Finding Balance

If there is one thing with motherhood that I have not figured out, it is balance.  These past 19 months have been a struggle as I have tried to balance my Mom-life, Work-life, Wife-life, and Me-life.  The one that has taken the biggest hit has been Me-life.  So far what I get to do for my Me-life (things that do not have a kid or husband involved that I do for my own sanity) on a semi-regular basis is the following:

  • 1 hour for Pilates 1 time a week (on average depending on Royce’s work schedule)
  • Book club with my neighborhood friends 1 night a month
  • 9 holes of golf about 1 time a month
  • Sewing when Syd naps on the weekends or after she goes to bed when Royce is working (this is a fine line with Mom-life though cause I can think of many other things I would do if I wasn’t tied to my house during these hours).
  • Pedicure about every 3rd week.

I feel selfish bitching about my lack of Me-life.  I feel guilty about it honestly; as if I shouldn’t morn/miss/long for this part of my life.  Maybe we can only balance three “-lives” and it’s impossible to have all four therefore the Me-life just fades away once you become a mother and is replaced with Mom-life?  If so…does it get easier?

I miss my Me-life. I miss not having to ask permission to go shopping on the weekends when Royce is home.  I miss not having to figure out when the best time TO run household or personal errands is in order to balance Royce’s Dad-life so that he isn’t left at home hours on end with a cranky toddler on the weekend.  I miss being able to just go out for a run whenever the mood strikes me without having to push a stroller.  I miss being able to shop, sew, nap or cook on the weekends while Royce worked.  I miss having 8 hours of a day to regularly do what I want, when I want, or to do nothing at all and not have to explain that doing nothing in an empty house is…FUN.  I miss my Me-life so much that sometimes I cry at work when Royce calls me on his days off after his round of golf cause he still has his Me-Life and I’m so jealous of it I could scream.

You know what the funny thing is?  Prior to Sydney I hated all the free time, I would dread the weeknights and weekends when Royce worked; at a loss for what I would do to fill my hours of solitude. Now all I want is for just 8 hours…maybe once a month when no one is around to question me, pester me, need me, so I can do what I want.  So that I can find Me again.

Friends & Expectations

I’ve been struggling a lot recently with expectations.

I found out this week that a friend of mine was in DC for a conference, and she managed to have time to contact and meet up with another friend of mine (I introduced the two of them a few years back).  But neither of them bothered to email, phone or attempt to meet up with me.  Ouch.  Kick me while I’m down (because I haven’t exactly been feeling all bright and cheery lately).

I don’t blame either of them though (I am the first to admit that recently haven’t been the most fun person to be around).  Instead I reflected.  Am I a bad friend?  Over the past 5 months I haven’t called people back, I haven’t met up for lunches, I haven’t wanted to spend my free time meeting up with other moms and babies while we do nothing but chase around and chat about said babies.  But I don’t think that puts me in the bad friend category.  Why?  Because I’m still trying to figure out what I think of this new life, I’m befuddled because the expectation is that I should LOVE my new life.  I should be over the moon about it.  Sometimes I am, sometimes I’m not.

People can’t accept the last part of that statement; they don’t how to deal with those who maybe may not be all oooh-baby-gaga over their new life (not that I’ve ever been overly-happy-gushy-gaga about much of anything, it’s not really my style).  Regardless of my reaction to motherhood, I would hope that women- mothers- friends could be more understanding, because when someone may not respond to you immediately…that probably means they need you as a friend more than ever.  They don’t need to be ignored.

But that is how I have felt recently.  Ignored and left-out.  Not just by these two friends but by some others that are even closer.  It makes for a rough go of it and complicates the funk I’m trying so desperately to get myself out of.  When it comes down to it I guess somethings never change; we all struggle with wanting to be included.  Right now I feel about as excluded as one can feel while struggling with my new role as ‘mom’.  In a perfect world my friends would surround and help.  Instead they forge on without.

