FRAUD

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FRAUD

This is how I have felt for about the last 10 weeks. I’ve gone below deck; not complete radio silence on social media but very quiet. The truth is: I am not as brave as everyone thinks.  I am not as strong or bold.  I am scared shitless and couldn’t be the person on social media that shows a pregnancy test the day she takes it and then lets everyone in from the beginning.  In my head, I could do that.  But in reality…absolutely not.

I am pregnant.  As of today 15 weeks and 4 or 6 days depending on who is counting from when. And it was easy. And I don’t even know how to handle that.  My whole experience, and truthfully, a big part of my identity has become being part of the #ttc, #recurrentmiscarriage, and #infertility communities. And this whole experience has been so strange I am having a hard time accepting it.

As I wrote in my most recent post, we decided to start trying again.  As I mentioned, I would have loved to wait a whole other year before starting but as I am “elderly” in the pregnancy world and as we expected it would take a while, my doctor recommended getting started.  After my visit in August, the plan was to give it a try on our own for three months, and my doctor made me an appt with the fertility specialist for November in case it didn’t happen, as they call it, spontaneously.

Well, we tried exactly one time.  One time, at the right time.  I knew, because of how much over-information we had, based on signs from my body that I would be ovulating.  And we were actually kind of chill about it, relatively speaking.  No ovulation tests or schedules. Just a…well today seems about right, let’s give it a go.

A couple weeks later I was feeling a little strange.  Not sick, or anything dramatic, just not how I usually feel the few days before I get my period.  I decided, against my better judgment, to take a test early.  The only reason was that it was the day before Labor Day, and while my job has me working the majority of Labor Day Weekend, I knew that the few hours I had off at the beach, I would likely want a cocktail.  Took the test and it was negative.  I was not sad, but I was a little perplexed.  Mostly I felt frustrated that I couldn’t rely on my gut feelings about my body and that I couldn’t trust myself.

But I went about my merry way, had a Painkiller at the Stone’s Throw and enjoyed it.  I figured it was our first try and I knew that wouldn’t work, so we just keep on keepin on.  I went to work one of my busiest weeks and still no period and no period symptoms.  I was like what the eff.  I knew the test was really early and given that, it could be wrong.  But I was also like what are the freaking odds…

So, circa 4am the following Friday.  On the day after my period was actually due I took another test.  I sat, mostly casually on the toilet, just aimlessly scrolling through my phone (as you do) and then glanced over to the counter to see PREGNANT written on the digital screen.  GET THE EFF OUT OF HERE.  I took a picture of it, left it there and went back to bed.  Notice, I did not say back to sleep because I certainly didn’t sleep.  But I laid in bed waiting for the hubs to walk in there and notice it.  Two trips to the bathroom later and nothing.  Turns out, he pees in the dark in the middle of the night which explains a lot about my need to clean the bathroom floor often LOL.

*Note: I always spring for the digital test with words.  This girl cannot handle the whole is there a line or is there not a line thing.  I know a lot of #ttc folks do the line progression thing, which I have never done. Luckily for my sanity I didn’t know that was a thing until later on, and since my doctors are on high alert they bring me in for a lot of testing early.

Finally when he went in to shower he came bounding back out with a shocked look on his face.  I had never told him about the early test and dudes are dudes so he had no idea where I was in my cycle.  But both of us knew mathematically there was very little likelihood of this happening. So, we were both pretty shocked.  And then I flashbacked to my painkiller and looked down saying “sorry about that, for the record, I did make sure before I undulged”.

Then came the endless tests, phone calls and waiting.  I called right away given my history and they took an early HCG count.  I waited all day for them to call me back, walked around work with my phone in my hand for 8 hours, and nothing.  Finally on my way home I called and said I know you close soon and I haven’t heard.  Then, of course, T-Mobile had some type of network crash, and I missed the call back which was after 5 and therefore I couldn’t return the call. UGH. I did get a hold of the after hours people, and eventually they called back with my number: 29.

Considering the number to qualify as pregnant is 10 this is very low.  Once I heard that number I set myself up for this not working out.  Of course they wanted me to come back.  Each office is different, but mine had me return every 48 hours and were looking for the numbers to double at minimum.  Since it was over a weekend I went back three days later and the numbers did rise appropriately, then I went back two more times. Then they said the shocking and exciting: “Ok it’s high enough for us to do a scan”.

This was too early for viability (aka looking for a heartbeat) but given my history with ectopic pregnancies, they wanted to make sure it was a pregnancy happening in the right place.  Luckily, it was. And I was scheduled for a 6/7 week viability scan. This all sounds so chill but there is not enough space on the internet to describe what goes through your mind in the hours and days in between tests and scans.  The best of the best and the worst of the worst.  I feel like I have lived several years in the last 15 weeks.

My viability scan was scheduled for the first day of my husband’s new job.  Can’t really be late on day 1, so I actually went solo which was kind of scary. But I knew, whatever it was, I would get through it. Somehow.  Because, you know, you just must.  Thankfully, they found the heartbeat right away, it was solid, we got a couple pics that look like different shaped blobs and I went on my way thinking: Holy shit, this might be real.

Of course the dreaded spotting persisted.  Off and on to steal any short moments of joy or peace I had.  Many phone calls, a couple of urgent care visits and additional tests made up a lot of the last few weeks.  That and a mix of heated phone calls with my insurance company and specialty pharmacy threatening harm in the way of social media rants and strongly worded letters to get my progesterone supposetories.

Overall, I have had relatively minimal symptoms which for most would be a reason to rejoice.  But for me, with every wave of nausea came a wave of relief.  A welcomed “oh ok things are doing what they’re supposed to do” dry heave.  But if the symptoms waned I went right back to my new natural state of doom.  The only true bliss I feel is in the doctors office with the warm goo on.  If I am watching in real time, I believe everything is fine.  Moments after I leave, there is a chance it all went downhill in those few seconds.

But as the hubs says “everytime we’ve gotten this far, we’ve gotten a baby”.  Which was once.  But, alas, he is not wrong. This whole time I have been trying to reconcile my history with my luck.  Aside from the spotting and resulting “emergency visits” this has THUS FAR been an extremely easy situation. I don’t really know how to handle it.  This is the type of my teen mom bullshit that makes those of us going through fertility want to punch faces through TV screens.  ONE TIME.  We tried ONE FREAKING TIME.  And it just worked.  We are those people. But we are also not those people.  Who am I.  I am so confused.

I think this has been my biggest struggle with how and when to share this news with the world.  I’ve built so many relationships with other folks in the infertility community and I feel like I am going to have my membership revoked. One legitimate surprise ‘we’re not really sure how this happened’ baby and one ‘we tried one time and it just worked’ baby on the way. It is truly hard to reconcile my current state with my late 2015-early 2018 state. It’s all part of me and yet two complete opposite ends of a spectrum. There is a part of me that feels like this easy road on #2 resulted in me losing any legitimacy, if that’s even a thing.  Like if it was hard, if bad things happened, then I could solidify my membership in this community.  And while grateful those didn’t happen and it does leave me in this weird place of identity confusion.

I had a scan today.  The good thing about having a history of loss, and now, a history of preterm labor is that you get LOTS of scans.  Annoying to schedule but lovely to see the little nugget so often.  Sometimes the long waits in between were BRUUUUUTAL.  So far this rotation of every two weeks has been great.  But I still lay there in disbelief.  How is this possible.

As we embark on a weekend of family, friends and thankfulness I know how freaking hard this can be for my ttc and infertility friends. I remember one holiday a few years ago when a family member so casually mentioned someone was pregnant again and I thought to myself, “Two. So close together.  This is so unfair.”  I had no way of knowing I would be that person and there is likely somewhere out there reading this thinking the same damn thing about me.  And you should. I’m ok with it.  In fact I welcome it because I know that’s the truth. Hearing about other people’s successes is not always hopeful, it’s often the exact opposite and I get that.

Each of us has a lot to be thankful for, but if you’re missing the one thing you hoped to be thankful for, this time of year can be a real bitch. Drown your sorrows in wine, gravy or pie…or all of the above.  And if a family member says some dumb shit to you, please kindly to tell them (for me) to KICK ROCKS.

Trying…

So, here we are. (Almost) September 2019.  4 years after getting married, 10 years after meeting in a dingy bar in the Lower East Side #thanksforthebirthdaypartyjoni.  We have one beautiful, wild, maniac man who we never thought we’d have and just turned one. He waves and stands and shovels fistfuls of food into his face. There are so many random, every day things I do that I never thought I would have to, or get to do.  It’s also been the hardest year of my life, in just about every facet.  We have really just finally figured out how to manage life and feel like anything but drowning.  And I know that will likely change in a couple weeks (or days) when he starts WALKING.  Lord help me. LOL I am so excited for it and also know that everything will change!

But, here we are.  Having real conversations about…trying.  I have so many damn feelings about this.  On the one hand I always wanted two children.  We both have siblings and would love to have Liam have a sibling as well. On the other hand…it took everything we (I) had to get the one we do have. I have been through the ringer and back and through and back again.  But on another hand I just turned 37.  As you can see, I have many, many hands. And the reality is, biology is real and so are clocks.  So, there is a pretty legitimate timeline for this if we want to do it. I feel like we just got the hang of things and seem to have a system that works; one that has us sleeping a normal amount and functioning somewhat as human beings.  If there was no timeline biologically, I would probably like another year or so to chill. But, alas.

Over my birthday weekend we had a little heart to heart that went something like this.

“OK, so we both still would like two kids if that is possible, right?

Right.

So, then I feel like we need to start exploring things now.  Because it took 3 years to get the first one and I am a fossil.

You’re not a fossil. But, I get it.  But we need to think about what if it does happen soon ish and money, daycare, etc.

Yes.  But if we wait until we can afford two kids in daycare we will be actual corpses.

True.”

And then we talked about what if it doesn’t go smoothly.  What if we don’t get pregnant.  Or, maybe worse, what if we do and we have more losses. What we decided was that we needed to set parameters, stick with them, and feel fulfilled with whatever the end result is.  I know how DESTROYED I was for the majority of 2.5 years emotionally, and physically.  My confidence in my body was shot, and that has remained an uphill battle.  I don’t want to spend a significant portion of Liam’s childhood completely engulfed by the mindfuck that infertility can be.

So, we decided we would give it a year.  Within that year if we needed to pursue fertility specialists we would do only treatment that was covered by our insurance; we have no money so that makes that decision easier for us HAHA.  I am super lucky that I have any coverage to begin with.  But since I did 2 cycles, I don’t have much coverage left. At the end of that year, whatever the situation is, we will be happy with that.

You feel almost guilty for even wanting another child.  I feel like as part of the #ttc and #infertility community you understand how amazing it is that you got this happy ending after everything you’ve been through.  And I know countless women who have been trying for as long, or longer, than I did and are still in the midst of treatment, testing and trying to figure out what’s next. And they probably want to punch me in the face, which in all fairness, is how I felt towards every person I knew who was pregnant from 2015-2018 so, I can’t blame them.

So, it is the delicate balance of: I feel like I will regret if I don’t try and I don’t want to be spending all my time, money, and energy on it for and endless amount of time (which anyone who has been in this knows is possible).  As my OBGYN said a couple of weeks ago, “this is the year to try”.  She is great because she is not an alarmist but she also doesn’t brush off my concerns either.  There are risks the older you get but not enough not to try.  She told me to give it a try for a few months on our own, since that is how we got here in the first place.  And then scheduled me for a specialist appointment three months from now “just in case”.

Here we are.  Not quite ready to try, but also not quite ready not to either.  This feels strange because my blog has always kind of been in the past, even if it was the recent past.  This is really the first post that is somewhat “Live” and that is scary AF.  But #herewego

 

 

I didn’t make it a year.

I’ve written about breastfeeding here before.  My struggles. My pumping fails and successes.  The pain. The exhaustion. The guilt. The pressure. Some societal.  Some self-inflicted.

My baby turned one last week.  On his birthday he got sent home from daycare with a 102 fever.  Not exactly how I pictured “celebrating”.  But we did have a really big and fun hip hop themed party for him this weekend (pictures below).  It was bigger than we expected but when you miss 2 family showers and a work shower due to your baby arriving unexpectedly 6 weeks early, you celebrate the shit out of that 1 year! He wasn’t back to 100% but he was feeling better, luckily.

 

But every time he has been sick this year I automatically think of breastmilk.  Everyone says it’s like a magical potion to boost the immune system.  Every little drop helps they told me in the hospital as I was manually expressing tiny drops every 2 hours.

A friend of mine shared this article today and I felt compelled to share it as well: Pumping in the NICU: Liquid Gold or Liquid Guilt from Pregnant Chicken.  SO MANY things in this article resonated with me that I found myself yelling YES at my computer screen.  Sort of awkward in general, especially awkward at your desk at work.

