Friday, March 20, 2015

What I Learned in my First Year of Motherhood

My EJ just turned one last week. What does this mean for me? Well, lots of people would say, "You made it and everyone is still alive!" That's an extent...LOL, but it means that I have officially been a mother for a year. A whole year...WOW! It's safe to say that this has been possibly definitely the most eventful year of my life. I have learned LOTS, about motherhood, but also about myself. Here are just a few things that I learned this past year...if  you want more...let's meet for coffee!

1. Keeping up a "mommy blog" during your first year of motherhood is a great idea in theory. In practice....not so much. Let's see how I do during my second year.

2. There is more that one RIGHT way to do things for your child. It's a matter of trail and error and no way is better. It's all about what's better for your child and what keeps you out of the looney bin...wait, did I say that out loud?

3. Giving birth is NOT, I repeat, is NOT the hardest part of motherhood. If only it ended there.

4. My "me-time" for the day may mean that I got to take a shower that day, even if there is a screaming baby in the background.

5. There is no fault in sending your child to childcare even if you work from home. It may be the best thing for them and YOU!

6. For the love of God, have a DATE NIGHT!!! (I need to do much better on this one.)

7. Guilt (emotion) - that thing you feel when you are away from your kid, on a date night, at work, working out, sleeping, eating, showering, pretty much when you're doing anything that is not solely revolving around your kid. This is not an exaggeration, at least not for me. I'm feeling guilty right now as I write this post.

8. My two favorite women in the whole wide world are my OB and my pediatrician. True Story! I happen to be blessed with two of the best in their professions. They have no idea how much they helped me through my first year as a mom! They have laughed with me, cried with me and have both talked me off of a ledge. We need more doctors like you. Thank you for being available and for being so gracious.

9. The Sick Love (another emotion) - so you think you know what love is before you have a kid, and you do. You love your spouse, you love your family and that's all real love. BUT, it's nothing like the sick love that you have for your kid. The kind that will make you walk through fire and on shards of glass, the kind that will make you lose your religion and everything else that's holy if anyone messes with your kid. The kind of love that will make you stare at him all. day. long. and not get bored. Oh, and the kind that makes you think that everyone wants to see every cute little thing he does. Thank you social media.

10. Make sure you have some mom friends that are just a little bit ahead of you in the mom department. These are invaluable relationships. Thank you ladies. I have learned so much from you. Don't forget to return the favor either. Make friends with some moms who are behind you in the mom journey as well. What you have to pour into them is so valuable.

Well, like I said, these are just a few of the things that I learned. Everyday something else gets added to the list. This quote just about sums it up:

"When you fall down, get back up. When you fall down, get back up. When you fall down again, get back up--again. Get back up. Get back up. Get back up." -Shana Schutte 

Friday, September 26, 2014


It's been a while since I have written a post, about 3 months, to be exact. I have to say that I think I was a little over ambitious thinking that I would be able to keep up not one, but two blogs, work full-time outside the home, be a wife AND raise a new baby! But hey, it's all about priorities right? As much as I love to write, there are other matters that need more of my attention during this season of life.

This seems to be a common theme for me right now. I am beginning to put certain things on the back burner that previously would have been front and center in my life. I wouldn't say my life is over by any means, but I am learning to navigate my "new normal." The most surprising part about this "new normal" is that I am not at all phased by the adjustments that I have had to make. If you would have told me before EJ was born that I rather spend a Friday night in, snuggling with my husband, dogs and baby boy reading "Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?" for the thirtieth time, I would have looked at you like you were crazy.

It all came to a head when I was in the grocery store the other day on a Wednesday evening after work. I was serving myself some beef and vegetable soup, when out of nowhere this young guy comes up to me pushing a shopping cart with nothing in it and says, "Excuse me sweetie, what are you doing around 7:30pm tonight?" I looked at him with a confused look and said, "I'm going to be taking care of my baby." He then precedes to say, "You can't get away and come out to our new club? It's going to be crazy." I look at him like, "Didn't you just hear me say that I'm taking care of my baby?" What would I look like just leaving my baby home to head out to a club? Do people really do that? And on a week night? I don't think I even went out to a club on a week night when I was in college. It was then that I had realized my priorities have completely shifted. Not just my priorities, my whole view of the world has changed.

