The (First) Lose-Lose of Motherhood.

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My twelve weeks are almost up.

My baby isn’t old enough to sit up, she’s exclusively breast fed and has eaten from a bottle only four times in her little life. She’s just starting to laugh and really chat it up with the goo goo gaga business. I’m mostly healed from pushing a 10 lb baby out of my nether regions and feeling almost back to myself.

All of which seems to mean I’m about to face one of the infamous lose-lose moments of motherhood.

Going back to work or staying home.

Either way, the moral of this story is that you lose.

Looking back 3 years ago, Christian and I decided to start trying for a family. Over the course of our journey to get pregnant we would discover I have PCOS, endure all sorts of hormone treatments (which weren’t a walk in the park), suffer a miscarriage and weather through the tears each month when my period showed up instead of those two little lines.

The day I found out I was pregnant with Eleanor I was ecstatic while also feeling an equal measure of fear. Nonetheless, my pregnancy progressed pretty normally and being pregnant was even better than I had imagined it to be (most of the time). Throughout each day I’d be met with questions about my pregnancy, about the baby – each holding a air of excitement and wonder. Everyone is excited about pregnancy, everyone is excited about babies.

Fast forward to the present. No one is excited about a 3 month old (well except me, her dad and probably her grand parents). My profession tells me it’s time to give up the goat. Go back to work. Leave my baby – the baby I fought so hard for. The baby that believes I’m her entire world.

And if I do? If I go back to work full-time?

I’m a bad mother.

In fact, I’m giving up precious time with my child, I’m leaving my child at her most vulnerable stage, I’m leaving her when she needs me the most. I’ve been asked “do you want her to be bonded to you or to a nanny”? Isn’t the answer clear and more importantly why is this even a question in the first place?

On the flip side of this argument, I can stay home.

When you check out the other side of the highly judgmental Mommy wars – this is what is supposed to happen. This is nature’s way. I can breastfeed on command, I can snuggle that sweet little baby when she needs me and clearly she will be bonded to me… and not a nanny.

But… but…

What do I lose in the process?

I lose the last 8.5 years of work, I lose the salary I worked so hard to earn and I mostly lose any future job prospects once I’m out of the work force for a couple of years. I went to college, I’ve worked hard, I have dreams.

I’m not special, this story isn’t unique and neither are the anxious feelings I’ve been fighting. The problem is bigger than me. It’s bigger than the atrocious maternity benefits my company offers. It’s systemic and it’s a shame.

Right now, I don’t know what to do. The only thing I do know is that either way I lose.

Pregnancy Favorites

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When I found out I was pregnant I was cautiously optimistic, but also THRILLED. Even through the extreme food aversions, nausea and other less pleasant pregnancy symptoms, I was happy to be pregnant and nothing was going to stop me.

Despite my quest to savor and enjoy as many moments of pregnancy as possible, there were still moments where I felt rough, exhausted or just plain uncomfortable. There’s only so much smiling you can do when you’re back feels like it may crack in half and the thought of eating makes you gag. It’s even harder to smile when all you want to do is sleep, but you know that you’ll never get comfortable… meaning there’s no end in sight to your insomnia.

There were, however, a few key things that helped (my tried and true buddies) me get through the rough patches. And those, pregnancy superheroes were:

  1. Bump Nest. The whale roll is a real thing. Trying to turn a full sized, pregnant mammal while readjusting for comfort was pretty darn near impossible. I’d shimmy around trying to find the position of least suffering, all while moving my army of pillows to support me. It was a pain, quite literally. Enter the bump nest. This thing saved my pregnant life each night from about 16 to 32 weeks (at 32 weeks, all sleeping bets were off). It was great in both belly and back support and was easy to turn after one of my many night time bathroom trips. The only cons: that both sides weren’t full length and that the portion under my knees deflated a bit after a while.
  2. Life Factory Water Bottle. You know you have a hydration problem when your doctor comes in and tells you that your urine is high in ketones and that you had better giddy-up on the daily water intake. I hauled this water bottle around with me just about everywhere and filled it up at least 6-7 times a day. Plus, I loved that it wasn’t plastic. As a personal policy, I try to avoid plastic when I can.
  3. Reed’s Ginger Candy. For starters, I loved these things even when I wasn’t pregnant. However, my nausea in the first trimester garnered them an even higher ranking. They’re delicious and the ginger really helped to settle my stomach when I was having a hard time getting anything down.
  4. Breville Juicer. The food aversions were real. No chicken, no vegetables, no big hunks of meat… the list could go on. By the end of pregnancy I was convinced that I would probably never eat vegetables or chicken again and I was truly sad about it. In order to make sure I got some sort of fruit/veggie nutrients, we bought a juicer. I faithfully drank (or gagged down) a glass of juice each day from week 7 or 8 until the third trimester. If you’re having a hard time getting anything of real nutritional value down, I would highly suggest investing in one of these bad boys.
  5. Ritz Bits Peanut Butter. I turn to peanut butter Ritz Bits whenever there’s an emotional high or low in my life. They’re like an old comfy sweatshirt on a bad day or a big glass of bubbly for the carb addicted on a good day. So, it was no surprise to me that I turned to them during each phase of my pregnancy. They’re the perfect food when you need a little something to stave off nausea. They’re the perfect snack. They’re the perfect little treat to kill a few minutes. Really, there isn’t a bad time to eat these.
  6. Stash Lemon Ginger Tea. I have a huge drawer in my kitchen devoted solely to tea. I like tea. I’ve turned to fertility tea when I was trying to get pregnant, I drink throat coat when I’m sick, I drink green tea because it tastes delicious and because it’s good for you. Which means, that I turned to lemon ginger tea to help with my nausea… and it helped (at least a little).
  7. Belli Elasticity Belly Oil. I rubbed this oil all over my abdomen each and every night. I still came out of pregnancy with stretch marks, but I’m pretty sure it could have been worse. It smelled good and definitely left my skin soft. I liked the belly oil so much that I also used their facial products during pregnancy too!

Even though my sweet girl is here, I still miss being pregnant. It’s such an incredible experience… both pregnancy and motherhood. What were your favorite items when you were pregnant? What made your life easier/more comfortable.

 

For the first time in a long time.

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Yesterday on New Year’s Eve, for the first time in a long time, I didn’t feel an overwhelming sense of relief that the year was over. I wasn’t craving a fresh start or thankful to be putting a year of hardship behind me. Don’t get me wrong, the past few years have had their share of highs, but they’ve also had some pretty significant lows. And at the end of each year I’m grateful for the good times but ever so eager to be escaping the hard moments.

As the clock turned over to 12:00 AM (a time I didn’t think I’d be seeing with a 6 week old, but alas I was wrong), I found myself hoping that 2016 would be as good as 2015 and wondering if it was even possible for it to be better? And in that moment, it felt good.

It felt good to be thankful and most importantly, it felt good to be happy. Because, that’s what I am. Happy.

2015 was full of greatness — here’s a quick rundown:

  • I found out I was pregnant after trying for almost 2 years.
  • I was in 3 weddings for some of my very best and oldest friends.
  • We traveled – Austin, Aspen, San Diego, Ventura!
  • Did I mention that I was pregnant and loved every minute – even the uncomfortable ones.
  • We continued renovating our house — which is a never ending work in progress.
  • We spent time with family. Both our immediate families that live close as well as our extended family that came through Denver to visit. Family is truly such a gift!
  • We welcomed our sweet Eleanor Anne on November 16!

There’s so much more to say and catch up on, but that’s a start.

With that, all I have to say is: hello  2016, you’ve got some big boots to fill, but I’m looking forward to making it happen.

 

Current Reads.

Current Reads In 2015

 

I was a reading fiend these past couple months… here are a few that were on the list!

If I Stay. By Gayle Forman

I liked this book, but didn’t love it. Given the fact that there’s a movie based on the book and an awful lot of hype… I just expected a little more. It was a pretty quick read and if you’re looking for something that doesn’t require a ton of thought (albeit it is very sad), this might be worth a read.

Where She Went. By Gayle Forman

Because I can’t leave a story unfinished, I read the second chapter in the “If I Stay” story. This one, got off to a rocky start, but definitely told the another side of the story. If you took the time to read the first book, then the second installment is worth your time.

We Were Liars. By E. Lockhart

I had zero expectations for this book and, boy, did it twist and turn in ways I never expected. Now that I’m reviewing all the books, my first bit of 2015 was packed with sad/dark themed books. This book weaves a story that you wouldn’t imagine off the bat, and would make a good pool read, if you want something that isn’t heavy on romance and light on content.