In talking with my therapist about my emotions and moods post-birth, haven’t quite been diagnosed with PPD, but dealing with a lot of the symptoms, I related so much of it back to breastfeeding and pumping. I think, if I know myself, I would have felt a lot of guilt and pressure anyway.  But, having a baby born pretty small and pretty early just upped the anty on that for me.  It really had an effect on my experience as a mom of a newborn and I do feel like I missed out on some moments because of it.

On the one hand I felt like I was doing something special and meaningful for him.  I was giving of my time and body to provide nutrients he needed.  I was the only one who could do that and that felt good.  When you have tons of people swarming around taking care of him all day and night, changing diapers better than you, bottle feeding him better than you, burping him better than you (they are experts but still), having one thing I knew I could only do for him was validating. You all may be professionals but I am still his mama damnit.

On the other hand, it was a fucking lot. I give credit to all mamas who nurse, pump, or nah.  It takes a lot to decide and do any of those options because people are going to have comments, judgments and nonsense all around.  This article says: “Two hours after my son was born, a lactation consultant knocked on my hospital room door. She peeked her head in and asked ‘Are you going to breastfeed?'” and my experience was almost identical.

I remember saying “that was my plan??” but then again this whole thing was NOT MY PLAN.  Or anyone’s plan, so who knows.  The hospital grade pump was already in my room when they wheeled me over from recovery.  They told me the same things the author said, it will take a while to come in, but keep at it.  I recall the consultant saying it is better not to do it on a timetable, your body produces more if it is more random.  So she said “wake up-pump, have breakfast-pump, go see the baby-kangaroo then pump, visit family-pump, have lunch-pump, shower-pump”  She said it so non-chalantly like it took no effort or time to maintain that kind of schedule.  In the beginning especially I was told to pump for 20-30 minutes each time every 2-3 hours.  It took me about 5-10 minutes to get set up, then manually express for 5-10 minutes, then pump, then bottle, label, send Kenny to delivery to nicu, then soak, wash sanitize, repeat.  Don’t let the tubes touch the floor! Make sure to air dry all the parts, but they definitely won’t dry in time before your next pumping session in an hour. When you leave the hospital, it’s on you to rent a hospital grade pump.  The one you got from insurance definitely won’t be heavy duty enough for you to get enough milk since your baby is too small to nurse enough from you.  When you visit, make sure to pump at least every three hours in the dingy room with plastic curtains and no artwork (except motivational milk posters). Wash and sanitize your parts in the shared sink but don’t let them touch anything!  And don’t miss the window to snuggle and kangaroo your baby and TRY to nurse with the lactation consultant, but only if they happen to be around when you’re there.  The snuggling helps the pumping, but the pumping takes away from the snuggling.  It’s a WHOLE LOT.

But it was such a conundrum.  All I wanted to do was hold and snuggle the baby.  But he was under the lights for his bilirubin levels often, and there were so many interruptions. I was so tired and so hungry.  But, once the colostrum came and then the milk came I did feel a sense of accomplishment.  Even though I was looking around and feeling like an underachiever compared to these other women with their full bottles.  Like the article mentions, he wasn’t eating a lot in the beginning so I was gathering a stash.  The nurses kept giving me praise for being “so dedicated” and “such a good mom”, it felt good.  But was also in my head when I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore.  If I stopped would I no longer be dedicated or a good mom?  Definitely a double-edged sword for someone with an achievement-oriented mindset.

The feeling of a body failing on multiple levels was a theme.  I couldn’t get pregnant.  I couldn’t maintain a pregnancy.  I couldn’t keep the baby to term. I couldn’t breastfeed.  I couldn’t pump enough milk. When I felt like I was pumping a lot it felt good, like the bod was finally doing the thing it was supposed to do.  The power pumps were draining (LOL literally) but also relieving. I ate my weight in lactation cookies and wondered why I wasn’t losing all this baby weight while pumping.  I had more than 4 lactation appointments trying to get the hang of breastfeeding once we got back from the NICU to no avail.  But I couldn’t let go.  He was having his milk fortified with formula for more calories and was doing fine, but I still couldn’t let go.  Even when he started to sleep for 6-7 hour stretches, I was waking up twice to pump because I was afraid my supply would go down.  It felt like the only thing I COULD do.  The only thing I was good at.  It was a bitch.

In my head, before the fertility drama, before the preemie drama, I thought “I will try to make it 6 months, and then see.  But I would love to do it for a year.”  I thought I would be mostly nursing and just pumping when I went back to work.  Not PUMPING IT UP 10 times a day at home and work.  I pumped in bathrooms, in cars, in airports, on planes, in random people’s offices, in concert parking lots.  I did it for 9.5 months and then I waived the white flag. Enough. I said.  I had clogged ducts for days, I had infections, I needed prescription ointment.  I bought a deep freezer. I will be “cutting glass” for the rest of my days.  Enough.

And the funny thing is, LJL didn’t give two shits.  When we moved him over to formula exclusively, he had no changes.  None.  He didn’t get sick more.  He didn’t sleep more either. Everything was fine, except my inner guilt and failure complex.  So, when he does get sick I think “what if I made it the full year?” or if he is gassy or has an upset stomach “maybe it’s the formula”. It isn’t. He’s a baby.  He’s gross most of the time.

I saw my OBGYN last week for my regular exam.  She is the shit.  Highly recommend finding a doctor you really like, although I know that is a privilege only afforded to some. We talked about “trying” again, which is a whole other 9 page long post to come.  She asked about my moods and emotions and how therapy was going.  We talked about breastfeeding and about how that on top of all the drama it took for us to get there was what really caused me to struggle.  And she said “and now you know that and you know he is fine and you know what you DON’T have to do to yourself next time.”

I let out this huge sigh of relief.  That one statement from a medical professional just let me off the hook.  If I am blessed with another miracle baby, I may try to breastfeed again, I may not.  But I sure as shit won’t make myself feel all the feelings described above. Formula is expensive, but not more expensive than my sanity.

I share my inner mom-o-logue about this to say: it’s fine.  Whatever you’re doing is fine. You’ve been through a lot. Give yourself a freaking break.  If you want to nurse, cool.  If it works, cool.  If you don’t, cool.  If you want to stop, cool. Be proud of pushing yourself because you wanted to see what you could do. Or proud of yourself for knowing you needed to move on before reaching the brink. Of course breastmilk is great and has great benefits.  But it isn’t the only thing that is great. You being a functioning human being without bloody nipples that hurt in the shower is also great.

 

 

Great Expectations

Hey bitchesssssss.  Been a minute.  I’d apologize, but I am sick of doing that all the time.  Feels like that’s all I do; at work, at home, in life.  I’ve been active on IG (please go follow me there!) and I got sucked into a black hole of work this summer. So, here I am writing this *again* overdue post, and you’re getting it now because that’s when you’re getting it.

shoulder

I’ve been thinking a lot, reading a lot (and by reading I mean audio books because who in God’s name has time to actually read? Shout out if you do, teach me your ways), and listening to podcasts a lot dealing with expectations.  And how they can be a real mind fuck. Also, decided to stop apologizing for swearing.  I am a mom that swears.  That is me and I am her.  I try to use them in my writing when they provide the most oomph, but also there will be one thrown around here and there for good measure from time to time as well.

There are a lot of amazing pieces of media out there talking about expectations of women, mothers, working mothers, stay at home moms, and the like, so I don’t pretend that this is a completely unique perspective.  Instead I am adding my voice to the chorus of moms out there saying we simply have too much expected of us, and (often) too much expected of ourselves. I have a love-hate relationship with social media as many do.  Sometimes it makes you feel like trash.  I follow a few accounts, prob should stop, where every photo is art directed.  It looks beautiful, but I’m like…did I brush my hair this morning? But, I also have found a bunch of accounts in the last several months of those struggling with fertility and moms who talk that real shit.  And I am always so grateful for the honesty and vulnerability.  It inspires me to do the same.

I think a lot of moms can relate to the idea of having Great Expectations about motherhood, regardless of how their mother title came to be: planned/unplanned, surprise/science, birth/adoption/surrogacy/foster.  There are countless ways to earn the title of mother, and I use the term earn intentionally.  A picture is painted by society and the media of this beautiful, joyous, glowing, maybe a little exhausting new motherhood phase. Then we paint our own picture based on those images filled with cuddles, and pain-free nursing, a doting partner, and staring lovingly at our silent, sleeping bundle of joy. We picture how calm, and level-headed we will be, how we will definitely not over react about a diaper rash and how we will definitely make all of our own organic, steamed baby food.  That even though we know we will be tired, our partner will help, and we will be surrounded by family and friends to help us through.

And then reality hits.

Coming from someone with a pretty ample “village” I am struck by the extreme isolation and loneliness I felt in the first several months of motherhood. Having a preemie, we were given pretty explicit instructions from our NICU not to have any visitors-AT ALL-for the first 12 weeks. TWELVE WEEKS.  Now, anyone who knows me in real life, knows I am a rule follower.  And when the nurse points to the baby in the NICU who had to come back in after getting meningitis from a visitor their parents had over, it drills into your mind even more so that this rule, like the Wu Tang Clan, ain’t nuthin to fuck wit.  That being said, I also knew I couldn’t actually function for 12 weeks alone, at home with the baby.  So, we did have limited visitors.  But I basically didn’t leave the house for anything besides doctor’s appointments and lactation consultants.  I took a few short walks carefully scheduled in between my 3 part feeds (nurse, bottle, pump).  There were no cute mommy and me classes or dates with my other mom friends who were also on leave. It was just me and the little guy, all day every day.  My husband technically got 2 weeks of paternity leave (HOW GENEROUS *eye roll* don’t get me started on family leave policies…) but we spent two weeks in the hospital and NICU since my water broke 6 weeks early 3 states away from home.  Luckily, his boss did allow him some flexibility so he could be home with me for a few days once we actually made it back. But after that it was just the two of us.

Even though those days played out in TIGHT 3-hour intervals, they also crawled by in some ways.  They were a complete blur; some hours were all heart eyes emojis some hours were mild hysteria.  Many amazing adorable moments mixed with many dark, painful ones.  Literally painful.  My nips will never recover from that goddamn pump. #sorryanyonewhoeverhastoseethemfromnowon

Expectations can be a real bitch. I’m “reading” a new book, recommended by my friend Ali Feller from Ali on the Run aka the podcast I was on a while back (episode 141).

Podcast
IT ME!

I highly reocmmend the entire Mother Mondays series, as I’ve mentioned before. Episode 155 featured Dr. Molly Millwood who is a Clinical Psychologist and author of Motherhood, Marriage and the Modern Dilemma.  From her episode I knew this was my next Audible credit, and even though I am only 5 chapters in, it has not disappointed.

Moms in any stage, hear this: If you want to feel validated to the point of tears and maybe swerving off the road, I highly recommend you listen to this while driving.  Or in any other less dangerous form. Ali talked about her wrist hurting from highlighting so much.  I wish there was an easy way for me to take notes while listening to it, because there are so many good points! While I have been pretty open about seeking therapy and support for what I decided was postpartum depression but what my therapist actually diagnosed as PTSD with some PPD symptoms, it felt reassuring in a way to hear how so many mothers without such diagnoses also feel many of the same feelings, namely: shame, guilt, inadequacy, failure.

And then it pissed me off that so many moms feel these things.  And, I suppose, that’s why Molly (we’re on a first name basis in my head) wrote the book.  She talks a lot about her own experience in motherhood and shares composite stories of her clients and I found myself nodding aggressively so many times.  Her book is admittedly focused on married/committed, heterosexual relationships, so it may not be relatable to all, but so far I’ve heard so much of myself in there.

There is a heavy emphasis on expectations which was so timely since I’d been working on this post in tiny chunks for a while in the mere moments I had available outside of work and other life responsibilities.  It makes so much sense that those feelings I described above, by and large, are based on expectations we have or have been ingrained in us by family, friends or society as a whole. If you think you are to enjoy every moment, and you’re not, then in comes shame and guilt.  If you think everyone is managing all of the day to day tasks well, and you’re drowning, in comes failure and inadequacy.

Exhibit A:

Enjoy

On Point Artwork: @helenetheillustrator

The truth is I enjoy many moments.  But the ones I do not enjoy.  The ones that push the limits of my patience, my brain capacity, my emotional stability then result in guilt and shame because I don’t think I am allowed to feel that way.  Instead of saying this moment is not awesome, but the next one might be.  I dig a hole of guilt about the one I didn’t enjoy and that takes away from the ability to enjoy the enjoyable ones.  I wrote that like a Willy Wonka line and I’m fine with that.

