free time

I was asked to complete a bio about myself for our hospital’s web site this week. Easy enough. Started writing my education and nursing experience down in third person. Enter, new paragraph, she’s married, lives here, has a son, a dog, and a cat. In her free time she enjoys running,

And then I was literally stumped. Could I acceptably admit that I like to take naps in my free time?

I have been so immersed in my education and career and childbearing and rearing that I have completely lost tract of what I like to do. My “free time” is fairly limited. I do laundry. Decorate for the holidays. Try to run a few miles, if only for my thighs’ (and husband’s) sake.  Try to text my friends and keep up with birthday cards. Sit on the couch and zone out at the TV.

I thought, before having Jackson, that I would be a do-it-all-and-make-it-look-good mom. I sense that most of us have the same idea. But after he was born, life was about staying above water and not dropping every ball I was juggling onto the floor. It was so much more than I had anticipated, in both beautiful and overwhelming ways. I hadn’t read a good book since I was 30-something weeks pregnant. Or used my sewing machine. I was busy.

Then I graduated, and I just wanted to sit down and not do stuff for a little while. I was tired. I was trying to figure out a new normal. I thought eventually I would come back. The normal old ambitious me.

BUT, as I sat at my desk and stared at the comma and blinking cursor after the word running, I realized a few things. First of all, I don’t give my self very much time, but I think that’s the nature of the beast of having young children, as they are little time monopolizers. Next, I realized that I didn’t know much about what makes me happy anymore. I’ve been so focused on future goals that I lost track of present day life. And now that I have some time to think about the present, I am tired. But it is still important that I hold some semblance of an identity. And lastly, I needed to accept that I will never again resemble old Amanda, whoever she was. I can enjoy the same things. I can go for runs, and go to movies, and enjoy a good book – but I cannot do them without the consideration of my family. They get dibs on my time and energy.

However, I did read a book this week. I curled up under the lamp light and laughed out loud at the story after Jackson was tucked in bed. It felt so accomplishing. I think I’ll do it again. And at least add reading to my bio without feeling like a fraud.

the babyswing conundrum

This is the corner of our bedroom.

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Most of the readers of this blog are swimming in the same season of life as we are (aka, not done having kids yet), so please tell me what you do with the baby swing. Jackson is a year old now (yes, I will do a one year post, I will…. I just haven’t wrapped my head around it all yet), and we’re kind of in that lull between kids. I don’t love having the baby swing sitting there. We haven’t used it in months already and it has become a clothes holder, but our house isn’t necessarily storage friendly, and the darn swing is so big and awkward it would take up a LOT of storage space, I just don’t know what to do with it. Do I live with it there until there are no more infants in this house??

So, tell me, what did you do with it? Please tell me someone else still has a baby swing in their bedroom.

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 cliché 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.

 

 

breastfeeding & pumping & being a working mother

My goal when Jackson was born was to breastfeed him for one year. I didn’t really know what I was asking of myself, my emotions and my body, when I set that goal. I was lucky. First of all, I had helped so, so many women start breastfeeding when I worked L&D, so I understood the basics and knew the tips and tricks for starter success. Secondly, I was anatomically set up for breastfeeding success – not too big, not too little. And lastly, I made plenty of milk.

The first three months of Jackson’s life I was tremendously busy with school, but was on maternity leave from work, and a significant amount of my pumping went into the freezer, because I was able to feed him at my lunch breaks when he was at home with the nanny. When I went back to working 12 hour shifts at the hospital and Jackson went to daycare, I had to learn a good pumping system. I’d pump right before I left for work, and twice during each shift. Some days it was easy to slip away from the activity of the hospital floor to pump, other times it took a little more planning and sometimes I just had to say things had to wait, because pumping was really important. Like most pumping mothers of today, I spent my pumping time catching up on FB, blog reading, and making phone calls home to check on my baby. I also tried to eat a snack every time I pumped, making the most of my time. I’d pump about 10 minutes, which really isn’t a significant amount of time, but it was enough time to pump more than enough for Jackson to eat. While pumping gets old quickly, it has been worth all of the headache. It really has.

