Tuesday, June 28, 2016
I have really missed this space. Since my last blog post a few months ago, I've written a couple dozen mental posts, but never actually gotten them written. Turns out mental blog posts don't count as real blog posts.
So here I am, back writing an actual post.
Part of the reason for the break was that the past few months have been busy. We moved into our new house (!!!), and we're getting adjusted while slowly unpacking all of our boxes. My sister got married (!!!), and we spent a week in Michigan for the wedding, then had another reception back in St. Louis. Baby T turned one (!!!), and we celebrated his birthday with a simple little party. On top of that we've been working on getting into a more predictable daily routine to try to help Baby T sleep better at night. Our plans for regular sleep have been foiled by a couple bouts of sickness, but I'm hoping we're reaching the end of that.
I've been staying at home with Baby T since we moved back to St. Louis, and it's been so good in so many ways. It's also been interesting for me to not have a job out of the house I regularly go to or having to be accountable to someone other than my baby. But I wouldn't trade the time I've had with him for anything. Everyday there's a little moment where I think "I wouldn't have had this if I was working."
The ups have been getting to spend lots of time with Baby T and having a very flexible schedule. The downs have been finding myself in a bit of a personal rut and not knowing where I want to go from here. When I think about working outside of the home I get panicky thinking about leaving my little guy, but thinking about being a stay at home mom for a long time doesn't feel great either. I'm not sure what the answer will be, but I thought picking up blogging again might help me figure out what I want to do.
Another reason for the break is that I've been feeling a little stuck, though I didn't realize that until just recently. I miss making goals and bucket lists. I miss taking pictures and sharing them. I miss painting and having projects. I miss reflecting on my daily life. The last time I found myself in a bit of a rut, I began this blog. Finding little things to be grateful for in my everyday life made a huge difference for me, and I felt thankful for things I had been overlooking. Eventually I found a new job, some new hobbies, then another new job that ended up being the perfect fit for me. Then I left it to move home. It's been a great move for us, but it's also been a huge transition, and even the perfect move brings growing pains.
But ruts and feelings of dissatisfaction are huge gifts. They get me to take a closer look at my life, figure out what's missing, and open me to new possibilities.
The last reason for the break is that I didn't know what I wanted this blog to be anymore. I got a strange reminder that writing a blog is in its nature a very public thing, meaning anyone can read anything I write. That's what I want in a way (obviously), but it means I need to be picky about what I choose to share, especially now that I have a baby. You've probably noticed that I haven't shared any pictures of his face, and I rarely mention his full name. While I'm sure that 99% of the people reading this would only have the purest of intentions checking up on my little guy (especially because it's mostly my friends and family that read this!), I get nervous about that 1%. Figuring out what this space looks like when my life is focused on a baby whose privacy I want to protect will just be a process.
So there you have it. A quick check in post that will hopefully be the start of a refocusing on blogging and the things that bring me joy. I feel a little better already. Thanks for reading!
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
I have a baby who is nine months old (technically 9 1/2 at the time of this writing), and I have no idea how that happened. When I was pregnant with Theo nine month olds seemed HUGE and old! And I figured a mom of a nine month old obviously had everything about parenting figured out. Now I'm the mom with the huge, old baby, but everything seems just as it did when we came home from the hospital - though I know so much has changed.
Time is tricking that way. The days are long and the weeks are short. So time always seems like it passes so slowly, then you blink and your baby is suddenly nine months old and WALKING! Yes, Baby T is walking. You can probably imagine that I have mixed feelings about this. I'm so proud of my baby guy, but having a walking baby is so much work. I have to watch him like him a hawk, and even then he still manages to fall and hurt himself or get something in his mouth that he shouldn't have. He's so fast!!
Here are a few other thoughts from this mom of a nine-month old.
- I've talked about how having a c-section really rocked my world, and nine months later I still feel like I'm coming to terms with it. Every time a friend has a baby "normally," I feel so happy that they didn't have to go through what I did, but I also feel a twinge of jealousy. There's also feelings that I wasn't strong enough to have Baby T or that my body failed somehow. I was sharing this with my mom yesterday, and she something so helpful. She told me to remember how strong I had to be to make it through my labor and that I did what I had to do to safely bring Baby T into the world. Instead of feeling like I failed because I had such a hard labor, remember to feel strong for getting through it. Hearing that made something click for me. Hopefully that will help me find more peace with my labor experience.