Part of my goal in writing this blog and putting all my biznass out on the internet is to be one of those who are being honest. Who are saying this is the most amazing, insane, exhausting, emotional, beautiful, draining, wild thing I have ever experienced. I knew I would be tired, I knew it would be hard, but I had literally no idea what I was in for.  What changes I would go through internally. I’m not sure if anything I would have read would have prepared me, but I feel like the more stories of the realness that are out there, the more we can shift the narrative and normalize the HUGE range of emotions a new mom can and will likely feel, the better. Shame comes into play when you feel like you can’t talk about your feelings, you can’t even whisper them to a dear friend because you anticipate judgment and feel like those emotions are wrong or you are broken.  I have felt broken so many times when things have been heavy and difficult even for a fleeting moment. I’ve always been open to growth, and fancy myself pretty self aware, or at least willing to reflect and be mindful of my thoughts/emotions/needs.  But I’ve found reckoning this conundrum of extreme joy and gratitude with the constant sense of overwhelm and confusion to be one of the greatest struggles of my womanhood.

I would guess that a lot of moms, in any stage, will relate to at least some of what I described. My perspective is also somewhat unique given what it took to get us to the point of having an actual real life child. I still, almost daily, don’t believe it to be true. Even when he is screaming into my eyeball or trying to remove my bun from the top of my head. I look at him and often say out loud “how are you real?” There was such a long time where I thought my current state was one I would never reach that sometimes I fine it hard to believe it is actually happening.  Even when I am living it.

There is a sense amongst the infertlity/TTC (trying to conceive) community that anyone who gets pregnant should just shut their trap and be grateful. And there is a LEGIT amount of truth in that.  I was, and sometimes am still, that person.  I am not really interested in hearing someone who batted their eyelashes at their husband and got pregnant complain about their swollen ankles either. Ok, Sally. I don’t feel bad for you.  But this feeling can sometimes spill over to motherhood as well.  I remember feeling so down and frustrated when coworkers or acquaintances would complain about all the activities they had to drive their kids to or similar small annoyances. What I would have given, and DID GIVE, for those annoying things to be part of my life.

But now, having made it to the “other side”…helllllllllllllo (can’t help myself but insert an Adele reference) I can see how this perspective and pressure can also be dangerous.  Once you’ve dealt with infertility or loss, it is part of you.  It doesn’t go away once you sustain a healthy pregnancy or give birth or become a foster parent or adopt. That journey is forever a part of you, the trauma, the fear, the longing, the hurt, the disappointment.  It impacts everyone in different ways, and to different degrees, but it doesn’t just disappear because you’ve reached some finish line.  People often think getting that BFP (big fat positive) is the ultimate goal in fertility battles, but for me that was just the beginning. The whole pregnancy I didn’t allow myself to connect to deeply with the baby because I knew the heartache of loss and every day/week that went by felt like both a victory and that the hurt would be so much worse if something went wrong.  And for the record, I was never this person.  I was never a pessimist or a worst case person.  I was practical and pragmatic and a realist.  But once you’ve had 5 things happen in a row, it’s hard to talk yourself out of that way of thinking.  Even when everything continues to be perfectly fine.

Because I have been through so much loss and trauma related to trying to have a baby, I feel even more that I don’t have a right to have a bad day.  I got what I wanted, others didn’t or havent and I did, but parenting is still hard AF.  And you can be both.  You can be inexplicably grateful for this adorable, legitmately miraculous human and still struggle.  You can be exhausted because it is exhausting.  And not for nothing, you started off exhausted from the trying and the loss and the heartache and the anxiety-ridden pregnancy.

I’ve had some conversations lately with some moms who became moms with some difficulty of various kinds, and most of us agree that we relate more to people in the infertlity community at times than we do in the “mommy” community.  I think it just has to do with perspective.  But, as a guest on my other favorite podcast, Big Fat Negative, said recently, kids on the playground aren’t running around with a sticker that says “I was made through science” or “my parents had a really hard time having me”.  Once you get there, a lot of the trials and tribulations are the same.  So those of us in the motherhood after infertility club are in this weird subgroup who feels like they are neither here nor there.  The TTC people we’ve bonded with don’t want to hear our moaning about packing diaper bags, they may have a diaper bag in their basement that they’ve been waiting to use for years.  And our mom friends often have no idea the trauma we still carry and wonder why we can’t let it go and move on.

It’s a weird place.  I’m happy to be in this place but it’s weird.  I’m working on these expectations I’ve adopted from the world and that I’ve set for myself.  I’m not the parent I expected myself to be. It hasn’t come as easy to me as I, or others, expected.  I’m frazzled, forgetful and foggy. I operate in a state of “behind” which is not a place I’m used to being. I love my babe with all my heart and also often think other people take better care of him or have better instincts than I do. I pretent to be SUPER CHILL about his milestones, but I do “homework” with him every night to try and make sure he is on target. I think about my surprise, emergency hospitalization leading to his birth, how I got literally 1 second to look at him before he was swept away.  I didn’t have the beautiful baby on the chest moment I envisioned.  I had to wait hours to see him after he was born. I think about the first 10 days of his life and how he was cared for by amazing NICU nurses and how I had no idea how to feed or change him. And how I felt the entire time that they were better at caring for him than I was. We figured it out eventually but it wasn’t pretty.

I know all too well the pain of yearning for a child and not having one. Worse yet, not knowing if you ever will.  It’s a pain I can’t really explain.  So if you’re reading this, and feeling this way and want to punch me in the face, that’s totally fair. But I also think setting those of us who reach the promised land up to think that after this hurdle there is no more pain, challenge, strife or tears is dangerous and unhealthy. It’s an unfair burden to hold those moms-after-infertility (and all moms to that unattainable standard. So feel free to punch me in the face TTC fam, I’ll throw my mouth guard in just in case.

punch

Just know if/when you achieve your mom dreams somehow, and find yourself struggling, I will be here to support you and tell you you’re allowed!

Almost nothing about this whole motherhood thing has gone how I expected. And regardless of acknowledging how hard we fought to get here, I am dedicated to allowing myself the space to have all the feelings, not push them away or feel ashamed of them because they’re not how I am supposed to feel.  These Great Expectations we put on ourselves are actually hot garbage. And I am here to say no matter how easy or how hard it was for you to get here, I will never tell you to enjoy every moment. Because fuck that.

 

 

I Thought I’d Never Have Fridge Art

IMG_1587
FOOT TULIPS.  I mean.  Come On. ❤

I thought I’d never:

  • Get a Mother’s Day card
  • Get a shitty breakfast in bed
  • Wish for a “day off” to not have to do anything
  • Be so exhausted I thought I couldn’t go on
  • Get peed on
  • Get pooped on
  • Get puked on
  • Hear the glorious sound of baby giggles from the next room
  • Rock a baby to sleep by singing I Want It That Way (in case we weren’t sure he was mine)
  • Pump my life away for 9 months
  • Order $18384829239057 worth of baby supplies from Amazon between 1 and 4am
  • Or, an endless list of other mom things

I know this day sucks. A lot. For many. I am accutely aware of how hard, not only this day but the lead up to this day can be. Because I thought I’d never get to celebrate it.  I thought it would always be a sad day.  A reminder of the thing I wasn’t.  Of the title I didn’t have.  For 2 and a half long years the whole month of May was pretty rough and emotional.  It has forever changed the way I look at this “holiday”.

For years I dreaded all the commercials, ads, pictures of families. And to be honest, I am still very uneasy about it all.  The same way I debated putting up a baby announcement when we realized our miracle was real, I feel the same about mother’s day posts.

There have been many amazing articles and posts that have been shared widely this week and this surely won’t do those any justice but I just want to highlight a few themes of what I’ve been thinking:

  • This day (and the lead up) is REALLY hard for some people.  Certainly what comes to mind most for me are the people who so desperately want a child or children or those who have gone through the loss of a child or pregnancy loss. I have been so lucky to have been granted this dream of motherhood after years of heartache by some insane luck/alignment of stars/timing/guardian angel/universe/womb potion (yes a friend really gave me this and I can’t say it didn’t work because well…).  I spent multiple years avoiding social media on this day because it was just too painful.  As much as I was happy for my mommy family and friends, seeing all the posts were just like one gut punch after the next. So, to all my TTC (trying to conceive) community or the MC (miscarriage) community if you want to go into full media lockdown today. I get it. I hear you. Do what you need to do to preserve your sanity and wellbeing.  If you don’t “like” 105 family photos today, everyone else will live. Yvonne Abraham did a beautiful job describing basically every feeling I have had, and have, about Mother’s Day for the Boston Globe.
  • It can also be hard for those who are estranged from their families, didn’t grow up with a mom, lost their mom, or a whole host of other reasons.  Just keep in mind this day is weird and not awesome for many, so don’t make assumptions.
  • That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t celebrate moms! Because, for real, MOMS ARE THE TRUTH. Women are magic and moms are goddamn super heroes.  And we shouldn’t just celebrate them on one day we should celebrate them every damn day.  And we shouldn’t just do them some sort of fake favor by actually helping out around the house for once or fake acknowledging everything they do on one random Sunday and then go back to letting them do an unfair share of the work (just saying).  The invisible labor of moms is real. Please take a moment to read (1) what this day was actually supposed to be about until it was commercialized into cards, flowers, brunch day aka activism and better care for mom and baby after birth. Shout out to Katherine Goldstein and Amy Westervelt for writing this piece for Medium showing the revolutionary roots of Mother’s Day and how to calculate the invisible labor ($26k from me!) many mothers are doing to keep households afloat. Also, (2) how we are incredibly NOT taking care of mothers after they give birth. At all.  Our maternal mortality rate is INCREASING.  Its 2019.  What the actual EFF. Samantha Pearson wrote an amazing and horrifying article for HuffPost. We don’t take care of moms in this country and the results are staggering.

So, to all my fertility warriors out there, take it easy today.  I know it’s not easy. To all my moms out there, enjoy it in whatever way feels good. I’m in a FB group where some moms plan their own day and buy their own gift so they get to do what they want and I say DO YOU GIRL.  Whatever feels right on this day do it.  Whether it is a black hole of binge watching Netflix, sleeping/hiding until Tuesday, reminiscing, fancy brunch, breakfast in bed, or staring at fridge art just know it’s all the right way to get through the day.

PS: instead of all the gifts, cards and nonsense can we just pay women what they’re worth and give them a real freaking maternity leave? Just a thought.

PPS: Please follow me on Instagram @notquiteknockedup and check me out on the Ali on the Run Podcast as part of her (Bomb Ass) Motherhood Series.  I’m terrified and excited to be on and probably won’t listen for fear of what my voice sounds like. 🙂

 

ABC-PPD

If you didn’t sing this title to the tune of Motown Philly, please stop reading now and lose the link to this website.

Just kidding, please keep reading because I need readers and followers. ❤ But also get up on your Boyz II Men lyrics. Thanks.

Motown

I actually don’t have as many straight facts for this post as I was hoping, but I am going to share a little bit about how I “self-diagnosed” post-partum depression, how I worked up the nerve to go to my OBGYN and ask for a referral, how I got a TRASH therapist at first and just got referred to another, and some of the things I realized not thanks to the trash therapist but just through my own reflection.

I really struggled in the first several weeks after Liam was born.  There are “baby blues” brought on by the enormous change in hormones post-birth (and after delivering the placenta which is chock full of all the ‘mones).  It’s a BUNCH of crying, but that usually only lasts a few days though.  Then there is post-partum depression (PPD).  There is also post-partum anxiety, which to be honest I never heard of until I started looking up PPD, but it makes sense that it would exist.

PPD is like gestational diabetes or preeclampsia. It is something that some women just get related to pregnancy and childbirth.  There may be risk factors, some may be more prone.  Just like any other health condition, it is a diagnosis that is not something you brought on yourself. Unfortunately mental health conditions are not looked at the same way other health conditions are.  To me, this was the hardest part to swallow.  The same way I felt about recurrent pregnancy loss and infertility, I felt about wondering if I had PPD: How did I do this, cause this, create this.  According to the Mayo Clinic “Postpartum depression isn’t a character flaw or a weakness. Sometimes it’s simply a complication of giving birth.”

I referenced the symptoms of PPD before, but just to refresh people’s memories:

  • Depressed mood or severe mood swings
  • Excessive crying
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
  • Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
  • Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
  • Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Intense irritability and anger
  • Fear that you’re not a good mother
  • Hopelessness
  • Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy (!!!!!!!!!!!!)
  • Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
  • Restlessness
  • Severe anxiety and panic attacks
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

I have a pretty good gut/intuition and I felt like I might be dealing with PPD from very early on.  But it is hard to tell when you gave birth 6 hours away from home, 6 weeks early and spent the first 10 days of your baby’s life in the NICU for 12 hours a day and covered in a full body rash (look up PUPP if you don’t know it, or forgot.  Or don’t because it’s gross).  Who wouldn’t feel tired, stressed, guilty, irritable, have mood swings or cry if that was the first couple weeks of motherhood? But a lot of those feelings persisted, and were often tied directly into my inability to breastfeed.

