January 30, 2013

The Perils of a Working Mom*

When I was eight weeks pregnant, I quit my job for another job.  I had been searching for a new job for quite some time [over a year -- this area? NOT the greatest for people in the public relations field!] and when I got pregnant, I very shortly after got invited for an interview at another local company. Upon being offered the job, I told my new supervisor that I was pregnant -- not something that was required of me, but because I had known her professionally for a couple of years, I respected her, and I knew it would not make a difference either way [I was right]. One of the main reasons why I left my old job was because it was very high stress, long hours and I had been doing a lot of traveling. Having miscarried before [while working at this company] I didn't want to risk that happening again. It wasn't worth it to me to work 10 [or more] hour days for not a lot of pay in a job that I had become increasingly frustrated with.

But in my new job [I've been here a year and a half, so it's not THAT new anymore] I am the only young mother here. We are are a small company so it's not surprising. But the fact of the matter is while I do know other working moms, I don't really know others who are in the same time frame as we are as a family. It truly does make a difference when I am looking for support for things that we are going through. It's one thing to hear from a mom who has teenagers [shoot, I'll even give you well into your toddler years] telling you that things will be fine and you'll figure it out. It's another thing to have a friend who is dealing with almost the exact same thing you are. My best friend? She is amazing. And without her, I'm not really sure who I would talk to about some of the things that I need advice on. Her sweet baby boy is a year and a half old. She also works full time and is the primary bread-winner for her family. She knows, more than anybody I know right now, how hard the balance is of being a career oriented individual while also wanting, having and raising a family. ESPECIALLY in this first year when I don't know what the hell I am doing, am constantly sleep deprived and am expected to not only be a top-notch parent, but a top-notch employee.

While I completely recognize that being a stay-at-home mom comes with it's own set of challenges [I promise I am not out to piss off any stay-at-home moms out there. I know a lot of them and they are all awesome] it's hard to sympathize [or take their sympathy for you seriously] when I am reading mommy blog posts detailing the cute craft they did with their kid, posting adorable collaboration boards of all their favorite baby necessities or talking about the great class they get to go take with their baby during the day. All it does is remind me of things that I am missing out on things with my own kid, or things that I am not doing that I should be doing, or a new stage that I should have moved on to two months ago that I am just now finding out about because I haven't picked up my "Baby's First Year" book in about four months, or had any chance to browse parenting sites to figure out what I should be doing next to stay on track fundamentally.

It's a constant state of fluster.  It's frustrating, and very, very lonely. I feel like I'm in this very small bubble and I haven't really found anybody to join me yet [again, aside from the BFF. But she's in Seattle. So we can't even commiserate in person! With WINE.] I don't really belong to the infertility community anymore, which is still where I find myself searching for online support for some reason, and I have a hard time relating to other new moms for the reasons I mentioned above. My life is a carefully planned out & meticulous schedule that often goes completely awry. When I have two seconds to breath, it's usually spent thinking of what I have to do in the following minutes and hours in order to get ready for the next day ahead of us. Then it's rings & repeat.

We worked so hard to have our awesome kid & yet I am still feeling like I'm being punished for wanting to have a career. But until this country decides that it has to be one or the other, that there is more support for working moms out there, then this is what I have. Constant exhaustion. Constantly feeling like it's not enough. Constantly feeling like I am living minute to minute, second to second. And lonely. So, so lonely.

January 28, 2013

When Babies Get Sick*

This past week, our household was stricken with a seriously horrible bug. Things were going completely fine in our household up until Wednesday. M had to leave to go to the field for a few days to take part in some Army training, so the two of us were left alone for a few days. No big deal.

On Wednesday night, around 8:30 p.m., after a happy, healthy, normal day, I went in to check on the little guy before making myself a salad and setteling in for the night. In the 30 seconds it took me to walk from his nursery to the couch, all hell broke lose. Upon getting back to the living room, I heard him throwing up and crying on the monitor.

And from there it didn't stop. Every 10-15 minutes for the next four and a half hours.