I can no longer look at the news and see the reports and not think, "What if that was my son? What if that happened at his school? What if that were his babysitter, teacher, bus driver, you fill in the blank." I have turned into one of those moms who sees a pregnant woman going through airport security walk into the x-ray machine (or whatever that thing is called) and when she comes out, tells her that, "You know that you don't have to walk through those things when you're pregnant." (I actually did this and it wasn't received well...note to self, don't try to help other women protect their unborn babies.) I also routinely stare down people who have their baby's car seat propped on top of their shopping cart. (My husband has told me that I need to stop doing that.) When did I turn into this person??!!!

One thing remains, however, I am still the same me; just a better, wiser, more patient, gracious, understanding, helpful version of me, and who wouldn't love that?

Monday, June 30, 2014

Everybody Does

Before I begin, I must preface this post by saying that this is a vent post. Meaning, I am really just going to vent my feelings electronically. I can't promise that any of this will make sense, but hopefully I won't offend any one or maybe you can relate or empathize on some level.

Sometimes I feel that I'm not doing a good job as a mother and that I should be further along in the adjustment to parenting than I am, but I guess at some point, EVERYBODY DOES.

 I often feel guilty about working outside of the home and being away from my baby. Is what I'm doing for eight hours a day (more with traffic) really worth the time spent away from my child? But, I guess, EVERYBODY DOES.

 I feel like I am just "winging it," pretending that I have it all together when really I have no earthly idea what I'm doing, but I guess EVERYBODY DOES.

I look at myself in the mirror, at times, and think can I really love my new "mommy body?" Will I ever be able to wear a two-piece swim suit again? But, I guess EVERYBODY DOES.

 I feel awful about longing for days before the baby and "alone time" with my hubby. How could I feel like that? But, I guess EVERYBODY DOES.

I'm SO TIRED all the time, not just some of the time, all the time. I feel like I'm in a daze and the world is just happening around me. But, I guess EVERYBODY DOES.

Am I crazy because I check the video baby monitor quite frequently to see if my baby is still breathing? I don't know but, I can guess that EVERYBODY DOES.

It really saddens me to think that there are some things that my son is going to have to sacrifice because of mistakes that I made in the past. I really wish I knew back then what I know now and how my actions would effect my future family. But, I guess EVERYBODY DOES.

Time seems to move faster than the speed of light. Are we sure that there really are 24 hours in a day? Because I swear I don't have nearly enough hours.  I spend most of my time loading and unloading all the "stuff" in my car. But I guess, EVERYBODY DOES.

I look into my son's eyes and it never fails, I am always brought to tears. Will there ever be a time that I look at him and I am not in awe? I cannot believe that God has entrusted me to mother such an amazing creation. I feel so unworthy. But, I guess EVERYBODY DOES.

In my mind MY child is the most beautiful baby I've ever seen. I could literally stare at him ALL day and I wouldn't get tired of it or feel bad about it. I feel that staring at him is my favorite pastime. But, I guess EVERYBODY DOES.

Confession: I pretend to care or take into account unsolicited advice. I'm sorry (not sorry), but it's called unsolicited for a reason...WE DON'T WANT IT! Yeah, I said it. I mean it, and I think EVERYBODY DOES.

On behalf of new mothers everywhere, thanks for listening. I just needed to get that out. WOO-SAH! Now, that's better.

Monday, June 9, 2014

...and Baby Makes Three

I always thought it was a smart decision to wait a while, after getting married, before having kids. I still believe that. My husband and I had been married for 5 years before I got pregnant. This gave us plenty of time to iron out the kinks in our relationship, get to know each other more, take trips, try to understand our finances, etc. etc. I truly loved the time that we spent together, just the two of us. I will always treasure that time before EJ (B4EJ).

Now that we have a little one, let's just say that our quality time is extremely limited. Don't get me wrong, we still spend time together, now it just consists of making bottles, feeding the baby, bathing the baby, playing with the baby, changing the baby (diapers and clothing), talking to the get the idea. Have we had alone time since the baby? Yes. I can count on three fingers how many times we have been out together, alone, without EJ in tow. I don't want you to get the wrong idea. I absolutely adore my son and I love spending time with him. It's one of my favorite things in the world. It's just at times, I would love to have a glimpse of my old life back, just for a moment.

My husband and I are fortunate in that we live very close to family and have wonderful friends who are more than willing to care for our son. This makes spending that "alone" time that much easier. However, as I experienced this past weekend, sometimes even when you do have alone time, the baby ends up there with you anyway. Let me explain.