I thought I had a pretty good head on my shoulders about breastfeeding and was not putting undue pressure on myself; I wanted to breastfeed if I could, but I also knew there were many reasonable alternatives and lots of healthy babies and adults from both of them. The labor and delivery floor tried to help us, the NICU tried to help, 4 lactation appointments at home. But, when it actually came down to it, and it was just the two of us at home-it just wasn’t working.  I felt like, yet again, my body failed at doing the thing it was meant to do. It honestly felt like another loss.  And even though, via pumping 8-10 times a day for months, and eating a million things with oats-barley-and whatever other milk generating nonsense, and just luck I guess, I was able to create enough milk to sustain him thus far (8.5 months) I still felt like I failed.  To me, failure is a big part of the root of a lot of feelings that I believe, in my farthest from an expert view, led to PPD.

Most of what we hear about PPD has to do with the last two bullet points on that list of symptoms.  They are often sensationalized stories of mothers “pushed to the brink” and harming themselves and/or their children.  So, naturally, that is what I originally thought of and brushed it off.  But when I was honest with myself and looked deeper into the symptons, I realized I connected with a lot more of them than I thought.  The ones in bold are the ones I related to.  Especially: Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy.

Once I was honest with myself I knew I needed to talk to my doctor.  I also knew I really enjoyed therapy before.  I had a therapist when I lived in Rhode Island, not for anything specific but to just talk through life happenings.  I highly recommend that btw.  I also, luckily, had one that was housed within my fertility specialist’s office who was very helpful throughout my fertility treatment cycles.  Of course, as it happens, my OBGYN left the practice right before I wanted to be seen so I had a brand new doctor.  My biggest fear was that I would be judged, by her and others, and that she might think I was “crazy” or unfit.  Especially since she had never met me before. I think it was scary for me to admit I was struggling with motherhood in some capacity while worrying the doctor would just go through the checklist and say yup PPD, concerned for safety, here’s some medication and DCF.  This isn’t funny, but it was a real fear.  The medical industry-and the thing is it is definitely an industry ($$$$$$$$)-there are checklists, and diagnosis codes, it often feels very cold and not human. Luckily, this doctor was very good, listened and thought I could benefit from therapy but didn’t think I needed medication at this point.  I was glad she was honest about medication; didn’t want to jump to that right away but also set the expectation that it might be useful or necessary eventually.

But, here is the thing about therapy/counselors…there aren’t enough and they triage.  So, I was referred to the Behavioral Department within my overarching practice.  My OBGYN, Fertility, PCP and Pediatrician are all under the same umbrella which is cool.  They also have a lab, radiology and pharmacy in-house which I love.  Anyway, in January the Behavioral Health department was booking out until SUMMER.  All I thought was what if I was having an actual mental health emergency? But, maybe they would have found time for that? Anyway, they referred me out to a “partner” office.  Then they called me, and asked a few questions about what I was dealing with and looking for.  And then I heard from, we’ll call her Dr. B.

She called while I was in Vegas, and if I LISTENED TO MYSELF, I would have known she was not the right fit from the very first call.  I could just tell.  TBH, I didn’t like the way she talked-I knew it would bother me and I would be distracted.  Maybe that is mean, I don’t know, but even though it is true and I was right it was far from the biggest problem.  I was away when she called so we played phone tag for a while and finally got an appointment.

The first one wasn’t bad, but wasn’t great.  Even though it SEEMS obvious, she did point out that my feelings are probably pretty closely tied to the grief from my dad’s sudden passing as well.  I was aware of this dichotomy of feelings when I was pregnant, since I found out about the pregnancy the day after my dad died.  So, the entire thing was a whirlwind of sadness, terror, excitement, hope, fear and worry.  I never really, truly got to process and grieve.  I felt like I shouldn’t be sad when I was so excited about this *seemingly healthy*, surprise pregnancy.  Even though I am not a religious person, I felt like the timing was wild and it was hard to believe the two happenings weren’t connected in some strange “bigger than us” way.  I am also the planner and caretaker in my immediate and extended family, so I was doing a lot of the management of plans, paperwork, other people’s emotions, etc.  While it was a good that thing was a distraction from the other in a way, it definitely prevented me from sitting with the grief of the loss of my father which I still don’t think I have fully processed.  This realization is probably the only good or helpful thing that came from this therapist.

I went to see her two more times. Somewhat out of hope that maybe it would work out. Partially out of exhaustion and not wanting to go through the doctor-referral-scheduling thing again.  And partially out of guilt because she was an older, arguably pitiful woman, and I basically felt bad telling her it wasn’t going to work out. LORDY COLLEEN what in the hell.  I didn’t want to be judgy and dismiss her right away.  But the phrase used most often in my first appointment was “that’s cool”. I don’t know why it bothered me so much, mostly I think it was unintelligent and unhelpful. When I am talking about how difficult it has been for me to go back to work and feel like I am failing both in work and at home, and your response is your job sounds cool??  I meeeeeeeeeaaaannnn…

The second appointment was more of the same.  I left there feeling more stressed, annoyed, and like I wasted PRECIOUS time driving there and back.  I decided to give it one more appointment (which was a mistake). In appointment #3 I got a lot more of that’s cool-WHAT IS THIS COMMENT?  I also felt like I was counseling her at some points.  Some of you who follow me on Instagram recall me sharing on my story some of the comments she made like asking if someone I was referencing was African because she had a boss once who was African and who looked down upon women…I am sorry WHAT. And that she is a massage therapist and worked for a bunch of super rich people from India (she guessed because “they’re all rich”) who paid her double her rate just because they could.  This was in reference to her asking me if the “college admissions scandal” was all the talk at work since I work at a college.  And then said she felt bad for Robert Kraft and that they should “let that poor man just be” and that he probably didn’t do what they said because why would he.

Besides that so much of this is so problematic in so many ways…WHY ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT ANY OF THIS IN MY COUNSELING APPOINTMENT? Anyway, when she asked when I wanted to meet again I gave her the let me check my schedule because April is really busy and then ghosted her harder than anyone else in my life.  Such a waste of time, money, energy and actually left me more frustrated and exhausted emotionally.

But…I did not give up!  I reached back out to my OB, asked for another referral, did a phone triage with the office in that practice and then was referred out to the same company as useless Dr B again. Ugh.  BUT I got connected with a different person who I saw tonight.  She was kind of a spaz, but gave me a book and an app recommendation so I already got more out of one appointment than 3 with B.  So, we’ll see, but progress.

Even though Dr. B was a trash therapist, and perhaps a trash human, here are a few of the things I learned through my own self-reflection:

  1. I cannot separate myself as a mother from myself as a person trying to have a baby.  These people are not separate.  Having a baby does not erase the trauma I went through trying to conceive, having 5 miscarriages and two failed IVF cycles and thinking having a baby may not be possible.  I carry all of those things with me everyday as a mom now.  And even though I am more grateful and feel luckier than I could imagine that something I thought was not possible did happen, the trauma and grief does not disappear and does infultrate my thoughts, actions and mental health now. Being grateful for what I have doesn’t make the pain disappear.  “Getting what I wanted” doesn’t mean that there are no challenges or that sleep deprivation isn’t real.  I can both relish in the fact that his human exists and that I have this title I thought I may never have annnnnnnnnnnd be scared and on edge and question myself at the same time.  I remember not being able to understand people who struggled or had PPD after going through fertility treatments. How could you be having a hard time when you FINALLY got what you wanted? Welp, now I get it.
  2. We can’t pretend that the pressure (and judgment) put on moms about working…and not going to work…isn’t a factor in PPD and PPA.  While I struggled in the first several weeks, especially with breastfeeding, I really struggled once I was back to work.  This unrealistic set of expectations explained in this quote that is published often and widely “we expect working mothers to work as if they don’t have kids and parent as if they don’t work” resonates with me on a spiritual level.  The attempts I have made to accomplish that feat have left me completely depleted physically and mentally.  If you’ve ever taken anything like StrengthsQuest (shout out to my higher ed peeps) I score highly on Achiever.  I rely on my ability to succeed as validation of my worth. And being an achiever is part of my identity at work and in my personal life. Who am I if I am not achieving at a high level? I actually don’t know.  This applied during my fertility struggle as well, in not “achieving” a healthy pregnancy, and applies now even more so.  Who am I letting down if I can’t achieve the unachievable BALANCE (vom) between work and life (as if they are separate when most people spend more of their time at work than at home)? In essence, everyone.  Please read this BOMB ASS ACCURATE AF post by Sarah Buckley Friedberg that went viral recently for a better description of what women are essentially told to do after having a baby. I was yelling AMEN while reading it, and I am sure many can relate.

Society to working moms:

-Go back to work 6-8 weeks after having the baby. The baby that you spent 9-10 months growing inside of your body. Go back to work before you have finished healing or have had time to bond with your baby. Keep your mind on work, and not your tiny helpless baby that is being watched and cared for by someone other than you. Make sure to break the glass ceiling and excel at your job- you can do anything a man can do! It is your job to show society this! Show the world that women can do it all. Rise to the top of your career.
-Also breastfeed for at least a year. So take 2-3 pumping breaks a day at work, but don’t let it throw you off your game or let you lose your focus.
-Also, lose that baby weight and get back in shape, as quickly and as gracefully as possible. Make sure to get 8 hours of sleep a night so you can work out, work, and care for your family. But also get up at 5 am to workout, unless you want to do it after your kids go to bed when you also need to clean the house and get life ready for the next day and you know, sleep.
-Maintain a clean, pinterest worthy house. Take the Christmas lights down. Recycle. Be Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the birthday planner, the poop doula (seriously when will this end), the finder of lost things, the moderator of fights. Be fun. Be firm. Read books. Have dance parties.
-Maintain the schedule for the entire family. Birthday parties coming up? Make sure to have presents! Ensure the kids are learning to swim, play an instrument, read, ride a bike, be a good human being, eat vegetables, wear sunscreen, drink enough water, say please and thank you. Don’t forget they need to dress as their favorite book character on Monday, and wear something yellow on Thursday. Oh it’s totally your call but most parents come in on their birthday and read to the entire class. In case nobody told you, if you have more than one kid you will need to buy new shoes approximately every other day. See also: winter coats, shorts, pants that aren’t 4 inches too short. There will never be matching socks or gloves for any member of the family, ever again.
-Remember the dog you got before you had kids? Shes getting old now and needs expensive surgery. She also need walking, a new bed, and she smells pretty bad.
-Hey! Kids need lots of doctor appointments. Monthly as babies. Every time they are sick. Specialist appointments, especially if any of them have extra needs. At least two school conferences a year. IEP meetings, if applicable. Parents night. Back to school night. Get to know your school night (what IS this). Most parents are volunteering at least once during the year, would you like to come make a craft with the kids? It will only be an hour or two of your time.
-Sorry, you are now out of vacation time because you used it all for time taking your kids to appointments or when your childcare is unavailable. You should go on vacations though. It’s good to relax and unwind from work. Makes you a better employee.
-Don’t forget the kids need healthy meals (and so do you! you are trying to lose that last 20 lbs before swim season right). That requires meal planning, grocery shopping, and meal prep on the weekend. But also hang out with your kids on the weekend since during the week you only get to hang out with them when they are exhausted and angry that you made the wrong kind of spaghetti for dinner.
-Date your spouse! It’s important to keep your relationship alive and fresh. Try to go out 1-2 times a month. Good, kid free time. Hire a babysitter, they charge 22+ dollars an hour in your area so make sure to take out an extra mortgage and/or work another job to be able to afford this.
-Oh hey you should have a hobby too. It’s important to have “you time”. Also be well read, keep up with the latest pop culture and tv shows, and keep an eye on politics and be able to discuss at least one of the above on the small chance you are out in public and encounter another adult necessitating small talk.
-Make sure to have friends. Social time is SO important. Surely there is an hour or two left in the week after all of the working, appointments, exercising, cooking, scheduling, cleaning, imparting lifelong morals and learning on the kids, the usual. Maybe go out after the kids are down for a glass of wine and a bite to eat. Make it a healthy bite though. And you may regret that wine at your 530 am spin class.
-Self care though. SO important. See also: getting in shape. See the general doctor, the dentist (TWICE), the lady doctor. Prob need to get your eyes checked. Full body skin checks 2+ times a year (just me? okay well). Mental health too. Postpartum anxiety? But you look fine and your kids are so cute. Everyone should have a therapist. Good luck finding one that takes your insurance and has hours outside of your normal working time (out of vacation time, remember?). That leaves evening time when you want to hang out with your kids. But it’s important, so make time for it.
-Don’t wear yoga pants and a mom bun or society is going to mock you in numerous witty blog posts. Never mind that nothing fits. Going to have to get up even earlier so you have time to style your hair, wing your eye liner and search for a pair of pants that fits your new post baby (or multiple baby) shape.
-Get off your phone, turn off the TV, and enjoy your life. Enjoy your kids. THESE ARE THE GOOD TIMES make sure to love every minute of life because before you know it all of this will be in the past.