-Newborns feel so tiny to me now. A few friends have had babies in the past month or so, and when I hold them I feel like I'm holding a big folded towel. One that squirms and makes squeaky sounds. They are just tiny and light!
- It is amazing to be a witness to a baby's development. There is so much evolution on a weekly basis. I say the phrase "this is the new thing he's doing" a few times a week. I try to journal about the little things he does since most of them seem to be very fleeting. Some of the things he's currently doing: walking around the house with socks in his mouth, saying "doi doi doi" when he gets frustrated, reading all of his board books, feeding himself with little finger foods, and tucking his toes onto the bottom of his high chair tray.
- Having to put away baby clothes that don't fit anymore is the best way to get me to cry.
- I spent a week in Milwaukee this month, and let me tell you something that is probably completely obvious: it's hard travelling with a baby. The actual car trip was fine, surprisingly. But spending a week at someone else's house - even if they are the nicest people in the world - is enough to turn a baby's world upside down. I felt like I was on edge most of the time trying to keep Theo from eating things he shouldn't and just trying to keep things feeling normal. Come to think of it, it probably also didn't help that I was trying to train someone at my old job - with no babysitter. Moral of the story: try not to bring your baby on week long work trips.
- Want to know how to make a very happy mom anxious? Ask her if her baby is sleeping through the night. If you want to make her really anxious, tell her about how well your babies slept through the night at that age, without having to do anything. I really don't mind that Theo doesn't sleep through the night consistently, but having to justify his little natural behaviors is hard.
- Theo is going through a period of separation anxiety. And I find that I also have separation anxiety being away from him. Don't get me wrong, having a few hours away from him for a date night or time with friends is fantastic and a great way to hit the reset button. But thinking about a whole day or a whole night away from him gets my heart racing! My mom says that motherhood is a journey of letting go, and I'm finding that to be true, but not to be easy.
- Laughing with Baby T is one of my favorite things in the world. He'll giggle, then I'll giggle, then he'll giggle again, then I'll do it again too, and we'll gone on like this for a few minutes. Because we're that cool. But seriously, making him laugh is the best feeling in the world. The only competing feeling is watching Paul make him laugh. <heartmelt>
- My baby guy looks more like a little boy everyday. He's learning to express himself and really seems to be understanding more. He watches animals at the zoo. He pulls food out of his mouth, checks it out, then eats it again. He stretches his neck to look around corners for things. He waits, moving from foot to foot, while the tub fills with water for his bath. He tries jumping out of my arms so he can climb up the stairs to his room. And he arches his back when he sees that he's going to the diaper changing station. It's so cool to see him discovering and making sense of his world.
- I am so, so, so thankful to be spending this special time at home with Theo. When we moved to St. Louis, I went back and forth about whether to find a job or stay home full time. I felt like I *should* be working, but everytime I looked at jobs I got all panicky. Over the past couple of months we've settled into such a nice routine, and I couldn't imagine trading this time at home with Theo for anything.
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
I procrastinated writing this post for weeks, eight weeks to be precise. The further I get into motherhood, the more normal things feel and the harder it seems to put my reflections into words. Here's my best attempt to stop procrastinating and reflect on this period of motherhood:
- Baby T has had a lot of firsts since my 20 week reflection: he flew on a plane, he visited a mountain, met his great-grandmas, cut his first two teeth, and started crawling. Come to think of it, maybe that's why I haven't posted about motherhood for eight weeks.
- It's crazy how fast he's developed. His body can do things that he wouldn't have dreamed of a few weeks ago, and he has no words to describe or process all the things that are happening to him. So many things are new to him all the time. Remembering that helps me be more patient with him when he cries for seemingly no reason or gets frustrated about something I think is silly. If I went through that much change and transition, I would be cranky 24/7, but for the most part, he's such a happy, relaxed little guy.
- After our move to St. Louis, Paul and I decided that I would stay home with Theo for a while. Decided is actually maybe too strong a word. I put off my job search until after the holidays because nothing was jumping out at me, then I realized more and more that I was putting off the job search because I didn't want to leave Theo. Financially it's a wash to have me work and have Theo in daycare, so SAHM it is for your truly. It's been a big adjustment, and I've been challenged in ways I didn't expect. I don't think I'll stay home forever, but it's working for all of us pretty well right now.
- I've realized that to be the best mom I can be, I need to find ways to stay personally fulfilled while being a SAHM. Recently that included buying myself a planner (not a ton to plan, but writing my to-do list makes my tasks feel more legitimate) and making a resolution to sketch everyday. Small things like that have made a difference in my self confidence and overall life satisfaction level.