Now, Jackson is 10 months old (let’s be real, almost 11 months old 😦 ) and my body is no longer over producing. I’m making just enough to send to daycare the next day. When this first started to happen, I began to panic, even though I find it nice to not be freezing milk constantly. I have a stash in the freezer, too, should I start to not keep up, but I think I’ll make it through the next 2 months. Then I get to start the process of weaning, which will probably be equally hard on both Jackson and I. Jackson still nurses 3 times in 24 hours directly from the boob during those day when I have to work – evening, mid-night, and morning, and gets 2 bottles at daycare. Once he’s a year old I’ll keep that up until I dry up, but I will not keep pumping. Will not. I’m proud of myself for providing this for Jackson for a year, even when I couldn’t always be physically present. It’s been one hell of a committment. And, it’s been worth it.

The days I stay home with Jackson and I don’t have to pump are awesome (like today!!). It’s just us, and I love it. Women who are afforded this luxury full-time are lucky, and I am jealous. I am excited to move on with my career and the next steps that are in my path… but I also wish that we could afford to have me stay home. I wish I didn’t miss those little moments and was afforded the ability to fix every problem throughout the day. However, this is the life I knew I’d have. These are the sacrifices I knew I’d have to make. And I’m really excited to be a nurse practitioner!

I have made a decision and accepted one of the positions I wrote about, and I will fill you all in soon. I am officially done with all of my graduate school commitments. ALL OF THEM. I just have to attend my hooding ceremony in August. And take boards. My life has made some of the most dramatic changes I’ve ever encountered in the last 12 months. It has been amazing, exhausting, and crazy.

I now hope to have a smidgen more time to blog, and I hope to provide an interesting and somewhat original insight into working motherhood. And make some mommies out there feel okay that their child watches Frozen at least once per day, eats Gerber graduates snacks instead of organic, and has more toys than he knows what to do with… but is SO, SO loved.

a good baby

we just got home from a whirlwind trip to my parents’ to surprise my mom for her birthday. mission accomplished in that respect. we also came home with a pile of gifts for Jackson. hopefully we didn’t also drag home viruses and all end up sick.

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happy birthday grandma!

anyway, as with any trip home, Jackson was introduced to friends and family who haven’t met him yet. everyone’s favorite question (usually as I’m cleaning up spit up from my shirt, or bouncing him around with my eyes closed, pretending I’m asleep…) “is he a good baby?” and they smile as they say it… because any good mother would look them straight in the eyes and say, “why yes, he’s the best baby ever.” even when they don’t mean it. even when their unwashed hair and deep bags under their eyes say otherwise.

for some reason I can’t get my self to say that. what I do say is simply, “he’s a baby.” because, for goodness sake, he IS a baby.

IS he a good baby? what is a GOOD baby?

if “good” babies sleep, then no, he’s not a good baby. if  “good” babies don’t spit up, then no, he’s not a good baby. if “good” babies don’t cry very much, then no, he’s not a good baby. I could go on and on….

but then, if he is not a good baby, is he a bad baby??

can there be such a thing? a bad baby?

Jackson does not choose to have gas pains, or an immature epiglottis, or to be a light sleeper. he is not bad. it hurts my momma heart to consider him to be anything but good. he smiles and giggles and coos and loves me and his daddy. he has a personality. he is strong willed, not easy going. he will probably never be an easy baby or an easy child or an easy adult. he has challenged me to new heights, and he’s not even 4 months old.

and maybe that’s what people seek to know when they ask if your baby is good. maybe they want to know if the baby is easy to care for. Jackson is challenging. sometimes difficult. that I will concede to.

no, he’s not the best baby ever in terms of being quiet and content all of the time. but he is the best baby at giving morning cuddles. he is the best baby at trying to gum down his sofie the giraffe. he is the best baby at taking baths. he is the best baby I’ve ever had, and I love him to pieces. through sleep-deprived eyes, I tear up when I think about how much I love him. and even though an 8 hour stretch of sleep would be amazing, I can always sleep later.

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the opposite of good is not bad when it comes to babies. babies can’t choose their reaction to this crazy world. but, I can. happy new year everyone… may it be filled with full nights of sleep and a smattering of really long naps 🙂

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2 weeks away from home

I went “back east” a couple weeks ago and stayed for 2 weeks for school. I’d had this planned out for months… it was such a good plan in my mind. I’d have a new baby and could take him home and he could bond with his family that lives so far away while I did my specialty rotations for school. And on the weekend in between, Jesse would travel back east, too, and we would have Jackson baptized. Brilliant. um, or not…

Yes, Jackson got amazing quality bonding time with almost all of his family. THAT I do not regret.

proud, proud grandpa rog... no pics of gamma mary, as she was usually behind the camera.

proud, proud grandpa rog… no pics of gamma mary, as she was usually behind the camera.

tv time with papa steve

tv time with papa steve

great grandma #1 (she's 85)

great grandma #1 (she’s 85)

great grandma #2 (she's 84)

great grandma #2 (she’s 84)

And the baptism went well. I was so happy to have him baptized by our favorite priest in the church where we were married. Before I went back east I kinda forgot I would need a cake and food for all these people, but ended up ordering what I needed when I got there, and it was great.

