I needed to talk to someone

“I’m going to give you the name of a couple therapists who specialize in post partum therapy” this is what my OBGYN said to me at my six week check up. I had to fill out a survey and then spoke to her about how the past six weeks had gone. At the end of talking she recommended that I go to post partum counseling. She felt that I wasn’t full on post partum depression yet but that I needed to at least talk to someone. I agreed with her. My anxious feeling dealing with Eva was getting stronger and stronger. It was pretty bad when we got home with Eva. In the first four or five days I maybe got four or five hours of sleep. I waited to go to the bathroom until I was going to burst because I felt like I was a bad mother for leaving Eva. I would break down crying because I felt like I was just given a prison sentence and not an extraordinary gift.

I had wonderful friends and family offer help almost everyday but I would lie and say that things were going really well and I didn’t need anything. When in actuality I wanted to yell that I was awful at being a mother. There were moments that I would look at this blob who had taken over every part of my life and wonder, “Am I really cut out to be a mom?!” “Can I do this for the rest of my life?!”. It was so hard. I knew that becoming a mom and giving yourself over to a little human was going to be difficult and down right cruel some days, but damn. If it’s not giving cuddles for comfort, it’s nursing. If it’s not swaddling, it’s bouncing for an hour on the yoga ball. If it’s not screaming in my ear because she’s hot, it’s puking all over me so I look like a Jackson Pollock. It was one thing after another every single minute of the day. I was so sleep deprived that I couldn’t see straight. At our two week check up my pediatrician suggested that I go to the breast feeding support group that our hospital offered.

Tim really encouraged me to go. I could get out of the house and I could talk to other moms who had been where I was. I felt like I was in my own Stranger Things episode and I was Barb (if you haven’t seen this show, drop everything and watch it). I felt like I was in this universe no one else was in. As supportive and wonderful as he was, Tim wasn’t even in that universe. Our daughter was literally depending on me for everything. Food, drink, comfort, security, familiarity, etc. It makes sense, we shared the same lodging for 10 months, yes 10 not nine science. It makes sense that she would want me right at the beginning. Her world has gone haywire and she was grasping for a known comfort. For her that was my heart beat, my voice, my smell, my everything. In a unrealized turn of events she then becomes my everything and that in of itself is overwhelming. They say for the first year of their lives babies equate themselves and their mother as the same person. Ipso facto, you as the mom now equate yourself and your baby as the same person. You find yourself staring at your wide awake baby saying, “I am so tired. How are you so awake?” because you truly don’t understand how you can be this exhausted and that little meatloaf is ready to rage on.

Breast feeding support group did and keeps helping. I get to ask a lactation specialist/nurse questions about being a mom and having a baby every week. I get to commiserate with other moms who have spit up in their hair and the memories of what daily showers were. We also get to show off our show babies. You beam with pride when you see that your little one gained 10 ounces that past week. You brag about them grabbing a toy for the first time. You tear up when you see a baby a month younger than yours and you remember when your baby was that tiny. You get to experience the ups and downs of being a mom with other tribe members and thankfully, no one gets voted off this island. As amazing as the group was, I was still feeling so anxious. I was still sacrificing my entire self for Eva. Showers. Eating. Sleeping. Going to the bathroom. Cleaning. The kitties. My marriage. My talking abilities. It was all on the baby sacrificing table and my prayers were that she would never cry. Never be upset. Never show others that I wasn’t good enough as a mom. I needed to talk to someone about it.

I walked into my therapist’s office this past Monday and was crying withing 10 minutes of the session. I was talking and talking and talking. It was so freeing. This person wasn’t there to judge me or tell me I was being a bad mom. She nodded her head in a understanding way. She offered different view points of how I was feeling. She let me know that not everything I did or was going to do was or is perfect because I’m not perfect and neither is my baby. I am very lucky that we have insurance that will cover my therapy appointments because they are so needed. Let’sbehonest, being a mom in this country is  terrible. There isn’t enough paid time off from companies and I don’t think there is enough support after a mom leaves the hospital. I’m so fortunate to have my breast feeding support group, but that’s because Exeter Hospital is amaze balls. Not everyone has that. Mommy groups in person and on-line are wonderful and so helpful but they aren’t objective. We mommies need that objective authoritative person to help us sort through what we just went through physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Being a mom is probably the best thing I’ve done in my life. I look at Eva and can’t comprehend how much I love her. But there are also days I feel like I’m also just keeping a sophisticated Tamagochi alive.

We need to let go of the shame of asking for help. We as a society need to let go the idea that being a mom is the most natural role a woman can play. It doesn’t matter if you breast feed, physically gave birth, live in a city or country side, are married or single. Being a mom is so difficult and we all need help with it. Some women need a lot of help and support and some need just a little extra. Either way, we all need it. I don’t think you’ll encounter many women who full on regret becoming a mother because the good does outweigh the bad, eventually. Honestly, I didn’t round that corner until she was about two months old. Try imagining not feeling human or a woman or a wife or a sister or a daughter or a friend or your own self for two months. I write this post not to scare, or vent, or complain. I write this post because we need to talk about this more. Moms need to feel comfortable standing up and saying, “This is so hard. Please listen to me. Please help me.” because hard is a new definition to them. We need to circle the wagons not let them go in separate directions. We need to raise kids in a community again not separate houses. At the end of the day we need to talk to someone.

