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New Mommy Monster

Jun 23, 2017 by

The first few months of new motherhood have been harder and yet more rewarding than I could have possibly imagined. When that little girl smiles at me, I feel like I have won the lottery. It doesn’t get better than that. But it does get worse. Much, much worse.

No one can really prepare you, or at least they choose not to—and so you don’t know what you’re getting into until you are properly sinking in the quicksand that is parenthood. I think it’s partly because you get absolutely zero sleep, like none, that maybe people forget what it’s like and thus forget to tell you. Everyone just offers the same bullshit advice: sleep when the baby sleeps. Well, the baby never f-ing sleeps, so there’s that. And if I did sleep in the glimmers in which she has her eyes closed, the rest of the family would be starving and running around naked because the laundry and grocery shopping would just go straight down the shitter.

So, combine the lack of sleep with utterly ridiculous mood swings, crazy  hormones, clothes that don’t fit, bleeding nipples, and the sudden realization that life will never, ever be remotely the same…and new motherhood can start to seem a lot like a horror movie. The thing is, mixed in with all that rot, is this tiny creature who has changed your heart and ability to love into this huge, gigantic mess of a thing that you didn’t know was possible. Man, I love this kid. Who knew you could feel like that? (Especially now that she is sleeping through the entire night.)

The thing is, now that I’m getting some more sleep, I think it’s important for me to reach out. I need to draw back for a moment into those first few weeks and let you know that I totally get it.

Come back with me for a moment:

So there I was. Sitting in the dark nursery, by myself (ok, the baby was with me, but still), with torrential tears streaming down my face. Its week two of this tiny creature’s existence and I am clearly not cut out for motherhood. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself as I sit there in the dark trying desperately to get my child to eat. Allow me to set the stage for you—crying child at 2am; my husband needs to get up and leave the house early in the morning for work and my mother is sleeping soundly as a guest in our home: happily lapping up her role as new gramma. So I tiptoe with the baby to the nursery, where I can nurse and she won’t wake daddy or our other house guests. Only, breastfeeding is the single most frustrating and horrible thing I have ever tried to do. As I unhook my nursing bra from the shoulder in the dark, I can hear the skin tear before I feel the warm blood start to trickle down. You see, my nipples are chapped and raw from trying to nurse, and in my hurry earlier I tucked those suckers back into my bra before they were completely dry. Rookie mistake. The breast milk had hardened onto my nipple and quite literally glued my skin to my bra, so that when I removed my breast from its confines, I also peeled off a layer of skin. Clicking on the light only confirmed what I already knew, and pissed off the baby.

So, I grimace and move her over to the other side. “The bad side”. I don’t know if this is true for everyone but I have one good, rule following tit, and one that sucks. One side, my child will willingly latch onto and go to town. The other? Not only does it produce less milk, but the baby hates it. She simply hates eating from that side. Then, she begins to scream like one possessed by demon spawn.

That’s when it happens. I start counting how many hours of sleep I’ve had in the past several days and comparing it to the hours my husband has had. And then, I hate him. I wonder how many cups of coffee I can really have before it starts to infuse my breast milk. I start to wonder if I will ever feel normal or joyful again. I contemplate the idea that my body is not my own and has belonged to this tiny human for the last nine months and the foreseeable future…. And then I start to cry. I am an ugly crier.

So, the baby is crying, I am crying, and everything sucks. I feel more alone that I have ever imagined feeling, and to top that all off I feel guilty to boot. In my head I know I am supposed to be enjoying every tiny moment of this. That, too soon, she will be a child and no longer a baby. I shouldn’t be preparing to battle with my husband over his lack of help (or inability to breast feed as the case may be….it turns out he was incredibly helpful with said infant, but this is a dark moment here so bear with me) but I was feeling hateful and unjustly burdened… I felt guilty that I wasn’t swimming in euphoria. I was terrified that this new, hateful, tired, lonely person was the new me. I was so often cloistered and alone in the baby’s room to pump or feed that I was cut off from everything else. It was…awful.