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to lean OUT. Thanks for coming to my Ted talk.

3. Failure.  It is connected to #2 but so many parts of parenthood are listed in terms of failure. Ooooooooh you’re not breastfeeding? Oooooooooh the baby isn’t sleeping through the night? Are they a “good” baby? Your baby isn’t rolling yet? Crawling yet? Standing yet? Eating yet? (First of all, don’t ask the good baby question, that’s a ridiculous question straight up). My friend, and fellow new mom, posted an article from Raisedgood.com the other day that hit me so hard. It is specifically about baby sleep;  people give/receive a lot of judgment about their parenting based on how well or how long their baby sleeps for (and how soon). Listen, I’ve wanted to sleep for more than 90 consecutive minutes as much as the next girl, I wondered if I would ever sleep to a point of feeling rested ever again. And I did feel heaps of inadequacy when friends and acquaintances were sharing (or bragging) about their “great sleeper” and the 7-7 sleep schedule they were enjoying. I bought every sleep device on the market. I felt three things at once: (1) complete and utter exhaustion and wistfully hoping that one day I would ever sleep again, (2) jealousy and inadequacy that these other parents somehow got their babies to sleep for long stretches and (3) deep down I also knew that my baby’s sleep was totally normal and that he was doing just fine.  But this article highlights a lot of the problematic “facts” and “advice” that is passed along-almost always unsolicited-that make moms feel like they’re failing, or question themselves and their instincts. A couple of my favorite excerpts:

SleepQuote1

EVEN AND ESPECIALLY IF YOU HEARD THESE AS A NEW MOTHER.  Break the cycle of spouting off randomness that is not researched, generalized, passed down without investigation and harmful! Please and thank you!

SleepQuote2

Human mothers are among the most needed, hardworking and exhausted mothers on the planet.

In honor of Maternal Health Awareness Month, I felt like I wanted to dive a little deeper into my experience with PPD symptoms, my effort to seek therapy to understand and grow, and some of the pressures and expectations put on new moms in particular that I think contribute to an environment that can lead to those feelings. I say PPD symptoms in particular because I have not received this as a specific diagnosis yet.  My second non-trash therapist actually thought I may have PTSD from my fertility struggles and recurrent pregnancy loss. So, diagnosis TBD but as important as it has been to me to bring awareness to infertility, I feel the same now about Maternal Health Awareness. While the challenges are different and certainly many women deal with PPD and PPA who never had a fertility issue, for me the 2.5 years of trauma and grief related to these struggles are intrinsically connected to my mental state now.

Not Quite Knocked Up turned into Not Quite Knowing What I’m Doing as a Mom. And I think I am becoming more ok with that.

Another Opening, Another Show

My body hasn’t been my own since November 2015. Honestly, I’ve been so detatched that I just realized this recently.

I’ve had a pretty complicated relationship with my body since pretty much middle school, not super atypical from a lot of women who are taught to hate their bodies pretty young. I was a pretty small child, super active with dance, gymnastics-and a variety of other sports at which I was pretty consistently terrible.  After taking a year off of gymnastics in 8th grade, I grew 6 inches (4’11” to 5’5”) over freshman year in High School. Also, got my period, grew boobs, and gained a lot of “squish” in a variety of places I never had it before.  It was kind of a brutal year going from scrawny body to lady body. #pubertycomeslateforgymnasts

I always had a HUGE appetite, regardless of size.  I was famous (or infamous) for eating 8 or more hot dogs at the Irish American Club St Patrick’s Day Parade after party when I was like 7 years old.  Like, without a problem. Just put down a pack of hot dogs. In between singing Green Alligator and Long Necked Geese (if you know, you know). The only thing that saved me was being very active. I remember people always saying only to eat until you’re no longer hungry when I was little, and I was like got it, 10-4. The problem was I was never not hungry! I was only ever really full on Thanksgiving. Legit once a year. I blame my Grannie.  I got a lot of qualities from her, and my appetite was definitely one of them. Grrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaat. I never had any body feelings as a little kid, mostly people thought my appetite was funny since I was pretty small. But after my 8th-9th grade growth spurt I was uncomfortable with my body ever since.

It was love-hate. Coming from a family whose members refer to themselves as “strong” as a loving way to describe overweight, I was pretty much considered on the more fit end of the spectrum. But my weight, and subsequently my feelings about my body, have fluctuated often over the course of time. It hit an all time low (or high depending on how you look at it) in 2012 when I moved to Brideport, CT.  My new job responsibilites, lack of work-life balance, and difficulty managing on a small paycheck in an expensive area resulted in the peak of bad habits.  Luckily, I woke up one morning and was like “girl, you better get it together.  With all these health issues in your family history, it’s now or never.”  So, I started making healthier choices in the kitchen and the gym and lost about 40 lbs.  I maintained it, and more, as it got closer to the wedding in 2015.  If I am being honest though, I took the “bride diet” to the extreme in the last few months pre-wedding getting up at the crack of dawn to workout hard before work and sticking to an unreasonably strict diet. But I had hated so many pictures of myself before, I was determined not to hate them on my wedding day.  And I didn’t, I felt great.

Evidence:

Wedding

Despite the diet being kind of intense, and something I did not plan on maintaining long term for my sanity, I realized for the first time during that period that it was more about what I was doing FOR myself that made me happier ABOUT myself than the weight/measurements exactly. Knowing I was doing good things for me made me see myself differently in the mirror.

On our honeymoon we let loose, and I mean really loose. Champagne All DAMN DAY.  It was glorious. But when I got home I self-regulated and got back to a relatively healthy lifestyle.  2012-2015 had some fluctuations but for the most part it taught me a lot about what workouts I enjoyed, what delivered results and what nutrition was both filling and effective.  As opposed to the baked cheetos and crystal lite with vodka diet I developed in college when trying to drop a few LBs lol. Ahh, memories.

Then came December 2015.  When we decided we were going to start “trying” or stop trying not to get pregnant. It was weird to all of a sudden be like ok, welp, here goes nothing.  But, if you’ve read my original posts you know that the first time we didn’t prevent pregnancy resulted in a chemical pregnancy and my first subsequent loss in January 2016. After that came a heavy dose of emotional eating…and that was before I had any idea what was to come.

We didn’t have any diagnosis or treatment for several months. But, starting December 2015 I gave up my body to the process of trying to be a mother.  I peed on endless ovulation kits, I read about what to eat (or avoid) to “boost fertility”, I did acupuncture.  I reduced my level of activity, at my acupuncturist’s recommendation because too much exercise ‘could affect my fertility level negatively’. It was annoying because I was kind of like, doubtful lady, but it was honestly a good reason for me to tell myself about not wanting to workout so I went with it.  I was either trying to get pregnant at home, shooting myself twice a day with drugs, taking progesterone up the hoo ha, trying to stay pregnant, miscarrying, having blood drawn, having ultrasounds, having surgery or recovering for the better part of two years. My body was basically a science experiment. Throughout a lot of this time I was on pelvic rest, aka walking only.  I was also on weird diets for several periods of weeks in a row related to medication I had to take for ectopic pregnancy (they make you avoid anything with folic acid while on methotrexate to remove an ectopic pregnancy.  Basically anything they tell you TO eat when you’re pregnant, they tell you not to eat when on those meds).

And then in the most unpredictable turn of events in January 2018 I got pregnant for the 6th time.  Expecting it would end like all the others before, and it didn’t. Thank God.  But, I was on pelvic rest and progesterone twice a day for 13 weeks as a precaution. Then I was into my second trimester and hadn’t been allowed to exercise for months. Also, grieving the loss of my dad throughout this same period.  I was so scared I was going to “do something” to put this pregnancy at risk.  I stuck to the strictest of strict versions of the what you’re allowed to eat while pregnant.  Keep in mind, I felt like drinking a hibiscus iced tea from Starbucks while avoiding coffee during one of my earlier pregnancies is what caused that loss. So, I was not willing to take any risks within my control, it just wasn’t worth it. There was enough out of my control that was scary and mysterious, I was definitely skipping the deli meat.  I basically sustained myself on sesame bagels with butter for weeks. Carbs were safe, and yummy. But the stress of what I could or could not put in my body was exhausting.

Then, here he came, bursting through the door 6 weeks early and 4 hours away from home. Spent 2 weeks eating out of hospital cafeterias and local takeout, only sleeping 90 minutes at a time in between pumps. THEN you come home and have the whirlwind of trying to keep this tiny creature (and yourself) alive, and put together the nursery you never got to set up in your free time.

Many women talk about how their bodies change during pregnancy and after, and how it’s hard to feel like yourself again.

orangutan

This is more closely a representation of my current chestal situation than I’d like to admit.

You had a creature growing inside you for 40 weeks (or 34) stretching out all your stuff, moving things around, making you puke or gag or cry or pee or basically anything else without warning. Then they come out, and sometimes you need stitches-regardless of their exit strategy.  You may try breastfeeding, or nah.  And if you do, you may continue this for a year or more, or less. Or if you’re me, you will have tried and tried and tried and failed, and ended up pumping somewhere between 5 and 10 times a day for 8 months (so far).

So, for a year your body has been taken over by an adorable alien.  And before that you spent two years being poked and prodded trying to create said alien. And after that you spent 8 months trying to feed said adorable alien.  I have literally no idea what my body “normally” feels like.  No idea. I don’t know what my normal SELF feels like at all.  I get that this whole mothehood thing creates a new normal, but what if you don’t even recall an old normal. How do you even spell normal???

When we moved back to Massachusetts, a friend of my cousin told me about a dance studio in the area that was all adults.  No offense to any of the studios geared towards kids that offer adult classes.  I’ve taken a lot of those. But sometimes they’re older ladies learning “hip hop” to Bruno Mars.

The_Worst_Hip_Hop_Class_Ever

Not really my style. This place sounded up my alley: a bunch of people who used to be dancers and wanted to still do it.  They had drop in classes, or you could audition to be part of the company that performs twice a year.  I took a bunch of classes and liked them, was rusty AF, but it was fun.  It was kind of a hike to get there and kept getting interrupted by pregnancies, or treatments, or losses so it was inconsistent but I always liked going.  I wanted to try my luck at auditioning.  The dates just never lined up to when we were taking a break from trying or with my work commitments.  So, I never got to do it.

This is probably the least sensical time in my life to do it.  I feel like I am drowning.  I have no time and feel like I am running 100 miles an hour from home to daycare to work to daycare to home to bed. Rinse. Repeat.  There’s no time for playing or cooking or cleaning or shopping or anything. But I got an email with a reminder about auditions, looked at the dates required and realized somehow I didn’t have any conflicts.  I thought it was wild, but I sent Kenny an email saying “Is this crazy or should I tryout?”.  He was like DO IT.  So, I signed up.  For hip hop, tap and jazz.  Haven’t done the latter two in approx a decade?  Went to a hip hop class the week before auditions and I was LITERAL TRASH.  I didn’t have high expectations, but it was bad. Painful.

While I knew I was rusty, out of shape and out of it entirely, I also used to be good. Like, actually pretty good. So, it was hard to see how far I’d fallen.  Also, I am old and I don’t get how the kids move these days. But I went. And on the morning of the auditions, Kenny and Liam were sick, I told him I should probably stay home and take care of them and he basically through me out of the house while wearing a medical mask (thankfully).  I borrowed his Alife sweatshirt so I could feel cool, curled my hair and hit the road.

The audition choreography wasn’t as hard as the class, thank God.  But, I still struggled to the utmost degree remembering the choreography.  I don’t know if it was just being out of practice, or mom brain, or combination.  But, nonetheless.  I couldn’t remember 8 counts for shit. But, I did three auditions, and didn’t feel HORRIBLE afterwards.

Dance2

I was prepared not to make it at all. But got an email that week that I made it in at least one category and I got invited to the showcase to see the dances for the shows and select which one(s) I wanted to be in.  I made level 1 Hip Hop, which is the lowest level, I’m cool with that!  Gotta work my way back into the fold.

Rehearsals started last week and the show is in June.  I know I could’ve just taken classes randomly, but I also knew those would be very easy to talk myself out of.  If we were too busy, if something came up, if money was tight.  But in this case I am committed. I am not going to let the group or company down by blowing it off, therefore I can’t let myself down by blowing it off either.

The first rehearsal was so fun and I didn’t completely suck! There are 15 women; all different levels, ages and years of experience. It feels great to be back doing something I have always loved.  I’m mad awkward because I don’t know these people, but the dance studio was always a reprieve for me and it is again.  It is nice to be working towards something, have something to rehearse, and look forward to the performance.  And, as often happens, making one good decision results in other good ones.  So, I’ve been finding time to squeeze in some short workouts every day this week (#thanksonlinecontent). I realized that I am perpetually tired, so getting up a half an hour earlier doesn’t really change that.

