Monday, January 16, 2017

Four AM

My baby woke up this morning crying at 4am, a mere hour before I was to wake and take on the day. I silently resented the fact that I had to get up, wishing she would just stay asleep. I scooped her up from her crib and put her in bed with me to nurse her so maybe we both could get just a little more sleep. 

It worked. As I snuggled her next to me, I reminded myself to catalog how the warmth of her body feels next to mine. I was suddenly painfully aware of how fast she's growing and even more aware that there is absolutely nothing I can do to stop it. 

I adore watching her grow. She's learning so much and changing so quickly. I smile at each new development. She's 6 months old, has 2 teeth and is crawling. She's sitting in a high chair and trying new foods. How did that happen? Didn't I just bring her home? 

I wonder sometimes if I could just keep her this little forever. Then I think about everything I would miss and decide to let her keep growing. But, I quickly remember that there will be a day she doesn't want me to hold her. A day she demands her independence. Oh, what will I do when that day comes? Smile at her while my heart is breaking sobbing uncontrollably the next time I'm alone? Sounds about right. Can't I just bottle her up, chubby thighs, sheepish grin and all?

But today, as I was sneaking out of bed trying not to wake her or my sleeping husband, she reached for my hand. As if she knew even in her sleep that I wasn't beside her, asking me to stay even if for just one more minute. So I stayed. I soaked her in for another minute because today isn't the day she doesn't need me. Today is the day she asked me to stay with her, and I thank God she woke up at 4am. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Everything has changed

"Everything has changed, yet I am more me than I have ever been." - Iain Thomas

When I read this quote, I felt like it summed up my experience with motherhood. Nothing is the same; everything has changed. Everything about me has changed, yet somehow I feel more like person I am supposed to be. It's the oddest thing.

I often say that I feel like my daughter is the piece of me that I didn't even know was missing. Knowing her and loving her is sometimes the only thing in my life that feels right. She fits into this hole in my heart that I didn't know was there. I was searching for her all along, but I just didn't realize it.

The love, the love is intense. It's all consuming. People talk about it, how much you'll love your child. They're right, but the word "love" just doesn't seem to do justice to the feelings. It's like this feeling that you have for your child is so expansive, so deep, so wide that there is nothing she could ever do to step outside of it. My love for her will follow her into her darkest places.

It's also scary; to love someone this much is terrifying. It's like a piece of your heart that lives outside your body. You do your best to protect it, but you know deep down you won't be able to shield it from every wound. She will get her heart broken, and I won't be able to stop it. Someone or something (likely several someones and somethings) will hurt her, and in turn, hurt me. We will share every bruise and scar, she and I. It's an odd thing, knowing it will happen, knowing you can't really prepare for it, but loving so deeply anyway.

So while absolutely everything about me has changed since becoming her mother, I wouldn't dare go back. This person, my daughter's mother, this is who I was meant to be.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Breastfeeding is the best gift I've ever given myself

Breastfeeding is the best gift I've ever given myself.

As a young adult, when I thought about having children I always knew one thing for certain: I wasn't going to breastfeed.  "Breast is best" arguments aside, I just never imagined myself feeding a child with my body. Just thinking about it gave me serious anxiety. I couldn't stand the thought of having a human attached to me, begging for nourishment. It was too much responsibility. I also squirmed at what my post BF boobs looked like in my mind's eye. I just wasn't that kind of girl, I told myself. My boobs would simply not be laid on the altar for sacrifice. My friends encouraged me to keep an open mind and the make whatever decision seemed right when the time came. No need to put the cart before the horse. Fine.

When my daughter came on Independence Day this year, I took one look at her and knew there wasn't anything I wouldn't do for her. She was the piece of me that I didn't even know was missing. I resolved myself to do right by her, even if it meant sacrificing everything I had. I knew that the best decision for her was for me to breastfeed her. Sorry, formerly full, perky(ish) breasts, it was nice knowing you.

Here we are 14 weeks later, and I see breastfeeding as more than an decision about how I feed my daughter. Honestly, she'd be perfectly fine if she were formula fed. She'd still be healthy and happy. She'd still be growing as she should and eating just as often. But, I'm not sure I'd be fine. As it turns out, breastfeeding means more to me than I could have ever imagined. 

