mental health awareness month

I was in college when I saw a therapist for the first time. Up until that point, I thought everyone lived with what I can only describe as aggressive butterflies in your chest. I’m not sure why it never crossed my mind that it wasn’t normal but one day I walked into the health center and the counselor took one look at my form and said, “so you have anxiety?”

Oh. Is that what that is??

After that I began medication and joined a group therapy and simply having a name what was happening gave me control over it.

Flash forward a few years (post graduation where mental healthcare was no longer included in tuition!) and I decided it was time to start seeing a counselor again. We had had our first miscarriage and I specifically looked for a counselor who had experience with infertility. A few days before my first appointment I found out we were pregnant again and I almost canceled. I’m so glad I didn’t because we lost the baby a few weeks later and I’ve been going to my counselor every few weeks ever since then.

After Lainey’s NICU stay, my counselor and I decided it was time to begin medication again. During her stay I was in survival mode, so most of these symptoms popped up after we got home. I went to see a psychiatrist who diagnosed me with PTSD and OCD. I had pretty much guessed the PTSD but the OCD really surprised me. I’ve never been one to count steps or turn the lights off and on a certain number of times. He explained that compulsions could manifest in checking Lainey’s breathing obsessively or not being able to sleep because I was afraid a painting above Lainey’s bed would fall on her. With those compulsions, I couldn’t rest until we did something about it. With medication I still get those compulsions but I can put a name to them and recognize that I don’t need to act on them.

Medication means we don’t have to rearrange Lainey’s room just in case a driver drives through the front of our house.

Medication means Bryan is still alive even if he doesn’t answer his phone.

Medication means that the other shoe isn’t necessarily going to drop (though often it does, and that’s ok too).

How freeing.

Moral of the story, taking care of your mental health is so important. For some that looks like counseling and medication. For others it might be exercise, meditation, prayer, journaling. Do what you need to do and don’t be ashamed.

Also, I realize that mental healthcare is a luxury which is ridiculous. Because of that you never know what someone is dealing with on their own so be kind to people regardless of how they treat you.

xo, Rachel

Sephora Beauty Insider Sale

I love a good sale and right now you can get 10% off at Sephora if you become a beauty insider! All you have to do is create an account – no fees, subscriptions, or anything like that – and you’ll get 10% off as well as earning points for future products. I also love that Sephora has clean products, free of sulfates and parabens. Here’s what I picked up in the sale:

1. Drunk Elephant Out of Office set


2. Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm


3. Kopari Starry Eye Balm


4. Ilia Prime + Set Mini Duo


5. Drunk Elephant Rise + Glow Brightening Duo


Here are some products that I have and love!

1. Kopari Coconut Deodorant (as long as your armpits tolerate baking soda!)


2. Korres Vitamin C Sleeping Facial


3. Sephora Nourishing Moisturizer


Here are a few things I’d like to try in the future:

1. Sephora Glow Peel Pads


2. Origins Retexturizing Mask


3. Briogeo Leave-In Curl Defining Creme


enjoy! Xo, Rachel

my favorite natural products

On Easter, I was having a conversation with Bryan’s uncle about how some restaurants are switching to stainless steel straws instead of plastic. He mentioned that nothing was plastic when he was a kid and I was stunned! I had never realized that plastic was something that had truly become mainstream so recently. It got me thinking about what other things our generation has become the guinea pig for.

Our infertility battle is no secret and it seems that more and more women are also dealing with the same frustration. Though there aren’t a lot of scientific studies, there are many who believe that parabens and sulfates in our beauty and cleaning products are linked to increase risk of infertility and cancer. These ingredients have gained popularity since the 1950’s and we are just recently realizing the effects they may have. Now that I have two young girls, I’d rather get rid of these ingredients just in case they do have an impact on fertility – I’d never want Lainey or Emmy to experience what we did.

That being said, switching has been much easier than I thought it would be! If you start to look, you’ll realize that many companies have already started removing parabens and sulfates from their products. These ingredients aren’t the end all be all but it’s a good place to start!