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I want to be better for you

Dear Eva,

Yesterday we went for a walk downtown to the Farmer’s Market. You were in the stroller and I, of course, was pushing it. We walked by store front after store front. You were asleep in your stroller as you usually do and love to do. While you sleep I still talk to you and tell you what we’re passing, the sounds we’re hearing, the smells around us, and thoughts that come across my mind. After passing multiple store front windows I let out a heavy sigh and said, “Eva, mama needs to loose weight. This is gross and I look like a sausage.” I made myself  feel like I was less of a mother because I’m not a size four and you’ll know it. I made myself feel less than all together. I said it out loud and if you were awake you would have heard every word.

My daughter, my love, my life, I am sorry. I am sorry for saying such a thing within ear shot of you. I am sorry that I still tell daddy that I am gross and don’t deserve to go outside. I am sorry that I would body shame myself with you even within the same house as me. I have always had issues with the way I see my body. Honestly, I have never liked the way I looked. My boobs are too big. My butt is huge and shapeless. My face is too full. My stomach is too big and round. These are all things that I have thought most of my life and that way of thinking needs to stop. It needs to stop because I can’t have that way of thinking while I raise you and have you think even for a second that it’s acceptable. It needs to stop because I need to be better for you.

We live in a world right now that is full of body shaming. There are many movements trying to stop it but it’s still all around us. You will feel it in school, within your friends circle, whether you do dance or do soccer, you will most likely compare yourself to those around you. All I can hope at this point is that I have shown you to quiet those comparisons and focus on the beautiful things. I am hoping to work on the techniques needed to do that. I want to be able to walk past a window or a mirror and double check that I don’t have any fly aways from my hair than see how “gross” I look that day at that moment because I’m not gross and neither is my body. It is a vessel that gets me from point A to point B and it brought you into this world. Something I will never take for granted. I need to recognize and embrace the great things about myself. It’s not boastful or a bad thing to do. It’s healthy and necessary in a world full of Kardashians and reality TV.

I will try to show and teach you how to take care of your body in a healthful way. We’ll eat foods that nourish our bodies. We will eat, period. Skipping meals or cutting down to one Wheat Thin a day to loose a couple extra pounds is never the answer. We’ll choose to go to the beach over staying at home and watching whatever god forsaken show is around in a few years. Your dad and I will show you that we are so much more than our bodies and body types. They are not markers of class, attractiveness, or who you are. Daddy and I fell in love with each other. We could and have spent days just the two of us laughing and talking our way through. I wouldn’t trade those days for anything. Your body will not define who you are to whomever it is you choose to love. You will define who you are and if someone judges you otherwise, well eff them. Embrace the phrase, “Bye, Felicia” and use it whenever needed.

I make a pledge to you here and now in this letter to stop my ways. To help family and friends do the same. If you come into our house no negative body talk is allowed. No negative talk about you is allowed. Sadly, this is a lofty goal for me. It’s been many years of negative talk towards myself and I wish I had put a stop to it sooner. I am sorry, my love, for ever once bringing my body issues into your life even for a moment. You are so beautiful, and I mean the person you are even right now at two and half months rolling around on your play mat. You make daddy and I smile every day. Together we can make the world a more positive one and if we come across haters, well, it’s Bye Felicia to them.

Love Always,

Mama Bear

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Never have I ever

When you’re getting ready for your new bundle of joy there are a lot of things that run through your head. Plans you want to make, blog posts about mistakes you don’t want to make, and ideas of unrealistic expectations. Among all these things you create a list in your head and you talk with your partner about all the things that you don’t think you would ever do. These are what I like to call, laughable ideas because there’s no such thing as things you will never do with your child. You will do anything for your child. You will do anything to get any sleep. You will do anything to keep your sanity.

Here are some thing I said I would never do.

-Bed sharing: My name is Amy and I bed share with my daughter. I said almost every day that I would never bed share. I judged parents who did bed share. Didn’t they know they could squish the baby? Didn’t they know that suffocation was eminent? Didn’t they know it’s not 1972 and the hippie movement was over? Come to find out, maybe it was none of those things. Maybe it was that they were nauseous from lack of sleep because their child wouldn’t sleep ANYWHERE except with them. That was my life, this is my life. I must say though, best teddy bear ever. Suck it Teddy Ruxin.

-Be over protective: I didn’t want to be this parent. The one who quibbles over every decision. Watches people holding her like a hawk after their prey (I don’t plan to eat my young, no worries). I wanted to be that parent who threw their baby into a group of family and walked away. Once she came though, I couldn’t help it. I became a mama bear who growls at anyone who comes within 50 feet of her.

-Post my kid everywhere: I don’t have a problem with people who post all the time about their kids. I love it! Kids are the breathe of our culture, we need them to live and thrive. I didn’t think I would make every post about her though. Come to find out, no. Every post will be about her and I can’t help it. To say a child takes over your life is an understatement. They Mothra your life and have no regrets.

