Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Reflection

As I look back over this past year it's hard to believe where I was at this very moment 1 year ago.  I had a newborn baby.  I had forgotten what sleep, friends, or showers were.  I felt like I was spending most of my time trying to figure out this whole nursing thing.  My house was a disaster, which drove me nuts!  My whole life was turned upside-down and my husband and I were trying to learn what our new normal was going to be. 

2013 was a year of learning the new normal.  As soon as we figured something out and got into the routine, our new normal needed to change again.  Whether it was my sleep schedule (or lack there of), returning to work, my husband's new job, or going from a newborn to a busy toddler, we were constantly learning a new normal.  Looking back to this very moment last year I had no clue how I was going to make it.  I thought the sleep deprivation would never end.  I thought I'd forever need to take a shower at 1:00 am because that was the only time I could find to take a shower (yes, I took many a shower at 1:00 am).  But now I see that all this stuff was only short lived.  Sure it didn't feel short lived at the time, but eventually I developed a new normal for a short period of time and moved on.
I am amazed and very proud of myself of how far I've become.  2013 has also been a year of growth for me.  I came face to face with a lot of challenges this year.  I was prepared for some of those challenges, but I was no where near prepared for all the challenges I would face.  It's because of these challenges, I feel like I have really grown a lot this past year.  I am constantly amazed at how I've grown and overcome some of the challenges and fears I faced.  I'm proud of myself for that.  It wasn't easy and I still have a lot of growing to do.  I pray that in 2014 God can continue to help me grow in the areas of my life I find that I am still struggling with.

Lastly, 2013 was the year of sacrifice for me.  When I was pregnant I knew that once our little bundle of joy would arrive that there would have to be a lot of sacrifices on my part.  I was not prepared for all the sacrifices I would really have to make.  I sacrificed my "me" times, my meal times, my showers, my sleep, and my clean house, just to name a few.  Overall, I'm happy to make a lot of the sacrifices I did for my family, yet I would be lying if I said that all my sacrifices were good.  I would sacrifice my time alone to rejuvenate only to find myself even more tired, stressed and burnt out.  I hope I can learn where that fine line is on positive verses negative sacrifices. 

I'm grateful for all my experiences I had in 2013.  I wouldn't trade them for the world.  I hope to experience even more wonderful experiences in 2014.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

My Struggles with Separation Anxiety

I love being a mom.  I love my little girl unconditionally and I can't imagine our lives without her.  But sometimes it's hard being a mom.  Just this weekend I felt like I had no freedom and had to miss out on fun things because I was caring for my little girl.

My baby defiantly has separation anxiety.  When I'm around she doesn't want anyone else.  There's only one other person she will willingly go to when I'm around and that's one of her daycare teachers.  Otherwise, when I'm around and she's awake she wants me to devote all my time to her.  Sometimes I have to hide just to get some alone time.  However, that hasn't been working as well as it has in the past now that she's walking.  She knows how to hunt me down better.  Yesterday I wasn't allowed to eat breakfast in piece.  She cried for the first whole hour that we were awake.  The only times she didn't cry was when I was holding her.  However it's hard to make and eat breakfast and hold a baby sometimes.  After breakfast I finally got her to calm down and we rocked for almost 1/2 hour.  Normally I can deal with the crying, but I have to admit it does get to me and I just can't handle it.  Once my hubby got home I went and hid in the basement.  I just needed alone time.

Other struggles is I have is I feel like I'm not allow to go out and enjoy stuff.  The daycare had a Christmas Program this weekend.  It was a lot of fun and really cute, but my little girl apparently had so much fun shaking the jingle bells she wanted to go back up front and I had to miss most of the program because I had to take her out into the church lobby (our daycare is located in a church).

I've also missed several church serves over the past couple of months because of the separation anxiety.  I can drop her off in the church nursery and if I'm lucky I can go down and enjoy a song or two before the announcements.  Then our number flashes up on the little screen and we get paged to come back up to the nursery.  Today was a real treat.  I got to sit through the whole church service.  What a treat!

