Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Things I've Learned Post-Baby....

It is 1 pm.  My (almost) 7-month-old is taking his afternoon nap.  I'm drinking an apple martini.  Keepin' it real over here...

So I've actually deleted and restarted this blog about 3 times since this morning.  I can't figure out the right way to start it.  I feel like I have a lot to say, but not sure how to put it.  I don't want to write a preachy blog or a "how-to" blog.  I don't want to get on a soapbox.  I just want to write some things I've experienced these last few months that might sound halfway original.  Bear with me.

Since becoming a mom not only have I learned that I am much more capable of anything I ever imagined (for instance, my child is still alive), I've learned that I definitely don't do well with change.  In fact, it flat-out depresses me.  I've learned that I still miss my old life in so many ways.  And I've also learned that my life is, in so many ways, better now than it ever has been or will be.  Other things I've learned...

1. People will judge you when you become a mom.  And you will judge other moms too.  I said I would never do it, but oh do I ever.  Let's face it, if it's not the way you would do it, you make a judgement.  It's not because you're a jerk.  It's because you're human.  Or, worse yet, you feel guilty because you don't do it the same way they do it.  "Is their way the right way?"  "Wait...is that the way I should be doing it too?"  are just a few of the many thoughts that will flood your mind on a daily basis.  It's maddening.  The only way to tune them out is just to stick to your guns.  Don't let the methods of other parents make you feel like your methods are wrong.

2. There are people out there who put their kids first and they will not understand when you tell them your kid(s) come second.  I think it's a controversial topic when it comes to the issue of whether or not your kids should come first before your spouse.  But my husband and I both firmly believe that we should put each other first.  We still go on dates without our child.  We have conversations that don't include our child.  We still sleep in the same bed.  We enjoy each other's company.

3. You will talk about poop more than you ever thought possible.  It's true.  You'll talk about how many times your child has pooped.  You'll talk about it when he doesn't poop.  You'll talk about the texture, the smell, and everything else pertaining to poop.  And it won't be weird.

4. There are people out there who think they have the duty to drop off the face of the earth once their child is born and you will either join them or not join them.  It's a choice you make and there are many who will try to tell you what choice you should make....Usually it's the ones who disappear that will tell you you have no choice but to join them.  You can choose whether your life stops after you have a baby or not.  There are a gazillion mommy blogs out there that go on and on about how life isn't the same and how you never have time to shower or put on makeup or sleep or complete a sentence.  I'm sure that's true for some, but it's because they're making a choice.  And it works for them.   If they didn't want a ton of kids they wouldn't have had them.  You can have kids and still have a life too.  You can drink a glass of wine.  You can take a shower.  You can put on makeup.  You can complete a sentence.  You can also have friendships too.  You can have girls' nights and couples' nights and double-dates and game nights.  It can be done!  I ran into a friend that I hadn't seen in years at a store.  I made a comment to them about how we never get together anymore and we needed to change that.  Their response was, "Well, we have kids now."  See what I mean?

5.If it works, it works.  I don't have a manual to refer to when it comes to figuring out how to handle my baby and neither does anyone else.  But once you find something that works, you should keep doing it.  No matter what anyone else tells you you should be doing.

And that's about all I can come up with right now.  Original?  Probably not.  But honest, yes.  For me to say which way is the right way is doing what I don't like being done to me.  However, if there is one thing I will preach it is this:  Don't let having a baby take over your life in such a way that you lose yourself.  It doesn't have to be that way.  You aren't "sacrificing" your identify when you become a mom.  I think many moms have a misconception that once they have a child they have to give up absolutely everything they did before in order to do what's best for their child.  NO!  Not true.  Trust me, don't do it.  Be yourself.  Let your child see who you are.  And you'll be all the better for it.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Short Season Comes to a End

Life is a series of seasons.  Some seasons are longer than others.  Some seasons bring about a lot of change and growth, while others are quickly passing and sometimes leave us wondering, "What in the world happened?"  Some seasons are joyful and others are full of sorrow and hardship.  Some seasons require a lot of work while others are slower paced and easier to handle.

All this to say, there is nothing quite like the season of life that begins when you become a parent.  I won't go on and on about things I've already spoken of, but I will say that I am finding myself eating my words quite a bit these days.  I finally, FINALLY truly understand what it means to be a mommy and what it means to feel that ache inside you at the thought of having to leave your child to the care of someone other than yourself.  It's not a lack of trust or even worrying that something will happen to your baby.  It's knowing that it won't be you.  It won't be you who gets to hold them when they're crying or who will get the first chance to witness their first real laugh, their first step, or even their first word.  Sure, it COULD be you.  You might be so lucky as to witness all these special moments and milestones in the off chance it will occur during the very short period of time per day you now get to spend with your child.  And for that you feel hopeful and also grateful for the precious time you do have.