I love the fact that she looks to me for her most basic need. I love that she wants to nurse just for comfort sometimes. Seeing her baby face in the middle of the night snuggled up next to me makes my heart sing. When she puts her tiny hands on my chest as she drifts off to sleep, I could cry. I've never loved anything more than I love her. Any moment that I get to pull her close, I gladly take. Sometimes when my husband gives her a bottle I've pumped, I go in the other room because I can't stand to see someone else feed her. That's my job, that's our thing. As crazy as it sounds, I have to fight feelings of jealousy and the urge to defend my turf. 

She will never remember how safe she felt in my arms. She won't know that I woke every 2 hours to feed her in her first few weeks of life. She will never realize how many times I kissed her cheeks at 3:00am or how many nights I stared at her in awe. This tiny human will turn into a not so tiny human and she may never understand how much of myself I've poured into her. But I will. I'll remember. And one day, not too long from now, she won't need me at 3:00am, she'll find comfort in something else or someone else, as she should. When that day comes, I'll be so glad I gave myself this gift. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Postpartum Truths

For those of you who don't know, which is probably all of you given how long it has been since I've blogged, I recently had a baby. My sweet girl was born on July 4, 2016. In these 14 short weeks, I've learned a thing or two I'd like to share. Not because I think I'm an expert; I'm not even close. But because I wish someone had said these things to me. So here it is, take it or leave it.

1. All the hospital packing lists you find on Pinterest are useless. You absolutely do not need that much crap at the hospital. Trust me, you won't want to keep up with all that stuff when you have a teeny baby to care for and your hormones are raging. Plus, the hospital staff will give you most of what you need, so do yourself a favor and pack light. For yourself, you really only need a couple of pair of pajamas (I only wore one pair; I stayed in the hospital gown the first day and night after delivery), a robe, toiletries, a going home outfit, and a phone charger. I also brought my iPad, but I didn't really use it.

2. You will love your postpartum nurse more than words can describe. I had my baby around 3pm, but didn't make it into my postpartum room until after 7pm. That's when I met Leslie. I'm pretty sure she's an angel on earth. She helped me so much that first night. Sometimes when I think about how wonderful she was to me I tear up. In reality, she probably wasn't any better than any other nurse taking care of new moms and babies, but she was mine and I loved her. I wasn't prepared for how attached I'd be to her.

3. Peeing after giving birth isn't as bad as everyone says, but pooping is. I had a normal vaginal birth with a 1st degree tear (skin only, no muscle tear) that required 2 stitches. I put off using the restroom after delivery for longer than necessary because I was so afraid it would burn like hell, just like all the bloggers said it would. It didn't. I never had any urinary discomfort. However, the first poop after birth was maybe the worst part of the whole labor and delivery experience. Do yourself a favor and take every stool softener offered to you by your nurse, then ask for more. Also take them when you get home for at least a week.

4. The anticipation of labor is worse than actual labor. We took labor classes and all those videos they showed us pictured women screaming bloody murder during labor. It was terrifying. I said to my husband that a c-section looked more humane than what was happening to those women in the videos. I'm happy to report that wasn't my experience. My doctor was going on vacation, and I was 2 days past my due date so I was induced. I checked into the hospital at 5:00am. I had just been to the doctor a couple of days before and was dilated to 3.5.  By 6:30am, I was in my room and had a pitocin drip. I had very mild contractions, but they were easy to talk through. My doctor came at 9:30am and broke my water. That was gross, but not painful. I had an epidural around 10:30am or 10:45am. I slept from 11:00am until 2:30pm when the nurse came in to check me. I had made it to 10cm. The doctor came back a few minutes later and confirmed it was time to push. I pushed for about 15 minutes and then it was over. There were no screams, cries, etc. I realize this is not everyone's experience, but for me the anticipation anxiety was totally unnecessary. For the record, I think it's totally fine to birth a child without an epidural if that's what is best for you. I knew I wanted an epidural, but every woman has to make that decision for herself.