-Be so self sacrificing: When I got pregnant I told Tim that I didn’t want to sacrifice everything about myself. I was going to go out all the time, I was going to shower, and I was going to stay human. How quickly the tables turn or more like flip over like Jesus in a marketplace. Moms need to take care of themselves but some days I feel like it is literally impossible. As I type this it is over my two month old asleep on my lap. Sleep baby, sleep.

-It’s your turn: I wanted a full on 50/50 partnership with my husband when we had kids. Once he got off of work dad time kicks in. Unfortunately this is just not the way this works, especially if you are breastfeeding. You are your baby’s source of food and water. It’s so demanding, more demanding than I realized when I agreed to this whole baby thing. I didn’t want to be the mom who says, “It’s your turn” but I’ve had to. I live in a chair for nursing. I eat one handed because I have a baby in the other. I share my bed and sleep with a baby. My life is baby.

-Think that my baby is a genius: Every parent thinks their child is a genius. Period. If you don’t, you are lying. We thought that when she was able to grab the rings on her play mat and pull them a part at 6 weeks old that she was a full on genius. I’m pretty sure she’ll be an early crawler and she’s able to prop up already too. In my head She. Is. A. Genius. In reality she’s probably not and may develop quickly but not be a true on genius. That’s okay, she’ll be a prima ballerina so that will take a lot of her time.

Never have I ever used to be a fun drinking game in college. Now it’s turned into a cruel reminder of what I said I would never do but end up rebuking on and do 100%. Things I want to do and things I really don’t want to. I guess that’s being a parent though. Having life turn out the way you didn’t plan and that’s okay. Some days it totally sucks but then that’s a parenting life. That’s life. Any person has sucky days and do things they never thought they would. Never have I ever thought I would have a never have I ever list with parenting.

 

Yesterday to tomorrow

For the last two months I have devoted my life to a little chunk ball we call Eva. We love her and we can’t remember our lives without her. Not just me and Tim, my whole family can’t remember us without her in our lives. I realized that my posts over the last month have been about the underbelly of being a parent. The sleepless nights, the poopy diapers, the feeling that there is no end in sight. While these are all very true about the beginning of parenting there are also a lot of wonderful moments that we’ve had.

I’m going to list five things that have been awesome about being a mom. I will also list five things that I am looking forward to. With that being said, I know that there will be a day very soon that I will look longingly back on these days and wish I was back here again. I know that day will come when Eva is telling me the only way she’ll talk to me is through text with a text of emoticons, but right now I am going through it so there are stages I am looking forward to.

Five things that have been awesome:

1.) Having a tiny human: They say that the love you have for your child is indescribable. I guess that could be true. I think of the biggest passion and love I have in my life and amplify that by a bazillion. Having Eva was honestly the coolest thing I’ve done. She’s a tiny human, like us but tiny. It’s so crazy every time I look at her. Like we made that.

2.) The first babble she made: For a while there every day was getting difficult. We were still learning what it was to be a parent, what her sounds meant, and the constant CONSTANT need for attention. I didn’t know what would make it better. Then one morning I was changing her and all of a sudden she babbled. A babble! Nonsense never sounded so beautiful before. I couldn’t believe that she was already making noises. Somehow that day made things easier because it was really the first tell tale sign that she was getting bigger, she will develop.

3.) Seeing Tim in a new light: The other night I took a picture of Tim and Eva that made me cry. Tim was holding her on the Boppy pillow and they were laughing at each other. The love in their eyes for each other was another level of love for Tim. Watching him become the amazing father that I knew he would be is amazing. I didn’t think I could love and appreciate him more than I did on our wedding day, but it happened.

4.) Eva grabbing things on her play mat: About two weeks ago Eva was playing on her play mat and she grabbed onto these rings and pulled on them so hard they broke a part, they’re supposed to we don’t have a baby Hulk…which would be amazing. I couldn’t believe it. She developed a motor skill! She wasn’t a lump haphazardly flaying limbs around. Just another stage showing me that things will get better.

5.) Knowing that I can be a mom: I’ve written before how terrified I was about becoming a mom because I didn’t know if I could do it. I’d be lying if I were to say I don’t still think this at least once a day. I’m here now though. I go to bed with her every night and I wake up with her every morning. I’m not thinking about what it will be like to be her mom anymore. I am her mom, every day.

Five things I look forward to:

1.) Her talking: This is beyond the babbles. While toddler babble is akin to regular babble, at least 40% of it is understandable. I can’t wait to hear the, “I love you”, “Where’s daddy?”, “Strawberries make my eyeballs happy” you know, tiny goblin things.

2.)  Her sleeping in her crib: In another two months she’ll hopefully be turning over by herself because then it’s a great milestone, for sure, but it also means we can have her sleep in her crib. I love my daughter and I love the night time snuggles that have been happening for the last two months, but my god does mama need some sleep.

3.) Tim and I being married again: For two months Tim and I have been eating in shifts, sleeping at different ends of the bed, sneak in hugs when we can, and sneak in marriage when we can. We are truly devoted to our daughter and that’s great but at some point we have to be husband and wife again. We’ll get there, I hope.

4.) Doing household chores: I know, I sound insane. While I don’t take time from Eva to do chores, I still wish I could do them. I long for the days I waddled around the house while I was pregnant cleaning. I did laundry yesterday and today and am saddened that I won’t be able to fold them, probably ever. I’m looking forward to the day I’ll be able to get to fold at least one basket.

