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! (?) ! 

updates

Do you know those days when you have so, so much to do, but you are so, so lazy… so instead you watch DVR’d 19 Kids and Counting while your son destroys the living room?? Yeah, those days. I’m not getting much accomplished today, and that’s okay, unless you’re my pile of laundry. Sorry, laundry.

My friend’s daughter is having another scan this week to see if the tumor is spread beyond the one place by her spine. If not, they are going to watch and wait – so no chemo and surgery for now. This is great news, BUT they were told last week that the tumor, which was probably there since birth and had shrunk some already, has caused atrophy to the spinal cord that is mostly likely permanent. So, similar to a spinal injury, her sweet little girl may never have complete control over her legs, and in turn, may never walk unassisted, maybe not at all. I like to believe that at 10 months, one cannot be counted out of anything in life, and maybe there will be a way. I hope so. Time will tell. But for now, we are all praying for a clear scan to avoid any invasive and dangerous treatments.

Otherwise, it’s status quo around here. We’re getting a groove. We’re doing a little meal planning. We’re getting excited to go home for Thanksgiving. I’m starting to think about turning 30 next month… but not really bothered by it. I’m starting to organize Christmas in my mind. I’m trying to start budgeting, like, for real. Again. Bahahaha.

And, we had our first real, professional family pics taken… this is the only one I have for now, but I thought it was pretty cute 🙂

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learning a new normal

I started my new position as a NP in the clinic on October 1st, and it is all going well. I knew there would be a learning curve, and I’m riding it, trying to take everything in as best that I can. It’s been a lot of sore throats and broken bones, speckled in with some seriously sick patients who I referred on for hospitalization and surgery – true family practice, which is exactly what I wanted.

I haven’t had a 8-5 job since the summer after I graduated high school. I’ve never given much weight to Fridays, as weekends did not necessarily mean days off of work. It’s only been two weeks, but it sure is weird! I am used to my days off during the week to make appointments and run errands. In November I will start covering some Sunday and evening walk-in clinic, so I will get a day off during the week again, which is good, because I really appreciate that time. PLUS, it will give me a day to hang out with Jackson during the week!

I can’t say for sure that I have wrapped my mind around the fact that this is my new normal, for like, a long time. No classes to plan around. No big goals looming in the future. This is what I worked so hard for, but definitely not what I am used to. I need to find a new schedule, a groove. I can surely see the benefit of meal planning, exercise planning, general life planning, with both parents working fulltime jobs. I don’t know how I thought this would all come together, but I guess I thought some of those things would get easier, but they’re not. Duh, Amanda!

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I got used to having days at home with Jackson for the last 2 months after school wound down. I miss those days SO much. I feel like he’s falling behind in language, and I don’t really know how to make this better while he is in daycare. We LOVE our daycare now, and I have no complaints with her, but I miss my one-on-one time with my little guy, working on his skills. He’s tired, hungry, and cranky by the time I pick him up at 5, and it doesn’t always make for the best quality time together. More like, “FEED ME! BATHE ME! KEEP ME HAPPY!” time. Boo.

For example, he likes my phone, a lot:

But when I take it away anytime near bedtime:

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So fun 🙂

Any tips on smoother evenings during the week??

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

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!