#Momfail Monday: Meet Cassie

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Cassie is mom to Trey (age 2), rounding out the end of her first trimester with baby number two, and married to perfectionist, Craig.  Cassie works part time in direct sales for a high end candle company and Craig is an attorney. Monday is Trey’s first day of Mother’s Day Out. These are their stories.

Monday

6:00 am

“ZZZzzzzzzzz” the buzzing sound of Craig’s electric razor wakes me up every morning. Yes, I am pregnant and have a toddler, but it’s my husband’s neuroses that rip me from the Sandman every morning. I am twelve weeks pregnant tomorrow, but feel about thirty this second go around. BUT! But, today is Trey’s first day of Mother’s Day Out. I can drop him off and have five blissful hours to straighten the house, get some work done to please my upline, and maybe finally do that prenatal yoga DVD fossilizing in my living room. The world is my oyster…well, if I could eat oysters.

9:15 am

I snap the obligatory first day of school photo where Trey looks like he is simultaneously being tortured and preparing for a career as an serial killer. I quickly upload to Instagram, tagging Craig, while wondering why toddlers have an aversion to normal smiles that rivals my fetus’s aversion to all meat. I walk him in prepared for tears and “Don’t leave me, Mommy” only to be met with the cold shoulder. I have the least clingy toddler of all times.

10:45 am

I am going to go through Starbucks, in the middle of the day!! Reckless! I love it. I did a little work on my phone in the parking lot of the school (after a good hormonal cry) so I am already feeling productive. That and I need a super sugary, chemical laden coffee dessert, since now that *eyeroll* Craig is keto and *eyeroll* just loving it, bulletproof coffee is the only coffee in our home. Le sigh. At least it’s better than his cabbage diet phase. He stunk. And since I’m among friends, his current abs and my current hormones have been *cough cough* good for our relationship.

2:15 pm

I pried my eyes open to my phone chiming incessantly. Who knew it was possible to sleep that hard after a giant coffee. Pregnant girls, that’s who. Apparently, Mallory had to call the police on the boys today in the hardware store parking lot. Poor Mal, always embarrassing herself. Oh crap! I have to be at the school in seven minutes. I have to beat all of the Lulu clad (yet also perfectly made up) moms into the school.

2:22 pm

With a screech of my breaks, I ramble into the school realizing I am wearing my house shoes (the ones that Muffin, our St. Bernard chewed up but I love too much to toss) with my carefully selected “casual chic” mom dress. Oh well, maybe no one will notice. I collect my child and his incessant personalized PB kids crap that Craig insisted I purchase so that we looked “appropriate” for school. His sweet, albeit a little bit matronly, teacher pulls me aside and all the color drains from my face. Of course in lean all of the perfectly manicured, blonde, gossip loving, suburban driving, future PTA running SAHMs. Oh no! He hit. He bit. He shit. He did something even worse than my incredibly vivid imagination can fathom. Surreptitiously, his teacher, after a too long glance at my slippers, hands me a zip lock bag. “This, dear, was wrapped up in Trey’s nap mat.” Contained in that mini sandwich bag was a hot pink lacey thong with the word “SEXY” written in rhinestones across the butt. Cause of death: Embarrassment.

Happy Monday, Cassie.

The Gratitude Attitude: Shifting Perspectives of Stay-At-Home Mommin’

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I love being a stay at home mom. That does not mean I love everything about it. Especially recently, as I await the birth of my second child, I have been struggling with who I am outside of the definition of mom. I am a wife too. But what else? Where are the qualities that are uniquely me? These kind of questions are so important to ask, but the guilt and feelings of selfishness that come along with them are not easy. In a conversation with my sweet husband a while back, he asked if I would rather go back to work. A simple question that should have made me feel like the possibilities for our current arrangement could shift if that would make us happier as a family. Namely, my sweet hubby, was asking what can we do to make you happier? I should have been over joyed and called some sort of awards sales place to get his name etched on a Husband of the Year trophy. Instead, I got upset and offended. Am I doing a terrible job staying home? Is that why he wants me to go back to work? I could have an Olympic medal in reading into statements incorrectly. After some calming down and clarification. Ahhh clarification, the WD40 of relationships. I complained that while I loved being home for each of the milestones of our son, sometimes I felt like I wasn’t using my brain and didn’t feel as fulfilled as I thought I would being a stay at home mom. My husband in all of his brilliance asked, “Did you really expect to be fulfilled by dishes?? They call staying home a job because its work.”

