Birthday looming.

We just put our girl to sleep as an eleven month old for the last time and when she wakes up tomorrow, she will be a big, bad ONE year old. A year ago, she came into the world on her own time (three weeks early) and she has been keeping us on our toes ever since. Before Winnie was born, I didn’t know what it would be like to be a mom. But I love it more than I could have imagined.

Being a parent is bittersweet. It is constant newness and constant learning, and once you finally feel like you are getting the swing of it, it changes again. It’s difficult to let go of some of those sweet baby milestones because with each month, they need you less and less, but with every new chapter, there has been something new to love. One thing is for sure, she changed our lives in the blink of an eye and I wouldn’t have it any other way, even through the hardest, most-sleep deprived times. It has been and is my greatest joy to be her mom.

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A lot of tears.

When Winnie was born, I didn’t cry. I worried at first that I was missing the mom gene, because who, besides a cold-hearted lunatic, wouldn’t cry at the birth of their first-born child? But then I remembered that I had been in labor for more than a day, hadn’t eaten anything but ice chips in as many hours, and was desperate for a turkey sandwich from a cafeteria that was moments from closing. I was beyond exhausted. I didn’t have anything left. Including tears.

It’s no surprise that in the last 51 weeks, I have more than made up for those missing tears.

I cried when we left the hospital because Matt was driving 100 miles an hour and she was just so tiny in her car seat. (Spoiler alert: he was going approximately 3 miles an hour)

I cried when I was feeding Winnie at roughly 3 am while watching previously unknown (to me) Americans win gold medals during the Olympics.

I cried when Tiny Dancer came on the radio because Winnie was also tiny.

There are many other very ridiculous examples like this over the last year.

Last night (and, full disclosure, also today) I cried because my sweet baby doesn’t look like a baby at all anymore. She’s almost walking, she’s eating real food by herself, she’s sleeping through the night and pretty soon she will be in kindergarten and then high school and I won’t believe that either.

“I can’t believe she’s almost a year old.” I have repeated that sentence in various forms what feels like a million times over the last few weeks. It’s impossible to believe. But, Winnie is such a joy and I am so lucky to be her mama.

 

Working out okay.

I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason. Shitty things happen all the time. I am not the kind of person who tries to find meaning in that stuff. I don’t believe in a master plan – a grand plan of what is supposed to happen in your life. I do believe in weird coincidences and I believe sometimes things work out maybe not ‘how they are supposed to’ but in a way that is just fine.

I had a shitty couple of years when I was in my twenties, much of it my own fault, but nonetheless, it was a difficult time. And a little mantra I used to repeat to myself was that things will be okay eventually. I would remind myself that in [insert situationally appropriate length of time], things would be different. Even if it wasn’t all fixed, in a week or a month or a year in some cases, things would be different. That was certain. And so I knew – at some point – it would work out okay. I repeated it to myself often, and eventually, I was right.

I continue to apply this theory to my life.

My first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage on September 1, 2015.

My daughter was born on August 2, 2016.

Having a miscarriage is miserable. I have thought about it a million times for a million hours and written about it lots of times. It’s just hard. When I had a miscarriage, I worried about everything. I worried about being able to get pregnant again. I worried about the baby for the entirety of my second pregnancy. Maybe that’s a mom gene coming into play, too, but the worry was constant.

I realize it’s not the same day, but to me, it’s a weird coincidence that just less than a year after my miscarriage, we welcomed our little lady into this world.

I think about that a lot now, for lots of reasons. Probably much of it has to do with the fact that she is about to turn one and I am having all of the emotions about it. After I had a miscarriage, I played the why/what if game a lot, trying to convince myself I had control over the situation and if only I had done something different that I could have sustained the pregnancy, but I obviously know that isn’t true. Miscarriages happen all the time. You can’t do anything about it.

But I guess the reason I think about this miscarriage so much is that I cannot imagine a world without Winnie. I know everyone thinks they have the best kid in the world – most of the time. But Winnie is a sweet baby. She is crazy and funny and snuggly and all of the things I never even knew I was hoping for in a child. And I think about the fact that if that first pregnancy worked out, I would never have a Winnie. And that makes me sad and happy and weirdly emotional for no reason at all. She is just full of joy and she makes me more full of joy than I have ever been. Of course, it’s hard and stressful and not every day is a picnic, but most of the time, she’s a joy. And I am definitely better with her in my life.

It’s easy for me to say this now, since I am on the other side of it all, but sometimes things take a little longer than you think, or they take a path you weren’t expecting, but it turns out okay. With all of this, two years later, I feel like it’s very much okay. It’s even better than I expected.

