Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The real look of motherhood

My friend Mike just wrote about FOMO (fear of missing out) and how in our social media driven world we only post about the cool parts of our lives. His point was how we post the best parts of our lives to feel cooler than other people posting about the awesome things that they are doing. It is a vicious cycle. You are guilty of it, your hairdresser is guilty of it, and I am definitely guilty of it.

As a new mother I want to showcase how cute my baby is and what a perfect life we live. My daughter has a head full of hair and is pretty much adorable. I probably take upwards of 20 pictures of her a day. (I know!!) Then I scrutinize over which photo is the best to post. ...All the while struggling to breastfeed and dealing with a colicky baby who screams all day. But you don't see that part. You see the cute baby picture, or the "happy" mom on an adventure with her new baby picture.

Another thing I have been partaking in as a new mother is the posting of my baby's monthly milestones. This includes her weight, development progress, likes, and dislikes. I just finished posting my baby's 2-month stats and got to thinking that maybe I should do a milestones post for myself as a new mother, to measure how far I've come. Not a pretty post, but a real look at the beginning progress of motherhood. All of the attention is on the baby's progress, but what about poor mom? She is growing, learning, and progressing too.

So here is my non-FOMO post of REAL motherhood month by month. 
(My hope is to do all 12 months of my first year being a mom.)

 Month-1 Outtakes:

 Month-2 Outtakes:

 Month-3 Outtakes:

Month-4 Outtakes:

Friday, September 4, 2015

6-week Postpartum Truths

Photo by Robin Skievaski Photography
Well here I am, 6-weeks after giving birth to our little Hazel. I have had a lot of half written posts in my head, but they have never made it to the computer. This was partially because taking care of a newborn has consumed all of my time, and partially because I had so much to say that I didn't know how to properly organize it. I still don't know how to organize it, but the time has come to try.

I've read a lot of baby blogs, thus a lot of birth stories. I always figured I would follow suit and post my birth story after it happened. Before giving birth, I was really excited to go into labor, experience giving birth, and then tell everyone my magical story. Then it happened. And let me tell you, there was NOTHING magical about it. In fact, it was the most traumatizing event that I have ever experienced. So traumatizing that I don't want to tell my birth story. You might be wondering, wow something serious must have happened. The truth is that nothing serious happened, it was a very average birth. I was just a huge wimp, I lost control, I freaked out, in the end I was extremely traumatized, end of story.

I don't understand how everyone can say that pregnancy is magical, giving birth is magical, newborns are magical...yata yata. Maybe it truly is magical for some people, but not for me. I would be more inclined to use the adjectives uncomfortable, painful, isolating. Before getting pregnant, I was under the illusion that everything involved with having a baby would be beautiful. I was so wrong. I hate to be a downer, but I have not enjoyed any of the process of getting pregnant and having a baby. (Except for feeling her kicks when she was inside me, and feeling like a mother goddess for a total of about one week when I was pregnant.) Overall, it has been hard and isolating.

Maybe I wasn't ready for a baby, maybe I don't do as well with change as I thought I did. Whatever it is, I have struggled. Yes, I wanted to experience pregnancy, I wanted to feel my body grow with life inside it, and then use my incredible body to push that new life out into the world. I did it, I experienced it, and now my life has changed forever. I now have to deal with the challenges of someone else needing me 24 hours a day, loss of independence, loss of body perkiness, loss of social life...I gave all of those up and I am struggling. Yes, I gained a beautiful and healthy daughter, but I have yet to truly appreciate her. So far, she is like a needy pet. She eats, sleeps, poops, and cries. That is my life now. I am trying hard to find joy in the little things, but some days this life change is just all too overwhelming. Thus the journey to motherhood begins!

(Don't get me wrong, this is not postpartum depression, I am just processing the whirlwind that this is. My spirits are upbeat, I am just dealing with change and trying to speak my truth. :)

My Pregnancy Milestones

I have kept track of each little thing that has happened in my pregnancy. I don't want to forget these moments because they were so important and/or special when they happened. I think it will be fun to be able to look back on these milestones in the future.

