Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I Feel Like I'm Losing Myself.

There's been an inner struggle happening lately.

I knew it was only a matter of time before it presented itself.  - After all, this isn't my first go-round raising a baby.

It's no big secret that I was super indecisive about choosing to have another child.

I went back and forth.  - Yes, then no; then no, then yes again.  

I guess I was a realist of some sort.  I knew how hard it is to be a full-time parent to a helpless baby.  I was painfully aware of all the obstacles that come along with having a new baby: sleep-deprivation, ZERO time for yourself and very little energy for / time with your spouse.  I never forgot about those things like I've heard other parents say.

The struggle was real.

I am super career-driven.  I work all the time and LOVE what I do.  My career has only managed to get more and more busy with each passing year and I feel super grateful and blessed for that considering there are makeup artists everywhere in Nashville now.

In addition to being a workaholic, I'm also admittedly pretty selfish of my personal down time.

I knew having another baby would make me rethink my priorities in both respects and I happily chose to do it.

With Emily's dad and I sharing custody, I was able to have a "break" from parenting a couple days a week and every other weekend - granted, that didn't start till she was almost a year old.  It wasn't easy to be away from her at first, but as she got older, it was nice to just have a day or evening - or sometimes both - all to myself.

Ultimately, those kid-free days allowed me to make friends, have somewhat of a social life and work at making my business successful.

Xander is 7 months now.  

I wanted to enjoy this year of being a mom again.  I had very strong feelings about being a part-time stay-at-home mom and not putting him in daycare.  I didn't have a choice with Emily and once she started daycare she was sick all the time.  I wanted different for Xander.

I knew going into this that we wouldn't have reliable help with childcare during the week from family and I'm super thankful my career allows me so much flexibility and the CHOICE to stay home with my son.  I'm also thankful my husband has loads of flexibility in his work too.  I believe if those last 2 statements weren't true, we wouldn't have chose to try for another baby.

But despite my flexible work schedule, it seems that most days I just end up feeling super lonely and starved for adult conversation and interaction and ultimately longing to be working.

In the last few months especially, I've realized that I have spent the last 7 years of my life hyper-focused on my career.  I chose work instead of devoting time and energy into cultivating lasting friendships.

Now I only have a handful of close friends - none of which have small children, if any children at all.  - And the few friends who do have babies, all live 45 minutes away.  - Furthermore, the few friends who live close to me all work day jobs during the week and are off on weekends.  I'm off during the week and work most weekends -- especially during wedding season.  - Do you see my dilemma in the friend department?

I have even tried to reach out of my "comfort zone" and join a couple of local mom groups in the hopes to make some new mommy friends and participate in some play dates... BUT...

1) I just don't feel like I fit the "cookie-cutter" mold for moms in these particular groups. (It's probably all in my head, but I've never felt like I blossomed into motherhood like most women do.)

2) All the play dates / meetups are at 9 in the freaking morning!?!  - My son is a night owl who doesn't go to bed till after midnight and then likes to nurse alllll night long, so we sleep in.  - Surely I'm not the only mom in Nashville whose baby does this, am I?  - And if I am, that just further supports point #1.


- So now that you know where I am on the "making new friends" front, let's talk about personal time and time with my husband.  

Xander is SEVEN months... I mentioned that already, right? 

In 7 months, Alan and I have had ONE date night.  - And that only happened because Dianne and Heather are awesome and so graciously offered to come to our house to babysit our kids just so we could go do something.

We went to dinner.  Mexican.  I was able to order whatever I wanted to eat and utilize BOTH of my hands while eating it!  So I ordered FAJITAS.  - Then we went to Starbucks and Books-A-Million.  Nothing extravagant or special.  Just a nice kid-free night out.  We were home before 10pm.

When you have a child that co-sleeps AND wants to nurse constantly into the wee hours of the morn, you can pretty much toss intimacy out the window.  My body no longer feels like my own to share with my husband...  Most days it feels more like a life support machine or a cow on a high producing dairy farm.  It's not that the desire isn't there to be close to my husband, but considering the lack of sleep / energy paired with being completely "touched-out" from having a baby attached (literally) to me all day, then throw some leaky boobs, spit-up, baby pee &/or poop in the mix, and there you have it.  Every reason (or excuse) in the book to not want to be intimate with your spouse all rolled into one: I just don't ever FEEL sexy anymore.