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if you know us, you are totally un-surprised that Jackson has 4 Godparents instead of the standard 2.

if you know us, you are totally un-surprised that Jackson has 4 Godparents instead of the standard 2.
Jackson loved having the warm water pour on his little head.

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BUT… for me? The 2 week stent of having my newborn away from our home and my husband was very stressful.  It made my anxiety boil at times. I was attempting to get (any) sleep at night, be professional and intelligent during the day, shuffle my baby hither and skither with all of his necessary stuff, deal with my mother in law giving me attitude about the amount of time she was getting with the baby (augh…), pumping enough to feed the baby during the day, as well as plan a baptism that 30+ people were planning on attending. Oh, and go to class somewhere in there and get my homework done. PLUS graciously attend a baby shower my in-laws threw us.

{ and just for fun… I got a migraine on the second Monday there. Tell ya what… single mothers are a wonderment to me. How does one get sick with a newborn and no help?? It is beyond me. I had LOTS of help, GREAT help. THANK GOD. }

getting home to my husband was so relieving.  for all of us.

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Here’s the good thing: Jackson did great. He was happy. Thriving. He didn’t know momma was nutty. So it was all good.

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Happy Halloween!

the first month

Like I said last night, I cannot believe this little man is a month old. Actually, I take that back… considering how much we’ve done and been through, I can believe it… in fact, he should be about 4 months old based on life experiences. That’s what he gets for being born into a busy, busy family.

our birth announcements... my mom took this picture when he was about 5 days old.

our birth announcements from tinyprints.com… my mom took this picture when he was about 5 days old.

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in the last month we’ve gotten to know the little man that was busy growing inside of me for the previous 40 weeks.

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we’ve learned that he is impatient, strong willed, and serious.

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but that he will melt into your arms when his tummy’s full. and he could care less if his diaper is dirty.

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we love daddy snuggles

we’ve learned that bath times are wonderful until we are out of the water… then they suck.

first real bath

first real bath

 

we’ve endured momma in the hospital. two 800 mile round-trips back east. a blizzard with a power outage. sending momma back to school. and he’s still a happy guy, I think.

 

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ready for our 1 month check-up… 9 pounds, 13 ounces!

first tummy time

first tummy time

put our uggs on for the snowstorm :)

put our uggs on for the snowstorm 🙂

 

we love staring at books. and ripping the paci out of our own mouth.

we love staring at books. and ripping the paci out of our own mouth.

moby time with momma

moby time with momma

 

 

what i miss.

I love my baby to pieces. itty bitty squishable ones. it’s been an amazing month… (a MONTH, wth, where does time go???)

but there are a few things that are missing, possibly never to be found.

  1. sleep. oh, sleep, how I did not adequately appreciate you. even 3rd trimester sleep beats what semblance of laying down with my eyes closed that I call “sleep” now.
  2. my pregnant belly. it was nice to rub my belly. to talk to my belly. to take care of him without trying. my pregnant belly is completely gone. totally flat, semi-loose skin. crooked linea nigra (how did that happen?) who know I liked being round quite so much?
  3. my posture. seriously… i’m such a sloucher right now. between the “breastfeeding hunch” and hormones keeping everything a little loosy-goosy still, I really feel like I could use a corset to make me sit up straight.
  4. my “normal” boobs. these things are porn-star quality. always thought having boobies would be awesome. but boobies that leak and grow and hurt are. not. awesome.
  5. time. to pee. to shower. to brush my teeth. I’ve relinquished the daily shower… because i’m too darn lazy. (I have actually peed while holding the baby. sorry Jackson. promise I washed my hand(s!))
  6. running. see above reason.
  7. (close your eyes mom) sex with my husband.
  8. life before maxi pads. get out of my life box of always infinity. you’ve worn out your welcome.

I’m sure there are more things. but, because my brain fell out sometime in the last 4 weeks (yeah, I miss that thing, too)… I can’t remember anything else. I survive on lists, small crying break-downs, and mountain dew (don’t judge me).  And yet, it’s worth it. It is. Nothing has been more worth it.

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