It won't be me....And he won't remember the time we DID have.  He's too little to be able to have those kind of long-term memories.  I want more than anything for him to be able to remember.  I wish I had a way for him to be aware of just how badly it hurts me to have to leave him every morning.  I guess I could tell him when he's older, but it's not the same.  The feelings won't be fresh anymore and by then I will be long over it and have gotten used to the way things are.  It will be a totally different season.  But right now the season I've been in and have so come to enjoy is coming to an end.  And I am heartbroken.  I have shed a few tears in the last few days, but they've been small and short-lived.  Today I had my first good cry and I can already tell it's definitely not the last good cry.

I know it'll be okay. I know "this too shall pass".  I know that I will be so busy with my work that the days will pass quickly and I'll get to see him every evening and every weekend and every holiday.  Being a teacher means I get more vacation time than the average working mom....So I definintely need to count my blessings.  But that does nothing to change the fact that I no longer have the luxury of being with my baby 24/7.  And he has no ability to understand why or what is going on.  All I can think is, "What if he DOES know what's going on and thinks I am just leaving him?" or "What if he doesn't even care that I'm leaving and gets more upset when he comes home in the evenings?"  I know all these negative thoughts are the many methods that Satan uses to get to me and to make me lose faith.  I know that he is trying to keep me from feeling God's peace.  I have to be honest and say that right now Satan is totally winning.  I feel horrible inside.

I wish I had a way to view this new season that I am entering (the season of becoming a Working Mom) as a very positive change.  But as someone who has NEVER liked change, I can't help but dread it.  I'm dreading all the stress and the endless hours of work that await me.  I'm dreading grading papers every single weekend instead of getting to spend time with my baby.  I'm dreading the silent eyerolls I'm sure I will receive when I use my baby as an excuse at work for not getting everything done on my to-do list.  I'm dreading the endless guilt I will feel when I do choose to put my family first over my job.  I've never understood why anyone ever even bothers saying "Family comes first" when few people actually live that out, truly believe it, or allow you to live it out without making you feel bad about it.

This blog wasn't intended to be controversial or lashing out at anyone.  I guess my emotions are just super raw right now and I can't help but express everything I am feeling and thinking.  I already feel misunderstood and I haven't even been put in a situation to feel misunderstood yet.  It's hard to be in a spot where you never pictured yourself in the past.  I never really could picture myself as a mom.  And now, not only am I a mom, I am a mom who has grown completely 100% attached to her child and feels defensive of anyone who tries to make me feel guilty about it.

Right now I just need lots and lots of prayer.  I need to be praying every second of the day that I will feel the peace of Christ.  I need my friends to pray for me too.  I need to be thanking the Lord for my perfect son and wonderful husband who make me so very happy and whom I do get to spend every evening with.  I need to be thanking God for my mother-in-law who is sacrificing the new freedom she has after retiring to keep our baby boy for us so we don't have to put him in daycare.  I need to focus on all of the blessings I have and let the Lord fill me with His mercy and goodness.  I can't let negativity and anxiety run me into the ground.  Because they do and they will.

So please, friends, say a prayer for me as I enter this new season of life.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

By the Green Light of the Baby Monitor...

1:48 am, says the digital clock, which really means 1:38 am since my clock is 10 minutes fast.  I have to pee so I tiptoe out of bed, shut the door behind me, grit my teeth as I flush the toilet, and tiptoe back in bed.  Heart beating rapidly, I glance at the baby monitor, fearing that reddish orange light....GREEN!  I smile to myself in relief.  Our little angel is sleeping soundly and I wonder to myself why in the world I shut the bathroom door considering there was no way on earth he would've woken up to the sound of the toilet flushing, let alone the earth-shattering sound of me getting out of bed.

 I settle back down to go back to sleep....Only I can't.  My brain won't turn off.  I find myself glancing at the monitor again and again, feeling the same rush of relief wash over me each time as I see the green light.  I know I probably have a guaranteed 4-5 hours of sleep left and I find myself growing more and more frustrated as I proceed to toss and turn for the next hour or two.  Finally I manage to doze back off, only to wake up at least 2-3 more times, heart pounding, certain I hear a baby crying.  The green light proves me wrong once again.