- And while we're on the subject of being "touched-out" - let's talk about alone time.  

I've had ONE pedicure - mid-May, I think - since before Xander was born.  Keep in mind he was born in December, so my last pedicure was probably towards the end of Summer or beginning of Fall.

I lucked out and was able to score a $10 massage because my BF had extra massages on her membership that needed to be used by a certain date.  So this past Sunday, we went.

It's the first thing I've done for myself that I scheduled on a day where I was off from work all day.  

- Usually, I schedule my hair appointments (cuts only) - or the one pedicure I had - for days where I'm already going to be out of the house for work, so tacking an extra hour on to my time away from home really isn't that big of a deal.  

So yeah, I scheduled a massage with my best friend and left the kids with my husband for a couple of hours.  Guilt-free.

- Except it wasn't guilt-free.

It's NEVER guilt-free - but not because my husband makes me feel guilty, because he doesn't.

It's because I'm a mom.

- And spending "unnecessary" time (that's not work-related) away from my kids makes me feel like the worst mom EVER.  

- And spending money on myself for fancy extras like hair cuts, pedicures and massages takes away from the money I should be spending on taking care of my family.  

I know this is all in my head.  I know other moms feel this kind of guilt when clearly we shouldn't, but no one talks about it.  Why do we do this?

I'm not trying to complain.

I KNOW I am SUPER blessed with my sweet little family.

I have so much to be thankful for, and I AM thankful!  

Both my kids are GORGEOUS and HEALTY.

My husband loves me and is always happy to see me regardless of how I look, smell or act after a long day of solo parenting with a fussy baby and a sometimes overly sassy, smart-mouthed tween.  

But ultimately both my kids are extremely good kids.  - And Xander is a really GOOD baby.  He's amazing.  - And I'm so glad for that. 

But I guess even the easiest of babies aren't easy all of the time.  - Raising babies just isn't an easy thing to do.  - Especially if you have little help.

They don't say "It takes a village to raise a child" for nothing, and I believe that more now than I ever did before.

I'm not going to lie, I'm not-so-secretly jealous of all my friends who have their moms and sisters and friends around all of the time to help.  I wish I had that.  Every single day.  But I don't, and I know I won't.  

So I resign myself to accepting that it's just us.  Me, Alan, Emily & Xander.  - And we just have to do the best we can for each other.

My prayer is that God puts some awesome moms in my life that I can be "just me" around and if He wants to do me a real SOLID, He will help me find a church where I feel at home in. - Also praying for an abundance of patience for others FROM ME and FOR ME from others.  - And for peace, strength and courage to keep on keepin' on with a more positive attitude and with kindness in my head as well as my heart.  Amen.

<3 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Gratitude

There are literally YEARS of my life that I remember so little of...  And it's not that I really want to remember them -- after all, they were awful, to say the very least, and consequently, I wasn't too great of a human being back then either.

Whether all the craziness was from depression, alcohol or drugs -- or a nice combination of all three, I don't know for sure.  - But it still amazes me that I actually survived my early twenties.  

I know that I'm truly thankful for God's grace and forgiveness.  - For His divine calculation of bringing Emily into my life when He did.  - For His unconditional love.  - And for the never faltering love and support from my family and friends.  

- Without all of those things, I know I probably wouldn't even be ALIVE today.

I surely wouldn't be the person I am, nor would I have ever been able to LOVE myself for who I've become.  

- And for that I give thanks... Every single day.

Monday, March 24, 2014

3 Months

Xander is 3 months now.  He's officially graduated the "newborn" stage and entered "infant" status.

Our lives have started to reach a new sense of "normalcy" now that he's adjusted better to life outside the womb.

The nursing has finally gotten a lot easier - not second nature yet, but it's getting there. 

I'm still on modified maternity leave... Meaning I'm only trying to work every other weekend right now.  That's proving to be a challenge for my workaholic nature.

I had tubal surgery at the end of February and am very confident that I made the right decision for me.  I love my kids sooo much, but don't think I'm cut out to be a mom 3 or 4 times over.  Two is definitely enough!

I don't know how moms of multiples (twins / triplets) do it.  I'm envious of their strength, patience and perseverance!

I only have one helpless one and one that is a big help and I still feel like a crazy person sometimes!

- And I now remember why I was late to everything for about 3 years after Em was born.  It's so hard to get out of the house!