Not going to lie, it is hard to be away from the baby for a couple hours each Sunday given how little time I get to spend with him already.  But it feels like a good thing, and the right thing, to be doing for me and for him.  It feels like therapy. And, speaking of therapy…

Next blog post about Post Partum Depression, actual non-dance therapy, and how my therapist was horrendous (but don’t worry I am finding a new one).

Another Opening, Another Show. My mom would always sing that as I was prepping for my recitals each year. So, here goes nothing. Catch me on a stage June 15th!

Dance 1

Good Grief

Good grief is this saying my mom often uses.  I don’t really get it.  But she says a lot of weird shit, to be honest. Most of them I can make some sense of even though they’re not words.  For example, Gazinta.

Gazinta
/guz-in-tah/

noun

Something that goes into something else.

Ex.

“Did someone get the bill from the server? We need to do the gazintas to see what everyone owes.” (How many times does 5 gazinta 20?)

“Where’s the gazinta for the phone.  I need to plug it in.” (That charger gazinta the plug.)

This is just one of many.  My mom has so many non-words that my husband created a dictionary in his phone when he first started hanging out around my family to keep track of them. They’re epic.

Good grief is one I know is used by others but I have really only heard my mom use it regularly.  I looked it up and it is described as “an exclamation of surprise, alarm, dismay or some other usually negative emotion. For example Good Grief, he dropped the cake.” For some reason, this past month I’ve been mulling over this term because as a phrase it has taken on a certain meaning, that I understand.  Good grief, I’m going to be late again.  Good grief, he won’t stop talking.  But when you break down the words it got me thinking, what is good about grief?  When is grief actually good? Who decided this was going to be a phrase we use.

It’s hard to believe that just over 2 weeks ago we had the one year anniversary of my dad’s passing.  Not that this is a particularly fun read, but if you want the context of it when it happened check out this post from last spring. I actually just re-read it myself and cried, and laughed a littleso I guess that’s good.

As anniversaries often do, they cause you to reflect.  To look back on a period of time in a large scope, as a culmination, and think about the whole period of time.  On the one hand, I couldn’t believe a year had passed.  How had it been a WHOLE year since my dad died?  How did I have no dad for an entire year?  How did we all survive? The morning of the anniversary all the emotions came up again and it felt like it just happened.  And that is was so long ago.  SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED since then.

I had a positive pregnancy test the next day.  All of the details about those first few weeks have been shared already so I will spare you. But what a wild ride.  One that should be filled with joy, and probably some healthy level of anxiety. But what felt more like shock and terror. I had a baby.  6 weeks early.  In New York. I missed 3 baby showers. The Red Sox won the World Series and the Patriots were in the playoffs on their way to another Super Bowl. My mom moved into our house. My brother got engaged. So many things that my dad wasn’t here for.

So much happened. So much that I feel like I didn’t even have a second to breathe let alone grieve the loss of my dad. My dad was my homie. I would call him often on my drives home from work and just chit chat about sports and food and random crap. I went grocery shopping for him or with him often since grocery stores are the bain of my mother’s existence. My dad loved the grocery store, but it had become difficult to navigate with his constant foot/leg injuries and ultimate amputation.  He still liked going though, getting out of the house and eating grapes out of the bag while driving around like a mad man in his motorized cart.  Which was always super embarassing because YOU PAY FOR THOSE BY WEIGHT, DAD, SO YOU’RE BAAAAAAAASICALLY STEALING THEM. Whenever some wild stuff went down in the sports world, I would call to get his take…because, don’t worry, he always had a take.  He hated everyone who he considered a “punk”, which is basically everyone.  He hated the Boston haters.  But also hated the Boston homers who were obsessed with our teams and had no ability not to be biased. He definitely hated everyrandom dude who called into the sports radio stations thinking he knew something more than anyone else and his opinion was special.  But then essentially did the same thing in a non-radio setting. LOL

On the anniversary of his death, we went to Maine, everyone’s collective favorite place.  He always said he wanted his ashes spread at Nubble Lighthouse.  Which, fun fact, is illegal I guess?  But we’re “rule breakers” so we headed up there anyway, and definitely created a bunch of sneaky ways to spread them so that we didn’t get caught.  Mom always says she would never make a good criminal.  It was a chilly, beautiful, bright blue-sky day which was nice.  We drove up there, climbed down the rocks, gave a little toast and then laid dad to rest per his wishes.  We blared the Elvis version of “How Great Thou Art” from my car which was his JAM.  No one loved funeral music more than the Big Cat. Side note, who loves funeral music?

We decided to bring a little “cat” to Long Sands as well.  And made a little visit to the cottage itself to bring stuff to the tree we planted there-thanks for the generosity of some coworkers. Then we went to the restaurant we had gone to after my wedding to hash out all the fun details of the soiree.  At that restaurant, after ordering a HUGE spread of appetizers, my dad casually suggested we “get another round”…

You want another ROUND of appetizers, Dad?  Who does that?  We nixed that because that is NUTS.  But we went there and had a delish lunch and cocktail in honor of the big guy.  Mom described the spicy sauce that she wanted on the side as SIRASO ALLEY-OLI…known to most other people siracha aioli.  We all had a really good, and needed, laugh.  A bunch of them actually.  We decided Dad would have really enjoyed that day. It was a good day.

Grief is weird.  Everyone deals with it so differently.  I’ve done my fair share of denial and ignoring.  Pretending and distracting.  Certainly the big days make it hard to fake it.  You notice his presence missing on the holidays and birthdays and big happenings for sure.  But the things that really bring out the grief for me are the mundane things.  Grocery shopping.  I’ll never do it again without thinking of him.  And I definitely “test” a few grapes each time in his honor. Produce in general makes me think of him. A deliciously ripe canteloupe will always bring up memories of big cat. No one could appreciate a ripe melon like him. Corn.  He was the most excited, grossest eater of corn on the cob there ever was.  Him eating corn would clear off the deck in Maine. When I drive home from work, particularly after something notable in sports, I often reach for my phone looking to hash out the details. When I try to remember how long to roast a chicken or how long I can keep a random item in the fridge before it spoils.  Whenever I hear Motown, any soul music in general really, or Randy Travis (random I know).

People don’t know how to handle others’ grief.  I know I didn’t, still don’t most times, if I am being honest.  You want to say something or do something, but you don’t know what to say or do.  Sometimes what comes out of your mouth could end up being hurtful or insensitive when it’s not your intent.  Particularly if you haven’t lost someone super close to you, it is hard to relate. I know I have felt this way.

A friend of mine posted this graphic on Facebook.  It was perfect timing because I was working on this post and trying to figure out the best I guess, advice, to give. I think this is pretty on point.  Everyone grieves differently and needs different things at different times, so it is definitely not a one size fits all checklist. But I think this graphic definitely illustrates some things you can do when a person in your life is grieving.

In my mind, there are a few major things to consider:

  1. Grief doesn’t have an end date. I had a friend reach out a few weeks after my dad passed and checked in and said something along the lines of wanting to touch base but didn’t want to bother me. And I totally get that.  In fact I am pretty sure I have said that.  But, in my opinion. it is never bothersome to check in.  Even when I couldn’t respond or didn’t respond right away.  Or just said thanks or sent a heart emoji.  I still appreciated people checking in.  It never felt like a bother.  I think people feel this often though and it prevents them from reaching out.  The hardest thing for me was when it felt like people moved on living their lives and I was just going through the motions wondering how I would go on.  As the days went on the texts were fewer, the phone calls even less, the cards/notes/flowers non-existent. You realize, not that everyone has forgotten about you, but that their lives have gone on. Not that they don’t also miss your dad, but that he wasn’t their dad. Not that they don’t want to support you, but that they have other things to do, too. We can’t all be sad everyday. But your life will never be the same.  You can’t just go on doing the normal day-to-day things, because canteloupe makes you think of your dad. So, my advice: call, text, send cards.  On random days.  Check in two weeks later, 2 month later, 2 years later. On a random Tuesday. The first few days/week are a total blur.  The real smack in the face happens later.
  2. Don’t ask “Is there anything I can do?” or “Let me know if I can do anything”.  The answer is yes, and you can do something.  But, the idea of the grieving person having to decide what it is you can do, or ask for something or remember to let you know takes away the helping portion.  Like the graphic mentions below, being specific is amazing.  If you care about this person, it is likely you know them decently well.  Do something you know they’d like.  Also, for the record just a visit, a favor, something off of their plate would be appreciated-doesn’t need to be costly or grand. People in my life were kind of enough to send a text saying “two bags of groceries are on your back porch” or mail a gift card to our favorite restaurant.  Self care things like nails or hair or spa would be great. You know what’s not fun? Paying for a manicure for your dad’s funeral. Luckily, I had friends call ahead and take care of that for me and my mom. Dog walking. House Clearning.  I’m a big fan of grocery delivery gift cards and things that can be used later on too. Of course the food right away is great as well, but sometimes you get so much and there is only so much room in the freezer! Any of these kinds of things (or whatever that person likes) are helpful, thoughtful and appreciated. Just the idea that you do something instead of ask.  Or maybe give a list of three options.  I’d like to do something, which one of these is best…From personal experience when given the option I will usually say thank you, but we’re good. It’s a lot harder to turn down help when it isn’t optional!
  3. The parallel play one is so on point. Do you ever just not want to be alone but also not want to talk? Offering that is an amazing show of support and also understanding.  Reliving the trauma that led to the grief is exhausting, physically and emotionally. But being alone in it is also scary. Coming over to watch movies or netflix or garden (not for me lol) or whatever and not asking questions is an awesome idea.
  4. My experience is that when people are afraid they are going to say the wrong thing, they say nothing.  Guilty as charged, by the way.  But, don’t do that. Even if what you say is “I don’t know what to say” the person knows you’re thinking about them and that is definitely appreciated.

Grief

On the outside, this post has nothing to do with fertility or motherhood, or the purpose of this blog. But it does.  The thing about my dad’s passing was that it was in the public.  People expect you to be a disaster.  People know about it right away. They try and help you even when they don’t know what to do.  They give you things, send you things.  They understand when you’re not yourself. They don’t expect you to be OK.  Right away, or at all.

But the grief of losing a pregnancy, especially, early is a very lonely place.  The grief is still there, and all those after-effects are too.  The only difference is no one knows what you’re going through.  No one knows you’re not ok. No one tries to help you.  You suffer this grief alone.  Often more than once.

You know why women typically don’t share pregnancy news until after 12 weeks?  Because, statistically that’s the highest likelihood of something going wrong with the pregnancy. And it happens A LOT. The logic behind this is so faulty. There is a chance you will go through this horrible trauma, so you should definitely suffer in silence?  I understand a person choosing to do this for their own self-preservation (especially in the age of publishing pregnancy announcements via social media in grandiose sometimes obnoxious ways #alsoguiltyAF). But, if you really think about it; the sort of assumption/pressure/feeling is that you shouldn’t tell people because people shouldn’t know if this happens to you just adds to the shame and loneliness. Because it is something to hide. Like you did this.  Telling people your dad died is equally as expected as NOT telling something you lost a pregnancy. It’s weird.

This is the whole reason I wrote the blog.  I needed to put this out there so people knew I wasn’t ok.  I couldn’t pretend anymore.  I couldn’t pretend I wasn’t grieving.  I didn’t have to pretend I wasn’t grieving the loss of my father, so why should I have to act like my life is fine while grieving these other losses and going through immense pain internally? I hoped that putting this stuff out there would bring some sense of normalcy to it. Help people know they are not alone, even if they didn’t want to share publicly themselves.

Maybe people won’t want to tell the world about their pregnancies super early, and you should do and tell whoever you want about whatever you want!  But I do know that once people knew my story, they did want to talk about their losses and grief with someone who understood.  So, maybe the more we are open about these experiences, the more people won’t feel like they’re supposed to suffer in silence. And that they’re allowed to grieve these losses. And maybe we can get them a casserole or walk their dogs, because they need that too.

Good Grief.

All I Want for Christmas Is You…(and to not feel like a failure)

As you can tell by the title…this post has been in progress for a few weeks.  And I guess the fact that this is coming out so late is testament to the subheading of the post itself.

The holidays came in with a fury this year. All of a sudden it was December and I was like “HUH?” *Cue feverishly ordering mediocre gifts from a variety of online sources*

As Christmas was approaching all I could think about was last year and how I could have never envisioned the situation I would be in this year.  In November 2017 we had a surprise pregnancy that was our 5th total loss.  It took us by surprise and was very sad, of course, but I was also so numb from that particular type of pain that I was pretty stoic and emotionless about the whole thing.  The part that stood out, though, was seeing the picture on the ultrasound.  This was the first of the 5 pregnancies that we could actually SEE.  Even though what we saw showed us it was not viable, it was somewhat jarring to actually see something nonetheless.

