Life’s Moments

From the moment I heard my daughters heartbeat at seven weeks, I was immediately overwhelmed with emotion. I could not believe that tiny little life was growing inside me. As I sat in the car, I looked at the sonogram of my daughter. She already looked perfect. I vowed to protect her as much as I possibly could. I would keep her safe from harm and guide her through life.

On March 14, a little boy in New England lost his nine month battle to leukemia. He was 13 months old. I sit here crying. My heart is broken for not only the little boy but his parents. His mom who carried him, just like I carried my daughter. She gave birth to him. Kissed him all over and was filled with the same joy we all were. We were mothers. It was real. Then in a blink of an eye, life changes. She will never be able to hold her son, watch him grow, and become the man he was supposed to be.

I watch my husband play and talk to our daughter. My heart breaks for that father who will never be able to cuddle and talk to his son. To hear his sweet laughter, or cuddle him when he is upset.

Her story is not my story to tell, but as a mother, I feel as if I grieve with her. I look into my daughters face, kiss her cheek, and watch her smile and laugh. I feel guilty that I am experiencing all this.

Everyday I look at my daughter with new eyes. I soak up every minute I am with her. I hug her more deeply, kiss her more often, and just stare into her eyes. I am no longer going to take for granted of having her and being a mom. I look at her and wonder who she will become. I can already tell she is a force to be reckoned with. Nothing stops her from doing what she wants at 10 months.

I ask all parents out there to not forget about the small moments. They may seem trivial, a touch of the hand to the face, a quick glance over to make sure your there, the enormous smile across their face when they see you and you’ve only been gone five minutes. It is these moments I hold in the deepest depths of my heart. Being a mother is a privilege and blessing. I know it has its burdens and rough moments, but imagine life without being a mom. Those small moments you hold in the depths of your heart. Pull them out, get lost in the moment and the joy you felt. It is these moments that will get us through our darkest days.

Who Am I?

This is a question I struggle with. I don many hats throughout the day: wife, daughter, mother, teacher, and myself. Right now I am supposed to be cooking dinner while my husband and daughter watch Jeopardy! together. I currently have neither the energy nor the ambition to stand in the kitchen and cook something.

My husband and I are both on spring break and enjoying the week off and just hanging out. We had plans to do small day trips, but our daughter’s conjunctivitis and a double ear infection quickly derailed those plans. Yesterday was spent at the doctor with our daughter and grocery shopping. Today I decided to clean out the closet. I got rid of two bags of clothes. It was refreshing but also upsetting. I felt that every article I chose to donate, I was throwing away a piece of who I am or once was.

Do you remember in school when they would have you spell your name and you had to write a word that begin with every letter of your name that described you? I remember choosing words like caring, tall, neat, and loving. I recently tried to do that again., but I struggled finding ‘nice’ words to describe myself.

I seemed to have lost myself these past few years. Five years ago I packed up my life in Rhode Island, said goodbye to the familiar comforts of home, and moved to Texas. I wanted desperately to experience life and discover who I was as an individual away from my parents. I would forge my own path through the wilderness. Less than a month after moving down here, I met my husband. In that five years we got married and had our daughter. I do not regret those decisions in the least because I found my best friend and had the best baby in the whole world.

These last five years I’ve changed hats so quickly that the hat labelled “ME” was lost in the back of the closet. I have struggled to make friends here. I moved to a town where EVERYONE went to school with each other and stayed friends and married high school sweethearts. It is hard for me to enter into those groups and make connections.

My husband is from here. He has had the same friends since middle school. They have this amazing, unbreakable bond. I envy him. I rarely visit his friends’ houses anymore because we have our baby and we both feel guilty calling his parents to come watch her at our place an hour before we want to leave. Usually, our friends ask to hang out right around the time we are starting our baby’s bed time routine. I am big on those routines and do not feel comfortable with her spending the night at someone else’s place. I like her sleeping and waking up in her own bed.

Before we had her, I went out and hung with friends as much as I could. Now, no one comes over to visit or asks me to hang out. I feel like I’m at the point of begging people to hang out with me. But I am not looking for a pity party. I know I need to discover who I have become before I can really start making those connections. I am not just a mom, wife, teacher, daughter–I am ME: a strong individual who is not afraid to speak her mind, loves to be silly and enjoys playing stupid games, going on adventures anywhere, and giving everything I do 150%.

