It's been a whopping TWO years since my last blog. So, I thought I would get personal on here since I'm doing a little restart of Something Blue, my first baby and the most neglected one since I started having human ones 3 years ago. So yes, I'm a mom. And all the roles that go with that... I'm sure you've seen the memes--chef, maid, nurse, etcetera. It's no exaggeration for my non-parent readers. I know, I thought before kids, that I for sure would be able to balance my work, social life, clean house, and well rounded angel children. Well none of that is true, FYI. You just survive. Especially when you decide to try to be the sole caregiver for your kids and work full time. That is all too true for me. I founded, manage, finance, design, coordinate and communicate everything for this brand. Yes, I'm driven and resourceful. But also possibly verifiably insane. I am writing this to inform you of what to expect when you tackle a dream while simultaneously starting a family.
Like I've always done everything in my life, I took on way too many roles thinking I can do it all and do it all well. Let's just say, when weddings were my only job, I did well. All my energy and focus went into building it from nothing, and researching how to improve processes. I jumped into the wedding industry with nothing but a few friends' weddings under my belt, lots of college education but no degree, the internet as my resource and my determination as my guide. I developed my style and went for it. I did wonderfully as a newcomer, learned quickly, performed well, and produced beautiful work.
When I got pregnant with numero uno bebe, things got harder (no energy, pregnancy problems as well), and I started noticing a decline in my ability to communicate effectively. I started to dread opening emails from clients and vendors, and I didn't know why. Nothing was wrong with what was happening, no quarrels or problems, just straight up anxiety of even seeing the number of emails piling in, and voicemails stacking up. I didn't know what the heck was wrong with me, but being me, couldn't stop-couldn't slow down-couldn't afford to do either-had to keep going and push through it.
After my wonderful little boy Jude arrived, things got even harder (you think??). I only "took off" a mere two weeks before bringing a long my husband and newborn to Tahoe and working a wedding. And I just kept going from there, working weddings almost every weekend from that August through November. And December brought my second pregnancy, which led to my daughter Sawyer being born the following September--barely 13 months after my son was born, and she was born 5 weeks early with some problems that required weekly physical and occupational therapy sessions during her first year. And I didn't bother to slow down. I actually grew my business even more.
I felt that I had come too far, that to slow down would mean to quit and throw away all my hard work. And in my defense if that sounds silly to you, it's very difficult to lighten your current load in the wedding industry. Your clients don't take breaks, your weddings coming up have been clients for over a year and it would be just mean and irresponsible to bail on them. So not only was I afraid to slow down, I felt trapped. How could I tell my clients "I'm sorry I need a maternity leave??, "you'll have to figure it out", or "I'll find you a different coordinator and pray they make you a priority so last minute and do as wonderful a job as I would, and then pay them what you paid me since that would be only fair". And that adds up to a lot of money to pay all at once, money that I counted on to take care of my family and business. So I opted for not doing any of those things. Not easy, folks.
When Sawyer was about 6 months old, I suddenly started to feel a little more like myself and realized that all this anxiety and failure in my work was due to PostPartum Depression, or PPD. I hadn't realized it after I had Jude, I got pregnant right away and the hormones never balanced out, I just stayed crazy. For another year. And by the time I really started to embrace that this is what I've been dealing with and now I can recover and do better, I was pregnant again. AGAIN. I haven't even mentioned the terrible things I endure while I am pregnant (aside from the fact that pregnancy sucks in general, even when you don't have issues). So there I was, almost as instantly as I realized I was feeling better, I was already back in this weird cloud that I couldn't even recognize as PPD when I was in it. Even though I KNEW I was, I couldn't get a grip with my present rational self enough to tell myself even a simple "this isn't you, this is PPD, you'll be fine, just breathe and read your damn emails". I couldn't even do that much. So again, back to failing at work, back to hating the mother I was--being distracted by the work I felt I was putting all of myself into but knew the presentation was half-assed when compared to what I really do. I was dealing with work and upset clients at home, managing a jealous toddler, a special needs baby, a stressful home we were remodeling that was in a constant state of construction, while I was pregnant with postpartum depression.
So NOW is when I slowed down. I stopped taking clients, discontinued all advertising, cancelled my marketing and networking events, only kept the handful of leftover clients I had before I made the decision and put most of them under management of my last standing coordinator. I finally took the hint and simplified my life. Best thing I ever did.
I had our last baby, little girl Daphne. We moved from our custom house we were nearly finished with (another story) to a simpler home, lower cost of living area, hardly any work on my plate--just my family. And now almost 9 months postpartum (the longest period I have gone without being pregnant since before we started our family), I feel completely myself. No anxiety. After 4 years of postpartum anxiety and depression, I feel free of all the side effects and am so excited for all the fun aspects of my job that I get to enjoy again. The challenges that I am naturally talented at taking on and doing well at. I am back to working for the brand I created after over a year's break, and am itching to prove myself to myself that I started this company for a reason, well multiple reasons. 1. To offer something different to engaged couples: a service that comes with a friend, a designer, a manager, a shoulder and ear, and helping hand. 2. To provide for my family. 3. Be a bigger part of my community.
SO.... readers, friends, family, clients and fellow wedding professionals, I'll take any and all prayers you offer up in my name! Xoxo, Jennifer
All images by Whittaker Portraits.