I Can’t Find the Balance

Life has most certainly changed since adding “mom” to my resume. I was stressed and tired before I had a child. I am stressed and tired now that I have a child. Lol. My time is completely monopolized by a small human and when I’m not with her I’m working.

I had no intention of taking such a huge step back from the blog world. I don’t feel bad about it or pressure to come back/keep up, but I’m sad that I don’t have much time or energy for this outlet. I’d like to prioritize it more. I’d like to prioritize reading more. My time was not my own for a long time after M arrived. Most of time it’s still not, but we do have a better handle on it. I’m back to work, Maddie has a real bedtime, and she takes naps… so I’ve got a small amount of wiggle room for me time 😉

The balance between being an employee and being a mom is much, much tougher for me. I won’t lie- I thought I’d miss work and long to go back and be absolutely ok with sharing M with sitters/family/daycare. And all of that has been true but it’s not that simple.

I miss my kid. I’m jealous of the snuggles other people get. I’m grateful for the break, but I don’t like being away from her. I feel like I’m halfass-ing the mom thing.

I’m lucky to be back to work on a part time basis; I stay home/hang out with M two days a week. I love that time with her. But I feel like a halfass employee. I hate missing meetings and being out of the loop for a day or two. My emails pile up, I know there are people covering my jobs, I miss the camaraderie of being with my coworkers every day.

So as my title suggests, I can’t find the balance. I think it might be a unicorn kind of thing… I don’t know that one exists. “Balance” is the wrong word. I think it’s more like a formula- and I think it’s something everyone has to tailor to their own needs, wants, desires, & aspirations. And I’m still figuring out what those things are.

Anyway, my goal right now is to get back into the things that makes me happy when I can spare a free moment. Reading, blogging, writing, scrapbooking. Maybe not everything at once, but definitely the former two right now. So here I am blogging- and I’ll be here on Thursday, too.

I’ll see you then 😊

M’s Grand Arrival | part 2

I won’t write a long intro. We’ll just jump back into the story ☺️

(You can find Part 1 here.)

We decided to go with the vacuum delivery to force M out of her cozy home.

At this point I was exhausted. I wanted to sleep for days. In between contractions/pushes I was given oxygen and K was wiping my forehead with a cold washcloth. Most of the nurses in the room were holding my legs/feet for me.

This last part of delivery lasted 30 minutes & I had my eyes closed the entire time. All my efforts were being put into staying awake and pushing. K witnessed two pop-offs and he could see the doctors getting concerned. He knew we only had one more attempt left.

I could hear a change in his voice. I knew some of my pushes were revealing M’s head for a brief moment. As he was encouraging me, I could hear his excitement when progress was being made.

No one told me it was down to the wire, but the nurses, doctors, and K insisted that we were almost there- one more good one. They put the vacuum to her and told me to push on the next contraction, but K and I both think I lied about the next contraction and I just started to push because I was so. over. it.

Again, my eyes were closed but this is K’s rendition:
As I was pushing the doctor was pulling on the vacuum with all her strength- her feet were pushing against my bed because she was pulling so hard. He watched as M’s head came out and the vacuum popped off…. but instead of letting her contract back into the birth canal two nurses grabbed onto her shoulders and pulled her free.

There was no “ok we have her head, just one more push for the shoulders”… it was no baby and then THE WHOLE BABY. She arrived at 8:36pm.

They put her naked, squaking little body on my stomach for a brief moment and patted her dry, but due to the trauma, method, and length of delivery she was taken by the NICU nurses and examined next to my bed. Just seeing her for a few seconds was so surreal.

I’m learning that parenthood is a continuous cycle of frustration/stress/confusion followed by extreme relief. Over and over. This was the first bout of relief. As soon as she was out K and I took the breath that we’d been holding for 12+ hours.

The nurses invited K over to the corner and he hung out with M while they repaired me. I received stitches & a 24+ hour catheter. The doc and nurses warned me that it was going to be a rough recovery (& they weren’t lying).

It took the doctors an hour to fix me up. During that time I sent out a text to our group message letting them know all was good, baby was here, and K would be out in the lobby to bring them in soon. And then FINALLY M was cleared by the nurses and we were reunited.