To sum up, I just thought of one more aspect of ME: I love to cook! Tonight’s dinner is New England-style baked scrod with homemade risotto. Writing about my frustrations usually helps to boost my spirits and give me juuuuust enough energy to accomplish what I put my mind to. And by the way, I’m cooking because I want to, not because I’m expected to. Right now I’m walking my daughter through the steps of the recipe. She looks captivated, if a little confused. Maybe she’ll take after her mom, or her dad, or be her own utterly unique creature. Eventually, she’ll have to wear a lot of hats, too. But for right now, she’s my little pierogi…and that’s all she has to be.

Mom Knows Best…….Right?

As mothers, we automatically believe that once we give birth, those “mommy instincts” kick in. What are mommy instincts really? Are they just there to know when our children are lying to us? Or about to break those vases/lamps we just bought from Pier One because those aren’t cheap? Are they the same instincts where we know our husbands are full of it or trying to trick us into thinking we are always right? Guess what we are, so stop trying.

For me, mommy instincts are just my idea in my head that I know whats best for my child, regardless what anyone says. I become very stubborn and irrational when others try to convince me otherwise. My husband goes along with it. He is the most rational man when it comes to our daughter. He keeps me from going off the deep end and insisting every test is done on her. To me, he is perfect. He is the best father my daughter can have. Our marriage is not perfect. What marriage is? We have only known each other for 4.5 years. In that four years we have dated, became engaged, got married, and had our first daughter. We are still getting to know each other while adding new stresses to the equation. This past weekend he was the best.

Two days ago, my daughter came home from her Pawpaws with crusty eyes. She did not have them the night before or that morning. We live in the swampy, humid, miserable part of Texas. I consider it that space between your toes that you have to get the cheese out of every day. The spot where athletes foot loves to dwell. That’s home sweet home. I immediately shrugged it off as the trees are starting to bloom and pollen is EVERYWHERE. She has allergies.

The next morning, her eyes were a little runny but nothing crazy, no temp, just a little off. We had plans to see Captain Marvel that morning. It was our first date night in months. I mean it to. We called my husbands parents and they were kind enough to come to our place after we explained she was slightly off. Again, convinced it was allergies.

My husband seemed to know I need the time away from our daughter and lives for a few hours and treated me to sushi after the movie. Lucky me!!! We do not always see eye-to-eye on a lot of things but he is an extremely thoughtful man and always likes to surprise me with little adventures whenever he can.

When we got home she was napping. What a treat, we got a few more minutes of quiet to just sit and relax. Then it started. The black cloud of parent guilt quickly ascended on our house. Our daughter woke up screaming with her eyes glued shut from all the gunk. We quickly cleaned her up and washed her eyes with a hot cloth. At this point, we knew it could be worse than we thought. In chimes my husband, “You know so-and-so’s son had the exact same symptoms this past week. They gave him Tylenol and he was good in two days. Resolved itself.” My response was every child is different and our daughter is not his son. After disagreeing on jumping to conclusions, we agreed we would wait until the morning and determine the next cause of action. Morning came, eyes crusted shut and her temp was 99.5. I was done. I needed to hear from a medical professional that it was only allergies or it wasn’t.

Here is where my husband is even more amazing. When I told him I wanted to go see a doctor, he quickly walked the dogs and jumped in the car. He could have insisted I wait another day to see our pediatrician instead of paying an ER or Urgent Care visit. I knew he would have rather I waited until Monday morning. He didn’t though. We both wanted answers as to her symptoms . Hour later, conjunctivitis and another double ear infection. Her throat was also irritated but tested negative for the flu and strep. Positive, it wasn’t the flu or strep. Negative, we have to somehow put eye drops in a 10 month old eyes. This doctor must hate us.

