Making Amends

I’ve had this post on my mind for a long time now, but I felt I couldn’t write it until I revealed the enormous shift I’ve made over the past year. If you didn’t know that I had left Mormonism how could what I am about to say come across as anything other than pandering? I needed you to know that I am in a different place so that I could atone for my past mistakes. I choose the word atone carefully, knowing that my recent declaration could make it sound as though I am trying to be clever. But I know of no better word than atone to convey a complete cleansing, which is what I need. Some of the things I’ve said in the past hurt people in really deep ways and I want to shed the baggage that comes along with realizing that. This does not mean I recognize all of the mistakes I’ve ever made or will continue to make, or that I have the ability to own up to each and every one of them. I am deeply flawed, and within that bundle of flaws comes pride and shame, both which prevent me from being all that I want to be. I’ll keep chipping away at those stones that burden my progress, but for now I hope those I have hurt will accept the apologies I am offering up below and know that they come from the truest part of myself that I am mentally and emotionally able to lay bare.

fire sunset chicago eclipse

Most of these apologies are related to my Mormon mindset, but I will start with one that has no relation to the faith of my childhood. While I was pregnant I wrote a post called I’m Gonna Climb That Mountain (those who were hurt by this post have requested that it be made unavailable to the public so that the hurtful messages I voiced within it can’t be spread any further). I’m not sure anymore what I was trying to convey, but reading back over it I can see that it was a terrible post and I said a lot of hurtful things. I’ve been ashamed of that post for a long time, but haven’t allowed myself to take it down because I didn’t want to hide behind my ability to make posts private or delete them altogether. I think women should birth how and where they want. I am sorry that I made any woman feel like her birth plans or birth experience weren’t good enough. I think mothers should have every opportunity to choose the birth experience that leaves them feeling empowered and triumphant, because that is how I felt after the births of my babies and that is what I want every woman to have as well. I think that some women do everything they can to give birth a certain way and it turns out to be something else entirely. Those women should have the opportunity to grieve the loss of a great dream while they simultaneously celebrate the arrival of their little one(s), and no one should ever criticize them for doing so. There is no mountain. There’s just a pregnant woman doing her best for the life she carries inside of her, and then there is a beautiful mother doing her best for her child.

And now for the opinions and thought processes that were a product of my personal history and religious tradition. A wonderful thing to note is that not all of those who come from my community or belong to the Mormon faith think or act the way I did; they are much better people than I. But when I shifted away from Mormonism and a worldview shaped by my youth I left old hurtful attitudes behind and I can’t untangle where these attitudes began and how much of a role my past played in nurturing them. All I can do is acknowledge that they were a part of the Jenna of the past and that I want to leave them behind forever and move toward the better Jenna of the future.  Continue reading

2010 in Review

I’ve seen a few bloggers do posts like this in the last few days, and I love it for a few reasons. It’s a great way for me to look back in a few years and remember what my year was like. It’s also a great way to point out some favorite posts from the past year to any new readers!


I wrote about my struggle with pregnancy weight gain and accepting my new body shape. I started eating in the style of the Real Food movement, something I am still doing today. I started answering questions on Formspring, and kept doing so even when it felt like everyone else was dropping out. To date I’ve answered almost 3500 questions! That’s a whole lot of talking about myself :). Baby was going to arrive in a few moments and I knew the time would go by in a blink, so I started thinking about the post-partum period.


I talked about Good/Better/Best, and I’m still working to do better each day. We stressed about what we would name T1. I admitted that I pee my panties a little bit sometimes. We had a snow day in Dallas (very rare) and I went exploring in a wooded area near my house, coming frighteningly close to getting lost!


I gave you a tour of our apartment at Villa Miranda in Dallas. I made baklava for the first time, something I would most definitely like to do again. My stomach exploded with stretch marks, a part of my pregnancy that is still with me to this day. I had maternity photos taken by my friend Bethany! I devoted a post to my caring and devoted husband. I was showered with love at my baby shower. This was an exciting month, but the highlight was most definitely finding out that we were moving to Chicago!


I wrote about how I had been preparing my body to have a baby. I tried live blogging general conference, something I’d like to do again in the future but probably won’t happen now that I have a baby to entertain! I was getting so little sleep that it started to consume my thoughts, which of course led to a post here on That Wife. I wrote one final letter to T1 in embryo. Finally, T1 arrived! I wasn’t producing enough milk, which starved our son, and so I started supplementing with formula and wrapping him in a biliblanket to treat the jaundice which resulted.