The “Think Dirty” and “Healthy Living” apps have been super helpful when I am unsure if a product is clean. I also haven’t hidden my love for Grove Collaborative! Grove specifically lists if each product is sulfate or paraben free as well as many other “Grove Values.” And most products are very reasonably priced!

Right now you can get a FREE 5-piece Mrs. Meyer’s set on Grove!

Here are some switches I’ve made (all clean products available on Grove!):


I switch items over as I run out so I don’t have to throw unused products away. Don’t stress yourself out going clean – just do what works best for you!

Here are some more of my favorite natural products:

More Natural Favorites
1. NOTO Hydra Highlighter Stick // 2. Puracy Natural Shampoo and Body Wash (for baby!) // 3. ACURE Brightening Face Mask // 4. Beautycounter Overnight Resurfacing Peel // 5. Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm // 6. Hello Activated Charcoal Toothpaste // 7. European Dish Cloth // 8. Makeup Remover Towel

rachel reviews | rent the runway

Earlier this year, I did a big closet clean-out! It felt so good to purge all of the things that I said I would wear but didn’t, that didn’t make me feel awesome, and those things that you buy and never wear (only me?? bad habit…). The only problem is that when wedding season came around, I had nothing to wear!

Enter: Rent the Runway!

I wanted something different, so I went for a jumpsuit and it was LOVE.

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The great thing about RTR is that they send you a backup size for free! That’s always my fear with shopping online. Overall, I had a great experience. I ended up going for the pro membership because it includes a $30 birthday credit and you don’t have to pay shipping or insurance!

Want your own $30 credit?? Shop here and you’ll get $30 off your first order!

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shoes are aldo – similar here, earrings are kendra scott color bar – lexi lux style

Happy shopping!

xo Rachel

traveling with baby

As soon as we made it semi out of cold/flu season, it was time to introduce Lainey to a beloved Lewis family pastime – traveling! Back in March, when Lainey was 11 months old (7 months adjusted), we took her to Hawaii. Everyone kept asking us why we were traveling when she was that young because she’ll never remember it! But obviously they forgot that Bryan and I still have memories and we remember awesome family trips, ha! Traveling with your baby is a personal decision, but as a family we decided that travel is important to us and we aren’t going to stop that just because we have kiddos. So here are some of my tips for traveling with a baby:

Brown Minimal Technology Gift Guide Blog Graphic

1. Have very few expectations!

If you are used to traveling with adults, expect everything to take longer and plan for fewer activities. Factoring in that extra time will help everyone remain stress-free – or, let’s be honest, at least less stressed!

2. Let the airline know that you’ll be bringing your infant.

When planning your travel, you’ll need to decide if you want to travel with baby on your lap or if you want to purchase an extra seat. We’re cheap so we are going to travel with Lainey on our lap until we aren’t allowed to anymore! Even if you decide to travel with a lap baby, you’ll need to book a ticket for your infant. It’s different on different airlines. On Delta, Lainey had her own ticket but on American my ticket just said “plus infant” so it totally depends on the airline!

3. Pack a carry on with baby essentials!

I was so paranoid that the airline would lose our luggage that I made sure all the essentials were in a carry on. I was so glad I did this because everything for our flight was in one place! I made a handy dandy carry on packing list for your convenience, so it’s definitely a good starting point. [see below]

Turquoise Palm Leaves Packing List

For my tubie parents, I also made sure to have the following in our carry on:

Turquoise Palm Leaves Packing List-2

4. Prepare for security.

You can wear your baby through security – did you know that?! Just make sure you are using a carrier that doesn’t have any metal in it. Also, formula and medication mamas be aware that your bag will have to go through some extra screening. I make sure to tell the TSA agent right away that there is baby formula and medications in the bag. Once it goes through the X-ray machine thingy, they’ll take it off to the side and probably do a simple swab test. Pro tip – smile at these poor TSA agents! It can be frustrating and stressful but these people deal with angry travelers all day and they’ll be happy to see a smiling face and a cute baby.