- I started thinking of other stay at homes as my co-workers. Making efforts to see other moms and babies during the week has been great for both me and Theo.
- Before Theo was born, I promised myself I would start exercising again at six months post partum. If you remember, I was doing roller derby before I got pregnant with Theo, but I wasn't quite ready to jump back into something like that. I started a mom stroller class that I thought would be a nice, easy transition back into exercising. Yeah...not so easy. That class makes me sweat almost as much as derby used to. Not quite the chill work out I thought it would be, but I love it because I've surprisingly come to crave a good workout. I also love that Theo can come and crawl around on the floor with everybody else's kids.
- We're currently living with my parents which has been a big transition. We don't have our own space anymore, but my parents have been super hospitable and have been great with Theo. It's pretty amazing to have live in babysitters. I know I'll look back at this time with so much nostalgia remembering how special it was to see Theo play daily with his grandparents.
- Yesterday, Theo knocked one of his plastic eggs against one my mom was holding. I knew he could knock two together when he was holding them himself, but it took another level of problem solving to play with the one my mom was holding. I didn't even know that was in the realm of possibilities for something he could do! I immediately felt guilty that I wasn't encouraging Theo to fulfill his full potential. And then luckily I gave myself a break pretty soon after.
- That situation had me thinking how easy it is for parents to coddle their kids or not challenge them. Theo (and other babies and kids) develop so fast, and half the time I'm just trying to catch up with whatever new thing he's doing. When I finally get used to where he currently is, I get emotionally connected to it, but he's already ready for the next step. Parenthood feels like I'm trying to constantly keep up with my baby boy. Meanwhile he doesn't know where he's going, he just wants to GO. Parenthood is about constantly evolving and trying to allow your child to be whoever he needs to be.
- My life involves way more poop and spit up then it ever has before
- I got puked on - full out puked on - for the first time. Right down my shirt. Surprisingly, it barely phased me. That more than anything showed me motherhood has changed me.
- I've been trying cloth diapers and making my own baby food. It's extra work, but I like doing a little extra work for something I feel is better for the environment. There's also part of me that wants to justify being a SAHM by saving us a little extra money and showing other perks to having me home with Theo. I'm assuming other SAHMs do things like this, but I haven't received official confirmation.
- Sometimes Theo eats the dogs bones. I had resigned myself to it since he is growing up with four dogs, and it looks hilarious, so sometimes I might let it go on a little too long.
- I've been a mom long enough to develop routines. We didn't have routines for a long time, because I found that being a "go-with-the-flow" parent was the least stressful method for me, Paul, and Theo. But the older Theo gets, the more he seems to fall into routines naturally and to like having a rhythm to our days. Our bedtime routine may be my favorite as it involves nursing and a super soft blanket that Theo likes to cuddle up in (that orange one in the picture above). It's one of those things that feels no normal and mundane it's not even worth mentioning, but things have changed so quickly the last seven months, I know that our current routines won't last forever. Knowing that I won't always put Theo to sleep after relaxing in the nursing chair is kind of heart breaking (though also a relief because what mom wants to rock her 17 year old son to sleep? That's weird Game of Thrones material.)
- More of Theo's personality comes out everyday. Each day we seem closer to him looking up at me and telling me what's on his mind. I think he's going to have some pretty funny things to share.
- People continue to be so kind to us. It makes me so happy to think that Theo will grow up seeing the best of people, knowing that people are basically good at heart. Our interactions over the past seven months has renewed my faith in humanity.
For not knowing what I would write, that post turned out to be a lot longer than I expected! Thanks for reading and following along on my journey.
Sunday, November 8, 2015
First, the announcement: we're moving to St. Louis! This decision has been a loooong time coming. Like seven years coming. Paul and I have been trying to figure out the best city to settle in, and with Theo's arrival, we were pushed to finally make a decision. Paul found a good job in St. Louis and that helped confirm it was the right choice for us. We move very soon and have lots to do before leaving Milwaukee - people to say goodbye to, jobs to wrap up, things to pack, favorite restaurants to go to one last time. It's bittersweet to leave a place that's become home and people who have become like family, but I think it's the best decision for us right now. With all the craziness of this move, I haven't been keeping up with the blog well (there's always something!), but here are some recent thoughts on motherhood. I keep learning some wonderful lessons and gaining wonderful gifts thanks to my sweet boy.