Shane's alarm goes off at 4:15.  He pushes snooze and cuddles with me for a few minutes.  At that point I realize I am not 100% sure I've even slept since I first woke up to pee hours earlier.  After Shane leaves I feel more wide awake than ever.  I grab my phone and play on Facebook, in attempts to make myself sleepy again.  I manage to fall back to sleep sometime between 5 and 5:30, at least that's what the clock said the last time I looked at it.

My eyes fly open and this time I know the cries I hear are real cries.  I glance at the clock just before I fly out of bed.  6:48...Good boy!  I call the dogs out of the room, dash to the kitchen, turn on the water to get it warm, let the dogs outside, refill my own water cup and check the sink...still running ice cold.  Ellis' cries are growing more and more scream-like.  I decide to just leave the water running and rush to the nursery to rescue my baby from his distress.  Lifting him out of the crib, I feel the heaviness of his soaked diaper.  2 minutes later I have managed to send him into an ear-piercing shriek-fest thanks to a quick, but tortuous diaper change and my lack of giving him what he really wants--food!  I carry him to my room and lay him down on his back in the middle of the bed--far away from being able to roll off.  I run back to the kitchen and furiously mix him a bottle.

20 minutes later my baby is peacefully sucking his pacifier on my shoulder.  He has spit up a large amount of milk all down the front of my shirt and ruined his pajamas.  The burp rag I had used to originally prevent this is soaked and now in the laundry hamper.  I am beginning to feel very sleepy as I realize my day is just beginning.  Suddenly, Ellis' eyes POP open.  He looks at me and I say quietly to him, "Hey buddy....Good morning!"  My whole morning is made as that little face lights up with a huge, adorable, milky grin.  His pacifier falls out of his mouth and he proceeds to coo and smile at me for the next several minutes.  I feel as though I could hold him forever, but after a few minutes he starts to get restless.  I lay him down in his little napper, which is next to the bed.  It is now 7:25 am.

For the next half hour, Ellis plays contentedly in his little bed, gnawing on his fingers, his bib, and his little lion taggy blanket.  I listlessly watch early-morning crappy TV and pray that he will go down for a morning nap so I can go back to bed.  He fusses a bit, so I rock the napper, watching his eyes get heavy.  Yes....that's right, little guy....Just go to sleep, I think to myself.

At last!  I hear the rattling sound of his little baby snore.  I switch off the TV and the bedside lamp and snuggle back down for more precious sleep.  His snores are telltale that he is sleeping soundly.  After a few minutes I find myself merely listening to his snoring, rather than trying to fall back to sleep again.  I snuggle further down under the covers and try to focus on something else.  Finally I manage to doze off.  It isn't long before I wake back up again, only to realize the snoring has stopped.  I find myself holding my breath as I strain my ears, listening for any other sounds to indicate whether or not my child is still sleeping.  I am afraid to move as the slightest sound could wake him if he's in a wakeful stage of sleep.  I hear a rustling sound that is unmistakably the noise of my child NOT sleeping.  I check the clock and sigh to myself, realizing that my child has slept for a grand total of 20 minutes.

And with that I head to the kitchen to make some coffee.

This is how most of my days begin....and in just a couple of weeks they will begin in a totally different way....and I am going to miss my special time with E each morning.  I will even miss the annoyingly short cat naps and the fact that I have not gotten to sleep in even one single day this whole summer (except for one weekend away, but even then I couldn't sleep well).  I will miss the endless bottle washing, bib-changing, dirty diapers, the never-ending piles of baby laundry that I never can seem to keep up with....and I will miss him.  I will miss him so much it hurts me to even type these words.  I'll still see him every day.  I'll still get to hold him, feed him, kiss him, rock him, and play with him....only it'll be for about 10 minutes in the morning and 2-3 hours in the evening.  That's it.  And that's not enough.

But it has to be.  All I can do is focus on the blessing of my son and how much he has changed my life for the better.  All I can do is realize how much of myself I am missing by not working and embrace the gaining of a routine and a structured day.  I can set my sights on my students and getting to know them and form a bond with them.  I can look forward to each afternoon when I finally get to come home to my sweet boy and see his smiling face as I greet him.  I can find a way to start this new chapter of life--the life of a working mom.  Millions do it every single day and I know I can too.  And my boy will never have anyone who can love him the way his mommy does, even if she is not by his side 24/7.  As much as I want to be with him all the time, I know it isn't possible for our family.  And that is okay.