Y'all, I can handle a little throw up. It honestly doesn't bother me. So I tried to stay calm, and my AMAZING friend Lauren contacted our other friend Lauren, whose husband happens to be a doctor, to get some advice and  plan of attack for me. Fluids in small doses. Monitor. Go from there. Ok. I can handle this. No big deal. At one point I got him to sleep and for 45 minutes, things were calm. My intention was to get our bed ready and have him sleep with me all night incase something else happened. I also needed to get the dogs out of the house for a few minutes so they could do their thing before we settled down. But as soon as I laid him down in the crib, he woke up and instantly threw up again.

After two hours, things had still not slowed down, so I called the advice nurse line at the local civilian hospital. We were going to stop the fluids, give him a warm bath and try to get his stomach calmed down. Then, in an hour, call back and reasses the situation. Upon hanging up the phone with her, his throwup went from normal to a bright neon yellow.

Stomach bile. I called back and we were told to come in immediately.

At this point, I was in sort of a state of panic. There was no more calm. It was 10:30 at night. I couldn't get ahold of M due to where he was and the horrible cell phone reception. Lucas was still throwing up every 10-15 minutes at this point, and somehow I needed to get dressed, pack the diaper bag and get to the hosipital. Lauren #1 (which, coincidiently, I do refer to the Lauren's as Lauren #1 & Lauren #2 in my real life. It makes it easier for the husband to understand which I am talking about! ha!), who I had been texting the entire time, offered to come stay with me, and then incedently go to the hospital with me. But in my head, all I could think was, I have 10 minute windows. That's it. So after he threw up, I set him on the bed (he wasn't going anywhere) and packed up his diaper bag with extra blankets, extra pajamas and a few necessities just in case. I knew that if we went, we would be going for a while. I threw on some clothes & put the dogs in the kennel.

I waited until the next wave hit, and then we locked up and I drove like a crazy person to the civilian hospital, which, thank goodness, is only about 10 minutes away. I FINALLY got a hold of M, told him what was going on, and promised to keep him updated. The staff at the ER facility were amazing, so sweet and so sympathetic. They got us back almost right away to a room but before they could do anything to make the vomiting stop, they wanted to do some xrays. Because of the amount of stomach bile that he was throwing up, the frequency and the color, the doctor thought that his intestines may be twisting and causing everything that was happening. So while we waited for the xrays to come back, I continued to just nurture and help him through the waves.

It was painful. As his mom, I wanted to make it stop. It was not a pretty picture, which bright yellow bile coming out both his mouth and his nose because there was just so much of it. But I shockingly kept it together. When the xrays came back that everything in his stomach and abdomen was fine, they hooked up him to an IV to get some fluids into him. The poor kid was so worn out, y'all, he didn't cry when they stuck the needle into him. It broke my heart.

Once the IV was in, about 1:00 in the morning, they gave him 1ml of zofran, and holy crap ... BRAND NEW KID. The change was instant. The vomiting stopped. He was happy. He was smiling. It was a damn miracle. My hope was that he would go to sleep, but that was not the case. So for the next two hours, while we watched the bag of fluids drip into his IV, we curled up on the bed and watched cartoons on the TV in the room.

Around 3 a.m., the doctor decided that he wanted to try some pedialyte since there had been no episodes since the zofran was given. This made both the nurse and me nervous, but the kid sucked it down and then passed out (which was awesome for me ... I curled up next to him and was MORE than happy to close my eyes for a bit at this point). Around 4 a.m. the doctor came back in, said that since he had kept it down, they were going to discharge us and send us on our way. Their speculation at this point was that it was just a bug, but we were leaving with the understanding that if he threw up again, we needed to come right back.

Got it.

Around 5:30, we were finally able to head home. Lucas & I curled up in our bed and fell right asleep. We had a great day on Thursday with no episodes, but nothing for him except pedialyte, and then Friday we got hit with proof that it was a bug with more messy diapers than I care to talk about & myself catching whatever it was. Oh yeah, and M still out in the field. Mama throwing up & changing baby's dirty diapers did not make for a fun Friday.

