Dear New Mom


Dear New Mom,

I know you’re in some ways happier than you’ve ever been, soaking up all those newborn cuddles & feeling your heart expand to give out a kind of love you never before knew possible.  But I also know you’re struggling under the weight of what feels like an obnoxious burden that was thrust on you just when you needed to rest & recover from birth.

Sigh.mom guilt

Being a new mom is HARD.  So hard.  And what often times makes it even harder is all the people telling you exactly how ecstatic & blissful you should be.  Please remember this: most of the people saying that haven’t had a newborn to care for in YEARS.  They have largely forgotten how INTENSE this phase of life really is.  Yes, it’s wonderful, but it’s also REALLY FREAKING HARD.

I’ll be honest with you & admit that I probably experienced a mild to moderate form of postpartum depression.  I didn’t fully realize it at the time but thankfully I was already on Prozac for anxiety before & during pregnancy & was quickly switched to Zoloft after giving birth because it is considered better for breastfeeding.  I believe this kept any PPD I experienced from completely devastating me.  But even so, trust me I had my moments of utter despair & confusion.  Moments of loneliness & uncertainty when I questioned why I had ever thought I should be a mom.  Moments when I had to step out of the room & just cry or scream so that I could be sure I wouldn’t hurt my baby. PPD_Graphic.jpg

But that’s exactly what they were: moments, nothing more.  They didn’t define me as a mom because I didn’t let them.  Even on my worst days/nights, I somehow managed (most of the time) to give myself a little grace.  That & venting to some truly wonderful friends (most of whom were already moms) is how I survived those first few weeks of motherhood that were in so many ways like one longgggg march of fatigue & confusion.

Here’s what I think you really need to hear as a new mom: it gets easier.  Yes!  It does!  It really does!  There is light at the end of the tunnel.  And it may come sooner than you think. pema chodron quote 2

If you’re breastfeeding, there will come a time when you don’t spend every waking moment with a baby attached to your chest.  It WILL happen.  I promise.  Trust me, I was so, so close to giving up so many times.  But I held out largely because so many women had told me that everything would get magically easier around six weeks.  And to my great surprise they were right.  I made a vow to myself that if it didn’t get easier by six weeks I would quit for the sake of my own mental health, but I am eternally grateful that it did get easier.  But if that isn’t true for you & you feel like you need to supplement with formula or switch to formula entirely, DO IT!  A mentally stable mom is the single most important thing a baby needs, so (within reason of course) do whatever you need to do to achieve that goal.pema chodron compassion

The next time someone says “Oh, just wait till she’s crawling all over the place” or “You’re going to miss this when he’s talking back to you someday,” just smile & nod & know that that person has not one clue what they’re talking about.  Or better yet, you can be braver than I am & tell them to mind their own damn business.  Because the truth of the matter is you may not miss the newborn stage.  And if you don’t, there is NOTHING wrong with you.  I know I don’t miss it!  I have only come to love my daughter more & more the older she has gotten, & I have learned that every stage has its advantages & disadvantages.  Thus the best thing we can do is try to relax & enjoy each one as best we can.  Easier said than done of course.  motherhood-quote

The truth about motherhood, especially the newborn phase, is that it is the most intense emotional & physical experience of your life.  There will be moments you love, moments you like, & moments you hate.  But they’re all just that: moments.  Give yourself the grace to experience every emotion that crosses your mind.  And trust me, in those first few weeks every emotion known to man (or should I say woman?) will definitely strike your heart- often times many all at once, some of which may be contradictory.  Just allow yourself to experience them all & remember that this will get easier.  As time passes you will have more arrows in your quiver, so to speak, so even if the challenges you face seem “bigger” you’ll have more ammunition to throw at them.  And you’ll have the confidence that comes from knowing you have survived every challenge you’ve faced so far.  And that, my friend, is worth a lot.birth-of-mother

If you’ve made it this far, congrats!  Who knows how many times you had to stop during the course of reading this to nurse your baby, make a bottle, or change a diaper?  But just know this: it gets easier, it gets better, & you can do this.  If I can, anyone can.

So What if I Don’t Love the Baby Stage?


There is something about Russian classical music that speaks to my heart in a way that nothing else can.  I’m listening to Rimsky-Korsakov’s Russian Easter Festival Overture as I’m typing this, & I swear my mood lifted within the first ten seconds of the song.  I actually played this piece in my high school marching band a little over a decade ago, & I’m not sure what made me think of it today but I am so glad I did.  If you’re having a rough day (or a great one for that matter), take a few moments to listen to this gorgeous piece & allow its beauty to enrapture your soul.