After that, we decided to take some award money I won to book a trip to Paris. Something to look forward to and take our minds off the craziness.  You can read about all this in more detail in previous posts!  Another tactic I used to pretend this wasn’t sad was to buy my feelings in way too many Christmas decorations.  The justification: We have an adorable new house that we are hosting Christmas in, and we can’t just use my old, beat up decorations, right? I very much enjoyed my time in Target, Home Goods and Christmas Tree Shop buying adorable Christmas things that we probably couldn’t afford.

Of course the house looked cute AF when we hosted Christmas that year.  We had a great time having family over that day, but there was this pang of sadness, as there had been two Christmases prior, realizing I did not have the tiny person I hoped and prayed to buy useless gifts they wouldn’t care about for.

I could have never predicted what would happen less than a month later. And I also could not have predicted what would happen 8 months later. When I sat in my living room in a fog of exhaustion in early December I reflected on WHAT A FRIGGIN YEAR it has been and how my December 2017 self had no idea what I was in for-good or bad.

I think the holidays can come with mixed emotions in general.  Unreasonably high expectations, over-spending, over-extending, and all of that can lead to a tornado of emotions, for those who do celebrate.  For me, added to this, was the stomach bug.  Which Liam got the Friday before Christmas and caused fear and worry to rise up to 1000.  What if he is dehydrated? How many times is normal to take his temperature? What to feed him and when? And…what if/when am I getting this?  Welp, the answer was 10pm on December 23rd when I woke up to THAT feeling that said…oh yes, ma’am, make yourself at home in the bathroom.

I spent all night the 23rd and most of the day the 24th getting sick in the loveliest of ways but also adding on to that the newfound joys of parenthood whilst sick aka pumping with my head hanging over a bucket. Which, ironically, when you’d think that you wouldn’t want to give that milk to the baby you definitely DO because of all the antibodies your body is making fighthing that gross bug. Weird and cool, nature, well done.

Kenny spent all day the 24th cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting the house because we were hosting Christmas dinner with some family members and didn’t want anyone to enter the Vom dungeon and catch this nonsense.  Kenny, with his medical knowledge, let me know unless they actually touched said gross bodily fluids-me and Liam weren’t contagious. The only people who would be contagious were ones not yet showing symptoms, but Kenny and my mom seemed to be in the clear. Untilllllllllllllllllll December 26th when my mom came running into the house after an errand and another one bit the dust.  Then 4 more family members on the 27th, including my brother and his newly-proposed-to-fiance.  And basically Liam was patient 0 and my mom was walking around feeling fine but apparently “spreading the love” unknowingly.  ROUGH.

Needless to say, I had those high expectations of this adorable Christmas, with matching PJs and cute pictures and memories (for us because I know Liam has no idea what was going on). But, it just wasn’t quite what I envisioned.  I was stressed and weak from not eating for 24 hours and not prepared to host the group I was so excited to host earlier in the month.

On the whole, this holiday, and everyday really, was covered with this grey cloud of emotions I didn’t understand.  I had a happy, healthy (minus the short lived puke party) baby boy.  A baby I wanted my entire life.  A baby that took us three years, many heartbreaks, waves of hopelessness, periods of resilience, and an insane miracle to get. A baby who makes my heart explode every time he smiles, who has a devlish smirk that is definitely going to be a problem in his teenage years, who loves to cuddle and coo and kick and squirm. And yet, I just couldn’t shake this feeling.

When I thought about it, the three things I felt most besides the joy and love described above since his surprise arrival have been: Guilt, Shame, and Inadequacy. In basically every facet of life, I have been feeling like a failure. The idea that I FINALLY had what I always wanted, what I hoped, begged, wished and prayed for (even though I don’t really pray). What I stabbed myself in the stomach for, for weeks on end-twice.  What I truly thought, at many points in time, was not possible.  Here it was. Sliming on my shoulder, peeing on my hand, snuggling on my lap and smiling at my voice.  So, why was I not feeling only pure joy and elation?  Why did I feel like I sucked, at more or less everything? How dare I not ONLY relish in the fact that this happened for me.  And that others were still waiting for their miracle.

5 months into motherhood and I’ve felt more joy than I could imagine.  But I’ve also felt more guilt, more shame and more inadequacy.  This is quite hard to share.  More than some of the other posts, even the TMI ones.  Because I feel like if I was me, reading this a year and a half ago, I would want to punch myself in the face. I can hear myself thinking, “OK please complain about this perfect baby you have and how tired you are and how stressed you are making it all work when that is the only thing I want”.  I am POSITIVE I’ve said that or thought that a million times.

But, this is the truth.  I feel like shit. Most days, I feel like a bad mom.  Like everything that came natural to me as a kid and teenager when babysitting and playing with cousins, no longer applies. That I feel a little scared when I pick up the baby, realize Kenny and mom aren’t home and I am returning to an empty house because I am just not sure I can handle all the tasks that need to be done by myself.  I feel guilty when I realize how much Kenny does on a daily basis, but that I still feel overwhelmed nonetheless.  Or that my mom lives with us now and provides endless snuggles and kicking around an orange like a soccer ball on the kitchen counter that Liam loves. And that she holds him in the morning when he inevitably wakes up at 5am so I can sleep an extra hour since I’ve been up forever. That I have 2 grown adults, who both are or seem, more capable of taking care of my baby than I feel, and I STILL feel overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done. I feel guilty and inadequate when everyone on the planet asks how Liam is sleeping or whether he is sleeping through the night and I laugh and say no! And then they immediately respond with their tips and tricks and things they read and what worked for them so I feel like I am not doing it right or not doing enough. Or when I see people post on social media about their magical sleeping babies who automatically slept for 8 or 10 hours. Or when I am annoyed we gave him a pacifier, when I originally didn’t want to because I knew it would be a pain down the line or he would get attached to it…but then he started sucking his thumb and we didn’t want that either. Or when the only time I can really snuggle with him is between 2 and 5am, since I am only home with him for maybe an hour or two a day when he is awake during the week, so when he cries or fusses I pick him up and we both fall asleep on the glider. Or when Kenny cuts his nails better than I do. Or gets him to settle faster than I do. Or I see videos of babies younger than him giggling when he hasn’t had that belly laugh yet, and wondering if we aren’t doing enough for his development.  I didn’t make him do tummy time enough. We didn’t set up some of his play gyms or bouncy toys fast enough. When Kenny grants me my “sleeping night” once a week on a weekend where I sleep for 8 actual hours (minus one pump session) even though he is also exhausted and doing an even longer commute each day, but that I don’t think I can do the same for him. My baby is happy, healthy, fed well, loved and cared for…and yet, I feel everyday that I am not doing a good job. Not living up to my, or others’, expectations.

I have similar feelings about the rest of my life as well.  I feel guilty at work when I have to pump three times a day, run out of meetings, duck out of retreats, rearrange schedules. Even though I am lucky to have a private office and access to a whole kitchen in my suite which I am super grateful for, and even though I am productive in the office with the door closed for a few minutes three times a day.  I still feel guilty and like I am not doing enough.  I feel guilty when I run out the door at 4:29 and 58 seconds because it takes me 10 minutes to get across campus to my car and then if I drive 5-10 mph over the speed limit and hit no traffic, I get to daycare 5 minutes before they close.  I feel guilty that I am not excited when I have to work night or weekend events, even if they are a thing that I actually like doing, because it’s more time away from the baby and I feel like I hardly see him as it is.  And I feel guilty when I do work those events, and have fun, but realize the baby has been without me for a long time.

I feel bad about my body and the way I look and feel physically.  I’ve struggled with body image and weight issues since puberty basically.  In my early thirties I had several years of a commitment to healthy habits both in fitness and nutrition that had great and longer lasting results than I’ve had in the past. But, the emotional rollercoaster of the fertility journey we were on, and my crutch of emotional eating coupled with long periods of time being put on a ‘no activty’ regiment due to fertility treatments or pregnancy concerns resulted in weight gain and long breaks in those habits.  When I was surprised with this pregnancy last January 18th, I was the heaviest I had been in 8 years. I was sick of feeling like crap, so Kenny and I had been doing 2.5 weeks of clean January and I became a dedicated spinner at my local gym.  But, once that test came back positive, even though I KNEW it would have the same result as all the others (but it didn’t!), I was put on pelvic rest for the remainder of the first trimester (aka no activity besides walking) and the only thing I seemed to be craving to eat was carbs. While I was lucky after the first trimester to have a remarkably pain-free, symptom-free pregnancy, I was always afraid and always more cautious than necessary-resulting in less activity than I wanted and less adventurous eating as well (Read: bagels and grilled cheeses mostly).  In my third trimester I had gained as much weight as they wanted me to gain with about 10 weeks left and was basically yelled at by an old, male doctor I was seeing because mine was out sick, with no compassion, to stop eating all carbs and sugar, drink only water, and eat about half as much as I had been OR ELSE I would have a HUGE baby and it would hurt. A lot. Luckily, I suppose, he came 6 weeks early and was a “comfortable” 4lbs 9oz so Dr Jerkface’s fearmongering was for not. But alas, his comments stuck with me.  And after several failed attempts at breastfeeding, but then some success post the 4th lactation consultant, I have been doing a combo of pumping/nursing 7+ times a day. An activity I was told would help lose weight due to the caloric output, but HA. Not really. In total, I’ve lost about 18 pounds since delivery. Not everything I gained over pregnancy, which was on top of a heavy version of me to begin with. Not to mention some dedicated stretch marks, that despite all the vitamin E and coconut oil and scrubs and cocoa butter, still made their way all over my lower abdomen and seem to be committed to staying for a while. Being a chubby, exhausted, stretch mark covered milk machine is not the sexiest I’ve ever felt.  And this leads me to my next area of inadeqacy.

Despite feeling all heart-eyes-emoji at how adorable Kenny is with Liam and how naturally he has taken to the whole fatherhood thing.  Albeit a little jealous.  There have been very few romantic inklings on my end.

On top of feeling like:

fat bastard

Mixed with:

cow

And also:

tired

You don’t quite feel like:

beyonce gif

And, that makes me feel bad too. Just logistically, we’re like two ships passing in the night. Literally and figuratively. We tag each other into shifts to be “on duty” in the overnight hours so each of us can get a few hours of uninerrupted sleep which is (a) awesome because I know a lot of nursing moms can’t do that and (b) means we’re never in the same place at the same time to even acknowledge each other’s presence nevermind give affection of any kind.  It makes me feel like a bad wife, on top of questioning my mothering abilities.  I am sure things in this arena will shift over time, and I know we won’t feel like our old selves per se, the relationship and family has changed in many good ways that are just different.  But while we won’t feel like our old selves, I am hoping for a day where I feel like some version of myself.

Then there’s just the overall feelings of failing at household and life tasks.  Before Liam, we pretty evenly split up all the household tasks and chores.  Now, almost all of the things that once were mine, fall on Kenny, because I just can’t ever seem to get to most of it.  And, he does all the dishes, laundry and most of the cleaning graciously and without making me feel bad.  But that doesn’t mean I still don’t feel bad.  Even the things I’ve always done, and continue to technically do, like manage the finances (or lack thereof, because daycare AM I RIGHT?) and do the grocery shopping/meal prep have taken a turn for the worse.  We’ve been eating out a lot because where is the time for this stuff.  Eating worse, and spending money we don’t have.  Vicious Cycle like whoa!

Truthfully, I am just struggling. Even with lots of help and support.  Even though my husband is a super involved and helpful dad who has arguably taken to the job better than I have. Even though my work is flexible. I want to be happy.  I want to savor every moment because he’s already growing so fast.  I can’t believe he is 5 months old, and we’ve had to pack away three sizes of clothes already.  I can’t believe he can magically hold his own bottle and sit up in a chair and rolled over the other day. I don’t want to miss anything and I don’t want to regret not enjoying things because I am too busy feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and and just, well, shitty.

While the rest of this post was written over the last few weeks in chunks, this next part was added after listening to a fellow Quinnipiac Alum (Go Bobcats!) podcast, Ali on the Run.  Ali is a writer, blogger and podcaster.  She talks about running, which is not my thing, but she is honest and funny and I love her style.  You should check it out. She recently had a baby, and while our experiences were different, we do have some things in common including issues with breastfeeding and turning to pumping primarily or exclusively and our babies being small and arriving in a flurry.  I love reading her IG posts and following her story because it’s always real and full of humor, but I don’t typically listen to the podcast since it is a lot about running and running is just not my jam.  But, the episode this week was just Ali talking about her experience as a mother the past few months and I found myself nodding a lot and saying ‘omg yes’ a bunch. Not everything is the same, but I felt a lot of solidarity in her comments.