Certain Girls. By Jennifer Weiner

I grabbed this book at a book sale and read it because I’d previously enjoyed Jennifer Weiner’s books. The main character was so relatable and the teenage angst from her daughter was palpable. Again, with the sad theme — this one also has some hard story lines. Sensing a trend…

Suddenly. By Barbara Delinksy

Let me start by saying this book starts with someone dying — geez, Megan, what the hell? This was a very light read that I also picked up at a book sale. I didn’t love this book, but I didn’t hate it either — probably wouldn’t recommend it.

Hollow City. By Ranson Riggs

This is the second installment of Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children — which was one of my favorite books last year. It’s wonky but fun to step into a make believe world for a while. Hollow City is book two (book three is in the works, as is a movie) so it left a lot of open ends and didn’t accomplish a whole lot — but I loved it nonetheless.

Side Effects May Vary. By Julie Murphy

No one died in this book, but the main character did have cancer along with some serious high school vendettas. Frankly, I had a hard time relating to this book. The main character was manipulative, cruel and over the top — the majority of the time I just kept thinking that real people don’t act like this. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t… maybe I just haven’t encountered them?

Three Wishes. By Barbara Delinsky

Someone dies in this one too. (Are you surprised?) This is a light read. At times I like the plot, the characters and at other times it was too hokey. Probably won’t be your bag of chips.

Illuminations. By Mary Sharratt

Besides Hollow City, this was my favorite book this year. It was incredibly fascinating. History + early religion + feminism = a book that I’m just going to love. I would highly recommend this book if any of those three things strikes your fancy.

Satisfied. By Jeff Manion

Our church did a series on this book, so I read it right along with about 5,000 other people. It focuses on our materialistic “not enough” culture and how to find happiness in what God has given you. The book has a great premise and some very good messages. I was, however, looking for some harder hitting narratives and practical tactics to apply.

What have you been reading lately?

It all feels broken.

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen, nor touched, but are felt in the heart. - Helen Keller // LifeLoveandGarlic.com

This has been a tough year for me. There were certainly bright spots, but when I look back on it (at least right now) it’s full of dim, sharp, hurty things and I want nothing more than to fast forward my life to a time when it all just hurts a little less. I find myself begging for the days to pass, the weeks to fly and the months to blur together.

I’ve mentioned that we sold our house and lived with my in-laws & my mom for two months. What I may have left out is that right at the tail end of that my Dad died, on June 30, unexpectedly. He had been deteriorating for years, but for all intents and purposes he was stable. Until he wasn’t. We, also, had scheduled our move (without, obviously, knowing he would pass away) for 3 days later — starting July 3. To say that week was awful would be an immense understatement.

As the weeks wore on, the memorial passed and though still mourning, I was fighting my way through the fog. Christian and I decided that I would stop taking Clomid (helping us ovulate/conceive with my PCOS) for a couple of months since I was grieving, stressed and just not in the right frame of mind to be trying to get pregnant.

On August 27, Christian’s birthday, I found out — very unexpectedly — that I was pregnant (without drugs). It seems as if there would be a light at the end of this dark tunnel, after all. I immediately began having cramping (no bleeding) and very sore boobs, both of which I was reassured by the nurse at my OB/GYN office were normal.

It’s funny how finding out something like this quickly changes everything. Where would we put a nursery? What projects do we need to put on fast forward to get the house in a little better shape? What will maternity leave look like? Crap, I can’t go to one of my best friend’s weddings. Should I buy new dress pants or just wait until I need the maternity ones? What will I wear on our trip in November if I don’t fit in my clothes? Let’s talk about names. Let’s spend many, many, many hours researching pre-natal vitamins and stalking pregnancy boards on The Bump to feel even the slightest bit of pregnant camaraderie.

You get the idea. Our due date was initially set for May 3. I couldn’t wait. It was almost like having a school year baby — in in the fall, out in the spring.

After the initial positive test, I called my doctor to set up my 8 week appointment. September 23. I circled it on the calendar and methodically counted down the 26 days that would take to get there. Which, for the record, were the slowest 26 days of my life.

Christian took the afternoon off to go with me. We loaded up the car and drove to Parker (about 20 minutes from our house) where my doctor had moved her practice. After signing in, a urine sample and a short wait in the waiting room we were taken back for our first ultra sound and I couldn’t wait. My stomach was a mixture of nervous butterflies and knots — I wanted to see that little heart beat more than I wanted anything on this earth. As soon as the black and white images flashed on the screen I began searching for any sign of a heartbeat, any flicker.