The NICU nurses told K that M was ok and healthy, but she was slightly stressed from the long & hard delivery. She recommended that only he and I hold her that night- if she was passed around it might stress her out and she’d have to go to the NICU. We weren’t upset one bit about getting to hog our daughter all night but we felt bad that our parents hung around for 8+ hours and wouldn’t get to hold their granddaughter that night.
(No worries- they all took their turns the following day.)

Some things I’d like to remember about labor & delivery:

I had a great epidural. I felt pressure during delivery but I didn’t feel any pain, even when they attempted the forceps and the vacuum. The contractions got a little ouchie toward the end but they were the green light to push so I didn’t mind. I didn’t noticed the placenta delivery at all.

I was in a great mood immediately after delivery. I was joking around with the doctors while they were stitching me up and making them & the NICU nurses laugh. Either my hormones were going haywire and making me giddy or I was just delirious. Dr. Heartless was a totally different person after M arrived. She was friendly and joking with both K and I. (We wondered where that person was four hours ago… *eyeroll*)

Our poor friends and family were terrified. My labor progressed so quickly and they knew we were ready to push at 3pm. We stopped visiting the lobby and texting shortly after that. They didn’t get the “all good!” text from me until 9:03pm. We didn’t mean to freak them out or go radio silent… we were just busy. They were very very panicked, though. Oops! (Sorry everyone!)

And that’s the basic story. (“Basic”…. lol. It took me two whole posts.) After delivery and at my 6 week postpartum appointment my doctor was a friendly, kind human. I know on delivery day she had 3 emergency c-sections so I will give her the benefit of the doubt as far as bedside manner goes… I guess.

First thoughts about M? She has my nose. I think it’s the first comment K made about her. Other than that, she’s resembled him since day one. Also, for having a vacuum delivery, her head wasn’t terribly misshapen or bruised. By the following morning her head was 100% normal. We also think she might be a strawberry blonde but time will tell. Her hair was blonde/reddish/auburn depending on the lighting and her eyes were super dark- we couldn’t tell what color they were. (They’re now a very dark blue.)

Delivery SUCKED. The first two weeks of her life were SO hard. Motherhood has been the biggest adjustment and hardest stage of my life so far. (Newborn stage wasn’t our favorite, lol.) BUT… I’d go through all of it again 100xs over just to have M. She is our favorite.

If you’ve stuck around through part 1 and 2… wow! I’m impressed. I promise I’m taking a little break from the baby content on the blog for a bit 😉 Thanks for putting up with me this long!

M’s Grand Arrival | part 1

I haven’t shared our birth story yet because I’ve been unsure about how to publicly do it. I don’t want to overshare my or M’s life (although my family will tell you I’m way past that point here in Blogland), but I want to tell my story here in my space.

So here’s a condensed, watered down version.

We were scheduled to be induced on December 4th but I started feeling contractions at 2:30am when I took the dogs out. After an hour and a half (and a warm shower) I woke K to tell him the baby wasn’t going to wait until 8am. He got up, showered & dressed, and we kissed the dogs goodbye. We stopped to get K some coffee and we were on our way.

At the hospital they admitted us right away since they already had a room ready for me. I was all hooked up, examined, and was told I was two whole centimeters- ONE more than I’d been at our OB appointment the week before. Talk about feeling bummed.

On the bright side, I didn’t have to be induced- I was laboring on my own. Another dr. stopped in and told me that going from 1 to 2 centimeters was big leap, even though it didn’t feel like it. He said I should be excited and positive- I was definitely making good progress. That made me feel a little better.

When they popped back in to check me a few hours later I was at 4 cm and was told I could get an epidural any time. I was still feeling pretty good… but then they had me change positions. HOLY OUCH, BATMAN. About 30 minutes later I told K to page my anesthesiologist for the drugs.

Sidenote: I had a wonderful anesthesiologist. She was skilled and funny and supportive and dry humored and informative. And my epidural worked like a freaking charm. It was the BEST decision ever for me. Contraction pain was a ZERO until it was time to push- then it was a mild pressure but still mostly pain-free.

I got an epidural, was reexamined at 5 cm, and was given instructions to sleep as much as I could. For 90 minutes I drifted in and out of sleep. Poor K stayed awake the whole time. When the doctor returned for a cervix check I was NINE CENTIMETERS. It was a little after noon and we decided to inform our close friends and family. K gave them permission to start arriving at the hospital around 2pm. We were sure I’d be pushing & our baby would almost be here by then.