5. Rent a stroller and carseat!

In Hawaii, we brought our own stroller and car seat and gate checked them both but it was so many extra bulky items and I just ended up being more frustrated at the airport. When we went to L.A. we rented a carseat from the rental car company and a stroller at Disneyland. It cost us a few extra bucks but saved our sanity! Now, if we were traveling with a really fresh baby, we probably would have wanted our stroller, etc. so this totally depends on your personality!

6. Book your flight during a good nap time.

On our way to Hawaii we had a 3 hour flight and then a 6 hour flight. We brought the doc-a-tot and laid it over our lap and Lainey totally zonked for most of the flight! It was awesome. On our way back from L.A., we booked the flight during peak active time for Lainey and she was NOT pleased to be confined to a plane seat. You don’t always have a choice, but it is something to think about. Also, I’m not above giving my kid a little Benadryl before the flight. Check with your pediatrician beforehand, though!

7. You CAN do it!

Traveling with baby can be difficult, but it is so SO worth it! We have loved taking Lainey on our adventures and seeing the world through her eyes. It has been so rewarding. So, friend, throw a dart at a map and travel with your baby! You won’t regret it.

xo. Rachel

The lie of “I could never…”

If you have ever been through any sort of trial, you’ve probably heard from others, “I could never do that.” I could never go through infertility. I could never be on bedrest. I could never have a baby in the NICU. I could never be a teacher (that’s one I hear often!). I could never parent a child with special needs. I could never take care of a family member with cancer. I could never… fill in the blank. People say these things and if they don’t say it, they definitely think it.

And I used to be one of those people. Then I realized that “I could never…” is a big. fat. lie.

You absolutely could. But not on your own.

With your own strength and power, “I could never” becomes true. However, the supernatural strength of the Lord has been given to us, friend. It’s a power that we cannot create on our own. And it’s a power that does not make sense to the world! Here’s what Scripture says:

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you… Acts 1:8

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. Psalms 34:19 (Did you catch that the righteous will go through many trials??)

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall grow tired and weary, and young men shall stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall rise up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:29-31.


All that to say, about a year ago I was talking with Bryan about a friend who was fostering an adorable little kiddo. Bryan looked me square in the eye and said, “I could never foster!” And God in Heaven laughed at him because guess what? Come July we will officially be licensed to foster to adopt!

It may look a little crazy but we have learned that by God’s strength, we can do it. He has called us and He is faithful to sustain us in that calling.

So the next time you see someone going through something difficult or you feel a God-given calling tugging at your heart, remember the lie of “I could never…” and pray for strength. He is good. He will lift you up. It will not be easy, but you can do it.

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flipping the script

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. A week that is bittersweet but so important. One of the hardest parts about infertility is how the enemy grabs onto your weakness and continually speaks lies throughout your journey. I spent two years (plus some!) believing lies about myself and my God.

The theme for this years NIAW is “Flip the Script.” This theme struck me in so many ways. For so long, I believed that infertility was for older couples or women who had cancer or something along those lines, not something that would ever affect me. Yet there I was, at the ripe age of 23, facing my first miscarriage. I cannot begin to tell you how many times people told me, “Well at least you are young!” As if that helped. And then the lies. And the anger. It just kept piling up. It took a long time and a community of women who were experiencing the same thing, but eventually I was able to flip the script and turn those lies into truth from the Lord. Now I am grateful for our journey. It was difficult and unexpected but it brought us perspective and Lainey! Here are some lies I had to overcome:


Infertility says that my body is broken.

The Lord says that by his stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).

Infertility says that God does not listen to my desires.

The Lord says that He knows the desires of my heart (Psalm 37:4) and that He works all things together for my good (Romans 8:28).

Infertility says that we need to control our lives.

The Lord says His plan is better than ours (Acts 17:26-27).