Guys, I am calling the trophy dealer. He may just be a genius. I keep coming back to this statement of brilliance when I am having a particularly rough day. It’s work. But good news is, there is joy in work! A sense of accomplishment. Getting sloppy kisses from my son is a gift. That is not work and I don’t intend to take the flexibility of our situation for granted. It is truly a huge blessing that we can make my staying home work for our family. My challenge is the gratitude attitude. I don’t have to enjoy each toilet ring to enjoy being a stay at home mom. My goal this Thanksgiving season is to find an attitude shift in my top 5 least favorite household and mothering tasks. So here it goes:

  • Waking up Early: I was a night shift nurse for almost a decade. I loveeee to sleep in. That genetic predisposition was not inherited by my offspring. 6:30am is a late check out at Hotel Redmon. Attitude shift: My son is always so happy to see me. I am very lucky to generally get to be the first person to hug him each morning. Bring on the end of Day Light Savings!
  • Toddler Tantrums: This is a new phase for us. I think a lot of my frustration here comes from the fact that sometimes I also want to lay on the floor of Target and scream. I, however, have language skills. I am thankful that I can communicate my feelings (usually) in order to have my needs met.
  • Laundry: Laundry is super gratifying once it’s all folded and put away. I have one (ONE) disciplined chore that I do on the same day every week like my grandmother (mother of eight!). I change my sheets on Tuesdays. I love Tuesdays. I feel accomplished even if all I do around the house is make the bed, I know I will sleep better.
  • Changing Dirty Diapers: A regular child is a happy child. No one likes to be backed up. I will attempt to laugh to myself and think of the book “Everybody Poops”.
  • Toddler Meals Spilled Purposefully onto a Freshly Cleaned Floor: This one is really hard for me. Thank goodness we have a dog without a discerning palate. The issue is several fold for me. I cooked the food and now you destroyed it, made a mess and are likely still hungry. Especially as the months get colder, I will remind myself to be thankful that I have a home to clean up and enough food to make another PBJ. He is only little for just a little while.

So I am not fulfilled by dishes? Oh well. I am still a good mother. As long as I try to shift my attitude to gratitude I bet I find more fulfillment than I thought possible in this work.

Mama Takes a Sick Day

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Last Monday, I woke up feeling off. The kind of off that can be anything. A combination of a second glass of wine and middle of the night feeds, perhaps. I shrugged it off and added some Advil into my morning routine of #allthecoffee and got the kids ready for our mommy and me stroller workout in the park. 30 seconds into high knees, I felt it. It was more than just a little off feeling, cold sweat/dry mouth/you ladies are about to see my smoothie kind of feeling. I made it home without getting sick (rolling every stop sign), but it was close. I’ll spare you the rest of the details, but I learned some valuable lessons during my SAHM sick day.

My husband is an excellent parent.

Of course I already knew this. I would never have married a man I didn’t see being a great father, but he really stepped up in my time of nauseous need. I woke him up at 9:45 am to take the kids. He got off work the night before at 3 am. Not a single complaint out of his mouth as he made lunches and warmed milk, while I napped away my fever under ten blankets. It made me truly grateful to have such an excellent partner on this parenting journey. I honestly do not know how single parents manage or people with selfish unhelpful spouses.

I do a lot most days.

Even on the days I feel like a survivor over a thriver, there are certain things that I do out of habit. They most often go unnoticed, until they aren’t done. Dishes are clean, laundry is usually done (not put away, I’m not a Marvel character after all), meals are made and cleaned up. A day without Mom’s behind the scenes work did validate all that I do.

Adult fevers suck a lot.

Fevers are no joke, kids. I hit a Tmax (highest temp for my non-medical readers) of 102.1 and I started thinking of everyone I’d previously wronged and wondering what kind of cosmic karma was in play. When my son has a fever he just runs a little slower, I thought I was dying. Further proof that toddlers are incredibly resilient and I’m a little (a lot) bit dramatic.

Daniel Tiger might be a better parent than me.

When my husband did have to go back to work that evening, ol’ DT took over parenting while I shivered on the couch. We learned about sharing, using the potty, and even how crayons are made. The nostalgic part of me reminisced about sick days in my youth watching Mr. Rogers. Screen time for the win.

I got jealous of working moms and then I checked myself.

In a moment I am not proud of, I thought about how if I had a regular job I could “just take my kids to daycare” and not have to parent through my illness. And then reality set in. I *may* be able to use financially crippling childcare on a sick day, but I would likely also be upsetting my boss by calling out sick. I would be disappointing coworkers. I would be giving up all of the freedoms I have being fortunate enough to be able to stay home with my kids. A couple days of feeling sick while parenting is not even a little comparable to the sacrifices working moms make to balance finances and family life. It’s always good to give yourself a reality check. I credit the introspection to my eighth episode of Daniel Tiger.

And there you have it. Being sick sucks. It however did shine a light on some pretty fantastic things I’ve got going on in my life. I’d like to say I won’t lose sight of my blessings again, but I am human. I am so fortunate to be healthy most of the time. There are plenty of parents who never feel well due to chronic illness. I think occasional tough days show us our own strength and gifts. I may also be ordering vitamins in bulk off amazon from here on out.

