Imelda……….

Here we go again.

My husband, daughter, and I recently returned from a trip to Rhode Island on Monday afternoon, after visiting family and attending my friends wedding. As we were planning to board the plan, we starting hearing reports of a storm forming off the coast of Texas. It was most likely be nothing and possible dump a little bit of rain. My husband and I shrugged and reminded ourselves we survived Harvey relatively unscathed. This would be nothing.

Fast forward…….

Here it is on Thursday morning and I am looking at the surrounding area flood. I am immediately reminded of those long days watching the golf course behind our apartment complex flood and water levels rise. The radar shows small patches of a break, but there are more storm cells forming and coming. The main concern is after the raining has stopped, what about the surrounding rivers and bayous that are now currently saturated.

After watching the lights flicker a few times, I started packing an emergency bag for our daughter in case we needed to leave. I ran around making sure I had all her comforts in case we were displaced for any reason.

This time its different. This time I am a nervous wreck. I am shaking on the inside. I just want to curl up and cry. I want to get in my car and drive North as far as I can go. This is scary. Every second there is a new development. You have to stay on your toes. For the first time, I don’t know what to do.

They just started shutting down highways. When Harvey hit South East Texas, I had literally just found out I was pregnant with our daughter two days prior. I knew she was safe because I was protecting her. Now, shes a 16 month old. Her safety and well being are our top priority. Not knowing is the worst.

Compared to others, we are fortunate. Many have already evacuated their homes due to flooding. Many just reentered their homes within the past months after they completed Harvey renovations. Many are still displaced. As a community, the fear and anxiety felt two years ago is still strong as we are seeing mother nature, once again, making her presence felt.

We are not out of the woods yet and are expected to experience more storm cells and heavy rain. Please keep the city of Houston and South East Texas in your thoughts as we tackle yet another tropical storm.

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Summer of Renewal

It has been a while since my last post. I decided to spend the summer relaxing and bonding with my daughter and husband. I wanted to find out who I really was.

Last school year was the toughest teaching year I have ever encountered. I found myself in full on survival mode every day. I would wake up to feed my daughter before I got myself ready for the day. It became a marathon just to leave the house every day. The school day was filled with so many ups and down that I would leave there drained both physically and emotionally. Not to mention I had to pump on my lunch so I would have milk for my daughter. I would then arrive home to a very hungry little girl. She would cluster feed from the moment I walked through the door until she went to bed. In between would be dinner, taking care of our dogs, and night time routines. I felt like I was living in my own Groundhog Day. Every day was the same, no breaks or change-ups.

The older my daughter got, the harder and more exhausting everyday became. By the end of the year, I had had it and was welcoming summer with open arms. One of the silver linings was the passing rate of my students on their state biology test. I had a 97% passing rate. My students performed phenomenally, and it just showed that all the hard work we all put in was worth it.

Our first summer trip was a weekend in June in Austin. It was a work trip for my husband but a bonding trip for my daughter and me. The two of us spent the entire time revisiting my favorite areas of Austin while discovering new ones. The Hill Country in Texas is my favorite place in the world. My husband and I were married there in 2017 among the blue bonnets and spent a romantic evening hiking up Enchanted Rock in 2015. It was on that hike that I realized without a shred of doubt that he was the man I was going to marry. This summer was our first time bringing our daughter and I just enjoyed exploring the city and surrounding area. As we were touring The Wildflower Center, I found myself becoming relaxed and just enjoying the moment. I was seeing my daughter in a whole new light. Here she was at 13 months, walking around and just taking in every moment.

It was in this moment that I remembered how I felt that day on Enchanted Rock, dancing under the pecan trees in the Texas rain, and standing in a field of wildflowers staring at the man I just married. I was always in the moment with the most important person in my life: my husband and now my daughter. The stresses of everyday life are not important. My job does not define me, and it never will.

I recently started a new job at a new district. With it comes a lot more responsibilities and expectations. I am working hard to live every day in the moment. Experience the joy through my daughter and the love I have for my husband. The grades and lesson plans can wait. My daughter won’t. She is going to keep growing and become this amazing little girl. I am never going to make these memories again with her.