- Theo's done a little sleep regression and gets up about twice a night lately. I can't complain though since overall he's been a really good sleeper. One good thing about getting up in the middle of the night: when I walk him back to his room, he rests his head on my shoulder until I lay him back in his crib. So simple, so wonderful.
- Other notes about sleeping. We take an afternoon nap together most days after work, and I love the excuse to rest and to cuddle. We've also got more of an evening bed routine going now. We sing songs as he gets his pjs on, we read a board book, then he gets kisses, and we turn out the light. Nothing fancy, but I have a feeling I'll remember it my whole life.
- He's such a good blend of us: Paul's eyes and nose, my mouth and cheeks. I hope it continues, and with things that aren't as obvious as our facial features.
- There is so much happiness and laughter in our house. We were happy pre-Theo, but there's a marked difference in the amount of outright laughter and joy in our house. I'm so grateful for the gift of Theo in our lives.
- Part of the reason for all the laughter is that Theo *cracks up* at Paul. All he has to do is look at him, and Paul gets a smile out of our boy. I got a little jealous that Paul could make him laugh so much more easily than I could, but I got over that because it's just so fun to see my husband and my son having so much fun together.
- I had a conversation with a friend last night about how I'm still struggling with my new mom body. Lots of people say that whatever they go through in pregnancy and post-baby are "worth it," and I totally agree that to get Theo here everything I went through was worth it. But if I had my choice between my pre-baby and post-baby body, I would hands down pick my pre-baby body. This is something I'm still struggling with and hopefully will eventually make peace with.
- Relatedly, it feels like motherhood is slowly rubbing off more of my rough edges. Loving so much and sacrificing so much for another person helps you become a better person. And maybe embracing this part of motherhood will eventually help me make peace with the sacrifices I made to bring Theo into the world.
- Even though motherhood is awesome, it's hard. I've noticed that I'm a better mom with lots of support from family and friends and little breaks for myself. When I feel like I'm going stir crazy and slightly suffocated, a quick fro yo break or walk around the block is surprisingly just enough to make me feel like myself again. It's good to know that breaks and me-time don't make me selfish, it makes me a better caretaker and a better person.
- Nursing is one of the coolest parts of being a mom. It doesn't hurt that it helped me lose my baby weight while eating pretty much whatever I've wanted. It's going to be tough when Theo moves to non-exclusive nursing right around the holidays. Cue time for a new exercise plan.
- This Halloween was the first time in years that I've enjoyed the holiday (not counting the year we spent Halloween in Salem, Massachusetts). I always procrastinate picking out a costume, and then I'm disappointed it's obvious I put together an outfit at the last minute. But this year was so fun to dress Theo up as a little lion (a hand me down costume from a friend) and take him to a few houses. I bet next year will be even better since he'll be able to collect his own candy.
- Time is flying by. Theo is rolling over and getting closer and closer to crawling. I look back at pictures from even just a few weeks ago, and he's so different. Sometimes he changes way too fast for my liking. I want the sweetness of this time to last forever, but it seems like each new stage has a specialness of its own. More incentive to actually remember to take pictures of my growing boy!!
Thanks so much for reading. And thanks for sticking with me with me during my spotting posting!
Thursday, September 17, 2015
Our boy is three months old this week. We're done with the "fourth trimester," and Theo has officially transitioned to life outside the womb. It makes me so proud we've made it this far and simultaneously breaks my heart that he's growing so fast. Here are my thoughts on motherhood at 13 weeks.
- It's annoying that weeks and months don't match up. Theo wasn't three months old at 12 weeks, he was three months at 13 weeks and 1 day. How does that make sense?
- I had the overwhelming thought that no matter how much I try, I won't always be able to protect Theo. He's inevitably going to get sick, someone will eventually be mean to him (and I'll have to beat that person up), he'll fall down and scrape his knees, he might get stung, or break a bone, or get his heart broken. And in those times, I'll have to do what I do now when he gets the hiccups - just show up and be there to comfort him while he waits for the pain to go away.
- Being a mom is already making me a better person. When I have desires like "I'd love Theo to appreciate nature" or "it would be awesome if Theo grew up knowing how to cook" or best of all "I hope Theo grows to be compassionate and loving" -- it means I have to make that growth possible for him. We'll have to spend time in nature, spend time cooking together, and I'll have to model compassion and love. Children learn what they live and see, so it means I have to step up to the plate for him.