Back to the expectations…Syd is amazing; I couldn’t have made a better child.  But that doesn’t mean my entire life revolves around her, nor do I expect it to. I am multifaceted; boss, wife, mother.  I’ve had many years to figure out ‘wife’, and I’ve been ‘boss’ for a while too.  I’ve only been at this ‘mother’ thing for 5 months.  It takes some getting used to.  And there is nothing wrong with that.  I just wish the expectations from other mothers and friends were the same.  I do find myself growing closer to friends who hold the same facets, but it still hurts to see others fade away.

Just can’t catch a break

Life isn’t fair.  I’m aware.  But so far I’ve been sick for our first two date nights.  I can’t even remember the last time I had a relaxing weekend.  I think it was back in March.

I was so looking forward to this weekend too.  Sun, warm, blue skies. We had planned date night Saturday (cocktails, appetizers, then a movie) followed by Cherry Blossoms Sunday morning (while everyone was at Church) and a late Easter lunch with friends.  I needed this weekend for my own sanity.

Of course none of that happened.  We spent our time praising the porcelain throne with ick coming out of both ends.  I feel so weak from not being able to eat or drink anything that the slightest effort makes me tired.  Poor Syd isn’t getting much from the ‘milk-lady’ either, we’ve had to supplement with some bottles.   I just hope my supply will come back.

Thankfully Syd has been spared (knock-on-wood) and somehow she must know Mom and Dad feel like death because she has been an absolute angel this weekend.

Maybe next weekend will be better…I can only keep hoping.

Time to hit ‘reset’

This weekend was all about the reset button.  Acquiring my second cold in 1 month, and infecting the rest of the house along with it, made me realize that Mom needs to s.l.o.w.d.o.w.n.  So I did.  I had 1 thing to do this weekend and that’s all I did.  I didn’t fill in the vacant time with stupid errands, intricate meals or meet-ups with friends.  I just stayed home.  To make it even more perfect it rained all weekend…who wants to go out in that anyways?

In anticipation of my hermit weekend, Friday night after picking up Syd from day-care, I went to the fabric store.  I wanted to work on some projects over the weekend (sewing is relaxing to me).  First up was a blanky for Syd.  I felt so commercial sending her to day-care with her handmade bag and clothes and then sending a store-bought blanket.  That and I would rather her snuggle in something made from love than something made in China.  I discovered this sweet ducky and retro flower flannel.  Paired with a perfect blanket binding, and you have Syd all wrapped in love.   I’m pretty sure no mother wants her kid to go to college still clutching her blanky but this one is so awesome I’m thinking I would be OK with that! 

I also got some cheap fabric to try out the romper pattern I have before I cut into the super cute fabric I want to use to Syds romper for her 6-month photo-shoot.  So far it’s going together OK.  From the looks of it Syd will be able to fit into it when she is 12.  So much for size ‘small’…which is supposed to be ‘6 months’.  Who knows, maybe she will grow leaps and bounds in the next 2 months…

In addition to sewing I’ve done a lot of internet searching for fabric.  I want to make this dress for a wedding in May…if I can find some fabric.  They have lots of great stuff at my local fancy fabric store, but considering I need upwards of 3+ yards to make the dress I would be better off financially just buying a dress.  I’ll keep you posted.  If anyone comes across a yummy jersey border print let me know!

After my lazy weekend I feel almost normal again. I’ve realized I can’t do as much, and possibly be as much as I used to now.  I canceled a work trip in June for reasons I never thought I would use…but hell if a stupid oncology conference will force me to end being the ‘milk-lady’ (and I know if I went to Chicago for a week that would pretty much end breastfeeding for me).  Granted I may be done by then anyways…but I want to stop on my terms (or Syds terms) not because of work.  I also blocked my calendar at work…no more meetings after 4:30 PM.  I get in at 7:30, I’m there for a sufficient amount of time for everyone to get a piece of me, at 4:30 it’s time for me to go home.

I’ll figure all this stuff out eventually…slowly but surely and with a few bumps and bruises along the way.

Transition is complete!