Now that I’m a little more sane I just wanted to write that today I am struggling, struggling with motherhood & just with life in general.  There are days when I feel like there just isn’t enough of me to give, & this is one of them.  I’m not sure why I’m feeling this way today, but I am, & that’s all that really matters.  Actually it’s probably because Rachel has been fighting sleep all day long & is FINALLY napping for more than about 20 minutes which is why I’m taking advantage of this time to try to clear my mind.

Lavendar hanging from an old vintage door, room for copy space

Anyway, it’s days like this when I get so frustrated with all the people who constantly tell me Rachel is such an easy baby.  I know they mean well & in many ways maybe she is an easy baby, but the truth of the matter is there ARE no easy babies.  All babies are challenging!  And maybe, just maybe, they’re a little more challenging when you don’t have any family nearby & you had no real experience with babies prior to being a mom & you have your own preexisting anxiety issues, as is the case for me.  I’m not looking for sympathy here.  I’m just saying it’s really frustrating when people tell me my baby is so easy because then when I find myself struggling, like today, I inevitably start wondering what’s wrong with me & how I’ll ever manage if I have another baby someday who is actually “difficult.”motherhood-quote

People also frequently tell me that I’m going to miss these days in the not so distant future.  But the truth of the matter is I’m not so sure I will.  And of course that makes me wonder if I’m a bad mom.  But I’ve jut never been a baby/toddler person & being a mom hasn’t really changed that.  Trust me, I love my daughter more than life itself, but I don’t think the baby/toddler stage will ever be my favorite.  So in the future when she is older if I don’t find myself longing for these days, is that really such a bad thing?  I don’t think so.  guilt

Well, that’s all I’ve got today.  I’m just trying to clear my mind so I can be more rational once Rachel wakes up again.  I also figured maybe there is another mom out there somewhere who is struggling & wondering if she’s inadequate because she isn’t totally loving the baby stage.  If so, please know you’re not alone, & you’re not a bad mom.  Some women are baby people & some of us aren’t.  And neither is better than the other.  We just are.  Lastly, I’d like to send a huge thank you to all the moms who frequently take the time to encourage me & remind me that I’m doing a good job, even when I sometimes feel like I’m just not up to par.  Thank you, thank you, thank you. I hope someday I can encourage other moms the way y’all have done for me.

 

The Negative Emotion-Guilt Complex: Mom Edition


Woah, I’ve been wanting/needing to write for a couple weeks now but between working two days a week & caring for an increasingly needy & grumpy baby there has simply been zero time for blogging.  I am desperately hoping I can get enough out in these few minutes while Rachel is sleeping to clear my mind & try to save my sanity.  Warning: this will definitely not be an eloquent post.  It will most likely just be word vomit.  But I’m not writing this for anyone else; I’m writing it to try to save myself from my own mind.

One thing I’ve learned very quickly about motherhood is that it makes your flaws become glaringly obvious- at least to yourself.  And I have long been aware that my greatest flaw is feeling guilty for any kind of “negative” emotion (e.g. frustration, sadness, jealousy, anger, etc).  I thought I had made a great deal of progress on this issue but being a mom has been made realize how much more work I have to do.  Furthermore, I swore up & down I wouldn’t let myself become a victim to “mom guilt” but damn if I am not just as vulnerable to it as everyone else!  mom guilt

The first six weeks of Rachel’s life were undoubtedly the most difficult to date.  But the past two to three weeks have also been extremely challenging, perhaps more so in some ways because I had gotten used to her being so happy most of the time.  Between teething & being in the middle of a huge developmental leap, Rachel has become extremely grouchy the past few weeks.  And because she naps so little these days I think that is making things even more difficult for her & thus for me as well.  Everyone tells me I’m so lucky that she has started sleeping through the night more often than not, but frankly things were much easier for me when she was waking up once or twice at night to eat but then napped more & was in a MUCH better mood during the day.  Besides, just because she is sleeping eight to ten hrs straight a lot of nights doesn’t mean I am.  I’m still getting up to pump, not to mention I’ve never been the kind of person who can sleep more than about five hrs straight anyway.  (Hell, even as a kid I remember waking up at least once or twice most nights.)  In any case I’d gladly sacrifice some sleep to have my happy baby back.  parents quote