Mom Rage: All the Feels

gabriel-matula-300398-unsplashI am not proud of this, but it’s a fact. I suffer from #momrage. It’s a real thing. I used to be a relatively normal, albeit often anxious human. Motherhood has made me straight up crazy. My emotions are higher highs and more angry anger that I would ever thought possible in the twenty-nine years I spent with my pre-motherhood self. Every time I feel those toddler like emotions (which are often toddler induced) creeping on I want to simultaneously shatter some pottery and go bury my head in the sand, ostrich style, out of embarrassment. I used to judge mothers (before I had kids) for complaining (venting) about their challenging spawn. Now I offer a blanket apology. You can 100% be both grateful and a little bit rage filled as a mother to young children. Does this sound familiar to you? Here’s some scenarios that recently have given me all the mom rage.

Not listening.

Whether my tiny people or my sweet big person, when a member of my family cannot seem to hear my voice I tend to lose my cool. Everyone on some level wants to be heard. Maybe my need for that is higher than your average mama bear’s, maybe my offspring are really good at the ignoring mom game. This is one thing that really gets my blood boiling.

Public Embarrassment.

I struggle a lot with self-image in a lot of facets of my life, but being (and being perceived as) a good mother is HIGH on that list. Being a mother is my job, my passion and what I believe to be a current calling at this point in my life. Sucking hardcore at it is not something in which I am very interested. Chucking food in a restaurant, screaming blood curdling screams in quiet places (ironically making me wish I could do the same), or using uncalled for physical force on others (also ironically making me wish I could do the same) fills me with such frustration and such guilt. I don’t want to be a ticking time bomb of a mother and all of these behavioral issues are so, so normal. But, is my internal reaction?

Jealousy.

Does it seem to you that everyone else’s children (save a few seriously saintly mothers of heathen children I have witnessed in Walmart) are calmer and better behaved? And when that fails because kids will be kids, the mothers are calm enough to have you suspect sedatives or sharing Julie Andrew’s bloodline? Maybe it’s the social media generation where everyone appears squeaky clean, but jealousy is a major mom rage trigger for me.

Hangry/Tired.

Honestly though, I get the most mom rage filled when my own needs aren’t being met. When I am particularly exhausted, like most people, I am have the shortest fuse with my loved ones. This, as I previously mentioned, is not something I am proud of. However, recognizing my short comings in the first step in helping me grow.

I know parenting is a longggg haul and I am still virtually at the starting line. Just ask my own mother, who fields calls from her thirty-one year old blogging daughter on the daily. I haven’t even experienced teenager girl door slamming, my son bringing home a really terrible girlfriend, or many other far stressful milestones. The learning curve of motherhood is far steeper than anything else I have ever attempted, and I was a competitive Irish dancer. I challenge myself (and you if you’re with me) to look around my little world and witness the true beauty that is the trenches of toddlerhood. I want to be one of those well-meaning and slightly annoying grandma’s telling young mother’s to soak it all in. Anything worth doing is a challenge. And for the time being I will just sing myself Daniel Tiger’s anthem, “When you feel so mad that you want to roar, take a deep breath and count to four: one, two, three, four.”

 

Rage is a symptom of post-partum depression and anxiety. If you find that you are experiencing it to the point of interfering with your daily life please check out resources such as Postpartum Support International at postpartum.net or 1 (800) 944-4773.

#Momfail Monday: Meet Mallory

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Week One: Meet Mallory

Mallory is a former human resources manager turned stay at home mom to twin 3 and a half year old boys, Camden and Cooper. Mallory’s husband Hugh is a high powered corporate consultant that travels 34 weeks a year. These are her stories.

Monday

5:36am

I awaken to hot breath firing at me on each side of me. “Mommmmmeeeeeeee. You up!” they squeal in unison. Why? Why can we not make it to six am just one morning? I make a mental note to leave a scathing review on the website of that damn OK to Wake Clock website. Works for most kids my ass. Hugh is gone…again. Ten days this time. I got a lovely snapchat of his dry aged steak and gin martini last night as I was eating cold chicken fingers. Love him. But I also kind of hate him.

9:43am

Third cold cup of coffee as my darling little angels find new ways to survive death by jumping off furniture, sticking toys in outlets, etc. Loads of laundry complete: 0.2 which is to say I pulled some stained clothes out of our laundry basket and threw some Oxyclean on them. Or was it bleach? Shit, I hope it wasn’t bleach because they were for sure colors in that pile. Is tie-dye back in?