So allow me to assure you, if you’re having feelings of doubt, hatred, homicide….. you are not alone. And, this feeling doesn’t last forever. (If it does, go. Go now. And talk to your health care provider because Postpartum Depression is a very real thing). Now, I’m all for wallowing in self-pity, but the angry tornado of emotions that I was during this time I was not a fan of. Every time my husband was contentedly snoring next to me in bed, and I lay awake obsessing over if the baby was breathing, I wondered if I was strong enough to place a pillow gently over my husband’s face. How long could I hold it there if he started to struggle? Someone should have warned him.

As the days pass I begin to feel a little more me and a little less an exhausted pile of crap. I like my husband a lot more too, and watching him become a really awesome daddy has been a lot of fun…You will too. This too shall pass. I wish we, as women, would band together to help each other through this whole child rearing nonsense. So much wasted time Mommy shame-ing one another. What we really need is each other’s support because this stuff is hard.

Today, I was able to get up, shower AND brush my hair before my daughter woke up for the day. (Write that success down in the baby book!) You’ll get there too. But for the moment, take a look at that sweet bundle of adorableness that you created. They grow and change so fast. This chapter will end. So, take a second and revel in the cuteness that is your kid. Do it now. Before they have a diaper blowout or something.

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Define perfect.

Mar 2, 2017 by

Define perfect.

Staring in the mirror at my three-month postpartum body is enough to make tears well up. Even though I’ve lost the majority of the weight, my hips and thighs are massive…and there’s that belly that I’m fairly sure will never go away because the carb-craving monster I become while breast-feeding is untamable.

The carb-craving monster I become while breast-feeding is untamable! #momlife #bodyissues… Click To Tweet

On day three of wearing the same sweatpants I may start to become a little bit irrational about my weight and my body, I may try on every pair of pants that I own…I may start to yearn for that pre-baby tummy, I might wish I could still wear a bikini to the beach. But then I remember that I’m not perfect and will never be. But that little girl staring at me from the Boppy on the bed, the one whose body image I get to shape and whose self-esteem rests in my hands, well, she’s pretty damn close to perfection, and I did that. I did that. So stretch marks be damned because this imperfect, slightly stretched-out body created a freaking miracle.

Postpartum body image

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“Mom” is not my only name… | working after baby

Oct 9, 2016 by

“Mom” is not my only name… | working after baby

I’m supremely happy to be pregnant. I can embrace this whole pregnancy thing. I am growing a freaking human! I’m amazing! What did you accomplish today? Probably not GROWING A HUMAN BEING! My students reminded me this week that I currently have two brains! I’m fascinating.

Also, strangers carry stuff for me, I have an eternal excuse to sit on the couch and eat ice cream, and I don’t feel at all guilty having the grocery store bag boys take my grocery bags to the car. I can’t complain. I haven’t had many extreme symptoms, I’ve felt pretty darn good! I’ve been lucky. Most days I can sit here and really believe that I could successfully and happily produce 7 or 8 kids….and that’s all well and good when I think it. It is not ok when you think it…

because it is not 1950. I am not a “little housewife”, in fact, I’m a terrible housewife. I’m not keen on the idea that someone imagines me being barefoot in the kitchen. (Unless you’re my husband, and in that case….well…your mom reads my blog).  It is not my job to produce offspring and fold laundry. If you know someone whose job it is to fold laundry, and they have affordable prices, please send them my way.

I'm not a little housewife...in fact I'm a terrible housewife. #workingmom Click To Tweet

I thought we, as a society, had become more progressive than this. So I find myself surprised when my co-workers assume that after the baby I’m becoming a stay-at-home mom.

Now, before the internet starts hating me, I know a bunch of awesome SAHMs and I admire them because they are freaking awesome. I am not that awesome. I’m in awe of the selflessness being a SAHM takes, and I’m a little ashamed that I don’t know if I have that in me. I’m actually pretty intimidated by tiny humans, I don’t know how I would entertain both the baby and myself all day, and I am afraid of looming housework. Staying home with my kids has never been a dream of mine. (I recognize the gigantic can of worms I’m opening, I know the arguments on both sides of this issue… and that’s your thing. Not mine. I’m not about to argue how awesome it is to be the one to teach your kid things, not miss milestones, etc. I recognize the awesomeness of that).