For now...I am just going to enjoy today.  I'm enjoying that it is 2:09 pm and my house is quiet.  The monitor light glows green as Ellis naps peacefully.  The laundry hamper is almost empty, so I get a break today.  No dirty dishes in the sink, bottles are clean, bed is made....I can just relax....Until that light turns red. ;)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

3 months of Awesome

 No one could have ever prepared me for what I would feel and go through after we brought Ellis home, but now here it is 3 months later and we are having a wonderful time enjoying our sweet boy.  He is such a bundle of smiling, cooing love!  Here is a quick rundown of our boy's "stats".

Sleep: Yes!  Thank GOD the boy loves to sleep.  He's not really on a super predictable napping schedule just yet, but for the most part he takes 1 good nap per day that lasts anywhere from 2-3 hours.  He's been doing morning naps here and there and sometimes those last just as long as the afternoon naps and other times they're just cat naps.  Either way, I LOVE the morning naps because I can either go back to bed for a little bit or I can enjoy a cup of coffee, eat breakfast, shower, start laundry, etc.  It makes the mornings very relaxing.  It goes without saying that the long afternoon nap is blissful as well, although I am not usually as productive at that point bc I am either tired as well or I just want to watch TV.  We have him on a great schedule though and typically he will eat, play for awhile/swing/sit in his bouncy seat, and either take a quick cat nap or go down for a long nap.  Then when he wakes up it's time to eat again.  At bedtime we put him down anywhere between 7:30 and 8:30, lately it's been right at 8 and he wakes up anywhere from 6 am to 7:30 am.  He typically sleeps on his back, although he likes being on his tummy and sometimes the only way we can get him to go down for the night is to put him on his tummy.  Yes, yes I know....SIDS risk.  But the boy can turn his head and lift his head and can roll over so I'm really not worried at all.  We don't swaddle him and he doesn't have a bunch of blankets in there with him.  I think any parent would agree that sometimes you give on controversial things (such as thumb-sucking) bc IT WORKS.  ;)

Eating: Oh lord yes...The boy loves to eat!  He takes 6 ounces almost every time we feed him and sometimes he screams for "more", although we find that 99% of the time he isn't hungry, he just thinks he is!  He still wants a bottle every 3 hours during the day.  Since he sleeps such a long period of time through the night he is pretty hungry when he wakes up in the mornings.

Behavior: Our boy is a "spitter".  We've tried EVERYTHING under the sun and are still experimenting with different things.  I can't handle changing his formula again and considering he is gaining weight and is practically cackling with laughter when he spits up I'm really not that concerned.  I will only be concerned if I take him to the pedi and find he hasn't gained enough weight since his 2-month....but seeing as how he is growing out of 6-month clothes I'm just not that worried about it. ;)  He gets VERY fussy when he's tired.  It can be annoying, but it's also a good thing because 90% of the time he's crying it means he just wants to go to sleep....Easy fix!  He also is a VERY vocal little guy.  He makes lots of noise when he's happy AND he makes lots of noise to let us know he isn't!  His lungs are definitely strong.  When he's happy, he will talk for 20-30 minutes, unprompted, just to himself in his swing or just wherever he is hanging out.  He LOVES to grin and smile and coo.  Most of the time the grin is accompanied with some type of barf.  Some would say it's disgusting but I find the little gush of milk positively adorable.  At least it isn't projectile! ;) Ellis LOVES movement of any kind.  If it swings, sways, rocks, vibrates, or bounces he is pretty much guaranteed to love it.  I'm thinking this is an indicator that he will be quite a busy toddler!  (Oh yikes!) He also LOVES bath time.  Just the sound of the running water will end a screaming fit!  The water has to be WARM though.  If it's too chilly he definitely doesn't enjoy it.  Even more than the bath, he LOVES when we wrap him in his towel and talk to him while we dry him off.  He talks right back and smiles the whole time....Simply adorable!

Smiled (5 weeks old)
Grabbed for objects (approx 2.5 months)
Rolled over: (right at 3 months from tummy to back)  we are working on back to tummy but still have a ways to go

Diaper/clothes changes (not always, but usually doesn't enjoy this)
Having the bottle taken from him to be burped (oh man...it's like fighting a lion)
Getting his fingernails clipped
Cold bottles (gotta make sure his milk is lukewarm...oh brother!)
Being swaddled (he loved it as a wee one, but now he's gotta be free)

Not 100% sure what he weighs, but I stood on the scale with him about a week ago and it showed to be 13 lbs if I subtracted my weight.  He had on a little onesie, but I figure that couldn't have added more than a few ounces.  Not sure how long he is.  He was 11 lbs, 12 ounces and 23 inches long at his 2-month checkup.  I am anticipating he will weigh somewhere between 13.5 and 14 lbs at his 4-month checkup here in a few weeks.  He definitely appears as though he will have his daddy's height and long, thin legs!  I just love my little man.  Fat babies are cute, but I think he's just the perfect size!