11:15am

I decide to venture out to finally check the Home Depot run off my endless list of errands. I generally hate stores with concrete floors, but maybe the sales clerk will be chatty because I really need to converse with someone who doesn’t solely communicate in fart noises/dinosaur roars. I’m standing in the screw aisle, how many possible screws can this world need? Surely not this many. What was it I was supposed to get again? Damn swiss cheese mom brain. Quick scan back at the cart and BLEEP!!!! Where the bleep is Cam?? That little racecar shopping cart hit a new top speed as we swerved around the aisles in search of that little missing mischief maker. He’s fearless and would totally follow anyone with a puppy/candy/mullet ponytail. As I am about to simultaneously call 911/call for a Code Adam alert, the store’s loud speaker comes on, “Would the owner of a small blonde child please come to the lumber department.” Racing faster than I thought possible, while huffing (and making a mental note to really start exercising…those video workouts would really work better if I didn’t let them play while eating Goldfish.) I make it to the lumber section to see an orange apron clad lumbersexual employee pulling my son off the *TOP* step of those stupid stair ladder things. He was literally 30 feet in the air, suspended above pine planks for the whole store to see. A bunch of contractors clapped, as I tried to decide between tears and spankings.

Still shaken and having purchased no screws, I strapped both boys into their car seats. God love 5 point harnesses. I walked around to the driver side when I heard the most dreaded sound in the world. “Click.” The car doors all locked as I peered through the window to see Coop holding my set of keys and laughing hysterically. 90 minutes and four very nice firemen later, I was driving my heathen children home with no hardware and no self-respect. Only nine days until Daddy gets home. I see a long week of Paw Patrol and Pinot Noir in our future. Certainly not any more damn errands. Maybe I won’t leave the house until their high school graduation.

Happy Monday, Mallory.

Weaning Wars: The Physical and Mental Struggle of Discontinuing Breastfeeding

Disclaimer: This post is based upon my personal experience with breastfeeding two babies. While I did struggle in ways that will be discussed below, I am not attempting to dismiss the experience of women who could not breastfeed or chose not to for whatever reason. Motherhood is hard no matter how it works out and I truly and wholeheartedly believe that fed it best. Baby is the happiest with a happy mama. Thanks for reading!

jenna-norman-292396-unsplash.jpgI did it. I felt a little wrong as I dumped that glorious milk powder into the tepid water and shook it like a Polaroid picture. I made my daughter a bottle of formula. As I sat feeding her that “freedom powder” I was not prepared for the rush of emotions with which my mind was overtaken.

This is amazing.

This was my first thought. Anyone, anyone can now feed her. I am no longer the sole source for her nutrition. We went through a serious bottle battle with this little nugget. No silicone imposter would satisfy her hunger, only the real deal. Which someone told me I should take as a compliment? I took it as YOU WILL NEVER BE ALONE AGAIN. Once a breastmilk bottle was a tolerable alternative (Praise Jesus!) I started dreaming about being done all together: back to clothing with a variety of necklines and finally destroying my pump, Office Space style. And then, as it always does, the mom guilt set in.

Mom guilt is the worst.

I have had no issues (well, No isn’t true…mastitis, as I have been quoted is the motherhood equivalent to stepping barefoot on a Lego, repeatedly.) But no tongue ties, tearful weight checks, or many of the other trials that color the breastfeeding experiences of many of my dear friends. Why can’t I have the earth mama beautiful bonding experience that all of the crunchy moms describe? Just once I’d like to be nursing my little cherub and be transported to a field of wild lavender with a flower crown, is that too much to ask? Apparently. But I digress.

It comes down to the internal battle a) you are a bad mom if you choose your needs over the needs of your baby b) feed your baby something and stop listening to the judgmental bia that lives in your head. I think I will end up beginning the active weaning process in the not too distant future as I do have a number of times in the coming months where I will be away from my daughter for more extended periods of time. Like more than five hours. (Exclusive pumping moms, you are the true rock stars.) I really am not a lover of the pump, unlike my two year old son who is so sad he cannot make milk from his bellybutton. That being said, there are some things about breastfeeding that I will miss.

  1. Convenience: Being a 24 hour diner has its downsides, but there is something so convenient about having everything you need contained on your person at all times. It is much easier to redirect (i.e. swat at) a toddler while nursing with one arm than bottle feeding with two.
  2. Cost: FREE goes a long way. I love free, who doesn’t love free?
  3. Closeness: I do feel particularly bonded with my babies when I get to retreat to a calm dark space and nurse quietly.

I am not someone who magically bounces back (a term I personally hate, being a person rather than a four square ball) after birth with the aid of only breastfeeding. In actuality it makes me ravenous, and has the somewhat opposite effect. I also, had some serious symptoms that mimicked feelings immediately postpartum upon weaning my son. I am not looking forward to the emotional pendulum of that process again. However, I am looking forward to the freedom of having my body be purely my own again.

