Officially Domesticated: The Changing Priorities of a New Mom

I will preface this mommy-focused entry by saying I am so glad to be back into writing, as it has helped articulate my thoughts and make more sense of my world. It has also been helpful in sorting out the new questions mommy-hood has posed. I am no longer responsible for just myself, and that’s scary, tiring, thrilling, and wonderful, all at the same time.

I once thought planning my outfit for the next day was considered being really organized and ahead of the game; how quickly that changed once I had a new little life to care for. Late night martinis with the girls downtown soon became late night feedings in a half-sleeping zombie state. In the back of my mind, I would think, “Ok, if six interrupted hours of sleep is the best it gets, I can deal with that.” Don’t get me wrong—I absolutely love the precious newborn stage with the tiny hands and feet, all the little coos, and cute puckered lips she made while she was stretching her little arms…but I’ll also say I was glad to successfully graduate the first 12 weeks of motherhood. I once read the first three months are considered “the fourth trimester.” I believe this 100 percent. Being accustomed to the warm confined womb, wiggling around at all hours of the night, and enjoying the intrauterine café whenever she pleased, my little babe needed time to adjust to the outside world. Swaddling, “shh-shing,” and rocking all became habitual for me. Several people commented that I officially had the “mom sway,” when I’d be standing while chatting to a friend and lightly moving back and forth, even if I didn’t have my daughter in my arms.

Along with the “mom sway,” I also now consider myself “a bag lady.” On a regular work day, my arms are full of bags—my purse, diaper bag, lunch, and breast pump. Those are all in addition to my approximately 16 pound bundle loaded up in her car seat. It takes two trips to load the car, and I’m only going to daycare and then work!

Speaking of my (roughly) 16 pound bundle, she is growing like a weed! Someone in the grocery store once said to me, “if you water them, they’ll grow.” I’ve tried to “water” her the best I can! But on that note, I did not fully understand the commitment of breast feeding prior to having a child. Being her sole source of nutrition for four months until solids are introduced (but a large part until one year) is hard work, especially when returning to work full time after eight weeks. I sometimes feel inadequate if I don’t produce a certain amount of milk for the next day. Luckily I’ve had the option of utilizing my sister’s milk, as she has a son just over a year old. My sister has commented that I have been “obsessed” with my supply issues, but it’s hard not to feel inadequate when society drills it in your brain that “breast is best.” While it is imperative to focus on baby’s healthy growth and well-being, not much emphasis is placed on how challenging it can be for a mom to not only be mindful of everything (food, beverage, medications) she is taking, but for how long—if counting a nine month pregnancy and 12 months of breastfeeding, that’s 17 months of mindful consumption! It would be a different scenario entirely if I could stay at home with her, solely nurse her, and not have to worry about pumping bottles. I’m finally starting to come around to the notion that if I need to supplement with formula, it is a perfectly acceptable nutritional option for Violet. I cannot tell you how many articles and forums I’ve read online that debate breastfeeding vs. formula, but I can tell you one thing—I will do my best to make informed decisions and provide the best I can for her, whether it’s her nutrition or otherwise. The pumping stress set aside, my favorite aspect of nursing is the bonding. In the last month, she’ll take herself off the breast, look up at me and smile. It’s simply heart warming and indescribable.

With the breastfeeding comes the “immediate” weight loss I assumed I’d have! Then reality sets in. I heard repeatedly how fast the weight would come off since I planned on breastfeeding. Let me say this is not true for everyone. Granted, of the almost 50 lbs I gained, I did lose more than half within the first month. As for the other 20 lingering pounds, science and math show that I’ve been eating all the calories burned while nursing (since I’m not losing at the present time). There are times when I am much more mindful of what I’m eating, but I have to admit, it’s a daily struggle. Actually, there hasn’t been a time in my life when it’s not a daily struggle, so this is nothing new for me. Even though I don’t want to “let myself go,” I’ve decided to take a more laid back approach and accept my body for what it is right now, how far it’s come, and what amazing life it has brought into this world. And if I need to wear looser pants to accommodate this new body temporarily, so be it. I’d much prefer to purchase clothes that fit my body rather than try to change my body to fit a certain size. Ultimately, the goal is for healthy living and not setting rigid numbers and sizes.

Despite the fatigue and challenges of being a full time working nurse and mother, I feel so very grateful and happy with all the blessings God has given me. With each challenge, reaps great rewards (and new nicknames). Just call me the “Swaying-Pumping-Curvy Bag Lady”, and I will very likely respond 🙂

Ode To My Sister

I have been asked to write about my sister, Amber,  before for the Ken and Mickey Book (a book my dad wrote in honor of my Grandma, Mickey). It would not be accurate to copy and paste, as she continues to impress me more each day. As children, I recall arguments, name calling and actual physical fights, including hitting, scratching, and hair pulling. But as adults, Amber and I have grown to be best friends. To my husband’s dismay, she is almost always the first one I call with anything; it is instinctual. I have tried many times to fend for myself, but she always seems to have the best advice. It does not mean that I always listen to her (as she will definitely attest to), but she’s a sounding board that I cannot imagine my life without. She is not one who likes to sit back and watch her loved ones hurt. When someone she loves is hurting, she will fight tooth and nail for them, no questions asked.

