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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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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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 trusting and grateful heart

I spent most of last week sitting in a hotel about 200 miles away from my baby and 600 miles away from my hubby… for a NP board review. I needed to be there, to focus, and give my self the best chance I can to pass my boards ASAP after graduation. But, besides the 2 nights I was hospitalized when Jackson was a week old and one other random night when I left the baby with Jesse while I went to class alone, this is the only time I have been away from Jackson overnight – and this is the first time he was separated from both his mommy and daddy overnight.  I think this was a big deal.

Jackson stayed partially with my brother and his wife (who also happens to be one of my best friends) and partially with my parents. These guys only live about 7 miles away from each other, but I know it was still a headache for them to haul his stuff from one place to the other. How do you pack for a 8 month old when you know you won’t be there and neither of the places he will be staying have children??? You pack everything. There was even a rubber duck in his suitcase. My Tahoe looked like a BabysRUs. I just wanted to make sure they had any thing they might need. Baby thermometer. Tylenol/Motrin. Socks. Hats. Sunscreen. Pack’n’Play. Jogger. Portable high chair. Jumper. Baby bathtub. Bottle warmer. Sound machine. Toys, toys, toys. Baby food. And plenty of frozen milk. In fact, I brough almost my whole stash – and everything they didn’t use was donated before I went back home…  which was about 800 ounces!

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“so you’re going to leave me with her, eh??”

chillin' with uncle rob

chillin’ with uncle rob

grandpa's sidekick

grandpa’s sidekick

It was a little bit amazing to sleep at night, but I still woke up in the middle of the night and checked my phone just in case my sister in law or mom had called or messaged me with a question of concern… I’m too used to waking up and checking on him! It was a weird exercise of trust.  My family is absolutely capable of providing wonderful, loving care to my son, and I just had to trust them to do whatever they deemed necessary for Jackson. And I am so grateful. So grateful to have people who love me and my little family enough to swap around their schedules to spend the week with Jackson.

thank goodness for snapchat updates!

thank goodness for snapchat updates!

i'm fairly certain this is my dad's first "selfie" - he was so proud of being able nap with Jackson.

i’m fairly certain this is my dad’s first “selfie” – he was so proud of being able nap with Jackson.

HI

Hi Mom!

I missed him like crazy, but thankfully technology provided me (and his daddy) with lots of photographic updates – proof he was just fine. I was never really worried about his safety or their capability to take care of him, but I think it’s just a momma’s nature to worry no matter what. He was in the care of some of the people I trust the most in the world… and I know they understood how much trust it took to leave him for those 3 nights. Like I mentioned, my sister-in-law and brother don’t have children (yet 🙂 ), and I think this gave them a very real look at life with a baby. A real, live, feed me, change me, entertain me baby. And when Jackson was at my parents’ home, which is a farm, he was happiest outside with the animals and hubbub. All in all a good experience for the little guy! And I cannot say THANK YOU enough to my parents, my brother and his lovely little wifey!

feeding the bottle calf with grandpa.

feeding the bottle calf with grandpa.

And, also good for me to be home with my family for a little bit. This is my last trip home before graduation in August. I cannot believe how close I am to graduating, how close I am to attaining this goal for myself and for my family. That deserves its own post at another time, when I have enough time to process it more fully. Until then, once I make it through my project defense on June 24th, it is smooth sailing until boards. So, hard-core school work for the rest of the month. Almost there… I just can’t believe that I am done with my “Jackson and Mommy” trips. They have not always been easy, but they have been some of the most memorable bonding moments with my little boy, just us. It almost makes me sad when I think about the fact that that season of our lives is almost over.

so worn out after a great week with his family!

so worn out after a great week with his family!

This is one of two coolers of frozen milk I donated to the Iowa milk bank. In total it was 6 gallons of milk. This will be used in NICUs in the midwest. I was so happy to "share the wealth" :)

This is one of two coolers of frozen milk I donated to the Iowa milk bank. In total it was 6 gallons of milk. This will be used in NICUs in the midwest. I was so happy to “share the wealth” 🙂

 

 

a parenting plan

I can’t say that I have the extra time to be blogging today. But I’ve been thinking alot about the kind of parent I want to be. Jackson is still so little, he doesn’t repeat what we say or do yet (thank God). But the time is quickly coming. I think it hit me when he started eating food… he isn’t going to be a baby very long. He, of course, makes his opinion known and had preferences. But pretty soon, he will make his own choices. He will have choices. ugh.

I’ve taken care of lots of children in the clinic recently, so I get a perspective on others’ parenting styles. I also see adolescents who are busy making their own (BAD) choices. It scares me to think that Jackson will make the wrong choices on purpose someday. He will, I know he will. I did. His dad did. We aren’t perfect, and realize Jackson is not and will not be either. To err is human, after all. To err on purpose is human, too. We have free will. We exercise it.

When I was pregnant I had a birth plan in my mind. I knew that things could veer off of the plan, but I had a general idea of how I wanted Jackson’s birthday to be. And it was just as I planned. Lucky me.

It was not until recently that I have given thought to my (our) parenting plan. Jesse and I have had conversations about our discipline styles and how we want to raise our children, and yet, so far, we’re winging it most of the time. How could we not be? He’s a baby.

I know my worries are somewhat of a long way off… but the time goes by so quickly. I want to be sure that my child is not a bully. That he values kindness and caring for other’s feelings. That he washes his hands. Like books. Tries hard. But that he also sees the forest for the trees… that he makes decisions with the consequences in mind, at least.

How do you make a parenting plan? Should I even give it thought? The best laid plans crumble and our children have little free wills, too.

I guess, more than anything, I will have to trust myself, trust my God, and trust my children.