I posted the story of T1’s birth, and tried to answer your birth questions. I wrote about how we are paying for our expenses while at business school, even though TH isn’t currently working. Stopped breastfeeding. Ignited a whole lot of controversy why I wrote my interpretation of the LDS views on mothers working outside the home. Highlighted ways that blogging had made me a better person. I had the first of many awful OBGYN appointments. My diet changed once again as we drastically cut back on the amount of meat we consume.


We used cloth diapers! I wrote candidly about what post-partum recovery is like. Let’s stop using “retard” and “gay” is derogatory terms! We buzzed T1’s hair, which made you all a little crazy. I realized that mommy blogging kind of sucks sometimes. Yet another sucky OBGYN appointment. That Food Diary was launched. I showed what it’s like to take care of a 4 month old. We had a little family outing at the Dr. Pepper Festival in Dublin. I took a little break from blogging.


I fed the missionaries, which was a big deal because it was my first experience trying to cook a meal for guests and manage a baby at the same time. I caught on to the idea of voting with my food dollars. We flew to Washington for T1’s baby blessing. T1 had two notable firsts, swimming and laughing. I became obsessed with the farmer’s market.


I’m a baby-wearin’ mama, and changed my eating habits even more drastically. We found an AMAZING apartment. Sadly, this caused us to give up cloth diapering. I spent time with e-friends at a pool party at my apartment building, a soda shop in Dallas, and in Boston.


We moved to Chicago and suffered through weeks and weeks without internet. I was able to spend some time with long-time reader Sophia and the Chicago bees. I attempted to save money and dye my hair myself, which was most definitely not a good idea. I grossed a whole lot of people out by creating a placenta print and posting pictures of the process. I came to terms with being a self-taught photographer. That Wife Book Club was launched! We struggled with juggling our baby at church, and I talked about postnatal cuddling. No internet was stressful, but TH not having a passport weeks before we were set to leave for Europe was most definitely a low point for us.


We went to Europe!!! (A trip I still need to post about in full.) I stressed about greeting my in-laws with a kiss, they introduced T1 to solid foods. I advocated for less helicopter parenting. T1 dressed as the Sleep Bandit for Halloween. My parents came.


T1 gained two teeth. I dressed up as the housing bubble and TH was a mortgage backed security for a University of Chicago MBA party. I officially lost 25 pounds. I attempted to go to Ikea alone with a baby, which was a very bad idea. We spent Thanksgiving in Washington after the wedding of TH’s best friend brought to the Pacific Northwest.


We want to shave T1’s hair yet again. I finally finished revamping my Jenna Cole sites. I pulled off a holiday party for That Wife blog readers, with about 10 people in attendance, and vowed to do that no more than once a year. I posted my thoughts on motherhood so far, T1 started crawling, I spoke in church, we joined some CSAs, and I showed what it’s like to run around after an 8 month old all day. We didn’t buy T1 anything for Christmas, and we decided we won’t be telling him Santa is real. We flew to Utah for 7 days and spent some time at a house in Heber City with my parents, we were spoiled by the amount of gifts we received and I felt a little guilty because I am so fortunate. Our entire family loved this way of spending Christmas enough that we’re considering repeating it next year.

You know what? After going through all of these posts and reviewing the past year, I realized that I really, really loved 2010. I feel like it’s an appropriate time for a little letter.

Dear 2011,I bet you can’t beat 2010 on the awesomeness scale. But why don’t you give it a try?


That Wife

Happy New Year friends!

One Last Letter to That 1 In Embryo

Written on Easter Sunday, April 4, 2010

I spent several hours this evening, Easter Sunday, reading birth stories, particularly those of LDS women. For weeks I’ve known that I wanted to take some time to sit down and write about my feelings surrounding your impending arrival, but I never felt like I was in the right place. Now, after hearing stories of strong women, of women who trust their bodies and had beautiful births in hospitals and at birth centers and at home, I know what I want to say.

I have spent many hours pondering my feelings surrounding childbirth. I do not fear your upcoming birth. Why am I not afraid? Should I be afraid? I’ve realized that I trust completely in the Lord’s design for my body. I was made to be a mother, your mother, and that I can accomplish more through trust, hope, faith, and a belief in my powerful abilities as a woman than I ever could if I spend my time worrying about the unknown. The unknown will always be there, this I cannot change. What I can do is rely on the logic, rationale, and intelligence that God has granted me, and above all I can seek the Holy Ghost, to feel His comforting presence and know that I am not alone. I am never alone, and neither will you be. We are both spirit children of a Father in Heaven who loved us enough to send us down to experience both the pleasures and the pains of life. If I fear anything, it is that I won’t live up to the great expectations that are heaped upon me as I undergo this great responsibility.