The biggest one being…I have not been to a doctor, yet, but I do think I may have post partum depression.  It’s really hard to admit and even harder to type in a public forum.  I always thought of PPD being women who felt disconnected, hurt their babies, or worse. And I didn’t relate to that at all. But, I’ve had a couple moments of the last few months where I was drawn to look it up on my phone and see if any of the other symptoms resonated. And, many of them did.  www.seeppd.com has a list of symptoms which include: Worrying or feeling overly anxtious, crying more often than usual (which is a lot for me anyway lol), frequent feelings of anger, having trouble concentrating and the two most resonant ones: feeling moody, irritable or restless and presistently doubting your ability to care for your baby.

When I went for my follow up appointments at my OBGYN right after birth (since I gave birth out of state) and 6 weeks after, they had me fill out the generic PPD questionnaires which I answered honestly.  Do you think you will harm your baby? No. Do you cry more than usual? Yes. But nothing on there triggered any concerns from the doctor at the time because they never mentioned the surveys again. Truth is, the biggest hurdle we had while I was on leave was breastfeeding issues.  Once I figured out a system that worked and came to terms with mostly pumping that was ok.  I was exhausted but I was home most of the time and could take naps and get some other things done from time to time.  Going out was a whole thing, but I enjoyed the chance to get out once in a while.

The real struggle came when I went back to work, and that’s when I started to notice the symptoms even more.  The stress has just grown exponentially, and the sleep has been even less because there are no chances during the day to catch up on what you missed overnight. Plus just the logistics of going back to work, child care, etc., have thrown many more things on my plate when my plate already looked something like this:

plate.jpg

I remember reading about Chrissy Tiegen having PPD after her first child because I’ve been mildly obsessed with her since she started dating my first-husband-in-my-head John Legend. (Also, as an aside our babies look remarkably alike so, sorry Kenny, this one might be a Legend!). Knowing she had IVF, thinking how hard it must be to feel that way  going through that when you put yourself through this crazy science experiment for weeks/months because you wanted a baby THAT bad.  But, here I am.  And, now, I can relate.

It’s pretty scary to put this all out there.  But I know hearing from Ali, I felt a little reassured that there are others who are madly in love with their little ones and still struggling more than the regular new mom stress and exhaustion. And I don’t want anyone to be worried about me!  I am always reflecting and working on things and even when I feel like I simply can’t, I somehow do. With a lot of help.  There are also a bunch of things I’ve already started doing:

-I called the doctor to set up an appt and hopefully get referred to a therapist that specializes in new moms so I can work through some things, potentially confirm what I already think, and figure out a plan of action

-I joined Weight Watchers.  I’ve had success with the program before, mostly because I am always more mindful about what I put in my body when I am tracking it and because I need reminders to pay attention to portions.  I have the appetite of an offensive lineman, always have. I typically ate 7 hot dogs as a 7-10 year old on St Patricks Day at the Irish Club like it was nothing.  And was a twig.  So on the WW train for a little while now. So far, so good.  Just want to prioritize treating my body well, which has not always been the case!

-I’ve gotten back to the gym the last couple of weeks, even if it is only a couple of times a week for now, and I feel like I’ve never seen a gym before, it still feels good

-I’ve been doing some guided meditiations for stress relief and anxiety

-And…I’m trying to be nicer to Kenny.  He bares the brunt of my anger and irritability. And, while I find his reactions to my freak outs sometimes, well, irritating, he has constantly supported me, attempted to take things off my plate and tried to reassure me that I am doing a good job even when I am too upset to believe him.  It’s not his fault that I feel like crap and can’t make sense of it.  And, it’s not my fault either.

I love my little family.  I am soaking up all the smiles and all the snuggles (even at 3am) and all the milestones. I’m trying not to compare me or us to others. And trying to enjoy the moment.

But, people should talk about this stuff.  The same way I felt as though I wished I knew before I struggled with fertility about the folks in my circle who had as well.  I feel the same way now.  So, I am hoping someone out there can relate to this, even though this is the scariest thing I’ve put on the internet thus far.

 

Someone’s Praying for Your Chaos

Have you ever heard something, or read something, that just punches you directly in this face?  That was me this morning.  I’ve been reading Girl, Wash Your Face.  And by reading, I mean listening to while pumping/driving/nursing, etc., because God knows I don’t have time to read.  If I am being honest, it is a little Jesusy for me…but there are some gems in there, even if you’re not religious.  I hadn’t listened to it in weeks, but this morning as I was weepily driving to work for the millionth time I started to listed to one of my favorite distraction podcasts: All Fantasy Everything (which if you are looking for a laugh about absolute nonsense I highly recommend), but then I got a weird urge to pick up where I left off on audible and after a few minutes of random “you can do it girl!” advice she said “Just remember, someone is praying for your chaos” and it legit felt like a blow to the face. In a good way.  If that is a thing that exists.

The truth is, to say I have been struggling since going back to work would be the understatement of the century.  I cry literally every day, multiple times a day. I’ve always given parents who work another job (and yes that is how I word it because to say working parents or working moms assumes the parenting part is not also a job) a ton of credit.  Always seemed like so much to manage and juggle on a daily basis.  But I could have never imagined how much, and could have never given as much credit as deserved.

I’ve been told in the past that I seem put together or organized. That I am intimidating, mostly at work. That my house looks perfect.  I’ve never thought any of these things were true, but I guess that has been the perception by some.  Everything I have felt in the past almost 4 months has been the complete antithesis to those descriptions, even if they were ever true.  I am a complete hot mess disaster of a human being who is barely getting up/dressed/eating/talking/thinking. I’ve never been so tired in my entire life.  I’ve never been so overwhelmed. I’ve felt at many moments like I was drowning. I’ve thought to myself: How the fuck has anyone ever done this? I’m not cut out for this. I’m going to disappoint so many people. What am I doing? Who even am I?

I’m the person people go to for help.  I’m the organized one. I am the get shit done person.  I am the over achiever at home and at work.  I am the planner. I am the perfect gifts are perfectly wrapped and coordinated under the tree person. The let me make that call, send that email, take that off your plate person.

Current Situation: Where even are my plates? What is a plate?  What is the meaning of plates? Can we even afford plates?  You don’t need plates if you don’t ever cook right? Person.

I feel completely lost.  The only thing I feel like I have a handle on IS the baby.  Which I guess is a good thing?  I’ve had like 1838492 partial blog posts written in my head in the past few weeks about this, on some version of this, topic and I just couldn’t quite find the time or inspiration to get it started.  Or the cojones to be this open.  I am not on the struggle bus.  I am the CEO and President of the Struggle Bus Corporation.

Kenny and my mom are consistently finding me in some sad ball of tears.  I feel guilty about EVERYTHING.  I feel guilty being at work and being so tired I can’t say words properly.  I feel guilty about running out of the office exactly on time so I can then barely make it “on time” to relieve my baby sitters.  I feel bad when I have to work late and the people watching the baby have to stay at my house for over 12 hours.  I feel guilty that I have missed bath time and bed time (lol as if there is a bed time but you get it) when I have to work late. I feel guilty that my only snuggle time is when I am up with him in the middle of the night and I would rather snuggle than sleep but I am also so tired. I feel guilty that my mom is also overwhelmed with everything going on in her life but is still helping us all the time.  I feel guilty that the baby announcement cards slash thank you card (because when your babe shows up 6 weeks early they become the same thing) are 100 years late and have been sitting on my dining room table waiting to be written and addressed and now they are basically also Christmas Cards.  So, Happy Holidays and Introducing my 4 Month Old and Thanks for your gifts, everyone, you’ll get them…eventually. And the handwriting will be trash, but that’s not because I’m tired or stressed, it’s just because my handwriting is trash.

New baby is a whole thing.  Going back to work is a whole other thing. If anyone were to ask me, I would tell them hold off on the casseroles and meal deliveries, etc., at the beginning-although those are helpful too.  Send food or grocery deliveries or whatever during the first month new parents are back to work.  That’s when you really need it (IMHO).

On top of that, there’s all the other things that just happen in life which somehow seem to all pile on together with us.  Three major life changes at a time is usually how we roll, and not usually on purpose.  My dad’s birthday is in just over a week, and the anniversary of his sudden passing is in a month.  These are our first holidays without him and he LOVED holiday celebrations.  Particularly, the planning and organizing of the food logistics and extreme overuse of tacky decorations. 🙂  So, this season, while filled with joy and excitement with our new bundle, is also filled with loss and grief of not having my dad to experience it all with us.  We are also accidentally house hunting.  We bought our adorable house in June 2016, and love it.  It would be impossible for me to put into words how much I hated the house hunting and house buying process.  It is very competitive where we live, we saw a million houses and lost a million minus 1.  And while I think the one we got was great for us, the process took a toll on me because I get emotionally invested in these things and crushed at every “no” phone call.  And writing bomb ass “please sell us this house” letters is draining AF. I wrote a bunch.

Now, we are in that boat again because we had always envisioned my parents living with us in some capacity in the future: in law suite, two family set up, or side car as my mom calls it.  But, we thought it would be a little more down the road when we would’ve upgraded into a bigger place.  Cut to now, where my dad left us earlier and more suddenly then we could have imagined, and my mom is paying way more than she should for a “luxury apartment” that they only lived in for 4 weeks together and she hates.  We looked into adding on and it just doesn’t make sense financially with our tiny lot size, so here we are in the middle of the holidays, with a newborn and me one month back at work, trampling around open houses all weekend and private showings on weeknights. As if we have time for that.  But once you start getting listings, you can’t help but look! Especially since we now are looking for something pretty specific, with space for mom to deep dive into Animal Planet and Hershey Kisses without being bothered. Of course after one of my MANY emotional breakdowns we decided to take a break from looking until January, but of course fell in love with the last place we saw before said break, offered on it, were told we were the only offer, then lost to another offer that was less money but didn’t need to sell their place. CRUSHED. So, we’re back on a break.  Take me off those goddamn MLS emails, my heart and mind can’t handle it.

In the meantime my little nugget gets super sick.  Coughing, crying, waking himself up because he can’t breath.  Then getting a steroid and having to do the nebulizer every 4 hours so he looks like a tiny, sad darth vader.  It makes your heart ache. I have no PTO time, because I needed to take it all to be paid for the second half of my maternity leave. So that just becomes an additional stressor in a stressful scenario. Despite us trying to protect him as much as possible as a vulnerable preemie in the winter, he’s not in a bubble, still got sick and we’ve all been suffering. No one could have ever prepared me for how gut wrenching it is to watch your infant be sick and not be able to help them.

The emotional rollercoaster of life for me for the past few months has basically been Disney’s Rock n’ Roller Coaster if it didn’t have Aerosmith and didn’t have the fun part but did have the speed and fear and some nausea.

But…

Someone is praying for my chaos.  Actually, I prayed for my chaos.  Not exactly prayed because I am not exactly religious.  But, I wished and hoped and begged for “this chaos”. And this is what punched me in the face this morning.  As I’ve been writing posts since Liam arrived, and even since we found out Liam existed, I’ve had this other post looming in my head titled something like “These posts are a bummer”. I’ve had in my mind all my fertility warriors who read this blog, and those who don’t even know it exists, and how it is probably a lot to read this. I’m sure some people find hope and comfort when those struggling with fertility issues finally get their miracle baby.  But for me, it just hurt.  I didn’t find it comforting.  I found it sad.  People’s success stories didn’t inspire me.  Maybe they should have?  But, they didn’t.  I knew if I was reading my blog before, and then started reading it now, I would be excited for future me, but also just sad.  And jealous. With all that in my head this line from the audio book was a light bulb.  Someone is praying for this chaos.  All of it.  I remember being so annoyed at coworkers or acquaintances complaining about packing lunches or preschool shows or soccer practice or whatever and being like I would KILL to have to do that stuff. And while my blog is supposed to be honest and transparent and vulnerable, but not complaining per se, STILL. Someone is praying for this chaos.  In fact I know some of those someones.

Now, this doesn’t negate the stress, the guilt, the feeling of being completely overwhelmed.  Having perspective doesn’t mean those feelings completely disappear and don’t exist. I am still a disaster.  I am still struggling going back to work. I don’t actually see that change, ever, or anytime soon. But last time I checked, until or unless I magically become independently wealthy (or I am able to turn this blog into a dope ass book…any publishers reading this right now????  Hook me UP), not working is not really an option.  So, I’m going to have to figure this shit out somehow.

But I’ve come to realize that I can be completely and totally grateful, in awe and blessed that we have this adorable, smirky little squish that I never could have imagined.  And comepletely and totally overwhelmed to have to figure out how to manage this new life, and this new self, that I don’t understand at all.  And as my friend Ashley from Feel.Fire.Flow told me (check it out, she’s amazing) said: You can’t give 100% to everything, you only have ONE 100%.  A friend posted this meme the other day and it resonated so much for me:

we-expect-women-to-work-like-they-dont-have-children-38336338

Society puts a lot of pressure on us and we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. But my current goal is to remember: balance isn’t a thingsomeone is praying for my chaos AND I only have one 100%. And whenever a day feels like it is just too much, my baby is cute AF and I can just stare at him if I want. ❤