all done

I went into hiding for the last couple weeks, got through graduation, and spent (most of) my free time forcing myself to study for national certifying boards… I spent more time studying for this test than I think I have ever spent on a test. And yesterday (insert drumroll…) I passed ūüôā

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Amen, now let’s all move on with our lives!!

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Can you see the relief in this picture. AHHH! So happy to be done and have more time with my men!

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Super siblings and their wifeys.

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Proud parents.

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We went out to eat after the ceremony, which was at 7pm anyway, so it was WAY past Jackson’s bedtime, and the only way he was happy was sitting in the middle of the table, being the center of attention. Go figure.

Graduation was great, it was a small ceremony just for the nursing students, both the doctorates and the bachelor’s graduates from the summer programs. It is sad to think that may have been the last time I would see and talk to some of my school colleagues, but thanks to Facebook technology, we’re all able to stay in touch. And so far, everyone’s passed their boards also!

That weekend we also threw a bridal shower and bachelorette/bachelor party for my baby brother’s fiance. My pictures of that are super sparce, as it is difficult to chase my son and¬†use¬†a camera, but I assure you it was fun. The lovebirds¬†are getting married in 2 weeks; I have a bridesmaid dress to wear, Jackson is the ring bearer, and Jesse is an usher, so should be a plenty crazy weekend and day… not to mention my baby turns 1 two days before the wedding, so there will be lots emotions (both happy and bittersweet), reuniting with family, and cake. Thank goodness for the cake!

 

11 months

Right after Jackson was born I, on a daily basis, tried to not have a breakdown. It wasn’t because having a newborn is hard, although having a newborn is very hard. It wasn’t because I was venturing into my last year of my doctoral degree, which is also quite hard. It was a culmination of the two. Every day of Jackson’s life has been measured by my school progress, just as equally, every check mark in my higher nursing education for the last 20 months has been marked by Jackson’s existence. My first day of clinicals was a Tuesday, and just 2 days before, on a Sunday afternoon, I found out I was pregnant. At 38 weeks along I learned how to apply casts on my classmates, but had to miss the morning of class that day to have a fetal echo done to check on my sweet boy’s heart. On the day he was born, I was supposed to be in class, but instead I was¬†having the most life-changing day 400 miles away.¬†When he was a week old, I became so, so sick, and I had him there with me, in class. There are few memories of school that don’t involve Jackson at some level, and few times Jackson’s life schedule didn’t depend on mommy’s school commitments. I remember thinking, “when I graduate in August, he’ll be almost a year old, he’ll be almost walking.”¬† It was¬†the warm fuzzy thought that got me through. I told myself I could do it, I would be okay. After he was born, I would repeat, “just 11 more months,” “just 8 more,” “just 3.” It was all about getting to August. Last October, November, January… well, August seemed so far away.

And then, suddenly, it wasn’t far away anymore.

In the same week Jackson turns 11 months old, I will graduate. For the first time, the measuring stick of Jackson’s life will no longer¬†be my education. Those two things had become so intertwined. Like church and state; completely different entities, and yet, nearly impossible to separate cleanly. And, like I promised myself, my 11 month old is nearing the walking milestone, cruising everywhere and standing solo some. It is surreal.

He is amazing and funny and so very busy. He picks up on so much. He’s high-fivin’, clapping his hands, shaking his head no, being soooo-big, and waving bub-bye. He’s playing catch¬†and throwing¬†a ball and driving his toy truck on the carpet like it’s meant to be played with… not just chewing on it. He can get into his little rocking chair, turn around, sit down, and then get himself back out. It just amazes me.

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He’s not really ahead on his milestones, not behind, just average. His top front teeth are FINALLY cutting through – I was afraid we’d need to invest in dentures by kindergarten. He’ll attempt to eat anything we hand him and may decide the dog should eat it instead, but also still loves his nursing time with momma. He babbles about momma and dadda¬†a lot, but also directs those titles at us appropriately at times and imitates the sounds we make. And he’s turning into a daddy’s boy just a little bit more every day – Jesse is thrilled! And I am too, because we can share in the neediness that is a nearly one year old who can crawl over to you and try to pull your pants off begging for attention.

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I am so excited for our little future, for our little family. I am excited to take my boards and pass them and move from that season of life. And, while it will also mean that our baby is a year old and no longer the tiny, cute, sleep-less, barfing bundle he was, his birthday represents so much more that 12 months of his life. It represents survival and success and strength.