And I just want to say to the friends who were there to help us -- and you know who you are -- THANK YOU. It really does take a village, people. We are so lucky to have people in our lives who will drop EVERYTHING at any hour of any day to help us out. I posted the above photo of Lucas with his IV on my facebook page that night, stating that we would be spending the evening in the ER, and I got multiple phone calls and text messages from people asking if we needed anything, on top of the three or four friends who knew what was going on from the beginning and their constant offers of support. This kid is loved by so many.

And as of today, we are all *fingers crossed* happy & HEALTHY.


Ten Months*

This past week, Lucas hit the ten month mark. Ten months, people. That's just two away from twelve.

How did we get here?

Time is moving way too quick these days.

Every month -- EVERY MONTH -- he amazes me at how much he grows & learns. This past month he decided that walking was what you wanted to do. Even though he took his first steps before Christmas, it was nothing but a few here, or a few there. Then one day, same as he has done with everything else, he decided that he was ready. And across the living room he went, in a wonderful, well-practiced stride. Like he had been doing it forever.

And he hasn't stopped since. Laps around the living room, chasing the dogs up and down the hallway, following me or M into every room of the house, and cracking up when he thinks he's made his getaway and got ahead of us. There are no ends to what he can do, and I hope that he continues with this gusto for life throughout childhood and adulthood. This kid is determined, and a perfectionist and puts everything he has into everything he's got. Rolling over. Crawling. Walking (and now, almost running). When he decides that he is ready to do something, he does it. No hesitation. It's truly an amazing character to see in him and I hope that it is one that he carries with him the rest of his life. It will get him far, this I promise you.

Lucas's also has "mama" and "dada" down so well. We continue to work on other vocabulary with him, and while he isn't saying any other words yet, he mimics us and our actions so well. We can wave bye bye and we are working on the meaning of some other words. Also? This kids curiosity. He wants to know everything about everybody. If he can't see what he wants, he will find a way.

This kid is an eating champ. His growth is still ridiculous and his love for food apparent. He will try anything we put in front of him. This is another reminder of just how much he is growing, as the more "real" food he eats, the less formula he is taking in during the day. Which means I am losing more of that precious one on one time that I get with him. Bottle feedings at night are still happening, although getting smaller and smaller in time, and more recently, has begun to sleep through the night. It's weird to me that I would be sentimental about this, but after this long, I have come to really love my time with him at night, snuggled up in the glider, warm under a blanket and feeling close to him.

Sometimes I get so sad at how quick he is growing. Every day I think to myself, how did we get here. How is it that I am staring down at his first birthday already. This year is going too, too quick and I am not ready for him to not be a baby anymore. I already feel like I have missed so much being a working mom & that he is growing at a rate much quicker than little babies should. I am trying, every day, to enjoy every little moment I have with him while he is still little and still wants me to rock him to sleep. To hold him. To play on the floor with him. To chase him around. I know it won't last forever. But the moment where we are sitting there, cuddled up on the couch, or when he reaches over and touches my face (or, you know, sometimes slaps. We're working on that.) ... they are wonderful. I know, in my heart, that hitting the one year mark is going to be tough. We are just under two months away and I have already gotten misty over it.

But at the same time, I love who he is now as a child & a little boy. So much love. So much life. He is worth every sleepless night that I have had in the past two years, through a painful pregnancy and figuring out life as a new mom. And as much as I want him to stay little forever, I am so excited to see the little boy -- and eventually, the man -- he will become.

January 21, 2013

Meal Planning Mondays*

One of my goals to help with my weight loss during this year was to be better about preparing meals. Working full time, it's typically 7:30 or so at night before I get a chance to make dinner for M & I, and even then, it was something typically whipped together that wasn't as healthy as it could have been. 

So I found a meal planning template on Pinterest (really ... life before Pinterest? I don't even remember), printed out 52 copies of it and threw it into a binder. It works perfectly for me because it includes a shopping list for each week that I can work on as I plan, tear off and I'm ready to go for the week. 