Syd’s first day at day-care was Monday and everything is going peachy.  We had our ‘intake’ appointment last week so we had our bags all packed and ready to-go on Monday morning.  She is in a class with 6 other non-mobile infants and 2 caretakers (Miss Mary and Miss Roshan).  We were the first to arrive on Monday morning which gave us time to wander around the room trying to figure out where everything needs to be placed.  Bins with Sydney’s name were all ready for her on her first day.  Her crib was labeled and we made it all cozy with a home brought sheet, a blanket, a crib mirror and I even brought her some shapes to stare at (and now she enjoys talking to them too).  There are Sydney bins for extra clothes (which came in handy yesterday) and creams, and bibs, and socks and pacifiers and of course her milk goes in the fridge.  And there is even a little Sydney hook in the hall where we hang her Sydney bag — made with love by Grandma.

I’m not a guilty mommy when it comes to what I have to do for childcare.  I have to work, this was our best option, so I accepted it and moved on.  Would it be nice to live close to family and have a Grandma look after Syd?  Hell yes it would.  But we are not lucky enough for that, and I wasn’t comfortable with my other options here (nanny share or home-based daycare).  What I am lucky to have, is this great neighborhood where women freely share information regarding child care options — which pretty much guarantees you will find something you feel fits best for you and your family.  Her daycare isn’t fancy, it’s in the basement of a church, there isn’t much natural light, the accommodations are not what I would consider to be spectacular.  But the people make up for the lack-luster visual environment.  They truly love kids and you can tell.  Her first day Sydney colored a frog with her feet!   I mean really, how freaking cute is that?!

So I drop Sydney off, and leave her with great people, and I go to work and I do what I trained 8 years to do.  When I’m done with work…the best part of my day…is picking her up.  I can’t drive fast enough.  It’s like Christmas every day at 5PM and it rocks.  She is happy, I am happy, and Royce gets a significant amount of stuff done on his days off.  You can’t beat that.  And hopefully as she grows she will come to find that food, love, entertainment, and comfort can come from a variety of people than just Mom & Dad.

I also can’t help but think this is the way my family had to do it when I was a baby…back in the day I went to daycare with my Julie bag with all my toys and provisions tucked inside…and I turned out just fine (or at least I think I did).

First week back

I survived my first week back to work!  Not that I didn’t think I would.  Maybe a few co-workers should be excited they survived my first week back, but I digress.

Going back, leaving Syd…it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.  I think my crap-ass, snow filled, trapped-in-the-house last few days of maternity leave had something to do with it.  And to just make sure that week was perfectly ruined, I came down with a sore throat and a fever Saturday night…followed by Syd Sunday morning.  Fun times I say.  There is nothing like spending the last three days of my ‘vacation’ (cause I’m using annual leave by now) with an infant who is feverish, fussy, clingy &  in-pain, while your husband works the night shifts at the ER.  By the time Tuesday came around I was ready to get the hell out of the house and be somewhere else for 8 hours (where hopefully no one would scream at me when they got hungry or tired).  Sorry Syd, but you made it rather easy for me to leave.  Thank  you?

Work is work.  Nothing changes in 3 months.  The printers are still broken, the people who couldn’t run a smooth meeting didn’t have any revelations in meeting conduct while I was gone, and I’m still expected to be 2 places at once.  On my 1st day back I was asked by my boss for a list of ‘visions’ for 2020.  Nothing like strategic BS to make me realize how much time we waste here in the federal government.  Of course I couldn’t come up with an answer except the ones in my head which were not repeatable (I hope by 2020 you morons would have provided me with a  Blackberry since I’m never at my desk, but my boss who is always at his desk has one…and in 2020 I hope there is childcare on this campus…and in 2020 I hope families get paid parenteral leave…and I sure hope this snow is gone by 2020…holy shit! in 2020 Syd will be 10 years-old and I’ll be 41!  AHHHH).