Last Saturday, June 7th was my husband and I's 6th wedding anniversary. We knew we weren't going to be able to celebrate how we normally do, by taking a trip or a fun excursion, so we decided on dinner and a movie. This is a rare treat and it would be our first movie together since EJ was born. We had some wonderful friends agree to babysit for us. They did not live very far from the restaurant and movie theater we were going to, so we were able to drop him off at their home on our way out for our anniversary date.

We decided to have dinner first. Hold on, I must mention that the evening got off to a pretty rocky start for me when I was trying to figure out what to wear. Although, it's been almost 3 months since I gave birth, virtually NONE of my clothes fit. In an effort to make sure that I get back into shape and lose the weight, I have not bought any clothes in a bigger size. While this sounds like a good strategy, it does not make it easy when trying to dress for a "hot date." So after about 30 minutes of sitting on my closet floor and sulking I found something to put on. It was not the ideal outfit for an anniversary date, but it fit.

When we arrived at the restaurant, I was hoping for a quiet booth where just the two of us could connect and not think about the baby. However, the hostess escorted us to the center of the restaurant to a table surrounded by families with, you guessed it BABIES!!! All I could do was think about EJ. I wanted to check my phone so bad and text the couple that was sitting for EJ, but I remembered my husband and I had made a pact before our date that we would not bring our phones with us to dinner. I was a wreck. I tried not to get too distracted by the babies and enjoy my husband's company. I was able to do that and it was made that much easier with the glass of wine that I had with dinner. Soon I found myself feeling that familiar feeling that I had on many, many other dates with the man that I love.

We left dinner and headed to the movies. I was very excited about the movie. It was a high energy, action movie that both of us really wanted to see. I bypassed the concession stand when we got there, remembering my meltdown earlier about my clothes not fitting, and headed into the theater. The movie got off to a great start. We were both really enjoying it. Then it happened. I felt it. The feeling of sleepiness coming over me. Man, that glass of wine really did me in. I thought I could fight it. Surely, an 8:00pm movie isn't too late for me. I tried to hang on. I nodded off a few times and after hard fought battle, I decided to give in. I fell asleep, and had a nice nap at that. No interruptions from a crying baby, perfect temperature and comfy seat. Perfect combination for a wonderful sleep. At least my husband enjoyed the movie.

It will take time to adjust to my "new normal" and just when I've adjusted, I know something else will be thrown into the mix. But, with all of that being said, I wouldn't trade being a mommy for anything in the world, even if it means that I sometimes fall asleep on dates!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Role Reversal

Gender roles play a huge part in the make-up of "the family." Typically, the man/husband/father is responsible for working outside the home, providing financially, taking out the trash, yard work, etc. The woman/wife/mother is typically responsible for taking care of household chores and all things having to do with the kids. This works in some families, but not always in others. It turns out in my family there is a bit of a role reversal.

My husband has the privilege of being able to work primarily from home. When he first got the position he was overjoyed because it meant less time wasted due to commuting, more money saved on gas and the freedom of autonomy. Who wouldn't want that? But, it wasn't until recently that we realized what a blessing his "work from home" position truly is.

I was fortunate enough to stay home with our son EJ after his birth for about 8 weeks. I treasured the moments that I got to spend with him and all the growing and developing that I witnessed in just that short period of time. Unfortunately, financially, our household would not survive on just one income, so I needed to go back to work full time. This would take me away from our son for at least 8 hours a day, if you don't count the time spent commuting to and from work. The thought of finding someone to care for our son while I was away made me sick. I couldn't imagine someone being able to care for my son like I could. Not to mention the fact that this person would be witnessing all of his firsts and possibly some major developmental milestones. After searching and searching we found someone who we deemed fit to fill in for us while we were away. However, the cost of sending EJ here full-time would be too much of a financial burden for us. We knew that we could probably swing part time though. In order to make this work, my husband stepped up to the plate and took on the role of the "Work from Home Dad," or as he would call it a "WFHD."

My husband has taken on making bottles, feedings, running errands, going to doctor's appointments, changing and dressing our baby (that's been interesting...I'm now laying out all of his clothing the night before. Just kidding, not really.) all while working! On the days that EJ does go to daycare, my husband is the one who takes him there and picks him up since I have such a long commute to work. I love seeing him with that diaper bag on his shoulder. It's such a wonderful scene. :) Due to this duty that my husband has taken on, he really and truly understands the balancing act that most mothers must perform. He knows what it's like to wonder when you will be able to take a shower or waiting until your spouse comes home to get dressed. He's been there and does this daily. I am so thankful for this "WFHD." The world needs more like him.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Working Mother

Working Mother: this term is pretty redundant if you ask me. It can also be pretty insulting. For instance, if you are a mother and you do not work outside the home, this term could imply that you do no work at all. This could not be further from the truth. I am a mother and I work outside the home. I can wholeheartedly say that being a mother is, hands-down, the hardest job I have ever had.  I have never worked longer and harder doing anything else in my life!