Summer Sun

Friday, May 31, was my last day of school. The 2018/2019 academic school year is behind me. This past year, I have become a better teacher and person due to the countless battles and fires that I faced in the last nine months. This year has forced me to reevaluate what’s important in my life.

Before my daughter, I would place work above all else. I would stay until the early hours of the morning grading, prepping, or copying, making sure I had everything ready for the following day/week/month. I would often come home and continue working. The day before I had my daughter, I stayed at work until 7:30 double checking everything was prepped for my sub. My husband had to drag me out of the building. I continued grading and prepping during my maternity leave. Looking back, I should’ve focused on my daughter and myself post delivery.

I went back to work determined to be as successful as I could be once I walked through the doors every morning. I would leave all issues in my car to be picked up once it was the end of the day. Once I was home, it was all about my family until my daughter went to sleep. I put my family first and tried to accomplish all grading and planning during the school day. In my perfect post partum world, everything was going smoothly. Reality soon set in, and my world came crashing around me.

It felt that the minute I had to focus on my family or personal health, a volcano exploded at work with a parent or student issue. No matter how many meetings and changes I made to my curriculum and daily lessons, it never seemed to make a difference to anybody involved. It almost cost me my job. During all this turmoil, I forgot about one important person. Me. I became lost in Caitlin the teacher. Caitlin the wife. Caitlin the mother. I started questioning, at 31, who I was without all these titles.

The moment I was told the news my contract would possibly not get renewed, I reevaluated my personal health and the health of my family. I know my worth as a teacher. I know I am a great teacher who holds students accountable for their learning. My success as a teacher is determined by my students’ success every year, and this year my students exceeded even their own expectations. I was beyond proud of them. The things I was accused of I know are not true. I can always find another job; I cannot have another amazing family that I currently have.

I started reflecting on what I needed to do this summer to help me prevent a repeat this upcoming school year. I need to worry more about my personal health and the health of my husband and daughter. I have devised a few goals to accomplish in the next two months. 1. I want to organize all my materials and lessons as best I can this summer to make next year easier. 2. I would love to read and actually finish a few books on my reading list for pleasure. 3. I want to remember to take time for myself as often as I can – I do not need to be here 110% of the time. 4. I need to focus on what makes me happy; if I am unhappy make a change for the better. 5. I won’t stress over things I can’t control. 6. Finally, I will lose the baby weight and this annoying gut I’ve acquired and cannot seem to lose.

This summer is just beginning and will be over before I know it. It is the beginning of our journey as a family of three. Last summer was spent enjoying cuddles and starting a schedule with a newborn, but this year we have a toddler. I want to enjoy every second I can making memories and focusing on my family. Struggles are unavoidable in parenthood, but we can prepare for the hard times while enjoying the fun and easy times. Maybe that’s what balancing parenthood is all about?

Tubes and Breastfeeding

Everyone gains strength from someone, whether it be a parent, friend, lover, or coworker. I gain my strength from my daughter. She has taught me lessons that have made me a better person, wife, teacher, friend, and mother. She constantly amazes me with her affinity for enjoying all of life’s moments, no matter how upset or sick she is. She has shown my husband and I forgiveness, even after we have made her cry because she did not like the medicine or because it was bedtime. Give her a few seconds, and she turns to you with the biggest smile and asks for a big hug. I guess that’s the key to everything, cry it out and then smile and hug the people you love the most. She has become independent and approaches everything with such certainty. I was astonished when she weaned herself, cold turkey, one morning. I was not ready for the transition, but she was and she let me know. I appreciate her forthrightness in taking the reins and letting me know she was ready to approach toddlerhood head on. She is truly going to be a force to be reckoned with.

For the past four months, our daughter has had constant ear infections. Four months of a runny nose, crusty and irritated eyes, followed by a continuous round of antibiotics and steroids to help the ears drain. We all felt like we were living in a ground hog day that was 14 days long. Within day of finishing one round of antibiotics, there would be the symptoms creeping in again. It was like clockwork. We would come to expect it and patiently wait to see the doctor.