- This is one of the absolute best times of my life. I love being a mom, i love my baby, i love my husband, i love my job -- life is just so good. I've loved parts of every part of my life, but this just feels extra special. (And there's a good chance I've said that about many parts of my life.)
- People have asked me since having Theo if I feel like a mom. In a lot of ways, I don't totally feel like a mom yet, but my reaction to the pictures of the little Syrian boy showed me that I've made the transition to motherhood. I couldn't stop crying at that picture of the boy on the shore. I had never had that reaction before to a humanitarian crisis, even though I feel passionately about social justice issues. I felt empathy in a new way for the mothers who can't save their children from poverty, war, migration crises. They have hopes and dreams for their children, just like I have hopes and dreams for my Theo.
And that's all for now. Thanks for reading and sharing my journey into motherhood. It's been quite the adventure.
Friday, August 28, 2015
It's official: I love this mothering gig. I feel happier than I have in years, maybe happier than I ever have. I've been blessed with a content, fulfilled feeling - especially when I'm looking at my little boy. A friend told me recently that motherhood looks good on me, and though my eyes look super tired most of the time, I tend to agree with her.
I'm back to work now (part time), and I'm lucky enough to feel super content and fulfilled there as well. It helps that I'm at my dream job - leading service and justice retreats for student and adult groups - AND that I have amazing coworkers AND that I can bring Theo to work at the office with me.
Some other thoughts in no particular order:
- Paul, Theo, and I are starting to find our groove as a family. We spend a lot of time sitting around relaxing but also like taking little adventures together. (When you have a ten week old you're allowed to count trips to the grocery store and other errands as adventures.)
- I love all the free time I have. Working part time with a not-yet-crawling baby at home has given me more free time than I've had in years.
- I feel more inspired than I have in a really long time, probably because of all that free time I have. I've been taking some time to reacquaint myself with things I've been missing and setting some good habits (like tidying up, grocery shopping regularly, and healthier eating) before Theo starts crawling.
- I am so, so thankful we were given an easy baby. Theo is so relaxed and so willing to go with the flow. It makes parenting him so, so enjoyable.
- Maybe relatedly - I love my boy more each day. It brings me so much joy to wake up every day and get to see him and spend time with him.
- We've left Theo with a babysitter a few times already, and overall it's been really good. The only downside is that I feel like something is physically missing from me when I don't have Theo close by. I've never had that sensation before, and it boggles my mind that I can feel so connected to a person that didn't even exist (outside me) ten weeks ago.
- I'm already so proud of this boy -- holding his head up, smiling, interacting with the world. I just love watching him grow and learn and discover things.
- Though I love watching him grow, I would be fine with him slowing down just a bit. He's at the 90% for all his growth factors, and he's already wearing six month clothing at 10 weeks. He rolled over the other night, and I was like slow down son!! It's crazy how fast he changes and how quickly he starts doing new things. Though I love that he's healthy and developing so well, I wouldn't mind hitting the pause button every now and again.
- One downside of working part time is a nagging feeling that I'm not contributing to the household finances like I used to. I think it says more about what our society values (making money) than what our family values are, but it still has been hard for me to see my worth as being equal to Paul's when a big part of my work doesn't have a price on it. I know lots of mothers struggle with this - which makes feel a little better and a little worse. I try to focus on how happy and fulfilled I am to better trust that I'm doing what I need to be doing right now.
- We have hundreds of pictures of Theo. Hundreds. Quickly approaching thousands.
- I love being that most special person for Theo right now. It feels amazing to comfort him, nourish him, care for him, and love him. I feel like the luckiest person in the world getting to be his mama.
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
As I write this post, my six week old son is sleeping next to me in his bassinette. He has that angelic sleeping newborn look going on, and I stop every minute or so just to look at him.
It's hard to imagine that six weeks ago, I didn't know that he was going to be our baby. I didn't even know our baby was going to be a he. I remember feeling slightly shocked when the hospital nurse showed Theo to me for the first time. For ten months I had been pregnant with "a baby" - no defining characteristics that I knew of yet that set him apart from any other baby. And then I saw him, and there was no mystery or generalness anymore -- he was himself. He was Theo.
Six weeks ago, at this very minute, Theo was born.
We've come so far since then. In that moment six weeks ago I felt exhausted, broken, scared, so so happy, and overwhelmed. In this moment today, I feel rested, strong, nurturing, happy, normal, and so so in love.