I love when people are confident in parenting decisions. Kind of in the way that I love when people can ride a unicycle, its unique and I know I will never be able to do it. It’s a gift to not have a forced timeline in anything, but especially in breastfeeding. I am not sure what my path will be, but I hope those of you who also have a love/hate relationship with milk making can relate to the struggle.

I Am A Crappy Wife Sometimes

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Five years into our marriage, and I can finally admit, I am a crappy wife sometimes. Not all the time. I have my moments: carpet lines and handmade dinners have occurred on the same day, but generally there’s a combination of success and falling short on the daily around my house. I am a stay at home mom, but if you have ever read anything I have written you know that is way too ambiguous a title for such a type A person. I never had aspirations of June Cleaver, but maybe at least Clare Dunfey? I fill my day with a lot of immeasurable tasks, but, truth is, I don’t even always do those. Here are some examples:

My House is a war zone.

Let’s start with the most obvious. I love it when my house is clean, but I kind of suck at it. Every closet looks like that secret one Monica has on Friends with crap towers piled as high as the eye can see. I have tried chore charts, apps, everything short of cleaning hypnotherapy. I bleached scratches into our stainless steel cooktop. Apparently, they make stainless steel specific cleaner and contrary to my third-trimester clean-freak pregnant brain, one cannot bleach everything. Thank the good Lord that my husband never complains about the daycare that is our living room or the stacks of $%!t on every flat surface. I am a crappy wife sometimes.

I am appallingly terrible at laundry.

Like really appallingly terrible. Got brand new designer jeans you need shrunk down to fit a toddler? I am your girl. Part of it may come from technique (or lack there of). Literally everything goes in the washer in some random assortment, gets washed, then rewashed with scent booster after sitting there until that awful mildew smell sets in, and finally dried repeatedly for about 24 hours. My super wife stain remover tricks are limited to scrubbing baby poop out of car seats with dish soap and vinegar. Can’t win ‘em all. Oh and I also can never remember to get the dry cleaning. They usually call reminding me of close we’ve had their since March…of 2017. I am a crappy wife sometimes.

I still nap when the baby naps.

I really, really like to sleep. Several days a week instead of oh say, laundry or cleaning (see above) I hunker down in my covers at naptime and get absolutely nothing accomplished. That pretty much leaves post-bedtime to log measurable work done throughout the day, and that is even rarer for me. With two little kids, I know I am likely to be tired for the next several decades, but much of the population seems to do just fine with no nap. This is not to say I am not occasionally productive during naptime, I mean even the Cubs win the World Series every so often. I am a crappy wife sometimes.

I can cook, but I don’t always.

I am actually a decent cook. Sure, I have had my fair share of Pinterest fails like any mere human, but for the most part I can turn out a pretty tasty dinner. I just don’t always do it. I love to go out to dinner. I love Postmates (delivery of local restaurant food as take-out for those of you unaware). I have all the resources at my disposal to cook healthy, nutritious meals 24/7, I just don’t. I am a crappy wife sometimes.

If you were to ask my husband, he would not complain one bit because that’s just the type of gentleman he is. I’m sure he’d appreciate a cleaner house, more home cooked meals, and he’d really appreciate my not destroying his clothes with my atrocious laundress skills. For all of my crappy wife habits, (I didn’t even touch on my mood swings or the fact that I don’t believe in cuddling while sleeping), I do love my little family more than anything in this world. I hope I can show them they are so cherished even if I cannot manage to retain sock marriages or have streak free windows. I am a crappy wife sometimes, but my heart is full.

The Identity Crisis of Motherhood

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I really thought I knew what I was getting myself into with this whole parenting thing. Spoiler alert: I did not. The hardest thing for me, aside from the sleep deprivation and soul crushing mom guilt about literally everything, is the identity crisis of motherhood. Who am I now? Who am I when I am not mommy?

It’s not that all of my aspirations and personality traits vanished when the stick turned pink, they just got put into perspective. I know there are plenty of moms out there who are complete badasses. They literally do it all: careers, parenting, hobbies, volunteering, organic baking. I just have to accept that is not me. I am more the amazon prime loving, store bought cookie mom rolling in wearing yoga pants that have been to a yoga class.

I have tried many things to figure out what type of mom I am. That’s just how a closet type A mind works. I need to put myself in a box. A set of rules for the order of all the things. I still haven’t quite found my niche. The thing that fulfills all of me.

The exercise mom

I will never be a yogi or cross fit guru. I have to let go of the idea of ever being #fitmomgoals. I will say, proudly, that on my journey into this type of mom, I found that exercise can actually be great for ridding oneself of extra anxiety some of us were just lucky enough to be born possessing. And, it makes me feel like a little less of a poser for wearing athleisure wear exclusively. But, it’s not my box.