Whether you are a girl or a boy, I hope you will leave our home with the knowledge that I believe that God blessed women with strong and capable bodies, able to handle the rigors of childbirth. I want you to know that I believe the labor of childbirth has a purpose, that when God said unto Eve “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and they conception” that he did not intend for her to suffer as a punishment for her choice to partake of the fruit. Eve, and all women after her, would need to be willing to sacrifice, to put away the natural man and experience the pains of mortality, but in that sacrifice, in the midst of all that pain, they would experience the joy that comes from partnering with God in the creation of life and the fulfillment of the plan of salvation. I want to be completely present for the entire experience for I believe the bitterness of the pain will only make the reward of your presence in my life that much sweeter. No matter how bad things get, we, with God will make it through this together. You are truly a gift from God in my life.
Sometime within the next few weeks, I will join with billions of women before me in reaching down into the very depths of my soul and making the transition from woman to mother. From that time forward I will never be the same again. I will have you.

by Carol Lynn Pearson

How enviously
I watched
The rose bush
Bear her bud —
Such an easy
Lovely birth.
At that moment
I wished
The sweet myth
Were true –
That I could
Pluck you
My child
From some
green vine.

But now
As you breathe
Through flesh
That was mine,
Gently in the small circle
Of my arms,
I see
The wisdom
Of investment

The easy gift
Is easy to forget.
But what is bought
With coin of pain
Is dearly kept.

Brain Dump III

1. Bowling

A few weeks ago a sweet friend gifted me a coupon book called The 2010 Entertainment Book, filled with coupons for services and entertainment in the Dallas area. We decided to use one of the 50% off coupons for a bowling alley nearby. It’s not really enough to write a full post about, but I wanted to share these pictures of That Husband with you because I think he is such a hottie.


Hot hot…


Ummmm… not so much.

Bowling made us both sore. We’re kind of sad and out of shape that way. Also it’s expensive. I won twice, and he won once, in case you were wondering. Although I should point out that on that last game, he beat me by a rather incredible amount.

2.  The Effects of Disney Princess Movies

I read this on the blog of a family friend and it made me laugh out loud. The mom posted about how her daughter had been watching a lot of Disney movies lately and asked her readers to guess what movies Emily was quoting. Do you know which movies she is pulling from? I can only figure out #2 and #4.

Movie #1
Me: Emily, you need to go and get your jacket on.
Emily: no, that is not the path my heart chooses
Movie #2
Me: Okay Emily, you need to pick up your books and then you need to put all your dress-ups in the dress-up chest
Emily: and then what step mother?
Emily in the bathtub with a wash rag: Sing sweet nightengale, siiiiiiiing sweet nightengale sing!
Movie #3 (this is a hard one)
me: Emily, you need to share your toys with Jake
Emily: Oh, for goodness sakes!
Emily: mom, hand me that dinglehopper!

3. Stretch Marks

I have them. It looks like a cat mutilated me.  I’ll show you the final outcome when I hit 40 weeks.

4. Gone The Way Of The World
I’m a little tired of companies like Shabby Apple who make me fall in love with their products, and then start producing pieces I can’t buy because they are too short, too wide on the neckline, too low, etc. I realize they have clients other than LDS endowed members to market to, but I so enjoyed visiting and browsing their dresses when I knew I would be able to buy anything I found there.
LDS ladies doesn’t this look entirely too wide?

And this too short? (The upward angle doesn’t help.)

I can’t imagine sitting down in this one.

I’d never buy this, but short short short!

I mourn because I worry that this is the beginning of the end, and soon they will be yet another company who makes dresses that would almost work, but not quite. I feel like I’ve seen the same thing from Down East Basics as well (at least in the last catalog I received).  At least we have eShakti now! (Has anyone actually purchased from them yet? Still seems too good to be true.)

5. Embrace Life

Have you seen this commercial? Does it make you cry, or is that just pregnancy hormones? Found here.

6. Old Sweet Love is my Favorite Kind

Found here. I think That Husband will be just like this when we are older (in fact, I think this comes pretty close to describing us right now!)

“Elmer always takes my hand and leads me across the parking lot like I’m his girl and he’s taking care of me,” says Imogene.

“I take Imogene’s hand and help her walk because otherwise she’s liable to fall down,” says Elmer.

(Imogene & Elmer Edwards: married 55 years)

Winners of the Thank You Giveaways announced later today!