Here is where our marriage, partnership, and friendship really shines. He looked at me in the doctors office and said sorry. He honestly thought is was allergies. I admitted I did too. I was hoping this gut feeling was wrong and I was being irrational and over thinking her symptoms. I apologized to him for making up go into the ER at nine in the morning on a Sunday. He apologized for not going Saturday night when I asked. I told him we did what we thought was right at the time. What was best for our daughter. We really honestly thought it was allergies. Those “mommy instincts” are just bologna. They are what we use against our husbands and boasting to our friends and coworkers. We know our kids are attracted to shiny, new things. They have no sense of what is fragile and what is not. Mother’s, we do not always know what is best for our children. Sometimes it is the Dad’s that know what is best. That is parenting. Using each others strengths to make the best decision for your children. It does not matter who instincts are correct, as long as our children are happy and healthy.

One thing we did agree on though, no more date days for a long time. They are too expensive.

Adjustment Phase

The other night I was watching the show Working Moms on Netflix with my husband. If you have never heard of it, here is the synopsis. The story is about 4 mothers who are at the end of maternity leave and their struggle to return back to work and getting their lives back in order. Each mother is struggling with a different postpartum issue and utilize each other to help them get through each roadblock they face.

The show touches upon the expectations to appear as if women are supposed to have everything together. We can have the baby, career, sex life, and keep our emotions in check at all times. If you breastfeed and go back to work with your pump, forget it! Your bosses do not want to touch that with a ten foot pole. We almost get ridiculed for have the audacity to pump during the workday because we choose not to feed our baby formula. We are told countless times to put our family first but when we do, we are scorned at. If we do not return with the same tenacity and loyalty as before we left, we are considered weak. Why? So I had a baby and may be an emotional ticking time bomb, but I have the same work ethic and priorities as before I gave birth.

All in all I highly recommend the show to all my mommy friends. You’ll be laughing going, “Yup! That’s me!” So pour yourself a glass of wine (you deserve it) or some ice cream. Whatever makes you happy and relaxed, turn on Netflix and just relax as you watch other mothers go through the day you’ve just had.

Hanging On For Dear Life

I think I have reached my breaking point. I need to find a way to be mentally and physically fit. Last night I came home and all I wanted to do was cry. Cry for no absolute reason. I looked at my daughter and for a minute I resented her. I resented her for wanting to cuddle with me and not my husband. I resented her for not letting me sit for five minutes without wanting to nurse. I also got upset with my husband. He had no idea what to do or help me. He is the smartest man I know but I resent that he comes home every night and immediately goes on the computer or watch Jeopardy. I resented the fact my daughter let him! All I wanted to do was run out the door, get in my car, and drive far away.

It was not her fault. It was not my husbands fault. It was no ones fault. I realized when I got up this morning that I am tired. It was also evident when I barely pumped two ounces in 40 minutes. I am exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally. I did not want to come to work this morning. Every class I have to muster up energy just to put on a smile because I just want to run away. I know this will pass. These events are often cyclic and they do get better.

I know I need to communicate with my husband better. Tell him how I feel and when I am overwhelmed. I just wish he knew or was more proactive, thats men though. I love my daughter and honestly love it when she wants to curl up in my lap and just be there. I cherish those moments. I know there are woman out there that cannot experience that or are struggling with their babies health. I am very lucky to have a happy, healthy little girl. I count my blessings on a hourly basis.

Sometimes as mothers/women, we just need to lie in our bed, grab a good book, put in a romantic movie, grab whatever junk food is around and just cry and eat. That is ok, that is normal. We got this! I got this!

10 Months……..

It has been 10 months since I gave birth to my daughter. 10 months of crying, laughing, picking fights, and pure exhaustion.

I had to have a planned c-section and knew very early on. One thing I struggled with was other mothers explaining to me what a horrible idea this was and to go against my doctor and have the baby the “right way.” Is there really a “right way”? Who cares how you deliver a baby, as long as you and the baby are both happy and healthy? Why as women do we judge one another? I have found myself doing that sometimes when I start comparing how I’m parenting (again 10 months old, not really parenting, more keeping alive and away from dangerous things at this point.) The right way for someone else is not the right way for me. Was I scared? Absolutely yes! Did I have nightmares I would not survive this? Of course. But guess what: I did survive and I am a stronger person because of it. I love my scar; it is a reminder of what my body went through and produced. I will carry it with me for as long as I live.