On her first birthday, she was diagnosed with her fourth infection. As a mother, I was done watching my daughter suffer. I was done with constantly giving her medication every day for either her eyes, the ears, or sometimes the diaper rash that followed. The poor thing had just turned one the day before and she was once again sick. To look at her, you would no suspect it. She was always running around, playing, talking, and enjoying her day with everyone she met.

FINALLY our doctor said she qualified for tubes. The parameters were at least four ear infections in the a short span of time. We were set up for a consultation with a local Ears, Nose, and Throat (ENT) doctor. A week later, we were scheduled for the procedure. Finally we would all get some relief!

During the consultation and the procedure date, my daughter was done breastfeeding. She just wanted plain, whole milk. It was as if she knew she was going in for her procedure and was no longer a baby. She was a big girl. That was it. The first snip in the umbilical that held us together was starting to separate. I rode into work crying my eyes out. I cried all day. They were a combination of joy and sorrow. On one hand, I had my body back and NO MORE PUMPING!!!! On the other hand, she really wasn’t a baby anymore.

The day of the procedure was a nerve wracking one to start. Our daughter decided to wake up a WHOLE hour earlier than normal. YAY!!!! Normally, not a big deal but on a day were we had to withhold food and drink – yea ok! We tried everything to soothe her and try to distract her from the fact she couldn’t eat. The only thing that seemed to help was the Beatles. Those four smashing brits sang our girl into a dancing frenzy. Finally, some down time and we could get ready to leave.

We get to the hospital and it becomes a waiting game. Wait to check in. Wait to be called to go in the back. Wait for surgery. We spent more time waiting than the actual time she spent in the OR. We handed her off to the nurse, 10 minutes later, the doctor came to inform us the procedure went great but she also had a double ear infection. Great! We get to recovery and immediately hug our girl. A drink of water and bottle of milk later, she was happy as a clam and we were discharged.

We were told to expect some fluid discharge from the ears but she should be back to normal on Friday. Great, this was easier than we thought! However, things would not be that easy. Poor thing kept spiking fevers around 101 degrees for the next 24-48 hours. To make matters worse, my husband and I were both under the weather all weekend. Finally we had enough of the fevers and called the doctor for some antibiotics. Fast forward to Monday, and our girl was back to her old self. Fever free and causing trouble. We were relieved that finally her ear problems seem to be behind us.

A lot happened to our little family in a short five days. Our daughter was growing up before our very eyes. She had become a spunky, independent, goofy individual that loves to open cabinets and take everything out and then laugh at us as we pick it up. A year ago, I was cuddling a little smoosh who stole my heart everytime she looked me. Now I get smiles, laughs, mamas, and my constant little shadow. I would not trade a single moment for the world.

Sunshine Blogger

This is my first time answering something like this but I am so excited to do it. Sorry for the delay in response, life manages to always keep you on your toes.

Thank you to minimalistmama22019 for the nomination!

Here’s how it works:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to their blogging site.
  2. List the Sunshine Blogger Award rules and display the logo on your site.
  3. Answer the Sunshine Blogger Award questions.
  4. Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.
  5. Notify the nominees about their nominations.

My nominations are:

This Is Motherhood 
Megan @ Ginger Mom and Company
tracyvende 
PoojaG 
The Godly Chic Diaries 
Mommy Me 
kristianw84 
Nova 
Cooking Mom’s 
Laleh Chini 
Riyyayy 

Here Are My answers:

  1. When did you start your blog? I started my blog in March 2019.
  2. Why did you start your blog? I started my blog to help me connect with other mothers.
  3. Do you do your blogging on a computer, your phone, or a combination of both? I try and do a lot on my computer but will occasionally use my phone or tablet to just get some thoughts out of my head.
  4. If you could have any job in the world, what would it be? I would love to work with Orca Whales off the Puget Sound and study their behaviors and family dynamics.
  5. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? I would love to live in Denmark or another Scandinavian country. I just love their culture and sceneries. They have some of the most breathtaking vistas and unique environmental conditions.
  6. Do you have any pets? Yes. We have two dogs, a siberian husky and a chesapeake bay retriever.
  7. Do you call it”pop” or “soda” or something else? I call it soda.
  8. If you could change your name, would you? To what? I do not think so. I really like my name and think it fits me perfectly.
  9. What’s one thing about you that is super unique? my perspective
  10. How did you pick your blog/domain name? I picked it because since I became pregnant, I feel like I am just attacking every minute/every day head first. More often than not, I was tackled to the ground by the pressure and stress.
  11. Any advice for new bloggers? Write about something that you are passionate about. It helps you connect with others in a world where we sometimes feel isolated.

My Questions are

  1. Besides your blog topic, what else are you passionate about?
  2. If you had the option to travel back in time, where would you go and why?
  3. What is your favourite holiday?
  4. Are there any family traditions that you have kept while celebrating with your own families?
  5. What is the one thing you are most deeply proud of in your life?
  6. When was the last time you completely lost yourself in something? What was it?
  7. Have you ever danced in the rain? If so, where?
  8. What are you looking forward to doing most this summer?
  9. Is it a milkshake or a cabinet?
  10. Do you regret anything?
  11. What advice would you give 21 year old you?

Can’t wait to read everyone’s answers!!!!

Reflections

I started this blog in February to help me get thoughts out of my head and find people similar to me. I don’t know if I suffered from postpartum depression after having my daughter, but I definitely struggled emotionally and physically. I didn’t have a huge support group. I thought I would. I thought people would flock to my home yearning to see my new daughter. They would sit and talk to me for hours about life and challenges. Someone would randomly provide a hot meal, so my husband and I didn’t always have to cook (in hindsight, we should have meal prepped). I painted this perfect Normal Rockwell portrait of the first few months of motherhood. Reality cruelly destroyed my vision.

No one came over, besides the visits from my in-laws. My husband and I were on our own 24/7. The only difference: he could steal away for a night to hang out with his buddies and relax. He did this often as he needed breaks from the stress and pressure of having a newborn and balancing life. I resented him every time he would ask to go out. I would rarely say no since I knew he needed that break, but I would often sit and cry alone. I was confined to the apartment feeding my daughter. I was a food truck with 24-hour service. The minute I put the ‘BE BACK IN FIVE’ sign up, Little Miss Fussbuckets would appear to complain about the horrible service.

Even now, after work, I don’t leave the apartment very often. It is partially my fault for not making connections with people when I first moved down here. I was an unattached woman in my late twenties. All my friends back home were either single like me or just newly married. All the women I met in Texas were already well into their marriages with children. I felt a little out of the club from the start.

I also started to resent my in-laws. I did not want them to have a relationship with my daughter and experience her adorableness before my own parents were able to meet her. I took every comment my mother-in-law made to heart. ‘I bet your parents wish they could be here’—YES THEY DO! I was envious for my mom, since she couldn’t hold her grandchild until she was almost two months old; she had to make do with pictures, videos, and FaceTime. I missed my mom terribly and often wanted her by my side to tell me everything was normal and that I was doing a great job.

Breastfeeding is one of the hardest jobs I have ever done. My body was no longer my own and was at the mercy of an infant. I couldn’t reason with her. She didn’t understand how much it hurt or uncomfortable I was. She didn’t seem bothered the countless times I fell asleep while she ate. People did not seem to understand how determined I was to develop a good latch and help her gain weight. If I missed a feeding because someone wanted to feed her a bottle, guess what— I still had to pump. The answer to everything was either give her a bottle or switch to formula. My own husband would often relay these words to me whenever his parents were over. The milk you pump is GOLD; it is reserved for a late-night feed or when the baby is clustering and you need a minute.

After a month of our daughter struggling to gain weight, double mastitis, and constant visits to the lactation specialists, we finally discovered her tongue and lip ties. We scheduled the procedure to have the doctor laser her ties the following week at a local dentist. Immediately I exhaled a HUGE sigh of relief. My gut instinct was correct that my daughter had been unable to feed successfully because of a fixable issue. I remember crying the whole way home, relieved she would be getting help. Once the procedure was done, she gained a pound the next week and that ‘BE BACK IN FIVE’ sign changed to ‘OPEN EVERY THREE HOURS’. Side note to new mommies: once you’ve had mastitis, you never want to have it again!