Being at home with him has been simply awesome.  I am eternally thankful that I decided to go ahead and take the first few weeks of the school year off.  While it is going to have an impact on my paycheck and probably cause us to have to cut back quite a bit on spending for a few months, it is totally worth it to have this extra time.  I cannot IMAGINE having had to leave him when he was just barely over 2 months old.  I know soooo many mommies have to do that and I feel for them.  I am grateful that we have Shane's mother who is going to be watching him once I do go back to work in October.  That will be much easier than dropping him off at a daycare with a bunch of strangers.  Not only that but it will also save us money on doctor bills from when he could get sick after being around a bunch of other babies.  Not many people have the luxury of a relative keeping their child so I am definitely feeling very blessed to have that opportunity.

Needless to say, we sure do love our little man!  It is simply unbelievable, for lack of better words, that just 3 months ago I was, most likely, nursing a very tiny newborn baby boy while in a state of delirium or I may have been anxiously watching him sleep waiting until he woke up only to nurse him again.  I look back on this past summer and I reflect on all the things that went on and all I can think is how incredibly grateful I am that it all happened to me.  I don't think anyone will ever be able to cure me of my perpetual tendencies to post lots of details on Facebook about my life and our comings and goings, so to share pictures of Ellis on this blog would be nothing but redundancy.  But what I don't share on Facebook is the life-changing emotional roller coaster that has sent me spinning into the absolute adventure of my life.  The tricky thing about posting the troubles and triumphs of motherhood on social media is you're throwing yourself to the wolves.  You're putting it all out there on the table for others to see, judge, laugh, smile, scowl, shake their head, or even discuss with others.  Regardless of how ungrateful, dramatic, over-emotional, naive, or ridiculous I have ever sounded in any of my posts about being a mom, I just have to say that there is absolutely NO where else I would rather be than in this life that I am living.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Coming out of the dark

My last blog caused quite a stir among friends and family members.  While I always post in hopes people will read, I never intended to cause anyone to be concerned or to seek out extra attention or to create drama.  But I am glad that I did cause the concern because it allowed me to truly reflect on the way I had been feeling and to realize that what I was experiencing was Postpartum Depression.  While the most severe cases of PPD involve women having suicidal thoughts and neglecting their babies, my case was much less severe than that.

Being aware of my feelings helped me to find freedom in admitting that I did have a problem.  It wasn't "normal" and it wasn't something that felt like it was going to go away.  It was looming over me on a daily basis, haunting me at just the slightest touch of happiness I would feel, and threatening to affect my ability to take care of my baby.  I would sit on the couch in the living room and have a conversation with my husband about everyday topics and just find myself in tears for absolutely no reason at all.  I would lie in bed at night and cry, asking Shane, "What is WRONG with me???"

I became obsessed with sleep.  I couldn't sleep, so all I did was think about it.  I would lie in bed and literally just pray over and over, "Please Lord, help me to sleep."  And I didn't!  So I grew more and more bitter and angry that I still wasn't sleeping, despite my prayers that I would.  I started feeling ill due to lack of sleep and had trouble functioning throughout the day.  I wasn't eating much ecause I rarely felt hungry.

It was then that I knew I needed help.  Luckily my 6-week post-delivery check-up was scheduled already so I was able to talk to the doctor about everything that had been going on.  She did not hesitate in putting me on medication.  I have been taking it for just at a week now, along with some natural herb tablets that are for emotional well-being.  And I feel like a new person.  Literally.

I can get through a whole day without crying or without even wanting to cry.  I can feed my baby and talk to him and sing to him without bursting into tears.  I can lay in bed and relax and not worry about the fact that I may have trouble falling asleep from time to time.  My mindset is literally altered now.  It's not perfect and it's not always optimistic, but I don't have the fears and worries I had a week ago.  I'm not constantly afraid anymore.

Speaking of optimism, I think one of the hardest things about going through all of this has probably been dealing with the many people in my life who are extreme optimists.  I know that sounds harsh--it isn't meant to sound harsh at all.  I know these people love me and want the best for me.  But sometimes I feel like an eternal optimist, in their pep talks and attempts to appease my emotions, are more condescending than anything else.  It's almost like they're saying it's silly for me to feel this way or that way.  I often feel judged for the way I feel and think.  Unfortunately because so many moms adjust to motherhood beautifully, I am thrown into the group that didn't adjust and, therefore, am probably viewed as weak to many.  I know I just have one kid and I know there are so many who have it WAY harder, but for me to say that things are hard isn't wrong.  And I have finally come to a place where I don't really care anymore about people who think it's wrong/weird/dramatic/over-sensitive for me to have felt the way I felt.