5.) Watching her get bigger: She’s already gotten bigger. She’s a monster compared to what we brought home in May. It’s amazing. No wonder it feels like it’s been years since we brought her home. She changes so much every week, it’s amazing. You don’t see that much change in one person unless they’re part of an E! special.

So yes, it’s been a long but also short two months since we brought her home. A lot in our lives has changed. Well, our whole lives have changed. At night we don’t watch Netflix and fall asleep to The Office for the hundredth time. Now we listen to Rockabye Baby and offer the baby gods our soul’s soul to get some sleep. Would we change it though? No. These have been amazing months and the ones to come will bring more amazingness. Being a mom is pretty cool, being called mom will be pretty remarkable.

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It will get better…sure?

Well, we’re eight weeks deep now. On July 3rd my little one will be two months old going on five years, three days, and 16 hours. I’m guesstimating. If there is one mantra I’ve heard over and over since we brought her home from the hospital it’s, “It will get better. It will get easier.” This mantra is a pickle. There are some days where I long to hear other moms or dads say those words to me. Then there are days that I want to take duct tape and ply it over their mouths and say, “Will it get better? Will it?” And the sick thing? We have a good baby. She doesn’t scream incessantly, she cries when something is in fact wrong, she is beginning to fall into a sleep pattern, she’s pretty chill through the day, overall she is a good baby. Then witching hours happen, dairy sensitivities happen, wet diapers happen, over tired happens, life happens. It’s all too much for their little bodies. It’s too much for my little body.

I love my daughter. I love her so much that I am willing to sacrifice shredded cheese, milkshakes, and god given ice cream for who knows how long while I’m breastfeeding. I was talking with Tim and I said, “It’s crazy how fast I was willing to change my whole diet just in the hopes that it will make her more comfortable.” And it was. As soon as the nurse explained that Eva had tell tale signs of a dairy sensitivity I automatically wanted to know what I had to do to make it better. That night I got dinner that wasn’t made with milk and the next day I was that woman in the aisle reading every ingredient label while you just wanted to grab the Triscuits. My b, but you’re fine. I see why moms switch to formula when these hiccups happen because it’s all so overwhelming. Having the baby is overwhelming, breastfeeding is overwhelming, trying to keep your marriage in check is overwhelming, having a ton of people checking in on you or asking about how the baby is doing is overwhelming. Some days you want to stick your head in the margarita pitcher…I mean in the sand… yeah, the sand.

This whole experience so far has made me look back on so many experiences of my life. All the times I wondered how I was going to make it through. The first time I realized that I just had to wait and be patient because this too shall pass and when I look back it will be the blink of an eye in time. Having a baby has smacked all those other experiences into the realm where Space Jam took place, AKA really far from here. Having a babe smacked me into my own Space Jam reality. Time doesn’t make sense. Priorities get all whacked out. You tolerance of bodily fluids sky rockets. Hallucinations of a bunny playing basketball happens. And at 3:30 am when you are beyond exhausted a 11 pound little human is staring at you dead in the eyes almost communicating, “We do things on my time table now, woman. Buckle the eff up.” And if you don’t think my child will say “eff” in conversation before teenage years, clearly we’ve never met nor made eye contact.

It will get better. I’ve now said that mantra to other mothers who groggily drag themselves and their three week old baby into breastfeeding support group because I have been there. I have been you. And while five weeks doesn’t sound like a lot of difference it’s in baby weeks. Take whatever time frame you comprehend and add about three years onto it. That’s a week in baby time. Not only because they are hard weeks but your baby changes so much in those weeks. They pack so much developmental changes in a single week it makes Mickey Rouke’s plastic surgeon take a double look. It’s impressive. To me that’s what makes this all better. That’s what makes it tolerable. They change so much. They grow so fast. They’ve adapted to grow that fast so that they can protect themselves in their environments quicker but I also fully believe it’s so we’ll actually want to keep them around.

Eva is perfect and a genius (obviously) but if I had to take care of a blob that sleeps for 16 hours a day, feeds for the other four, and pooped for the last three for more than a few weeks, well let’s not think about it. Her becoming cooler is what has made this tolerable as the weeks go on. She’s becoming interactive. Today I said, “I love you” and she got a smile and then babbled. Am I saying she was saying, “I love you” in her own way? I wish I could believe that. I know the two incidents were coincidental. Do I think I said something to her and she reacted to my voice and the fact that she’s learned she controls these crazy sounds from her mouth box, yes, I think that’s more likely. But by god how cool of a coincidence. Someday I AM going to say that and this little voice is going to say it back. Some days she’ll even say it first. My heart melted today, I can only imagine that day that my face melts off because of the things she says. That’s how it’s been better. That’s how we’re getting through.

Babies, amIright? People try to prep you for how hard this is going to be. You have to go through it though. You have to have your own war stories. That’s where we are with them. A war story. It’s not always me against my baby but some nights when she is crying and crying and your offers to whatever spirit out there to make it stop for 10 minutes aren’t being heard, you feel it’s a me against the machine situation. Then the next morning you change their diaper and they look at you give you a huge smile and kick their little legs with excitement at your face. At those moments you realize that things are better, things will be better, they will get easier.