Most days when I'm leaving for work, I feel like Eryka Badu is singing her song "Bag Lady" just for and about me.  

I've got my makeup kit, my hair kit, my freelance kit for in-store visits, plus my purse and my breast pump.  

I did finally break down and retired the over-sized "Mom" purse I carried for so many years and bought a small purse to carry my wallet, keys and phone.  (Huge step!  My friends are proud.)  But I figure anything else I need can just go in the diaper bag for now.

It's all be an adjustment, but it's definitely getting easier.

In other news, I celebrated my 35th birthday this month.  I'm officially in my mid-30's!  Gah!




Here's some 3 Month Xander Facts: 

He was almost 16lbs at his 2 month check up - but I'm quite sure he's gained more since then.  He's a big, healthy boy.

No surprise, but he's kind of a night owl (he gets it honest) so he doesn't go completely down to sleep till late - but once he does, he sleeps for a stretch of 4-6 hours -- which is nice.

He still LOVES the bath -- or to grab a quick shower with mommy -- and still isn't so fond of the getting out and drying off part... but he's getting better about that too. 

He loves music... Especially when daddy plays guitar and sings to him -- but only the fast, upbeat songs.


He:

• is getting more control of his head and neck. 

• is almost able to sit up unassisted.

• has started to grasp objects and bring them up to his mouth.

• is drooling a whole lot and the spitting up has peaked.  -- We do a whole lot of laundry around here these days!


He's almost too big for Big Sis to hold!

Baby-Wearing is the only way I can get stuff done.

Daddy's boy - there's no denying he's his.


I am super blessed.  ❤️

Monday, February 17, 2014

2 Months - Postpartum

Apparently this blog is turning into a Mommy Blog... That wasn't my intention, but I'm now a semi-SAHM with nothing to do but take care of a baby. So that leaves me nothing to talk about but the baby, of course!

Xander is 2 months old as of yesterday.

9 weeks old today.

He weighed almost 13lbs at his last appointment. He's scheduled for his 2 month checkup (with 4 shots) next week. I'm curious to see how much he's gained. He is quite the Chunky Monkey!


In the last week or two he's started smiling, laughing and carrying on cooing conversations with his loved ones. - And he still has a full head of hair that is almost always a mess.




He really likes bath time! -- But the getting out and drying off part is a whole other story!




He's getting really good at holding his head up and I don't think it will be long before he has good control of his head and neck!



He still isn't going to bed at a decent hour (I think he's got his days and nights slightly mixed up) but when he does finally go down (usually somewhere between 2am & 4am), he sleeps for 4-5 hours, wakes for a fresh diaper and a feeding, then goes right back to sleep for another few hours. Now if we can just get his schedule adjusted by a few hours, I suspect that will make things a bit easier for mom and dad!

I found this 7 Day Sleep program online but I feel like he's still a little too young to implement some of the techniques, so I'm going to try to let him work it out on his own for another month or two. I'm just super thankful that I don't have to work a regular M-F day job! I'm blessed that I have some wiggle room to be a little baby-lead right now.


I'm still exclusively breastfeeding. We haven't gotten to the "EASY 2nd Nature" stage yet, but it definitely has gotten easier. Due to the fact that I have yet to master the art of modestly nursing in public, I am still trying to limit my time away from home. When I do decide to leave the house with him, I have to worry about packing bottles of expressed breast milk and trying to remember to pump within a reasonable time of him taking a bottle to ensure my milk supply stays intact. - So with all that, I'm sure you can imagine that I'd rather just stay home as much as possible until we reach the "Easy" stage, which I suspect will come naturally once Xander gains more control of his head and neck.

Something I've noticed since returning to work, the majority of restrooms don't have electrical outlets to plug a pump into, even the family restrooms in the airports didn't have them. So if you're an expectant mom planning to nurse, be sure to register for a car adapter &/or a battery adapter that is compatible with your pump. I am having to order mine this week as the stores I rep for don't have power outlets in their restrooms.


Em turned 9 on January 31st. She had a really fun birthday celebration with 4 of her friends staying the night. I can't believe she's NINE.

Xander's arrival and presence at home was definitely a BIG adjustment for his Big Sis. She didn't think a baby boy would take so much attention away from her, but she quickly realized how wrong her thinking was. We had some rough days in the beginning, but we've all adjusted and she has been such a big help lately and I'm super thankful for that.