Infertility says that we are being punished.

The Lord says that there is no condemnation is Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).

Infertility says that we may never have children.

The Lord says that His plan is for us to have a family (Genesis 1:28, Isaiah 60:22, Psalm 113:9).

Infertility says that God does not care about our sorrows.

The Lord says that he provides for the barren woman (Isaiah 54:1) and is near the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18).


To those still going through the fire: Infertility is a liar and does not have to control you. However, it will also always be a part of you and your story. Remember, God is with you. He has not forsaken you. His plan is for you to prosper!

To the moms that did not easily become a mom: It is normal to feel guilty sometimes. Infertility does not leave you when you become a mom. Especially if you want more children. It will be in the back of your mind and the enemy will continue to lie to you. Remember, God is with you. He has not forsaken you. His plan is for you to prosper!

I’m always open to questions so feel free to reach out. The Lord has reminded me of His goodness often throughout this process, but it is much easier to go through it together!


Great people to follow on instagram:



Local Dallas groups:

Moms in the Making


the one where her water breaks…

It was Friday night. It had been a long school day, but as I walked out I decided I would deal with everything on Monday. Bryan was working on his food truck at an event in downtown Dallas and I was laying in bed watching Friends on Netflix.

I was 22 weeks and 5 days pregnant.

The rest of this post might be TMI so read at your own discretion.

I can still remember so much of that evening. Like any pregnant person, I had to pee about every thirty minutes. As I stood up to walk to the restroom I had the feeling like I was peeing everywhere but couldn’t control my bladder! I had just finished antibiotics for a bladder infection so my first thought was that it had returned. After a few minutes of panic, I called the on call doctor. Luckily, my OB was the one on call. She told me to give it about thirty minutes and then call if the leaking hadn’t stopped. After another big gush about ten minutes later, I called again. This time she told me to come in so we could rule out my water breaking. Wait. What?? That thought had not even crossed my mind. I called my mom crying and she came and took me to the hospital. Bryan took an uber from downtown to the hospital and by 7pm we had figured out that that was exactly what had happened.

When she told me, my doctor sat down on the side of my bed and just looked at me and said, “this sucks.” And it did. And it still does. She explained how I would be on strict horizontal bed rest until further notice, laying flat on my back, and my first milestone was 24 weeks. “Viability” is 24 weeks, but the goal was to make it until 34 weeks. That evening and the next day, Bryan and I began to settle into the hospital and prepared for the long haul…

As I write it all down, it strikes me how factual it all seems. But the only thing I felt was sheer panic. And anger. These feelings still linger, hanging over my head in everything I do. Panic and anger, even long after the danger is gone. Funny how our brains work, isn’t it?

We would find out later that what happened to me was called preterm premature rupture of membranes or PPROM. There is very little information about how or why this happens and there is no way to predict or try to prevent it until it’s happened to you before. So now we know. And we pray that it never happens again.

More about our hospital bed rest soon…


I went to Hawaii and came home with a tattoo. Yes, it was planned and yes, it hurt. But it really wasn’t bad. As you probably know, I’m terrified of needles – a fear that I had to come face to face with too many times over the past few years. For some reason, this needle felt more purposeful than any blood draw I’ve ever had, so that made it a bit easier. I know that sounds crazy! The question on everyone’s mind (because I know this is all you’ve been thinking about – ha!) is why a seashell??

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So here’s the story: when Lainey was about 5 weeks old, she had her first surgery. She was weighing about 2 pounds at that point and still so teeny tiny. The surgery was fairly routine in the world of the NICU, a PDA ligation, and Bryan and I even joked that a game of Operation would take longer than the actual surgery took! It happened first thing in the morning and we got to see her afterwards and she looked good, so we went home to rest.