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Dear pre-baby self

Dear Amy pre-baby,

It’s not that serious. Whatever you think it is right now, I promise you, it’s not. No, I’m not going into the whole, “When you have a child you realize what’s important, she is the future, she will rule with an iron fist and a Care Bear heart.” No. I’m saying that it’s not that serious because you will learn that what seems serious now is something to laugh at later. Time starts to fly once that little one comes. You literally have no time to consider what is serious and what is not. Right now you’re seven weeks into a life time of, “How is time going by so quickly?!”

Life has become a series of, “Ok, what’s next?” instead of, “Ok, I have this much time before the next thing starts.” Is one way better than the other? I’m not so sure. I look back on your days and become somewhat jealous. You got to go shopping without having to worry about car seats and stranger danger. You got to sleep in on the weekends without care. You got to cook dinners and meals all the time without having a little ball of fury scream for your attention five minutes after you put them down after holding them for hours. You got to. You got to. You got to. Rocking in a chair for hours on end nursing while watching Teen Mom 2 makes me reminisce on my pre-baby life, your life.

I then remember that you sat longingly on the couch watching Teen Mom 2 wondering if you would ever get your chance of having a baby and making much better choices than the girls on the television. I remember crying at the thought that someone somewhere in the universe may have decided that wasn’t in the cards for you. I remember being devastated when you had a taste of the dream for three  days and then life took it from you both. I remember yearning to be the mom in the store with a baby in a carrier on her front because you could feel the phantom warmth of a head on your chest. I remember it all.

The grass is always greener. Am I right pre-baby self? You are just going through it though. This is a stage of life, much like right now is a stage of life. Seven weeks with a little on who changes literally every day isn’t that long in the long run. Although, seven weeks feels like 700 right now. She will get bigger, she will learn how to talk and walk, she will get cooler. Me and Tim will actually hold each other again someday. I will probably think of a letter much like this to baby Amy when she goes off to college. I will look back at these stages and look back on what my life was filled with, and hopefully not look for what was missing.

Yes, pre-baby Amy I feel you are one lucky bastard right now because it’s been seven weeks and last night was the actual first night I got more than four hours of sleep in seven weeks. Soak in the times alone and celebrate the times you were surrounded by friends without the worry if your packed the correct burp clothes and extra pacifiers in the diaper bag. Relish in the idea that your body may not be perfect but you can take the time to work on it without the worry about taking time for yourself. Be selfish. Once that little one is placed in your arms, all selfishness has to go out the window. Drink the wine and go to dinner with Tim as often as possible. You will get the best gift of your entire life eventually, but don’t rush so much to get there. And always remember, if the girls on Teen Mom 2 can do it, so can you. Don’t worry.

I hope these words help ease your anxiety about starting a family and that one day you did in fact take it all in and appreciate the life around you. Eva is probably the most beautiful being in your life, but she’ll be here when you’re ready. Trust yourself, trust the universe, and trust that life will be that. Life. Crazy, uncontrollable, tear inducing, and wonderful, simply wonderful.

Love,

Baby mama Amy

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My husband is a father, not my assistant

I am a part of a couple mommy groups on Facebook. They are wonderful communities. You can ask any question you are worried about, kid related or otherwise. Seek advice when you are ready to pull out your hair. Vent when your child just won’t calm down and your promise of Elmo’s hair trimmings and tears of their sworn enemy (probably the a-hole kid at the park that eats sand) won’t work. I posted last week that I was wondering how to build my freezer supply of breast milk. To have on hand, have in case of emergency, or to have in case I can’t figure out what to make for dinner that night. You know, preparedness. I asked how moms figured out a schedule. I mentioned that I pumped a bottle full in the morning so my husband could feed it to Eva at night in so I could sleep.

I got a lot of helpful and supportive comments per usual in these groups. One mom gave advice and then added, “And good man for letting you sleep!” I am 100% positive this was said out of truth and personal experience, but all I could think was, “Of course. She’s half his. This is his daughter too.” It made me think more and more why we so commonly see these comments or make them to each other. Even the nurse that leads my breast feeding support group said something along the same lines. I understand that it would be so easy for Tim to say that I’m the food supply so why wouldn’t I stay up to feed her? It’s my job. It’s the most ridiculous pink tax ever.

The thing is, Tim is a father and not my assistant. Is it true that mother’s roles are more intensive with a newborn, especially those who breast feed? For sure. You are in demand 24/7 and when you hear that cry you know, you know that you are the only one who is going to make it stop. Our society has made fathers into somewhat of a punch line. They don’t know how to do anything. They rely on mom to fix everything. They are clueless outside the garage and taking out the trash. We even have the joke of kids needing something and dad saying, “I can help” and they get all worried and say, “Where’s mom?” When will we make it to the point where a kid will ask, “Where’s dad?”

Don’t get me wrong. Do I look over at Tim sleeping soundly at 4 am while feeding our daughter and get jealous? Duh. Would I have no problem waking Tim up from a sound sleep at 4 am to help with our daughter? Duh. At what point though do I become less in demand? I’ll be a stay at home mom so our little one will be with me at least eight hours a day through the week. It will be difficult for both of us to switch mind sets during the weekends to make dad be the one in demand. But in our house culture I so desperately want that for her. I want her to wake up from a nightmare and have to think for a second who to call out for. I want her to run to both of us when she scrapes her knee. I want her to call both of us when she gets her heart broken. I want her to think of both of us when she thinks of home.