The direct sales mom

This idea is very intriguing to me. The thought of harnessing the SAHM work force, is a brilliant move by companies. I look around me and see my sister about to graduate from business school, and I have a random thought of, could I do that? I’m sure I could, but what would I have to give up, ask my family to give up to make something like that happen. And do I even want to, or am I just jealous of her passion? I am enjoying my foray into direct sales as It’s pushed me to try new things and reach out to people I don’t know well. I don’t think I have the personality that’s required to turn it into more than a hobby. Not my box either.

The crafty mom

Hahahahahaha. I hate senseless messes. I hot glued my finger together trying to make hair bows. I have completed one sensory bin and I spent eight times as long cleaning it up as my toddler did playing with it. DEFINITELY, not my box.

The blogger mom

This has been the best fit for me so far. I can spill my true feelings as a kind of therapeutic exercise without giving up any family time. When someone resonates with something I write the joy in that is inexplicable. I have always enjoyed writing, my challenge comes from the technology side. I can barely check my email without help. This could definitely be a part of my box.

It’s quite the transition.

Going from a career in nursing that I was so passionate about and good at, or so I like to think in my romanticized rear view memory, to a stay at home mom. There’s no rubric for my evaluation. No set of standing orders that tell me what to do in a given situation. That being said, I will not pretend to be unaware of my privilege here. I am extremely fortunate to be able to stay home with my kids, while my husband provides for us financially. I try not to take that for granted, though I am not always fantastic about the expression of that gratitude. Sorry, babe! Motherhood is an amazing journey and while I am incredibly passionate about my sweet little spawn, I often feel like I am not good at motherhood. Raising children is like doing a one million piece jigsaw puzzle over the course of decades. I put A LOT of pieces in the wrong place, maybe even lose a few. The final picture will be beautiful, even if I can’t see it yet. I want to show my children that being a mother is one of the best gifts life can give you, but it will never erase my other gifts. Therefore, I will continue to search for things to fill my box.

Dearest Darlingest Mommy to Be: A No BS Letter on Bringing Your Bundle into the World

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Dearest Darlingest Mommy to Be,

As Ben Franklin famously said, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” Childbirth is proof that God wants to keep us from becoming self-sufficient snarky bitches. I found that a lot of people sugar coated the transition from pregnant to motherhood. I vow to do no such thing.

 

Labor:

It hurts a whole hell of a lot. I don’t care what your pain threshold is. It’s painful. But no matter how you give birth you are a badass. This brings me to the first of many mom life lessons, if you push for 6 minutes or practically sneeze out an 8 pounder with no tearing/meds/while looking like a rock star, keep your mouth shut. No one wants to hear how you rocked the hardest physical experience of most female’s lives. I have no doubt that you will do an amazing job however it goes down. Keep an open mind. If you trust the care providers that are helping you deliver than everything will go great. The best birth plan is a healthy baby.

 

  • You usually cannot eat, so I brought a pack of lifesavers to have something to suck on when I got hungry. I didn’t tell my nurse but the reason you can’t is for anesthesia in case of an emergency c-section so just be prepared to spit out the watermelon flavored candy or risk getting caught.

 

  • It’s really messy. I brought cute nightgowns and ended up wearing the hospital gowns the whole time. Blood and sooooo much amniotic fluid (like for real there’s a lot up there).

 

  • You will be sore. Not just lady parts. Arms, abs, pretty much everything. It feels like you just lost American Ninja Warrior. It’s called “labor” not “vacation”.

 

  • The hospital bathroom will look like a scene from CSI. You will bleed A LOT. It’s normal up to a point. Granny panties for a while. Wear those vagscicle pads. Get some super large night time pads for home as well. I slept on a towel for a week with each kid to protect my sheets, but I may have been a bit of an overachiever in the blood loss department. Le sigh.

 

Postpartum:

Your boobs will be out so just don’t fight it. Between lactation consultants, nurses, and all sorts trying to help your baby figure out her first meal. Its ok for it to hurt, but not so much that you want to cry all the time. If it hurts like that see an LC immediately. It’s not worth losing your breastfeeding relationship by delaying that if it’s something you really want to do.

 

  • Get yourself some Dermoplast. It’s numbing spray that will numb up your postpartum whoha when you have to pee after birth. Because that shit stings. https://www.amazon.com/Dermoplast-Pain-Relieving-Spray-2-75-oz/dp/B0006GWSTO/ref=sr_1_3_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1525141917&sr=8-3&keywords=dermoplast

 

  • Speaking of shit. Take your stool softeners. Everybody poops. Everyone but you if you don’t take them. Also stay hydrated this will help the whole process.