All that to say, I am extremely happy to say that I finally have found a way to cope with everything that has come to pass in these last 2 months.  I've always been overwhelmed with love for my baby, but now I can truly find happiness in that love and find a way to smile and laugh instead of cry.  I can accept the bad days and know that I will have them.  I can also find comfort in knowing that so many others are in my same boat.  I can thank God for all the support and help I have and continue to have.

I can find my way out of the dark.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Brutally Honest

I've been a total wreck today, for lack of better words.  And for those who know me well, you know my tendency to exaggerate, my flair for drama, and my extreme emotional sensitivity.  But for those who don't know me well, I'll just say that I'm rather tired of getting hassled for it or for being made to feel like it's wrong to be that way.  If I could make myself NOT be emotional and sensitive, I most definitely would.  But yet...I don't really feel bad for being the way that I am.  After all, I was this person when my husband met me, dated me for 5 1/2 years and eventually proposed to me.  I managed to hang onto him all this time.  He's not tired of me yet!

Okay so back to being a total wreck....I'm a total wreck.  And I just don't really know why.  Why should I be a wreck?  I post on facebook daily--sometimes multiple times a day--pictures of my precious son and how sweet and cute he is.  He IS so dang cute and sweet.  I just love him to pieces.  I miss him when I'm not holding him.  I miss him when I'm away from him.  When I watch other people hold him I miss him.  I hope he knows how much I love him and how much I love being his mommy.

But then there's this other side of me.  The train-wreck side of me that feels so completely totally messed up inside over this whole new chapter of life I have entered and been in for just over a month now.  I think most moms know and well remember the emotional roller coaster that new motherhood brings about, but it also seems many moms have forgotten.  I hear a lot of pep talks about how I just need to "hang in there" and "it gets better" and "I enjoyed this time so much with my baby.  You should soak up every single moment."  I respect all of those words of wisdom and believe them and acknowledge them....But I am not buying into them right now...which is why this blog is titled "Brutally Honest."  To be brutally honest, I'm not buying that it gets better.  I'm not soaking up every moment and I'm definitely not enjoying every moment.

I'm enjoying some moments.  I love when my son looks right at me and it's like he just knows I'm his mommy.  I love those moments in the morning when he's first waking up and he's doing his little baby stretches and making funny little faces and making sweet sounds.  I love when he falls asleep with his head on my shoulder.  I love when my husband comes home from work and I can watch him bond with our son in his own special way.  Shane is such a good daddy.

But I'm not enjoying all of it.  I want to watch a TV show...all the way through without worrying about if my baby is spitting up, or if he's asleep or not, or if he might have a dirty diaper, or if he makes a little squeak if that means he's hungry or about to cry.  I want to go to the pool with my girlfriends and lay out all day until I get sunburned.  I want to meet my husband at a bar after he gets off work and have several drinks, maybe order some food, then come home late and go to bed, without a care in the world.  I want to go out spontaneously and shop for summer clothes without having to spend an hour feeding a baby until he's content, packing up a diaper bag, hauling his car seat into a shopping cart, carefully pushing him around a store, on pins and needles about whether or not he will wake up crying and end my shopping spree.  I want to lay down in my bed and just go to sleep....and sleep and sleep and sleep without setting an alarm, without listening for a baby, without worrying about what time I will get woken up, without worrying about my poor husband and his perpetual lack of sleep.  I want all of those things so badly that it literally makes me cry.  And I feel like such a terrible person because of it.

So basically I'm having extremely selfish thoughts....Almost 100% of the time.  And I'm not going to try to hide them.  I don't think I'll ever stop having these selfish thoughts.  But what I want is for me to just be at peace.  I'd like to go a full hour without randomly starting to cry.  I was on a roll for a few days where I wasn't crying at all.  Typically if there is enough going on to distract me I don't cry.  It's on the quiet days where nothing is going on that it all hits me at once and it's like Niagara Falls.  I just can't seem to find the peace that I know God will give me if I will only just have faith and calm down.

I look at all the women in my life who have had a baby and/or are raising kids.  They are okay.  They're "normal".  They're living life.  They're making it.  This encourages me and assures me that I will make it too.  I just wish I would've known about all these feelings so I could've been prepared.  These feelings are so strong that they're almost more than I can handle.  And for the mommas who have a baby and experience absolutely nothing but pure joy and don't have a single thought of their "old life"....I envy them.  But I question their honesty.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Forever Changed

I haven't blogged in ages and frankly I haven't missed it bc typically when I blog I have a tendency to either ramble on about nothing or ramble about something that means a lot to me, but nothing to anyone else and therefore it feels pointless.