4-weeks:  Found out I was pregnant

7-weeks:  Officially had morning sickness, officially means I am a pregnant lady. (small victory?)

10-weeks:  First doctors appointment.

12-weeks: Heard the heart beat for the first time. (magical!!)

15-weeks: Felt the first movement. (a flutter and then a tiny kick movement)
15-weeks: Morning sickness has mostly stopped.

16-weeks: It's a GIRL! (had genetic blood testing done, baby is great, sex is female)

18-weeks:  Officially look like I have a small belly...or just fat. (awkward stage)

20-weeks (5 months): Belly popped, I think. (I look pregnant in tight clothes!)

22-weeks: First ultrasound, little girl was lounging with her legs crossed. (So cute!) Her heart, spine, brain, and other organs all looked good. Her growth might be behind by 2-3-weeks though.

23-weeks: Andy and I took a babymoon vacation to Isla Mujeres Mexico. Experienced my first braxton-hicks contractions (in my lower back) on the plane ride back from vacation.

24-weeks: Second ultrasound. Little girl's growth is steady, but she is still measuring small. Saw her sucking on her fingers during the ultrasound. (wow!)

27-weeks: Have a DEFINITE round belly now. I look pregnant in everything I wear. Also wearing maternity clothes full-time now.

30-weeks: Officially have back pain. Also getting no sleep due to discomfort and peeing all the time.
30-weeks: Getting regular braxton-hix contractions now.

32-weeks: Diagnosed with gestational diabetes. (not a happy milestone, but a big enough one to make note of.)

36-weeks: Last ultrasound, she is head-down and ready to go. I am having regular contractions now, especially when I take long walks.

37-weeks: Diagnosed with melanoma on my left eyelid.

38-weeks, 5-days: Induced because of the melanoma, 30 hours of labor, 15 minutes of pushing, gave birth to Hazel who was 6 pounds, 3 ounces, and 18 inches long, with a full head of dark hair.

Monday, August 3, 2015

What people don't tell you about having a baby

Just about every blogger that I've read who has had a baby does that one post about "what people don't tell you about giving birth and having a baby". Well...here is my version. (Obviously, I'm sure this is different for everyone though.)

You won't use anything in your hospital bag
I packed a great, yet simple hospital bag and STILL didn't use anything in it. I packed snacks, my computer, some cute/comfy outfits (and a robe) for after giving birth, my toiletries, some pads and diapers, and a few outfits and bows for the baby. Then, I didn't even open my bag. When I got to the hospital I wore their gown, ate their snacks, and was in too much pain for any kind of entertainment. After giving birth, they provided me with disposable underwear (awesome!) and pads along with with ice-packs that I could put in the pad (super awesome), and a clean hospital gown. They clothed and wrapped the baby and gave her a hat. The only time I used anything from my bag was when I took a shower the second day in the hospital. I used my toiletries and some sweatpants and tshirt. Then, when we left the hospital we put the baby into a onsie that I had packed. That was all I used, there was no point in bringing anything else.

Breastfeeding may NOT come naturally
No one told me that breastfeeding doesn't happen naturally and that it is in fact hard work. Yeah, I was told about getting a proper latch and the possibility of pain and discomfort the first few weeks, but nothing about hard work. After I delivered and the baby was on my chest I figured she would latch immediately and our mother-daughter breastfeeding bond would be set for life. Boy was I wrong! She did not latch after birth, nor did she latch an hour after birth, or even later that evening, or the next day! Turns out, some babies don't know what to do. It also turns out that I have flat nipples. (Who knew?!) Since giving birth, I have been fighting an uphill battle to naturally nurse my baby. It has been some of the hardest, most stressful, non-bonding or magical work I have ever done.

Peeing yourself is common
The day I came home from the hospital something weird happened. I had been sitting on the couch for about two hours when I felt the urge to pee. I got up to go to the bathroom and a whole bunch of warm liquid came out. Luckily, I was wearing a gorilla-sized pad so I didn't wet my clothes. My first thought was that I had hemorrhaged blood. My 10 second walk (waddle) to the bathroom was pretty horrifying as I envisioned my pants FULL of blood. When I looked though, it was clear liquid that had come out. I had, in fact, peed myself! This same thing happened about 2 other times in that first week home from the hospital.