A birth story. Hello again.

Well, my daughter is 15 weeks old, so it’s about time I crawled out of my maternity leave cave and put my birth story on paper. Or, uh, screen. I have been back to work for two weeks now and I am surviving. It’s even a little bit nice to get out of the house on a regular basis.

I have a lot of thoughts on being a new mom but that’s not what this post is about.  Having a baby is crazy. Let’s talk about that.

At 36 weeks, my doctor put me on bed rest because my amniotic fluid was low at a 7. While it wasn’t dangerously low (Between 7 and 25 is normal), it was low enough to take precautions because I was at risk for preeclampsia and a few other things according to a previous test they had done. So for a couple of days, I was off work, I had to cancel some appointments (goodbye, last pre-baby haircut), and I wasn’t supposed to venture out of the house much. Just me and my water bottle hanging on my couch. After 3 days, I was about to lose my mind. I was still doing work and also watching some Netflix (hey, Jane the Virgin!), but sitting around was mind-numbing. I also painted our front door (while sitting and drinking water) because I literally couldn’t sit around anymore. I am sure painting is not on the list of approved bed rest activities, but honestly at that point, I wasn’t too worried about it.

The Wednesday of that week, the babe had not been moving as much as normal, so we went in to Labor and Delivery, per my doctor’s instructions. The baby was fine, but we saw that my fluid was still low. It was higher, at a 9, but not as high as I had hoped. I kept chugging water. I kept not really moving.

At my 37 week appointment, August 1, I was sure that sitting and hydrating had done it’s job and I would be off to work. So, I went to the appointment freshly showered and in a dress. I went in for the ultrasound and the tech, Debbie, was ready to go. She told me that she could see on the screen that I was having contractions. Which I thought were just Braxton-Hicks but were actual contractions. She is usually a chatty Kathy so I was concerned when she suddenly stopped talking. I knew the baby was okay – she had assured me – and as always, I could see her dancing on the screen. But Debbie said she needed to talk to my doctor about something and left the room. My husband and my mom were both in the room with me and we kind of all just awkwardly looked at each other. I said, “that doesn’t seem good.” And everyone agreed. Then I proceeded to read the screen of the ultrasound that was left up. I was getting good at that since I had so many at the end of my pregnancy. Some quick math told me that my fluid had not corrected at all while on bed rest, but instead had dropped.

We were ushered into a room with my doctor to discuss the ultrasound results. She said my fluid was only at a 2 (crazy low…a 7 is low). And then she said we had a couple of options. One – go to the hospital and check my fluid again with their fancy machine to be sure the number was correct. Two – have a baby tomorrow.

I looked at my husband. I looked at my mom. Then I said “I guess we are having a baby tomorrow.” It honestly seemed silly to me to recheck the fluid. Debbie had checked it several times. And I knew it had just been going down since I was in Labor and Delivery. So, without much consideration, I decided it was go-time. On the outside, I was confident and ready. On the inside, I was just yelling “SHITTTTT OMG WTF FRICK.” One comfort was that my OB was on call the next day, so she would be delivering my baby. I felt really good about that.

I called my dad. I called my brother. I made arrangements to take our dogs to my mom’s house. I called my boss to let her know I would see her in November. I went home and I nervously tried to finish three weeks worth of work in my kitchen while I ate a bagel. I finished packing my bag. And off we went to the hospital.

They gave me Cervadil first to get me started around 5:30 that evening. My mom and step dad brought me Chick Fil-A. What a last meal! And then I just hung out and watched Blue Bloods. My poor husband slept in a recliner, kind of. In the morning, August 2, they started me on Pitocin around 9:30. Then I waited. The labor wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t enjoyable at all. I progressed pretty consistently at about 1 cm. per hour, which felt like forever. Then my contractions really kicked in and that was miserable. I waited until I was about 6 cm. to get the epidural and not a damn moment too soon. Not sure why I was trying to be a hero. I had chills for hours, from the epidural. I don’t handle medicine really well sometimes. That part was hard. I was so cold and I was shivering. I was covered in warm blankets but nothing helped. The epidural also only took on the right half of my body at first. They had me lay on my side and eventually, I was numb. It was blissful.

I had some visitors. My mom was there the whole time. My step dad came up. My brother and my sister-in-law came up. My dad came up. The day is mostly a blur. Once I got the epidural, I was pretty happy. I tried the peanut ball and switched positions several times. My doctor was in a delivery and I heard a lot of yelling outside my room, so I wasn’t in a hurry to get going as it seemed like everyone was busy. At 8 pm, my nurse came in and said it was time to push. Just a side note, I had the most wonderful nurses. They were amazing and sweet and answered all of my questions. I was very lucky.