I found it extremely hard to concentrate and keep focused.  I sorta forgot what I did and it really took me some time to learn to focus again.  People would stop me in the halls and ask me questions about stuff I had no idea about, and I had to remind myself to appear at least generally interested in hearing their thoughts (which is hard to do when your boobs hurt and you get that ‘let down’ feeling).  There is definitely some cob-webs in my head that need dusted off that is for sure.  I hope my colleagues are ready for a lot of blank looks because I seem to have perfected that face the past few days.  I’ve also somehow completely lost the capability to multi-task at work.  I remember being much more efficient than I was this week.  Maybe it will come back to me.   Energy-wise I did OK (although Friday night I was in bed by 9:00 pm!) which is shocking because Syd wasn’t sleeping well at the beginning of the week because of her stuffy nose and poor day-time feeding.  She did much better towards the end of the week and today it seems as though she is back on her regular 9p-6a sleeping schedule.

Just so you don’t all think I’m a horrible mother, it did get harder to leave Syd towards the end of the week.  Since she was feeling better by Friday my little girl was all smiles in the morning and that just melts your heart no matter how sleep deprived you are.  I think she had lots of fun with Dad and Grandma while I was away.  I’m so glad they were around to help out.  Getting a routine is key for me and I had no idea how much time it takes each night (washing pump parts, packing lunch) just to get myself ready for the next morning.

Monday will be here before I know it.  I’ve got a seemingly long list of things to do this weekend, but top on my list is to do some sewing and get a nap in!

Last week

Sitting at home buried under 2+ feet of snow is not how I had envisioned spending my last week of maternity leave.  I was finally getting the hang of enjoying myself…feeling more comfortable running errands, meeting people for lunch etc etc.  Now I’m just trapped here, litterally…my car is in the garage and our 50 foot back alley that leads to our driveway is still covered in Saturday’s snow and now it will have another foot or more added to it on Wednesday.  I had hopes of finishing off some errands, I still have things to return to baby-stores and I desperately need to get to a fabric store to finish some projects.  Not to mention I had high hopes of going out and getting a bunch of new work clothes to fit my improved smaller frame.  I also had a few leisurely lunches planned with friends too.

To say I’m disappointed with the outcome of this last week and the unavoidable reality of having to go back to work is an understatement.  The bright side is I have saved a lot of leave because the government has been closed.  I could probably postpone my start date, but I really want Royce to have his 2 weeks alone with Syd before she starts daycare March 1st.  Not that he will be ‘alone’ because his Mom and then his sister Rhonda arrive next week to meet Syd. But still, it will be good for him to be the primary person in charge of feeding and entertaining this pip-squeak for a while. 

The 16th is my first day back.  Outside of my anger of my snow-covered last week, I am also having bitter-sweet feelings about returning.  In the mornings when I’m energized and Syd is as sweet as sugar I want to stay home.  But by 2:00 when I’m tired and I’ve exhausted my bag of entertaining tricks, I’m ready to go back.  I’m sure my first week will be so busy and it will go by quickly.  I’ve got a lot to catch up on, and will have plenty of fun figuring out how to get my pumping scheduled between meetings.  I know I’m missed, I’ve gotten a dozen emails asking when I’m returning, so thats a good feeling and is sorta giving me momentum as I prepare for my first week back.

Birth Day

The birth of dear Sydney was one of surprises.  Let’s just say Sydney is ‘prompt and efficient, just like Mom’…and I’m not tooting my own horn here, about half our friends have said the same thing after hearing our story. 

I never expected to deliver on my actual due date.  I figured that would be too convenient considering Royce only had off from Nov 21st-Dec 7th.  The pessimist that I was had myself being induced on Dec 4th and Royce’s 2 weeks off would go completely wasted with copious amounts of golf.  As a joke Royce and I made all these ‘plans’ for the weekend with the hopes that this baby girl would crash them.  And crash them did she ever!

When I woke up on Saturday the pressure in my lower pelvis was much greater than it had been the previous day…defintely uncomfortable, but not painful.  Every once in a while I would feel cramps but again nothing excruciating so we went about our typical Saturday morning routine…dog walk…CSA pick up.  On the way home from the dog walk we took the long way up what I like to call ‘labor hill’…a hill we would go back to 2 other times that day. 

