The Expressed Woman. Vulnerable, true and honest. This is my birth story and more. This is ME.
Here I am. For those of you who are new to Saltwater Love Tribe and even those who are familiar, I wanted to share with you.
I am a single mother of a beautiful baby girl, Joie Leilani, which means "Joy" in French and "Heavenly Flower" in Hawaiian. I started this business when she was 3 months old, out of the work force and feeling my need to create something special and something I was always passionate about. ART.
Let's back track for a second. I worked full-time, 7 months to be exact during my pregnancy managing a spa in Avila Beach with over 15 massage therapists and estheticians. I would start my shift at 7am and sometimes work until 1am. I was exhausted to say the least. But, not only physically exhausted...emotionally exhausted as well. I had moved to Pismo Beach when I was 2 months pregnant. The father of my child and the love of my life decided he wanted nothing to do with my decision to keep our miracle baby. I gave up everything I thought was important (at the time) to give this child a chance and life she deserved...an amazing job in Montectio, my beautiful apartment in downtown Santa Barbara and all my friends, (my village) to start a new life in a new town. Alone. I was scared as hell, but I felt it was my only chance at giving myself and my unborn child a healthy, loving environment.
When I was 8 months pregnant, Joie's dad and I decided we would give it our all and try to create a family environment for the well-being of our "could-be" family. I moved into a tiny little studio, moved a California King size bed in and decorated the entire place to create a sanctuary for the family I so badly wanted, all while Joie's dad was fighting wildfires all across California. I did it with what I call, "the power of nesting fever". I was determined to create a beautiful home for us in his step-mom's guest studio. Less than a month later, I went into labor. A 29 hour labor. My water broke the moment I stepped out of the car in the hospital parking garage after hours of laboring at home. I woke Joie's dad up at 4AM and we slowly and calmly made our way to the hospital. I was so embarrassed at the time, thinking everyone thought I peed my pants as I walked into the lobby. It wasn't until 25 hours later and numerous shots of pitocin that I gave birth to my baby girl. I remember holding her, nursing her and feeling the happiest I had ever felt in my entire life. Moments later we were watching the sun come up in the Santa Barbara mountain view from my room. It was surreal to say the least. I then gained the strength to welcome visitors, my closest friends to see my miracle baby they had waited so patiently to see.
Then came the biggest surprise I could only have nightmares of...the nurse came in and told me my baby had to be taken to the NICU due to risk of infection since my water had been broken for over 25 hours. I was instantly shocked, in tears and my friends quickly left the room shortly before my baby was taken to the NICU. I of course followed her and Joie's dad eventually convinced me I needed to come home. I begged the nurse not to discharge me but my time was already way past due to get released and go home. I sat in that lobby for over 20 minutes, Joie's dad begging me to get in the car as I refused, seeing an empty carseat and my bag packed with Joie's "going home" outfit laying there in my diaper bag. I kept telling him, "I'm not leaving until my baby is in her carseat". It took so much strength to get into that car. I made him promise that after I checked on the dogs, took a shower and changed clothes that he would immediately take me back to the NICU to be with Joie. And without hesitation, he did. Almost 3 long days later I got to bring my baby home, got a lactation consultant come to our home and help me breastfeed and finally felt at peace with my newborn in my sanctuary I had built for us.
I was so focused on Joie, and co-sleeping and nursing that I completely neglected my relationship with her father. We tried, but honestly to this day I still think we could have tried harder and about a week after my birthday I got the eviction notice from my daughter's step-grandma. My 9 month old, my best friend and companion dog, Daisy and I had to find a new home. My family had literally fallen apart and I was SO FUCKING lost! I cried every day, feeling like I failed as a mom, a lover, a partner. I still cry because I know I'm still working through the process of healing. I was taken in by friends and was so blessed to have them take all 3 of us in as their own family. After a few months I moved back to Pismo and raised Joie, alone until she turned 18 months old.
I made my choice to move back to Santa Barbara, start my career as a full-time hairstylist, continue Saltwater Love Tribe and put my baby girl in 4 days of daycare a week. Man was that a trip. Now we have our own little sanctuary by the sea. I have integrated my workspace into my little studio and Joie and I are adjusting with the move, my work schedule, daycare, co-parenting with her dad and teaching each other what life is truly about. Love. Only Love.
If you are a single mom reading this, please know you are not alone. Please feel free to reach out to me. Email me, DM me on Instagram @saltwaterlovetribe, and let me know if you need someone to talk to...because I sure as hell did at the time. And I felt SO ALONE. I never want anyone to go through the pain I went through and I will never let those negative feelings enter my soul again. I look in the mirror every single day and tell myself, "I am strong, I am beautiful and I will get through this".
I truly believe you are never able to pour from an empty cup and Joie deserves a strong and empowering mom to influence and teach her that she can conquer the world if she desires. And I will be there every step of the way to help her follow her dreams. So on that note, I'll keep filling my cup and just try my best. That's all I can do.
Love & Light,