Anyway, the point of all this is that I am really struggling right now.  For the first time in my life I am actually jealous of moms who work full time because they aren’t stuck at home with a screaming infant more than two or three days a week (not all day anyway).  And for the first time since giving birth I am truly missing my pre-mom life.  By no means do I regret becoming a mom of course, but at the same time I do miss the freedom I had to go out & do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted (within reason of course).  I knew I was going to lose that when I became a mom but honestly I didn’t start missing that freedom until these past few weeks when Rachel has become so grumpy that even going to the grocery store has become a serious challenge.  Not to mention I miss my alone time when no one needed anything from me.  It’s so hard being needed ALL the time . . . empty cup

Here’s the thing: Rachel has in many ways been a pretty “easy” baby.  Once she got over the ridiculous cluster feeding she did for much of the first six weeks, she has been, all things considered, a pretty happy, “simple” baby.  And compared to some babies, maybe she still is.  But see, half my problem is that I’m constantly feeling guilty for being frustrated because I know that “so many women have it worse.”  In case it isn’t obvious, this leads to a serious boatload of guilt because I’m constantly feeling guilty for “complaining” or feeling overwhelmed when I know that others are facing “bigger” struggles.negative-emotion-motivates-change-dan-rockwell

But the truth of the matter is there are no easy babies!  As a dear & wise friend said to me today “Someone basically handed you a tiny stranger & said ‘Here you go; she can’t communicate either but good luck figuring out everything she needs while you have no time for yourself & are coming to the end of your rapidly fraying rope.'”  Amen!  Furthermore, constantly telling myself I should be grateful because others “have it worse” is incredibly unhealthy.  I thought I’d matured enough to realize that there are no negative emotions:  there are just emotions & then there’s what we do with them, the latter being what really matters.  But apparently I am still struggling with this as much as ever.  The truth is, especially as new moms, we can & do experience a multitude of emotions all at once.  And it’s ok to feel overwhelmed, frustrated, angry, & jealous while also being grateful & in love with the tiny human you’ve created.  In fact it’s not just ok, it’s NORMAL.pema chodron quote 2

It also occurred to me today that I’m doing something that almost no one in my family has ever done.  I’m living in an urban area & one that is several hours away from my family as well as my husband’s family- & trying to raise a baby to boot!  To be clear, I’m not saying I’m better than my family because of this, not at all.  I’m just saying raising a baby is never easy but it’s probably even harder when you don’t have anyone who is “obligated” to help you who is close by & can babysit for you or just help out on a regular basis, even just for 20 minutes so you can clear your mind.  That being said, I am very glad to live where we do & to raise Rachel in a different environment than that in which we were raised, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with its own unique challenges.  guilt

It has also occurred to me lately that my husband & I haven’t had any true alone time together (as in away from the baby) since Rachel was born other than a quick trip to Target when she was a few days old & my parents were in town.  And that hardly counts!  Not to mention the amount of true alone time I have had is incredibly small.  And as an introvert alone time is not just precious to me, it’s crucial.  So no wonder I’m feeling a bit frazzled!pinterest mom

One of my friends in college told me several times that I’d make a great Jewish mother because I always had so much guilt, most of which was completely baseless.  Unfortunately he was right, & unfortunately I haven’t made as much progress on this issue as I thought I had.  However, my hope is that writing all of this will help me to remember that whatever I’m feeling right now is valid.  Just because my situation is “easier” than some others doesn’t mean it’s easy.  And it’s ok for me to be frustrated & tired & even angry sometimes.  In reality I’ll be a much better mom if I can just be honest about how I’m feeling & stop feeling guilty about it.  Because as long as I’m constantly stuck in a quagmire of guilt, I’m not actually processing my emotions– & that’s a recipe for disaster.  And I’ll be damned if my daughter grows up to feel guilty for every so-called “negative” emotion she experiences!  So that means I need to stop this guilt train right now & just admit that this stage is hard but that doesn’t make me a bad mom or a bad person.  It just makes me a human being. kidney stone

Anyway, I’ve written all that to say this: I’m in over my head.  But I’m doing the best I can & I know this phase Rachel is going through right now is exactly that: it’s a phase which means, by definition, it will pass.  I’m reminded of the phrase “It may pass painfully like a kidney stone but it will pass.”