I'll close this blog entry with some pictures from last night of her being the good Big Sis that she is.









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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Stuff No One Tells You About Labor, Delivery & the Aftermath of Raising A Newborn.

1) Birthing a child is major trauma to your body.

I delivered Xander at 2pm, got to spend all of 20 minutes -- if that -- with my newborn before they took him away to the nursery - along with my husband.

I was alone, covered in blood from the waist down and had yet to be cleaned and re-dressed after delivery. -- If you opt for an epidural, you have to wait for it to wear off before you can walk (escorted by nurses) to the bathroom for clean up.

Our family and friends started arriving at 4pm.

If I had it to do all over again, I would have opted for everyone to come the next day rather than 2 hours after I delivered. - Not that I'm ungrateful about everyone coming out, but like I said, birthing a human being is some serious trauma to your body.

- We had 11 people in our room at one point (not including Alan & myself) all waiting to see the baby - who wasn't even back from the nursery yet -- and everyone had to be shooed out of the room so the nurses could help me get cleaned up.

Once I was presentable, everyone was allowed back in the room and the passing around of the baby officially began. - But shortly after that, the nursery nurse came in to shoo everyone out - yet again - so I could try to breastfeed since it had been several hours since Xander was born and we literally had no chance to have some one-on-one time.

All in all, it was just a crazy time to have so many visitors on top of being completely exhausted and in so much pain from labor and delivery (I wasn't given any post-delivery pain meds yet).


2) You will get absolutely ZERO rest during your stay at the hospital.

We had hospital staff in and out of our room every couple hours. It was super ridiculous.


3) If you opt to have your baby boy circumcised and you're breastfeeding, DON'T get discouraged when he is completely inconsolable the evening after the procedure.

Xander screamed & cried all night and into the morning. He just could not settle and he refused to nurse from me. - This caused me to worry and stress because I had so many breastfeeding issues with Emily and I didn't want a repeat of that with this baby, plus I was feeling pressured by the evil nursery nurses to be sure he was nursing every 3 hours. He was totally inconsolable and cried so hard that his little voice went hoarse. We got absolutely no sleep that night / morning until the nurses came at 5am to take him for lab work. - But apparently, that is completely normal behavior for a newly circumcised newborn -- which they failed to tell me till the next morning. So don't let those nursery nurses stress you out by coming in every few hours asking how long your baby nursed and if he had any dirty diapers while he's screaming so loudly that you can't hear what they're asking you. - It's their job to ask and chart. Be strong and resist the urge to punch them in the face. I did. Barely.

-- Oh, and the nurses won't OFFER to take your baby for you that last night... But you can most definitely request that they take the baby for a few hours so you can get some rest. I didn't find this out until I was ready to go completely ballistic on my doctor who came in at 5:30am to ask me how that night went.


4) You will cry over anything and everything... for a while.

Xander is a month old and I still find myself crying over the littlest things - though it's not as bad as it was during the first few weeks post-delivery.

Chalk it up to hormones, sleep deprivation and just an overwhelming sense of constant worry about trying to do everything right.

This is my 2nd child and every day I wonder (and worry) about how we're going to make this all work. How I'm going to be able to handle going back to work with TWO kids' schedules to manage now.

I have to constantly remind myself that it WILL get easier. This tiny baby stage goes by super fast (even though it doesn't feel like it right now). The craziness, the sleep-deprivation and the colic will all be over before we know it and we'll find a new sense of "normal" that works specifically for our family.


5) Breastfeeding is SUPER hard!

Despite it being natural and what our bodies are ultimately designed for, nursing an infant isn't easy by any means. For a lot of women, it doesn't come naturally and is super difficult, stressful and exhausting... But NO ONE ever tells you that!

I had major issues with Emily and completely abandoned breastfeeding when she was 8 weeks. But I am super determined to stick with it this time around for Xander (and for our pocketbook -- because formula is STUPID expensive). I'm hoping to do it for a year but at the very least, for 6 months.

Nursing is a serious commitment, especially the first few months, and it's not easy by any means. - You're exhausted, your nipples are sore and your boobs are achey.

Everyone is offering to come "help" with the baby, but the reality of it is they can't really do much. Breastfed babies nurse every 2-3 hours. (There have been days here lately where Xander has nursed almost every hour during his growth spurts.) So even if you opt to introduce bottle feeding before the recommended 4-6 weeks and have someone else do a feeding to give you a "break", guess what, you still have to get up and pump.