When we went back up to the NICU later that day, we learned that after the surgery Lainey had a lot of trouble regulating her blood pressure. Its just kept falling. Throughout the course of the day and night she would be put on 8-10 different medications to try to stabilize her, and keep her heart pumping. When we left the NICU that night, the nurse looked at me and said, “We just need to make it through the night.” Those are words I will never forget. Most of the night I was up questioning the Lord. Why were we going through this? Was He going to bring Lainey Home to Him that night? This was a necessary surgery, but maybe we should have postponed it – did I do everything that I could have done as her mother? Lord give us a sign that this will be ok!

Eventually we fell asleep. We woke up at 5am and called the nurse in the NICU. There had been no change overnight. In fact things were as bad as they had been. The nurse assured us there was nothing we could do and that we needed to rest. We fell back asleep and both Bryan and I dreamed about Lainey when she was older.

Bryan dreamed that he was walking the hills of Ireland with a 6 or 7 year old Lainey and they were picking up seashells on the tops of mountains. She looked at Bryan and said, “Daddy, why are there seashells on the top of the mountain??” And he said to her, “These seashells are here because this whole area used to be underwater. The seashells are symbols of the past. But everything looks different now doesn’t it?” She nodded her head yes.  “These shells remind us of what used to be. Just like your scar reminds us of what used to be. Its a symbol of your past. It shows us where you came from, and how everything is different now.”

That was it. And then Bryan woke up and the second he woke up, he knew she was going to be ok. We immediately called the NICU and the nurse was ecstatic to tell us that Lainey had made a complete 180. She turned a corner and was doing great! There’s no doubt in our mind that God was speaking to us through our dreams and that He rescued our baby girl that morning.

Lainey has a scar across her back from that surgery and small scars on her arms and legs from different pokes throughout her NICU stay. One day, we will tell her about her Daddy’s dream and how the Lord answered our prayers. We will celebrate her scars as a sign of where she’s come from!

And now I have a “scar” too. To remind me of where we’ve come from and of the prayers the Lord continues to answer.

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mom-ing after infertility and the NICU

The thing that really sucks about moming after fighting so hard for a baby, is that the enemy makes you feel like you can’t mess up. That you must be grateful always for everything, even when the baby is staring at you and loudly screaming for no reason. In times like that, I don’t feel grateful – I feel annoyed at the screaming baby.

The other day, I just about lost it. Bryan has been working longer hours and I have a problem with spending too much time alone (we have no questions as to where Lainey gets her clinginess…). Lainey had been screaming her head off for what felt like an hour and I knew she just needed to sleep but for the life of me, I couldn’t lull her to sleep. I was so frustrated that I had to set her down and walk away to take a few deep breaths.

Immediately, an immense guilt fell over me. This guilt is all too familiar to many mothers, but especially those who have yearned for motherhood. After years of desiring a baby, miscarriage, infertility, and then premature labor and months in the NICU wondering if my baby would survive, how dare I have any feelings of frustration toward this child?

Isn’t that such a cruel lie that we let ourselves believe? That we must feel either love for our child or frustration with our child – that we can’t feel both at the same time. It’s almost an unspoken “rule” of motherhood after a struggle. And many of us know women who would love to be in our shoes, so we pretend like it’s not hard. But it is. And the voice in my head goes something like this:

Don’t get frustrated, Rachel.

You longed for this baby, Rachel.

You almost lost her, Rachel.

How dare you be frustrated with her, Rachel.

And on and on I go until I’m crying right along with Lainey.

But what if we CAN feel frustration with our children and an overwhelming love at the same time? What if we don’t have to feel guilty because our children are humans, not God, and they will fail us? What if instead of putting all of our hope in our children fulfilling our every expectation, we put all of our hope in a Father that will never disappoint – a Papa who does not condemn us when we feel like we are doing it all wrong?

Infertility and the NICU were hard enough. Stop condemning yourself for moments of anger and bitterness and frustration and realize that they can simultaneously exist with feelings of unconditional love and grace and mercy. And anywhere you fall short, God will pick up the pieces and begin putting the puzzle of our kid’s lives together, without any of our help.

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