Lea Carmen
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How to Start a Blog

During my blogging hiatus, I got one question the most from family and friends.  How do you start a blog? I then realized that so many people are curious about where to begin on creating their own little corner online. I am going to give my best advice on how to create your own blog.

1. Find your niche

When people think of blogging most think of fashion blogs, but some of the most successful bloggers I admire write about family, food, and lifestyle. There are tons of different types of blogs online. You know your strengths and your passions so utilize them! I would reccommend sticking with one category (for me it was fashion) and then once you build your readership branch out to other areas. I now additionally discuss lifestyle specifically wedding/marriage/baby and periodically I share my travels and culinary creations. 

2. Plan an Aesthetic & Brand....... & Theme

Once you find the subject of your blog you need to create your brand. Your brand is going to be an extension of you and your style. Everything from content to logo to photo style needs to have a cohesive feel. For example you wouldn't choose a website that is editorial and edgy in style and then discuss tips for breastfeeding or planning the best kid playdates. I reccommend creating a vision board either physically or create a Pinterest board that illustrates the colors, fonts, and style you envision for your blog. 

3. Pick a Name

You choose once, so choose wisely. Okay, really you don't choose once but after buying the domain name and securing all your social media handles, it would be a pain to start all the way over with a new name. I would reccommend choosing a name that is classic rather than trendy. Visualize for the long term! 

4. Grab your Domains
Step 4 and 5 go hand in hand really. Once you pick your blog name you need to secure the domain, which is the website name. Also you need to secure the social media handles for Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram. If you already share your blog subject content on your social media then I would reccommend continuing to do so but change the name. For example, if you are going to start a food blog and already share photos on your Instagram of your recipes then don't start over! Just rebrand your Instagram handle. Your followers are already used to your content so continue to post rather than starting over.

5. Pick a Platform and Hosting Site

I personally use Blogger as it is really user friendly, however the majority of bloggers use WordPress. Google the pros and cons of both and make a decision accordingly. You will also need a hosting site. I chose to use GoDaddy and have not had any technical issues after the initial setup. 

6. Find a Blog Template

A blog template is essentially the look of your website. There are a few ways to get your hands on a template. I reccommend using Etsy! You can find really affordable blogger website templates for $15-$20. This is great route to take considering some website creator can charge into the thousands to make a unique website for you. Also, most of the templates on Etsy are instant downloads and come with instructions on how to copy and paste the HTML coding onto Blogger/Wordpress.

7. Camera and Editing Software

This step is not essential for you to start writing blog posts or posting photos to Instagram. However, your content will be so much better using a nice camera and editing your photos. A lot of bloggers use Canon or Nikon cameras. I personally use a Canon Rebel T5. As far as editing is concerned you could use PhotoShop or Adobe lightroom. With Adobe Lightroom you can also purchase presets to quickly edit your photos.

8. Social Media 

Now, as far as a blog is concerned you don't need social media to begin writing blog posts. However, you need readers right? Enter social media. These tools will help you gain exposure for your blog. Drive your social media followers to your blog. Readers and social media followers are what will catapult your blog from a hobby to a potential money making opportunity. Ensure that all of your profile photos are cohesive (if not the same photo) to create a cohesive brand appearance.

These 8 tips are the basic steps to starting a blog. There are so many aspects to running a blog before even figuring out the monetization aspect. My biggest pieces of advice are:

1. Be Yourself

Standing out from the crowd will get your blog attention. There are so many bloggers out there that have similar aesthetics to each other. Be different and unique!

2. Utilize Pinterest

Seriously, any blogging questions that you have search for them in Pinterest. It will be your new Google.

3. Have Fun

Don't take blogging (or yourself) too seriously! Let your personality shine through your photos and words, it makes it all the more enjoyable for your readers.

If you have any specific questions about starting your blog, feel free to reach out or drop a comment below! Thank you for reading!

Birth Story

Photography by: Lexi Meadows Photography

On June 5th 2018, my day started out like any other day -minus the fact that I was almost 39 weeks pregnant! My mom was in town and we spent the day shopping, lunching, and getting a much needed pedicure. Thankfully I got my toes done because that night I was going to be admitted to the hospital! Once we got back home, I made my favorite go to dinner which is green hatch chili chicken enchiladas. 

Fast forward to 9 pm, Isaak and I crawled into bed and started discussing how our days went. Throughout my pregnancy our nightly routine included discussing our highs and lows of the day, watching weekly baby development videos, and reading to Thomas. That night Isaak asked, "How is my baby moving today?" My heart stopped as I couldn't recall the last movement I felt. Normally Thomas would kick and shift during our evening talks. I didn't feel a thing. Panicked, I went downstairs and grabbed a cold glass of juice. They tell you in the hospital that drinking cold juice and laying down will encourage movement. 

I gulped the whole glass. Then I waited. And waited. Probably five minutes later I got the feeling that something wasn't right. I didn't feel a kick, a punch, not even a slight stir. Quickly I grabbed my phone and called the nurse hotline. After explaining to the nurse the situation, they determined that I needed to come into the labor and delivery ward at the hospital. At this point I was focused and determined to not freak out. Isaak jumped out of bed, I let my mom know we were going to the hospital, we grabbed our overnight bags, and headed to the hospital. 

It was a full house at the labor and delivery floor of our hospital. The nurses and admin kept joking that it must've been a full moon by the amount of pregnant mommas checking in. All jokes aside, they hurriedly put me in a room and hooked up my belly to the monitor to check Thomas' heart rate. His heart rate was loud and strong. Tears immediately came to my eyes with volcanic relief. He was okay. The nurse checked me and I was dilated 1 cm, so at this point it looked like I was going to be going back home. Minutes later the nurse comes back in to tell us that the doctor wanted to give us a few hours to see if any more dilation occurred. They handed us an exercise ball and said that we would be checked on in an hour. 