Our days don't seem so hard anymore. Theo keeps his eyes wide open for longer stretches during the day. He smiles in recognition when he looks at me. He's gotten the hang of nursing. He loves looking up at the ceiling, at fans, at contrasting colors, at fireplaces. He falls asleep in his carseat - in the car and on walks. He's easier to soothe. It already seems like he's getting so old, and I'm still measuring his age in weeks - not months or years.
I've changed too. I feel stronger and more confident. My body feels more normal. My wedding ring somewhat fits again. I can walk for longer distances. I can go up and down stairs and carry things heavier than Theo. I don't feel as anxious or as overwhelmed by motherhood. I actually enjoy "babysitting" 24/7.
I still struggle with having a c-section, and I don't know if I'll ever fully believe that I gave birth to him. Mostly because of how disconnected I felt with my body and the whole birthing experience. But I love this boy of ours more everyday, and I'm so thankful that regardless of the way that he came into the world - he is healthy and growing and well cared for.
My new favorite thing is when Theo falls asleep on my chest in the evenings. No matter how big he gets, I'll always remember that feeling of him sleeping peacefully close to my heart. I feel like I'm taking something from him it feels so comforting. But I remember what it felt like to fall asleep with my mom or dad patting my back as I fell asleep as a kid, and I know that falling asleep the way he does must feel just as comforting to him as it does to me.
These past six weeks have been some of the best of my life. Seeing my husband become a father, my parents become grandparents, my siblings become aunt and uncles has been amazing. And the time off to sit, and read, and watch tv, and spend time with family and friends -- all while caring for Theo - has been one of the biggest blessings of my life.
Saturday, July 4, 2015
I'm writing this on Fourth of July while hanging out with my little family. We're snuggling in lieu of fireworks watching this year. It's a little crazy considering we were here last year. Here's some more thoughts on motherhood for this week.
- Things feel slightly less raw this week. My body feels a little better, my emotions are a little more stable, and things in general just feel a little easier. I've heard that you really turn a corner at six weeks, so I'm thinking if things keep going the way they're going, six weeks is going to feel incredible.
- It's slowly sinking in that Baby T is actually ours. It's overwhelmingly good and just plain overwhelming. Good overwhelming in that I know he's ours for as long as we're all lucky enough to be together, and I get to love him and hold him and squeeze him for a very, very long time. Regular overwhelming in that we are responsible for a human life and caring for him and trying to raise him into a loving, awesome person. This parenting thing is a big deal.
- People say that they have tremendous love upon seeing their baby for the first time. I thought my baby looked like an alien when I saw him for the first time (I partially blame this on the pain meds). The nurse in the OR room put him up to my face after weighing him and cleaning him, and I didn't quite get what she was doing. My thoughts at the time: "I can't touch him because you've got my hands all stretched out crazy, I'm all doped up on pain meds, and I just want to get out of this room and hold him for real." So, no, my love for my baby was not immediate. My love started later that night when I finally felt more alert. It might have been delayed, but it's strong and it's grown every day since.
- I survived my first day home alone with Baby T earlier this week. He was fussy all morning and it was hard not having any back up. But it was wonderful spending time together, and it felt like we got over a big hurdle together.
- Parenting is a lot easier having a great partner and a great community of family and friends around us
- Every little thing I do around the house that I did before Baby T was born feels like a major accomplishment. The first time I took a shower at home, the first time I got out of bed like a normal person (no rolling over or pushing up on my elbows), the first time I made myself lunch, the first time I made it to the community garden, the first time I walked around the block, the first time I took the dogs out. Each time I felt a little burst of pride. It feels huge doing all my old normal things while keeping a two week old baby alive. And don't even get me started on how proud I feel nursing and soothing Baby T. All my old accomplishments seem irrelevant when you can get a crying baby to sleep at four in the morning.
- I've still been thinking a lot about the c-section, going over in my head what we could have done differently to prevent it from happening. I had hoped so strongly for a "regular" delivery, and I hadn't even thought of a c-section as a possibility going into the labor. A few days ago though I thought -- what if I found out that maybe there was something that could have prevented the c-section? Is it going to change what happened? Is it going to make me feel any better about how the birth went? Absolutely not. Now instead I'm trying to just sort through all the feelings about what did go down and not worry about things out of my control.
- Having baby T is teaching me a lot about slowing down. I realized just how much I had to learn when a friend who also had a c-section gave me the advice to not do anything I don't have to. Hearing that caused me to have a mini internal freak out. Because I want to do all the things!! I want to do all the chores and keep our house clean and paint and respond to all my emails and read books and make photo albums --- and let myself recover from a c-section and raise our baby son. A person can accomplish all that stuff right? Um...no. So it's time to let go of all that stuff that isn't recover from a c-section or raise our baby --- and try to just get some sleep.