I Love My Baby But I Hate My Stretch Marks


I’m not sure if anyone checks this blog regularly enough to wonder why I’ve been so absent for a good month or more now, but in any case the reason is that I started my new job a few weeks ago so between that & the everyday adventures of caring for a baby I’ve been a bit busy.  I’m only working two days a week which is perfect for me because it gives me just enough time away from Rachel to really miss her but not so much that I feel like I’m really missing out on these momentous days of her early life.'I can't even get rid of my own stretch marks. Any other wishes?'

Anyhow, I’ve been coming across a lot of articles lately about loving your postpartum body & learning to embrace your stretch marks & less than flat tummy, yada, yada, yada.  Maybe it’s because Spring just started & thus we’re coming up on bikini season but I for one am struggling a bit with loving what I see in the mirror lately.  Logically I know I am doing about as well as I could hope considering I’m just under 4 months postpartum & I’ve lost, depending on the day, all but 3-5 lbs of my baby weight.  I’m going to the gym on the weekends when my husband can watch Rachel, & I’m taking walks around the neighborhood at least three days a week.  I’m even lifting weights at home occasionally, though I could definitely step up that game a bit more.  Furthermore my husband certainly doesn’t seem to have a problem with my postpartum body.

'I seem to have lost the body I had before I had children.'

In reality, I don’t look THAT different, especially in clothes.  But things definitely fit differently these days, that’s for sure.

But no matter what logic tells me, every time I see the stretch marks on my not so flat tummy I’m less than thrilled.  Please don’t take this to mean I don’t appreciate my daughter; without a doubt she is worth every stretch mark a thousand times over.  But that doesn’t mean I have to love them.  Unless these “tiger stripes” fade considerably (which I know they probably will with time) I’m quite sure I’ll never feel comfortable enough with my body to wear a bikini again, at least outside of my fenced-in backyard.  To be clear, feeling comfortable wearing a bikini in public is not high on my priority list.  But I have to be honest & admit that every time I see a picture of a mom with a flat stomach & no stretch marks, I feel a pang of envy.  And I’m not talking about celebrity moms because I’m perfectly aware that they are not living realistic lives.  I’m talking about moms I actually know.

mom stretch mark

It totally is but that doesn’t mean I like my stretch marks.

I know the body positivity movement tells me I should embrace my “imperfections” & part of me wishes I could.  Even though I’ve never worn much makeup or been terribly interested in fashion I have always valued looking decent.  To be clear, I’ve never been one to expect myself to look like Victoria’s Secret models or movie stars or anything like that because I’ve always realized most of their pictures are highly photoshopped anyway, not to mention they don’t exactly live “normal” lives like we plebeians do.  Nonetheless I have to admit I’m not as happy with the way my body currently looks as I’d like to be.  Now this isn’t a huge deal; it’s not something that’s seriously affecting my overall happiness or life satisfaction or anything.  After all, with Rachel around I have more reasons to smile than I ever have.  And being annoyed by stretch marks certainly isn’t going to stop me from having another baby someday if/when I decide the time is right.

magic eraser stretch mark

HA!!!

Before anyone tells me I’m being selfish & that thousands of women would be happy to have my body (either because they’re significantly bigger than me or because they’re struggling with infertility- or both), yes, I am perfectly aware that all of this is a bit superficial, & trust me I do feel guilty for thinking about this enough to bother writing about it.

But even so I admit I wish I liked my postpartum body more than I do.

I’m not really sure what the point of all this is other than to clear my mind a bit.  But I’m sure I can’t be the only mom out there feeling this way, right?

The Reality of Mom Life


This blog post has been two days in the making.  Actually longer than that because I came down with the stomach bug from HELL this weekend & am just today feeling more or less like a normal human being again.  I would seriously take pneumonia or the real flu (you know, the respiratory one) over the stomach bug ANY day of the week.  I know some people say “But the flu lasts a week; the stomach bug is just 24-48 hrs.”  HA!  Maybe for some folks but for me it’s always taken 3-4 days minimum to truly recover from a stomach bug, & it was MUCH harder this time because I was breastfeeding & caring for a 12 week old baby the entire time.  Thank goodness for my husband for helping to care for me & Rachel & for my parents for coming down on Monday to help me when my husband had to go back to work.  It’s been my nightmare ever since Rachel was born that I would come down with a stomach bug.  Well, it happened.  And it sucked.  Royally.  But I lived to tell the story.  Which brings me to the point of this post.Lavendar hanging from an old vintage door, room for copy space