I didn’t see one.

The tech told us she was going to check my ovaries, cervix etc. before circling back to the baby. But, I knew it wasn’t good. As she rounded back to the baby, you could tell. There was nothing resembling a heartbeat. She said she was very sorry, but that it appeared the baby had stopped growing about a week earlier and wasn’t showing a heartbeat.

All I could think was that she had to be wrong, this had to be wrong. How could the baby I prayed for, prayed over daily and wanted so badly just be gone? Not after the year I’ve had, there’s no way that this could really be happening. No possible way.

But, it was.

My doctor assured me that I hadn’t done anything to cause this, that most likely it was a chromosomal issue that my body hadn’t allowed to continue. After meeting with my doctor, I was sent home with Cytotec (to induce my miscarriage since my body hadn’t started on its own) as well as Percocet and Zofran to help combat the impending side effects of what was about to happen. That night, I sucked it up. We had family in town and my brother-in-law’s 30th birthday to celebrate. I went, I smiled, I broke apart on the inside.

Wednesday morning, after a good cry on the phone with one of my best friends, I made it to the office. Tried to hold it together and ended up leaving because all the emotions I was trying to hold in just wouldn’t be jailed any more and the sobs weren’t exactly conducive to a productive office environment.

I started the Cytotec Wednesday night — needing the uncertainty to end — thinking that maybe if I put the process of the miscarriage behind me rather than letting it linger I would feel better, less defeated. From what I’ve heard about miscarriage, there isn’t a good option – between DNC, “the pills” and trying to pass it naturally… no option seems to have much up on any of the others. The Cytotec induced labor like waves of cramping and a whole host of symptoms that had me very sick for the next four days. During that time I, also, had to go back in for a Rhogam shot due to Christian and I having different (negative vs. positive) blood types.

Passing your baby at home, no matter how small, is nothing I would wish on anyone…miscarriage is nothing I would wish upon anyone.

My follow-up appointment was the next Tuesday — I still had more to “pass”, but it appeared that “the pills” had done their job. I had hoped that I would feel better and more on the mend. But, I don’t. I feel more defeated, frightened and heartbroken than ever. I’m trying to process, trying to find things in my control, all without much avail.

This baby made me a Mom, though I will never get to hold my baby, watch it grow — I will always cherish the time I got to spend carrying him/her and know that we’ll be reunited one day. And, truthfully, this is what I’m holding on to and what is helping me push through.

I’m sharing this because I was blindsided by my miscarriage and felt/feel very isolated by what has happened. Miscarriage is extremely common, possibly in upwards of 1 in 4 pregnancies. Personally, I didn’t know anyone that had shared their miscarriage story, that could fully understand what I was feeling, what I was grieving. Miscarriage is something a lot of people don’t talk about – it’s hard, it’s grief, it’s uncomfortable. But, it happens and we shouldn’t be ashamed, we shouldn’t hide it in our hearts, we need to be open to talking about it.

Today, October 15, is Infant Loss and Remembrance Day. This post isn’t something I’m super comfortable putting out there, but if it makes even one person feel less alone, then it’s worth it. 

Year 3.

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Three years ago today I woke up to a snow storm, put on the prettiest dress I’ll ever wear  and said I do to the man that I’m lucky enough to get to spend the rest of my life with.

::I get to kiss him goodbye each morning — even if I am wearing an eye mask (and, ear plugs too).
::I get to send him ridiculous emoticon messages throughout the day — even if I know it will be received with a smirk and a head shake.
::I get to hide my head in his shoulder when movies get too scary — even if the movies aren’t really very scary (re: Hunger Games).
::I get to splurge on my strict food rules without nary a second glance — even if I, also, did it the night before and the night before that.
::I get to be asked, kindly, “If I’m feeling alright” — even if that usually means I’m being a royal brat.
::I get to be tucked in when I’m sick — even when I’m highly contagious and moaning like a dying woodland creature.
::I get to be told, regularly, that we’re in this together, forever and that his love is unwavering — even when things we never wished for bubble up.
::I get to yell and scream and cry and forgive and be forgiven — even when it was totally all my fault.
::I get to test my kitchen creations on him – even the ones I claim are “cheesy” but don’t have even a teaspoon of dairy.
::I get to know in my heart of hearts that we were meant to be – even in the moments where life is too ridiculous to notice.

Happy anniversary handsome pants. There’s no one I would rather be in this with, than you. I love you.