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Today we're celebrating one week since we welcomed Baby T into the world. Which means (crazily enough) that I've been a mom for a whole week! Here are some random reflections on the beginnings of my transition to motherhood.
- I had been warned that the first week of motherhood would be a roller coaster ride, and it truly has been. Between the physical recovery of the c-section, side effects of pain medications, sleep deprivation, and general exhaustion from labor recovery -- my body has been through the ringer. Hormones have strengthened all the emotional ups and downs of the week. The downs have been tough, but the ups - oh man, they have been fantastic. Holding my baby to my chest, breastfeeding, studying his little body, seeing others love on my baby, realizing over and over again that he is mine -- my heart has never felt so full.
- The night we came home from the hospital, I had a minor break down. Sleep deprivation from five sleepless nights hit me hard. All the feelings seemed to roll over me at once. I cried on Paul's shoulder, and the only thing I remember saying was "sometimes I don't even remember what we named him!" Paul responded "at least we have lots of nicknames for him." I chuckled through my tears - a theme for that first night at home So far that's been the lowest low, but I'm sure it won't be the last time I cry on Paul's shoulder about something related to motherhood.
- I love being on this side of labor. I love that we have our baby, and he's not going anywhere. I love getting to know him and watching him grow.
- I've had a few extremely proud mama moments so far. The first was hearing someone in the operating room announce my baby's weight: 9 pounds 8 ounces!! Yeah baby! Another was when my doula called me a warrior following my labor. Laboring with Baby T was the hardest thing I've ever done and to have it recognized was a huge boost to my spirit (other people in my birth team recognized it too - she was just the first I remember hearing). A third came when we went to Baby T's first doctor's appointment, and we found out he had almost regained his birth weight and was up seven ounces in three days! It's the little things :) And everytime Baby T latches or we have successful nursing time, I feel like the proudest mama in the world.
- Speaking of being proud, I think the part of my body I'll be most proud of from now on will be my c-section scar. It sounds strange, and extremely unglamorous, but this scar will be a reminder that I was able to overcome one of my biggest fears to bring my baby safely into the world. I surrendered and let go when I needed to, and it showed me I could let go of my ego and put my baby before myself. It helped show me I have what it takes to be a mom.
Paul took the picture above sometime in between getting my epidural and beginning to push. Those were a special few hours hanging out and waiting to meet our baby.
Monday, June 22, 2015
I am so happy to announce the arrival of our little baby boy -- for the blog's purposes Baby T (like Mr. T except smaller and cuter). Born June 16th, weighing 9 pounds 8 ounces and measuring 22 inches long. Mommy and Baby T are both healthy and doing well.
Labor and delivery took everything I had. After forty hours of labor and three hours of pushing, my doctor told me that the safest option for delivering Baby T was a c-section. I was scared and disappointed, so I took a few minutes to talk with my coaching team, and we all decided to trust the doctor and go through with the c-section. Less than an hour later we met our little boy for the first time. I loved all of his hair, felt proud that I had grown such a big, strong baby, and was also totally out of it from all my pain medications. About an hour later I got to hold him for the first time and spent the rest of the night holding him to my chest and figuring out nursing. It was the most surreal, most beautiful night of my life.
For now we'll be relaxing at home and getting adjusted to life as a family of three. I'll be spending most of my time feeding, sleeping, and commenting about how Baby T is the most perfect, most beautiful thing I've ever seen.
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Getting ready to have my first baby has reminded me just how much I love her and need her. I text her several times a day to update her on something that's happening with the baby, to ask her questions, or (on my not so selfish days) to see how she's doing. We've developed a silly tradition of texting each Saturday to proclaim a new week of pregnancy (27 weeks! 30 weeks! 35 weeks!). I get so much comfort from our little conversations, knowing that someone is so interested and invested in how my pregnancy is going and how our little babe is developing. I feel so loved, and I feel so connected in our mutual love of the baby.
I've seen a whole new side of her start to come out - the grandma side. She's been knitting blankets, prepping a baby room, and even starting a little library. I know she has lots of ideas about adventures she'll be taking our baby on. It's been a long time wish of my mom's to meet her grandchildren, and I can see so much joy in her knowing that her wish is going to come true.