The main focus is dinners. My lunches & breakfast I am still working on, as well as fitting in some healthy snacks during they day. Recently, my breakfast has consisted of a hard boiled egg or two, or some oatmeal with fruit & nuts. Lunch varies but I am trying to be consistent with salads with some sort of protein (chicken or tuna). The first two weeks of working out resulted in zero weight loss, which, as I am sure you can imagine, was incredibly frustrating. So I am going to be more diligent about counting my calories and tweaking things until I find what works. 

I figured I would start sharing what is on our meal plan for the week. I have found quite a few great sites for low calorie but SERIOUSLY YUMMY recipes. They are definitely worth sharing! So here we go: 

Sunday, January 20th: Bunless Turkey Burger on salad.  
Monday, January 21st: Crock Pot Italian Sloppy Joes
Tuesday, January 22nd: Leftovers! (Gym night -- too tired to cook when I get home!) 
Wednesday, January 23rd: Chicken Basil Meatloaf & black beans
Thursday, January 24th: Leftovers! (Gym night!)
Friday, January 25th: Baked Chicken Parm over spaghetti squash & side salad
Saturday, January 26th: California Turkey Chili (this is a recipe from a cookbook I have. SO GOOD)

My plan is on Mondays to share a couple photos of new recipes that we tried out, hits, things we loved, things we didn't, etc. Just another way to keep me accountable!!! 

Happy Monday!

January 18, 2013

Happy, Healthier, More Positive*

I saw this quote on Pinterest today and it struck a nerve with me. A good nerve, but a nerve none the less! One of the things that has truly bothered me coming into the new year is how much negativity I have in my life. Not just from me, but from others as well. Part of this is my own doing -- I have a tendency to be a pessimist. To think the worst of any situation. To gravitate towards "Negative Nancy" land.

This is really true for my own life -- I love pumping other people up, having hope for them and thinking that only the best possible thing can happen for THEM. I just can't seem to do it for myself. There seems to be a lot of hate & general discord out there lately, and I'm not going to lie -- it's bumming this girl out!

So as well as trying to get healthy this year, I'm also determined to live a more positive, happier life. This means cutting out the negative. The negative things. The negative people. There are a lot of ways that I am trying to do this -- I started to do this towards the end of last year -- and I gotta tell you, it's making me feel better already.

I love life, and I want to live a HAPPY life. True -- bad things happen. Negative things happen. I can't stop it all from entering my world. Last year was a perfect example of that with multiple members of my family developing & battling cancer. Being immersed in the infertility world, it's also hard to ignore the cruel fact that things don't always go the way that we want to go. Trust me -- I hate that.

But it's also good to see the GOOD things that can happen. People coming together to lift up & support one another. To provide hope to those that don't necessarily have it for themselves. To be a positive example for others. I want to be that person. These are the things I want to focus on. My focus is being directed to those individuals & the things that a positive impact in my life. Who make me happy & who make me want to be a better person. Those who inspire me & bring me joy. I don't want to focus on the bad anymore. Not this year. Not while I am trying so hard to become healthier & happier.

I fully realize that this is a completely random post -- but for me, I need to put this out there & vocalize the change that I am trying to make. So keep me accountable, people.  I truly hope to reflect this change here.

Here's to a happier 2013!

January 17, 2013

Working Out & Mommy Guilt*

I mentioned previously that one of my goals for this year is to get in shape. Like, REALLY in shape. I have a goal weight in mind that I would ideally like to reach by the end of the year. It's that big of a goal that it WILL take me that long to do it the healthy and smart way. But I'm prepared for that. I'm not looking for an easy fix -- I'm looking for a lifestyle change. In fact, to get back to the lifestyle I used to live, before the days of desk jobs & overtime, when fast, not that healthy meals were easiest & my days of playing soccer five days a week were over.

