I am back. Or I think I am back. I do not know for how long. See I like things to be consistent. If I say I am going to be somewhere, I will be there. I do not want you to get your hopes up, in that every-day-there-will-be-a-blog kind of way. For now I think I can deliver. Although, I am not making any promises. But for now, I am back.
And…I feel like myself again. Motherhood is so many things. Some can be expressed so clearly and described, and others have to be experienced firsthand. I am a planner and a list maker. Motherhood has already taught me that I can have all the plans I want, and eventually they may happen, but for now this moment is all that matters. Birthing a baby has turned my world upside down.
The world continues to spin, work happens, life happens, but these moments with a newborn are as though time has stopped. They are so precious, so right-in-the-moment. Often I do not get a real meal in there, instead Chris finds me with a bag of open pretzels (and yes I ate half the bag). Easy wins, right? Nico is now 3.5 months old. I have folks ask me if I am going to continue with my blog and I think yes, no, er. I don’t know.
I will find that an hour has passed and I have sat in the same spot staring down at the baby sleeping on me. The wrap that I am wearing that holds him so close to me is drenched from the heat from both of our bodies. As I write this I am also slightly cold and wet from the amount of spit up that came out as I put him in the wrap. He fell right to sleep, so we both will deal with it.
I am back, but if you do not hear from me, you will know I had one of those days.
“Over-parenting or fostering dependence, as she describes bailout behavior, has the potential to undermine children’s personal confidence and robs them of the grit they’ll need to succeed in the real world, after they’ve left the safe bubble of home.”
I will tell you, I never remember my parents bringing something I forgot to school. They were at work, at one point in elementary school my mom was teaching at my very school. She was not going to leave to bring something I forgot. As my dad would have told me: “Tough luck.” He was not going to go out of his way to take care of things that were mine to remember. That was my responsibility. He never thought of it as “letting me fail.” He just knew I would learn the hard way to remember — whatever the consequences of my choices.
Change happens for us all every day. We do not always realize how much change hits us on a day-to-day basis, often because of how we handle the change. At some level we all have a bit of dislike to change. Some individuals are more flexible than others, some are more set in their ways or routines, and yet others relish the freedom and excitement of having things constantly changing in life.
Whatever level of tolerance we have for change, we often do not have a choice of if it happens to us. Whether that means changes at work, at home, with our family, there is change that happens by choice and change that we would rather not come close to with a ten foot pole. These past few weeks for me have been emotional to one extent (thank you hormones) and a little nerve-racking on another level. I know I am not the first woman to have a baby, and I know (because everyone tells you) that my life is about to change in numerous ways. Some of those changes will be amazing, and some will knock me on my ass.
I have to say that what has been hardest (besides my body no longer being mine, the endless peeing, and little to no sleep because of the endless peeing) has been being a professional woman with a team. When you read about others that go on maternity leave, they talk about the baby side of it, but what they do not really talk often about is what it is like for the working mom. I have been working since I was 9 years old. I had a paper route, and babysat kids in the neighborhood. This means that I have been working non-stop for the last 28 years. The most time I have taken off (other than a period when I was laid off), is the two weeks I took for my wedding/honeymoon. I have never not worked for a longer period than that.
Now, judge me all you want, as I think some mothers might — when I say it is going to be hard for me to be away from work. There are some pretty involved and intense projects happening in the coming months and, while I have the most amazing team, it does not make it easy for me to be away from it all. I have poured my heart into the work and my team, and having a child does not necessarily change my dedication to my work. Sure, some of my priorities will change when I meet Mini Conk, but I also want to raise a son that not only understands the importance of hard work, but also sees that I have an identity that is different from just being a mom.
Folks rarely talk about how hard it is for a working mom, instead I see more judgement that my place as a mom is at home with my son. Why should I have to choose, and why should I be judged for how I want to live my life? As more and more women have leadership positions at companies, not only do the rights for women having children need to change, so does the behavior for how we treat women that work and want to do both.
I recently saw a post on Facebook sharing a husband’s absolute adoration of his wife. They had just had a baby and were basically living in the NICU. His wife was in school and at the times their baby was sleeping she was writing papers for her classes, and he was in awe of what she was able to handle. I myself was in awe of her. I cannot imagine what it must be like to have your little baby need to be in the hospital for a long period of time, and basically living there with them while also trying to stay focused in school (or work if that is what you need to do).
Reading this on Facebook and reading a book on gratitude made me think about Chris and how hard it would be to do all this pregnant business without his daily help. There are some days that I come home from work and am extremely tired. I guess that is a given for being 34 weeks pregnant. When we come home from work the first thing I need is help taking my shoes and pants off (by the end of the day I cannot wait to take my clothes off). The second thing I usually need is food. Yesterday for example I was starving, and immediately he helped me get into comfy clothes and then made me toast — my go-to snack these days.
Then there is the most recent shift in my body. I can feel my pelvis shifting, an odd sensation, but what is more alarming is that when I get up literally every hour to pee, my body feels unmovable in bed. I have to wake him up and have him help me sit up, stand, and walk me to the bathroom. Without his assistance, I cannot get out of bed, and there have been numerous occasions recently where when I have stood up I start to collapse because of the pelvic pain. Ah, the wonders of pregnancy.
Now you might be reading this and say yes this is part of pregnancy — and you would be right. I am not complaining. I am acknowledging his patience and sharing my gratitude for an amazing husband who 99% of the time never complains. Yes, lately he says how tired he is because he has gotten up so many times in the middle of the night, and I say: “Save it. This is what I have been doing since last April.” Regardless, he has been my crutch, my shoulder, my lotion-to-belly applier, the one who dresses me, and even the one that lifts me out of the car when I get stuck, and most importantly my cheerleader.
While I will not lie, women are amazing. I do not know a man who could make it through 10 months of pregnancy. Yet, we sometimes forget that there are men that rub our backs, our feet, and tell us what troopers we are. Sure we are doing the heavy lifting, but it sure helps to have someone who keeps the rest of your world going. Thank you, Chris.
Of course I have baby on the brain. I have six weeks left, and part of preparing for the birth of my son, is making sure I am prepared to leave work for maternity leave. Lots to do to make sure coverage is in place, and that I am not missing anything, all while trying to navigate the spectrum of “short-term disability” and use of my vacation time and how to make it all work. It is shocking that in our country having a baby is considered “short-term disability.” I am not sure how having a baby makes you “disabled.”
That is why I wanted to share this TEDx talk from Jessica Shortall. She discusses “The American Case for Paid Maternity Leave.” Her talk is just under 16 minutes and worth listening to — especially if you think it is absurd that the US is the 2nd to last country in the world in terms of benefits offered for mothers-to-be (fathers to). I love what she says near the end of the video: “It is not a women’s issue, or a mom issue, it is an American issue.” She is right.