Motherhood is a lot of things.  At moments it is the most glorious, wonderful thing I’ve ever experienced.  At other times it’s so incredibly hard that I wonder what I was thinking getting into this.  The good news is, as the weeks have passed, the former moments far outweigh the latter moments.  And I’ve learned that I am SO MUCH STRONGER than I ever thought possible.  So in honor of that I thought I’d post some of the realities of being a mom, at least for me, many of which are really quite humorous.  If you’re a mom I think you’ll find yourself smiling & nodding along.  If you’re not, hopefully this post will make you want to join the club.  Or not; that’s a totally acceptable choice as well!motherhood-quote

(FYI, I used feminine pronouns throughout this post simply because my baby is a girl so it was just easier for me that way . . . Also, this post is most applicable to moms with infants.  As I only have one child myself, who is just 12 weeks old, I obviously can’t yet speak to motherhood beyond this point.)

Being a mom means . . .

  • Learning to do almost anything & everything one-handed.  This includes cooking, cleaning, using the bathroom, signing for pizza delivery, texting, typing, etc, etc.  The list could go on forever!
  • As soon as you finish laundry for the day the baby will have a poop-splosion (i.e. an explosion of poop) that soils her entire outfit & possibly yours as well.  So then you have to decide if you want to hand-wash everything or run the washing machine for just a handful of items.  Usually I go with the former & figure I’m getting a taste of what motherhood must have been like for my great-grandmothers in the days before washing machines.
  • As soon as you take the burp rag away thinking for sure the baby won’t spit up on you, that is the exact moment the baby will spit up on you.motherhood not for sissies
  • As soon as you change the baby’s diaper, get her outfit on her, & put her down for a nap or to play in her bouncy seat, that is exactly when she will have yet another poop.  Babies are not economical or efficient.  But they are born with a sarcastic streak, I swear!  I know mine has one . . . But then again, how could she not with parents like me & my husband?
  • Googling everything under the sun at all hours of night & day, scouring the interwebs for any sign that whatever “strange” or annoying thing your baby is doing is normal . . . or for how in the world to make her STOP CRYING?!
  • And eventually figuring out that, despite all of your doubts, you really are the expert on your own child.  After a while you recognize patterns & pick up on cues that in the early days were all just a mysterious blur.  And when you realize how far you’ve come you feel like a TOTAL ROCK STAR.  And you are!!motherhood grocery store
  • Never eating a full meal in one sitting (or at least very rarely) because the baby always needs something as soon as you sit down to eat.  You soon get used to either eating cold food or reheating things a bunch of times.
  • Taking the fastest showers of your life because you’re scared to death the baby will explode while she’s out of your sight . . . until you realize she actually won’t & you WILL hear her crying over the sound of the water . . . So then you start taking longer & longer showers just to have some time to yourself.
  • Making up excuses to drive places just because the baby loves her carseat & takes some of her best naps while you’re in the car.
  • Loving & appreciating your own mom more than ever because you realize just how amazing she truly is.daughter quote
  • Feeling a sudden, however slight, connection to every mom you meet just because you know you share so many of the same daily struggles & delights.
  • Being willing to make career changes you never considered before becoming a mom.  For some this means becoming a stay at home mom.  For others it means changing careers completely or going part time.  For me it has meant leaving hospital nursing to pursue part time clinic work. (I was originally planning to go back to the hospital part time but decided the schedule as well as the hectic, often stressful shifts there just didn’t fit with my priorities anymore.  That’s a whole other blog post that I’ll get around to writing eventually.)
  • Experiencing a love like you’ve never experienced before.  It really is indescribable.birth-of-mother
  • Loving (& often missing) sleep more than ever.  I’ve almost always been wise enough to choose sleep over housework or any other task when I know I really need sleep . . . And I know I’m saner for it.  Trust me, if you have any doubt, the best choice is always sleep.  Husbands, moms, dads, & friends can all help with housework or caring for the baby.  But none of them can sleep for you.
  • Learning to love your body for what it can DO as well as how it looks.  It means learning to embrace your “flaws” & knowing that even if your stomach is never quite as flat again (Who am I kidding?  Mine was never super flat anyway.) & even if the stretch marks never fully fade away, you’d still choose your precious child over your old body a thousand times over.
  • Learning to give yourself a lot of grace.  I learned very fast that there were certain things I just wasn’t going to be able to do as a mom, at least as a new mom.  For example, using cloth diapers is just not going to happen any time soon.  I need my sanity, & there is no way I could handle all the work that comes with cloth diapering & stay sane right now.  It also means learning to forgive yourself when you find yourself getting frustrated & angry with your own child sometimes.  We have to learn that none of us is perfect & we all have our less than stellar moments, but it’s all just part of the journey.children-work-quote
  • You can’t watch/read the news without feeling like your heart is going to break.  Every tragedy in the world is suddenly magnified a thousand times because you realize that was someone’s BABY who was hurt/killed.  So, if you’re like me, you decide to filter most news through your husband & friends & otherwise be the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand.
  • Every time you start to think about having another baby in the future, something happens & you’re convinced there is no way you could ever handle more than one child.  At least not for another 3 or 4 years.  But then you worry that if you separate your kids that much they won’t be “close.”  But then you remember that having them close together in no way guarantees that they will be close to each other, just as having them further apart in no way guarantees they WON’T be.  Basically when it comes to having kids there are no guarantees.  Ever.  Which brings me to my final point . . .
  • Being a mom means learning to laugh at the chaos, to “roll with the punches,” to take whatever life throws at you & find a way to not only survive but thrive.  As I said at the beginning, being a mom means learning that no matter how hard things get, you somehow find the strength to keep on trucking because you are SO MUCH STRONGER than you ever thought possible.