I am beyond glad I stuck with it and was adamant on following my rules. The reward has been a beautiful, happy, healthy, and strong little girl. I am sad that our breastfeeding journey is now starting to come to an end after 12 months, but it is time to start that first stage of independence from Mommy. That cord will never be completely severed, though, even after I am gone, because she will always need her mommy just like I need mine. We carry our moms’ teachings and traditions alive in our hearts and share them with our own children.

This past year has tested me more than anything else I have done in my life. Through writing this blog, I discovered that I am not alone in the world. There are many other mothers out there who are struggling with similar feelings and life events. I feel more emotionally stable and have started resenting my husband, friends, and family members less, thank God. I still have to remind myself that in order to ensure that my daughter’s health and happiness come before anything else in the world, I have to be healthy and happy, too. I need to stop crying over what I don’t have and shed tears of gratitude over the things I do have. I have an amazing husband who has stood by my side through everything and patiently dealt with my emotional craziness. I have a beautiful and amazing daughter who continues to surprise me every day with her tenacity and love of life. I have an amazing support system, as unconventional as it is. I have an amazing life, and though it may not be perfect or exactly Norman Rockwell, it is mine. Perhaps the greatest Renaissance artists or the world’s greatest authors could have painted a better picture or written a better story, but this is MY LIFE and MY STORY, and I cannot wait for the next chapter to be published. All I know: it will be epic!

I started this blog in February to help me get thoughts out of my head and find similar people to me. I do not know if I suffered from postpartum depression after having my daughter, but I definitely struggled emotionally and physically. I didn’t have a huge support group. I thought I would. I thought people would flock to my apartment yearning to see my new daughter. They would sit and talk to me for hours about life and challenges. Someone would randomly provide a hot meal so my husband and I didn’t always have to cook (in hindsight, we should have meal prepped). I painted this perfect Normal Rockwell portrait of the first few months of motherhood. Reality was really cruel in destroying my vision.

No one came over, besides the visits from my in-laws. My husband and I were on our own 24/7. The only difference, he could steal away for at night to hang out with his buddies and relax. He did this often as he needed breaks from the stress and pressure of having a newborn and balancing life. I resented him everytime he would ask to go out. I would rarely say no as I knew he needed that break but I would often sit and cry alone. I was confined to the apartment feeding my daughter. I was a food truck with 24 hour service. The minute I put the ‘be back in five’ sign up, the appearance of little miss fussbuckets would complain of the horrible service.

Still to this day, I don’t leave the apartment very often. It is partially my fault for not making connections with people when I first moved down here. I was an unattached woman in my late twenties. All my friends back home were either single like me or just newly married. Everyone I met in Texas was already well into their marriages with children. I felt a little out of the club from the start.

I also started to resent my in-laws. I did not want them to have a relationship with my daughter and experience her adorableness before my own parents were able to meet her. I took every comment my mother-in-law made to heart. ‘I bet your parents wish they could be here’ – YES THEY DO! I was envious for my mom to not hold her grandchild until she was almost two months old. She was subjected to pictures, videos, and FaceTime. I also missed my mom terribly and often wanted her by my side to tell me everything was normal and I was doing a great job.

Breastfeeding is one of the hardest jobs I have ever done. My body was no longer my own and was at the mercy of an infant. A stranger nonetheless. She didn’t understand how much it hurt or uncomfortable I was. She didn’t seem bothered the countless times I fell asleep while she ate. People did not seem to understand how determined I was to develop a good latch and help her gain weight. If I missed a feeding because someone wanted to feed her – I still had to pump. The answer to everything was either give her a bottle or switch to formula. My own husband would often relay these words to me whenever his parents were over. The milk you pump is GOLD; it is reserved for a late night feed or when the baby is clustering and you need a minute.