I'm so grateful that I get to share my motherhood journey with my mom. She has been so kind and supportive and gracious in listening and responding to my concerns, excitements, and wishes. I hope someday I'll be able to pass on this same love to my little babe.
Somehow this is the most recent picture I have of just me and my mom (from last summer). What are we doing when we're on our mom/daughter dates? Obviously spending too much time being present and not enough time taking selfies. Let's work on that mom.
Thursday, April 9, 2015
Fact: Victoria's Secret does not sell maternity or nursing bras/clothes. Fact: pregnancy, birth, and motherhood involve lots of stretching and bodily fluids. Fact: I am the heaviest I've been in my whole life and my abdomen is covered in stretch marks.
I've decided that no matter what my family, friends, and husband tell me to the contrary, I am not currently beautiful -- at least not in the way that society would define beautiful. I'm bloated, swollen, stretchy, heavy, and creaky. I have a double chin, I can't fit into any of my pre-pregnancy clothes, my feet have started popping out of my shoes, and I can't touch my toes. I'm getting ready to push a six to nine pound baby out of an opening that's currently less than one centimeter wide. Following that, some of my sexiest lady parts will be used for feeding and keeping a baby alive. None of these things would get me on the cover of Vogue or Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition.
But part of me also trusts my family, friends, and husband when they say I'm beautiful. They genuinely see a glowing in my face, my body, my general presence right now. And in my better moments, I do too.
I kind of love my roundness and my big belly. It means that my little baby is growing and developing and is warm and cozy and safe. I even kind of love my extra weight because I know it's my body's way of helping to get me ready for breastfeeding. I love how happy I look in pictures from my showers and with friends and family.
These things make me feel beautiful in a completely new way.
I'm beautiful because I'm happy. I'm beautiful because I'm creating a new little life 24/7. I'm beautiful because my body is preparing me to be a mother. I'm beautiful because of a new energy that comes from the excitement of embarking on a huge adventure.
Relatedly -- I also trust mothers when they say there's a kind of beauty to birth as well. Yes, I know birth involves pain, potential tearing, LOTS of bodily fluids, and even sometimes scary complications. But birth also involves bringing a new life into the world, and I think that in itself is beautiful. During labor, I'll get to journey with my husband and trust and rely on him for support. I'll get to surrender to my body's instincts in a deeper way than I ever have before. I'll get to meet my little baby for the first time, and we'll all begin bonding as a family. That to me all sounds extremely beautiful.
I don't think someone needs to be skinny, perfectly symmetrical, or airbrushed to be beautiful. And I don't think an event needs to be clean, tidy, or without pain and challenges to be beautiful. Being pregnant has made me rethink my perception of myself, and I'm glad I've had the opportunity to rethink how, when, and why I feel beautiful.
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
I mentioned last week that I would be sharing my goals for my 30th year (31st year? I have no idea how this works). I've scaled down the number of goals and the scope of my goals compared to years past. I knew I would feel slightly off if I started a year without setting some new goals, but I also didn't want to overwhelm myself in my first year as a mom.
I decided on these fifteen goals and am calling it my 15 for 30 list. (Paul and I play cribbage and a lot of times I'll get mixed up with scoring and say things like "15 for 30" instead of "15 for 2" or however you correctly announce points in cribbage.)
In writing this list, I thought ahead to next April 4th when I know I'll appreciate being able to say that I met most of my goals. It'll be a year when my biggest accomplishments - keeping our baby alive and becoming a mom - won't be as tangible because they're not something you can really check off a goal list. I have a feeling this list will give me that extra pat on the back boost I'll probably need after a challenging, wonderful year. The other thing inspiring this list is that I want to hold on to a few things that bring me joy in my current pre-baby life. I want to keep accomplishing things that have nothing to do with the baby but everything to do with continuing my personal development and ultimately making me a better person and parent.
My 15 for 30 List
1. Spend time in the garden (community and porch)
2. Keep up with regular low impact exercise
3. Get back to roller derby
4. Bake something new
5. Complete one big painting project
6. Try a new craft
7. Try oil paints
8. Take the baby to St. Louis, Portland, and one other place
9. Embrace motherhood
10. Complete 52 week photography challenge
11. Make some baby photo albums
12. Go on regular dates with Paul
13. Be kind to myself
14. Play and dance
15. Start a family tradition
I am so excited about this list and so excited to experience these things/check them off. The goals are simple, attainable, a bit challenging, and should be fun and enjoyable.