My OB came in and we started the pushing. While I couldn’t really feel it, at that point I was so exhausted that pushing sounded terrible. It wasn’t painful but it was tiring. My labor team, as my mom and husband like to call themselves, were instructed to stand behind my head and behave. They did not. Thank god they were there because they were short-staffed and we only had the one nurse in my room. My husband was on my right leg and my mom on the left because I wasn’t able to hold them up. I pushed for an hour and a half. The labor was actually hilarious because my mom and husband were teasing me and acting as if they were doing all of the work. At one point, I was puking into a bowl and my mom asked my husband, over me puking, if he was feeling okay. Story of my life…

After 35 hours of being in active labor, our daughter Winnie Jean was born. 6 lbs 5 oz of squishy little love. She came out screaming with a head of hair. It was the longest day but meeting her was worth it. I held her immediately and I was pretty much in love, despite being too tired for any emotions. I couldn’t believe I had done it and it was amazing.

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Also amazing was having a turkey sandwich about an hour later. I missed deli meat.

Kung fu fighting.

What in the hell is going on in my body right now? Someone, who is already really large, is kicking me 24/7. It is the most painful thing ever. Miserable actually. And it almost never stops. I am glad to know she is doing okay in there but Jesus Christ. The kicking is getting to be intolerable. Kicking my lungs. Kicking my bladder. Perhaps she is teaching a spin class or doing the uneven bars on my rib cage? She is constantly flipping, rolling, dancing, doing cartwheels (I assume) or doing the Wobble. But there’s just not enough room in there for these antics. We are so tight on space. She is way too big for her residence and it’s basically making it impossible for me to sit down, drink or eat, or really even live without crying. It’s very intense and I cannot wait for 6-8 weeks from now when that is not a thing anymore.

I hate to say this because I know I am lucky to be pregnant and I am also very excited for this little nugget to get here, but man, pregnancy is not my thing. Many women say that pregnancy makes them feel beautiful or sexy. Those people are the worst. Because this is the least beautiful I have ever been in my life. At every step of this process, I have had the worst possible side effects. I have had fucking miserable morning sickness that lasted months longer than it was supposed to. I had nosebleeds for months. I have had headaches and dizziness. I have had trouble breathing. Horrendous heartburn. I pee like 10,983 times a day. My skin is itchy. I am fucking exhausted. Sometimes I am a little bitchy, also.

The only thing I have going for me is that my metabolism is amazing right now and I can eat a lot of cookies without getting super obese. But I am not sure that’s enough to convince me not to have an only child.

Does everyone hate their kids?

I am not sure what it is about being pregnant that makes people want to share their every thought with you. People constantly tell me their horror stories about birth. It’s awful. I don’t need you to tell me about how much you bled, or how hard it was to breastfeed, or what labor feels like. I am good. I did the research. Your first-hand, horrifying account of your birth doesn’t help me to be less nervous. It makes it worse. Please stop.

But the thing people overshare about the most, I have found, is how hard it is to be a parent. Please excuse me, but … duh. I mean, obviously it’s hard. You have a tiny human that needs you for every little thing. They can’t do anything. And they never sleep. Obviously, it’s going to be hard. Really hard. I am not an idiot. I am aware of this.

But everyone talks about their kids like they are just awful. Like babies are little shitheads that are just the worst ever. I have heard so many versions of the following:

“Oh just wait, you will never sleep again.”

“Enjoy your husband while you can, because it’s never about you again.”

“Everything you own will be covered in poop and vomit.”

“Being a new mom is the hardest thing I have ever done.”

“Kids are so expensive.”

“Say goodbye to your social life.”

“Oh if you think you are tired now, just wait until she gets here.”

I mean really? Just stop. I having a baby. People do it all the time. And live to tell about it later. If it was so hard and so miserable, no one would have two kids. Everyone would be an only child. But that’s not the case. Babies can be terrible. And yes, they can be grumpy. But that’s why tiny humans are cute! So you want to keep taking care of them even though it is hard. But there’s obviously something incredibly rewarding about having kids. Or it wouldn’t be so common.

So please, just shut up. Let me enjoy things as they come. I know I will be tired. And covered in poop. And vomit. And I will have less time and certainly less spending money. But that’s what I signed up for. And it’s what you signed up for, too.

Maternity Photoshoot.

We had some maternity photos taken and I just love them. My friend Brooke, who I have known for almost 10 years, took them. She also knows my husband and is wonderful at making us comfortable. We both sort of despise photos, but I thought it was important to document this time in our lives, so I was so grateful to her for taking pictures we will love forever.