dating when we were in high school (16 & 17 and long distance at that) and we broke up a few times in our early years, before really committing to each other and started making strides towards getting married.

We never really discussed the major stuff before getting married (money, faithfulness, trust, family planning, etc) we kind of just went with the flow of life.  Well, that was until we decided to get married on a whim and had one of the worst years of our lives together.

That was just the beginning of the downhill battle that we faced for many years to come.

We made those vows to each other on October 10, 2010 and questioned them quite a lot in the first few years.  We didn’t really know what it meant at the time to love each other in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, until death do you part.

We just knew that whatever we would go through, we would never get divorced (yes, I know such a naive thought now that I am 30 and looking back.)  I grew up in a broken home where marriage was not a major priority and we knew we didn’t want our kids to be raised in a house where love and affection weren’t shown, and we were for sure that we didn’t want to show them constant fighting or arguing amongst the two of us.

That was until we both had cheated on each other with different people.  Let me preface that I am not going to go into specific details on the timing of our marriage or the names of the other individuals that were involved, but I am going to let you know that when you feel the need and the desire to seek out intimacy with others (whether it be an emotional affair or a physical affair) something  is lacking in your marriage and in your heart.

Shane and I were just on different pages, and we definitely never sought out counseling for help when it got difficult and we both just wanted to be away from one other (which in hindsight counseling with a licensed therapist or having open discussions with our Pastor would have probably have been the best options out there) which led to the affairs.

While we both did come clean with one another, it wasn’t easy.  It broke us completely and with a lot of tears shed, we had to forgive each other before it was ever possible to work on building back something that was completely lost.

The turning point for us was putting God at the center of it all, it seems like such an easy task right? But it was so hard for us to do for so long in the early years of our marriage.  He had to be our reason for wanting to stay together, for wanting to be a family, for asking God and each other for forgiveness, for truly confessing our love to another, and showing it.

It has not been easy, and in my nature of growing up where I felt my heart rip in half from abandonment from my biological father, I never let Shane in to love me the way I needed to be loved, to fully give myself to him and only him.  And he never really knew how to show the love to someone else or how to overcome the hard obstacles that were right in front of him.  We definitely did not honor and cherish our vows the way they were intended for.

God has changed us into two completely different people, and the thing we get most from others now is they say “I want the kind of love that you and Shane have, y’all seem to happy” and the truth is, we are.  We are happy, and in love with each other, and we love our kids with the deepest of our hearts, but that wasn’t always the case.

I want you all to know that it’s ok to speak the truth, to confess to people your sins, and your wrongdoings in life, because you know what? No one is perfect.  Not one single one of us. And if I am able to share just a glimpse of heartache and struggle with you, so that you don’t have to go through the hard stuff or turmoil with your significant other, I will.

God interceded in our marriage and saved us, and for that, we are forever grateful.

I love you all, and I hope that this story resonates with one of you, and I hope that grace will be given to each of us as we are putting our hearts out there so open, vulnerable and on the table for everyone to see.

With love,

Sheridan

Dirty thirty.. or something like that

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Image Credit found here

It’s here! My 30th birthday! It’s funny how much I have matured in my 20’s that I truly just want to spend precious time with my family doing something very minimal (maybe dinner + a drink.)

I also have so many dreams and aspirations that have come over me throughout this past year, that I definitely want to make happen in my 30’s! So without further ado, I would like to list 30 things I hope to accomplish/do while in my thirties (in no particular order!)

  • Start a side business
  • Re-brand my blog/social media
  • Write and publish my first book
  • Read the entire Bible
  • Workout consistently
  • Stop biting my nails
  • Capture all of my kids major milestones
  • Dive into supporting other foster care/adoptive mamas
  • Weed out the negative people in my life
  • Become an inspiration to so many
  • Guide, support, and love each one of my kids
  • Be the best wife possible to Shane
  • Build/buy a shed to be used as a studio
  • Make date night a priority
  • Show my kids how important it is to give to others
  • Share Lamar’s and Rochelle’s life to many
  • Travel more
  • Show up fully for the friendships I have
  • Decide if I want to further my nursing career
  • Read meaningful/inspiring books each year
  • Learn to give myself fully to God
  • Grow in the church ministry
  • Make education a priority in all of my kids
  • Make fun new recipes to add to our family menu
  • Try new and different sports/activities
  • Do more self-care
  • Fully take time off of social media to rest
  • Be the leader God is wanting me to be
  • Support each one of my kids and their activities
  • Get out of my introverted shell every once in a while

Ok, I think I did it y’all! I truly hope to look back on this blog post in 10 years and see if I accomplished all of these tasks and more!

I am not doing anything “dirty” for this 30th birthday, but I want to leave you with a couple of pictures that my best friend and my hubby took of me to have proof that A. Mom does exist and B. That every once in a while I will get photographed on the other side of the lens!

Thank you all for following along my journey!!

Love always,

Sheridan