Before I had my baby boy I would have, what I like to call, "maternity dreams" about what my maternity leave would be like. I would be home all day with the baby and get to hold him and love on him. I would be able to clean the house, relax and sleep. It would be nice not having to think about or go into work everyday. I was going to get to visit with people that I hadn't seen in a while and I would get to spend quality time with family. Like I said..."maternity DREAM."

I won't say that being home with my baby was nothing like that, it just wasn't that picturesque and dreamy. I never got enough sleep to have any dreams...except for the times I caught myself napping with my eyes open. I think the part of my maternity leave that I really underestimated was the sleep deprivation. Everyone tells you about it. I  even read about it, but you just don't understand until you've BEEN there! The best way that I can describe it is; think of a time when you have been up all night long, maybe this was during college cramming for an exam or you have a job that requires you to work long shifts, either way you know the feeling. After the exam was over or your shift had been completed, what would you do? Most people would go home immediately and sleep. Now imagine how it would feel if that was EVERY night and there was no time in the near future that you would be able to recover..EVER. Yeah, it's something like that. I have fantasies now about long naps and a full-night's sleep. *sigh* I also read that sleep deprivation is used in some countries as a torture tactic. They will let the prisoners sleep and right before they get into REM sleep they would wake them up (insert baby cry in the middle of the night here). Once you get past the lack of sleep and just accept it as your right of passage into parenthood, you learn to adjust. This is especially true if you are fortunate enough to have a spouse or partner that is co-parenting with you. My hats off to all of the single parents out there. I really do not know how you do it. I have help and there a lot of days that I spend, literally the whole day in a fog.

Another thing that has shocked me about parenthood is how much "stuff" that those little people need!!! It's unreal. How can someone so small have a list of demands and product needs as long as Mariah Carey's when she's on tour?! And have more wardrobe changes than Diana Ross! Trying to gather everything up to leave the house just to go to the grocery store is an adventure. I can't imagine how it will be when we finally go out of town. You always have that nagging feeling that you are forgetting something when you leave the house, and you hope and pray that it's not the baby! Then there is the time when you actually do forget something, something big and you beat yourself up and think that you are the most terrible parent in the world. This happened to me just yesterday when we were dropping EJ off at Waumba Land at church (Birth-4yrs childcare). We realized as we were taking EJ out of the car that we had neglected to put any bottles in the diaper bag. Yes, we were going to send our child to church for a couple of hours without food! I was so embarrassed by this until I ran into a friend of mine at church and told her what happened. My friend is an experienced mother of three and let me know not to feel bad because she had accidentally sent her son to school with no shoes just that week! There's just so much stuff to remember that eventually something will fall through the cracks.

Motherhood is one of the only jobs that no one else can do better than you. This is why, as a mother who works outside of the home, it was difficult to go back to work and leave my little one in the hands of another. When you look into their eyes as you are leaving them for the first time, it almost rips your heart out. It does make it easier though, when you are comfortable with who is caring for your child. I recommend doing lots of research and interviewing potential childcare candidates. Also, think about the specific needs that your family has. Not all childcare options work for all families.

So I'm still dealing with the sleep deprivation, demands from my baby, remembering things, being a good wife and now throw in my duties at work into the mix. Lord, give me strength. I know I can do it, because I'm a mom and all moms are SUPERHEROS!!

Take a look at this video. You may have seen it before, but this really describes how much work goes in to being a mother. Thank you to all of the moms out there. You all are AWESOME!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

It was the Milk!

As you all now know from my last post, I am a planner. Motherhood has really made this aspect of my life a lot more challenging. As you learned in my birth story, things don't always go according to plan. In addition to planning to have a natural childbirth, a huge part of my plan was to breast feed my baby. Again, I was influenced by the women in my life (my mother and grandmother) to make this decision. I was breast fed and I knew all the benefits of breast milk for your baby. Not to mention, people pretty much look down on moms nowadays who don't breast feed. It's almost like feeding your baby food from McDonald's. Also, breast milk is free. Why wouldn't you choose to nurse your baby? Due to my track record, you can probably tell where this is going. breast feeding, it didn't work out so well.