 

  • Night 2. Babies realize that they are no longer ethereal mermaids on day two and that the world is cold, lonely and all around sucks compared to life 20,000 leagues under the sea. It’s completely normal for baby to want only mama and a boob in her mouth at all times during night two. This is particularly hard because you are so exhausted from birth, but thankfully there’s still so much adrenaline.

 

  • New babies have their days and nights mixed up initially. This takes some getting used to. Everyone will tell you to sleep when the baby sleeps. This also means do laundry when the baby does laundry. It’s kind of crap, but try to catch as many winks as you can. It’s so hard with all the emotions, feeds, and adrenaline.

 

  • Day 4/5 Milk comes in (cue your new porn star boobs). But you won’t want anyone, including your baby to touch them. A lot of increased tenderness even a slight fever is normal. Try to avoid over pumping as milk is supply and demand and it will just make the problem worse. hot Hot HOT shower with bikini top on + some Motrin or pain meds if you are taking them postpartum (which I recommend) should help.

 

  • Take it easy. It’s very easy to feel weird surges of energy but try to rest as much as possible.

 

  • Temp changes are normal. Going from freezing to sweating is hormones working themselves out..

 

  • Mood swings like you’ve never had before. Chances are whatever you are feeling, its 100% normal. You can want to protect your baby so fiercely as to never let her experience so much as a paper cut and simultaneously hope someone else will adopt her so you can just get some mother effing sleep. Hormones can make you feel very, very dark and anxious. I suggest talking only to people who have had a baby in the last five years about this because the older moms forget and those who haven’t experienced it just don’t get it.

 

  • Breastfeeding is hard work. You need a ton of water and a ton of calories to make milk. The pain gets better at about week two. Put those Lasinoh soothies in the fridge for extra soothing comfort. Kellymom.com is a great resource. She’s a little crunchy for my taste on parenting in general (ie is pro bed sharing) but has good feeding advice. Particularly for the middle of the night when you don’t necessarily want to call anyone.

 

  • On that note. Please don’t bed share. If you do, don’t tell me about it or I won’t sleep. Most SIDS deaths are actually bed sharing accidents. I really wanted to a few nights because I was just that tired. If you need ideas on how to stay awake for night time feedings, let me know.
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  • You will love your husband so much more. Watching him care for your baby is the sweetest thing in the whole world

 

  • You will hate your husband and his ineffectual stupid nipples.

 

  • Baby poop is freaky. There are sites devoted to the many normal shades of poop.

 

  • You will still look six months pregnant after delivery. This pissed me off to no end when I did the math. Its life. You may live in nursing tanks and sweats for the next few weeks, unless you’re Kate Middleton. And if you are don’t brag, no one likes a superior princess.

 

  • Babies don’t sleep, which is super annoying but also protective. Needing milk every few hours means someone who loves them is giving them the once over every so often and hopefully noticing if anything is wrong. If you have a freak baby that does sleep, again it’s probably not your superior parenting but luck so don’t brag. The kids who sleep early on will probably be on MTV’s Teen Mom later. Parenting is all a karma laden trade off.

 

  • Everything you are feeling is normal. Unless it’s not normal and that’s ok too. Just make sure you talk about it.

 

  • Shower and get out of the house. This can change your whole mindset.

 

  • You are doing an amazing job. Not only did the universe destine this baby for you, but it also destined you to be the one to love and protect this baby. Literally a match made in heaven.

 

  • Call your friends. We love you.

 

I could have gone on and on, but you’ll do great!

 

XOXO,

Me

Married to Medicine: Pride, Jealousy and the Things I Have Learned

I met my husband during his second year of medical school. I’d been a pediatric nurse all of six weeks so together we had a laughably small amount of medical knowledge. I worked pediatric ICU for seven years throughout his medical school and residency training. Now I am entering in my second year as a stay at home mom and my husband is in his third year as an emergency medicine attending at the only level one trauma center in the state.

Things have changed.

I am no longer a source of income, let alone the source of income. There’s a lot of mixed emotions in being a stay at home mom. Look to the social media account of any thirty something woman you know and you will see article upon article about how hard it is for women to work with kids, how hard it is to stay home, just how hard it is. Please don’t misunderstand me. I am beyond grateful of my ability to stay home financially and emotionally. My husband’s income, despite six figure med school debt, house payments, car payments, etc. provides us with a beautiful life. I will never be able to thank him enough for solely shouldering the burden of financially supporting us. But I would be lying if I said there isn’t a part of me that misses giving our family a meaningful financial contribution.

I don’t regret being present for every milestone, many of which he experiences via video. I don’t take lightly the weight of being there to mold our little people each and every day. I am additionally so glad that my kids have their father to look to as an example of tireless work ethic. He never ceases to amaze me by attempting to balance his life despite his insane hours.

Oh those insane hours.