Regardless, I have never insinuated that I planned to stay home and yet I have co-workers and even superiors at work who keep mentioning my role as mother, and how I am not coming back to work after the baby’s birth. I feel judged because I’m pregnant, it almost borders on harassment. This is especially true because it keeps getting shared publicly. It makes me angry. Isn’t this my decision? Stop making assumptions about my family.

I am not just a mil-spouse. I am not just a wife. I am not just a pregnant woman. I don’t intend to be just a mother, although that is a title I am really looking forward to having… I worked really hard to get where I am today. I worked toward a 4.0 in my master’s program, and feel proud every time I think about it. I’m certified to teach English in multiple states, and I’m a really excellent teacher–if I do say so myself. I became professionally certified in Colorado, so that I could become better at my job. I attend workshops and professional development to further my craft, and I have 50+ students who depend on me not only to get them through the 7th grade but to lead them toward paths that make them cool adults. I am passionate about teaching, I’m inspired to help other teachers become better teachers, and I think it’s genuinely my calling to help motivate teenagers toward embracing their education and becoming better people.

Being a good mom doesn’t mean I have to give up my career or have a homemade dinner on the table every night. I think valuing myself and my education is a pretty damn good example for my daughter. I think allowing her to see that I can juggle professionalism with a home life is important too. I want her to grow up watching her parents chase dreams and adventures. I want her to remember as she struggles with becoming adult that it is important to value herself, not put herself last, and not make sacrifices that jeopardize her happiness. I want her to see that sometimes its hard to do the things that we want to do, and to observe those moments when all that hard work matters. I want her to see that her parents have ambitions that are not based on her, and that even though she may be the center of our world, the world does not revolve around her.

The idea that someone I work with simply assumes that I want to walk away from so many things that are important to me is silly. They haven’t even asked. And it makes me mad.

The truth is, it is my intention to take a maternity leave to be with my wee one, and then go back to work. I am responsible for those little faces in my classroom, I am responsible for contributing financially to my family, and I am responsible for creating my own happiness. The truth is, that its nobody’s business but my own. The truth is, I have no idea how I’m going to feel going back to work when our little girl is here, my friends with kids have told me it’s brutal. I’m sure it will be. Maybe I will eventually decide that it’s better for us if I stay home for a while, I cannot predict that. I do know that I can’t wait to hold her in my arms and tell her how much we love her and how long we’ve been praying for her. We’ve just started looking into childcare and it’s terrifying. I don’t know how you make the decision to leave your child with a virtual stranger, but we will do what is best for our family. The truth is, that’s my decision to make when the time comes, I don’t have to decide now and you certainly do not have the right to decide for me. I take offense to people telling me what to do.

I think I get that from my grandmother.

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What are you waiting for?

Sep 2, 2016 by

What are you waiting for?

Being pregnant has been, far and away, the most life changing event in my life. Working through the days, weeks and months without my husband’s help has led to a ton of self-sufficiency I did not know I had. Some days I feel like a super hero, others more like a wimp. But mostly, I feel like I have been plunged into an alternate reality where sleep doesn’t happen, cake is perfect breakfast food and I’ve forgotten how to relate well to others. This is especially true when it comes to interactions with strangers. I feel like I should be handing out pamphlets to strangers explaining why it is not ok to spontaneously rub my tummy or why they maybe should keep their terrifying war/birthing story to themselves. (I’d rather go in blind, thank you very much).

Everyone. EVERYONE. Everyone wants to know how I’m feeling. I can’t decide if they want to hear “I’m great, thank you”, or if they really want to know that I have a giant gas bubble in my abdomen that will not move and I’m afraid will erupt at an inopportune moment. Any. Minute. Now.  Obviously, my friends and family are genuinely concerned. It’s those other people who are the problem. Some people, I think, are truly interested in hearing all the gory details about my current size (whale) and symptoms (exhaustion) so that they can offer all their unsolicited advice.