It's hard being a mom sometimes.  I never realized how many sacrifices I would have to make sometimes.  Most of the time I'm happy to make those sacrifices.  But sometimes I just need a break and re-energize myself.  But I feel like it's hard to get that time to myself unless I take a day off from work or leave the house.  Well what if I just want to sit at home and relax?  Well, there's a baby and she will hunt me down or I will hear her.  Hopefully this separation anxiety will pass and when she gets passed off to dad or anyone else there will be no screaming.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

My Wonderful Husband

Recently I was thinking about how far I came when it comes to nursing.  Nursing did not come easy for me.  I had to jump through a lot of hurdles, which included a tongue tied baby, low milk supply, milk blisters and more.  I really wanted to breastfeed my baby and my husband also wanted me to breastfeed too. We had taken a breastfeeding class when I was pregnant and it sold him on the idea of breastfeeding.  Well, when the baby was born nursing did not come naturally for me.  And I don't think it came naturally for baby either.  We both struggled at it.  In fact I struggled with it so much that we had to feed baby formula a couple hours after she was born.  I felt like such a failure.  However , the Women's Heath unit at Mayo had wonderful nurses and lactation consultants.  They were really supportive and willing to see me succeed.  However, once we left the hospital it was just me, baby, and hubby. 

The next 2-3 months were really hard for me.  I would have several visits with lactation.  However throughout the whole time my husband was my cheerleader.  He would continually tell me how proud he was of me, he was willing to help out around the house and do the grocery shopping so I could focus on nursing and pumping.  When he was off from work for paternity leave he would wake up with me in the middle of the night for the night feedings.  He would sit on the couch with me while I nursed.  He would change the diapers and bring me the baby.  When we were supplementing each feeding with pumped milk, he would handle all the supplemental feedings when he was home.  Right away from day 1 I was pumping to make sure my milk came in and then to help increase my milk supply.  My husband was the one who would wash all the parts for me. 

That wasn't the only thing my husband did.  For the first two weeks he changed all but probably a couple diapers.  I think I only changed one diaper before he went back to work.  When I was on maternity leave, he would come home everyday for lunch and help me.  Sometimes it was just changing the diaper.  Other times it was watching the baby so I could shower or take a short nap.  I was so grateful that he would take the time to come home everyday.

Now my husband willingly picks up the baby from daycare everyday.  He helps clean the kitchen most nights, in fact baby even helps with unloading the silverware from the dishwasher (she loves it!).  And he still changes the diapers everyday.  Most nights he gets the baby ready for bed right before I feed her.  It means so much to me that he does all these things.  It gets to be a lot for me to go to work, take care of the house, and take care of the baby.  I easily tire.  Every little bit that my husband does to help out means a lot. 

I am very thankful for my husband.  He means a lot to me.

Monday, November 4, 2013

One Year Reflection

This past week I've been spending quite a bit of time reflecting about this past year.  I can't believe that my baby is going to be a year old this week.  When I look back at where I was at this time last year I can't believe how much things have changed. 

This time last year, I was still pregnant and full of emotions.  I was scared to experience labor.  I was excited to find out if we were going to have a boy or a girl.  What will this baby look like?  How big will this baby be?  But I was also scared of the unknown.  I had a lot of fear.  How will we pay for the baby?  Will we be able to save money?  How will our life change?  Will we be able to participate in bible study?  See our friends?  How will we balance our new life?  So many unknowns, so many worries. 

Now that I look back, I could feel those emotions again, but not in the same way.  As I feel some of these emotions again I think, "Why was I so worried?"  I am amazed with how God provided.  I have no idea how we make ends meet.  I have no idea where my energy comes from.  How was I able to survive off of 3 hours of continuous sleep?  Looking back, I can tell you that it was God who got me through it. 

One of the emotions I have very vividly been remembering is the feeling I had sitting in that hospital room.  I was in shock!  I couldn't believe I just had a baby.  I didn't know what I was doing.  Feeding was not as easy as it looked.  I remember feeling like such a failure as a mom in that hospital room.  I was not a natural when it came to breastfeeding and we had to give baby some formula.

I had a lot of torment the first 6 months or so of being a mom.  I had felt like a failure because feeding wasn't easy.  People would come up to me and tell me how cute my baby was, but then they would also go on and talk about her "rash" which was actually bad eczema.  I hated when people would ask me what's wrong with my baby when they would look at her when her eczema would flare up.  I felt like a bad mom for going to work and not being a stay-at-home mom. 