You may not actually have to give birth to the afterbirth
After I gave birth I fully expected to push out my placenta. In fact, I prided myself on knowing this would happen. Well, it never happened. I laid in bed holding my newborn, while glancing down waiting for them to tell me to push out the placenta. About 10 minutes after my daughter had been on my chest I looked down and there was my placenta! I never pushed it out, instead, they massaged it out. How wonderful, one less thing I had to do!

Epidurals are a breeze
24 hours into my labor I had reached number 10 on the 1-10 pain scale. I couldn't take it anymore and opted for an epidural. At that point I was so spent physically, mentally, and emotionally. When the anesthesiologist came to give me the epidural I cried like a baby. I was more scared of a needle in my spine than of giving birth. I almost changed my mind I was so scared. My husband, a nurse, and the midwife held my hands and comforted me while the anesthesiologist calmly walked me through the procedure. When it was all said and done I realized that I had WAY overreacted and that getting the epidural was really painless and simple. Getting it was the best decision I could have made.

Birth = fantastic skin
Now this may just be me, but after I gave birth I had the best skin I have ever had. My complexion was soft, lustrous, and model-esque. My face was truly like a baby's bottom. I don't know why exactly this happened, but I am thinking it may have had something to do with all the fluids they were pushing through my IV with the epidural. Either way, it was a fantastic bonus side effect from giving birth. (One week later and I am back to my regular skin, boo.)

Breastfeeding makes you want to eat ALL the food
I was never very hungry during pregnancy. I kept expecting to feel an intense hunger come over me due to growing a baby, but that never happened. In fact, I probably ate less during my pregnancy than I would have normally eaten. After delivering and starting to breastfeed though, I have become ravenous! Like eat ALL the food kind of ravenous. I had no idea this kind of hunger could come over me. 2am feedings end with a trip to the fridge so I can satisfy my insatiable hunger. I eat often and I eat large. It is like a teenage boy has overtaken my body!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Waiting Game...

I had no idea that the end of pregnancy would be so agonizing! At the beginning of my pregnancy I told myself that I would try to enjoy every minute of the journey. That at the end, rather than hoping the baby would come quickly, instead I would live each day fully enjoying the last of my independence before becoming a parent. Well...somehow that idea didn't stick. I am over pregnancy, I just want baby girl to get here. I want my body back. I want to be able to eat and drink what I want. I want to be able to sleep comfortably. Darn it!

Each day that goes by the time ticks SO. SLOWLY. My sister-inlaw gave me some great advice saying that I should treat myself to a little something special each day and plan fun activities to look forward to. I have started to do this, but still, I am impatient. I guess this is just another lesson in life showing me that I need to surrender to what will happen. My baby will come when she is ready and I need to trust that my body knows what it is doing. Somehow this is easier said than done.

On top of all this waiting, my due date was also pushed back. Bah humbug! Seriously, really? The baby's measurements in my ultrasound showed a later due date, so my new due date is now August 2nd. My July baby just became an August baby according to technology. We shall see technology, we shall see!

So...I continue the wait. I continue to get contractions that randomly start and stop. I continue to wake up in the middle of the night to pee only a teaspoon because that seems to be the size of my bladder these days. I continue to speed-waddle around the neighborhood hoping to walk this baby out. I continue to drink so much red raspberry leaf tea that my bowels loosen, all in the hopes of ripening my cervix. I continue to hope and dream about having this baby. Patience, let me learn patience...

Monday, July 20, 2015

Pregnancy, Diabetes, Death of a Friend, & now... Melanoma

A friend of my recently posted this quote by anonymous:
"An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backwards. When life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means that it is going to launch you into something great. Focus and keep aiming."

Pregnancy, Diabetes, Death of a Friend, AND now Melanoma. REALLY? Just really, I ask? Somehow it is all so much to take in that I just have to laugh. Thank goodness for a positive personality, because otherwise I may just be at the bottom of a lake somewhere...

