Pregnant pause.

I may have mentioned 2,378 times that I don’t like being pregnant. I don’t take for granted that I can get pregnant and I am grateful for that. But the being pregnant part is miserable for me. If you would have asked me ten years ago, I would have insisted I would have three children. After being pregnant with Winnie, I was thinking she may be an only child. Luckily for her, I forgot just long enough how miserable I was to get pregnant again. But this is the last child for us unless something crazy happens.

Deciding to get pregnant and have a child or children is just a giant pause button on your life, in my opinion. You pause everything – being yourself, sleeping normally, having a normal relationship with your spouse or partner, eating the way you want (for me at least because I get so nauseous) and drinking alcohol. It’s a big sacrifice. And it kind of feels like a pause until you are done having kids.

Especially if you are breastfeeding. You basically sacrifice for 9 months, then continue to live connected to your child until you are done breastfeeding. It’s a gift and it’s wonderful to carry, birth and feed your child. But it is also really tough – physically and emotionally – to power through those months/years. Even more so if you have postpartum depression or anxiety, which I did, and at some point I will find the words to discuss that.

Obviously, time still passes by, actually flies by, and there is no pause button. But I do look forward to moving past this pause and to the part of my life where I am enjoying these girls and being a mom of two. To press the play button and see what comes next.

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Freaking out, just a little.

Having a one year old is overwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, I love my daughter. As everyone (I assume) thinks their own child is the best child, my daughter is adorable and hilarious and sweet as can be. I love having the ability to spend so much time with her and to have the opportunity to watch her grow and influence her daily. But, this age is hard. There’s a lot more testing of my patience, as she tests out the word “no” which she is a very big fan of. There’s more ability to listen and a conscious effort on her part to ignore me when I try to discipline her (you know, in the way you can discipline a one year old, which is not much). There’s a lot of physical testing, too, as in walking and running and climbing (and dancing) and me chasing her and never taking my eyes off of her for more than a second at a time.

There are days when she is wonderful and I don’t think twice about my ability to handle two kids. And then there are the other days.

As I prepared and mixed the ingredients to make some breakfast bread the other day, I thought to myself, ‘this isn’t so bad.’ She was being so good, entertaining herself, playing in the Tupperware, stirring up some imaginary soup with a rubber spatula. And just as I was congratulating myself on getting it all done, I look down to see that my sweet, well-behaved sous chef was not, in fact, playing with the Tupperware. She was actually in the spice cabinet, which I had accidentally left open. And she had pulled out the garlic salt and had dumped most of it onto the floor and was drawing in it on the floor.

And that was how the whole day went. Just a hot mess after a hot mess and me, still in sweatpants at 3 pm and feeling like a failure.

As I put my girl down to bed that night, I felt a wave of panic. She was restless and crazy and refused to lay down. She rolled around like a rotisserie chicken and sat up in her bed saying, ‘no.’ She was not interested in sleep despite the fact that she should have been asleep an hour ago. My eyes welled up and I thought, I don’t know if I can do this. I can barely handle one today. Barely. How will I ever do this with a newborn, too? We must be insane. I can’t believe we are having another baby. Maybe this is a mistake.

And Winnie, sweet as ever, took my hand and patted it as she fell asleep.

My Mawmaw is a patter. She pats your back when she hugs you, she pats your hand when you need a little reassurance, she is always patting. And in that moment, Winnie channeled my Mawmaw and let me know it would be okay.

Since then, we have had good days and plenty of crazy, not so good days. There are still days when I panic and think I won’t be able to do it. But more often than not, I am so overwhelmed by the joy and fun that she has brought to my life, that I can’t imagine and, at the same time, am excited to see what it’s like to have two sweet girls.

I know it will be hard. Really hard. I will probably be a mess for an entire year. I may never shower and I may not see my friends and I may only speak to my husband in non-coherent phrases and I may call my mom and cry and panic and be 100% convinced that I am doing everything wrong. But people do it all the time. That’s what I keep telling myself.

But if you see me and I smell, I am giving you permission to let me know. Gently.

Another girl.

I don’t write on here much these days, but I am trying to do it more often. I don’t take a lot of time for myself and writing is really something that helps me process information and it helps me clear my head, so I am setting a goal for myself to write more often. Especially when I spend my days chasing a one year old and I don’t always interact with many adults on a regular basis, it’s good to get the things in my head out.

That being said, there’s a reason I haven’t been here much and that is because I am pregnant again! Yes, on purpose. Because a lot of people think it was an accident. But it was not an accident. I always think it’s crazy when people over the age of 12 get pregnant on accident. I mean, if you have a medical condition and were told you would never get pregnant or if you had trouble getting pregnant a previous time, that makes sense. But, I just kind of assume once someone understands where babies come from, there’s no such thing as an accident. You know, if you aren’t doing anything to prevent it. Anyway, we are having another baby! On purpose! In March. And it’s another girl.

I probably shouldn’t admit this, but we are so excited for another girl. We both really wanted another girl and for some reason had a really strong feeling that this baby was also a girl. I love being a girl mom – not that it’s that different, I would imagine, from being a boy mom – until the kids are older, but I love it all the same.

As I assumed, I have had miserable morning sickness and have had to take medication again to alleviate it and keep food down. Even now, at 19 weeks, I am still very nauseous when I don’t take the medicine. It makes me super exhausted and that combined with having a one year old just makes it tough to do much of anything above and beyond showering (almost regularly), doing laundry and straightening up our house.

So this is just a tiny update on where I have been and somewhat of an out loud promise to put my thoughts out into the world more often, to anyone who wants to read.

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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.