Xander is currently going through a colicky phase where most feedings he will eat from me just fine, but for at least one feeding during his colicky spell he will only take a bottle. So every time, I have to hand him off to dad and go spend 10 minutes pumping to ensure that my milk supply won't diminish by him missing a feeding. It's a royal pain to be locked away in your bedroom connected to a pump while your fussy, inconsolable baby is giving your significant other a run for his money and you not being able to help. But it has to be done.

I still worry and stress over my milk supply every day. - And I'm still waiting for the breastfeeding thing to get "easy" -- but I have a feeling it will be another month or so... Especially if Xander's colicky phase doesn't go away sooner rather than later.

It's a constant worry for me. I google stuff every single day... Like what foods to avoid that might contribute to his fussiness / gassiness. I feel guilty if I drink coffee or have a pop and eat junk food.

I find myself stressing over time more now too... Like there's a sense of urgency to get outings done right after he's been fed because that gives us a good 2-3 hours before he'll need to eat again. - And I still have yet to master gracefully (and modestly) breastfeeding in public -- so I try to not have to do it as often as I can.

It's hard... That's all I can say. - But it's best for Xander and ultimately what's best for our family budget right now too. So I'm trying my best to trudge on, despite my wanting to quit every single day and will continue to do little victory dances in my head at every pediatric check up when they tell me how much he weighs and that he's gained a substantial amount of weight since his last appointment.


All that being said, I feel the need to share some of the things I did that have helped me be successful (thus far) at breastfeeding this time around:

* Rent a pump from the hospital for the first 2 weeks -- even if you already have a pump at home. A hospital grade pump is more efficient at emptying your breast than any other pump you can buy at the store and will help jump start your milk supply. (Furthermore, when shopping for a breast pump, always opt for an electric pump rather than a hand-held manual pump -- I speak from experience here. Manual pumping with a newborn baby was insanity.)


* Don't forget to eat! I find that I am hungrier now than I was when I was pregnant. Breastfeeding burns MAJOR calories and you need to nourish your body so you can feed and nourish your baby.

Those first 2 weeks I was so tired, I slept every time the baby would and just wouldn't eat. Big no-no! Enlist help! Have your partner bring you a snack every time you are feeding baby. Prep healthy snacks you can grab before a feeding and easily eat during a feeding for those days your partner has to go into work and you're flying solo with baby.


* Stay hydrated. I drink a TON of water. It's ridiculous. The good thing is you won't have to pee every 3 minutes because your body is absorbing it, plus there's not a baby dancing on your bladder anymore. Try to incorporate juice and milk too -- you need the Calcium and the Vitamin C to stay healthy so you can continue to take care of that little one.


* Keep taking your Pre-Natal Vitamins... I've found that if I take mine with dinner, Xander doesn't have issue with it... But if I take it on an emptier stomach, like before bed, like I did when I was pregnant, feedings were more difficult. Also, a common complaint amongst breastfeeding moms is that iron can cause increased fussiness. I have to agree, as I started a vitamin based anti-depressant with iron and noticed he was super fussy the few days I took it. So ditch the iron supplements unless your doctor tells you to keep taking them.


* I've had the worst luck with washable / reusable nursing pads. I always soak through. I found the disposable nursing pads have worked best for me. They keep you drier too - which means less chance of bacteria & infection. You can buy a box of 100 at Walmart for $12. Either way, which ever ones you choose, change your nursing pads often to reduce your risk of infection -- because mastitis sucks -- again, I speak from experience.



It seems a lot of my friends are expecting their first babies very soon. I hope this helps some of you prep for the reality of becoming parents.

It's not glamorous... It's scary, difficult and very frustrating a lot of the time. I guarantee at some point or another, you'll get angry with your partner, you'll be jealous of the amount of sleep they're getting, you'll feel like you're doing everything, you'll be surrounded by people wanting to help but feel completely alone and you'll most definitely wonder to yourself during those hours of incessant, inconsolable crying from your fussy baby "How in the world did I convince myself that this was a good idea?" - But in those moments, just try to take a deep breath, remind yourself that it DOES get easier, it IS a good idea and it WILL all be SO worth it. Repeating those things every day seems to be working for me.

Much love, Friends. <3 br="">



Photo by Brooke Kelly Photography


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