Getting pregnant was exciting, and while we planned it, we didn't plan for it to happen immediately...like the first time we tried. (I was sure it would take at least 6-months.) So in our not-well-thought-through "planning" we found ourselves pregnant and in the middle of a house renovation.  Through horrible morning sickness, mood swings, and generally disliking being pregnant, I pushed through and we kept working on our house. Luckily, we were able to move into the house in February, and now we are 98% finished with it. We are currently tying up lose ends on the house as I wait to go into labor. We are cutting it close, but it has mostly worked out so I am not complaining. (I just really want air conditioning before the baby comes!)

At about 30-weeks into my pregnancy I was randomly diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I am not in any of the risk groups for getting it, it was just a random, freak diagnosis. Freak diagnosis or not, I have gestational diabetes and it has thrown me for a complete loop. It was weird and scary to get the news and I cried for a whole day. Since then, I have come to terms with it, learned how to take my blood sugar, and now I eat a super clean diet consisting of low carb and low sugar. While I have lost weight at the end of my pregnancy rather than gaining it, I feel healthy and more importantly the baby is healthy. All is well now in my diabetic life.

Just as I got over being pregnant while renovating our house, then got past horrible morning sickness, and adjusted to a diabetic lifestyle, I then had to lay a very close friend to rest. She fought cancer for 3-years and while the end was predictable, it was still horribly sad. It is hard to say goodbye to a friend at such a young age. It has also been extremely hard for me to process her death as I deal with pregnancy, house renovation, and diabetes. Prioritizing what to focus on and what to process when, is becoming increasingly difficult for me.

So to add a cherry on top of this mess-of-a-life-ice-cream sunday...I was just diagnosed with malignant melanoma. (*pause for loud laughter*) It was found in a mole above my left eye. They won't operate until the baby is born, but they are saying that they will have to take the majority of my eyebrow. (The dermatologist said, "plenty of people get tattooed eyebrows!")  Luckily, (which at this point, I'll take any kind of luck) they say that it is only stage-1 so I will not have to follow up with any kind of chemo or radiation. So now I wait for this baby to be born (any day!), so that I can get surgery to remove a chunk of my eyelid and eyebrow, so that hopefully I can be free of skin cancer and get on with my life with a newborn baby.

At this point I find life purely humorous. I no longer know how to process anything. Processing has gone out the window and it has been replaced with joking and laughter. I guess humor is how I deal with things...? Either way, I am focusing on the quote at the top of this page in hoping that even though I have been dragged back in life with these difficulties, hopefully my misfortunes will soon launch me forward into something great. "Focus and keep aiming." (It's ok, it's ok, it's ok)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

An Ode to Jenna

Having a friend pass away so young is a difficult thing. The only people I have laid to rest have been grandparents, older relatives, and the odd parent of a friend. Jenna was one of my best friends. It has been difficult for me to process her death as I am about to birth a baby. It is such a strange and odd time for me. At this point, I feel that the best I can do is this little write up. I wrote it for her "celebration of life" (funeral), but then couldn't bring myself to read it. So here is part of my processing on death and life:

I feel like a bit of a contradiction.
Mourning Jenna's death, while I grow new life.
But all life is a celebration.
Life and death are what make the world go round.
They are the purest form of this world.

Jenna was an innocent bystander of life.
Enjoying, loving, living.
Just living one 4th of July to the next.
Because she loved the holiday...
And made us all swear to spend it together.
Together forever, because this holiday is for friends.
That's what she said.

Jenna was an innocent bystander of life.
She loved candy and cheesecake.
Always had something stashed in her purse for later.
She loved laughing and dancing.
Many a late night was spent dancing the living room away.

So here I am a contradiction.
Growing new life, excited for each day.
But Jenna is gone, how do I cope, how do I mourn?
She was my friend, my buddy, always there.
Now she's never to be seen again, only in memories.
In my heart I hold her, my by arms they never will.

Jenna was an innocent bystander of life.
She lived it well and short, her time was sweet.
The insult that is cancer took her too soon.
She fought hard and strong, never wavering to defeat.
She was one fierce lady, always positive in her fight.

So I say goodbye to Jenna.
As I welcome new life, a babe into my arms.
This is life I tell myself.
Life and death, it is the purest form of what we live.