One thing is for sure, I do not have this mommy thing figured out. I struggle every minute of every day. I am a working mom, as a majority are, and I am really having a hell of a time at work. I have been a teacher for seven years now. I am not the new kid on the block, but this year I have felt it. I went from staying until 7/8 at night and coming in at 5 the next morning to rushing out the door as fast as I can and making it in by the first bell. There is a huge learning curve. I know there are resources for mothers out there, but where are the resources for when we go back to work?

Stroll through any bookstore and you will find numerous parenting books on being first time parents, raising more than one child, having multiples and how to handle father hood for the men. Where is the book for when parents go back to work and still have a baby at home? Where is the book or group that shows you how to balance work, home life, new baby and having some a social life still? We also need a book on maintaining your sanity during all this and not reaching that breaking point. There is no book that I am aware of. No one prepares you for the mornings, nights, weekends that are no longer your own. Yes the baby does nap and goes to bed, but during those times you are busy doing something else. I do not want to even get into my social life. My new social life is a baggy pair of sweatpants and my bed. We have become best buds these last few months. My bed gets me.

For the first time in my life, I was called unprofessional at work. I have never been called this before. It bothers me probably more than it should. Everyone keeps telling me that I should have a handle on things between work and home. Guess what? I don’t. My husband teaches college and has a crazy schedule. Some nights he is not home until after our daughter goes down. Nothing gets done these nights. I am cooking dinner after she goes to bed. I do not feel like grading at this point but some nights I do. That results in me falling asleep with a pen in my hand.

I understand it gets easier, because it is. I have started realizing that my papers are not going anywhere and can wait until a quiet conference period or a night/weekend I have time and energy to talk the test on protein synthesis. Watching my daughter crawl into my arms while saying mama is a feeling and moment I will constantly hold dear to my heart. I am doing to best I can at home and work. My best is all I can give. That is enough for me.

Confessions You Already Know

New mommy here! Well, not really. My daughter is almost 10 months. Crazy to think how fast time moves. I blinked and it seemed she started crawling, babbling, and getting into EVERYTHING! When you become pregnant, everyone tells you how magical and amazing this time is in life. I mean, they are right, but no one tells you the amount of tears and swear words that are the result. Add on being a working mother, and some days you just throw your arms into the air and give up.

I have devised a list of things that I have learned these past few months.

1. Showering is a treat and feels like a spa day everyday

2. Home cooked meals can mean picking up takeout on the way home – even if your bank account says no, your sanity says YES!

3. Your significant other is truly just trying to help, let them and just let it go. The disagreement in the morning is not worth it. Talk later after the baby is down and you’ve both relaxed.

4. The dogs are fair game for taking the blame

5. The house does not need to be clean 100% of the time, the smile or laugh you received instead for playing on the floor is worth it.

With that being said, I am a nut where I still insist on nursing and pumping twice a day. Man, those night time pump sessions are often stressful because all I want to do is curl up and sleep. I also make all our own baby food. It is comforting to know what exactly goes into her food and what I can control. I have gotten quite adventurous in combining foods I would never think would compliment each other. Although, one thing to remember, what goes in must come out. Beans and blueberries may taste yummy and full of amazing nutrients, but the outcome is eye watering disgust. You question how something so small and cute could create a biohazard the CDC would label as a defense weapon.

My husband and I are both teachers. I teach science at a local high school and he teaches english at a college. Yes we get summers off and holidays, but we also take work home. More often than not, our nights do not end when our daughter goes down. That time is taken up by any planning or grading we couldn’t get done during the work day. Hard to believe but there are not enough hours in our day to get everything done. I am also not painting a Monet here. Everything and everyone is at peace, the colors are vibrant, and you just want to be like Mary Poppins and jump into them. Some days are more colorful than others and our marriage does face a lot of challenges, but at the end of the day he is my best friend and I would not want to face this journey we are on without him. Even on those hard days, and ladies I think you know what I mean.

Well that it is for now, stay tuned for more adventurous because life never stops or slows down. You need to jump on the train and hold on for dear life.