What nobody told me about motherhood

Teddy bears in bedI definitely think someone should write a book about the things they don’t tell you about motherhood. I’m sure there’s at least a book worth of stuff that I have learned just from on the job training. Considering all the mothers I’ve known in my life, it sure would have been nice if they had filled me on on some of this.

One thing I had no clue about, is that I had no idea I could be dealing with an 18 month old who still doesn’t sleep through the  night on her own. Inevitably she ends up in our bed each night somewhere between 12 – 4 am. And if that wasn’t good enough, once she gets into the bed it’s not like she cuddles and sleeps the rest of the night. After she’s in the bed she proceeds to wiggle and turn so much that nobody is getting any sleep. Needless to say, she’s got to sleep in her bed and stay there.

I have researched a few different sleep training methods, and realized there are some things I just won’t do. Sleep training is a very personal thing and there is not a one size fits all policy. I simply won’t just leave my daughter in her room to cry it out. I am not judging parents who use these methods; it’s just not for me. Even more, I resent people who tell me to just let her cry or act like I have a third eye when I tell them my daughter still has trouble sleeping. I know I’m not the only one!

Recently I was told about a class given to help mothers struggling to get their children to sleep. The class is in Orange County, CA, and is conducted by Heather Irvine at Good Nite Baby, who also does personal consultations. For one thing the class is great because it’s so nice to hear that I’m not the only one struggling with toddler sleep issues. The class has also been a huge wake up call in addressing my own part in her sleep problems. One thing that has been kind of hard to deal with is that essentially the issues I’m having with my daughter’s sleep are of my own making. We are doing what they call “reactive co-sleeping.” In an effort to maintain sanity we bring her to our bed instead of doing what we need to get her back in her own. And it’s not even like it helps us get sleep, it just helps keep her quiet. Luckily there is no judgment, just solutions, but it’s crazy to think that my attempt just to pacify my daughter may have led to more issues.

So far in weeks one and two we have learned various ways to set the stage for sleep success. We haven’t even officially begun “sleep coaching,” but I have already made so many changes! Here’s just a quick list -

  • Eating dinner earlier, but snack before bed
  • Oatmeal as snack for most nights
  • Bath every night (as compared to every other night)
  • Shorter bedtime routine
  • Less reading time after bath
  • Louder setting on white noise machine
  • Adding a humidifier at night

I think there’s more, but that’s all I can think of right now. Next week we start the official sleep training, and while I know it will be hard I am looking forward to getting her into regular sleep habits. I think I’ll be an even better mommy once I can sleep through the night again.

Trials of mommyhood

The first time you see your baby bloodied or bruised is not likely to be a time you forget. I had my first brush with this downside of motherhood this weekend. I was holding my sweet pumpkin as she fell asleep, when I realized that her other side was covered in blood. There was blood everywhere, her hand, her eye, in her ear and all over her pj’s. I had no idea where the blood was coming from, all I knew was I had to clean her up and figure it out. Luckily she wasn’t crying or flipping out, so I was hoping the injury wasn’t anything major, but the amount of blood that had come from my baby girl threatened to make me lose it a bit.

I ran to get a towel to clean her up, and tried to figure out where it was coming from.  Once I got her cleaned up a bit, it was easy to see that the wound responsible for all of this blood was a small cut to her middle finger. A small cut that didn’t want to stop bleeding despite the fact I was applying as much pressure as I could to her tiny little finger. A couple of moments passed by and I realized I just needed to be a little patient. Everything was okay.

I still can’t believe how much worry I could feel from one little injury. I think I’m still realizing every day how much your capacity for emotion changes when you become a mother. Being responsible for the care and well being of another person is an incredible responsibility. One that I am still learning and adjusting to on a daily basis.

How much is too much?

I had no idea how hard it would be when I became a mom. It probably doesn’t help that when you become a mom, the rest of the world does not suddenly go away. Before having my daughter I was already a wife, step-mom, daughter, sister, full time employee and student, among other things. Having a child meant one more huge commitment. Nothing else went away and more hours didn’t suddenly materialize for each day.