After a month of struggling to gain weight, double mastitis, and constant visits to the lactation specialists, we finally discovered her tongue and lip tie. We scheduled the procedure to have the doctor lazer her ties the following week at a local dentist. Immediately I let out a HUGE sigh of relief. My gut instinct was correct that my daughter was unable to feed successfully because of a fixable issue. I remember crying the whole way home; relieved she would be getting help. Once we did the procedure, she gained a pound the next week and that ‘be back in five sign’ changed to ‘be back in three hours!’ Side note to new mommies: once you’ve had mastitis, you never want to have it again!

I am beyond glad I stuck with it and was adamant on following my rules. The reward has been a beautiful, happy, healthy, and strong little girl. I am sad that our journey is now starting to come to an end after 12 months, but it is time to to start cutting the umbilical cord on her independence from mommy. This will take a few cuts throughout her life and will not be completed severed, even after I am gone, because she will always need her mommy just like I need mine. We carry our moms teachings and traditions alive in our hearts and share them with our own children.

This past year has tested me more as an individual than anything else I have done in my life. Through writing this blog, I discovered I am not alone in the world. There are many other mothers out there who are struggling with similar feelings and life events. I feel more emotionally stable and have started resenting my husband, friends, and family members less. I have learned my health and happiness come before anyone else in the world. I need to stop crying over what I don’t have and shed tears over the things I do have. I have an amazing husband who has stood by my side through everything and dealt with ease my emotional craziness. I have a beautiful and amazing daughter who continues to surprise me everyday with her tenacity and love of life. I have an amazing support system, as unconventional as it is. I have an amazing life, and though it may not be perfect or a Norman Rockwell but it is mine. The greatest Renaissance artist or the world’s greatest authors could have painted a better picture and wrote a better story. This is my life and my story and I cannot wait for the next chapter to be published. All I know, it will be epic!

The Perfect Mother’s Day

This past weekend was just perfection. There is no better way to describe it. It was less than idealistic to an outsider looking in but it was the type of weekend that defined our family and the memories and love we share.

During a freak and wicked scary thunderstorm (although I swear it was a hurricane), we lost power on Thursday night. I was woken to the sound of the baby monitor alarm going off to let me know it had lost connection with the base. I looked out the window. I could barely see the tree right outside our window due to the torrential rain. As if to share its true identity, a large bolt lit up the sky showcasing the trees being whiplashed back and forth as they try to fight the wind. This was followed by a crack of thunder that shook our building. After checking on my daughter, I went back to bed and my husband and I watched the storm take its frustration out on Southeast Texas.

The alarms and increasing wind speed signaled a Tornado warning. We both sprang from our bed and woke our daughter to move her away from the windows and to safety. We made a game out of the situation by playing with flashlights and enjoying the quiet soft moments as mother nature screamed outside. Once the threat went down and the storm moved on, we all went back to sleep.

Friday morning we assessed the damage and time frame of power coming back on. After waiting it out for a few hours, our daughter made the decision for us. She spiked a fever of 103 degrees. A trip to the doctors and antibiotics forced us to decide to spend the night in a hotel. We had so much fun relaxing and being with each other. We watched our daughter explore and manage to create chaos in a small space.

Saturday was met with more uncertainty as another system was coming in. We chose to spend a second night in the hotel in case our power did not come back on or we lost it again. It was the best night. Our daughter managed to lose the remote and it became a game of reasoning with a one year old as to where she put it. As of Sunday morning, it was still missing. We are both impressed and scared of her capabilities to hide objects. Makes you wonder what else is missing.

Sunday we returned home and just relaxed. We didn’t go anywhere or see anyone. It was the most relaxing day. We spent it together as a family. We cleaned out old clothes that no longer fit, cooked a great brunch, did laundry, ran to the market, and laughed all day. My husband had surprised me with the most beautiful flowers in the universe and a great card. That night I relaxed waiting for Game of Thrones and could not stop thanking my husband for the best weekend in a long time. We made so many memories and laughed so much. We have so many stories to tell our girl when she gets older. Maybe she will finally tell us where she hid the remote.