5. Even if you hated it, you might miss being pregnant. I hated being pregnant. I felt awful the whole time. I was so happy to be having a baby, but pregnancy did not feel like the magical miracle experience I was expecting. However, I kind of miss it a little. Taking care of a baby living inside you is a heck of a lot easier than taking care of one on the outside. Plus, people are nicer and more considerate of pregnant ladies than they are of ladies with babies.

6. You might be annoyed by the animals you once treasured. I adored my dogs before I had a baby. They were the lights of my life. When I brought my baby home, all of the sudden nothing got on my nerves more than these 4-legged creatures. It's slowly getting better, but for the first week or so I thought I was going to kill them. Seriously. I wasn't prepared for that. If I had to do it over again, I might send them to my mom's house for a couple of weeks until I got more comfortable with having a newborn.

7. Nipples get sore so much faster than you can imagine. I expected sore and tender nipples, but I didn't think they would come so fast. I thought it might take a week or so before it got bad. Nope. It happened in a couple of days. We're talking cracked, bleeding nipples, and I had a good nurser. I called lactation and they gave me a recipe for a homemade nipple cream. It got better in a few days. Even now, 14 weeks later they still get a little tender from time to time, but it keeps getting better and better. Though tough at first, breastfeeding is one of the best experiences of my life. I didn't think I'd be into it, but I am. More to come in another post. 

8. The dermaplast spray is a joke. It didn't do anything for me except make my vagina itch. I will definitely skip it if I ever have another baby. Lots of women swear by it, but it wasn't for me. 

9. Your relationship may take a downward turn. It's true that you'll love seeing your husband/partner hold and care for your new baby. It's precious to see, but it's so much more complicated than that. You will give absolutely everything you have to your new baby. You'll give so much that you won't have anything left to give anyone or anything else, including your husband and your marriage. You might even wonder if you'll ever go back to the couple you used to be. I'm still in the thick of this one, but every once in awhile I get glimpses of the us that used to be. Every once in a awhile I see the couple and not the new, exhausted parents. It makes me hopeful. I hear it can take a couple of years to really feel "normal" again; TBD on this one.

10. When you have a window, take it. When she was a newborn, my baby wanted to be held all.the.time. If she wasn't sleeping, she was in my arms. If she wasn't in my arms, she was crying. On top of that, newborns don't really follow a schedule so there is little predictability. That being said, when you have a window, take it because you never know when that window will slam shut. Have an appointment at 10am? Is it 7am and is baby asleep? Then get yourself ready 3 hours early because that baby could wake up at any time and need 100% of you for the next 3 hours. You never know.

11. Never underestimate the need for mom friends. I didn't know how important mom friends were until I had my own baby to care for. I had/still have tons of questions about what is normal, how other moms deal with issues, etc. It helped me so much those first few weeks just have a circle of people who I knew understood. Maternity leave can be lonely, it helps to have support from women who get it. 

12. Mom guilt is real and it happens so fast. I experienced mom guilt within the first week of being home from the hospital. It caught me off guard. I was looking at my sleeping baby and was overcome with it. I felt guilty that she was sleeping because she had been most of the day (as newborns do) and shouldn't I be doing more to interact with her. I felt guilty that she needed to eat every 1.5 hours at first because what was wrong with my milk that it didn't last longer. I felt guilty when I left her for the first time when she was 5 weeks old so I could go get my teeth cleaned. Now that I'm back at work, I feel guilty when I put her in her swing or on her play mat for 10 minutes in the evening so I can wash her bottles because I've been away from her all day. The list of things I feel guilty about is endless. I know in my head she's fine and that I'm doing OK, but the guilt is real. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

September Goals

We're 14 days into September and I can barely wrap  my head around the fact that summer is practically gone. It's been a heck of whirlwind, that's for sure. I feel like the last 3.5 months have just zipped by and I have nothing to show for myself. So to combat losing yet another month, here are a few goals:

1. Don't buy anything else this month. Jessica, you have plenty of stuff. Stop it with the stuff.

2. Try a little harder. In everything, just try a little harder.

3. Reach my fitbit step goal (10k) 4 out of every 7 days.

4. Have a dedicated date night this month. It's been too long. This is an important one.

5. Give the house a really good cleaning. The cleaning lady is great, but she shouldn't be the only one tidying up. I've definitely been slacking this summer. Am I the only one who finds drifts of dust all over the place?