Stressed mom

It's not unusual for me to feel like this during the day

It has been a struggle to find the time to manage everything I have to do. Many days I feel that I do not do very well at any of my obligations. I have little time to cook an actual meal, clean my house, workout or take some good ol’ me time. I end a lot of days feeling like I’m a horrible mom and I’m not doing enough.

I’m blessed in that I have a husband that does more than many for our household. He does such a good time trying to take care of me and the kids. But he has his plate full as well – in addition to having a full time job he’s also a father, a student, and he spends one weekend a month making sure he’s ready to defend our country at moment’s notice, should the need arise. Obviously, he’s stretched pretty thin, too. Utilizing family to help is not much of an option, as both of our families are so far away.

Worst of all, I know I’m not the only mom, or person, in this boat. So many of us have too much on our plates and not enough hours to get it all done. How do you decide what’s most important so you can prioritize? Is there anything you can really let slip through the cracks?

I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that I simply cannot do it all. If I keep on the way I’m going, something is going to break, most likely my marriage, my health or my sanity. Some time ago I posted about wanting to be a stay home mom. Unfortunately that wasn’t an option a year ago, and it’s still not. I also don’t think it’s the answer to what I’m going through right now. But I needed to start thinking outside of the box, and luckily I was able to figure out a possible solution. It may not work for everyone, but I sure hope it works for me. I’ll post more on this soon…

April Goals Update

I wanted to give a little update on my progress towards my goals that I posted back in February. Rather than write an individual update on each goal at this time, I’m just going to cover a few key points -

  • Working out – I haven’t made nearly as much progress as I would have liked in this area. I am so out of shape it’s not even funny. The other day I put in the instructional video for Zumba and nearly passed out just from learning the steps! Needless to say I have a lot of work to do in this area.
  • Be a better student and a better wife/mom/step-mom – Something big is in the works that will allow me to make a lot of progress in each of these areas. I will post more about that soon.
  • Learn Spanish (do all 100 Pimsleur lessons by the end of the year) – Spanish got put on hold for a while due to stress and illness, but I’ve completed the first 30 lessons (all of Phase 1), and have moved on to Phase 2. If I continue at this rate I will definitely be done by the end of the year. Yay!
  • Blog > 3x per week – okay, at this point I suck. Nuff said.
  • Create a budget with the hubby and stick to it – The family budget will be implemented as of April 1 (and no it’s not an April Fools Joke!)
  • See my family back home at least 3x per year – Visited last week. One out of three down and the next is already scheduled.
  • Blog more about my family/daughter, milestones, etc – see bullet four.
  • Learn more about blog design – Took several classes over at April Showers.

So not all where I wanted to be, but at least I’m moving!

[seriesposts title="Follow my progress!" order=ASC]

These are not resolutions!

I have never been one to make New Year’s Resolutions. Which I guess is pretty good because I also probably wouldn’t have been very good at sticking to them. But as a new mom who is also getting a little older, I have been looking at my life more and more and trying to figure out how I can make it better and more fulfilling. So instead of making resolutions, that I think about for one month and forget for the rest of the year, I am making goals – life goals. I know that ultimately in order to really focus on these goals, I will probably have to narrow it down to just a few at a time. And I will eventually need to create SMART goals for most of these. But for now, my main purpose was to start a list of things I want to work on and improve in my life. These are all meant to be tweaked and revisited as the years go by and things become more and less important in my life. By writing it all down here I am hoping to help myself be more accountable for each of these, rather than just pretending like I never made these goals, right? Overall, the theme of my goals is to create healthy habits in my life. So here goes…

Global goals
Create my life plan aka the purpose for my life
Enjoy life more
Make more time for family
Just do it and stop being afraid
Stop procrastinating

Personal
Lose weight – workout and eat better
Be more productive
Be a better student
Volunteer
Learn Spanish (do all 100 Pimsleur lessons by the end of the year)
Take better care of my teeth, skin and hair
Blog > 3x per week