11 months, so crazy…

this is a sneak peek at jackmack's first birthday photo shoot pics

this is a sneak peek at jackmack’s first birthday photo shoot pics

this is a sneak peek at jackmack's first birthday photo shoot pics

this is a sneak peek at jackmack’s first birthday photo shoot pics

the emotions of parenthood

I believe there are three core emotions to parenthood – worry, guilt, and love.

Worry:

From the moment you learn of your impending parenthood, you begin to worry – and worry knows no bounds or forms of parenthood. Adopting? worry. IVFing? worry. Just found out you are pregnant after trying for a year? worry. Just found out you are pregnant after trying not to get pregnant? worry. Then there¬†is worry over what you eat, what they eat, what is normal, what is scary. You worry about worrying too much. You worry because of what you think and what everyone else is thinking and, well, everything. With all of the knowledge that is at my fingertips via the world-wide web, combined with my formal nursing education, you’d think I would worry less, but that is untrue. I worry MORE because I know there’s more to worry about.¬† It’s silly really… I would have all the confidence in the world saying to a parent of a patient, “your baby is normal, everything looks good,” but turn around and worry over my own child’s normalness. Worry is maddening and unescapable, and from what I can tell, lasts forever.

Guilt:

Here’s a fun emotion… guilt. Guilt is heavy and sticky and tricky. You finally get a moment of silence to yourself, and instead of relaxing, you find guilt creeping in and disrupting your moment. Pretty soon you’re checking on your child or husband or babysitter… Guilt in parenthood comes from fear of making the wrong choices – whether it’s a decision to be a stay at home mom or to go back to work or formula feed or breastfeed or to let your baby cry it out or not. Guilt is an ugly sister of worry. You worry about a choice until you make it, and pretty soon you’re feeling guilty about not choosing something else. You worry because of the longstanding effects that could happen, you feel guilt because a longstanding effect might have happened after making a choice.

But after all of that maddening worry and guilt, there is love.

Love is so personal. Love is intense. Love is not hearts and flowers, but instead the weight of a little boy about to walk his way out of babyhood and into toddlerland, when at 3 am all he wants is his “maaaaa-ma-ma-maaaa,” and at first, all I want is sleep, but in a split second I am up picking up his warm, heavy body from the crib and heading for the rocking chair. Last night, as he nursed, I felt the brevity of his littleness… his hands aren’t quite so chubby and his legs are getting long. His blonde hair is filling in and has grown just past the tops of his ears. Love is in the details, in the quiet moments, as he falls back to sleep in my arms and I carry him back to bed.

Love gets us through the worry and the guilt. Love brings us past those feelings and makes every single moment precious and worth it.

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reminiscing

Yesterday Jackson and I spread out the quilt and watched Jesse play softball.

That’s a lie… we spread out the blanket, Jesse played softball, I barely saw any of the game, as Jackson attempted to escape the quit, eat every rock, twig, or piece of grass in a 4 foot area past the blanket, all the while screaming and crying if you tried to save his life by stealing away the rocks on their way into his mouth. And we¬†sweltered in the sun.

I couldn’t help but to reminisce¬†about a year ago, sitting on the same quilt in the same warm sun, rotund with pregnancy, watching my husband play ball. I was so happy and excited and absolutely naive about what the hell having a baby is all about. I felt adorable and was happy to answer every inquiry about gender and due dates and such.¬† I was so in love with the kicks and jabs and rolls of the little boy growing inside of me.¬†I was in control of my life (maybe not my bladder, but I digress). When I was tired, I could nap. When I was busy, I could focus. When someone wanted to go shopping, by all means, let’s go!

awe, pregnancy is so peaceful...

awe, pregnancy is so peaceful…

And yesterday was one of those, “so this is parenthood” moments. I love my son more than anything ever in the whole wide world, but man, he was¬†easier to take care of in-utero. I miss being pregnant so much. It was wonderful and¬†special. I hurried it along too fast, though. I had my eyes on the prize at the end of the race.¬†I should have savored it more.