6. Plan work week outfits. I've been wearing black dress pants + random blouse about 2 3 days a week. I'm pretty sure the people in my office would appreciate some additional effort. I'll try, see #2.

7. Clean out my closet/dresser and rid it of items that don't fit or that I no longer wear.

8. Clean my car inside and out. (Wow. there is a lot of cleaning on this list)

9. Drink a pumpkin spice latte because they are just so good! I drink a few PSLs this time of year, but always nonfat with no whip, BUT I allow myself one full fat with whip cream.

10. Frame and hang the new art for the house. That buffalo print is too beautiful to be hidden in the closet.

One more for good measure...Find a church. This is perhaps the most important goal this month.

Monday, June 22, 2015

No Filter

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about growing older and how I want to improve in my 30s. Mostly these thoughts center around wanting to be the best version of myself. At times though, I think about how I want to be less influenced by others and just follow my own spirit. I don't want to allow myself to feel external pressure.

A lot of the pressure I'm talking about, for me, comes from the blogosphere. Every morning, I sip my coffee and browse blog after blog. I love this quiet time in the morning to read and try to be inspired, but often I end up feeling slightly panicked that my life doesn't quite measure up. I don't have it all together and more days than not, I'm not perfectly styled. Wait, now that I think about it I've never been perfectly styled. I can't afford to go out and buy designer bag after designer bag and new hot trendy item after new hot trendy item and all the pretty things at Target. And I don't have time to dedicate to finding the perfect Instagram filter. That's just not my reality. Should it be, I wonder. Then, I start to feel like maybe I'm the only 30 year old who can't get it together. Thus, the long blogging break.

When I take a step back, I know in my head that I actually do have it somewhat together. I have a good education, a great job, a wonderful husband, and the list goes on. I also know that a well styled, properly filtered photograph is not a true representation of what one's life is really like. Maybe that blogger got that bag in exchange for a post, maybe that blogger is in debt up to her eyeballs? Who knows? But one thing is for sure, most of us are living on the other side of the camera.

But really, what's wrong with a beautiful photo or a beautiful bag? Nothing. However, that's a simple question and perhaps I should be asking a different one altogether. Maybe the question should be what does photograph after photograph of 20 something women with their designer shoes/bags and perfect hair/skin/nails do to the women looking at said photographs? Do they create the perception that if you don't have those things then you aren't where you should be? That you can't be beautiful and stylish without them? I don't know, maybe they do. I certainly feel that way from time to time. But I hate that. I hate comparing myself to others because all too often I feel like I just don't measure up. I don't even come close.

I'm just Jessica. The one who makes a mad dash out the door in the mornings because she's just a few minutes behind. The one who wears black pants and a blouse to work more days than not. The girl who is desperately trying to be a good wife and dog mom while climbing the corporate ladder, and sometimes failing at all three.

So as 29 is in my rear view mirror and 31 is just as close as 30, I'm OK with just being the best version of myself that I possibly can. This is it. This is me. #nofilter

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Stuff & Things

Today I'm linking up here and here for Stuff & Things. This is my first time participating in the link-up, but Ryan, whom I mildly stalk, makes it look like tons of fun!

I can't believe it's Thursday. This week has gone by quickly, which is good and bad. Closer to the weekend = good. Consultant agreement that must be finished by tomorrow not done = bad.

I've posted a few times about my health journey, and it's something that is almost always on my mind. I want to go into 30 looking and feeling great, so I joined Weight Watchers again and I'll be participating in this challenge in January.

I participated in the Beads of Courage Carry a Bead program and carried my bead to the UT vs. Missouri football game in November. UT lost, but I loved being able to take part in such a great program!

My mom, step dad, sister, niece, 2 brothers, and 3 nephews are coming to celebrate Christmas in our tiny 1200 square feet apartment this weekend. Wish me luck and lots of booze!