While you're in the moment of sleep deprivation, low milk supply, cluelessness of being a new mom, and just the 180 your life makes the moment you have a baby, you just can't imagine how it's going to go by so fast.  But it does.  All those people were right when they would tell me it'll soon pass.  Yes, the first 3 months were probably the hardest.  I have no idea how I survived.  But eventually I started sleeping at night, my milk supply increased, I started having confidence in myself as a mom, and I started getting into a new routine and becoming accustom to my new life style. 

Now my emotions and feelings are completely different than they were last year.  I realized that I don't have fear about the future.  I'm not scared about how are we going to pay for XYZ.  God had miraculously provided over and over again.  I don't feel like a failure as a mom.  I feel like I'm a really good mom.  I've loosened up and I'm not as paranoid.  I'm not calling the doctor's office asking ridiculous questions.  I feel like I'm more relaxed as a mom.  Maybe it helps that the eczema has really cleared up a lot these past 3 months and people don't ask me what's wrong with my baby anymore.  And maybe it's because I had to face some of my deepest fears when I was pregnant and a new mom.  And once I faced them, things really weren't as bad at all.  I got through them. 

It's been a roller coaster of a year.  But I would not trade any of it!  I can't imagine what our life without our baby girl.  Yes there was a lot of challenges and a lot of growing but it was worth it.  I'm glad I worked hard and preserved with nursing.  I'm glad I made the sacrifices I did.  Instead, I got to have some wonderful experiences and memories with my baby.  Everything I went through this past year, good and bad, was totally worth it.  I hope it made me into a better person. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Media and Post-Pregnancy Weightloss Pressures

Starting with this spring, I started noticing quite a few news stories about new moms who are showing off their new bodies and how "perfect" they look and their baby is less than a year old.  They talk about how they were able to exercise at least 3 times per week.  Just last week I saw a news story about a mom of 3 boys, the youngest is 8 months.  She was showing off her perfectly toned and the caption read "What's our Excuse?"

Good for those mom's who are able to take the time to workout and get that great looking post-pregnancy body.  But what I want to know is how in the world do these mom's find time to exercise?  I've been noticing that quite a few of these weight loss pressure come from famous stars who make millions, so they probably can afford a nanny to watch baby when they workout.  I also question how many of these new mom's with the perfect post-pregnancy bodies are stay-at-home mom's or only work half-time.  Where's the mom who works full-time, takes care of the house & meals and the only gets 10-15 mins to herself each day?

I try to find time to workout even 2 times per week, but it's really hard to find it right now.  I work outside the house.  I come home, feed my baby, make supper, play with my baby until it's time for bed.  I don't bother cleaning up until after baby is sleeping.  Sometimes I only get 10 mins per week of good exercise right now.  And when I do get to actually workout I tend to get interrupted.  Currently my exercise is now chasing and playing with baby.  When it was warmer I would take baby out for a walk most evenings.  Sure I don't have the time to do a lot of muscle toning exercises right now (except for daily "weightlifting"...I'm up to 17 lbs), but I also don't sit on my butt for 4 hours every night either.  I'm down almost 10 lbs from my pre-pregnacy weight, but I'm not as toned as I once was.  Yet, I feel like the media is saying that I'm not good enough. 

I'm proud of what I've accomplished.  Sure the weight didn't melt off of me like it does other people.  But considering I gained 60 lbs during my pregnancy, mostly due to the extreme swelling I experienced, and I lost almost 70 lbs in 1 year.  And I don't get the time to go to the gym to workout either.  It takes a woman 9 months to gain the weight and she's carrying a 2nd person at the time.  So, if it takes you 9 months to gain the weight, why is there so much pressure to loose all that weight and then some in 2-3 months?  It's hard enough trying to sleep, eat, shower and clean the house in those first couple of months.  Why do people feel like we all have all the time in the world to live the same way before we were pregnant?

I think the important this is that you are taking care of yourself and that you're staying active, whether that's going to the gym or going for a walk or getting down on all fours and chasing your baby around the room. Don't feel pressured to have the perfect body right after you have a baby.  Love yourself and love your husband and love your children.  Enjoy life!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Solid Foods

The transition to solid foods have been a struggle.  Not only is it hard to get my baby to want to eat solids and wean off nursing, but it's also hard trying to make sure she's eating healthy.  At first I told myself no sweets until she's at least a year old.  I wanted to feed her only healthy foods. 