Are there husbands out there who do look for the recognition of pitching in? I know there are. I used to work with a guy who would sleep in a guest room when his wife gave birth and wouldn’t wake through the night to help because he had to work the next day and she didn’t. He unfortunately said this in front of our office staff and I’m sure if there were tomatoes to be thrown they would have been. I guess that the magical thing about gender progression. Through the last few decades housewives and moms all over have realized that they don’t have to go through this alone. They can tell their husband they need to hold their baby because, yes, it is your turn. They can say, “I don’t feel happy with this situation and I don’t know why.” They can ask for help because damnit, those little meatballs are hard to wrangle.

Our little Eva is six weeks old and it’s been about 100 weeks since we brought her home. There have been a thousand diapers and about 200 loads of laundry already. Times we’ve looked at each other and said how much we love her and each other. Times we’ve looked at each other and said, “God, I hope this gets easier.” It already has. It will. We’ll get there together. We’ll get there as parents, not as Amy and her lovely assistant Tim. Today I proudly celebrate Tim’s first father’s day with his daughter because he has more than earned the title of dad. He knows I didn’t have a child, we did. He would move heaven and earth for our little one, not ask me to do it and that’s what makes him a father. It’s what makes him a parent.

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SAHM full time job?

“Do me a favor. Never say ‘just a stay at home mom’ ever again. Because being a stay at home mom is a full time job. It’s an overtime job.” This is what one of the pediatricians said to me after I gave birth. He asked when I was going back to work and I replied, “Oh, I’m going to just be a stay at home mom.” I didn’t realize it before that moment but I had always used that modifier just when I would tell people that I was going to be a stay at home mom (SAHM). I never really thought about it before. Why I used that modifier. I would never look at a SAHM and say, “Oh, you’re just a stay at home mom?” Ever. Why would I use it for myself?

It didn’t end there. It had been a few weeks after we brought home Eva. I was taking care of her on my own during the day. It was me and baby. Tim finished work and came out to the living room. Eva was being fussy, as babies are, and he offered to take her. I said that it was fine. He questioned why I always said it was fine and why I would hold onto her. I told him that he worked all day and I understand that he’s tired. He said, “You worked all day too.” My response would have made my skin crawl if a friend or family member said it to me. “I just took care of baby all day. I just sat in the chair and fed her all day.” I justed all over myself and it was a mess. Tim kindly responded with, “And how much money would we pay someone to do that job?!” Of course he was right. Childcare is insanely expensive in this country and if I worked full time we would pay someone that fee for taking care of our child. Not for a second would I think, “Oh, they’re just a child care provider?” I would never use that modifier because in my opinion, that modifier is a chump’s way out.

Our culture has taken that word and made it into a word that automatically diminishes whatever the topic you are speaking to. I diminished being a SAHM. I diminished raising my daughter every waking hour of my day. I diminished the plan that Tim and I had conjured up five years ago. I diminished myself. And that’s the center of the shrubbery maze, isn’t it. I diminished something I was doing because for some reason I believed for even the smallest increment of time that being a SAHM wasn’t as productive or useful as working outside the home full time. I know so many amazing women in my family and friends that work full time and have children. I compare myself to them and think that I am not working as hard because I don’t get up and go out into the world and bring home an income. I don’t add anything to our family.

As the weeks have worn on I’ve learned that this train of thinking is so far from the truth it makes baby unicorns cry. Being a SAHM is not an easy way out. I do not stay home and play with the baby every day. I clean up bodily fluids every half an hour. I sit in a chair for hours every day and feed/hydrate my child from my own body. According to my tracking app, since Monday this week I’ve nursed for close to 30 hours. I cook. I clean the house (kinda, still figuring that part out). Have a 10 pound meatloaf yell at me for reasons I do not understand. I keep up on bills. Make doctor’s appointments. Try to prepare Eva for her first presidential debate for 2052. The list goes on and on. I could sit here and say the, “This is what I do. Whatever other moms do whether work or stay at home…” but no. This is what I do. This is the life inside these four walls right now. This is my SAHM behavior and I am becoming more and more proud of that.

We moms (and dads) need to band together and say, “Raising kids is no joke. When’s happy hour?” We as a society need to band together and say, “Being an adult is no joke. When’s happy hour?” Mostly, I haven’t drank in almost a year and want to go to a happy hour. But more than that, I am so sick of living in a time when I feel I have to justify to myself and the world that what I’m doing every day for my family is worth something. That it has value. The only people I have to justify anything to is Tim and Eva. And really, I don’t have to justify anything to them. As long as I am doing exactly what I think is best for me and my family, I’m happy, and I’m doing it in a healthy way, then that’s all that matters. Being a SAHM is a full time job and I need to be proud of that. I just need to accept that I’m raising a human, not a pet. My name is Amy and I am a stay at home mom, no justing required.

