Baby Two 

The other morning I spent almost 5 minutes riffling through 3 totes of maternity clothes to locate my maternity bands. Because that day my dress pants that button at my belly button did not button. And I refuse to wear maternity wear yet. 

 

is that like a 2 inch gap???


Baby One I was all about sporting a new wardrobe and a bitty bitty bump. Baby Two, not so zealous. At 15 weeks, I resemble a 16-18 week version of my previously-pregnant self. Does that mean in the end I will look 54 weeks pregnant? Probably.  

I’ve read lots of One versus Two blog posts comparing pregnancies. I would like to think I won’t spend the next 5 months comparing me now to me 2 years ago, but let’s be realistic.  Unfortunately it’s not a fair comparison. With One I took naps. I worked 12 hour nursing shifts, came home and followed a schedule set by me. Sure, I had school work, but I was rediculously efficient when I wanted/needed to be. Now? Forrgettaboutit. Now my life is dictated by Mr “MINE!” :

  
He’s cute, I promise. He’s also a loud, fast, busy, demanding little boy. Most of the time I forget I’m growing Two, unless One tries to sit on me to watch Mickey Mouse. He doesn’t sit gently. He doesn’t do much of anything gently. 

I am very happy to be pregnant. I am excited to grow another human. In the last week I’ve started to feel the little bugger wiggle, and I love to Doppler my belly during my late nights at the clinic.

 

15 week silhouette – notice my toddler trying to drown himself in the tub, nice, eh?

 
We’re headed home for a school reunion, a couple of job interviews, and a 5k this weekend. Can’t wait for a little adventure, although I’m sure I will end up exhausted. And my hubby? He packed up half (okay, more like 15%) of our stuff to move into our apartment this week. Without me. Makes us both sad that we’re having to spend this time apart, he’s especially sad to be missing jackson and their time together. But we’ll get through it. And before we know it, we’ll be back together. In a two-bedroom apartment. With a 2 year old and newborn. Yay! (?) ! 

not taking milestones for granted

As a new mom, I look for and forward to every single milestone. I probably rush things, which only frustrates me and Jackson. I so wanted him to walk well by his first birthday, but it wasn’t until the next week that he decided walking was better than crawling. Now I am working and working and working on getting him to talk more. And more with a purpose. I need to maybe relax a little – he’ll talk when he’s ready.

I can say that, because, as far as we know, he’s “normal,” average. But… what if he doesn’t talk? What if tomorrow I was told that odds were against Jackson talking? How would I react?

My friend’s baby’s scans were completed last week, and they got the best possible news – the tumor had not metastasized and they can avoid surgery and chemo for now. Re-scans every 3 months. But, the prognosis of her future walking was not made any brighter.

My friend is being beautiful and strong about it. But she is grieving and heartbroken, too. She’s an awesome athlete… and she’s basically been told that her daughter will not be a conventional amazing athlete because of a stupid tumor. That she’ll probably need a wheelchair. Therapy. Fight a stigma of being “special,”  no matter her intelligence. And while I absolutely foresee some version of walking at some point… it won’t be by or anywhere near her first birthday. Most of us don’t remember our own first steps, but she may very well know that memory. She could blow all of this out of the water… but the doctor made no promises of miracles, and they are heading into the future with open, realistic eyes.

Which brings me back to where I started. Our children are all different. They will all do different things with different levels of abilities. And we, as parents, have these expectations, crazy or reasonable. I expect Jackson to walk, and run, and talk, and be really smart, get a full ride football scholarship, and cure AIDS. He probably won’t. And I need to be okay with that. I need to stop rushing him. Keep encouraging him. And, I need to cherish each milestone as it occurs and quit taking them for granted. Because I love him no matter what.

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WM vs SAHM

Bella over at Scrambled Eggs just posted about her opportunity to stay at home and weighing in on going back to work. She commented that she is not in love with being a stay at home mom and missed going to work, and her guilt about those feelings. Bella, I raise my hands and whisper, “amen.”

Not that I’m a SAHM. But for the last couple weeks and the next couple weeks I have the opportunity to be at home with Jackson more than I am used to, until my position in the clinic starts in October. I love him more than anything, and he chooses me over any one most of the time, but I’m not really his cup of tea all day long. We’ve had some, for a lack of a more politically correct term, daycare drama for the last 3 weeks, causing us to switch day care providers fairly suddenly. (This switch also contributed to more at home time with my baby). Anyway, the new DC provider texted me Friday, which was Jackson’s first day with her, and said, “He’s so perfect, I’m so glad he’s here, he just plays so good.” Huh? You mean he’s not following you from room to room, pulling down your yoga pants, begging to be held, attended to, and adored?? At home, I’m the source of fun, comfort, and food. I am the Alpha and Omega. BUT at daycare he is entertained by older kids, learns from them, and works really hard to keep up with them. He’s too busy to be needy.

these are some of our stay at home shenanigans from the last 2 weeks:

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If I was a full-time SAHM I think I would figure out a routine that involves a variety of things and seek out outside-of-the-home opportunities for socialization. That is the only way I would survive.

But I always knew I would be a WM. I grew up with one, and it was okay. There were times I was insanely jealous that Blythe’s mom could come and get her at the drop of a hat if she was sick, while I schlepped on the vinyl couch in the principles office with a puke bucket until my mom (or dad) could figure out a plan for coming to get me. But our family got through it with 3 kids, and we all pretty much are no worse for the wear (hehe, I think anyway).