Lately, I've thrown my whole way of thinking out the window.  My baby wants to eat whatever we are eating.  Because I want her to eat healthy, I have found myself trying to eat healthier myself.  However, I'm not going to lie, I love my ice cream and occasional fast food.

Last week I stopped at Taco Johns to grab a quick bite to eat.  There I was at Taco John's feeding my baby a potato ole and a couple bites of my burrito.  I felt like such a bad mom.  How could I be feeding my baby this junk?  How could I be eating this junk?  But it was so good.  It was a treat.  However, at the same time I was feeling like I was being judged by others for feeding her a couple potato oles.  Then last night I came to the realization of something.  Instead of trying to keep my baby from sweets and fast food, I need to teach about moderation.

I don't want her to one day go extremely overboard when presented with sweets or junk food.  Temptation is always going to be there.  I know.  I experience it myself.  We can't protect her from the food that she will be presented with 24/7.  So, I've decided that I'm not going to deprive my child from the occasional bite of ice cream or cookie or french fry however, I also think it's very important to teach her how to limit her intake. 

I know some people will judge me for not offering only the healthiest of the healthiest of foods, but I'm learning to be ok with that.  I feel like way too many people out there judge and throw a fit for how people feed their children.  Yes, I do believe that there is a line that can be crossed.  When you're feeding only processed and other forms of junk food, I don't think that's acceptable.  But when your giving your child a well balanced diet, I think people need to back off.  So what if my baby doesn't eat the healthiest of healthy foods.  So what if I choose to use frozen veggies over fresh, don't you care that I'm at least feeding her veggies?  I just need to keep telling myself that my baby is happy & healthy and is getting a taste for a wide variety of food.  She's still getting feed healthy foods every day and she's hardly had any sweets and only at fast food once.

Through all of this God has been convicting me of my eating habits.  I've been finding myself wanting to eat healthier too.  I want to be a good example.  I've been trying making more conscious decisions on what I prepare for meals.  I've been more proactive making sure to increase our fruit & veggie intake.  For years now I've tried to be conscience about the foods I eat and exercising regularly but I feel like I'm now starting to bump it up a notch.  Now only if I could get back into a regular exercise regimen.

Some of the foods my baby has tried (and wanted to try) within the past month.
 1) Spaghetti
 2) Chili
 3) Tacos
 4) Stir Fry
 5) Chicken Noodle Soup (homemade of course)
 6) Eggs
 7) French Toast (her favorite)
 8) Hot dish
 9) Salsa quesidillas

She loves her tomato based foods and she loves to try whatever it is we're eating.  She's somehow figured out if I'm trying to feed her something different.

First Words

I've had the joy of hearing baby's first words.  The first word we've determined is "Mama".  Honestly, I have no idea when she's actually first said "Mama" because she would babble and say "mamama..."  It's starting to become more obvious that she's saying "Mama" which is exciting. 

Then this past weekend I had the privilege of hearing "bye bye" for the first time.  I was nursing Anna on Saturday and she just looked up at me, waves and said "bye bye."  At first I didn't believe it but she kept doing it over and over again.  It was so exciting!

I'm also learning her language as well.  I figured out that when she holds her hand up in the air and says "ha da" she's trying to say "high five."  It was about a month ago when she was done eating and she held her hand up in the air and said "ha da".  That's when I realized "oh high five!" It only took a week to figure that one out.  And the only reason I figured it out was because we always do high five when she finished her food or did a good job during the diaper change.  And she even used the same pitch we use too.  That was super exciting to figure it out.

This has been such an exciting time.  I love it!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Mommy & Baby Hand Prints

I found this basic recipe to make salt dough for prints.  It looked so easy and fun so I had to try it.  Since the recipe I found was so basic it took me two tries to get it right.  It was a lot of fun and really fast and easy to make.  Here's the recipe with my additional notes. 