So I got a gym membership. Because I know me, and I know that going home to workout is not an option. Well, it is, but there are too many distractions. I am up every morning at 5:30, out the door at 6:30, work a full day and then it's off to pick up the kiddo, come home, feed him, make dinner, take care of any items on the long list of things to do that constantly plaque me (laundry, cleaning, bills, etc), try to spend SOME quality time with my husband, bath time, bedtime ... and then like that, a snap of the fingers, it's 9:00 and I'm exhausted. Working out? Yeah right.

So I know this. I know that for me, going home means sweats, the couch & a glass of wine when I have two seconds to take for myself. Working out does not happen.

Prior to getting my gym membership, I had a long talk with both the husband and our day care provider. I told both of them that this was something I needed to do for myself. I needed to get healthy & back in shape. I WANTED to do this not only for myself, but to be a better wife and a better mother to my child. The unhappiness that I feel looking at myself day in and day out, in this condition, well ... SUCKS. I hate it. I hate feeling this way. I want to make a change. Unfortunately, that change requires some help. With M being in the Army, his schedule is pretty much fixed. His days are even longer than mine which means that 99.9% of the time, I have to pick up Lucas from daycare. Which is FINE, but I need to go to the gym more than twice a week on the weekends. Which also means I need a little help from him.

So one day a week (Friday), he will be leaving work at a normal time, and picking up Lucas for me.

The other two days during the week (Tuesday & Thursday), our sitter has agreed to keep him a little longer than normal so that when I get off work at 4:30, I can go straight to the gym, which is only 10 minutes from my office (as opposed to the hour it would take me to go pick him up, then head back to the gym).

This means less time with Lucas during the week. Something that I have already struggled with as a full time working mom. The Mommy Guilt that comes with missing ANY milestone your kid reaches, or just the simple day to day stuff (because seriously, this kid grows way too quick) is tough. But it's why I cherish every snuggle that I can get from him. It's why, even though I am exhausted constantly, I don't care that he's not sleeping through the night because I love those 3am moments that we get together. It's why I am going to bust my ass to get fit so that I can be the best possible mom to him in years to come.

Our normal day care sitter had to take off for a family emergency this week, which means Lucas has been spending a couple of days with another friend while I've been at work. I missed Tuesday's workout because Lucas was running a pretty high fever & didn't want to take him to the gym with me (they have free child care if I ever need it). My friend offered to keep him late tonight so that I could go, but I instantly said no because she was already doing me a huge favor by keeping him for me last minute.

Then she sent me this article, and told me it was no big deal, and that she was completely fine keeping him an extra hour and a half or so. She is a fairly new mom as well, and we have had conversations in the past about wanting to lose the weight and get healthy again. She understands where I am coming from, and after reading that article, I gladly obliged.

And I'm not going to lie -- I am looking forward to getting back there tonight and getting a good workout in. The mommy guilt, I think, will be around for a while. But I know that I am doing the right thing for me & my family. I'm especially looking forward to sharing my progress here, which I hope to do!

January 10, 2013

Nine Months*

Little man turned nine months old while we were in Seattle visiting family. Blogging wasn't something that was going to happen while we were out there, so I'm a little late on this (as always) but want to get these updates down regardless!

Lucas continues to be an amazing part of our lives. I am constantly amazed at how much he learns, grows, changes & challenges us on a daily basis. It's amazing to me how much he loves life, even at such an early age. He is so curious and constantly wants to be a part of whatever happens to be going on at that very moment. He is quick to peer over my shoulder, around the couch, through a doorway -- whatever he can do to see what he needs to see.

He is also continues to grow in crazy ways. Between Thanksgiving and his nine month birthday, he got two more teeth (with two more that followed shortly after). He weighs in at almost 25lbs, and while on the shorter end of things, is almost 28"

We are reaching that point where his first birthday is inching closer and closer. No longer do I have this tiny little newborn who needs me for every little thing. My kid is quite the opposite it feels like these days. He pushes away more than he snuggles. He is doing more and more on his own (although still little things in the grand scheme of it all) and every day, he looks more like a little BOY, then the baby I want him to stay. But even with that, my heart continues to swell at just how truly lucky we are to have a kid who is as amazing and wonderful as he is.