So, they press for information. “Craving anything?” –Nope.  “How are your ankles? Your feet? Swollen yet?” –Nope.  “You’re having a girl? Is your face breaking out? You know they steal your beauty!” –Nope. People in grocery store check-out lines are always the worst. I don’t know what it is about the grocery store. It’s always there I get the most ridiculous remarks: “Just wait till you see how bad your stretch marks are!” “Enjoy her now, just wait till she’s up all night crying!” But nowhere is safe. I get unsolicited advice in line at the coffee shop, when I’m walking my dogs, and at the post office too. Last week, at the post office a woman congratulated me on having the nerve to be single and having a baby (my wedding band no longer fits on my swollen fingers), but then chastised me over driving a pick-up truck because “Where did I plan to put the car seat?” She left me, smiling to herself and said, “Just wait for the terrible twos! You’ll wish you had a partner then.”  Ugh.

It’s funny because when I googled “unsolicited pregnancy advice” there are hundreds of pages featuring women complaining about this same thing. How do we not understand this then? All the new mothers out there were recently pregnant mommies-to-be, logic insists that they should then understand the complexities of being pregnant and the rules surrounding speaking to pregnant people! Right? Am I missing something?

My pregnancy is a happy one. We tried for a long while to get to this point. We dealt with our fair share of heartbreak before happy news and two pink lines. So, when someone tells me to “just wait: it gets worse”, I kinda want to sucker punch them in the throat. It’s almost like people are surprised that I’m not miserable, or they’re slightly disappointed I’m not uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong: there are definitely bad days, it’s not all sunshine and roses. But, its still pretty damn amazing.

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“Just wait” they say. You know what it is I am waiting for?

That moment when my poor, sweet husband has to see his 7 month pregnant wife for the first time in real life, and not make a horrible face!

The first time my husband can put his hand on my tummy and feel his daughter kick. (She’s got good rhythm and a particular affinity for James Taylor.)

I’ll “just wait” until my husband is here to rub those inevitable swollen feet for me, while we re watch Disney movies to ensure we are up to date on all things kid related. (I still haven’t seen that frog one.)

I’ll wait until I can have that first glass of red wine after nine months of sobriety. Did I say glass? I meant bottle.

I’m perfectly happy to “just wait” for that moment when we suddenly realize we’re officially a family of three… or the first time she smiles at her daddy. I’m so excited to see the amazing father my husband will become.

The rest of all that nonsense? That’s just part of the journey and some things are totally worth waiting for.

 

 

 

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Hello Again!

Jul 31, 2016 by

Hello Again!

As I’m sure you can see, the summer got away from me and I took some time off from the blog. Mostly because I traveled A LOT! (More on that to come!)  I wanted to appreciate each moment and not be caught behind my computer screen. I was able to spend some time with my grandparents, distract myself from hubby’s deployment and deal with some life changing things going on in our world.

So, this particular post has to be one of the most emotional and wonderful blogs I have EVER written…. because it’s about time we share our happy news with you.   This blog and its followers has become more than just a community of army wives and teachers, it has become an extension of my life. Your love, support, questions, worries, and shared frustrations have lifted my spirits so many times. You’ve supported me during some of the crazy heartbreak along this pathway to motherhood, and so–it is with overwhelming joy and tears streaming down my face that I get to tell you WE ARE GOING TO BE PARENTS!

Love the Everyday: Pregnancy Announcement with pets www.lovetheeveryday.com

I want to close by saying thank you to all of you who have supported us (and me for so so soooo long). We love you guys and are so grateful to share this experience with you. I plan to recap the first trimester in a future blog post, to be able to share with you the ups and downs of pregnancy and all the emotions that go with pregnancy after miscarriage. But at the same time, I hope to remain sensitive to those of you who are still trying, and still waiting on motherhood. My prayers and thoughts are constantly with you, and I hope to be able to celebrate your joy in the very near future.

 

 

 

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