When EJ was first born and we were in the recovery room after the c-section, he was given to me to begin nursing. They placed him on my belly and he crawled up to my chest and immediately began rooting. He latched on without any hesitation or problem. It didn't even hurt. I was ecstatic...#winning..LOL. My excitement came to a screeching halt when the nurses took EJ for the routine newborn procedures. I noticed that they were feeding him formula out of a bottle. I mean, he was fresh out of my womb and they're giving him formula!! From the other side of the room I notice this and ask what was going on. I was planning on breast feeding exclusively. It was then brought to my attention that EJ was born with very low blood sugar. It was necessary to feed him formula to get it back up. I would have to supplement my breast milk with formula everyday until his blood sugar stabilized. As you can imagine, for a mother who was planning to breast feed exclusively, this was a huge blow and yet another deviation from my "plan."

I continued to breast feed him while my husband would feed him the formula in the bottle. EJ did well with nursing for the first 2 days. Then on day 3, while still in the hospital, EJ was taken to get circumcised and when he came back, he began to struggle with the latch. He just would not latch on. He would attempt and then just start screaming. You don't know how frustrating this was for me. He was latching fine before. What was going on?! After meeting with lactation consultants, it was determined that I was not producing enough milk and my supply was not enough to sustain EJ on its own. After a visit to our pediatrician, she suggested that I pump as often as we feed EJ his formula (every 2 1/2 to 3 hours) in order to increase my supply. I took her advice and did just that. Unfortunately, I still was having significant issues with my supply, even after taking herbal supplements, drinking beer, etc. You name it, I tried it. I began to feel extremely guilty and saddened that I had missed out on the critical initial bonding that nursing provides. Aside from that, in order to avoid confusion, my husband was exclusively feeding EJ out of the bottle. I couldn't feed my baby at all. I didn't want to give up. At this point EJ was almost 3 weeks old.

Since we were going through lots of formula and the samples of the brand name formula we had gotten from the pediatrician were about to run out, we decided to purchase a generic version of the formula. We had heard from friends and through research that it was the same stuff, just cheaper. We began feeding EJ the generic formula. After a few days we noticed that EJ seemed to be in a lot of pain when moving his bowels. We also noticed that he had developed a redness on his bottom that was getting brighter and brighter red with each day. He would scream in agony with every diaper change. We knew that something wasn't right and it was time to take a visit back to the pediatrician. We were told that he may just have very severe gas and that is why he was in pain when moving his bowels and the redness was due to his stool being acidic and it was literally burning his skin. That was a good reason to change back to the brand-named formula. So we took the doctor's advice and changed back to the brand-named ($10.00 more expensive) formula. After a couple days back on the formula, we saw no improvement. Actually, the exact opposite happened. It got worse. The redness was not going away, the screaming continued and, a new development, there was blood in his stool. I couldn't take it. I couldn't take seeing my baby in agony and I didn't know what was wrong.

So we find ourselves back at the doctor. Thank goodness for emergency Saturday appointments. We actually were able to see our regular doctor. (She was on-call that day. Did I mention that I love her? The only thing is she is pregnant with her second baby and will eventually be gone on maternity leave. Not happy about that, but anyway...) She asked us to bring a soiled diaper with us. (This was a new experience, but apparently it's not uncommon in the world of parenting.) They tested his stool to confirm the blood. It turns out EJ has an allergy to cow's milk protein. This was causing his intestine to be enflamed which explained the bleeding. This also caused the acidic stool. What was the solution? New formula! This time it is $20.00 more...YES! Can you sense my sarcasm? But, all joking aside, I am happy that the doctor was able to provide us with a solution. I would pay any amount of money to make sure my baby is healthy. The type of formula is called Alimentum (and no it's not soy-based...he would be allergic to that too.) So what about my breast milk? I'm glad you asked. If I wanted to continue to "try" to nurse EJ I would have to have a completely dairy and gluten-free diet. This was what I needed to hear to make the decision to let go of my nursing dreams. With the little bit of milk that I was producing, it just wasn't worth it. Not to mention, foods that contain dairy and gluten are just the types of food you need in your diet to help with milk production.

So now my baby is strictly formula-fed. I'm shaking my head. If I haven't learned anything else from motherhood, I've learned that I need to stop making plans or actually, better yet, make plans just be flexible. As my yoga teacher always says, "Blessed are the flexible. For, they will never be bent out of shape."