Our plans were then to test drive the new Honda Crosstour since we were baby free and didn’t know how long we would be baby-free.   During that excursion I was still cramping and feeling pressure but didn’t think anything of it.  After the test drive it was lunch time and this pregnant woman wanted a milkshake and lo and behold a Wendy’s was on the horizon so embarrassingly we went to Wendy’s so I could get a frosty and a cheeseburger (disclaimer: this is probably the first ‘fast food’ I had my entire pregnancy).  While there we were joking that it would be pathetic if Wendy’s was our ‘last meal’ as just the 2 of us.

When we got home I napped, and then we went for yet another walk…detouring so we could go up labor hill.  When we got home around 4 o’clock we watched the Iowa game which we had taped. During the Iowa game I started having more constant ‘cramping’ so at 5 o’clock we decided to start timing these, and they were lasting about 30-45 seconds and were about 5 mins apart.  After an hour though they started to get more irregular and then just went away, so after the game was over we went for yet another walk.  The walking started the cramping agin, but it wasn’t anything I was expecting as our birth class said productive contractions would ‘make me stop mid-sentance if talking or stop mid-stride if walking’.  I was walking and talking fine so I figured this was nothing. 

After we got back from our 3rd walk of the day I decided we should probably document the ‘belly’ because I had done such a bad job at doing so over the 9 month ordeal.  We got out the cameras and had some fun and when that was over we watched a taped episode of Top Chef while I waited for these cramps to return (they had disappeared).  During a break Royce went to pop some popcorn and I just sat on the couch…and then pain…a far worse cramp than the cramps before and then a POP sensation and wetness… 

It all sorta snowballed from there. Royce noticed me running to the bathroom and came in to check, when I said “I think my water broke” he promptly called the doctor.  When she spoke to me she ho-humed about how this was probably false labor since it was my 1st pregnancy but told us to head in to the hospital and have them check to see if I was dilated.  We left the house around 8:45 PM and the entire way I was having extremely painful contractions (now I couldn’t talk or walk).  We got into triage pretty efficiently and I got when I was checked I was dilated 4 cm. 

Royce was a good advocate and pressured them to get me to L&D quickly so that I could get an epidural because the contractions were strong and piling one on top of the other.  By the time we actually got to L&D there was practically no rest between contractions.  I think a few times I actually said “this isn’t fair…these are supposed to be spaced apart!  Where is my rest period!”.  It was becoming more and more evident that an epidural wasn’t going to be in my future.  Shortly after arriving in L&D I was a full 10 cm and they could feel the head.  Our doctor wasn’t even there yet and I was ready to push…Royce thought for a moment that he would have to deliver this baby…but thankfully Dr. Sidel arrived just in time. 

I was terrified, horrified, absolutely petrified that I was going to have a natural childbirth.  It wasn’t what I signed up for, I’m no hero, I’m a pharmacist, I like drugs, I prefer them actually to pain.  I was beside myself and feared for myself that I wouldn’t be able to do it.  I cried, I moaned, I felt like I was screaming (but everyone claims otherwise).  Poor Royce had to be dying inside seeing me in so much pain but he did what every awesome husband does and told me I could do it, I was strong.

I pushed through 4 contractions and the 2nd push with the 4th contraction Miss Sydney’s head was out and holy hell it was the best feeling ever.  One last push got the rest of her out at 10:29 PM, shy of 2 hours from our arrival at the hospital. 

The entire process is a blur and even thinking about it now I get a bit choked up, and freaked out.  I’m glad it was fast because I don’t think I could have handled much more of the pain.  Going into this, my birth plan was to avoid an induction, avoid a c-section, and get an epidural.  But as plans go they sometimes get foiled.  Sadly, Wendy’s was our last meal out together as a couple and I still can’t face labor hill yet, but dear sweet Sydney is with us today and I wouldn’t change anything about that.

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