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Survival Mode

Well, kids, it’s officially been a month since I gave birth to my beautiful and funny daughter. It was a whirlwind of a few weeks. I had to be induced at 39 weeks because of my gestational diabetes. So a whole week was just taken from us, they just took it. I was told for a long time that I was going to have 40 weeks to prepare for our baby. It was a quick labor and delivery and a wonderful outcome. Our daughter, Eva, was very healthy, a great weight, and perfect when she came into the world. For the next couple days after having her we stayed at the hospital. We lived in a bubble of nurses, room service, and constant help/attention. Then our 48 hours were up, we put Eva in the car and headed home. For the first time it was just the three of us and it was terrifying. Who thought it would be a good idea for us to have a baby? Who allowed this?

It’s been a month and a lot of things have happened. I have learned a lot of things. And I realized a lot of things. Here are just some things that I have learned, realized, or came to Jesus about.

-What everyone says about being a mom is true. I thought that being a mom was something that would be easy to imagine and day dream about. It was. I thought that those day dreams would be comparable to what being a mom was. It wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong. You get a sense of it, but until you’re there you can’t appreciate it as much (and for continuity, I do believe non parents do “get” what it is to be a parent. That’s not what I’m saying ;)) I was told so many things about how I would feel and act. So far, they are pretty much all true. All of them and I love it.

-You can do things. One thing you do as a mom is sacrifice yourself on the alter of baby. The first four days we were home with Eva I probably slept five hours all together. I felt like I had to hold her because she would think I was abandoning her. I didn’t shower because I thought it was unfair to make Tim watch her for 15 minutes by himself. I barely ate because…well…I had just given birth and had no appetite. Then when I became on my own with Eva with no help I realized something. I can do things. I can take a shower. I can eat lunch. I can take time to check email and Facebook. I can write a blog post. I know once she starts crawling it’s another ball game, but right now I can do these things.

-We all have war stories about pregnancy and labor. I was induced. My labor was eight hours and I pushed twice because Eva came out so quickly. You would probably say I had an easy labor. At least that’s what other moms have said to me. While I understand I didn’t labor for 50 hours or have her stuck, I still went through labor. I used nitrous oxide for pain management but had a broken tank for half an hour. I had contractions every two minutes from the beginning of my induction to every 30 seconds for the last two hours. And even if I didn’t, I still went through labor. As a mom tribe we need to respect what each of us goes through. It’s all difficult. It’s all draining. It’s labor. It’s pregnancy. The important thing is, we got here. We got through it all.

-It was so much harder than I thought. Being home with a newborn outside the hospital bubble is so hard. I knew it would be hard from the second we decided to get pregnant. I knew that but what I didn’t understand was how difficult this would be. We had been home for about a week and I broke down. I was over exhausted. I was emotional. I was nursing and in demand of a seven pound meatloaf 24/7. Eva won’t sleep in her Rock N’ Play or Pack and Play. It’s me or Tim or nothing at night. It all hit me. I felt like I was being sentenced to a prison term not being welcomed into the wonderful parent club. You have this blob who demands so much from you but can’t speak to you about things. It was just hard. But again, everyone was right. We hit the three week mark and things got so much better. If you are at this stage, please read me carefully. It will get better. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. And it’s about to get so much cooler because your little person is about to start becoming a person with a personality. It’s insane.

-Take the help. I heard it in all my classes. I heard it from hospital staff. I heard it from family. I heard it everywhere. I had this ridiculous notion that if I accepted help from anyone I was admitting that I couldn’t be a mom or a good mom. That I was admitting that I wasn’t ready for a baby. I thought I would be admitting I was a failure. So. Far. From. The. Truth. As I said, this is hard. I had Tim to help for a week and a half. Then my sister for a week and my mom for half a week. I will tell you right now, I am so thankful for them. I had just given birth and was nursing. I had to sleep. I had to eat. I had to have a break. Without them I would be so much worse off right now. I’ve also been going to a breastfeeding support group and am part of a mommy group on Facebook. I’m learning and have learned that it’s not admitting failure, it’s declaring that you love yourself and your child so much you are willing to do anything to make sure you are on your game to take care of that little one.

-Let your husband (or partner) be a parent. “Why don’t you want to go upstairs and take a nap?” “Because if she gets fussy I want to be here to calm her down.” “Well…that’s not fair to me. I’m her dad, I need to calm her down too.” This was an actual conversation we had the other day because I was exhausted, Eva was sleeping on Tim, and I should have gone upstairs to sleep. Once again, I unnecessarily sacrificed something of myself for reasons made up in my head. Tim is a wonderful father. I need to let him be that as much as he lets me be a mom.

-Survival mode is real. I needed to hear this. I needed to know that I wasn’t the only mom in the world that felt like I was in this survival mode with a newborn. When you hear, “Do whatever you have to to have a calm and happy baby.” you literally do everything (within reason) to keep that baby happy and calm. Pacifier before three weeks? Yes, please. Let her sleep on your chest because it’s the only way to calm her? Fine by me. Have your husband rock in glider akin to space training to get her to stop crying? If that works, sir. If that works. You are literally just trying to make it to the next day of survival, rinse, and repeat. Parenting is hard and a challenge every day. Survival mode is the only way to get through.

So, overall this past month has been a whirlwind. We came home with a beautiful, smart, and funny baby girl. We learned what true exhaustion is. We realized that life is something that we can’t control and sometimes that’s okay. We became parents. It’s been an amazing month and I’m so excited to see what the next chapter has in store for us. I have learned a lot already and have my notebook ready for the next class. I just have to get through the survival mode pre-requisite.