Today though I want to blog about my birth story.  It's been 8 days and I have not had a chance to really truly reflect on that day, but I have always been a writer at heart and have found a release in writing out my thoughts ever since I was young.  Typically if I have a lot to say I'm going to write it, rather than voice it out loud.  So here is my story.

It all began on Monday night, June 2nd around 5:45 pm.  I was sitting on the couch waiting for Shane to come back with Chinese takeout.  Suddenly I felt an odd "gush" of sorts like I had wet my pants.  Considering the baby had been on my bladder for the last 2 weeks or more I figured it was nothing more than that.  After a couple more similar incidents, I decided to call my doctor.  They said if contractions picked up that it could've been the beginning of my water breaking and I could come in to get checked out.  Long story short, contractions did start and we were on our way to the hospital by 8 pm.

3 1/2 hours later, we were on our way back home.  The amniotic swab test they did to determine if my water had indeed broken came back negative and after walking around the hospital for an entire hour, the contractions had fizzled out.  I was feeling discouraged and irritated at the waste of time (and money).

By 4 am I was having more  "gushes" and more contractions.  Shane went ahead and left for work, telling me to call him immediately if something changes.  I had already called in to work bc I wasn't about to go to school "wetting myself" all day long.

At 5 am I was sitting on a beach towel on the bed typing lesson plans to send in for the substitute teacher when SHOOOOOOOOM (that's supposed to be the sound of gushing water, btw).  There was absolutely no mistaking what was happening.  I called Shane, called the hospital, got the "come on in" order, took a shower, dried my hair, did my makeup, and we were headed back to Baylor by 6:30 am.

By 7:30 I was in a room on a monitor and had passed the amniotic swab test, but was not dilated at all.

By 8:30 we were officially in a Labor and Delivery room and the family had been alerted.

After that, the times became a blur and the length of time things lasted also gets fuzzy.  The contractions were getting increasingly painful, but since I wasn't dilated they wouldn't give me an epidural, but they did give me some drug (I wish I could remember the name of it) to "relax me".  The next 2-3 hours were probably the most painful of my entire life.  The contraction intensity tripled and all of the pain was 100% in my back.  Looking back I honestly can't physically remember the pain, but I can remember it mentally.  I KNOW it was there and I KNOW it was awful.  I remember gripping the side of the bed, crying out, trying to make myself cry to get some sort of release out of it.  I remember the way Shane and his mom were pushing on my back, trying to ease some of the pain.  Some of my famous quotes during labor pains were: "He's gonna be so cuuuuuute!" (which I do remember saying) and "Just gimme the epidural, dammit!" (which I don't remember saying).

2-3 excruciating hours later, they checked me again and I was at a whopping 1.  Finally the doc OK'd me to have the epidural.  That was the easiest part of the whole painful part of that day, despite my initial fears.  I was so eager to not feel anything that I didn't even care about what that anesthesiologist was doing to me.  I hardly noticed the needle going into my back.  It didn't take long before I was numb from the waist down and the relaxation drug was kicked in full force.  I spent the rest of the afternoon drifting in and out of sleep.  I hardly remember when my family showed up.  I just know I was a complete total zombie.

By late-afternoon I had only dilated to a 2.  The doc seemed mildly pleased with the "progress", but it was still odd that things were going so slowly considering how strong the contractions were.

By 7ish (again...times are all a blur), things still were not moving along at the rate we had hoped.  At some point they began to give me Pitocin.  I don't even remember discussing it, but Shane remembers me saying it was okay.   The Pitocin did not help me dilate.  At 7:30 I was still just at a 4, running a temperature, and the contractions had actually seemed to have let up.  It was a very odd thing.

The next hour passed very quickly.  Looking back it seemed like 5 minutes.  One minute I was running a temperature and being given Tylenol.  I remember how happy I was to get to take 2 whole sips of water to swallow the pills.  The next minute, 4 nurses came into the room, told our family that everybody needed to get out, and they were slapping an oxygen mask on me and flipping my bed upside down.  :0  I remember being still too drugged up to have much emotion inside of me.  My thoughts were ranging from, "What is happening?  Is my baby okay?  Am I going to make it through this?  God help me!"  Thank goodness I couldn't see the monitors to know what was truly happening.  The baby's heart rate was in the 60s and 70s and contractions were happening one right on top of the other.  He was also sunny side up, which is why they flipped me apparently.  The doc came in and checked me again, finding still no progress past the 4.  She looked at me and asked me if I was done and I nodded "yes".