Such naive little parents-to-be. This is where the fit hits the shan.

At 3pm I was ten centimeters and ready to push. At the exact same time my doctor was heading into the OR for an emergency c-section. So I was told to wait.

And wait.

And wait.

An hour and a half later I was finally given the green light.

My labor was pretty easy. My delivery was not. I pushed for four hours. M’s head was turned sideways and she was not wanting to come out, despite being so close the nurse and doctors could touch her. Fortunately her heart rate stayed even and happy. (Mine, on the other hand, started getting pretty high toward the end.)

My doctor was pretty checked out the whole time (which really pissed me off). At hour 3.5 she came in, checked on me, and started to leave again. I finally stopped her and asked what the we could do differently to get this kid out.

She gave me a very snarky answer, then started listing the risks of forceps and vacuum extraction… but then ended up advising we go that route given my exhaustion. *insert eye roll and murderous glare here*

When we made the decision to use the vacuum the entire room changed. The lights came on, the table with all the medical tools was uncovered, and we gained an additional doctor, three more nurses, and two NICU nurses. Everyone suited up in protective sterile covers (except poor K, lol).

They wanted to try to the forceps first but M’s head and my pelvic bone prevented them from working. With the vacuum you get three tries/pop-offs to make the baby come out… If that doesn’t work, you’re headed for a c-section.

I’m not trying to be dramatic, but I feel like I’m only halfway through the story and I don’t want to rush the best part (aka the part where M finally arrives… spoiler alert, lol). I will finish up with part two on Tuesday!

When the Happiest Time of Your Life is the Hardest pt.2

Welcome back.

I know I haven’t shared the birth story but long story short, delivery was long and rough and left me feeling very very beat up. My experience and recovery played a big role in my ppd. Everyone’s experience is different and today I’m sharing mine.

After we got past the breastfeeding hump I thought we were out of the woods. We were not. By week two (which conveniently lined up with K’s 36 hour trip to Chicago) I realized that the “baby blues” were full blown depression. I’m going to be super honest here and tell you how I felt at my lowest low.

The strongest feelings were loneliness and regret. I mourned the freedom and life I’d lost. I felt like a prisoner to my life. My days were the same over & over and my nights were long and lonely. My body wasn’t working correctly and everything hurt. I had a two week driving ban so I couldn’t leave the house on my own- with or without M. I didn’t really want any visitors but I hated being alone. I felt like motherhood wasn’t meant for me & I was failing. I told K that I “hated” this. I thought we made a mistake by having a child.

I know that my attitude and emotions rubbed off on K and stressed him out. He was balancing work (including my workload) and my mental & physical health and M’s wellbeing and his own health and lack of sleep. I knew I was draining him & ruining his newborn days, too. He was extremely concerned about my mental state. My parents were, too.

Two weeks after M arrived I called my doctor and, between sobs, choked out my symptoms to a very kind nurse. They had me in the following day and we worked out a plan and prescription. A few days later I felt like a whole new human.

With my driving restricts lifted (and K back home) I felt a little more confident to leave the house with M. And I realized that I have people who WANT to watch her and help me- so occasionally I can go out without her, too. I started to see her as a human- MY human; not just a baby or a life sentence or an anchor. I kissed her face more and sang to her and smiled at her gassy grins- even at 2am. A fog lifted and I realized that I am a mom and M is my heart in human form and these days will not last forever- for better or worse.

My mom and K saw the change in me as soon as it happened. We’ve been doing pretty great since then. Things aren’t always easy and I still feel like I’m working on a bond with M since we got a delayed start, but I am so grateful that we took action as soon as the ppd set in.

A few things I want to note…

Medication and mindfulness (and sleep) worked for me and I’m very grateful for that. I know this treatment plan might not work for everyone. It’s important to pay attention to how you’re feeling and what you need. Talk to professionals as soon as you notice something is going on.

ALSO- I personally believe that it’s completely normal to mourn the life you “lost.” Having a baby is a HUGE change and it’s almost impossible to fully grasp what it will do to your present and future. In addition to the regret & sadness, I had no happiness or excitement about our future with M- and that was my glaring red flag. Stress, sadness, regret, and frustration are normal… but complete hopelessness is not. If something feels wrong, it is wrong. Don’t ignore it.