I write this on a Saturday during naptime. Everyone including my husband is asleep. He is on his third out of five night shifts in a row. He is currently working as many if not more hours as he did during his residency. There are no weekends or holidays in medicine. A fact I thought I fully understood having a nursing background. It’s a bit of a different lens to be the one at home waiting to celebrate Christmas on the 26th of December. Or knowing Saturdays and Mondays might be exactly the same. I have to check my jealousy sometimes when I see families out together on weekends knowing they get that time consistently every week. If it feels this way for me, I can’t imagine how it feels for him.

Here are some things that I have learned on this journey:

  1.  I have learned that it’s the quality of time spent together not the calendar that defines a holiday.
  2. I have learned that #itgetsbetter used to describe life once medical school, residency and other training are complete isn’t always true. You are still married to the same person and married people sometimes have issues. That’s life whether you can afford McDonalds or Mortons.
  3. When I have a hard day, he often had a harder one. This is not to pit us in some sort of competition, but to recognize the love that must be present if he can come home from a shift with someone else’s literal blood, sweat and tears on his clothing only to listen to me talk about block towers and sanctimommy drama.
  4. His family comes first emotionally and as the most important factor in decision making, but cannot always come first in the traditional sense. During the final weeks of both of my pregnancies we had to have contingency plans for our contingency plans in the hopes that he would not have to miss the birth of his own children while caring for strangers.
  5. This is not a career path for the faint of heart. The training process alone adds 5 to infinite years post college graduation. The debt accumulation for medical education is insane. The mental exhaustion is astronomical. You better love it.Image-1

I am so proud of how far we have come. From study groups to moving across the country for residency, jumping through hoop after graduate medical education hoop, and finally landing back in Oklahoma his drive has not let up. I am in awe of the difference he makes every time he goes to the hospital. He works with some amazing colleagues that challenge and teach him constantly. The emergency department is no picnic. He is often facing ungrateful and difficult people for ten hours at a time. And yet, he still loves it. Switching schedules, coding patients, and saving lives.

 

Special Thanks to Mary Cramer Photography for capturing my family! Marycramerphotography.com

Two Under Two: Tales from The Fourth Trimester

I have officially been a mom of two under two for about eight weeks now. Both of my little angels are currently sleeping in their respective cribs for afternoon nap. I would approximate that this mutual nap time will last about six minutes. It’s been a bit of a wild ride so far. For those of you with more than two children, mom’s with deployed spouses or single moms, you are literally my heroes. I don’t know how you do it. But like really…how do you do it?

Here are some things I have learned in the last eight weeks:

My first baby seems so big, even though he is still very little.

This has been a big struggle for me. The moment we walked through the door with our daughter, in my head my son aged so much. All of the talk (errr bribery) about big boy this and big boy that often makes me forget that he is still not even two years old. A baby himself by some standards. His whole world just got rocked. And even though he loves his “sissy” it’s a big change that requires some growing pains for everyone.

Someone always needs me. And there’s guilt about that.

Sometimes the stars align and we have blissful moments of happiness for all involved but usually someone needs something that my two hands can’t get fast enough. I am so glad my uptight first time mom personality has softened some. That mom guilt though. My toddler is getting lots of screen time and my daughter is getting lots of swing time. I keep trying to tell myself it’s a season. Triage and tend to the biggest need first.

One was so busy until I had two.

I have a very active toddler. He’s into everything, plays tough, but is oh so sweet. He hates being cooped up in the house for too long which is a bit of an inevitability when a new babe arrives just in time for the holidays/flu season. With my husband’s shift work, I am gaining confidence venturing out with the two of them alone. But I still much prefer man on man coverage to zone. Thank God for grocery pick up!

The newborn is the easy one.

All those things I thought made newborns so challenging are still present. The night feeds. The unpredictable schedule. Maybe they just don’t bother me as much this time because I have seen the other side. The newborn period is racked with emotion and little sleep but it’s so fleeting. Newborns usually only want one of a handful of things. Unlike toddlers who often want things like THOSE fruit snacks on THAT plate in THAT chair NOW! Which is harder to guess than boob or bum wipe?

Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly tough moments. It’s also 100% possible that she is simply an easier baby, but I think a lot of it comes down to my being calmer. My middle of the night googling has gone down 300 fold.

The sibling moments melt your heart.

Watching the way my son gets up from a nap and has to find sissy to say hi or give her a sloppy kiss makes the chaos seem insignificant.

We are figuring out our new family dynamic day by day. My husband is an amazing father, a blessing that cannot be put into words. My daughter sleeps much better than her brother did at this age, which as we all know in the newborn period sleep is life. We read “Hands are not for Hitting” twelve times a day, but the jealousy is turning into a deep sibling bond that I cannot wait to watch bloom throughout their childhoods. Two under two. I wouldn’t have it any other way.julie-johnson-514136 (1)