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A photo taken by my sister when she was down. I feel a good representation of what parenting is.

The end is just the beginning

Alright, kids. I’m coming to the end. I am 38 and a half weeks pregnant. As an overview this has been a tough but fairly easy pregnancy. I only gained 11 pounds overall. I am able to move fairly easily, although Tim had to help me take off pants the other night. That was a new low. I didn’t get horrendous morning sickness in the first trimester. Mostly, I haven’t had the more common issues with pregnancy. I do have gestational diabetes with six shots of insulin a day and six finger pricks a day along with a struggle of eating everything I’m suppose to and exercise and it didn’t help at all. Non-stress tests twice a week for the last two months. Awful flare ups with my erythema nodsum. Pubis symphysis early in the pregnancy. Just things I didn’t expect with my pregnancy.

Overall though, I don’t have much to complain about. At no point were my doctors worried about my or my daughter’s immediate health and well being. We never had to make any decisions that I wouldn’t wish on my worse enemy. I didn’t have one non-stress test where the results weren’t beautiful, and really twice a week I got to listen to my daughter’s heartbeat for half an hour. How amazing is that? Now that I’m nearing the end it’s a time of reflection. Here are five things I’m going to miss about being pregnant and five things I’m not going to miss about being pregnant.

Five things I’m going to miss:

1.) Polite strangers: The one great thing about your belly entering a store before you is that strangers are a lot nicer to you in general. Doors are held open longer. “Oh, hunny don’t rush. Take your time” is a phrase you hear more often. A glace at my tummy and a kind smile is seen on a daily basis. I know after she’s born you still get some perks from strangers, but for some reason I feel like it will be different.

2.) Knowing that I’m growing a human: Like a human. Last summer I was beginning to be convinced that I wasn’t going to get pregnant. That I had done something in my life where karma was smacking me saying, “No!” Then we got pregnant. That was so cool in of itself. The first time I felt her move though is indescribable. That was when it really sank in. I was creating this life. My body was providing for a little spirit to bring into this world.

3.) Taking naps: Amazing reason to say, “I’m exhausted. I’m going to take a nap.” Since I hit the third trimester this has happened more than one time a day a few days. Again, I don’t know how women work full time and grow a fetus. I just applaud them over and over.

4.) Having Tim rub my belly: When I’m having Braxton Hicks contractions or am just really uncomfortable one of the solutions is to have Tim rub my belly. Before I was pregnant I would slap his hand away from my belly. I didn’t want him touching my belly because I wasn’t proud of that belly. I am proud of this belly and it makes me feel better. I’ll miss that.

5.) That I can do things on a whim: Everything I do, every time I think, “This is never going to be the same again.” This thought crosses my mind about a hundred times in one store trip. I won’t be alone again for a long time. I won’t go down an aisle without little hands shooting out. I won’t be able to take time looking through clothes racks looking for a shirt. I know, there will be a day where I can do these things. People want to babysit, people want to help, but let’sbehonest, it’s never going to be the same again.

Five things I’m not going to miss:

1.) Limitations on my body: It drives me crazy. Everything is more difficult. Cleaning. Shopping. Feeding the cats. Everything. Even showering has turned into an event. I’ve never looked forward to bending over at the waist so much in my life.

2.) My belly knocking into things: I couldn’t believe how every day my belly would knock into things it didn’t the day before. Door frames. The counter. Railings. Bureaus. On and on. I felt like I woke up huger than when I went to bed. I mean, I guess that’s the point of pregnancy but…you know I didn’t know.

3.) During the last month, her moving around: Who knew seven pounds of fury could be so uncomfortable? Laying down feels impossible some nights. It feels like she’s trying to break out through the top of my stomach or through my belly button. It’s still amazes me to feel or watch her move but good lawd, it’s hard sometimes.

4.) Being babied: If I got a dollar for every time I’ve said, “I’m not an invalid. I’m pregnant” I’d have enough dollars to buy a new outfit from the non clearance rack at Target. I know it’s people who love me and Eva just being caring and looking out for us. But, it’s not that I can’t do anything and sometimes that how I felt. That everyone around me wanted to wrap me in bubble wrap and put me on the couch. Women work, clean, raise kids, and do a million other things while preggers. We’re built for it.

5.) Not being able to eat sushi, blue cheese, and drink red wine: Every time I go to Hannaford and pass the sushi counter the pang of, “I could eat 16 eel rolls right now” is very real. Red wine is calling my name as I waddle down the pasta aisle. I know I’m still restricted in how much of these things I can eat and drink after she’s born, but I will settle for one eel roll and a few sips of Cupcake red wine. Mmmm, that will be delicious.

The last 38 weeks have been up and down. There have been some great weeks and some weeks I was so over this. Not much different than most pregnant women. I am so thankful to have gone through this and am freaking out that shortly I will be rocking my daughter to sleep in our house. Thank you to everyone who has read along and been so supportive of my growing family. I have to let you all know this will probably be my last post for a while. I’m guessing my time will be occupied by others things. I’ll be back eventually and I’ll let you know. Take care, be kind, and talk to you soon!