It is clich√© and¬†far too simple¬†to say that having children changes you. You are forever physically and mentally altered. Your life can never be put back to the way it was. It is now what it will be. We’ve created something, someone, who wasn’t there before. I don’t mean to sound sad saying this, but yesterday I missed the easiness of pregnancy that has been replaced by a small blue-eyed, two-toothed, terroristic tornado who doesn’t allow¬†for a moment of relaxation. I pined a little for the calm that was our lives a year ago – we were happy, anticipating a child, still in a blissful fog of ignorance.

busy boy

busy boy

And it gets so much worse, you say. They get bigger, busier, and smarter. They require less sleep and more food. And, my husband and I¬†want more of them. I want more pregnancies, more jabs, kicks, and rolls. There will never be a peaceful pregnancy such as the first one. All subsequent children will be gestated in chaos. God help us. God help them. But… it won’t be worse. It will be better, so much better.

I wouldn’t change it or trade it. It is our life, and I do love it. I just should have slept more when I had the chance.

 

 

the future

 

We moved to our current location in western South Dakota in May of 2012. Since that time I made 37 round trips (800miles each time)¬†back to the east side of the state to complete my doctorate of nursing practice and family nurse practitioner degree. I drove in 100+ degree heat without an AC. I¬†got the AC fixed. I drove, stopping every hour for a pee break and to prevent blood clots, while pregnant.¬†I drove, white-knuckled,¬†in really crappy snow/ice with a baby sleeping in the back seat. I drove through hours of crying, because what else was I supposed to do? I’ve spent many many nights sleeping in a bed that wasn’t my own, and for the last year, bringing a baby along for the ride every singe time but once. I’ve breastfed all over this state.

watching my baby grow from the drivers seat

watching my baby grow from the drivers seat

I owe my friend Karen SO MUCH (I’m still planning on paying you back!), because she’s shared her home with me to stay there when I needed to be at class and¬†because she lovingly watched my colicky baby while I was in class. And, she brought me a life-saving¬†care package when I was in the hospital, nearly septic, after Jackson was born.

love ya Karen!

love ya Karen!

I owe Angie, Nathel, Mindy, Karen, Darcie, Kassie, Jessie and so many others for participating in countless hours of cell phone conversation while I drove.¬† You’re welcome Verizon… however I will be reducing my minutes package very soon. You gals are my best friends, and you’ve seen me through so much.

he had lots of screen time with mom

he had lots of screen time with mom

I owe my family, Jesse’s family, and our extra family, because they have all taken turns helping with Jackson, whether for a day, a week, or over-night while I was suffering from a migraine. They’ve all given in some capacity to help me/us get to this point… money, time, help, food… we wouldn’t have survived without them.

I owe my husband, who has seen me through these most intense years of my life. He watched me, especially since moving, be at my lowest lows and my most enlightening highs. He’s loved me through ugly, cranky, sad, tired, and stressed. He’s taken his turn taking the baby so I could finish yet another assignment. He’s checked the oil, checked the tires, filled the gas tank and sent me down the interstate with his baby boy in tow, trusting me with his world. Trusting me to come home safely every time.

I don’t know how to repay any of¬†them adequately… except to go out and be the best NP I can (and answering all of their random health questions). I want to make¬†them all proud.

I laughed out loud a LOT at this ad in my NP magazine. Bahahaha!

I laughed out loud a LOT at this ad in my NP magazine. Bahahaha!

I will soon be signing a contract at the local clinic that is affiliated with the hospital where I currently work. I was terribly disappointed to decline my dream job that was offered to me last month back on the east side of the state, but unfortunately there were no transfer options for Jesse, and we made a choice to stay because it truly is best for our little family at this point. And, I am simply grateful to have such wonderful options to choose from, as not everyone is so lucky. I will start in the clinic October 1st in a family practice role… I am excited and nervous. I want to be¬†great at my job, but I know that the next couple years will be a process of learning that is even more intense than school, because the patients are real and the decisions ride on my shoulders. It is an awesome responsibility.

lookin' all professional

lookin’ all professional

I haven’t fully realized the immense change that is about to be my life, our lives. I haven’t soaked in the fact that there is no “back to school” for me, EVER AGAIN, but instead the loans will come due. I haven’t absorbed the fact that I will no longer have RN hours, but instead will be able to count on Christmas and Easter being family time. These things will become real. We’ll settle into our new routine. Our life will continue to morph into whatever God has planned. So, with a happy heart, I look to the future!

supporting the momma alma mater

supporting the momma alma mater