1/2 c salt
1/2 c flour

1/4 c water (give or take)

Mix together well.  (I used a wooden spoon at first, then finished mixing with my hands until I was able to form a ball)
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  
Form the dough into a ball or brink (depending on the shape you want) and roll it out onto the cookie sheet.
Firmly press Mommy's (or Daddy's) hand in first, then firmly press the child's hand.  If it doesn't work out roll the dough out again.  
If desired, use a straw to make holes for hanging.  

Bake at 210 degrees F for 3 hours until it's fully dry and hard.  If it's still wet or soft, place it back into the oven for another 1-2 hours.

Paint desired colors using acrylic paint. 

I've decided to display the hand prints using a plate holder.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Learning to be OK with a Messy Home

I hate having a messy home!  I hate stuff!  I like clean and organized.  I like to have things kept in their place.  I can't relax and enjoy myself if my house is a mess.  God is teaching me a lot about patience and releasing control lately. 

It's been a struggle for me to keep the house clean since my baby was born.  Baby stuff just seems to consume your whole house.  No matter where I turned, there was baby stuff.  If I wanted to escape the baby world, I was able to go down to our family room (that we hardly ever used before baby) and sit in the family room.  Then around 6 months I felt like I was finally starting to gain control over my unorganized home again.  I was in a routine with being a working mom.  I was finally learning how to live off 6 continuous hours of sleep (baby was sleeping around 8 hours but I needed that hour each night & morning for me).  I was feeling good about myself.  Sure my house wasn't spotless, but it was organized. 

Then somewhere in the 9th month I lost control big time.  All of a sudden my sweet little baby girl decided that she too can "help" with folding laundry.  She too can "help" clean out my purse or her diaper bag.  She decided that her toys & books do not belong on her shelf and would pull them all off first thing every morning.  And if you tried to pick them up, she'd be right behind you pulling them back off.  She decided that the tables in the living room needed to be clean 24/7.  If you put anything on the table, she's throw it on the floor.  Now she's learned about the dishwasher...DUN DUN DUN!!!  Loading the dishwasher has been a really big challenge b/c she wants to help you unload the dishwasher.  We constantly have dirty silverware on our kitchen floor now when we're trying to clean the kitchen.  Luckily we don't wash any of our knives in the dishwasher, so I don't have to worry about her cutting herself.  However,  I've been finding ourselves in this constant battle in cleaning our house.  When you try to clean and organize, my sweet little angel is right behind you.  My husband will jokingly say "Here momma!  You didn't do this right.  The _____ goes over here." or "Let me help you momma!  I can _____ too!"  as our little girl is destroying everything that I just worked on. 

God works in funny ways.  As I'm struggling with this whole messy house thing, He leads me to an article from a newsletter I receive, that describes your baby at 10 months.  It said that at this age your baby creates clutter.  AMEN to that!  It was really good for me to see that this was normal and it's not just my baby.  So, this past week God has really been working on me and saying "It's OK if the house isn't perfect!  Enjoy your daughters curiosity.  Enjoy your daughter's enthusiasm.  Enjoy your daughter!"  I still don't like a messy house.  It still drives me crazy but, I'm learning that the world is not exploding because my daughter's room has her clothes thrown all over the place because she wanted to "help" me with the laundry. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Enjoy the Present

I can't tell you how much it bugs me when I hear another mom say, "I can't wait until my baby is able to ________."  Sometimes they are referring to my slightly older baby who just happens to have a few more skills because she's older.  I tend respond with something like "Enjoy the stage you're in now.  It's going to go by way too fast.  One day you may miss the stage you're in right now.  I know that at times I miss the stage you're in."

I was the mom who thought my baby was growing up way to fast, when she was 1 week old!  I was the mom who cried when she turned 1 month old because she was growing up way too fast.  I was the mom who was upset when someone told me that she no longer looked like a newborn.  I had to face the music, time was not going to slow down for me.

I just can't believe how quickly a baby can change between week to week.  One week they have no idea where their hand is, the next week they can find their hand.  One week they want to cuddle in close and could snuggle with you through an entire movie.  The next week they want nothing to do with cuddling and want you down on the floor playing with them.  One week they can play by themselves on the living room floor while you are making supper (FYI...we have an open concept house, so the living room, dining room & kitchen are one huge room).  The next week they are crawling and hunting you down as you try to go to the bathroom in peace.