Isaak and I exchanged glances and I hopped onto the ball and gave a few tentative bounces. Isaak then pulled up some youtube videos on how to entice labor. I was unsure about how to do this and started giggling. Isaak scolded me "to take it seriously!". I think we were both on edge and freaked out lol. A few seconds later the same nurse comes in and tells us that we aren't going home. I swear Isaak's eyes widened in alarm and asked "What do you mean?". The nurse replied, "You aren't going home without your baby." We were staying. At this point it was past midnight so I climbed into the bed and tried to get some rest while they prepared my IV and medications.

The next 12 hours I was given medicine to progress my contractions and dilation. The doctor on call the next day came to the hospital room and checked me one last time. She informed us that Thomas' head was starting to swell. And since it was 12 hours without major progression (I never dilated past 3 cm), the doctor informed me that I needed to get a c-section. Immediately, I started physically shaking from shock, anxiety, and fear. In my mind, I had never wanted a c-section. The months leading up to Thomas' delivery I imagined what a powerful, monumentous, and beautiful moment it was going to be to labor and deliver him myself and hold him in my arms for the first time. I was never going to have that moment.

The doctor saw that I was visibly upset and gave Isaak and I a few moments to ourselves. We agreed that the best thing for me and Thomas was to go through with the c-section to ensure that we remained safe and healthy. The doctor came back in and let us know that I would be taken to the surgery room in 45 minutes. Holy cow! My mind was spinning with so many thoughts and fears. I was still physically shaking, so bad that my mom and Isaak had to rub and hold down my arms because I couldn't stop no matter how hard I tried. Throughout my pregnancy I had read and researched all scenarios of giving a vaginal birth. The potential ripping, accidentally pooping on the table, etc. I was mentally prepared to endure and experience those things. I was not prepared mentally to tackle a c-section. This absolutely freaked me out. 

They rolled me out of the room and took me to the surgery room. I was moved from one table onto another. Immediately, they put up a blue sheet just at my shoulders to shield me from the procedure. Again, I was still shaking so they (a team of about 5 or 6 medical professionals) strapped down my legs. At this point, Isaak was ushered into the room and he was given a chair to sit and hold my hand near my left shoulder. The doctor informed me that they were about to start. 

Without getting into too much detail I will say that while you are given pain medicine to numb your body, you still feel them moving about your body. Nothing can describe the feeling of the doctors moving about trying to remove your baby safely. They weren't gentle. I thank God everyday that I had Isaak right there beside me holding my face and hands and telling me words of encouragement. I could not have faced that alone. What seemed like an hour later ( the total surgery lasted only 20 minutes), the doctor explained that they were pulling Thomas out! Again I held my breath listening earnestly for a cry. We hear his wail and I know that our son is out of my stomach. 

The doctor holds Thomas, purple and glistening, over the blue sheet and takes him away a second later. Since he was stuck for so long near my cervix, they rushed him to be checked out by a pediatrician to ensure he was healthy and safe. The surgery was not over. Again, I feel the doctors moving about only this time I start feeling a pinching on the right side of my stomach. The anesthesiologist administers more pain/numbing medication that instantly calms me and I stop shaking. Thank goodness

After they finished stitching me up I was wheeled into a recovery room. Thomas was brought to me and laid on my chest for skin to skin. At this point, my memory is foggy due to the pain medication. Isaak later told me that I was insistent on beginning breastfeeding so that's what we did. I don't remember feeling him on me for the first time or any of my emotions because I was so out of it. At this point it was well after midnight when they took us to a third room where we would remain until I was discharged. Both of our parents were able to come meet Thomas. That first night we were able to get some sleep but nurses are in and out of your room all night checking vitals of you and baby (mostly heart rate and blood pressure). The next couple of days are a blur but Thomas passed all of his tests and I was on the road to recovery after an emergency c-section and a minor infection (I got corea from being in labor for 12 hours). 

It was a huge relief being able to take Thomas home after being in the hospital for 4 days. I was a huge mess mentally from experiencing the sudden c-section. I really leaned on Isaak and my family for strength as I navigated through being a new mom. You really don't have time to process what a huge life event you went through because you have a tiny human being relying on you with their life. 

Looking back on my birth story, I really have come to terms with the delivery. My experience, if anything, has given me a sense of newfound courage and bravery. If I can endure through such a traumatic experience I can really conquer anything. Another lesson that would be a recurring theme in the months to come, is that you cannot control everything. Especially when it comes to your baby. This was a huge lesson for me to learn. Out of this entire experience, the most important thing was that Thomas and I came out on the other end healthy and safe, which I am so thankful for. 

I decided to share my birth story on the blog as a way to help and encourage other pregnant mommas.  My goal is not to intimidate or frighten anyone. What helped me prepare for delivery was reading other birth stories and truly understanding medically what I was about to face. Every mom has a different birthing experience and this is mine. 

I didn't have a euphoric moment the second I met and held my son for the first time. I was too in shock and heavily medicated to mentally take the moment in. I have finally accepted that its okay to not have this instant, overwhelming moment of happiness that other moms proclaim in their birth stories. I firmly believe that by sharing my story I will bring about more awareness to this birthing outcome and for other mommas to know that its okay! 

Thank you for reading along and sharing this incredible experience with me.

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