    'Hey, half my chromosomes are YOURS, you know.'

    Considering my husband is a geneticist by trade, our daughter may very well say this to us someday.  Ha!

Reflections of a New Mother


Six weeks ago today baby Rachel entered this world!  So much has happened in those six weeks, so in a way it seems like a long time, yet in another way it seems like no time at all.  I know all new parents say this but it really is hard to imagine my life without Rachel now that she is here.

The last two days have been pretty rough (although the past two nights have been great), so I thought it would be therapeutic to share some of my reflections on motherhood thus far.me-and-rachel-penguin

  1. Being a mom is incredibly hard.  I always knew it would be; I was never naive enough to think this would be a walk in the park or all fun & joy.  Of course not.  But you just can’t understand how truly difficult it is until you do it.
  2. Motherhood is full of extreme emotions.  On any given day I cycle between extreme love, joy, devotion, fear, anxiety, frustration, & a whole gamut of other emotions.  This is all totally normal of course but it is exhausting at times to feel like an emotional yo-yo.
  3. That being said, the extreme joy & love truly do make up for all the more “negative” emotions.  I always worried that moms said that just because they felt they had to but it really is true.  Trust me, I’ve had moments when I’ve wondered if I made a mistake in becoming a mom.  And I’m sure I’ll have more of those moments for the rest of my life.  But the point is those are just moments.  They don’t last forever.  me-and-rachel-fire
  4. Taking care of yourself is absolutely imperative to surviving motherhood.  This is just one of many reasons that being a single mom (or dad) is clearly not how parenthood was designed.  I’ve quickly learned that it’s essential that I eat a reasonably healthy diet, drink plenty of water, spend some time outside, listen to music, take a shower, read a little here & there, & generally do all the things that help keep me sane.  My mantra these days is “You cannot pour from an empty cup.”  In other words, Rachel needs a healthy, sane mommy & that means I need to take care of myself every bit as much as I’m taking care of her.  Which feeds right into my next point.
  5. Being able to take care of myself is largely dependent on my husband’s support.  I know every mom says this but once again it is so true: I’ve never loved my husband more than when I see him with our daughter.  When he changes her diapers, pushes her stroller, wears her in the baby carrier on his chest, & cuddles & kisses her my heart truly melts.  Furthermore, when he does the dishes or the laundry or cooks me dinner I want to kiss his feet.  Parenthood is definitely meant to be a two person job.  I never doubted that but now that I’m living it I can attest that it is 100% true.daughter quote
  6. Moms are the most giving people in the world.  I can’t say thank you enough to all the wonderful ladies who have reached out to me for encouragement & support over the past six weeks.  Y’all know who you are & you’re all amazing.  I hope someday I can encourage other new moms the way so many of you have done for me.  Seriously, THANK YOU!
  7. Breastfeeding is hard.  Like woahhhh.  To be honest, it’s actually not been physically painful the way I feared it would be.  However, it is still very demanding, both mentally & physically.  While I was pregnant I set two breastfeeding goals.  My ultimate goal was/is to make it a full year, but I will be perfectly satisfied if I make it to six months.  My minimum goal was to make it to six weeks, & I’m happy to say that as of today I’ve fulfilled that goal.  Woohoo!  I haven’t made it this far without a TON of support & encouragement though.  It’s truly been a team effort in so many ways!  There have been so many days when I’ve wanted to throw in the towel & I’m sure there will be more of them, but knowing I’ve already made it this far will hopefully continue to encourage me on the difficult days.breastfeeding-cartoon
  8. Being a mom with anxiety & OCD tendencies is hard.  Thank goodness for a fantastic husband, a great mom, some dear friends, a wonderful therapist, & Zoloft.  And music.  (I switched from Prozac to Zoloft about 3 weeks ago at the suggestion of Rachel’s pediatrician because Zoloft is considered better for breastfeeding.)  Even if you don’t have a history of anxiety or depression or any other mental health issue, don’t be afraid to seek help as a new mom.  I think EVERYONE could benefit from a few sessions with a good therapist & no one more so than us frazzled, sleep-deprived new mommies.
  9. As much as I love Rachel now & am enjoying many things about the newborn/baby stage, I still very much look forward to her being a little older.  I know most moms say they miss the baby stage & often yearn for those days, but I seriously doubt that will ever be me (at least not often).  I’ve always said I prefer older kids & teens, & I still think that is true for me.  Trust me, I am not rushing anything.  I am enjoying (most) of where we are right now.  But there is a part of me that still can’t wait for the day when I can have real conversations with her, even about the hard stuff like death, sex, war, etc.  Yes, I’m crazy, I know, but I really do look forward to that day.  I also can’t wait to take her on hikes & to concerts & share the joy of all of those things with her.  It might make me weird, but I don’t think it makes me a bad mom to say that I will probably love being a mom even more as she gets older.motherhood-quote
  10. There is absolutely no room for comparison in motherhood.  I’ve said it before & I’ll say it again: motherhood is not a competition.  Some moms breastfeed, some use formula, some do both.  Some moms make beautiful baby books, some don’t.  Some moms decorate a perfect nursery, some don’t.  Some moms co-sleep, some don’t.  Some moms wear their babies, some don’t.  And some babies will sleep through the night or learn to walk/talk faster than others.  The point is none of these things makes one mom better than another.  We are not competing against anyone.  Some moms seem like they have it all together while others of us are just happy we took a shower & did a load of laundry today.  As for me, I’m never going to be the mom who pretends she has it all figured out.  I think the world could benefit from more candidness.  The truth is my house is frequently a little messy (& it was like that long before I became a mom; I just have a better excuse now), I’ve shaved my legs a grand total of twice since I gave birth, & sometimes I hate breastfeeding.  I’m not “perfect” but I’m doing the best I can, & that’s all any of us can do.  At the end of the day if mom & baby are healthy & happy that’s all that matters.  Everything else is just details.
  11. Being a mom really is the best thing I’ve ever done.  End of story.  🙂