He truly is the happiest little kid out there.

We have entered the separation anxiety phase, though. There were many a time that I could walk out of  a room and he wouldn't notice. Not a near epic meltdown ensues almost every time. I would be lying if it didn't kind of make me feel good that he wants me around all the time, because I know that even though he is doing things on his own more and more, there is some peace in knowing that I can keep him calm. I know there will be days in the not so distant future where I will be an embarrassment, or an annoyance, or just a pain in the ass to him. So I am soaking in every aspect of this in-between phase -- not needing me for everything, but still needing me enough for others. (But really ... sometimes I just want to go to the bathroom alone!)

After what I feel like was MONTHS of fighting off one cold or another, he is finally on the mend and his eating habits are up again. This kid can MOW DOWN. No wonder he's the fluffy 25 lbs that he is! He is in no way, shape or form a picky eater as well. Food in front of his face? He will eat it. We are getting on a good routine of 4-5 8oz bottles a day. Typically one at breakfast, one at lunch, one at dinner and one before bed. Always one during the night.

Yes. My kid is 9 months old and still not sleeping through the night. As frustrating as this can be sometimes, part of me still enjoys it. I hate getting up at 2am. But I cherish every single snuggle that I get in those wee hours. They are important to me and again, something that I know will not last forever. They make me feel closer to him in ways that are hard to explain. Breastfeeding didn't work for us, so these are the only moments I have. I want to keep them as long as I can & I truly try to take advantage of every moment that he lets me hold him.

January 3, 2013

Family Photo*

Although I am making an effort do have more family photos taken of the three of us while we are out & about, the truth is that it doesn't happen very often.

So when we were in Seattle over the holidays, I commissioned one of my best friends, who owns Kayla J Photography, to take some photos for us one morning.

And I am so glad she did.

I have more, & will share them when I finish editing, but I loved this one so wanted to pass it along. Despite hating myself these days, I think these turned out really well. I love my family!

Happy New Year!

Holy bejeebus, people. It's been a MONTH since I have written anything. It's not for lack of trying, that's for sure. Life just sort of happened. I hope you understand.

In all honesty, I needed to take some time to figure out really what I want out of my life. I mentioned last month that I'm sort of struggling with keeping it all together. Life has been a little bit of a cluster these past few months & I want to make some sort of sense of my life again. Figure out what is next & where I want to go [metaphorically speaking. Physically, I'm staying right here!]

With us being in the new year, I took December to sort of come up wtih a plan. Find out what was most important to me & what I wanted to do about it. What was making me the most unhappy & what could I do to change that? Once I figured that out, I would go from there.

My weight is something that I have always struggled with. I'm not a small girl -- never have been. Even when I was playing soccer twice a day, seven days a week, lifting weights five days a week & in the best shape of my life, I was never smaller than a size 10. And that's ok. I'm happy at that weight range.

But, I am far from that right now. I'm not a naturally small person. SO ... my goal in 2013 is to get back to that. To be HAPPY with how I look & how I feel. I know it's cliche to buy a gym membership at the beginning of the year, but it's exactly what I did & yesterday I went in for my first workout of the year.

And let me tell you, it felt good. I haven't pushed myself that hard in a long time. I LOVED IT. Which means I know I can do this and keep up with it. It's taking some coordination on the part of myself, my husband and the babysitter; the only opportunity I have to workout is immediately after work, which means Lucas either needs to stay a little later or M needs to pick him up for me. Both have said that this is fine.

There's a level of suck to this, in that it means less time with my family. Something that has bothered me in the past [not spending enough time with them] BUT, I know that my health is important, too. I have 80 pounds to lose. And being healthy and happy for my kid and for my husband is just as important as the time I spend with them.

So, for this year, I'm putting ME first. I'm counting calories. I'm working out. I'm striving to be happy & healthy. I know it will take me all year to get to where I want to be, and I know it's more about how I feel than the number on the scale. But in the end it will be worth it! I want to write about my journey here & will do so when I can. I hope it will keep me accountable.

What are your goals for 2013?