By 8:30 I was being wheeled out of my room and into the OR.  I remember how bright the lights were and how sterile the room was.  There were tons of doctors and nurses in there, most of whom were doing other things not related to my surgery.  I remember the kind anesthesiologist talking me through the entire surgery and telling me what I was going to feel.  They administered an additional drug to further numb me, aka, send me into a convulsive round of uncontrollable shaking and shuddering.  Shane said I looked like a scene from the exorcist, lying stretched on the operating table, shuddering and convulsing.  The blue drape went up in front of me and I felt the tugging and pulling I had been told about.  "Lord Jesus, please help me....Lord Jesus please help me...." was what I was repeating frantically to myself from inside my oxygen mask.  What seemed like only seconds later, I heard a small squeaky cry.  I knew it was him.  He was out.  He was alive.  My son was here!  "There he is," I remember Shane saying.  The anesthesiologist asked me if I wanted to see, which of course I did, so I lifted my head up as best I could to peek over the drape and they lifted the baby up just high enough to give me a tiny peek.  And I saw him.  I saw his tiny scrunched face and his little arms up in the air, wailing and breathing his first breaths in this world.  "I did it!" I thought...or did I say it out loud?  I can't remember.  I was still shaking uncontrollably.  Minutes later they cleaned him up, weighed him, and swaddled him.  Here is our first photo together.  I was hardly able to keep my mouth closed bc I was shaking so bad.  I couldn't really truly smile like I wanted to.  I could hardly open my eyes either.

Once we were in recovery, I was parched and still horribly shaky.  We got to watch the nurse give Ellis his first sponge bath.  Then Kaley, my awesome nurse, helped me nurse him for the first time.  After another couple of hours, we were back in our room in L&D bc they didn't have any available postpartum rooms that night.  I was still pretty drugged up, beyond exhausted, and very thirsty still.  The ice chips just weren't cutting it anymore.  I was finally able to sip water once we were settled in our room.  The family got to come in at least and take their turns holding our angel.  I remember talking to everybody, but don't really remember what was said.  I remember pictures being taken and lots of smiles and love and laughter.  

So Ellis Ray arrived at 8:45 pm on June 3, 2014 in the most unexpected way...except not to me.  All throughout my pregnancy I never once pictured the actual birth.  I never imagined labor, never imagined myself "pushing" him out.  I just knew it would happen...that he would be born and that I couldn't wait for it to happen.  What I didn't realize was that my lack of thoughts on labor were God's way of mentally preparing me for his birth and the way it all came to be.  I didn't mention it earlier, but for those still wondering about the c-section, it was the only option.  As the contractions intensified and increased, the cord was being pulled tighter and tighter around my sweet baby.  When they pulled him out of me, it was wrapped around him several times.  No amount of natural medicines or lack of drugs would've helped that.  God saw that cord and knew he had to get out of there fast.  

I look at the road ahead and right now all I see is tomorrow.  It'll probably be much the same as today.  Lots of nursing, lots of diapers, lots of rocking, burping, and lots of baby talk.  The thought of a string of repetitive events, being alone all day long with a baby, without adult conversation, without being able to really go anywhere for more than 2 hours at a time since I have to nurse him.....It's enough to overwhelm me and send me straight into a huge breakdown.  (And I've had many of them....trust me).  I know it sounds horribly selfish.  That selfish part of me thinks about my friends without babies (particularly teacher friends) who have a whole summer ahead of them to sleep in, stay up late, do whatever they want every day, get their nails done, go to the pool, go to happy hours, etc.  I think that will never be me again.  It makes me sad.  It makes me feel like I will never get to be "normal" again.

Then I look at his little face and I see a different world.  I fall in love every time I look at him.  The way I feel when I hold him and he's so content on my shoulder makes me realize how much he needs me.  I realize that Shane and I brought this life into this world and that God brought him here to us--literally--he would not be here were it not for God's divine protection.  I was told all throughout my pregnancy about how worth it it would be and how much I would love him....And it was all true, but to a level I never fathomed.  I never could have imagined such a love and such a precious gift being given to me and to my husband.  My heart is full.  

So there is my story.  It is just beginning, I know.  And I know it will go by all too fast.  I know that I will feel "normal" again, but normal will still be different than before.  It'll be a new normal.  Here is it 8 days later and my son is in his bouncy seat, making sweet baby noises and sleeping peacefully.  It still seems surreal.  

I'm a mom.

I have a baby.

I have a son.

My life is forever changed.