Each stage goes by so fast, my advice is enjoy it.  Don't wish it away.  Yeah, you maybe excited and can't wait until she laughs for the first time or eats solid foods or sits up by herself.  But don't miss out on the neat things your baby is doing right now at this very moment.  Don't be wishing for that moment when your baby can entertain herself, because you could be missing out on your baby's new discovery of the noise a rattle can make when she shakes it.

I remember a sermon I heard years ago when I was in college.  It was about enjoying the present.  I remember the priest telling us "Don't spend your time wishing for the future because you could be missing out on something important that God has in store for you right now.  God purposely placed you where you're at today because He has a purpose for you.  Don't miss out on the things God has for you right now because you're wishing for things that God may not give to you in the future."

Enjoy every moment with your baby.  It doesn't matter if they're 1 week old, 1 year old or 50 years old.  It's ok to mourn the past, but don't let it ruin the present.  Sure, I miss the times when my baby wanted to cuddle with me on the couch, but I'm enjoying the crawling and walking stage now too.  Each stage is special.  Don't miss the blessings God is giving to you right now because you can't wait for the future.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Magical World of Bathland

I love being a mom and I love watching my baby learn.  Her favorite time is bath time.  Every morning we travel to the Magical World of Bathland where she splashes around.  We have Daddy Duck, Mommy Duck and Baby Duck.  We set the duck on the edge of her baby tub and the ducks "jump" into the water.  At first my baby wasn't sure what to do when I set a duck on the ledge and tell the ducky to jump.  Now, when you set the duck on the ledge she knows exactly how push the ducky into the water to make the ducky "jump."  At the end of our splash time we have to give each ducky a kiss as we put them away.

As time goes on we've been playing new games with the ducks.  Earlier this week I had Mommy Duck giving Baby Duck kisses.  This morning I was amazed when my baby had Baby Duck give Mommy Duck kisses.  It's not like the other games we play with the ducks where we've played them over and over.  It was just a one day time a couple days ago. 

Another favorite game my baby loves is peek-a-boo.  We've been playing peek-a-boo with her since she was only a couple weeks old.  Earlier this month during one of our trips to the Magical World of Bathland, my baby took the wash cloth from me and started playing peek-a-boo with her ducks.  It was so cute!  Most days she wants the wash cloth from me so she can play peek-a-boo with her ducks.  If you try to take the wash cloth away so you can wash her, she gets mad at times. 

I love watching my little girl learn.  It's so much fun.  It's amazing what she picks up and how fast she learns.  I think I enjoy visiting Magical World of Bathland just as much as my baby.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Why I'm not meant to be a Stay-at-Home Mom

I am very fortunate to have a job that granted me 12 weeks of paid maternity leave.  Of course, I had to use my sick leave that I had accumulated over the past 4 years at my job, but I had was able to take the full 12 weeks.  When it was time for me to return to work, I started second guessing my choice to be a working mom.  I loved my baby and the thought of not spending every day with her bothered me.  I would pray and ask God if my husband & I made the right decision about me returning to work.  I felt like I was a horrible mother by being a working mom.  Luckily, to help with the transition back to work my job was willing to allow me to work part time.  However, my anxiety about being a working mom increased when I would drop my child off at daycare.  I was not comfortable with the original daycare we chose and thought that I was making the biggest mistake in my life by returning to work.  Within two weeks of returning to work, we switched daycares.  Once we switched, I started to become more and more comfortable with the idea of being a working mom

I got to spend the past week with my baby.  Now that our week together is coming to an end I've realized I'm not the stay-at-home type.  And my baby is not the stay-at-home type either.  By the end of the week, we'd go out to the park and you could tell that she really wanted to play with the other kids, something she didn't get to do when it was just mommy and her.  I realized that my baby really needs and desires to interact with people her own age as much as I need to interact with people my own age. 

I highly respect the mom's who were called to be stay-at-home mothers.  God has truly given them a gift.  However after this week, I am more confident in the fact that God has not called me to be a stay-at-home mom (for the time being).  God created everyone to be different and He's created me to be a working mom and there's nothing wrong with that.  Maybe in the future I will be a stay-at-home mom, but right now I'm happy and content with being a working mom.