I’m not sure this song totally fits with the post but I discovered it last week & I’m in love with everything about it so I’m going to share it anyway.  (Yes, I’m still listening to “heavy” music.  Thankfully Rachel seems to like it!)  Check out the lyrics below:

I’ve always been a fan of the night life
‘Cause it’s the only life I had
Expressing my mind with paper & a pen playing my guitar
‘Till my fingers bled on the carpet
Maybe I wasn’t like all the normal kids
I was born just a little bit different
I tried to fit in, I got sick of it
I tried to fit in, I got sick of it
You say I’m just a loser in the background
I can never seem to get it right
But I’m learning my worth is more than your word
You told me I would back out, I would break down
I’m not even putting up a fight
But I’m learning my worth is more than your word
It wasn’t easy being rejected by the thing I wanted so bad
To be accepted, to be wanted
To wake up & say this is gonna be a good day
Maybe I wasn’t like all the normal kids
I was born just a little bit different
I tried to fit in, I got sick of it
I tried to fit in, I got sick of it
You say I’m just a loser in the background
I can never seem to get it right
But I’m learning my worth is more than your word
You told me I would back out, I would break down
I’m not even putting up a fight
But I’m learning my worth is more than your word
More than your word
I was born a little bit different
I was born a little bit different
I was born just a little bit different
I was born a little bit different
I was born a little bit different
You say I’m just a loser in the background
I can never seem to get it right
But I’m learning my worth is more than your word
You say I’m just a loser in the background
I can never seem to get it right
But I’m learning my worth is more than your word
You told me I would back out, I would break down
I’m not even putting up a fight
But I’m learning my worth is more than your word
I got sick of it
I got sick of it
I tried to fit in, I got sick of it
I tried to fit in, I got sick of it