I am an insanely competitive person (mostly with myself). I thrive on social contact and pleasing others. Sometimes this serves me well, sometimes this is my greatest fault in life. I know I am capable of juggling a family and career – not to say that SAHMs aren’t. We can’t financially swing me being at home, especially when these grad school loans come due… but I’ve said, even if we won the lottery tomorrow, I’d at least need to work part-time. My career is a part of me – I am a nurse, always. Even as a mom, I am a mom-nurse.  A wife-nurse. A runner-nurse. A friend-nurse. It’s me, part of my being and soul. Sometimes I don’t even realize “nurse” speak is coming out of my mouth until someone points it out to me. Yikes.

The point of this being, Bella, I think about dressing up for work, too. It makes me feel needed and kinda awesome to have a career that I like and that likes me back. And, every woman who is a mother picks. Some pick because they have to, some because they can, some because they’ve never thought about doing it any other way. I love my friends that stay home, or even homeschool their kids, just as much as I love and support my friends that do the daycare drop-off song and dance 5 days per week. They are all awesome. And they are all doing what they need to and what they feel is best for their family and kids.

I will cherish the next three weeks at home with JackMack. I will take extra pictures and baby-momma  selfies. And then, October 1st I will put on a kick-ass dress that I have already picked out (kinda like the first day of school) and go to work. It is my calling and my sacrifice, and I picked it. I pick working mom.

~

And WTH, Jackson turns 1 this week? Excuse me while I go to the corner and cry a little more.

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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 🙂

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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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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

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.

graduating from grad school

I haven’t talked much about school in a while. Let’s be honest, I haven’t talked about much in a while on my blog, as it is just enough for me to keep up with monthly Jackson updates.

Two weeks ago I went in front of my graduate committee and defended my final project and my entire graduate education. This was a big deal, because if I didn’t earn passing marks I would be “held back” and not allowed to graduate until December. And a big deal, because it is kind of like the precipus of grad school. So, I stood there and presented my project, my statistical analysis, etc., and then answered nearly two hours of questions regarding not only my project, but also anything they wanted to ask me about over my five-year NP curriculum. FUN. Like I said, this was a big deal.

I passed. Which means I am now just waiting on a date to test for my national certifying board exam and finishing up my last two weeks of clinical time. Graduation is August 15th.

Passing was a big deal, worth getting TWO sets of flowers over.

Passing was a big deal, worth getting TWO sets of flowers over.

I currently have three job offers on the table. All of them have perks and downfalls, and Jesse and I have been discussing this quite a bit, trying to determine what is best for our family.

JobA: This is a family practice position at a local clinic where I did the majority of my clinical time – I love the staff and the atmosphere. I would have no call time, no holidays, no weekends – just 40 hours, probably in 4 days per week. Downfall? The pay is barely above what I’m currently making as an RN, which doesn’t give me much to work with as far as paying back my loans.

JobB:  This is also a family practice position with the local clinic/hospital.  I already work in this hospital, so I know the good, bad, and ugly of the company already, and I’m well acquainted with the staff – this is both a bonus and a drawback, especially since I work in the nursing role right now, but one day would walk in as a NP and be expected to almost both be a new person and yet be the same nurse I have always been. I would have call-time, work a few weekends and holidays. I would probably cover some extended hours into the evenings. I would get more acute care experience also, which would serve me well in the future no matter where we live someday. I have racked up quite a bit of sick time here, since I’m already an employee, and would hate to lose that (since I’d love to have another baby soon, hopefully!). I will have good CME reimbursement and a decent amount of vacation time. And they do have a loan repayment program.  The salary is better, but that’s obviously because there’s more time involved here, which would be less time with my family.

JobC: This is a “fall out of the sky” opportunity of my dream job. The day after passing my oral boards, I received a phone call from my old OB/Gyn office in our hometown – their current NP is leaving at the end of the summer and they were offering me her position! This clinic is ran by a physician I adore – I worked with him as a nurse on L&D, he was my physician, and he was my women’s health/OB preceptor. He knows how I work and I know how he does, too. There are no holidays, weekends, or call time. AND I get to assist in surgery in the OR. This was a dream come true and I would have accepted the job on the spot, except, there are no open places in my husband’s company to transfer to right now that are within driving distance of our hometown, which is 350 miles away from where we currently live. We are going to send out some resumes, but the job we’ll move for for him is pretty specific, and we want to stay with a co-op because their benefits rock (think even infertility care coverage!!).  I know deep down that I am probably going to have to decline this position, which breaks my heart, but I have to do what’s best for the whole family. Jesse worked hard for his degree, can I cannot ask him to put that by the wayside for my dream job, it just wouldn’t be fair, since I have job offers here. Maybe God will intervene and a job opening will pop up for him, but realistically, we’ll be staying here. And as one of my preceptors told me, “You don’t want your first job to be your dream job. You need to learn how to be a NP, then go after your dream job.” We have always hoped to move back to the east side, closer to family, friends, and our roots, but this may not be the time. And, since this physician sought me out, I’m hoping that in the event that we do move back in the future, he would consider adding me on to his practice then… 🙂

There are worse problems in the world than three good job offers, I know this and I don’t want to sound like I’m whining. I have been so, so blessed and just hope I take the job that best serves my family, my career, and my heart.

Until then… just a little more time until graduation. Just a little more time until boards. Almost there!