I am not a natural caregiver. Motherhood is not something that came fast or easy for me. Every day feels a little better and I gain more confidence. Some moms are naturals and some are more like me- and I think either way is great. Like all self care mantras, if you don’t take care of yourself and feel good you won’t be able to take care of others- and that includes your own child.

Family & friends have been so supportive and wonderful- including blog friends. We’re doing really well right now. M is sleeping a little better & our routine is a little more consistent; two things I desperately needed to happen. I know every day is different and new, but having the mental clarity to tackle it has been key. Hopefully this helps someone else and I can be a shoulder for women and future moms to lean on ♥

Introducing Madelyn Louise

HI! I am alive and also a (human) mom now. My, how quickly things change. This won’t ever be a mommy blog, but there are baby related things I want to record and write down so my next few post might be mom-heavy. But also some book posts. (LOL because I have any time to read… #dillusional)

Most longtime readers know that my husband’s name is Kyle, but I typically shorten it to K when I blog because a) ease and b) semi-privacy. That said, Maddie is getting shortened to M once this post is done and over with.

I want to share about her birth and about our first few days at home. I want to talk about the pressures of motherhood (which have thus far only existed in my own head- the family and friends we surround ourselves with are incredible and supportive). I want to talk about how our family looks now and about all the wonderful people who have helped us these past two weeks…. and I will. But today I’m introducing our newest little love to my blog family and giving you a quick update on the rest of us.

going home outfit

Madelyn arrived on Dec. 4th at 8:36pm weighing 8 pounds 2.3 ounces. I am well aware things with a baby can change daily, but as I write this she is darn near perfect… She loves to sleep & eat. She doesn’t mind being laid down or held by “strangers” (to her). Nights are still a little rough. She’s cool with noise or silence, light or darkness, pacifier or no pacifier. She’s completely unphased by dog barking. We are counting our blessings for her temperament during this stage. (We imagine karma has something good cooked up for those toddler years- lol.)

The dogs are perfect. The initial meet-and-greet was Enzo gently sniffing M and Bristol barking/growling at her 😂 Bristol is a husky mix who does husky-talk & based on her physical cues, it was not an aggressive growl- she just wanted the new human to play with her.

first meeting with fur sibs

Since that first meeting, Enzo is loving but indifferent to M. (He still love his mama and his sleep most of all.) Bristol is glued to her freaking side. She keeps her eye on M all day long and checks out every visitor who holds the baby. She checks on her throughout the day and usually lays near me while I feed her. Maddie has essential become Bristol’s baby.

*(We’re not irresponsible- we never leave the dogs and baby alone together.)

Moving on…

Kyle is the best human in the world. The dad life looks so good on him but the husband life is even better. He’s been so supportive, patient, attentive, loving, focused… with both Maddie & myself. I handle most nighttime duties and I change most diapers, but he is willing to do whatever I ask and is wonderful at entertaining, cuddling, comforting, and loving on baby. And spoiling the pups, too.

I love this picture

After the hospital I was hit HARD with emotions. They started on the car ride home. I spent 5 days in a complete fog. I cried off and on daily, felt awful about the present and the future, and moved through the current hour dreading the next. Baby blues/PPD/hormones at its finest. Finally on day 5 Kyle and I made some big decisions regarding life and the fog lifted. We’re still keeping an eye on my mental healthy, but those were some dense, dark woods and I am grateful to be out of them. Again, thank God for Kyle slogging through those days with me. He is a workaholic and he put everything on the back burner to make sure I was ok and Maddie was doing alright. Obviously that’s the job of a husband and partner and I’m not surprised by his attentiveness, but I know not all partners can/would do that.

running on 2 hours of broken sleep in this one… lol

I’m going to dive into that fog more in another post- I promise. This is already longer than I intended. Haha.

We’re doing well. We’re starting to kind of slip into a routine. Every day Maddie gives us something new- whether it’s a schedule shift or gas smile or physical development. I will say more about her, my postpartum experience, and our life soon (for those interested).

Before I go, a HUGE THANK YOU to my blog friends for the well wishes, gifts, advice, and friendship. Your love has been overwhelming- esp in those first few days. I have utilized some blog friends as resources for parenting and I really, really appreciate the time and energy they’ve given me. This community is incredible and I’m so grateful for all of you ♥ You all helped carry me through those first few days.