My sister not only strongly stands up for what she believes in, but she practices a life of morals and consistently demonstrates right vs. wrong. I recently made a decision at work which consequently resulted in some controversy with my colleagues. When expressing my rationale for my actions with my sister, she so eloquently reminded me that often “the right choice is not always the most popular choice.” She is so right (and most of the times, she is so right).

In order to live a comfortable but fun life, Amber has always been the one to watch her pennies closely. While Amber may describe me as lavish and “high maintenance” at times, I have described her as frugal or economical. You would never guess she is like this by looking at her clothing, home, vehicles, etc, but on many occasions, I find my lovely sister crunching numbers with a little calculator, paper, pencil, and a worn, frayed notebook. If her check register is off by 50 cents, she’ll be sure to call the bank to rectify the situation!

One of my favorite things is spending time with my sister and her kids (and now my own), whether it is visiting over meals or coffee.  I spend so much time over at our childhood home which she and Scott call their own. Every Sunday night, you can find us with our families gathered around their kitchen table sharing a meal together. We take turns cooking (except for Tyler; he comes to just eat).

Another aspect of my sister that I cannot go without mentioning is her selflessness. I find myself having to remind her to take time for herself, as she is always doing something for someone else. She runs off of very little sleep, and unfortunately she gets her fair share of migraines. The pain does not deter her from getting on with her daily tasks. I once asked her why she does not rest more, and she said, “I’m not going to let sickness ruin my day.” It takes a lot for Amber to miss out on something of importance (work, school assignments, kids events). She simply won’t succumb to obstacles. Her philosophy is life is too short.

So today, on a random Tuesday, I honor my sister. You are a rock and a constant in my life, and I will forever be grateful for our relationship, hair pulling and all 🙂

 

 

15 Things I Want My Daughter to Know

1. Be assertive. Stand up for what you believe in, but also respect others. Speak up when something is not right. Be graceful with your words, but do not be afraid to say what is on your mind.

2. Love with all your heart. Keep your heart open to loving deeply. Let people warm your soul and enrich your life. If you get hurt, love again. Be a fearless lover. Trust me. It’s worth it.

3. Appreciate the simple things. Keep freshly cut flowers on the countertop. Enjoy a warm peppermint mocha by the fire on a cold winter day.  Take a moment to gaze at a rainbow after the storm, and jump in the rain puddles. Bask in the sunlight. Take candid photos and laugh about them years later. Smell the autumn air. Look at all the beauty around you.

4. Be genuine. Let your true self shine in whatever you do. Wear the clothes that reflect your personality and keep you comfortable. Speak your own language and demonstrate your own mannerisms. Do not mask your identify to please others. You are not someone else’s mold of who he wants you to be.

5. Work hard. Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Far and away, the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” Engage yourself 100% into what you’re doing.  The hard work will always pay off, even if it does not always feel like it will.

6. Embrace change. The world is constantly evolving, and change is inevitable. Being open to new opportunities will allow you to grow and flourish. Some changes are risky, and that is ok. They may not always work out, but you live and you learn. Keep growing. Keep learning.

7. Make someone else’s life better. In the poem Success by Ralph Waldo Emerson, he states, “to know one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded.” Know the truth in this statement. Let someone know you are there for them unconditionally.

8. Be a great friend to make a great friend. Some of life’s best memories are made with truly wonderful friend─ the kind in which you can pick up right where you left off after miles and time have separated you. Surround yourself with these kind of friends.

9. Laugh a lot. Your mom really loves hearing you giggle. She could listen to it forever.

10. Indulge. Don’t spend your life depriving yourself of chocolate or pizza, or whatever it is that you love. Learn to have balance and moderation in your life.

11. Play. Make forts with all the blankets in the house. Make big splashes during bath time. Run away from Daddy when he tries to give you whisker rubs. Play hide and seek.

12. Rest. Sleep in when you can. Replenish yourself. Charge your battery so you can face the world with gusto. A full tank gives you more energy to be your best self.

13. Tell your loved ones that you love them. Do it every day. The words never get old, and they want to hear them.

14. Pray. Love God with your whole heart and soul. Talk to him every day. Tell him how much you enjoy this life He gave you, and thank him endlessly for it.

15. Be spontaneous.  You do not always have to abide by the plan or agenda. Make room for randomness. It keeps life fresh and interesting.