Family
Be a better wife/mom/step-mom
Read to my daughter more
Create a budget with the hubby and stick to it
See my family back home at least 3x per year
Go to more museums and fun places
Take more walks, go to the park and the beach
Continue towards WAHM goal
Blog more about my family/daughter, milestones, etc

Business
Be a better employee in the job I currently have
Continue towards WAHM goal
Create online “empire”
Learn more about blog design
Learn more about graphic deisgn
Blog > 3x per week
Develop home based travel agency
Focus on affiliate marketing

The plan is to occasionally post updates on my status and plans toward reaching each of these goals, weekly, monthly or yearly depending on how I choose to measure each one. Wish me luck!

Dear Daughter

Dear Pumpkin,

You are the sweetest, most precious little girl in the whole world. Mommy can’t tell you enough how much I love you. However, mommy also really likes sleep. Mommy doesn’t think she’s had more than four hours of sleep at one time since before you were born, as you even liked to wake me up when you were in my tummy. So I’m going to ask you nicely, please will you learn to sleep through the night? Or if that’s too much to ask, maybe just five hours or so?

If you help me out on this, mommy will be eternally grateful and I promise I’ll give you a lollipop when you’re somewhere around five.

Kissies,

Mommy

2010 Year in Review – The year I became a mom

This is slightly overdue, but I still thought it would be fun to take a look back at 2010. It was such a whirlwind year and I’m still trying to figure out how it passes so quickly!

  • B reenlisted – my hubby signed up for three more years in the Air Guard. I am so proud of him for serving our country!
  • The littlest T was born – my newest nephew made his planned, surprise appearance! I was so lucky to be able to travel back home and be there for his arrival. Little did we know he would literally deliver himself!
  • Saints won the super bowl – can’t tell you how exciting this was for a New Orleans native. The Aints picked themselves up and did the darn thing! I couldn’t even contain the thrill when it happened. I still need to frame my newspaper.
  • Gabs entered the world – how can I describe in a few lines the one event that has affected my life more than any other? I still can’t believe that this precious little girl has come into my life and changed it in so many ways… most of them good, ha ha! One of my goals for this coming year is to write more about how much fun I’m having being a mom, and write about all the special little things she does so that I don’t forget.
  • Lots of family visits – normally since we’re so far away from everyone, we’re always the ones who have to travel to see people. In 2010 the baby brought us lots of visits! My mom came the day before Gabs was born and dad came a week later. My aunt and uncle came in July and my mom and sister came in September. How exciting!
  • 1 year anniversary – B and I celebrated our one year anniversary in June. Hard to believe it’s only been one year because so much has changed in such a short amount of time! It was kind of hard to celebrate because the baby was so small, but I did manage to surprise B with an at home dinner from the place we had our first date and a red velvet cake!
  • J started kindergarten – my stepson started the big K! He’s in kindergarten now and doing so well. It’s amazing how quickly they learn once they start “real” school!
  • Holiday trips and four generation pictures – my daughter is so blessed to have four generations of family to draw from on both sides! For Thanksgiving we went to New Orleans (I ate more than my share) and we took a wonderful four generation picture with my grandparents, my mom, aunt, sister, cousins and all our family. It was an incredible experience (word to the wise – always try to avoid photo studios at holiday times, especially with a group that contained 12 adults and seven children, three of which were one and under).
    For Christmas we went to visit B’s family in Vegas. I love his mom and grandparents so much. B’s grandma is from Greece and she made us real Greek food.  I actually ate tiropita. That’s saying a lot since I’m so picky!

Whew, that took longer than I thought!  Next year I hope to have more updates about status / changes in my life… which is why I’m writing my 2011 goals!  Stay tuned…

A work in progress…

These last few months have been hard. Rewarding in so many ways, but just plain hard. I’m still learning how to juggle the demands of being a wife, employee, step-mom, mom, student, etc. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t feel like something or the other has fallen through the cracks. In the meanwhile my weight is creeping up and I feel so out of focus that some days it’s hard to keep it all together.