Final Pregnancy Update


Well, here I am at 38 weeks & I’m officially out of work until after delivery.  This was supposed to be my last week of work, but this past Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) I ended up in the hospital being checked for preeclampsia.  After working all night I came home feeling less than stellar, then ended up vomiting & generally feeling horrible & unable to sleep.  My doula encouraged me to speak to the midwife on call so I did.  The midwife asked me to come to the hospital to have my BP checked & lab work done.  As it turned out, my BP was borderline high & some of my labs were a little off but nothing too serious so they sent me home.  However, the midwife instructed me to follow up with the office on Monday rather than waiting till my normally scheduled visit on Wednesday.  She also asked me to keep track of my BP over the weekend which I did.  Granted I was checking it myself, which is actually not so difficult with a little practice, but I consistently got 140/90 ish readings all weekend, so yesterday morning I called the office as soon as they opened to make an appointment to be seen ASAP.  Thankfully I was able to get an appointment for mid morning.  pregnancy-meme

Unfortunately at the office my BP was 142/88 & I had proteinuria, both of which are new for me.  Up until Friday I have medically had a picture perfect pregnancy.  My BPs had been stellar, my blood work was all normal, my urine tests were fine, & my ultrasounds displayed a perfectly healthy baby.  I’ve been working out a bit less the past month or so as I’ve gotten bigger & more uncomfortable, but overall I’ve still continued to be active & made it to the gym or at least taken a good walk around the neighborhood 3-5 days a week.  My anxiety has been another story . . . but medically at least I was doing really well. pregnancy cartoon

The plan for now is for me to see one of the midwives again on Wednesday to have my BP & urine rechecked & possibly a non-stress test & to stop working until after delivery.  (Like I said this was going to be my last week anyway.)  They aren’t considering induction yet but if my BP gets worse, they very well may.  It’s just a waiting game at this point.  I’ve been so committed to a low intervention birth so the idea of an induction doesn’t thrill me because I know it carries its own risks.  However, if my BP remains elevated &/or my labs are abnormal I’ll obviously agree to it because I know it would be the best choice for me & the baby.  I’m just hoping that being out of work will help my BP to normalize.

peeing-pregnancy

Story of my life these days!!

In one way it’s a relief to know that I’m done with work because 12 hr night shifts have become a serious challenge of late.  But of course I’m not thrilled that I’m showing signs of possible preeclampsia.  And I do feel a bit guilty for “bailing” on my colleagues, but obviously I have to do what’s best for my own & the baby’s health at this point.  I know it must sound incredibly stupid, but it’s so hard for me to give myself permission to just relax & pamper myself a bit.  I’ve always been such a hardworking perfectionist that it’s difficult to accept that my only “job” right now is to simply relax & take care of myself & the baby.  There is also a part of me that is disappointed that despite trying to take such good care of myself I’m still having complications with this pregnancy.  But I’m trying to remind myself that this is largely beyond my control, & as my therapist has told me a millions times, it’s not worth stressing about things I can’t control.

waiting-on-baby

Amen!  For a planner like me, this is a bit rough.

I should probably be sleeping but I felt like I needed to write a bit before my mind would fully relax.  So here’s hoping for a good night’s rest now that I’ve vented a bit.  And laughed at funny pregnancy memes.  (You’re welcome.)

I’m sure this song was written in a very different context, but the lyrics feel perfect for me right now.  Being a soft acoustic piece it showcases a very different side of Upon a Burning Body.  It also just so happens that the lead singer’s wife is currently pregnant & due a week after me.  In fact we’ve been following each other’s Instagram accounts throughout our pregnancies which has been rather fun.  In any case, it’s how I’m going to end this post since I’m otherwise a bit at a loss for words right now.

waddling

Accurate!!

See me staring back in the mirror
You don’t have to try so hard
Suddenly life is much clearer
You don’t have to change a thingI’m not perfect & that’s okay with me
I’m not perfect & that’s okay

And I don’t care what they think of me
Cause I’m not ashamed
Of the person I am today
I want you to see the happiest that I’ll ever be
Is just being myself

Because I’m not perfect & that’s okay with me
I’m not perfect & that’s okay (And that’s okay)

Over and over, I pay the cost of playing this game
What can I do to escape?
I will never be the man I want to be
If I can’t learn from my mistakes

I’m not perfect & that’s okay with me
I’m not perfect & that’s okay (And that’s okay)
I’m not perfect & that’s okay (I’m not perfect!)
I’m not perfect & that’s okay (I’m not perfect!)