My pumpkin is the sweetest girl in the world during the day, but this little monster just can’t get it together during the night. Maybe it’s a byproduct of breastfeeding, or maybe it’s the fact that I work during the day so she tries to get her fill at night, but I will be a much happier mommy when this period passes.

Things change every day and I struggle just to keep up. But one thing always stays the same. I am so blessed to have this precious little girl of mine. They say nothing worth doing in life is easy, and that’s so true for parenthood. I have so much to improve on, but I feel like I get better every day. Although my sappy post-partum days are over, I still shed a tear or two sometimes when I realize how lucky I am. I can’t believe how much love I feel every time I take a glance at her… and when she’s asleep in my arms, all is right with the world.

I haven’t blogged as much as I’d like recently. But I will get better. There have been so many moments that I wanted to capture in words, and I am going to start getting it together now. 2010 was my learning curve, but now I’m ready to do what I set out to do.

Dude, where’s my clothes?

Prior to getting pregnant I never put much thought into my morning ritual. I’d wake up, take a shower, dig something out of my closet and head off to work – give or take a couple steps.  Unfortunately the days of such nonchalance are over as adding a baby to the equation has required me to completely rethink how I operate.

I have never been a morning person, but I have now found myself getting up at about 5:30 am in order to get myself ready, feed and dress the baby and be at work by 8 am.   (I am still bewildered as to how I am managing to get up this early.  Somehow having a baby must seriously change your ability to function on little sleep.)

Nevertheless, to ease my new morning schedule as much as possible, I have decided that all clothes for the workweek will be picked out on Sunday night.  Great idea, right?  Not!!  Finding clothes for last week – all of three days – was a breeze. Unfortunately this week was a lot more difficult.  After picking out clothes for a grand total of eight days I am having a panic attack wondering what in the world I will wear the week after this one.  Where are all my clothes?  What on earth was I wearing prior to jumping feet first into maternity garb?

Luckily, one thing I can’t blame it on is preggie weight.  I am actually close to 20 pounds less than before I got pregnant – hallelujah breastfeeding!  So everything still fits, and as a matter of fact, some things fit that didn’t before.  So what’s the problem then?  Did the unused clothes monster dig in my closet while I wasn’t looking?  Did I have a fit of mommy amnesia and throw all the clothes in the giveaway pile?

At first glance it would appear that I have tons of clothes.  But look a little closer and you’ll see the truth.  On that side of the closet are all my preggie outfits.  Sure they’d be comfy, but not exactly appropriate to wear anymore.  Here’s a cute skirt but it just needs a little TLC.  This shirt fit must have fit back when I was 18. Over there is a dress that might have been cute when I was 25, but at 33 not so much.  Even more, breastfeeding certainly complicates things. There are some things I just can’t wear since I’m pumping at work.  Obviously my closet is in desperate need of an overhaul, but that ain’t happening anytime soon unless you’re planning to come over and help me out!

Whatever the reason the clock is now ticking for my closet to spontaneously generate a new wardrobe before next Sunday night or my work clothes might consist of a nursing tank and sweats.   And somehow I just don’t think the boss would appreciate that if you know what I mean.

I will survive

I have no idea where my maternity leave went.  This week was back to the grind and I went back on Wednesday.  Honestly, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  A part of me missed my job, the people, the familiar routines  and it was nice to be back in the working world.  Unfortunately the bigger part of me wishes I didn’t have to go.

I know I’m not the first mommy to have to go back to work and I won’t be the last, but I never imagined that it would suck so much.  I wish there was a happy medium, but right now there just isn’t.  I’m so happy to have a good job with great benefits, but I’m not sure how much it outweighs being happy with my baby.

Today, while I should have been happy to be home with the family, I spent a big part of the day already dreading going back to work on Monday.  I know I can do this.  I will survive.  But that doesn’t mean I will enjoy it, at least not yet.

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